Baby Steps
Disclaimer: Paramount owns Trek and its

The moons of Betazed shone brightly on the balcony of Deanna Troi's
old bedroom, flattering her twenty-something face with rich golden
light. Her dark eyes stared up at the sky, at the purple-hued space
between the moons, wondering where his ship was tonight.

Two months had passed since William Riker had departed Betazed for
places unknown, and Deanna thought by now that she would have
forgotten him. After all, he wasn't the first man to catch her eye.
But, she thought ruefully, he was the most attractive. *And more
than that, whispered her heart, he's your Imzadi*

Imzadi. What an antiquated term. Initially she wanted nothing to
do with it. As a student of psychology she understood the vagaries
of the humanoid heart, the chemical processes of love and desire,
and knew beyond a doubt that "Imzadi" was a romantic concept that
meant nothing in the real world. Will Riker was no more important
in her life than any of the other young men she'd dated, nothing
more than a blip on the radar screen of her short romantic love

*If that's so, why can't you forget him?*

"I don't know!" she muttered, gripping the railing with perfectly
manicured hands. "I just don't know!" With that, she ran into her
room and fell on the bed, allowing frustrated tears to fly down her
cheeks as the illogic of her emotions overwhelmed her.

*Darling, wake up*
*What is it Mother? I was still asleep*
*I know. I could feel your dreams. Now come. Come downstairs and
have breakfast. You've been sleeping all morning*

Deanna sighed, tossed the covers off and quickly dressed in a gold
and lavender dress. Tying her long black curls up into a bun, she
trampled down the stairs like an angry adolescent, wishing everyone
would just disappear and leave her alone. Unfortunately, her Mother
was not the sort to leave her only daughter to her own devices, and
was waiting at the dining table with a smile and a plan.

"There you are! You look lovely, Deanna. Just like my Mother when
she was a girl. Now, sit down and have some Jerellian cakes with
your know they're your favorite."

They had been, until she happened to share some of the delicious
delicacies with a certain young Lieutenant. Now they made her
stomach turn and she lost her appetite just looking at them.

"Thank you, Mother, but I'm really not hungry."

Lwaxana Troi's dark eyes darkened even further and her mouth tensed
into a tight line. "Now listen to me, young lady. Ever since that,

that...young man left you haven't been yourself. You hardly touch
your food, your head is in the clouds, and your grades...well, let's
just say that your father would be shocked. Now I want you to listen
to me and listen well. William Riker was a passing fancy. A
handsome young man who happened to capture your attention for a
short time. But he is gone and you will never see each other again.
It's time to move on. Time to begin your life again. Why just the
other day I was speaking with Dorinya Plato and her son Aryn is very
interested in you. Isn't it time you began dating again, little

Dating? The very notion turned Deanna's stomach. Dating implied
fun, light-heartedness and romantic interest...Deanna Troi felt none
of these things. Not any longer. Not since Will Riker took her
heart, her virginity, and her love and smashed them to the floor.
No, she was most definitely not interested in dating. In fact, if
she had it her way she'd never get involved with another man again.
Not ever.

Of course, being full Betazoid, Lwaxana heard her every thought and
began to send back her own.
*Honestly, little one, you'd think the worlds had ended. I know you
cared for him, and I'm sure in his human way he cared for you. But
it was a mistake to become so involved with him, and I hope you
realize that. Can't you see what it's cost you? Can't you see that
you haven't lived since he left our planet? What is it going to
take to bring you back to life, Deanna?*

Dark eyes met even darker ones across the table and the small,
mobile mouth whispered, "I don't know. I just don't know."

The next day Deanna left Abnormal Psychology class a full hour
early, unable to concentrate on Professor Xara's rather eloquent
lecture. The truth was, her stomach was in knots, her head pounded
like the thumping of a Jalaran rainstorm, and the very sight of food
made her weak in the knees. Normally, she hated doctors, but since
she had the day free she decided to visit Dr. Palm. Perhaps she
could give Deanna something for the pain. Her father had suffered
from frequent migraines when he was alive, and since they tended
towards being heriditary, she felt that was probably what was going
on. A simple shot of Imitrex or Maxalt and she'd be up and running
like clockwork again.

She walked the long marble path from the University towards the
middle of town, and then climbed the steps into the ornate oxagaonal
white building that housed the doctor's offices. They'd known she
was coming of course, and immediately smiled as she walked into the
main chamber. The cute receptionist motioned towards the back rooms
and said, "Go on in, Miss Troi. Dr. Palm is waiting for you."
"Thank you so much," she murmured, and parted the purple curtains
that lead toward the back rooms.

Inside a tall, blond woman in her forties stood waiting with a
smile. "Hello Deanna. How are you feeling?"
Hopping up onto a rather luxurious table, Deanna smiled faintly.
"All right, I suppose. But these headaches...I just can't
concentrate and it's starting to effect my school work".
"Migraines, I'll bet. Your father had them too, did he not?"
"Yes, and I was always afraid I'd have them as well. Apparently I
couldn't escape them." They smiled at each other and then the
doctor had her lie back and began a full examination.

After an hour filled with blood tests, paperwork, and lots of
questions the doctor disappeared into the outer offices for awhile.
When she returned, her face looked troubled.

"Well, am I going to live?" Deanna said, attempting to joke.
"Of course you are. Deanna, I know you can sense my feelings right
now so I will not hide anything from you. I also know that unlike
your Mother, you cannot sense my every thought and so I'm going to
have to tell you this verbally." The concern in the blue eyes
frightened Deanna and she wondered briefly if she were ill.
Picking up her thoughts the doctor said, "No, my young one, you are
not ill. In fact, you are healthy as a Betazoid horse. However,
there is something you should know...according to my data you are as
of today, two months pregnant."

The lights in the room seemed to swirl in front of her eyes and
before she knew what was happened, Deanna fainted, nearly falling
off the table.

Late that night she sat on her balcony in a soft, stuffed flowered
chair, staring at the moons again, this time the ache in her heart
doubled by the news of the baby. The baby. Will's baby. It still
seemed incomprehensible. Granted, they were not careful and had
used no protection in their lovemaking, but it never occurred to her
that a woman could get pregnant so quickly.

Her delicate hands lay on her still-flat stomach protectively as she
stared up at the starry sky, wishing that she could make Will's ship
appear in the low-hung clouds above. "Oh Will..." she whispered.
For she had to admit now that she still loved him. All of her anger
and resentment was gone now, the episode with Wendy Roper a distant
memory. Tears filled her eyes as the startling realization came
over her....she'd been stirring her anger and jealousy since he left
all in an effort to make herself stop loving him. Hoping that it
would also make her forget him. Unfortunately, it hadn't worked.
Her reaction at the news of the pregnancy had proved that.

When she'd recovered from her faint and the doctor asked who the
father of the baby was, Deanna had gotten an intense picture of
Will's handsome face behind her eyes and to her horror, she burst
into tears, filling with so much love and longing that it nearly
made her ill.

She sighed softly. "All right. I love Will. I admit. But he
doesn't love me. And I'm never going to see him again, so what does
it matter?"

Her heart throbbed painfully and more tears threatened to
fall. "What am I going to do?" she whispered, never imagining that
halfway around the galaxy someone would hear her and send an answer.

Lt. Will Riker paced around his miniscule quarters, hands clenched
behind his back as he walked in a perfect square. For weeks he'd
been tortured by dreams, startled awake by them, then was unable to
get back to sleep. He'd shown up for Alpha shift each morning
wearing dark circles around his brilliant blue eyes, and a scowl
around his normally smiling mouth. It was her. Every dream held
her beautiful face and it was driving him crazy. In the middle of
the night he'd waken, torn from another dream, smelling her hair,
feeling her tiny, curvaceous body in his hands. And, every morning
he'd look across the bed and realize that she was not there. She
never would be. He'd left her behind and would never, ever see her

"Damn you, Riker, you cowardly son of a bitch!" he muttered,
slamming his fist into his palm. He'd left her. He'd taken all she
had to give, hurt her in the worst way a woman could be hurt, then
left without so much as a goodbye. He hated himself for it. His
assignment, his big dream assignment that had once meant everything
to him now meant next to nothing. Oh he wore the uniform with pride
and did the best job he could each and every day, utilizing every
bit of his Starfleet training. But his heart wasn't in it. If he
could only forget Deanna Troi, maybe he could go back to enjoying
his life, his career, his women. If only...

It wasn't going to happen though and he knew it. They were, as
Deanna had said, Imzadi and because of that, he could never forget
her. He knew that he would go to his grave remembering her, missing
her, and wishing he'd done things differently. And that knowledge
cast a shadow over everything he did. It always would.

Before his frustration could settle into depression, he felt
something akin to a spark inside of his head. A light, feathering
tingle that seemed to call to him. He'd never felt it before and
wondered absently if he were getting a headache, when the voice, her
voice, came flooding into his mind with the liquid warmth of a
*Oh Will. I love you. I miss you. Why did I let you go?*
Shocked, he allowed his galloping heart to slow down before
tentatively trying to make contact. *Deanna?*
*I can sense you. Oh God I can! I can sense you Deanna. I'm here*
A flooding feeling of relief filled his mind and he knew then and
there that she was right about everything. Never in his life could
he feel another being's emotions and never had he been able to
converse mentally with anyone, certainly not this distance!

*Will, can you still hear me?*
*I'm here darling. Are you all right?*
*Yes. I never dreamed you'd sense me this far away though. Where
are you?*
*Out in Hell's half-acre on the outskirts of some planet called
She chuckled softly. *You ARE in Hell's half-acre. At least that's
what my Father used to call it.*
Will grinned and she could feel it in her mind all of those
thousands of miles away.
*Deanna, I never...I mean...I thought...* he let the words drop, not
knowing how to say how he felt.
*I know. I never thought I'd hear from you again either. I was just
upset. And it must've reached all the way out to you. I had no idea
we had such a connection.*
*Me neither. I guess this Imzadi stuff is the real deal, isn't it?*
The word unleashed another round of tears and Will could feel her
sadness. He wanted so much to reach out her to, to hold her in his
*Imzadi? What's wrong? Tell me*
He could almost feel her gathering her strength, forcing the tears
down, and her words to verbalize themselves.
*I have some news, Will. And I'm not sure how you're going to
*Tell me, Deanna. It's all right. Just tell me what's wrong.*
*I'm going to have a baby, Will. Our baby.*

His world spun around at her words and he wished desperately that he
were there on Betazed with her, holding her as she gave him the
news. A baby. Good God.

*I'm here. Just...startled.*
*Imagine how I felt!*
He smiled and she could feel him across the galaxy, it made her
smile in return.
*Are you, I mean, you are going to keep it aren't you?*
*Of course!*
*Thank Gods. I mean, I know some girls...oh hell, you know what I
*Yes I do and I'm not going to have an abortion, Will. Don't worry.*

His mind raced then, wondering what to say, wondering how he felt,
wondering what on Earth would happen next. And then, with a
certainty that was as old and comforting as time itself, he knew
what he needed to say. Softly, gently he whispered, *Can I come back
to Betazed to see you?*
Love and relief shadowed her mind's voice. *Of course you can.*

Before they broke their special connection, he knew he had to say
just one more thing. One important thing for them both to hold onto
until he could get back to her.

*Yes Will?*
*I love you*
*Oh Will. I love you too. And I'll be waiting. For as long as it

Will smiled and months of ache and regret fell off his shoulders as
he collapsed into a tired heap on the bed. Tonight, for the first
time since leaving Betazed, he knew that he would sleep.

Lwaxana Troi bustled around the mansion's kitchen, muttering to
herself as she checked the food, the flowers, the supplies.
Everything had to be perfect for the party, she would simply not
have it any other way. Tonight at precisely 8 o'clock the Plato
family would arrive including their handsome son Aryn. Tonight
there would be music and laughter, fun and frolic, and if Lwaxana
had anything to say about it, romance. Specifically between Deanna
and Aryn. It was high time the girl got over mooning for that human
and began a relationship with someone of her own class. After all,
they belonged to the Fifth House and Aryn's Mother was a Daughter of
the First House. What a feather in Lwaxana's cap it would be to have
the son of a First House Daugther propose marriage to her child!

Humming loudly but off key, Lwaxana swished around the kitchen in a
flowing red gown, touching a plant here and there, fondling a flower
as she went, her nose dipping into the fresh, blue and red petals
like a large bee. She was so intent on her workings and her own
thoughts that she did not notice Deanna appear behind her.

"Mother, I want to talk to you," she announced, hands on generous
hips, eyes dark with anger.
"Why darling! You look splendid! That color always did suit you. Now
come, help me bring the flowers out to the patio. We want it to
fairly sing with floral glory tonight don't we?!"
Her mood was so gay it was hard for Deanna to stay angry. Hard, but
not impossible. After dumping a few pots out on the marble patio,
she flopped into a lawn chair and glared at her Mother darkly.
"Now can we talk?"
Lwaxana sighed loudly and sat across from her daughter, her mind
obviously on everything except the present moment.
"What is it dear? You know we have only half an hour until our
guests arrive and there is still so much to do! Mr. Homm is worse
than useless on these occasions, I swear I'm going to fire that man
one of these days..." she rambled on, caught up in her own problems
and her own small world, and Deanna felt a flash of resentment.
"Mother, could you please pay attention to me? I have something to
tell you."
"All right, all right. I'm sorry. It's just that I want this evening
to be everything it can be for you. That Aryn is a dashing
youngster and I have a feeling that the two of you are going to be
very, very interested in one another." A slow smile crossed her
lips and it only inflamed Deanna's temper more.
"Mother! I am not interested in this Aryn person. Nor do I want to
attend this stupid party. I have more important things on my mind."
"More important? More important than aligning ourselves with the
First House? More important than finding a nice Betazoid boy to
marry? What could be more important?"

Taking a very deep breath, Deanna looked into her Mother's eyes and
allowed the feelings she'd been cloaking since her Doctor's visit to
materialize. At first Lwaxana felt only relief coming from her
daughter. Then she sensed more. Much more. Soon Deanna's news was
apparant and for the first time in her life, Lwaxana Troi was at a
loss for words.

*Yes Mother, I'm pregnant. Now you know. I've been trying to work up
the nerve to tell you for days but it never seemed like the right
*And I suppose you think that now is the right time? Right before a
*I told you I don't care about your party or about these people. I'm
pregnant, Mother. I'm going to have a baby. Will Riker's baby.*
*Oh Gods...*

The older woman's face went several shades of white lighter than her
normal coloring and suddenly her red dress looked garish, wildly
inappropriate for her years rather than fetching and attractive.

*But Little One! I don't understand. How could you...?*
*How could I what, Mother? Allow a human to touch me, to make love
to me? I'd say you know the answer to that given that Daddy was
from Earth as well, wouldn't you?*

Leaving the lounge chair Lwaxana began to pace, taking sweeping arcs
around the patio in soft red slippers. Finally she stopped and
knelt in front of her daughter, taking her hands into her own.

"All right. This isn't a disaster. We'll simply take you to Dr. Palm
and have her terminate the pregnancy. Then you and Aryn will be free
to have a relationship. He need never know. As long as you and I
cloak our thoughts around his family, it will stay our little
secret. All right?"

In a wild fury Deanna flung herself off the chair and as far away
from Lwaxana as space would allow. "All right? Are you serious?
I'm carrying a baby by the man that I love, the only man I've ever
loved, and you want me to get rid of it? It's bad enough you want
to tie me to some boy that I don't even know and will never love,
but this!" Tears gathered in her eyes and she whirled on her Mother
in a rage. "You don't care about me or about what I want! You never
have! All you care about is your damned "Houses" and your political
connections. I don't mean a thing to you, do I?"

"Darling, of course you do! Why do you think I've gone to all of
this trouble? It's for you! For your future! For your happiness!"

"Oh for Gods' sake, Mother, be honest. You want to see me married to
your friend's son so you can say that you're connected to the most
influential and prominent family on this planet. And you'll do
anything to make that happen. Isn't THAT the truth?"

Lwaxana was silent as though she'd been slapped, and she tried to
reach her daughter, arms opened, eyes questioning. "Of course not,
Deanna. Oh I don't deny that the connections we could make are part
of my decisions about your future, but they aren't the only reason I
want this match. I want you to be happy, Deanna, and happiness is
something you haven't had much of since your Starfleet Lieutenant
left you is it?"

Deanna's eyes glittered with triumph. "Perhaps not. But I have
happiness again, and it's because of William Riker. You see, I've
been in contact with him and he's coming here, Mother. He's coming
to see me. And I doubt he'd be happy to know that the Mother of his
baby is being given away to another man..." she allowed her words to
trail off as her Mother's face grew pale again, knowing she'd aimed
an arrow that struck straight in the other woman's heart.
"Now, don't you think you'd better cancel this "party"? After all,
Will will be arriving soon. As a matter of fact, I received a
communique from him just this morning. His ship will be in orbit the
day after tomorrow. And when it leaves, Mother, I plan to be on

Lwaxana did the only thing she could do in response to her
daughter's words. She fainted.

Will's ship hovered over Betazed in a gentle orbit and as he looked
through the view screen at the gorgeous planet, he felt his heart
flutter like a young girl's at the sight of it. She was down there.
She was waiting for him. And best of all, she still loved him!
After all that had happened and all of the pain he'd caused her,
Deanna Troi still loved him. It was a miracle. And, he mused, so
was the baby. A baby! He'd never in his life given thought to
becoming a father...his own relationship with his Father had never
been great and so he hadn't planned on having children of his own.
But now that Deanna was pregnant...well, it brought a whole host of
emotions to the surface and he realized, with a jolt of surprise,
that he was genuinely happy about the baby. About becoming a

Smiling, he dressed in his best uniform, splashed on a hint of
cologne and combed his hair. Then he headed for the transporter pad
and his Imzadi, wondering what it would be like to hold her in his
arms again...

Later, standing at the door to the Troi mansion, he felt a quiver of
dread in his stomach. Deanna's Mother was behind that door and she
was not likely to be happy to see him. "Hell with her," he
muttered, and knocked loudly, calling Deanna's name.
*I'm coming, Will. Right now*

He smiled and as the door opened he was pleasantly surprised to see
his Imzadi instead of the dragon lady she called "Mother".

His gaze swept over her tiny figure, taking in the snug blue dress
that slid just off one shoulder, the glittering blue-black curls
falling to her waist, the giant dark eyes filled with tears and for him. His voice caught in this throat and he gave up
on trying to speak. Instead, he grabbed Deanna tightly, catching her
in his embrace, holding her as though he never wanted to let go.

"God I missed you!"
"I missed you too, Will. So much."
They hugged until it was painful, then broke apart to look at one
another. "You haven't changed. You're so beautiful...Imzadi."
She blushed and smiled up at him. "And you haven't changed either.
Still the flatterer, aren't you?"
"Only with you, Deanna."
Her face sobered for just a second, recalling the incident that had
torn them apart, but then he leaned in to kiss her and suddenly it
was as if the past two months had never happened. It was as if
nothing had ever gotten in the way of their perfect, beautiful

The kiss lingered on, and she found herself drowning in the scent of
him, the feel of him, and more than anything in the world she wanted
to make love to him right there and then, right on the doorstep in
front of the entire city.
He laughed, catching her thought, then broke the kiss, looking down
into her eyes. "You've become quite the sex kitten haven't you?
Looks like I've awakened the beast!"
She giggled, slapping him playfully, and said, "I'll never admit to
anything of the sort! Now, come inside. There is someone who wants
to talk to you."

Suddenly the flirtatious banter was gone as he realized he'd finally
have to face Lwaxana Troi. Oh well, better to get it over with now
then dread thinking about it all day long. Squaring his shoulders
he marched into the house behind Deanna, his face tightening along
with the hands that hung at his sides.

Lwaxana lay reclining on a blue sofa, looking very beautiful and
very contrite. He was shocked. Somehow he'd expected a knee in the
groin as soon as he'd gotten within two feet of the woman.

"William, dear. It is so good to see you again."
His eyebrows rose a fraction of an inch and he was half tempted to
reply with something off color. "And you...Mrs. Troi."
"Well, now, come sit. Tell me about the Potempkin and this mission
of yours. Deanna says you've been all the way to Kimtara and back."
"Um...yes. It's been very interesting. Primarily a star-mapping
mission, but not to bad for my first assignment."
"I see. And where will you be going next?"
"To Earth for a re-fit job and then off to the Galaran Cluster. I
think I'll finally get to see some action once we get there. At
least I hope!" He was babbling and doing it badly, but his nerves
were frayed and he wanted to get this meeting over with as soon as
"Well! I think that's splendid. Don't you Deanna? After all, the
Cluster is not so far away from Betazed, is it?"
Deanna and Will looked at one another then at Lwaxana, wondering
what she was thinking. It didn't take her long to tell them.

"You see, Deanna and I have had a long talk and I've been doing alot
of thinking. I want my daughter and my grandchild to be here with me
where I can keep an eye on them. At least until the baby is born.
Would you be willing to visit on occasion when you're in the area?
I'd really rather not have Deanna flying around on some starship
while going through pregnancy, after all."

Will and Deanna both were at a loss for words and stared openly at
Lwaxana as they groped for something to say. Finally, Deanna broke
the silence. "Mother! I...I don't know what to say. I thought..."
"Yes, darling, I know you did. I was horrid to you last week with
my "party" wasn't I? It took me a few days to accept what has
happened, but the truth is, it would be horribly dishonest of me to
force you into a marriage with one boy when you so obviously love
another. Especially since there's the child to consider."

"But...what made you change your mind?"

Lwaxana rose and walked across the living room to pick up a holo of
Ian Troi. In the picture a young Lwaxana stood proudly beside him,
very much in love and very, very pregnant. Sitting down beside her
daughter she handed her the holo and then lay her hand on Deanna's
shoulders. "You see, when I met your father...well, I was swept
away. Something about a man in a Starfleet uniform is just
irresistable, isn't it?" Will looked at the floor and blushed at
her words, and the two women grinned.
"Well, as you can imagine things happened rather quickly between Ian
and I, and before I knew it I was pregnant with Kestra. We were not
married yet and my Mother was incensed! She nearly threw me out of
the house along with your unborn sister when she realized what had
happened. After all, HER daughter was to marry Betazed royalty....a
son of the Seventh House."
Deanna's eyes widened. "So, what happened then?"
"Well, your father was as stubborn as I was and the two of us snuck
away that very night and eloped! There was no way that my intended
groom would be able to marry me at that point, and Mother knew that
she'd better accept us or lose me forever."
Gently, Deanna turned to Lwaxana and took her hands into her own.
"And that's what changed your mind about didn't want to
lose me?"
"Of course. I love you, Deanna. And I was about to make the very
same mistake that my own Mother made with me. Chalk it up to my
Betazoid traditional standards, but there it is. I was ready to
make you go through the whole charade until you told me about the
baby. Then I knew that it would never work. I knew I had to let

Soon Lwaxana was crying and so was Deanna, then they were in each
other's arms. "Oh Mother! You're not going to lose me! Not ever. I
love you and I'll always be your daughter. But I happen to love Will
too and we're going to be together. I need you to accept that."
"I do, Little One. I really do."
Looking tearfully at Will, Deanna's Mother waved a hand and motioned
for him to join them. Then the three of them hugged and Lwaxana
kissed the young man on his cheek.
"When I first met you I never dreamed that I'd be saying this,
William, but...welcome. Welcome to the family."
His blue eyes danced. "Thank-you Mrs. Troi. Thank you."

Much later, when Lwaxana had pleaded exhaustion and gone to bed,
Deanna stood on her balcony staring up at the sky, this time,
tightly wound in the arms of the man she loved. "I used to do this
every night, looking up at the sky, wondering where you were."
"I missed you so much, but couldn't admit to myself that I'd fallen
in love with you. That I hadn't gotten over you."
"What finally made you change your mind?"
"This..."she whispered, taking his hand and putting it on her
belly. "This is what made me realize how I felt about you."
"Oh Deanna. I love you so much. And I'm going to love this baby.
Before he or she makes their entrance into the world though, there's
something that we really should take care of."
"What's that, Imzadi?"
"This..." he pulled away from her, moved around to face her and
dropped to one knee. Pulling a small black box from his pocket, he
opened it to reveal a huge, glittering diamond.
"Oh Gods. Will..."
He grinned up at her, loving the way her tears made her beautiful
black eyes glitter in the moonlight. "Will you marry me, Deanna?"
There was no need for words as her joyous reply filled his mind,