›Come in,“ said Deanna as the tone at her door chimed.

Riker entered, his hands behind his back. He stopped as the door closed behind him.

›Are you okay?“

She shut off the computer screen she was studying, folded her hands, and said, ›Why

shouldn‹t I be okay?“

›Well went through a lot.“

›We both did,“ she reminded him. ›But that was twenty-four hours ago. I bounce back quickly, given time.“

›Given time.“

He walked towards her. ›I thought you‹d be interested, the Chameloid disappeared about the same time as, the others.“

›I assumed as much,“ she said quietly.

›The Sindareen ambassador has been sent packing. She‹s not particularly happy about it. The peace initiative has fallen apart and the experts predict that it‹s just a matter of time now before the entire Sindareen civilization collapses. There‹s already talk about how the Federation might come in to pick up the pieces if that happens.“

›That would be very humane.“

›Oh, and Data has his head together, so to speak. It turns out that I, that the admiral told him that this other Data „ the one who tried to kill you...was actually Lore.“

›And was it?“

Riker paused. ›I don‹t know,“ he said slowly. ›I know Data believes it to be. I think he is far more satisfied with the notion that it was Lore than he would be with the concept that there would be a circumstance in which he’d try to murder you.“

›We have no idea what influences will shape Data over the next forty years,“ she said slowly. ›For all we know, given a set of circumstances where the life of one woman is weighed against the reality that he knows he might very well decide that that woman is dispensable.“

›Even if the woman is you?“

›Even if. And frankly I‹d understand his decision.“

›Yes, but maybe he wouldn‹t understand. That‹s a hell of a thing for him to have to live with. So maybe it would be better if we...“

›Kept it between ourselves?“

He nodded.

›Consider it kept.“ She leaned back. ›So, did you come here to discuss everything except what you really want to discuss?“

›And what might that be?“


He let out a slow breath. She waited for him to speak.

›I don‹t know what‹s going to happen with us,“ he said. ›I saw what my life was like without you, saw what I developed into. I can‹t say I like it very much. But, that was when you had been pulled from my life completely. We could continue in the way that we are now, and as long as you‹re there to be friends, confidant, soul mate, things could work out well for both of us.“

›I see what you‹re saying,“ Deanna said slowly. ›Of course, on the other hand, if we become , or go back to being... lovers, things could work out even better for us.“

›Or worse,“ he pointed out.

›Or worse,“ she acknowledged.

He shook his head. ›I feel so ridiculous. Do we really have to wait forty years until we‹re ready to take a chance on the two of us?“

›No, Will“ „ she smiled „ ›we just have to wait until we‹re ready. It might take forty years. Or who knows? It might take forty days. We have to wait and see. But at least we have a chance. It‹s up to us how we use it.“

He nodded and then said, ›Oh, by the way, I made something for you. It‹s only an approximation, of course, based on my memories, memories which were filled, at the time, with the sight of a particularly nubile young maid of honor and her magnificent figure.“

Her face colored slightly. ›Will, what are you talking about?“

He brought his hand from behind his back. In it was a thin, white, gauze headband.

She stared at it, uncomprehendingly at first. But then she understood. ›That‹s... that‹s like the one Chandra wore!“

›So I did make it close enough so that it‹s recognizable. Good. Um, if you wouldn‹t mind turning your head ...“

She angled her head around and he looped it around and back, pulling her hair through. She stood and presented herself for inspection. ›How does it look?“

›As beautiful as the woman wearing it.“

She felt her emotions turning to melted butter, and she went to him. He enveloped her in his arms, and their lips came together.

And for a long moment, all the confusion and complexity of their lives fell away, and they were once again the young man and woman hungering for each other; the couple shyly learning about one another and exploring the things that each of them lacked and each of them provided; the new lovers in the jungle, intoxicated with their environment and each other; she was the woman whose life he‹d saved, and he was the man whose life she had made.

And they had all the time in the universe...


After sharing a few moments of a long passionate kiss, Deanna broke away, feeling that something was wrong. She looked down at the floor before looking up and into Will‹s eyes. He saw the expression on her face and knew that he should leave. So much had happened in the past 48 hours that even he, always the calm and informed Starfleet Officer, needed a little time to himself to think.

Will nodded to no one in particular and kissed Deanna on her forehead. She drank in the warmth that radiated from him before he silently turned and left her quarters. The doors quietly swooshed shut behind him and she sighed at his physical loss.

Deanna went back to her desk and sat down. She thought about everything they had just discussed and everything that had happened. ’What should I do?‹ she thought. ’If I don‹t continue the relationship, then how do I break it to Will? And if I do continue it, then how will it affect us when we‹re on duty together?‹

Deanna sighed heavily and closed her eyes as she threw her head back against her chair. ’I don‹t know what to think.‹ She raised her head and opened her eyes. Licking her lips she caught her bottom lip in between her teeth. ›Who counsels the counselor?“ Deanna wondered out loud. Her eyes suddenly widened. ›Guinan!“

Guinan was a wonderful person who always listened to everyone‹s problems. She was very sensitive and helpful in these types of situations and was almost never wrong. Guinan could surely help sort out all of the things drifting around in Deanna‹s head.

Deanna got up and checked her make-up and hair to make sure she looked all right. She then left her quarters with a calm and relaxed stride, heading towards Ten-Forward to talk to the head waitress.

* * * * *

Will sat calm and relaxed in his quarters. He got out of the chair he‹d been sitting in by the window while thinking about Deanna and what had just happened. He walked over and sat down at his desk and switched on the computer.

›Personal log, star date 48021,“ Will began. ›After seeing myself from the future without Deanna in my life, I‹ve been thinking... a lot. Thinking about the future with and without Deanna. And it‹s hard to imagine my life without her. To my knowledge, she hasn‹t been seeing anyone after it didn‹t work out too well with her and Lieutenant Worf. I think that after seeing ourselves in the future without each other, it has really made us realize how much we still care for each other, but that is only my personal opinion. I don‹t know how Deanna feels.

›I‹ve been thinking about everything we said in her quarters. About the rewards and the downfalls of having a relationship again. I‹ve been wondering what my life really would be like without Deanna in it. I‹ve thought about the happy times we had down on Betazed when we were younger. And if we did continue with the relationship how much better my life would be. But then there are the downfalls of continuing the relationship. How would it affect how we performed our jobs? And what would happen if we broke things off? How would that affect our jobs then? I‹ve thought of how much I love her and after a long time of thinking, I‹ve finally decided what to do. I‹m willing to risk everything for her because she truly is Imzadi!“

Will finished his log entry and switched off the computer. ›Computer,“ he said, ›Locate Counselor Deanna Troi.“

›Deanna Troi is currently in Ten-Forward,“ the feminine voice of the computer answered.

Will got up and left his quarters, heading down to Ten-Forward.

* * * * *

Sacrifices ... 2/?

Deanna walked into Ten-Forward and spotted Guinan. She walked over to an empty table and sat down. Guinan glimpsed Deanna through the crowd and made her way to the table where she was sitting and sat down opposite her.

›Would you like something to drink?“ Guinan asked as usual.

’Nothing ever changes, does it?‹ Deanna asked to herself. ’At least not this.‹ ›No, I‹m fine right now, but thank you,“ Deanna replied.

›You sure you wouldn‹t like some hot chocolate?“

Deanna looked at her with an expression that Guinan took as she didn‹t know what she wanted about anything at that moment.

›Chocolate will make you feel better. At least it always has before,“ Guinan mused.

›Okay, I‹ll have some hot chocolate,“ Deanna said and smiled. Guinan always seemed to know exactly what she needed.

›I‹ll be right back with it,“ Guinan said. She then got up from the table and headed behind the counter. With a few simple words she got a cup of hot chocolate from the replicator and returned to the table. Once again she sat opposite of Deanna and placed the beverage in front of her.

›There you go,“ Guinan said as she sat down and folded her hands on top of the table.

›Thank you,“ Deanna replied quietly.

›You‹re welcome. So, did you come here to sulk or did you actually want to talk?“ the exotic waitress asked.

Deanna gazed into the other woman‹s eyes and wondered, not for the first time, just how old and wise Guinan really was. Deanna opened her mouth to speak, and then closed it, not knowing where to begin.

Guinan saw the hesitation in Deanna and decided to help her along a little bit. ›Is it about a person?“ Guinan asked, knowing that it was.

Deanna nodded.

›Do I know this person?“

She nodded again.

›Is it a man?“

She nodded once more, finally bringing her eyes up from the glass in front of hers and peered into Guinan‹s eyes

›Would I be correct in assuming that this man that you are thinking about is Commander Riker?“

Deanna nodded and then said, ›Yes.“

›So, what about him?“ Guinan asked inquisitively, trying to get Deanna to speak.

Deanna opened her mouth and hesitated to answer. ›I don‹t know what to do, Guinan,“ she said, finally giving in.

Guinan patiently waited for Deanna to continue. She stared into Deanna‹s eyes, prompting for Deanna to begin when she felt comfortable enough to.

›Guinan, I just really do not know what to do. I do and do not want to continue a relationship with Will. One minute I don‹t want to be with him because I‹m worried about what might go wrong, and then the next minute I want him to hold me tightly in his arms, telling me that everything is all right; that nobody or anything will ever hurt me again because he won‹t let it But it‹s such a conflict. It‹s like a part of me wants to just run away and yet another part of me wants to be with him forever. I don‹t know what to do, Guinan. It‹s all so confusing! I mean, I can help an estranged couple find themselves and fall in love all over again, but when it comes to matters of my heart, I can‹t figure out myself just what I should do.“

›Which one do you think you‹ll be happier with in the future?“

›Well, in the future without Will, I may meet someone else and I may marry him and be just as happy; but in the future with Will, I know I‹ll be happy because we‹ll be together.“

›Now I see your dilemma. Your heart is having to choose over something you know you once loved and still can love, and that something is familiar to you. But you‹re also having to choose over something that is new and exciting.“

Deanna nodded knowing that all of what Guinan said was true.

›Let me make a suggestion,“ Guinan began. ›Spend a few hours with Will and then a few hours without him. Your heart will tell you what to do.“

›Guinan, that just seems to simple, too obvious.“

›More often than not, the simplest or most obvious answer is the correct one.“

›Occam‹s razor.“


›But do you really think I‹d be able to tell from just a few hours?“

›Time has no meaning when it comes to matters of the heart If you feel the need then spend a few days with him and then a few days without him. Either way, you‹ll come to a decision.“

›But how will I know that decision? I mean, if I were to figure it out right now under the events of living with and without him for the past few years I know I wouldn‹t be able to come up with an answer. I‹ve lived with him for the past 7 years on the Enterprise, not being together but with him a comfortable distance away“

›As friends?“

›Yes, exactly as friends. But if I were to make a decision on whether or not I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him, Guinan, I...“

›Because you haven‹t been searching for it. Subconsciously you may have been, but not in the way that you need to be. You‹ve always focused on Commander Riker as a friend, as a confident, and as a fellow shipmate. You haven‹t focused your attention on him in a personal level in a really long time. Give it time with your emotions on a personal level. You‹d be amazed how quickly and honestly an answer will come to you.“

Deanna sighed, knowing that Guinan, as always, was right. ›Thank you, Guinan, but how do I tell him that I need some time with him and then some time without him to decide whether or not I want to be with him?“

›Don‹t tell him what you‹re doing or he‹ll act perfect to conform to what you need to see. Just be natural and see how things would normally be, then when you decide and the time is right, you‹ll know and that is when you tell him.“

At that moment, Will entered through the sliding doors of Ten-Forward, looked around, and then walked to the bar.

›Well, I believe I‹m needed,“ Guinan said eyeing Will at the bar. ›You know where to find me.“ Guinan got up promptly and smiled at Will as she walked back to the counter.

* * * * *

Will walked over to the bar and laid his elbow on the counter. As if on cue, Guinan walked over and stood behind the bar and made eye contact with him. Will lowered his eyes and sat there for a few moments staring at the counter before looking back up to Guinan.

›You‹re here to talk to her,“ she stated blatantly.

›Yes,“ Will replied, always astounded by her intuition.

›She‹s waiting to talk to you as well.“

›I know,“ Will countered. ›But where to begin...“

›Begin with your heart and what you‹re thinking at the very moment when you see her,“ Guinan said as she slid Will‹s favorite drink across the bar without having to be asked for it.

›Easier said than done. Thanks,“ he said in reply to the drink.

Will nodded a few times while absent-mindedly stirring the drink with his finger. He made up his mind and stood up after grabbing the drink in his hand. He smiled softly at Guinan and then walked over to the table where Deanna sat. He stood in front of her waiting to be noticed

Deanna‹s eyes drifted upward and focused on the person standing in front of her. She knew he was there the whole time. She sensed him when he walked into the bar, knowing he was there without having to turn around and see it for herself and she sensed him walk over to her table, but she didn‹t know what to say or where to begin.

›Are you waiting for something?“

›May I sit down?“

›Have a seat,“ she replied.

For a few moments Will stared deeply into Deanna‹s beautiful brown eyes. The two shared an awkward silence. Will looked down at his hands, crossed on the table, and then up into Deanna‹s eyes. She stared blankly at him, not sure what it was he wanted.

›I‹m not quite sure where to begin,“ Will said breaking the silence.

›Begin with exactly what‹s running through your mind,“ Deanna countered.

›It‹s such a mess right now, I wouldn‹t know.“

›I think you do.“

Will sighed. ›I‹ve been thinking... about everything.“


›I thought about how much you mean to me. It looked like I couldn‹t stand to lose you in the future, Deanna, and I can‹t stand to lose you in the present either.“

›I‹ve been thinking too,“ Deanna replied calmly. She looked up at Will. ›I remember all of the good times we had when we were younger. I remember the laughs we shared... the tears... the frustrations. I remember all of it, and I know you do as well. I remember how I felt when I was with you, Will, and how I felt when we were apart. I remember the exact feeling that I had when you never showed on Riza, and I will never forget it...“

›I‹m sorry,“ Will butted in. Deanna just held up a hand, stopping his next words.

›I remember I didn‹t want to lose you then, and I can‹t stand to lose you now either. I care about you too much, Will. But we can‹t rush things or it may turn out like it did on Betazed.

Will, I still have feelings for you, more than you‹ll ever know. But I‹m also afraid to risk everything, and have it all turn out the way it did the first time down on Betazed.“

›It won‹t.“

›You don‹t know that.“

›I know how things ended up the first time, Deanna. And it was my fault. I chose to leave, not you I chose my career over you and do you think I haven‹t shot myself in the foot a hundred times now, thinking what a mistake it was?“

›I know you valued your career over me. I don‹t blame you, Will. But I can‹t afford to go out on a limb again; I can‹t afford to put my emotions on the line only to have you crush them all over again. I want this to work more than anything, believe me.“

›Then why did you break away?“

›For exactly that reason. I just had to think things over a bit.“

›And,“ Will paused, ›have you made a decision?“

She hesitated to answer. ›Not yet.“ She quickly held a finger up to his lips. ›I know what you‹re thinking, Will. ’Why not? It worked out before and I admitted to still having feelings for you.‹ Well, it‹s because I‹m not ready yet; my heart‹s not ready yet. Things have happened so fast lately but I have to slow down. I‹m not ready to chance something going wrong and losing our friendship for good, not yet anyway,“ she added.

Without another word, Deanna set down her drink and got up; Will stood as well. She went over and kissed Will on the cheek and softly said, ›Yet,“ again, but this time with a little more hope. She left Ten-Forward, looking at Guinan on her way out. She smiled wanly at the head waitress and exited the lounge. She could feel Will peering at her image in the view port, at her reflection, as she made her way out. She smiled slightly and kept walking.

* * * * *


Sacrifices ... 3/?

Will sat quietly at the table looking out the view port at the stars. Thinking, again, about what had been said. He seemed to be doing that a lot lately.

Then, without Will noticing, Guinan sat down in front of him. ›So?“ the hostess asked in one simple word, which carried so many questions and meanings behind it.

›So, what?“ Will asked.

›How did it go?“

›How do you think it went?“ Will said, a little on the defensive side.

›That good, huh?“

›Guinan, I don‹t understand!“

›That‹s not the first time I‹ve ever heard that phrase before,“ she said. ›What don‹t you understand?“

›Her,“ Riker said solemnly.

›What about her?“

›She says she still has feelings for me, but how she acts says otherwise.“ He paused for a second and then continued, ›It‹s like one minute she‹s saying that she loves me, but the next minute she pushes me away.“

›She‹s going through a hard time now, Will You have to look at it from her point of view She‹s having to face true love and decide whether to take it or walk away.“

›But is it really that hard of a decision to make?“ Will asked.

›Isn‹t it?“

Will sighed.

›Will, decisions like this are not something you fix on everyday. This is important for the both of you and your future. And if you‹re wondering how long it will take for her to make up her mind, I can only tell you to give her time. I might be mistaken, but didn‹t it take you the rest of your life to figure that out in the other timeline?“

›But it didn‹t take my whole life. It just took my life without Deanna to realize it.“

Guinan stared at Will, waiting for him to put together the connection that he just voiced. She smiled and stood, leaving him to ponder that question on his own.

Will turned to ask Guinan before she got out of earshot how she knew that secret bit of information but within a second the first officer remembered two things: the captain had a mysterious relationship with Guinan and had often gone to her for advice or to confide in her for secrets, and secondly, the unique woman had shown sensitivity towards changes in the space-time continuum. Remembering that he let the hostess walk away.

* * * * *

The door chime sounded in Beverly Crusher‹s quarters. ›Who is it?“ the doctor asked.

›Beverly, it‹s me, Deanna,“ came the voice from outside Beverly‹s quarters.

›Oh, Deanna, come on in. I‹m almost ready. Just give me a minute or two.“

›Okay,“ Deanna replied. The doors slid open, Deanna walked in, and they shut behind her with a whoosh.

›So, out with it. Tell me all the juicy details.“

Deanna shifted the bag on her shoulder. ›What details might you be referring to, Bev?“

›What happened between Will and you?“


›Deanna, I might not be an empath, but I can tell when you‹re trying to hide something.“

›I‹m not hiding anything.“

Beverly looked at Deanna and rolled her eyes. ›Oh, what‹s that,“ she asked, noticing the white headband that Deanna wore.

Deanna was grateful for the change of subject and explained it to Beverly. ›When my best friend from back home was married she wore a headband just like this that her fiancé gave her. That‹s where I first met Will. I sensed provocative thoughts from him, aimed towards me, and I turned to look at him and caught him red handed. You should have seen his face, Beverly, it was beet red. Anyway, he gave me this today in my quarters.“

›That‹s sweet, but you changed the subject and I‹m not letting you get away with it that easily missy! Now do tell! What happened today in your quarters?“ Beverly hounded.

Deanna knew otherwise and she knew that Beverly would harass her until she gave in, so instead of listening to Beverly whine and complain all the way to the gym and until she got the details, Deanna told her everything.

›Okay, okay. We talked in my quarters after the negotiations collapsed as I mentioned earlier. But what I didn‹t mention was that we talked about having a relationship and right before he left, we kissed.“

›Ooh,“ Beverly jokingly said with a chuckle afterwards. ›Now it gets good.“

›Then we talked again, just now, in Ten-Forward. We discussed what we should do, or rather wanted to do.“

›Yeah. Yeah,“ Beverly said trying to hurry Deanna along.

›I told him I needed some time to think.“

›You what?“ Beverly said not hiding her surprise.

›I didn‹t want to rush things,“ Deanna calmly said, her emotions perfectly in check.

›Deanna, why would you do a thing like that? Even I know that you love Will!“

›I know that now, but a while ago things were happening so fast and after everything that had happened I wasn‹t thinking clearly.“

›Yeah, you‹re right. You weren‹t thinking clearly. You were thinking with your heart and not your brain.“

›Beverly,“ Deanna began until Beverly interrupted her.

›When are you going to tell him?“ she asked inquisitively.

›Whenever I see him next.“

At that time Beverly trotted back into what use to be Wesley‹s room. There was a mumbled noise and then Beverly reappeared.

›What did you just do?“ Deanna asked.

›I was just thinking out loud. I have this nagging feeling I‹m forgetting something,“ Beverly said, not making eye contact with Deanna. ›Oh well, I‹m ready. Let‹s go.“

They walked through the corridors silently passing the other crewmembers as they made their way to the gymnasium. Deanna sensed Beverly was up to something but wasn‹t sure what. However, she knew she would find out soon enough.

They came to a halt before the turbolift and pressed the computer panel. Within a few seconds the doors hissed open and they stepped in. They gave their destination and the turbolift began its journey to the requested deck. The silence was then broken by Beverly‹s rush of words.

›Deanna, I just remembered! I left my botany experiment unattended. If I don‹t adjust the setting on the pads at this crucial stage the chameleon roses I‹m growing will be killed. I‹m sorry, Deanna. I have to go to sickbay. I‹ll talk to you later.“

And with that, Beverly ordered the turbolift to halt and exited into the corridor at a hurried pace.

Taken by surprise as to Beverly‹s rush of words, Deanna ordered the turbolift to resume. The turbolift commenced at her command and finally came to a hault. The hiss of the doors opening was followed by the sound of small footsteps. Deanna took a few steps out of the turbolift and came to a stop. She sensed someone familiar around the corner and made a mental note to thank Beverly for her abrupt departure when she was finished. She took a deep breath and made the rest of her way around the corner and to the gym floor.

* * * * *

Sacrifices 4/?

Will Riker was doing bicep curls when he heard footsteps coming down the hall. He was usually alone when he worked out; not many people worked out before going to bed at night. Either that or they were on duty or didn‹t care about being in shape at all, so Will usually had the place to himself. He turned his attention back to the mirror and then he saw her reflection.

Deanna was wearing her t‹ai chi robe and the headband he had given her. She walked over to the exercise mat and laid down a towel that she had brought with her. She looked in the mirror at her reflection, straightening her robe, and then began to stretch out before beginning her exercises. Will set down the weights he was lifting and slowly walked over to where Deanna was stretching on the floor. Will watched in amazement, as always, at the flexibility that Deanna had. Beverly usually accompanied her, but he didn‹t question as to why she wasn‹t here right now. In fact, it didn‹t even cross his mind.

›May I join you?“ Will asked.

›The company would be welcomed,“ Deanna replied as she scooted over to allow Will some room on the mat.

Will stood beside Deanna waiting for her to stand up and begin. She started to stand up when Will reached down and grabbed her petite hands to help pull her up. Deanna, smiling gratefully, took Will‹s hands and he carefully pulled her up to a standing position.

* * * * *

›Captain‹s Log, Supplemental: After receiving orders from Starfleet, we‹re changing course to meet up with The U.S.S Gandhi to pick up a young lady named Lora McDonald. After an unfortunate accident in which her parents were killed, she has been making her way back to Earth to live with her relatives. We are presently on our way back to Earth to repair damages from our previous mission. This is only a slight diversion from our previous heading so we‹ll arrive at Earth only a few hours late. Once there we will dock at McKinley Station for minor repairs and some long over due shore leave.“

After turning off his computer, Captain Jean-Luc Picard walked over to the replicator. ›Tea, earl gray, hot,“ he requested. There came the familiar hum of the food synthesizer and his beverage appeared. Taking a sip of the tea he walked over to the couch and began to read a novel.

›Captain, we are coming into sensor range of the Gandhi,“ the android‹s voice announced.

›Acknowledged.“ The one word carried his exhaustion but luckily for him the android did not pick up on it. ’Never a moment of rest,‹ Picard thought to himself. The starship captain walked out onto the bridge and sat in the center command chair. He felt the throbbing of the warp engines and called out, ›Drop to impulse, ensign.“

›Aye, sir. Decreasing to impulse,“ the young helmsman stated.

›Estimated time to rendezvous, Mr. Data?“

›Approximately thirteen minutes to intercept, sir.“

After checking the readouts on the console of his chair, the captain ordered, ›Hail the Gandhi, Mr. Worf.“

Worf followed the Captain‹s request and hailed the Gandhi. ›They are responding, sir“ Worf acknowledged.

›On screen,“ Picard responded while standing and tugging on his shirt.

In an instant the face of Captain Whitman appeared. ›Greetings Captain Picard. Our guest is preparing to leave at this moment. We will contact you when she‹s ready for transport. Gandhi out.“

Picard pressed a button on the console and called, ›Picard to Counselor Troi.“

›Troi here,“ came the counselor‹s voice over the ship‹s communication system.

›Counselor, as you know we‹re going to be taking on a new passenger. Will you prepare to meet her in transporter room three?“

›Aye, sir,“ came the counselor‹s voice, a little out of breathe.

›Counselor, are you all right? You sound a little winded.“

›Yes, Captain, I‹m fine. I‹m just practicing the t‹ai chi exercises that Worf has been teaching to officers off duty.“

›Ah, well our guest is not quite ready and we are still en route to meet up with the Ghandi so you should have a few minutes to freshen up if you would like,“ he replied.

›Thank you, Captain. I‹ll be ready. Troi out.“

›Now that that matter is taken care of, you have the bridge Mr. Data. I‹ll be in my ready room. Contact me when we‹re in minimum transporter range.“ And with that said, Picard walked back to his ready room to relax. As several thoughts flittered across his mind, one in particular stood out. This shore leave on Earth was surely needed and will be greatly appreciated by all the crewmembers, including himself.

* * * * *

Not too long after they had begun, the captain interrupted them over the communication system. While Deanna talked to the Captain, Will walked over to his gym bag, picked up a towel, and wiped away the beads of sweat on his forehead.

After finishing her conversation with the Captain, Deanna made her way to the bench where her bag sat as well. Deanna sat down and caught her breath. When her breathing finally slowed to a pace where she could talk and not be out of breath, she looked over to Will.

›You know, Will, I don‹t believe our new passenger would mind being greeted by the ship‹s counselor, and first officer,“ Deanna stated.

›If that is what I think it is, I‹d be honored to accompany you, Counselor,“ Will said as he patted the towel along his neck and smiled.

Deanna smiled back as she took the towel that Will handed out to her and put it around her neck. They gathered their belongings and strode out of the gymnasium. All seemed perfect.

* * * * *

Sacrifices, 5/

After washing up a bit and changing into more formal clothing, Deanna Troi made her way to Transporter room three. Will Riker was already waiting in the room when Lieutenant Austin turned in Deanna‹s direction and nodded a curt greeting as the doors opened and she strode in. He turned his attention back to the readings on the transport console as the doors hissed shut behind the counselor.

›You‹re just in time. She‹s preparing for transport now,“ the young red-haired officer announced.

The counselor smiled in acceptance and turned her attention to Will who had been patiently waiting next to the console when she arrived. Will noticed the go sign on the console and commanded, ›Energize.“

In a matter of seconds the new arrival materialized on the transporter platform. The young girl stepped off the platform and extended her hand to Will. ›Hi. I‹m Lora McDonald,“ she said introducing herself while turning her attention to Deanna.

›Welcome aboard. I‹m Commander William Riker and this is Counselor Deanna Troi,“ Will said with his usual smile.

Lora stared in awe at the two people standing in front of her. Deanna picked up on a surprised feeling and a longing of some sort that was explainable, but she shrugged it off as the young girl meeting two senior officers of the Federation‹s flagship.

›You‹re Counselor Troi?“ she asked in eagerment.

Deanna nodded her head and smiled, noticing Lora‹s eyes get even bigger than they were before. ›Yes, I am.“

›I have something for you. A man asked me to please give it to you.“ She picked up on a look of bewilderment from Deanna. ›Thomas. Thomas Riker. I believe I‹m correct in assuming that the two of you are twins,“ she said while turning her attention to Will.

Lora noticed the feeling of surprise to hear the name and mention of a gift, and the resolution of the longing feeling coming from her. Lora smiled knowing that Deanna wasn‹t curious over the feelings emanating from the young girl anymore because she thought the issue was resolved. However, she knew Deanna didn‹t know the real reason as to why she was so surprised to finally see the two people she had been longing to see.

›You could say that,“ Will said in answer to Lora asking of his twin.

The young girl then grabbed a piece of luggage and brought out a small box. She handed it to Deanna and then picked up her luggage.

›Thank you, but when did you,“ Deanna began and said while examining the small mysterious box, but Lora didn‹t let her finish.

›Where I saw him isn‹t important.“

›Did he say anything else?“

›No. Just to give this to you and send his regards,“ Lora said. ›So, where am I staying?“

›We‹ve arranged some quarters for you. If you two are ready?“ Will asked, eyeing Deanna.

›My very own?“

›Yes, your very own,“ Deanna said and smiled, taking her attention away from the gift.

›It‹s ship‹s policy that every guest here onboard the Enterprise gets their own quarters.“

›You see, here on the Enterprise privacy is both a virtue and a necessity.“

›I‹ve never had my own before. I mean, I‹ve had my own room, but that‹s nothing compared to what I think I‹ll have here. I‹ve studied the Enterprise. It‹s huge unlike the Gandhi.“

›It‹s not as huge as you might think,“ Deanna stated.

›We have a lot of things that the Gandhi doesn‹t,“ Riker said, somewhat defensively.

›I know exactly what you mean,“ Lora said, picking up on what Will was talking about.

He had an uneasy feeling, but at the same time it was like this little girl new everything about him. He slightly shook his head as the three walked down the corridor. While enroute to Lora‹s quarters, Riker‹s communicator chirped.

›Riker here,“ he said after he tapped the small device.

›Number One, will you come to my ready room? I need to discuss certain matters with you at your own convenience.“

›Aye sir. I‹m on my way. Riker out.“ Riker let out a soft sigh and cast a smile at the two younger females with him. ›Well, I wish I could accompany you but as you heard, I have other duties to attend to. Counselor Troi can show you the rest of the way to your quarters.“ With that the first officer turned about and headed toward the nearest turbolift.

Now that Will had left, Deanna felt free to talk to the teen about the mysterious package. Back in the transporter room when Lora had mentioned Thomas, Deanna felt a surge of emotions emanate from Will. Anxiety, distress, irritation; all of these she was sure she sensed. There was also what Deanna thought was a little bit of jealousy. Deanna could understand why Will might be somewhat resentful, considering the situation, so she tried not to respond much to the box in her hand until Will had left.

›Lora,“ Deanna began, ›I must admit I was taken by surprise when you mentioned Tom. How did you meet him?“

›Well, actually I was in the lounge on the Gandhi when he approached me.“

›He‹s on the Gandhi? But he was in a prison camp. He should be in a prison camp.“

›No. From what he told me, he was given probation for good behavior, whatever that means. But I saw him in the lounge. He introduced himself and we began to talk. He said I looked familiar to him, but I reassured him that we had never met before; at least not in this lifetime. Later, he asked me if I could give that to you when I beamed onboard. He said he was busy with something personal and would rather a person give it to you than just beam it over. He said it was just too impersonal. He wished he could have seen you but he had a few things to attend to. He also said that given the circumstances, he knew you would understand.“

Deanna nodded. She wished she could have seen him. It had been a long time since the last time they had talked to each other face to face. Ever since the incident when they first found Thomas stranded on the planet, they had kept in touch with each other over communiqué‹s. She had never mentioned it to Will, fearing that he wouldn‹t like it much, but she kept in close contact with him They had talked of her thinking about taking the officers exam to become a Lieutenant, but she decided against it. She knew that if it came to decisions, she was great at giving them, but she was more the type to follow instructions rather than hand out. She had already had a few cases where she had to, and she did fine, but in the end she preferred not to

The two discussed Thomas while traveling through the ship to Lora‹s quarters. After a few minutes they finally reached the girls door.

›Well, here we are. Inside you‹ll find everything you need: a bedroom, common area, and food synthesizer. Pretty much everything you‹ll need should be in there, and if it‹s not, just contact me and I‹ll get it for you.“

›Thank you,“ Lora said as she stepped into the quarters and set down her bags.

Deanna explained the basic functions of the replicator as usual with new passengers and then left the girl to unpack. She also eagerly wanted to get to her quarters so she could open the package in private. Deanna felt like a young girl on the morning of celebration for the birth of one of Betazed‹s deities as she would run down and see what presents she received.

Lora felt Deanna‹s eagerness towards the small gift and wondered, not for the first time, just what connections Deanna and Thomas still had. She had caught the hint of emotions from Will when Thomas‹ name was mentioned and sensed the desperation from Deanna. She knew Deanna was trying to figure out how Will felt when he heard Thomas‹ name, but what she couldn‹t figure out was why they were both so antsy about Thomas Riker.

Lora shrugged and dropped her luggage on the ground near the bed as she surveyed her surroundings. She began to unpack and pulled out a picture of her deceased family. She then pulled out a picture of the family she was going to stay with. She brushed dust off the frame with a somber look and picked up the final picture frame, which had always been hidden from everyone but herself. She slowly sat down on the edge of the bed and thumbed the picture of the happy couple holding each other along with a young girl who stood bright eyed in front of them and smiled at the camera.

The picture was old and worn. She carried it everywhere she went. It was a picture of herself, her father, and her mother, before everything that happened had gotten weird. Her father stood tall, with a cheesy grin on his face. His arms were wrapped around his daughter‹s neck, as he stood bent over at her height. Her mother stood gracefully behind her husband, her arms propped on his back holding her chin up. Her long brown and curly hair swayed in the wind and she had a smile on her face that showed pretentious laughter.

Lora thumbed the picture and pulled it to her chest. She fell backwards onto the bed, her head hitting a pillow, and she stared at the ceiling. A small tear escaped from her right eye and slid down her face to hit the silky covers on the bed. She wiped away the residue of her tear and looked once more at the picture. She thumbed over her mother and father.

Lora reached across the bed and opened the top drawer of the dresser that sat next to it. She placed the picture in her hand into the drawer and placed a few things on top of it. She didn‹t want anyone to see the picture yet. It wasn‹t time. If they saw it then she‹d have to explain herself and the picture and she wasn‹t ready just yet to do that.

She looked at the other two pictures of her family. She placed them on the dresser next to each other. She looked back and forth from one picture to the other. There was no resemblance whatsoever. How they had ever passed her off as their own child she never quite understood. How could anyone ever believe that she truly was their child even in the first place?

Adoption services, at least what was left of them, would stick children into homes or colonies where they would be accepted the best. They always stuck them in families that they resembled and could be passed off as being one of their own. But she looked nothing like her foster parents.

She looked in the direction of the photograph of her real parents that she placed in the dresser. Another tear fell down her face, but this one wasn‹t such a grieving tear, but one of happiness. She fell back onto the bed and closed her eyes.

’Three days,‹ she thought to herself. ’Seventeen years and I get three days!‹

›But I‹m back and I never forgot you, just like I said I wouldn‹t.“

* * * * *

Sacrifices 6

Picard‹s door chime sounded and he looked up from his desk.


William Riker stuck his head inside the door.

›You wanted to see me Captain?“

›Number One, yes, come in.“


Riker entered, his hands behind his back. He wasn‹t quite sure what the Captain wanted yet, and he didn‹t know what it was he expected, but it didn‹t look serious. For that he was grateful. After everything that had gone on in the past few days, more than anything, all he wanted was a little rest and relaxation.

He couldn‹t take much more of this. After the talk with Deanna in Ten-Forward he left bitter. He went back to his quarters and changed into some work out clothes and headed for the gym. He ran five miles, shot some basketball, and lifted weights before Deanna arrived. When she did, it was like everything that had been said was gone. They were cordial, did t‹ai chi together, and then the Captain called Deanna away to escort a new passenger to her quarters.

She invited Will to come along with her. The walk from the gym was slightly odd at first, but became more and more engaging as they made their separate ways to their quarters to freshen up. When he saw Deanna enter the transporter room it was like he fell in love with her all over again.

Will felt like he was on an emotional roller coaster. He felt high one minute and down in the dumps the next. This couldn‹t go on much longer or else he thought he would explode and jump on the first person that provoked him. The weird thing was, he felt like he was seventeen all over again. Learning out on his own, with no help, and driven by testosterone.

›Have a seat,“ Picard said, motioning to the couch.

Will gladly followed his orders and sat down on the couch. Picard placed down the pad he was looking at and walked around his desk. He sat at on the edge of it and folded his arms.

›Dickens, sir?“ Will asked, being cordial.

›Holmes,“ the Captain replied and smiled.

›You wanted to see me sir,“ Riker asked, turning serious.

›Yes, I did,“ Picard replied.

›What about?“

›I‹ve reviewed your notes on the happenings and events from the past few days. I must say the dealings with the Sindareen are quite disturbing.“

›You‹re telling me,“ Riker said softly.

›The fact that someone from the future would want to come back and kill Deanna Troi, is quite troubling. And the presence of your future self, Number One, couldn‹t have made it any better.“

›Sir, I hate to be rude by saying this, but I really don‹t want to talk about this right now.“

›I didn‹t bring you in here to talk about it.“

›Then why did you bring me in here, sir?“

Riker wasn‹t too happy. It was hard enough living through the experience of the past few days, but it was even harder to hear someone else talking about them, and him reliving them as they spoke. He just wished everyone would leave him alone about everything.

›I came here to tell you that we‹re making our way back to Earth. There‹s a few things that Geordi wants to get checked out onboard the ship and I figured that a shore leave is overdue and that the crew would be most happy if they could get home to see their family.“

Riker leaned back and fidgeted on the couch. He wasn‹t sure what Picard wanted to say to him, but what he just heard sounded like music to his ears. He knew the Captain recognized that Will wanted to get away from everything more than anyone. He also knew the Captain well enough to know that he would leave him alone until he was ready to talk about what happened, and not just as his Captain, but as a friend.

The two shared a confidence that every Captain and his First Officer shared, but none were ever as close as these two were. They were inseparable and William Riker would do anything to keep his Captain out of trouble and out of harms way and though there were a few occasions where Picard would go over Riker‹s head, Will knew why he would do it and he stepped gracefully down.


›I wanted you to be the first to know, Will,“ Jean-Luc followed ›I know that next to Counselor Troi, you more than anyone else on board this ship need some time away from this place.“


›Thank you, Captain. You read my mind,“ he said as he physically relaxed, but not by much. The Captain‹s drop of formality made him almost uneasy.

There was a silence between the two as Jean-Luc studied his First Officer.

›Will, is everything all right?“

›Everything is perfectly fine, Captain.“

Jean-Luc knew his First Officer better than anyone on the ship. Hell, he knew all of his senior staff better than half of his family. Working so close and in dangerous situations calls for you to get personal with your staff and learn things you may have never wanted to know. But he was thankful for it.

He knew Will was lying, but as always, he was going to wait until Will was ready to come out and speak his mind on his own. It had been a rough few days for his First Officer and he knew that Will was still trying to work out everything in his head. He also knew that Deanna was good at hiding her feelings, but given the circumstances she wouldn‹t come to him. If anyone she would go to Guinan. He knew better than anyone the power of healing that Guinan had over people, even if it was just by talking their way through something.

›If you don‹t mind my asking, how is Counselor Troi?“ Picard finally asked.

›She‹s doing all right.“

›How is she holding up?“

›Better than I would have expected, but that‹s Deanna for you.“

›How so?“

›She masks her feelings in a way that makes it impossible for even me to try to predict what‹s going on in that head of hers.“

Will paused, not knowing what exactly to say next.

›Go on,“ Picard said, trying to get Will to open up a little more.

›Deanna is only half Betazoid, and can sense other peoples feelings and the thoughts of those whom she is close to. She‹s good at putting her own feelings off to the side, discarding them for the time being, and dealing with other people. It‹s almost like she has this wall that goes up every time something or someone personally attacks her. She doesn‹t deal with it at first, and I don‹t know if it‹s because she doesn‹t want to out of fear or because of her job.“

›Yes, I‹ve noticed that.“

›But it frustrates the hell out of me every time she does it because I need closure; I deal with things upfront and right when they happen, but in dealing with her, I have to give her time. I have to wait for her to come around and deal with it before I can and it drives me nuts every single time.“

›Yes, Will, but you have to think of it from her personal point of view. You have her to counsel you Who does she have? She‹s the ship Counselor. Her duty is to the ship. Maybe she doesn‹t want to deal with her feelings at first because that‹s just one more thing she has to deal with. But also, who counsels the Counselor?“

›You‹re right. I‹m just a selfish bastard, that‹s what you‹re saying?“

Picard laughed and Riker slightly smiled.

›Where will you go?“ he asked, breaking the silence that had begun once again.

›I don‹t know yet. Far away from here though,“ Riker replied.

›Well, you have a little bit of time to decide. We won‹t dock for three days. Meanwhile, get some rest. You look like you haven‹t slept for days.

›Only days? It‹s not so bad after all.“

Will got up from the couch and straightened his uniform. He nodded at Picard before he turned and walked out the doors that opened before him and then closed with a whoosh. Picard sat back down on the edge of his desk and became lost in thought.

* * * * *

›Status report,“ Thomas Riker called out from the bridge of the Gandhi.

›She‹s traveling at warp 3, sir. Shields are down and they are not on alert. Our presence is unknown at this time,“ the helmsman called out.

’Unknown or uncared for?‹ Thomas thought to himself. Thomas Riker sat back in his chair and rubbed the beard on his face. Everything was on time as scheduled and was going as planned. He stood and straightened his uniform, pulling the top down and back into place.

›If you need me, I‹ll be in my Captain‹s room, helmsman.“

›Aye, sir.“

›Inform me if the Enterprise makes any sudden adjustments other than recorded.“

›Yes, sir.“

Thomas Riker walked the few short steps over to his Captain‹s room. The doors swooshed open at his detected presence and closed behind him. Thomas walked over and sat down behind his desk. He looked around for a few minutes and picked up a pad that was sitting at the far end of it. He gave it a once over and kicked his heels up onto the edge of the desk and leaned back in his chair. He punched a few buttons on the pad and it complied with his demands.

Thomas skimmed over the specs of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D. He wasn‹t familiar with the federation galaxy class starship but it wasn‹t all that hard to figure out. On the pad two rooms were marked with an X and dots indicated the passageway in which he was to take. He reread the schematics, putting them to memory. He didn‹t have much time to do what he had planned and there was also little room for error.

A page sounded from thin air.

›Riker here.“

›Sir, I think you need to take a look at this,“ the helmsman called out.

›What is it, ensign?“ Thomas said annoyed.

›It‹s the Enterprise, sir.“

›What about it?“

›Well, it‹s , it‹s changed course, sir.“

›To what?“

›It‹s headed right for us, sir.“

Thomas Riker sprung up from his chair and entered the bridge. He stared at the view screen and watched as the galaxy class starship made its way towards them, closing the gap. He scoured at the screen as the starship moved closer and closer and then came to a halt not too far away from his own ship.

* * * * *

Sacrifices 7/?

They are hailing us, sir, the helmsman from the bridge of the USS

Enterprise called out.


Open hailing frequencies.

Hailing frequencies open, sir.

This is Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the starship Enterprise. To whom is

it that I speak?

The view screen flickered and a young man appeared on the screen. He

looked too young to be a Captain, Picard thought, but he wasnt going to

question it.

Captain Picard, its a pleasure to finally meet you.

Picard smiled wanly.

The pleasure is all mine, Mister...

Jarrell. Please, Captain, call me Leslie.

Picard smiled in appreciation. This would be easier than he thought.


What can I do for you, Mister Jarrell?


* * * * *

The young ensign looked nervous to Thomas. He hoped Picard wouldnt

notice, but above all else, he hoped that Deanna Troi wasnt on the bridge at

that moment. He didnt think she was, but for all he knew, she was sitting

to the left of Picards chair. If she were to sense the malice in the

ensigns voice, or the thoughts of Thomas behind him, then he would be


Dont look at me, look at the view screen! Thomas muttered to the


The young ensign shifted his eyes back to the view screen to see Picard

waiting on him.

What can I do for you, Captain?

Actually, I was wondering if there was anything I could do for you.

The ensign looked around worriedly. He didnt know what to say.

Thomas Riker sat back against the bulkhead, out of sight, and hit his


What was that? Picard asked curiously.


Nothing, Captain. My security chief is working on a few tactical

problems as we speak. As to your question, I dont know of anything that is

wrong over here other than the few problems at tactical which we are taking

care of as we speak.

He watched Picard on the view screen and Thomas did the same from

between a crack in the console at tactical.

Ask him if theres something wrong, Thomas muttered to the nervous


is there something that you know that you are not telling me, Captain?

Should I be worried?

No, no. Im sorry to have disturbed you.

Please, call me Leslie.

Yes, of course. Leslie. Let us know if we can be of service to you.

I will, Captain. Thank you. Jarrell out.

* * * * *

Jean-Luc raised his hand and the ensign cut off the transmission. He

walked back and sat in his chair, rubbing his chin with one hand. Its

times like these that I need Counselor Troi beside me, he thought. If only

she were here, she could voice my concerns and tell me if Im just being


Ensign, full stop.

Full stop, sir,the young helmsman replied.

Mr. Data... Picard paused.

Yes, sir?

Run a check on the First Officer of the Gandhi for me. Also, check all

activities of the ship within the past few months. I want a detailed list of

all the missions that ship has been on, and a passenger crew list as well.

Aye, sir. Sir?

Yes, Commander?

I would assume that since we have come to a full stop that we shall be

delaying our departure to Earth?

Yes, yes, Picard said, rubbing his jaw. He knew that some of the

crew, especially his First Officer, wouldnt like it too much, but he was too

suspicious of the Gandhi at this point to let is pass.

And Mr. Data?

Yes, sir?

Do not mention any of this to Commander Riker or Counselor Troi.

Data stared at him with a puzzled look.

Ill explain later.

With that Picard stood up and walked towards his ready room.

âI expect that list on my desk at 2100 hours Mr. Data.

Aye, Captain.

The doors swooshed closed behind Picard as Data made his way up the ramp

and into the turbo lift. The doors shut with a swoosh in front of him.


* * * * *

Sacrifices 8/?

You fool! Picard was on to us! Thomas Riker said, standing up from

behind the security console and looking fiercely at the young ensign.

Im sorry, sir.

I asked you to do one simple job and that was to act as First Officer

of the ship. You acted as if you were on a stage in front of the whole

federation and trying to get out of a lie

Thomas Riker turned at the sudden feeling of a hand on his shoulder.

Thomas, do not fear. He is not on to us. If he was, we would know.

You dont know the Captain of the USS Enterprise as I do, Sela. Do

not tell me that Im wrong!

Thomas, if he is on to us, what is he going to do? Shoot us down? His

own Starfleet ship?

If he issuspicious...

If he is suspicious then we will deal with it. Until then, tell your

ensign to calm down and get back to work.

Do as youre told Riker muttered towards the ensign.

He moved back to his station and took a seat, wiping the beads of sweat

from his face.

Do not worry, Thomas. Everything is under control. Do not be afraid.

I am not afraid.


* * * * *

The door of Jean-Luc Picards Captain's cabin chirped and he looked up

from the pad he was studying.


Data entered and the doors closed behind him. He walked over to the

Captain and placed a small pad on his desk.

Here are the specifics you requested, Captain.

Thank you, Mr. Data. That is all.

Data turned to leave, but Picard called out to him before he made it to

the door. The Second Officer turned in his footsteps and peered at his


Mr. Data, Im sorry. A moment of your time if you don't mind.

Of course, Captain.

Data waited for the captain to speak, unsure of what it was that he

wanted. A million different calculations and scenarios ran through Datas

head at that moment, but only one was correct.

Mr. Data, may I ask you a question?

Of course, Captain.

Earlier on the bridge when I spoke to the First Officer of the Gandhi,

did you think anything was odd or out of place?

Well, Captain, if you would read the specifics I handed you a few

moments earlier, you would see that Leslie Jarrell is in fact not the First

Officer of the Gandhi, but an ensign.

What was an ensign doing acting as First Officer?


I believe, sir, that either the captain was incapacitated at the time,

taken prisoner on his own ship, or killed by someone trying to take over the


But why would someone want to take over the Gandhi? Its not exactly

a highly ranked or important ship in Starfleet.


That is precisely what I have been endeavoring to find out, sir.

Have you reached any conclusions yet?

None yet, sir.

Mr. Data, Im going to be honest with you. Earlier when I asked you to

get this information for me, it was because I had feared what I think is now


Data patiently waited for Picard to continue. Jean-Luc picked up the pad

and skimmed over the material. When he finally spoke, Picard looked up to

Data and laid down the pad.

Mr. Data, I believe that the Captain of the Gandhi is not dead, but he

is being held captive on his own ship. I also believe that the captors of

the Gandhi are one of our worst enemies.

The Borg, sir?

No. If it were the Borg I would know about their presence.


The Klingon alliances are shaky at best, but with the peace talks going

on right now, I doubt that anything of this nature would be going on with

them at the helm of it.

Romulan, sir, Data stated plainly.

Yes. And no. There has been no ill conceptions about the Romulans

lately and I am very confident that they do not have any ill wishes against

the Federation right now, at least not enough to strike out against the

flagship of the Federation, but I do believe *a* Romulan is behind this.

Sela, sir?

Picards mouth tightened and he made a curt nod.

Yes. But for whom or for what, I do not know. Data, I know about your

relations with Tasha Yar and I know that you were close to her. I hope that

this shall not affect you or your performance in anyway.

I am amachine, sir. I can not feel anything.

Picard nodded.

I was hoping that would be your response.

Were you expecting differently, sir?

No, no. Mr. Data, I want you and Geordi to run a full diagnostic of

the ship. Make sure nothing is out of the ordinary, not even by point one

percent. Contact Commander Riker and ask him to help with the diagnostic-

Data's head twitched.

"Commander Riker, sir?

Yes. I want him to help out. Get him away from the bridge. In fact,

have him do a background check on our guest, Lora McDonald. Also, tell

Counselor Troi that I would like a complete background check and diagnosis

ofboth Sela and Thomas Riker.

Thomas Riker, sir?

Better yet, Ill contact Counselor Troi myself.

Aye, Captain.

That will be all.

Data turned, but before taking a step and activating the sensors on the

door, he turned back around to face Picard.

Sir, if you don't mind my asking...?

Picard looked up from the pad he was studying that Data had just


Yes, Mr. Data. Go ahead.

Am I correct in assuming that you believe Thomas Riker has a part in

this charade?

Picard thought for a few moments.

Yes, he finally said and gave a curt nod.

If you do not mind my asking, why, sir?

I honestly dont quite know yet, Mr. Data.

Thank you, sir.

With that, Data turned and exited the Captain's ready room and the doors

slid shut behind him.


* * * * *

Sacrifices 10/?

William Riker rounded the corner of the hall and ran smack into

Deanna Troi. Will raised his arms and grabbed Deannas to stop himself from

running smack into her. Deanna put up her arms to stop her from running into

Will herself and ended up with both ofher hands flat against Wills chest.


William T. Riker, if I didnt know any better, Id swear you

did that on purpose.


Will laughed. Me? On purpose?


Deanna gave him the look he knew all too well that said, Save

it, and he put up his arms in mock defense.


What are you doing down here, anyway? Deanna asked.


What am I doing down here? What are you doing down here? Its

not very often that the ships Counselor is found wandering around



Captain Picard assigned me to run a few background and

diagnostic checks. I was just heading to the library. What are you doing

down here?


The same. Will paused, curious as to why the two of them

would be running background checks, and on whom exactly. Who are you

running them on?

Deanna thought seriously before answering. She didnt want to

make Will paranoid or ask any questions that would lead to what she was up

to, but at the same time, she couldnt flat out lie to him either.


Thats for me to know, and you to find out, she said playfully

as she moved around him and headed towards the library, not even looking

back. She knew exactly what wason his mind and what he was thinking; but she

also knew he wouldnt say it out loud to her and admit it.


Wait a minute. You to know and me to find out? Will headed

after her, running to catch up.

* * * * *


Report, Ensign, Thomas Riker commanded.


The Enterprise is holding their position, sir,Ensign Jarrell



Anything different within the past few hours?


Scans for life signs have been performed, we have been scanned,

and weapons have been checked, sir.


Exactly as I had predicted, Sela quipped.


Thomas, still not too happy from the predicament they were placed

in earlier, turned to look at Sela.


Can I have a word with you?


Sela looked at Thomas questioningly.


In private, Thomas added.

Of course, Sela replied.


Sela walked into the Captains holding room ahead of Thomas.

When she heard the doors close behind him, she turned around and kissed

Thomas passionately. After a few moments of a brief but intensive kiss,

Thomas pulled away, grasping Selas wrists and pulling her off of him.


If you ever do that to me again, I will kill you where you

stand,Thomas growled.


You, Thomas Riker, are a mere mortal. Do you honestly think

that you, a refugee, could get away with killing me, a High Commander of the

Romulan army?


You are not a High Commander, Thomas spat out and jerkily let

go of Selas wrists.


ou are in exile just like me, so dont you dare pull rank over

me like you think you can. This is my ship! You do what I say!


Sela took another step closer to Thomas and ran one hand down his

chest and the other through his hair. Thomas glared back at her and just

when she thought she had his attention she pulled back on his hair, throwing

his head back, exposing the arteries of his neck.


If I wanted to, Thomas Riker, I could kill you right now.

You wouldnt.

Wouldnt I?


You dont have the guts to do it. Nor can your plan proceed

without me, so I suggest you treat me with respect.


Sela let go of Thomas hair and turned around, making her way to

the desk behind her. She sat down on the edge.

You have no idea what my plan is, Thomas, Sela spat out.

Without you, you are correct, it has a lower percentage of working as I

have planned it to. With you I can achieve more than I ever dreamed and so

much faster and in a more simple manner. Without you, however, believe it or

not, it is possible. It would be a more tedious and longer approach, but

within the realm of possibility. So do not think for an instant that you are

immortal next to me because I do not have to have you inorder to get what I

want. It is only a perk.


Tell me what your plan is.


When I believe you are ready to know, I will tell you.


When Im ready to know? You keeping me in the dark is only

going to make the situation harder! I cant be kept clueless about this



Sela hopped off the table and slowly edged closer to Thomas,

making him feel uncomfortable. At arms length away, with one finger she

traced random figures on his chest, like a lover would to their spouse, only

not so politely and lovingly.


You are kept clueless for your own good, Thomas Riker! It is to

your better judgment to keep quiet about me and lay low yourself, otherwise

not only will my plan fail, but you will be sent back to that prison camp

that you became so fond of!

Just dont question my own command, Sela.


At that she laughed, a boisterous laugh that could be heard

through the doors of the room.


I shall do what I want, she replied, kissing him fiercely

again, this time though, Thomas didnt respond by pushing her away. He

simply stood there, and finally she stopped, smacking him on the cheek before

turning and leaving the room. Thomas Riker stood there, not knowing what to



* * * * *

Sacrifices 11/?

Deanna sat at a computer console, working on a background check

and diagnoses of Thomas Riker. She had already finished the background check

on Sela without finding anything out of the ordinary and had transferred the

material to the pad that she would later give to the Captain as he requested.


She sensed Will across from her and knew that he was working hard

at the screen in front of him, but she didn‘t pry too deep because she knew

he wouldn‘t like it very much if she went against his wishes and sought out

the answer as to whom he was doing a background check on. Because she had

been playful and hid the answer as to whom she was working on, for his own

good no less, Will decided to do the same. It was only fair, she mused.

Will creased his brow and she couldn‘t help but look at him and

want to run her hands through his hair. She thought about walking over,

running her hands through his hair or giving him a massage just long enough

to get a peak as to whom he was doing a background check on, but then she

thought it was absurd.

‗What am I thinking,‘ she thought to herself. ‗This is Will

Riker I‘m talking about here; we‘re good friends. Only good friends,‘ she

emphasized to herself. But she couldn‘t help but think back to running her

hands through his hair.

She looked down at her screen to take her mind off of Will and

try to get back to the business at hand, but it quickly bored her and she

looked back up to find Will staring at her. He quickly looked back down to

his computer console and she grinned. She knew exactly what he was thinking

about, the background check; but behind it all, there was something playful.

Deanna debated whether or not to get up and go over to him, but

as always, reason and judgment won over her emotions so she stayed back. She

felt a playful edge to Will when he looked up at her. She saw something in

his eyes that she hadn‘t seen in a long time, but she wasn‘t sure as to why

it was there or what he was up to. Will was working on his background checks

again and she felt that he was at ease so she went back to hers as well.

Deanna looked back to the screen and at the small photo of Thomas

Riker that was in front of her. If Will had known that Picard had her doing

a background check on his duplicate she knew that he would be upset, which

was why she didn‘t flat out tell him that that was what she was up to. Not to

mention the feeling of playfulness that she sensed from him. She wasn‘t

quite sure yet where it came from but she was sure that she wanted to figure

out just that.

Deanna looked at the picture and thought of Thomas and the last

time they talked face to face; of how he propositioned her to come aboard the

Gandhi with him. She wanted so badly to fall in love with him all over

again, but she didn‘t know the Thomas Riker that came from that transporter

malfunction. Essentially he was the same young Lieutenantthat she knew back

on Betazed, but as Will Riker stated during that mission where they found

Thomas, for all she knew he might again choose his career over their

relationship, and losing him once was bad enough. She didn‘t think she would

be able to withstand losing him again, so in the end she declined and Thomas

Riker went on his way; and now look where he wound up: in a practically

inescapable prison camp.


Deanna closed her eyes and rubbed the bridge of her nose. Her

eyes were growing tired and weary from staring at a computer screen for the

past few hours. When she opened them, she looked down at the onboard timer

next to her panel. It read twenty-three hundred hours.

When she looked up from the timer she looked in Will‘s direction

only to find that he was gone. She looked from left to right but he was

nowhere in sight. She sat up straighter in her chair and looked over the

counter of the console that stood between her computer and the one Will was

using but instead of finding Will on the other side, she gasped aloud as

someone grabbed her roughly from behind, covering her mouth.


* * * * *

Deanna jumped at the feeling of someones hand covering her mouth

and their arm wrapped around her stomach. She wanted to scream but there was

something at the back of her captors mind that made her stop. At the back

of everything there was something old, something familiar.


Guess who.


William Thomas Riker, I swear Im going to shoot you, Deanna

said after Will removed his hand from her mouth. She turned around and

smacked him on the chest and he looked at her like he didnt do anything



Wow. Two William Thomas Rikers in one day, he replied

with a grin.


You deserved that! Dont even pretend like you didnt.


What did I do? he asked.


You scared the crap out of me, Will! she replied.


I what? Will said laughing. I came up behind you and played

a game that my mother use to play on me when I was little.

Will, you cant just go around disappearing when you want to

and then sneaking up behind me and scaring me like that!

Sneaking around? Deanna, I simply got up, walked behind you,

and put my hands on you.

Deanna laughed at that. When Will finished that last statement

she knew exactly what was on his mind.

What? he asked her.

Will, if you wanted to play, all you had to do was ask, she

replied in a seductive tone.

Play? he said curiously.


Yes, play.


If I wanted to play, Deanna, Id simply do this.

Will reached down and grabbed Deanna by the hips and drew her

near to him, pulling her against his body. Deannas lips were mere inches

from his, and Will licked his lips. He let out the breath he was holding and

closed his eyes, but instead of kissing her he put his forehead against hers.


Will pulled Deannas arms around his neck and lifted her chin

with one finger. She looked at him hungrily and then leaned in to kiss him.

Wills hands raised up to cup Deannas face and when their lips met, it was

like nobody was around. They kissed each other with a passion that only long

lost lovers could possess. After a few moments of a passionate kiss, Will

pulled back.

Deanna stood there, not knowing what to do. She knew exactly

what her body wanted to do; it wanted to pull Will even closer and feel his

lips on hers again, but her mind thought differently. Deannas arms dropped

back to her side and Will grasped Deanna by the waist again. Both of them,

panting from the brief burst of emotion, looked at each other, not sure of

what to say or do.

Deanna, I...


Will, she said, placing a hand on his mouth to hush him. I

dont know what that was about. Im not going to pretend and say that I

didnt want that to happen, but I also dont know where it came from.


Deanna paused, not knowing what to say or even how to explain it

to Will.


For the past few hours I have felt different, Will. I have no

idea what it is. Its great; its exhilarating, its fantastic, but its

beginning to scare me. So many things, so many images have popped into my

head in the past few hours and I have no idea where they come from or what

Im thinking when they pop up, but I know something here is not right.

She stopped as she closed her eyes and tried to get her bearings

straight. Will, somethings wrong, she finally said.


Deanna swayed a bit and Will tightened his grip on her. She

closed her eyes to stop the floor from spinning but it didnt work.


Deanna, are you all right?


I dont know. All of a sudden I feel dizzy.


Im going to take you to sick bay.


No, Will, dont. Im fine, she said, putting a hand on his

chest. Im fine.

Will looked at her, trying to discern whether or not she was

telling the truth.


Will, Im not lying to you.


Why dont you go back to your quarters? It is kind of late.


I thinkI might.


Whatever just happened, it was almost as if the two completely

forgot about it. They didnt mention it, but Deanna still felt as if there

was something wrong, almost like, that brief outburst of sudden emotion was

not the only one that would surface. What was strange, though, was that it

wasnt as if it was someone elses emotions coming out, but a suppressed

emotion that found its way to the top.


Will you be ok? Will asked?


Ill be fine.


Would you like me to walk you back to your quarters? Make sure

you get there all right?

Deanna smiled. It was so like him to always care for her. Its

what he did best, even when they decided only to be friends, he still looked

out for her.


I think I can manage, Deanna replied.


OK. Promise me, though, that youll hail me if anything should



I promise.


Will smiled and pulled Deanna into a tight embrace. Deanna

looked up and Will kissed her lightly on the lips, so much differently than

the brief kissed they shared a few minutes earlier, but this time it was

different. This time it was the kiss of a friend, not that of a lover.


Deanna squeezed Wills hand and walked off behind him, getting

stronger with each stride. When she turned the corner and was out of sight,

she found a short hallway that was rarely traversed and unoccupied and she

rounded the corner and leaned up against the wall. She closed her eyes and

rested her head against the wall behind her. When she opened them she fought

to keep back the tears stinging her eyes. After a few seconds she composed

herself and finished the walk to her quarters.

Will watched Deanna round the corner and he turned back around.

He looked at the wall in front of him and sighed heavily. He didnt know

exactly what just happened, but he knew it felt different than ever before.

He shrugged it off and noticed the pad that Deanna had left behind. He knew

she was doing background checks and he figured that she was done with them,

but he didnt know for sure. He picked up the pad, placing it under the one

he had been working on, and headed for her quarters. Least he could do was

take it to her and ask.


* * * * *

Sacrifices 12/?

Deanna rounded the final corner before coming to a halt in front

of the door to her quarters. Something felt different, out of place. Ever

since she felt dizzy and out of it she had felt distant in more ways than

one. She stepped closer to the door and it swooshed open. Right at that

moment Will Riker stepped into sight.


’Will, I thought you ’


’I thought you were ’ the two said at the same time.


’You go first, ’ Deanna said.


’You first, Deanna, ’ Will spoke at the same time=

as Deanna.


Deanna looked at the floor and smiled as Will waited for her to



’I was just going to say that I thought you were going to the bridge. ’


’I was, ’ Will replied. ’But I decided to stop by here first.

You left these, ’ Will said and held up the pads that Deanna was work

ing on earlier.

Immediately her eyes shifted to the pads in Wills handsand she

looked at them worriedly. Before she thought he could see her uneasiness she

looked up into his eyes and smiled. She thought for a moment she had escaped

unnoticed, but Will was a lot smarter and in tune with her expressions than

she often gave him credit for.


’What? ’ he asked.


’Its nothing, ’ Deanna said and reached out her hand for the pads.


Will looked at her curiously and pulled the pads to his chest,

meaning to be playful but it only irritated Deanna and he noticed.


’Is there something on these Im not supposed to know about? ’


’No, Will, just ... can I have them back?


’First you tell me whats on them. ’


’Will, I cant. ’

’Why not? ’

’I just cant. ’

Will began to get frustrated but reached out his arm and placed

the pad in Deannas hand.

’Deanna, if you are hiding something from me ’

’Im not, Will. I just ’

’You just what? ’

Deanna stared at Will, silently pleading for him not to ask what=


was on the pads. Will knew she was keeping something from him, something

that she didnt want him to know about, but he wasnt sure what. Deanna was

Betazoid and Betazoids dont lie, but Deanna was only half Betazoid. Her

human side often took over her Betazoid upbringing, but as far as he knew she

had never lied to him before. However, it wouldn=E2=80=99t be too out of place for

her to keep something from him just long enough to keep him from getting


Deannas profession called for privacy above all else. Deanna

herself was a rather private person, especially when it came to her own

emotions and how she felt about things, but she would often open up to Will.


He had to practically drag things out of her, but at least he got them to the

surface. The only problem with that though is that she often chose herself

what was right or wrong for Will, and in this instance Will knew she was

keeping something from him. He knew she was looking out for his best

interest, but it still hurt like hell that she wouldnt tell him.

’I just thought it would be in your best interest to not apprise

you of the situation right now, ’ she finally said after a long pause


’You know I could order you to show me whats onthat pad. ’


’Yes, but I dont believe you would. ’


Will squinted his eyes at her, not sure what to make of that

statement. Deanna could sense that Will was hiding something, but he was

doing a pretty damned good job of keeping it a secre teven from a top mental

scan of him.

’Pride for your job always wins over, Will Riker. You wouldnt

order me to do something you knew wasnt significant or considered necessary.

Besides, curiosity is a trait I admire, ’ she said and smiled.


Will simply made a curt nod and wore a fake smile. He took a few steps closer to her, standing mere inches from her face.

’Deanna, were best friends, right? Confidantes? ’


Deanna was puzzled. The question came out of nowhere, but if he

was asking it because of what she thought he was asking it for, then she was in trouble.


’Of course, Will. We always have been, and always will be. Why do you ask that? ’


’Because best friends dont keep things from each other, even if the other thinks it will hurt their companion in some way. They dont keep things that are matters of the heart from each other. ’


And with that Will walked past Deanna and out her door.


Oh gods, she thought. He knows. He

knows I was looking up Thomas Riker. Damnit! The door closed behind Will and

Deanna stood there with her hand over her mouth in surprise. Thats what I couldnt figure out. Thats what he was hiding, she thought. He knew I was running a background check on Thomas Riker, she kept repeating in her head.


She put two and two together, and even though it was the wrong

answer, she thought it was the right one. ’Oh gods. He thinks I did it

because of the gift fromThomas that Lora gave me. He thinks Im checking up

on Thomas because I miss him. Deannas hand dropped from h

er mouth and with her head hung low, she dropped down to sit on the couch, her hand

holding her up as she massaged her temples and the pounding headache that

just as suddenly as the conversation had turned south came out of nowhere.

* * * * *

Captain Jean-Luc Picard sat at the desk in his ready room, lost

in thought. His attention was focused on the fish tank in front of him that

sat against the far wall near the entrance. The tranquil tank calmed Picard

as he stared at it. The small fish, swimming back and forth, mesmerized him

and Picard was startled when he heard the ring of the comm in his ready room

followed by the voice of an ensign on the Bridge.

’Sir, the Gandhi has ’

’Has what, ensign? ’ Picard asked.

’It=E2=80=99s sent a probe out, sir, ’ the ensign=


’We’re stationed near a rather newly discovered =

planet, ensign.

Sending a probe out wouldnt be unusual under the circumstances.

’Well, sir, the probe is not exactly scanning the planet=

. ’

’What is it scanning? ’

’Us, sir. ’

* * * * *




Sacrifices 13/?

The door to the Captains ready room swooshed open and Captain

Jean-Luc Picard entered the bridge, tugging on the hem of his shirt.


Report, ensign, Picard commanded.


Sir, the Gandhi sent out a type C probe and it is orbiting us,

collecting information.


Shields up, Picard replied.


Shields up, sir, Lieutenant Worf replied.


The board in front of the young ensign beeped at her and lit up

with information.


Sir? she said concerned.


What is it now, ensign?


The probe, sir. Its gone, she replied.


* * * * *

What the hell is going on?

Lieutenant Commander Geordi LaForge made his way to a console a

few feet away. He looked at the consoles in concern, not sure of what was

going on.

Geordi tapped his comm. badge.

LaForge to Captain Picard, he said.

What is it, Lieutenant? Picard replied.

Sir, were experiencing some technical difficulties down here.

Is everything all right up on the bridge?

What kinds of technical difficulties, Lieutenant?

Well, sir, I cant exactly explain it.

Whats the problem?

Thats just it, sir. There doesnt seem to be any problem when

we run diagnostics, but the boards are all basically just screaming at me.


Screaming at you?

Yes, sir. Theyre all lit up, saying that something is wrong,

that something is off, but when I run tests they turn out to be working


Im sending Commander Data down to engineering to help you find

the problem. He’ll explain to you what just occurred.

Thank you, sir. LaForge out.

Geordi tapped his badge, ending the conversation. He stood up

against a console, both arms spread out in front of him.

All right. Lets try to figure out just what the hell is going

on, he said.

Montelepre, Labrecque, you two run a diagnostic of all the

equipment in engineering. I want to make sure that the tests were running

are coming back with the correct results.

Aye, sir, the two responded simultaneously and got to work.

* * * * *

Sacrifices 14/?

Deanna Troi sat alone in her office.  After Will had left her earlier she felt as though she just had to leave.  She couldnt stand to stay in her quarters. Everywhere she looked she was reminded of him and what he said to her: Best friends dont keep things from each other. Even if the other thinks it will hurt their companion in some way, they dont keep things that are matters of the heart from each other, he had said.

She rolled it around in her head; she couldnt shake it loose.  She thought at the time that he knew exactly what she was doing earlier, but the more she thought about it, the more she figured that it was just Will being hurt that she would hide something from him.  

It wasnt often that she did.  It wasnt often that either of them did.  They are Imzadi.  Even if another woman or another man came into either of their lives, they talked about it with each other, as friends, as confidantes, as past lovers who understood each other and who were committed to making their friendship last.  So when one or the other hid something, not saying anything or concealing bits and pieces, it was for their better judgment.  

 It wasnt often, but when it happened it always hurt like hell, and this time she knew Will hurt like hell.  She could see it in his eyes when he had turned and walked away from her.  She didn‘t realize it at the time because she was caught off guard by him being outside her quarters when she arrived, but behind everything, Will wasn t hurt as much that she would hide a piece of information from him that related to work, but that he felt that there might be a possibility that it pertained to him.  

 Deanna picked up the padd that she was studying and sat back on the couch in her office, tucking her legs under her.  She looked over at the clock on her table.  It was early; too early.  When Will had left her quarters it was nearly 0100 hours.  Now it was nearing 0330 hours.  She knew she needed to go back to her quarters and get some rest so that she wasnt a complete zombie in the morning when she had bridge duty, but she couldnt pull herself away from the padd she was looking at until she knew she had put down everything, every feeling, exactly as she felt right then.

Deanna yawned and started punching buttons on the padd.  She reread what she had written, hoping that it would still make sense to her in the morning, or the next day, or the day after that. About a month ago she started writing a journal, keeping a diary of all the things that she felt or thought about that were worth maybe reading again, whether by her, or for all she knew by Will Riker.


 She looked down at the padd in her hand and skimmed it one last time, making sure that she got everything right before saving the words that she had spoken earlier:

 Crawling in my skin, these wounds, they will not heal.  Fear is how I fall, confusing what is real. Theres something inside me that pulls beneath the surface consuming confusing.  This lack of self-control I fear is never-ending controlling.  I cant seem to find myself again; my walls are closing in, without a sense of confidence, and Im convinced that theres just too much pressure to take.  Ive felt this way before, so insecure.  Discomfort, endlessly, has pulled itself upon me distracting reacting.  Against my will I stand beside my own reflection.  Its haunting how I cant seem to find myself again.  My walls are closing in.  Ive felt this way before, so insecure.

 Deanna punched a button on the padd for the final time saving the log, but not fully securing it. The padd had a security protocol on it, only allowing Deanna access to the private message, much like to her professional files, but this one wasnt a professional document, nor did it have the key password as her files did, but a personal one that she and one other person on the flagship knew.

 She put the padd down on her desk and leaned back, rubbing her temples.  She looked one final time at the clock on her table.  0343.  She sighed heavily and stood up on exhausted legs.  She made her way back to her quarters, unbeknownst to her that she wasnt the only senior officer that was having troubles sleeping that night.

* *

 Will Riker fumbled the small object in his right hand.  It was a capsule, full of holographic pictures of him and Deanna when they first met back on Betazed.  And then there were a few more throughout the years of all the rekindled and failed lapses of what they called a relationship.  

 He shook his head and laid the capsule back in its resting place: a box of unmentionables that Deanna didnt even know he had.  It held things from their past, things that if she knew he kept, she would break down and cry.  Things like a leaf from the Jalara Jungle.  


He remembered the day he saw a box full of things that Deanna had kept.  He was back on Betazed with her, helping her sort through things up in her room when he came across the box full of past memories.  


Will reached into the box, picking up a leaf, rolling it between his fingers.  He looked up at Deanna, who had, as usual, all of her emotions in check.  

You kept this? he asked, surprised.


Of course.


Do you not recognize it?

Its a leaf, Deanna.

Its a leaf that I found in my hair the following morning after Deanna trailed off.

Will just nodded. He knew what she would have said, had she finished her statement.  He didnt want to bring it up, but he had to finish it for her, to see her reaction, to test the water so to speak.

After we were joined.

You could say that.

Her response wasnt at all what he had hoped for, but he guessed that under the circumstances, they were valid.  Will put the leaf back in the box.  He smiled inside because the funny thing was, he kept a piece that came from her hair too, but he didnt want to say anything because he knew that she would never let him live that one down.  So instead, he picked up a simple piece of paper.

Oh, Deanna, you didnt.

I did, she replied with a smile.


Its beautiful, Will.

Its corny.

Its wonderful.

Its cliched

Its from you; its from your heart.

Oh, now Counselor, are you saying that Im passe? he said as he gave her one of those smiles that always melted her emotions.

Never, she replied, lightly punching him in the stomach.


Will came out of his thoughts and rubbed his eyes.


Computer, time, he demanded.

The voice came back one beat later, 0343 hours.

Wills eyes grew big as he heard the time.  0343 hours.  He knew it was late, but he didnt realize it was that late!  He had a meeting with the Captain in the morning about something.  He wasnt sure what it was yet. Picard had left a message for him earlier that night, probably when he was running background checks in the library with Deanna.

 Deanna.  One simple thought, one simple word, one simple person mentioned, and his thoughts were sent spinning; they landed right back to the padd that set at the table off to his side.  He looked at it once more.  He decided a long time ago to write down all of his feelings and thoughts about her.  It was his poetic side.  He never went to Deanna for counseling.  It would just be too weird.  So instead, to take the place of her listening, he wrote to her, but he never showed it to her; he was too afraid to at this point.

 Their relationship, as of late, was as friends, nothing more.  He didnt want to complicate that by throwing his own feelings in the mix so he sat by and watched Deanna grow up and live without him in her life, at least as a lover.  He was always there for her when she needed a shoulder to cry on, which he figured, wasnt often; he was always there at the end of a hard day when she wanted to work out the kinks of the day doing exercises in the gym; and he was always there for the senior staffs weekly poker game, where the two would banter back and forth, getting odd looks from their crewmates at the seductive teasing between the two.  

 But now, because of the Sindareens and the recent events, Deanna pushed him away.  He wasnt sure why, but she had.  Well, at first she had.  She pushed him away, afraid at first, he knew it, but then she somehow became comfortable with their situation and it was like they were old friends again, the past few days erased from her memory.  But he knew it wasnt that easy.  It wasnt easy to forget the fact that one of your comrades, one of your fellow officers would try to kill you.  

He knew she was shaken and that he should give her time to get over it, and he did just that.  He gave her time to herself, time with her thoughts.  He just hoped that he could tell her what he thought himself before something else happened to take her away from him.

Will looked back to the table off to his side.  There were numerous padds, filled completely of excerpts, poems, and feelings, ranting, all aimed at or for Deanna.  He picked it up suddenly awake.  He rubbed the blurriness out of his eyes and wrote.  

When he was finished, he read over it one final time.  His feelings were so mixed when it came to Deanna, he wasnt sure when she finally did read this correction if she ever did read his ramblings, how she would take them.  This last entry seemed a little harsh, but all in all it explained everything he felt at that time:

Ive lied to you

The same way that I always do

This is the last smile

That Ill fake for the sake of being with you

Everything falls apart; even the people who never frown eventually break down

The sacrifice of hiding in a lie

Everything has to end, youll soon find were out of time left to watch it all unwind

The sacrifice is never knowing

Why I never walked away

Why I played myself this way

Now I see your testing me pushes me away

Ive tried like you

To do everything you wanted to

This is the last time

Ill take the blame for the sake of being with you

Everything falls apart; even the people who never frown eventually break down

The sacrifice of hiding in a lie

Everything has to end, youll soon find were out of time left to watch it all unwind

The sacrifice is never knowing

Why I never walked away

Why I played myself this way

Now I see your testing me pushes me away

Will hit the save button on the padd and threw it back in the box, among everything else that he had already written to Deanna, and shoved the box into a secret place that only he knew about. Not even Deanna knew about it.  How she didnt was beyond his comprehension seeing as how he couldnt ever keep any secrets from her, but this time, it was different.  Will stretched out on the couch and closed his eyes, wishing for sleep to take him over and drown out his thoughts, and they did.

Sacrifices 15/?

Geordi and Data worked at the console in front of them.

Readouts of the diagnostic exam show that everything is

normal, Data said.

Right. Thats what it showed earlier, but like I said, the

panel lit up and everything was going off all at once. It was like a ghost

was running through the ship, tripping all the censors.

Geordi, ghosts do not exist.

Hypothetically speaking, Data.

Of course. But hypothetically speaking, if there were a ghost

running around on the ship, it would not be able set everything off at once,

Data said matter-of-factly to Geordi.

Geordi rolled his eyes beneath his visor and checked a different

system. He threw his fists down on the console and stared at the readouts.

I just dont get it, he said angrily.

You do not get what?

I dont understand what could cause all of these malfunctions

and yet there not be any cause whatsoever. At least none that the computer

is picking up on. He paused. Wait a minute. He snapped his fingers and

moved to a console on the other side of the room.

Data, you said a probe scanned us, right?

That is correct, Geordi, Data replied. A C class probe.

A C class probe. Data, werent those called back when they

were first manufactured because of a bug in them?

Yes. C class probes had a flaw in their design. When probing

other objects they would interfere with certain types of electrical power, so

they were called back to be rebuilt. Now they are spotless in their make-up.

Right, but something is missing. How would interference with

some electrical power cause everything on the board to go off? Theres got

to be a missing link.

Unless of course you are looking in the wrong place, Data


Well, yeah. Unless the probe meant to do it, but thats...

Picard to LaForge.

Geordi tapped his comm. badge. LaForge here, sir. Go ahead.

Mr. LaForge, have you found a solution to the problem yet?

Were still working on it at the moment, sir. Ill have a

working solution to you within hopefully the next few minutes.

Thank you, Commander. Keep me informed.

Will do, sir. LaForge out.

Where was I? Geordi asked before falling onto the console in

front of him.


* * * * *


The deck beneath her feet shook violently, but just as soon as it

had started, it stopped. Deanna pulled herself off of the couch that she had

collapsed onto when the floor beneath her began to shake. She tapped her

comm. badge.

Troi to Picard.

No response.

She tapped her comm. badge again.

Troi to Riker.

Still no response.

Deanna grew agitated and tapped the comm. badge one final time.

Troi to Dr. Crusher.

Deanna sighed heavily at the loss of communication.

Doesnt anything on this ship actually work anymore?

She spoke too soon. The room flooded with darkness just as

quickly as the shaking had began a few minutes earlier.

All right, she said, speaking to no one in general. I guess

I had that one coming.

Deanna put her arms out in front of her, feeling around for any

surface for her hands to make contact with before making contact with the

rest of her body. She took a few steps forward before running smack into the

coffee table at the foot of the couch.

Ouch! she said, biting back a word you rarely hear from her

mouth. Thats going to leave a mark.

She rubbed the soar spot on the front of her calf where a bruise

would show up the next day. She bent over to feel the table. Running her

hands along the solid glass, she finally came to the end of the table and

stood back up to her full height. She knew the door would be straight in

front of her so she carefully and slowly made her way towards it.

She got within a few paces of the door and relaxed inwardly.

She found the button on the side of the wall that controlled the door but

when she touched it, nothing happened. She touched it again, thinking that

maybe she touched the wrong button or the wrong spot, but again, nothing


Just as suddenly as the lights had gone off, they came back on

and the door opened up in front of her. The swoosh of the two pieces opening

up and separating in front of her scared Deanna because she didnt know what

was coming, but more so, the person standing in front of her when the doors

opened made her jump back.

The doors swooshed back together and Deanna inwardly kicked

herself for not knowing that Will Riker was standing on the other side of the


Deanna? he asked, not sure exactly what just happened.

She punched a small button on the left side of the door and it

opened up in front of her again, revealing a somewhat confused looking

Commander Riker.

Are you ok?

Im fine.

When the lights went out, I thought you might be scared.

Deanna laughed. Im not a little girl anymore, Will. I can

take care of myself when the power goes out.

Yes, but I tried calling you on your comm. badge and nobody

answered. I was concerned.

I tried too. Communication all over the ship must be out.

Well, it looks like its back on now.

The two shared a long and uncomfortable pause. Will looked up

and down the hall, his eyes moving around all over the place, looking, hoping

for something to draw his attention. Deanna looked at him and knew that she

would have to have this conversation with him sooner or later and she figured

shed rather go to bed without it on her mind and with it settled than


Would you like to come in, Will? she finally asked, breaking

the silence.

Will looked into Deannas eyes. Yes. Thank you, he said as

she stepped aside for him to step into her quarters. He took a few steps and

the door closed quietly behind him.

Deanna, I, he began, but was cut off by Deanna. She held up a

hand to stop his words.

Will, dont. You dont have to apologize. You didnt do

anything wrong, I did.

But I do, Deanna. And I want to.

Will. Save it.

No, you save it, Deanna.

She stopped moving and talking. It wasnt often that Will cut

into her conversation because he was always the type to hear you out and then

say what was on his mind. But this time he did. This time it was important

that she hear him out first.

I was out of line. I realize that now. All I wanted was to

see what you were working on. I didnt for one second think that you were

trying to keep it from me because you thought it was better that way. I

thought you were just being playful, but when I realized you werent and that

you were honestly trying to keep something from me, it hurt. In fact, it

hurt like hell. I never wanted to believe that you would ever keep anything

from me, but then I realized I do the same to you. I figured that it was

only fair that if I did it to you, then you should do it back to me. Whether

it was something small like an assignment, or whether it was something big

like, I dont know, you keeping from me the fact that, and this is

hypothetically speaking, that you still had feelings for Thomas. Deanna, I

didnt think for one instance that all you had in mind was keeping me happy.

And Im sorry. Im sorry if I came off as a bastard earlier.

Deanna let out the breath she was holding. For the past half

hour she had thought that Will knew about Thomas, but after what he just told

her, she knew that that wasnt the case. Will was just being his normal

self. He didnt know that she was running a background check on Thomas

Riker; he didnt know that she was keeping from him the data that she had

collected earlier; but most of all he didnt know that Thomas was on the


To Deanna, that was a relief. It was like a huge weight was

being lifted from her shoulders. She let her head roll forward and her hair

spilled over her shoulders and down in front of her face.

What? Will asked, reaching out his hand and pushing her

fallen hair back behind herear.

Shelooked up into his eyes. Im sorry too.

For what?

For keeping things from you. For hiding something that youll

probably find out during your shift tomorrow.

Dont be.

I am


Deanna started to speak but then stopped. Im not quite sure.

I guess because if I were in your shoes, Id want an apology.

But you didnt do anything?

Didnt I? she asked rhetorically.

Dee, you were just trying to keep me happy. You were just

trying to protect me. I dont blame you for that. Id have done the same

for you.

Would you?

Yes, I would.

How do you know that?

Because your well being is all I care about anymore.

Wills last words touched Deannas heart in a way she had never

thought possible. It had been a long time since Will had said anything like

that to her, that her existence did mean something to him, but this time

topped all the others and the weird thing was that what he said wasnt all

that special, just that he still cared for.

She took a step closer to him, bridging the gap that was between

them, and put her arms around him. Will happily took her into his arms. He

kissed the top of her head and pulled a loose strand of hair back to its

resting place behind her ear. She let her arms fall at her side and she

breathed in the smell of him.

Oh, how shed missed that smell. She tried explaining it to

Beverly one time and all she could come up with was the smell of his cologne

and his sweat, it was just him. She took as much of it in as she could. She

felt him pull his head away from hers and she looked him in the eyes. He

leaned down and planted a small kiss on her lips and her body melted into

his. He pulled her back into a tight embrace and she wrapped her arms around

his neck, running her fingers through the hair at the base of his neck.

Deanna, do you have any idea just what your...

Shhh, she silenced him.

He pulled her away from him and looked her in the eyes.

Deanna, what are you doing? he pleaded with his eyes.

Im not doing anything, she said with a seductive smile.

Dont do this. He paused. Not if you dont want to.

William Riker, have you ever heard of not spoiling the moment?

I wasnt planning on doing anything. I just wanted to be near you, she

said as she laid her head back on his chest and he pulled her tighter against

his body, taking in the warmth of her. They fit together so perfectly, each

nook and cranny. So perfectly that it felt like their bodies were made next

to each other and then separated. The only difference in the two of them

right then was that he was a little tense.


Deanna kept rubbing the base of Wills neck. He sighed heavily

and then finally gave in. His slightly tensed body let loose and came into

full contact with Deannas, filling every empty void the two of them had and

replacing it with the feel of each of them, together, next to each other,

holding each other tightly. Deanna moved her hands from the base of his neck

and ran them ever so slightly up and down his arms.


Will didnt move. He didnt want to. He was too afraid that

if he did she would realize what she was doing and stop. Every nerve ending

on his body stood at attention, wanting, waiting for Deannas feather light

caress to touch him, to pass over the rest of his body.


God he loved the feel of her. He even loved the smell of her,

so sweet and innocent. He would kiss her forehead or the top of her hair just

to smell her. Hell, he even admitted to walking closely by her in the halls

just to smell her as she walked past.

Deanna stood on tiptoes to reach up as far as she could and she

placed an ever so slight kiss on his collarbone, and then his neck, and then

the bottom of his ear. Will gripped her tighter, pulling her body as close

and tight up against his as he could get it. She obviously didnt know what

she was doing to him. At least he thought she didnt, but she was sure to

find out soon enough.

Deanna tugged on Wills ear with her teeth, lightly pulling on

it just enough to get a response out of him. He took in a deep breath and

let it out, trying not to think of Deanna and him, naked, in the Jalara

Jungle back on Betazed. He had to keep his control right now, but if he kept

thinking of her naked body pressed against his in the heat of the forest then

he would never be able to stay in control.

He tried to think of other things, like his mother and father in

bed together, or her mother in the arms of Daemon Tog, but even that couldnt

keep him under control, especially not when he felt Deannas tongue running

lightly up his ear, her controlled breath coming in and out and running

wistfully along one of his most erogenous parts.

He let out the breath he forgot he was holding and grinded his

pelvis into her. She chuckled, full aware of what she was doing to him even

though she didnt let on to him that she knew. Instead, she reached up,

curled her hand around base of his neck, and pulled his lips towards hers.

The kiss was sweet and light. A kiss they hadnt shared in a

really long time. Behind it wasnt just the usual friendly kiss, but

something more. Something different. Something better. Something the two

of them had shared in the past, but which seemed long forgotten.

Deanna softly whimpered, causing Will to grab both sides of her face,

deepening the kiss. He slipped his tongue to her lips, wishing shed

open them, and she did. Deanna parted her lips and with a small moan accepted

Wills tongue with hers. Will quit thinking about orders, prerogatives, and

sanity. Instead he threw everything out the window and felt only the emotion

that he had never forgotten nor lost: love.

Love for the small beauty that stood in front of him, kissing

him with such a raw emotion that he got lost in her kiss. It wasnt until

his senses came back to him that he felt her tugging on his shirt.

He had changed into nightclothes when he got back to his

quarters after leaving hers. The short distance walking back wasnt enough

to calm him down, but when he got back to his quarters and changed he became

more relaxed. It was much later that the lights went out and he tried to

contact her. He got no response and it was then that he had to practically

force the door open. Not only had the lights gone out, but it seemed like

random controls had gone out.

The door to his quarters had opened slightly when he stepped

into range of it, but it didnt open up fully and he ran smack into it,

crying out. He stuck his hands in between the two sides of the door and

mustered up enough strength to open them all the way. He turned and walked

the short distance to Deannas quarters and that was when the lights came

back up and the doors opened and he scared Deanna.

Deanna. Speaking of which, the petite brunette in front of him

was struggling to get his shirt off. Her height had always made it hard for

her to reach him, at least, in the past it did. And usually Will was a lot

more focused and helpful in taking off his shirt for her, but right now he

was still a little surprised.

Will broke the kiss between him and Deanna only long enough to

pull his shirt over his head and toss it to the floor. It wasnt a second

later that he started devouring her again and pushing her towards the wall.

Deannas hands brushed against the hair that covered Wills entire chest.

Her back hit the cool smooth surface with a light thud. It

didnt faze either of them for more than a second. Will grabbed Deanna by

the waist, pulling her towards him. He pulled her tightly against his body

and thrust into her, wanting, needing her more now than he ever thought


Will broke the frenzied kiss gasped for the air that he had

forgotten to take in.

Deanna, really, you...

Will, what part of shut up dont you understand?

But you never said to shut...

Will, shut up and kiss me.

He smiled and nodded.

Aye, sir, he said, motioning with his hands a salute to a

higher officer.


* * * * *

Sacrifices 16/?

How about now?

Still nothing.

Damnit, Geordi LaForge swore at the results. Data, weve got to be

missing something here, he said, looking over the readings on the console in

front of him.

The results still test as negative, Geordi. Maybe we are looking at the

wrong variable.

The wrong variable, my ass.

Geordi, have I upset you?

No. No, Data, you havent upset me. This is all just so damned


Perhaps we are looking at the wrong clue.

What do you mean?

When the boards started blinking and all the backup systems on the

Enterprise failed, we looked at the simplest solution: the class C probe and

its glitch. Perhaps the failure of the system has nothing to do with the

probe and everything to do with the computer.

Geordi snapped his fingers.

Data, youre a genius!

No, Geordi, I am an android, he replied flatly.

Geordi laughed at Datas comment, one he made often, and then continued with

his brainstorming. Were looking at the wrong clue. The variable is the

correct one, but were looking at the wrong clue!

I do not understand, Data responded.

Data, when the back-up systems failed, we were looking at it as the response

from the class C probe.

Because of the manufactures glitch.

Yes, but that was too simple an answer. We were looking at the right


The class C probe.

But not the right clue. Instead of the glitch being a response to the probe,

I think it was the cause!

You believe that the probe was the cause of the glitch?

Yes! Geordi said, running over to another console. If Im right, then

the systems should show up as normal with a tiny spike in the

Picard to LaForge.

LaForge here, Captain. Go ahead. He said after touching his comm.badge.

Any luck yet, Mr. LaForge?

I think so, sir. Give me just one more minute.

Youve got one minute, Commander.

Yes, sir. LaForge out. He said as he tapped his comm.badge. All right,

Data, weve got one minute. Heres what I need you to do.


* * * * *


The door to the Starfleet officers quarters were closed and locked. He

walked up to the door, peering left and right. He looked for anyone in site.

If anything, getting caught at this point would hinder more than help his

situation at hand.

He stopped in front of the door to the quarters. He knew it was the right

one but something didnt feel right. He entered the access code on the panel

next to the door and the two pieces slid open. He cautiously stepped inside

the quarters, ready for any sign of movement or life.

Nobody was in sight.

It was early in the morning so he didnt think the occupier of the cabin

would be awake but something still didnt feel right. He took a few more

steps into the room allowing the doors to slide silently shut behind him.

He looked around for a bit, taking in his surroundings. The bedroom was to

his right and he quietly made his way across the room and came to a halt on

the other side of the entryway.

He stood with his back to the wall. He let out the breath that he had been

holding and tightened the grip on the syringe in his hand. He took one more

breath before turning and facing the bed through the open doorway, on guard

and ready for anything.

It was empty.

Damnit, he cursed to no one in general.

Again he let out the breath he was holding and turned around, heading to the

door to let him out of the empty quarters.

Computer, locate Commander William Riker and Counselor Deanna Troi.

Commander Riker and Counselor Troi are in Deanna Trois quarters, the

computer complied.

I should have known, he saidunder his breath. I should have fucking



* * * * *

Chapter 15

The bed creaked under the sudden pressure of the two bodies that fell on
top of it.

“Deanna Troi, I don’t know if I want to hear the answer to this but when in
this lifetime did your bed become a creeker?” Will asked out of breath.

Deanna smiled beneath him.

“You should know better than anyone, Will, that it always has been,” she
said before she grabbed the sides of Will’s face and pulled him back to her
lips. He moaned in response to both her physical and mental retaliation.

Their bodies collapsed into each other’s, the two intertwined on the plush
bed. Will rolled, pulling Deanna over and on top of him. He smiled at the
feat, one of which wasn’t exactly an easy task to accomplish these days
anymore. Ever since Deanna started tai’chi classes with a few other
officers that Worf led, she’d become more defensive and alert to her
surroundings. She never was one to give up a fight easily unless she was
doing it for a bigger plan or a better cause, but more so now than ever she
never backed down.

Deanna now sat atop Will, pinning him down under her legs. He grabbed her
waist and slid his hands up, the silky fabric of her nightgown catching and
raising with his ministrations. He reached down with one hand, grabbing
her thigh.

His hand met skin. Smooth, silky skin. Will then slid both of his hands
up Deanna’s thighs until he reached the bottom of her nightgown. He tugged
upwards on the silky fabric to reveal something he wanted more than
anything at that moment.

Will’s eyes glazed over. Deanna giggled at the pure emotion emanating from
him and his reaction to his own doings. He reached up and pulled Deanna
tighter to his body and she responded by grinding her hips into his more
than apparent arousal. Deanna leaned over, resting her head on his
shoulder and moaned at the contact.

Will responded by pulling her tighter to him and kissing her neck. Deanna
slid down the length of his body, locking out her legs to where she was
laying against Will. She rolled her head to the right, exposing her neck.
Will took the advantage and planted feather light kisses along her exposed
skin. Will worked his way along her collarbone, up her neck, and to her
ear, stopping there and nibbling on the small lobe.

Deanna moaned louder. Will smiled at his achievement.

“Computer, lights,” Will said.

As always, the computer complied and the lights went out, bathing Will and
Deanna in darkness.

* * * * *

The corridors were still empty, which was a relief to the man wandering
through them, but he was still cautious to his surroundings.

Deanna Troi’s quarters were only a few steps down from William Riker’s, but
it seemed like an eternity to the man hiking those few short steps. He
finally reached his destination and came to a halt outside of the door. He
put his ear up to it, hoping to hear if anything was going on inside, but
silently praying that nothing was. He also prayed that neither Will nor
Deanna decided to take an early morning stroll at such a godly hour. He
didn’t want to come face to face either one of them at that point. At
least not before he set his plan into action.

The man looked around one more time, making sure that he wasn’t being
watched or followed. The corridor was quiet, and the lights were low due
to the night simulation of the ship. During the day the lights were on
full, but during the night, they were dimmed to simulate the effects of

Growing up on a starship had its advantages when it came to traveling, but
sitting under the night sky and looking up at the stars, or even falling
back and forth on daylights savings time and seeing the effects of the
growing darkness was lost on starship passengers. So the Enterprise
simulated nighttime to make the ship cozier to its’ occupants. Luckily for
him, the dimmed lighting helped him to go unnoticed or uncared for in the
corridors of the galaxy class starship.

He finally pulled his ear away from the door, satisfied that he didn’t hear
any noise or movements inside. He reached up and keyed in the access code
to the quarters on the keypad and the doors silently slid open. He peeked
his head around the corner and found the room to be empty. He stepped
inside and the doors silently closed shut behind him, but it was then that
he heard the muffled noises of William Riker and Deanna Troi, together.

He ran to the other side of the room, out of site from the two people
holding on to one another on Deanna’s bed. He put his back up against the
wall and slowly slid towards the opening of the bedroom. He lightly
knocked his head against the wall, shooting himself for not knowing that
they would be together.

The last thing he had heard was that the two were just friends. Best
friends. However, he knew how much William Riker loved Deanna Troi, and he
knew that sooner or later they’d both discover their lost feelings for one
another, and the passion between them would rekindle. He didn’t in a
million years though think it would happen now.

That’s just my luck, he thought to himself. The one drug I’m given to try
and apprehend the two of them and what does it do? It sends them in to the
arms of one another and not away!

He hit his head against the wall again, this time making a slight noise.
He froze in his tracks. He didn’t mean to knock hard. He strained to hear
if they knew he was in there, but all he heard was slight moans and giggles
emanating from the small room behind him. He rolled his eyes and gripped
the syringe in his hands.

The damn thing was more of a hindrance than any sort of help. He’d asked
for a hypo spray but he was denied access to it. Something about the hypo
spray making too much noise when injecting someone. He would have less
than a second to inject the other person, and the drugs already took a few
seconds to kick in and take affect, and that was just enough time for the
second person to resist and fight back so begrudgingly he took the syringe.

The damn thing had already poked him a few times through his jacket. Lucky
for him the syringe wasn’t full yet. The small bottle of drugs was safely
contained in his jacket, ready for use.

He took the small bottle out of its hiding place, holding the container in
his left hand. With his right, plunged the needle of the syringe into the
bottle, pulling back and filling the syringe with the contents from the
bottle. He placed the bottle back into his jacket and capped off the
contents of the small tube. He then closed his eyes and listened.


Oh, shit, he thought. They know I’m here.

He waited a few moments, praying neither of the two walked out of the
bedroom right then. After a few minutes he heard Deanna giggle. He slowly
and cautiously leaned around the corner, peeking into the small bedroom.
Deanna was straddling Will. Will had the end of her nightgown pulled high
on her thighs.

Lucky bastard.

He leaned back around the corner and gathered his composure. He tried not
to think of Deanna straddling Will … Deanna straddling himself … himself
and Deanna, tangled together on her bed, entwined together; him spooning
her after hours of making love.

Damnit to hell! Get a fucking grip!

He took a few moments to get a hold of himself, to let his erection, that
popped up subside, and when he did, he took one more look into the room to
see exactly where the two occupants were. Now Deanna was laying flat on
top of Will.

Great, he thought. Something’s finally going my way.

Her laying on him made it easier for him to get to the two. If he injected
her first, her body weight would be too much for him. Sure she was light
as a feather as it was, but still, a limp human being on top of another was
dead weight. Will wouldn’t be able to move her in time enough for him to
do anything about the situation. That is assuming that he was injected
shortly after Deanna was.

He took a deep breath and crouched low to the ground. He silently slid
around the corner and into the bedroom. Will was kissing Deanna on the
neck and had no idea who was in the room with him, or what was about to
happen. The man smiled. This was going to be good.

* * * * *

He loved the woman on top of him. He knew he always had, but he was too
stubborn, too much like his father not to take what he already had in front
of him. Instead, he always strove to be a better Starfleet officer, to
become a Captain one day, and settling down, starting a family, wasn’t
exactly an option in that plan. But right now, with the woman he loved
laying on top of him, Will thought that for once, finally, he was ready and
willing to take that other option.

He was ready to move on down the same path he had talked about years ago on
Betazed with a certain daughter of the Fifth House, and this time he wasn’t
going to chicken out or choose his career over the woman he loved. This
time he wasn’t going to keep his promise and not leave her all alone. The
only problem was that he hadn’t asked her yet to marry him. Nor did he
know if she felt the same way as he, but at that moment he knew she felt
something, and something was always better than nothing.

He knew that they couldn’t go on much longer as just friends. Doing that
was killing both of them. He knew that secretly she really wanted him. It
was just a matter of her true emotions working their way to the surface.
He knew that she wanted to be with him, but she had to work past all the
questions and what-ifs that were running through her mind. And he knew
that once she did, that she would be ready and willing, and his arms would
be open wide to her.

Will leaned in more towards Deanna’s ear and whispered softly into it. She
pulled up on her elbows and looked him in the eye. Her smile widened as
she sensed the truth and honesty behind his statement. Tears threatened to
spill over her eyes, but like always, she resisted the tug of the wet fluid
on her eyes and she blinked them back. She was about to speak when she
felt a prick on her lower back.

Will looked up and into Deanna’s deep brown eyes, and he froze. A silent
cry for help escaped her lips. Deanna blinked her eyes a few times before
falling limp on Will’s taught body, his hands tightened around her waist.
It was then that he felt the tiny prick as well and saw the man behind it.

Before he could say anything Will fell limp on his bed with Deanna next to
him. He was out cold.

* * * * *

“I think that should do it,” Geordi LaForge said, closing the open door to
the control panel he was working on. “Data, try now.”

“Picard to LaForge,” the voice cut in to Geordi’s commands.

Geordi tapped his comm. badge.

“LaForge here, sir. Go ahead.”

“Tempus fugit, Mr. LaForge. I need those shields back.”

“Yes, sir. I think we’re ready. We were just about to test the panel out
now. Data,” he said with a nod towards the android.

Data proceeded to tap a few commands into the control panel that was linked
to the one that Geordi was working on a few minutes earlier. He read over
the reports and the different results that came back from the keys that he
had tapped in a few seconds earlier, and he looked over to Geordi, who was
sitting there anxiously awaiting his report.

“All signs show go,” Data reported back.

Geordi tapped his comm. badge.

“Shields should be back, sir.”

“Thank you, Commander. Lieutenant, raise shields,” Geordi heard through
the comm. link.

“Raising shields, sir,” the young Lieutenant in the background replied.

“Report, ensign,” Picard called out calmly.

“Shields are holding, sir,” the ensign reported back.

“Job well done, Commander,” Picard said to LaForge.

“Thank you, sir,” Geordi replied.

“Picard out.”

Geordi tapped his comm. badge one final time. He looked in Data’s
direction and blew out a sigh of relief.

* * * * *

Thomas Riker peered into the brig where Deanna Troi and Thomas’ twin,
William Riker, lay unconscious and in separate brigs.

“So it worked,” a female voice called out behind Thomas.

“So far it has,” Thomas responded.

“So then you’re happy?” she asked.

Thomas turned cold eyes on her. She laughed malevolently.

“What are you laughing at?” he asked her.

“You,” she responded matter of factly.

“Me?” he asked incredulously.

“Yes, you.”


“Because, you sit here with the love of your life, the woman who got away,
lying right there in front of you, and you are still not happy.”

“I’ll be happy, Sela, when you tell me just what the hell you want with the
two of them,” Thomas replied forcefully.

“You do not trust me, Thomas?” she asked.

“I didn’t say that.”

“I already told you that I would not harm your precious Deanna.”

“Then what is it that you need her for?”

“I cannot tell you that yet.”

“Damnit, Sela,” he said hitting his fist hard on the table next to him. “I
don’t have time for these games.”

“And I do not have the patience for this, Thomas,” Sela responded.

“I have obeyed every word you’ve said to me. All I ask for is the
knowledge of…”

“You’ll know soon enough.”

“Promise me you won’t kill her.”
“No promise of not killing him, Thomas?” she asked.

“Promise me,” he said more forcefully.

She looked him in the eyes, a slight smile of amusement creeping on to her

“I promise.”

Thomas nodded and looked back towards Deanna who was still unconscious.

“I better get back to the bridge. I know Picard by now is more than just
curious as to why the Gandhi is still hanging around here.”

Sela smiled as Thomas started walking towards the door. He stopped when he
got to it and the doors slid open. He turned around to face Sela.

“If you even think about going back on that promise, Sela, I swear I will
personally see to your death,” Thomas said and then walked out of the brig,
the doors closing behind him.

Sela turned to face the two small rooms with its’ occupants behind the
force field that enclosed them. She stared at one and then the other, her
eyes landing on the woman, and she smiled, an evil smile creeping on to her

“I won’t kill her, Thomas. I’ll keep that promise.”

* * * * *

“Geordi, query,” Data said and paused for only a second. “The situation we
just encountered was not the slightest bit tense, and yet you sigh of
relief. Why?” he finally asked.

Geordi laughed at the always questioning and ever ruminative friend of his.

“Because, Data, the situation may not have been tense because we were not
working towards a life or death outcome. but Working with someone breathing
down your neck is a different story, but yet feels the same.”

Data, confused and puzzled, looked around the room. Nobody else was down
in engineering. It was the night shift, or the early bird shift as the
crew so lovingly called it. That early in the morning they ran a skeleton

Data was the only one on the ship who didn’t require sleep. The other
thousand plus occupants of the starship were probably in bed right now.
Whether they were asleep or not was their own prerogative.

Usually Data had the night watch while the Captain got the sleep he needed,
but today he was wide awake and on the bridge. Ever since the Gandhi
dropped off their passenger, Picard had felt uneasy.

The Gandhi wasn’t an exploration starship like the Enterprise. It was
basically a freight ship, occasionally sent on undercover operations, but
it never surveyed its’ surroundings as it was supposedly doing right now.
It was for that reason that Picard was anxious about the starship. It
didn’t help either that the probe that was launched earlier caused the
problems with the shields as well as the electrical and lighting systems
that it had.

The Gandhi had said something about problems at their security console, but
Picard didn’t trust the so-called Captain of the ship. Nor did he think
that problems at the security console would cause a probe to be launched
and it cause the problems that it did. It was for those reasons that
Captain Jean-Luc Picard sat in his command chair at 0300 hours.

Data blinked. He looked at Geordi’s neck and then around the room on more
time before confronting his friend.

“Geordi, correct me if I am wrong, but I do not see nor remember anybody …
breathing … down your neck while we were trying to solve the problem with
the system.”

Geordi laughed. He should have known Data would say something to that

“It’s an expression, Data. Kind of like being rushed while doing

“Ah,” Data comprehended. “Breathing down one’s neck. Hurrying them.
Hustling someone. Forcing an outcome. Hackling…”

“Yeah, Data,” Geordi cut in. “I think you’ve got it,” he said with an
irritated tone.

Data took the hint he was so used to getting and shut his mouth. Instead,
he said good night to his friend and walked out of engineering and headed
towards the bridge.

Geordi turned back to the station in front of him and rubbed his eyes.
It’s too damn early in the morning, he thought to himself.

* * * * *

  The clock ticked down 15 14 13

The ball moved from one end of the floor to the other.  Fans screamed, cheering for the five girls on the court. 

12 11 10

Ten girls were on the court but they were so closely paired that the only way you could tell one team from the other was by the color of their jersey. 


Blue was the color the fans were cheering for.  Blue was the color that she was wearing. It was her that the crowd was cheering for. 

9 8 7

73-75. Those were the two numbers that stood on the scoreboard, but it wasn't the blue team that was ahead.  The score seemed to be stuck at 73-75 for what seemed like eternity, but the number above it, the clock, slowly ticked the seconds off and away for good.

6 5 4

Four more seconds until the clock would reach zero, running out of time. As the time slowly ticked away the crowd cheered louder than ever for the ten girls on the court.  They moved in sync, five girls guarding the other five, the white team guarding the blue.  The crowd roared as the time slowly ticked off and their gaze fell on a girl in blue as she broke free from her defender.


Three seconds left and the ball was passed to her.  She caught it, dribbling the ball once before lining up with the goal.  The crowd roared and was out of their seats in a second, standing to get a better view of the final seconds of the championship game. 

One single name could be heard being chanted.  To every member in the crowd that one single name was not a rarity to be heard.  Everyone in the gymnasium knew the name being said.  Even the newcomers to the game, though you couldn't quite make out what it was, knew the name before it finished rolling off the crowds tongue.


The girl in blue took one final look at the rim. Sweat poured off of her face and onto the floor.  She took aim like she had a thousand times before, but this time was different.  This time she had the championship game riding on this one shot.  This time she had a thousand memories, a thousand wishes running through her mind, and this one shot would either make or break those memories creating a new one in the wake. 

  She raised her arms after taking aim to shoot the ball.  She bent her knees, jumping to get the shot off with enough force to make it into the goal from beyond 3-point range, and out of nowhere her defender reappeared, hacking her on the wrist. 


  The crowd fell silent as the buzzer to the shot clock sounded.  The girl in blue watched from the floor where she had fallen as the ball flew through the air.  The crowd followed her gaze. The ball arched high in the air but even though the girl was fouled intentionally during the shot she still managed to get it off and in the direction of the goal. She now sat and watched like everyone else in the gymnasium as the ball soared through the air towards the basket.

  The ball hit the backboard and bounced down to the rim.  The crowd watched, perched on the edge of their seats, quieter than any crowd had ever been before, as the ball bounced on the rim twice.  Fans all over the gym held their breath and watched as the ball bounced once more on the rim and then fell in the basket.  The referee closest to the girl threw up his arms over his head signaling that the goal was a three pointer and that it was good.

  The crowd went wild and she dropped her head, saying something to herself that the crowd couldn't make out.  Her teammates came running from all directions, along with half of the crowd, and they swarmed around her. She looked up at the final score. 


She had won the game.

It was then that Deanna Troi woke up from the dream, bathed in darkness and to the sound of someone on the other side of a wall moaning.  It was then that she realized she wasn't in her quarters with Will Riker anymore, but in the brig of a ship. 


  The first thing Will Riker noticed when he woke up in the brig of the Gandhi was a growling stomach and an enormous amount of pain radiating all the way up and down the left side of his body.

  He made a move to sit up but pain shot through his left arm and up his neck.  He winced at the discomfort and fell back down to the floor.  He rolled over onto his back and tried to make the ceiling stop swimming from underneath his eyelids.  When it finally did he decided to bare the pain all together and try to sit up again.  He lifted his arm to help pull himself up from the floor and it fell right back down to where it was laying a few seconds ago.

  "What the devil," he said under his breath.

  He tried once more to lift his arm.  Again it fell limp to the floor.  He got fed up with the uncooperating limb and finally picked it up with his right hand and set the limp hand on his lap.  He then laughed at the pain because it was then that he realized his arm was asleep.  He felt a wall nearby with his right hand and he pulled himself to a sitting position, his back against the cool surface. 

  The tingling sensation up and down the left side of his body grew stronger, meaning the limb and the rest of him was waking up.  The pain and prickling grew stronger as well.  He flexed his hand, trying to get the tingling sensation and the numbing to go away.  With his right hand he rubbed circles up and down his arm, trying to get the blood flowing in his arm.  It wasn't much longer until the tingling stopped and he had feeling in his arm again.  He lifted his arm once more and could finally move it without wincing from the pain.

  Will lifted his arm, circling it in the air, trying to loosen the stiff joint in his shoulder.  It creaked with the movement and stiffened a bit when he rotated his arm forward. He rubbed the sore shoulder and his neck to get the creak out of it and then he opened his eyes and saw his surroundings. 

It was dark, too dark, and he didn't recognize his surroundings.  He heard the hum of the engines so he knew he was onboard a starship, but the layout of it didn't look like that of the Enterprise, nor did he remember getting into any trouble; at least not cause enough to be thrown in a brig, which is exactly where he thought he was.  Question was, if he wasn't on the brig of the Enterprise, and he knew from personal experience that he wasn't, then just where the hell was he?

  Will blinked his eyes a few times and then closed them, trying to get use to the dark.  When he opened them back up he could make out objects near him. The rustic setting, low lighting, and single cot in the corner acknowledged his assumptions of his surroundings being the brig of a ship.  But it was not the brig of the Enterprise; he knew that much.  He didn't recognize his surroundings so that counted out a lot of ships.  He'd been in many brigs, including Federation and non-Federation starships, but this brig didn't look familiar.  The weird thing, however, was that it felt somewhat odd and familiar. 

Will sighed.  That's all he needed was to be in the brig of a ship and have no recollection whatsoever of what it was he did to get into it in the first place.  Nor did he like the fact of not remembering falling asleep but waking up here. He looked around for a guard, hoping to get some answers, but what he feared the most, that he wasn't in the brig of a ship for any regulations he broke but for a more sinister reason, stared him back in the face. 

"Guard," he called out to no one in particular. There was no response.

  The place was empty. 

  Guards were always posted outside of a cell when someone was in them after committing or breaking Starfleet regulations, but there was no guard outside his cell.  Alarms went off inside Will's head and he couldn't shake the feeling that he was alone, but at the back of his mind there was a weird feeling that made him think otherwise.  He looked around the darkened room, trying to get a better sense of his surroundings when he heard a noise close by.

Will heard a quiet moan and he couldn't quite make out just what it was or who it was, but it sounded oddly familiar.  Along with the fact that he knew he hadn't done anything wrong and that he thought somehow and for some reason he was being held against his will, he knew right then that he wasn't alone.  What he didn't know, however, was that in the next cell over lay Deanna Troi.


Chapter 16

  The lights flickered once before turning back on, bathing the ships corridors in light. The corridors of the Federation's flagship had been quiet for the last eight hours but now it was filled with crew members hurrying to their post.  The graveyard shift was over and the lights signaled a new day. 

  Crewmembers passed each other, giving small nods and smiles, occasional good mornings and have a nice day to passing peers.  The halls, once quiet, now were filled with the bustle of morning activity. 

  Jean-Luc Picard sat in his command chair.  He looked to his left at the hiss of the doors opening and admitting his crew.  He watched as people stepped out and onto the bridge, taking their posts as usual.

  He gazed at the turbo lift as each crewmember filed out, one by one.  He waited and watched, looking for his First Officer.  He never came.  In the eight years that they had worked together William Riker had never been late for his shift unless of course he was either not on the ship or in sickbay.  Even when he was in sickbay, which was quite often, he rarely missed his shift.  Even Beverly Crusher, the highly respected and listened to head doctor of sickbay had a hard time keeping the flamboyant and mischievous Commander Riker in his biobed while he healed. 

  At every chance he got Will Riker would escape from sickbay, saying he was fine and that he didn't need time to heal, that he just needed to get back to his job.  Now every time he entered sickbay there was a pool going by crewmembers on just how long Beverly could hold her stubborn patient in sickbay before he escaped.  And each time the time between Will entering and Will leaving the place got lesser and lesser. 

But this time Jean-Luc had a feeling that Will wasn't in sickbay because between the last time he saw him and now if he had gotten into trouble or into some kind of accident Beverly would have let him know.  However, there was the off chance that Beverly wouldn't have told him because of the attention that Will might need.  Jean-Luc just hoped to God he was still on the ship. 

Right then the turbo lift doors opened and admitted Commander Riker and Deanna Troi.  Picard sighed in relief and smiled at his First Officer and Counselor, the worry that had begun to form on his face disappearing.

"Morning, sir," Will said, tugging down on his uniform shirt as he always did before he sat down in the chair to Picard's left.  "Sleep well?"

  "Sleep? What is that?"

  "Don't tell me you didn't sleep last night, Captain.  That's not good," Deanna said as she took her seat to the left of the Captain.

"I slept like a baby," Will said with a grin.

  Picard laughed.  "I'm sure you did, Number One.  I, on the other hand, did not."

"What are you worried about, Captain?" Deanna asked, concern etched on her face.

"What do you mean?"

  "Captain, you should know better than to lie to me, an empath.  When someone can't sleep it's usually because they don't have a clear conscious.  Either that or because there's something on their mind that's bothering them."

  "I should have known better than to try and slide this one past you, Counselor."

  Deanna smiled in return and Will gave a small laugh. 

  Deanna and the Captain had always had a close relationship.  Truth was Picard thought that he was the luckiest Captain in the fleet to have a Betazoid Counselor.  He couldn't begin to count the number of times Deaana's empathic powers saved his ass and the rest of his ship for that matter.  But it was times like these that he wished she didn't know him so well.

"It's the Gandhi," he finally replied.

"What about it, sir?" Will asked, curiosity and alarms at the forefront of his mind.

  "I'm not sure.  But there's something about it that's wrong."

"What do you mean?" Deanna asked, curious as to whether or not he was on to them.

  "I'm still trying to figure out why those probes were launched.  They say that it was due to a malfunction but there are too many instances, too many holes that point at something different.  I think they're up to something."

  "I sense no malicious intents on their part, Captain."

  Picard sighed.  He knew Deanna was never wrong when it came to her senses, but there was always the off chance that she was reading a Betazoid that was stronger than her that was blocking or sending a different signal.  That was hardly ever the case but right now he wished to God it wasn't. 

  "Will, Deanna, I read your reports you handed in about the Gandhi and its' occupants.  I want you to go back to the library, see if you can dig anything up on their current mission and just what the hell they're still doing out here."

  "Yes, sir," the two replied in chorus. 

  Will and Deanna stood, walking up the slight hill on the bridge to the turbo lift doors. When they got there Will stopped, putting out his arm, motioning for Deanna to step in ahead of him.  The doors finally closed in front of the two occupants and when they did they sighed in relief.


Back on the Gandhi the real Deanna Troi made her way over to the wall where a small hole lie under the bed that was attached to it.  Through it she could just barely make out the form of Will Riker, laughing to himself and dropping his arm to the floor over and over again. 

Deanna looked out from under the bed in the direction of the force field but it was too dark to see anything.  She closed her eyes and reached out her mind to see if anyone was there and she fell against the wall, moaning in pain.

Will Riker stopped laughing and sat up straight.  He looked to his left at the wall.  He could have sworn he heard Deanna moaning, but he wasn't sure. 

  She moaned again.

  Will knew he had heard her and he made his way over to the wall where the noise was coming from.  He looked behind him to make sure no one was watching him and he stopped in front of the bed that hung from the wall.  He expected to find Deanna on the bed but when he reached up and felt the sheets there was no one there.

  He sat back against the bed and frowned.  He could have sworn that he heard  Deanna moan but she was nowhere around. 

  He heard her moan again.

  He cupped his hands around his ears, thinking that he was going crazy, but instead of the moaning stopping, it only got louder.

  "Get out of my head!" he finally said. 

"Will, it hurts."

  "That's it. You're just a figment of my imagination. Now get out!"

"Will, please!" Deanna moaned again.  "You've got to do something."

  "How am I supposed to do something if you're not here?"

"Damnit Will Riker, I am here.  I'm on the other side of the wall!"

Will turned around and stared at the wall.  He saw the hole under the bed and hurriedly slid underneath the small cot to the hole.  He could make out Deanna's form, laying on the floor and holding her head. 


  "Yes, Will, it's me."

"What's wrong?"

"I don't know. I was fine when I woke up but I tried to scan outside the brig and see if there was anyone there, but my head just burst into pain."

  "Well, stop."

"I did."

"If you stop, it will stop hurting."

  "Will, quit being such a butthole."

"Oh, now I'm a butthole?"


  "I haven't been called that since my first year in the academy."

  "Well, you deserve it."

  "No, I don't," Will said in mock protest.

"Yes, you do."

  "No, I don't!"

"Yes, you do!"

"Do not!"

"Do to!"

"Do NOT!"

  "Do TO!"




"Would you two stop bickering for one moment, please? You're giving me a headache," a voice from outside the force field said. 

  The two stopped arguing, Will out of breath and Deanna moaning.

"Who are you?" Will asked, unable to see the face of the person standing in front of him. 

"An old friend," Sela said, stepping into the light.