Different Choices 1/?
Rated: PG-13
Disclaimer: Paramount owns all Star Trek TNG
characters-I’m just giving them a good time. J
(This little story is based on the episode “Haven”.
The scene in the holodeck is
etched on my mind, as if my subconscious is nudging me
to re-write history. And
so, this my fantasy of how it “should have” gone.)

“Are you always this obtuse?” The voice was mocking,
speaking to him from thin air. Spinning around, Will
Riker searched the empty room, but saw no one. He was
alone. As he had been since leaving Deanna with her
future husband in Holodeck 2.
“Who’s there?” he called to the empty air, wondering
if the voice would return.
“You humans truly have no sense of the dramatic, do
you? Really, I am disappointed in you, Commander.”
Listening to the voice, Will’s mouth drew into a
tight, thin line across his face.
“None other. One and the same. The very one. Shall
I go on with this or would you rather I simply appear
on top of your bedspread?”
“I’d rather you transported yourself the hell out of
my quarters and back to the Continuum where you
Walking past the bed, he rolled his eyes and headed
for the dining area. At the replicator, he barked out
an order for a mug of coffee and a steak dinner with
all the trimmings. The dinner “party” for Deanna and
Wyatt had been unendurable. The air had been filled
with Lwaxana and the Miller’s voices, squabbling as
though they were a group of five year olds arguing
over toys on a playground. Between the rising tension
from the family’s arguing and the uncomfortable
sensation of watching Deanna smiling sweetly at her
fiancé, he’d felt as though what little food he’d
eaten was about to make a reappearance.
Now, however, he was starving. Taking the large brown
plate to the table, he set it down and poured himself
a large glass of ale from a bottle he’d had stashed
away. A gift from an old lover on Risa. Something to
remember her by. Ironically, he hadn’t thought of her
since. Lifting the heavy fluted glass to his lips, he
swallowed, then proceeded to gulp the remains until
the glass was empty.
“Now, now, Commander. You wouldn’t want to become
intoxicated, would you?”
Will picked up his fork and mentally tuned him out. He
was angry, tired, frustrated and starving. The great
omnipotent, ever-powerful Q would just have to wait.
Tearing into his food, he let his mind go blank, and
hoped that the alcohol combined with the carbohydrates
would keep it that way. He didn’t want to think about
the words he’d said to Deanna in the holodeck, or the
ones that she had said to him. Most of all, he did
not want to think about what they both might have
said, had Wyatt Miller not walked into the holodeck
and interrupted.
In minutes, his meal was a decimated mess on his
plate, and he’d drunk two more glassfuls of ale.
Sated, he wiped his lips with a napkin and moved into
the bedroom to plop down in an inelegant lump on the
“Now then, where were we?” came the voice again. “Ah
yes, I was chastising you for becoming intoxicated.”
“Don’t you ever give up?” Will murmured grumpily.
“Not if I can help it. Besides, you need me, Will
Riker. And I am here to help.”
The air seemed suddenly charged with cold and Will
felt the strong desire to wrap his fully clothed body
beneath the sheets and blankets. On the metal dresser
across the room, a shape began to take form in the
midst of a glowing, jagged white light. And then, in
an instant, Q was there-sitting on the dresser with
his legs crossed, looking like a rather unusually
shaped statue. He was smiling, and that alone
frightened Will. The only times that Q seemed to
smile were when he were about to make life miserable
for the inhabitants of the Enterprise.
“All right, you’re here. You have thirty seconds to
tell me what the hell you’re doing here and then I am
throwing you out on your ass.” Blue eyes blazed to
indigo and his tanned, slim face grew red as he stared
at the obnoxious entity.
Q frowned, and then stared intently at his cuticles.
They really did seem in need of attention. Brushing
them a bit with one hand, he blew on them, and then
lifted the hand into the air to stare at his primitive
handiwork. “You know, keeping these nails looking
attractive is really getting to be a bother. I don’t
know how you humans do it.”
Jumping off the dresser, Q turned to survey his
reflection in the mirror. He ran his fingers through
his brown hair, preened a bit, and then turned to face
“Well, what do you think? Will I pass muster?”
“I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”
“At the wedding, you imbecile. I am planning on
attending your Imzadi’s nuptials. I’ve heard that
everyone is going in the nude. I must admit I find
that fascinating. Seeing your Captain in nothing but
a smile will be the highlight of my year.”
Will jumped off the bed and stood before him, glaring
a hole through his face.
“Get off this ship right now. You’re not going to
the wedding. You’re not going anywhere near Deanna.
And for once, you are going to leave Captain Picard
alone. Understand?”
“If I wanted to leave all of you alone, would I have
traveled so far to see you? Come now, William. Now,
why don’t we have a seat at your dining table? I have
a proposition that just might interest you.”
One dark eyebrow raised and Will tilted his head to
one side. “Fine. Name it and then get out of my
quarters. I’m not in the mood for this-not after the
day I’ve had.”
“Fair enough.” Blinking out of existence, he then
reappeared at Will’s dining table, straddling one of
the chairs like a lanky schoolboy.
Will grudgingly sat across from him, eyeing him
warily. “Out with it, Q. I don’t have all day.”
Q sighed heavily, obviously disgusted with Will’s
lack of interest. “Oh, all right. You do take all the
fun out of being a Q though. The reason I am here is
simply this: I discovered that your Imzadi was getting
married. Never mind how-I have my ways.
Let’s just say that I was very much aware of your
predicament. That scene in the holodeck-I mean
really. Who was that Miller person to walk into your
private moment?”
“You…you were there?”
“Well of course. How else could I know what was
going on? Anyhow, I decided right then and there that
it would be great fun to go to Deanna’s wedding. I
mean, after all, it’s not every day that I get to
attend such a formal occasion, is it? Not to mention,
Deanna’s mother will be there and from what I’ve
heard, she’s quite—lively.”
“Okay, you’re here. You want to go to the wedding.
Bully for you. What in God’s name does any of it have
to do with me?”
Q’s eyes deepened for a moment with something that
would’ve looked like sympathy, had Will known that the
man did not possess a heart. “You want her still,
don’t you? You love her. The last thing you want in
the world is for her to marry this Miller person. Am
I correct?”
“You’re omnipotent, you figure it out!”
“Temper, temper, my dear boy. That is not the way to
get on my good side.” He twitched his finger back and
forth, as though Will were an errant child and he was
his ever-so proper school master. Clearing his
throat, he began again.
“Now, here is what I propose, Commander Riker. I
turn back the clock for you, say for about two hours.
I also dispatch of your rival for that time period so
that you and the lovely Counselor will not be
interrupted. Time will begin to move forward the
moment you step into the holodeck. From there, the
rest is up to you.”
Will’s face whitened, and he gripped the tabletop
with both hands. His eyes filled with emotion and his
heart beat fast, vibrating the black fabric of his
uniform. Q was giving him a chance to do things
differently. To tell Deanna how he really felt. The
chance to spill everything inside of his heart. The
thought of her marrying someone else was torture.
Maybe he still wanted to be a starship Captain, maybe
his ambitions had not changed. But the moment that
Deanna had told him that she was going to marry Wyatt
Miller, his entire future flashed before his eyes and
it was disconsolately empty. Maybe he hadn’t been
ready to make a commitment, hell, he still wasn’t.
But damned if he wanted her to marry someone else.
Swallowing hard, he leaned closer to Q, feeling
himself torn between fascinated curiosity and disgust.
He hated this man, this person, this entity-whatever
he was. He’d caused the ship and his Captain to go
through some of the most grueling days of their lives.
He was not to be trusted. And yet, sitting there
across from Will, he looked entirely innocent. A
friendly face on a bad day, lending a hand to heal
Will’s misery. He wasn’t buying for a minute.
“I’m not making any deals with you, Q. You’re not
exactly on the top of my list as someone I’d trust.
Besides, why should you do this for me? And more
importantly, what is it that you want in return? I
doubt you just fly merrily around the universe
scouting out people in need and then drop into their
lives unasked to bring them their heart’s desire.”
Q’s brow’s raised and he leaned back in his chair,
threading his fingers together behind his head. “Now
that is an interesting turn of phrase, Commander. For
Deanna Troi is your heart’s desire. Isn’t she?”
Blushing, Will shrugged, feigning disinterest. “I
don’t think that’s any of your concern, Q. Besides,
very soon she will be another man’s wife. We’ve had
our time together, and it’s over. I have to accept
“Tsk tsk tsk. You haven’t been listening, have you?
I have just told you that I will change this situation
for you. That you will be able to go back and do
things differently. Can you honestly tell me that you
aren’t interested?”
Will’s heart was slamming against his chest so hard
he found it difficult to breathe. Part of him wanted
to scream out, to beg Q to take him back in time and
allow him to do things differently. The other part,
wanted to vaporize the smug bastard with his phaser.
“All right. Say you can change things for me. Say I
go back, tell Deanna that I’m still in love with her,
beg her not to marry Wyatt. For argument’s sake,
let’s assume she falls into my arms and we agree to
become engaged. Everything’s wonderful, right?”
Q looked at him, perplexed. “Yes. Isn’t it?”
Will smiled smugly. “Yeah, everything’s just dandy
until you decide to exact payment for your little
trick. What will it be this time? Transporting me to
the Continuum to lock me in a cage and forcing me to
perform acrobatics in the nude? Or maybe you’ll just
throw me out the airlock and before I get vaporized,
give me the power to bring myself back. How the hell
am I supposed to agree to this, when I know that you
are going to use it to screw me over?”
Q, looking properly abashed, put his head down,
looking at the carpet. He sighed; a long, ragged
sound that was filled with melancholia. “You do drive
a hard bargain, Commander. And here I thought I was
unselfishly extending my powers to better your life.
Apparently, you are not interested. So, I will now
take my leave and consider myself duly chastised.” He
rose, dusted off imaginary motes from his clothing,
and raised his hands. Looking Will squarely in the
eye, Q taunted, “Going once, going twice…”
Will stared at him defiantly, unwilling to budge.
But in seconds, Q would be enveloped in a flash of
light, disappearing before his eyes. Who knew when
he’d be back? With a racing heart, Will ran to him.
“No! Don’t go!”
“Why Commander Riker. I didn’t know you cared.”
“All right. Just do it. I don’t care what the cost.
I love Deanna and I can’t stand to think of her
marrying that guy.”
They stared at one another long and hard for a solid
minute, and then Q grinned.
“Okay, my boy. You are about to get your wish. But
just so you are aware, there will be a price to pay…”
“Fine. Name it. Anything, just let’s get on with
The grin that spread across Q’s face was filled with
malice. “I’ll remember you said that. And, while you
are cavorting with that Betazoid woman, I will be
here, cooking up your repayment schedule. I believe
that I can find a use for you, Riker.”
A chill raced up Will’s back at those words. He knew
he should be afraid. But all he could think of was
Deanna. He had to get to her now, before this farce of
an engagement turned into a no-shit, real-live
Motioning to Q, he muttered, “I’m ready. Send me
Like a wise genie, Q nodded sagely and answered,
“Your wish is my command.”
In the blink of an eye, Will’s world vanished, and as
it disappeared around him, he could hear Q’s laughter
follow him into the abyss.

Part 2/?

Will appeared in the holodeck amid a flash of bright
white light and the accompaniment of a burst of song.
It was frightening and vivid, which, he mused,
perfectly described the man who’d sent him here.
Looking around at the red-hued sky, he moved towards a
large rock and sat down upon it, waiting for his heart
to slow its rapid beat.
He was here-he was really here. In only a few
moments Deanna Troi would walk through the arch and
join him. He would have that moment back, the moment
when he’d thrown away their history and their Imzadi
bond in order to let another man make her his wife.
His heart thumped painfully in his chest, and his
mouth was dry. What was he going to say to her? Did
he really have the balls to tell her exactly how he
Serving with her for the past year or two had been
more difficult than he’d imagined it could be. Seeing
her exotically beautiful face every day was a constant
reminder of the power of the passion they had shared
on Betazed. And yet, Deanna seemed to take it all in
stride. He never saw her at a loss for words, never
found her in tears because she was hurting over him,
and never once heard a whisper of gossip around the
ship about her feelings for him. It seemed that she
was over him-completely. And if that were true, then
he was going to make a damned fool of himself.
Sighing, he looked at his chrono and glanced up at
the arch. As if he’d willed it, the cavernous door
slid open and Deanna Troi walked in. His mouth fell
open. Even though he knew this was going to happen,
it was a shock to actually be there watching it
unfold. “May I join you?” Deanna murmured, moving to
sit beside him.
Frozen, his tongue would not move. What had he said
the last time they were here? And did he have to play
it exactly that way? Stalling for time, he decided to
play along until he was ready to tell her what was on
his mind.
“I’ll miss you Deanna…”
Her face filled with emotion and her large eyes
looked haunted and hurt.
“I’m no longer Imzadi to you?”
“You taught me that word means “my beloved”. “
“And the human heart is too small to permit that
feeling now?”
Will felt his heart fall down into his stomach, his
mouth dry as cotton. It was painful, loving her so
much, yet unable to speak the words. Unable to show
her exactly what this “marriage” of hers was doing to
him. Clearing his throat, he glared at her.
“Have you discussed this with Wyatt? I think you
should. It’s also damned unfair to me.”
She smiled slightly, and it softened her beautiful
face. “I understand. I should have realized that
young human males particularly have difficulty
separating platonic love from physical love…”
His heart thudded in his ears, and he felt his entire
body break out into a cold sweat. The moment was
coming and he was scared shitless. What if she
rejected him? What if she no longer felt the same way
about him? And what, for God’s sake, was he going to
do if she told him that she had come to love Miller?
Swallowing hard, he murmured, “The problem is,
Imzadi, I couldn’t…not now. Call it an old Earth
tradition, habit of the beasts, whatever…” he paused,
half expecting the arch to open and admit Wyatt
Miller. To his surprise and relief, they were still
alone. Q had made good on his promise. “What I’m
trying to say is that I can’t separate them. Not with
you. Never with you.” He sighed, and took her hand
into his, looking straight into the depths of her
shining black eyes.
“Ever since we made love on Betazed, I’ve been
confused. Before I met you it was easy to separate
sex from love. But once I touched you, once I learned
to send my thoughts to you, I don’t know…it became all
mixed up. I fell in love with you, Deanna, and it was
the first time in my life I’d ever felt that way. It
scared me to death.
She smiled and leaned closer, caressing his cheek. “I
know. I remember. Fear was the main feeling you
projected back then…along with other, lesser
They grinned at each other, and Will continued.
“Deanna, I want your happiness more than anything, you
know that. But don’t think you really want to marry
this guy.”
She frowned, and looked down at the ground, unable to
meet his eyes. “It doesn’t matter what I want, Will.
This is about the joining of two important families.
It’s what Mother wants, it’s what the Millers want. I
must learn to adapt myself to it.”
“Adapt yourself? That’s a hell of a way to begin a
life-long commitment. If you have to adapt yourself
to this situation, then maybe it’s the wrong decision,
Deanna. You can refuse to do this, Imzadi. This is
your life and you have the right to be happy.”
With tear-filled eyes, she looked up at him, her
mouth quivering tremulously.
“You d…don’t understand. I have to do this. It’s
part of our tradition. Besides, I’ve already accepted
it and given my word. I cannot simply back out now.”
Will’s heart went out to her, and he longed to pull
her into his embrace so that he could comfort her and
wipe the spill of tears from her eyes. Instead, he
reached for her hand, wanting to take the moment
slowly, to savor it. To enjoy being with her in case
she rejected him completely. “Yes, you can, Deanna.
It’s not right for them to force this on you when it’s
obvious that you don’t love him. I mean, you don’t
love him, do you?”
Shaking her head, she wiped a track of tears from her
cheeks and met his eyes.
“No, Will I don’t. Gods, I wish that I did. It would
make everything so much easier. I am going to do
this. I am going to my duty. And I will come to care
for Wyatt eventually. But…” she broke off, cleared
her throat, and began again, “the truth is, that I
love someone else. I think that I always will.”
Gods, it was time. The moment was here. Closing his
eyes for a nanosecond, Will mentally shouted a
“thank-you” in Q’s invisible direction and leaned
close to Deanna, finally doing what he wanted to do
the first time. He kissed her, his mouth covering
hers, his arms pulling her into their embrace.
Stunned, she tried to pull away, but as he continued
to caress her, to kiss her face, her lips, her neck,
she weakened, and allowed herself to be swept away by
Will’s emotions.
“Imzadi…Deanna…I can’t let you do this…Oh God, do you
know how horrible it’s been watching you with him?
When you told me that you were going to get married…it
was like someone had punched me in the stomach. I’ve
never felt anything like that before. I wanted to go
find the bastard and strangle the life out of him.
You can’t know how much this has hurt…”
“Yes I can. Don’t you think it has hurt me as well?
To turn my back on you, to ignore the fact that we’ve
had a relationship, to pretend as if it doesn’t matter
that instead of marrying the man I love, I’m marrying
a total stranger…” She looked into Will’s eyes,
losing herself in the liquid blue pools. They stared
at one another for eons, allowing the memories of
their love to resurface after being hidden beneath
duty and friendship for so long.
“Deanna…I…I know that I left you on Betazed. I
wanted this career so badly that I was ready to tear
off into space and leave everyone and everything
behind--even you. But now that we’re here, together,
it’s like someone has given us a second chance. I
don’t want to lose you again…”
“Nor do I, Will. Gods, it broke my heart when you
left on the Potemkin. I know that you asked me to
join you, that I could’ve left Betazed and been with
you. But I was stubborn; I wasn’t ready to leave my
life behind. And then, when I found you with
Wendy…well, it seemed like it was over for good.”
“I know. I am so sorry that ever happened. You’ll
never know how much. But that’s over; it’s in the
past. And we are here together, right now. Please
say that you won’t go through with this. Tell Wyatt
whatever you need to, I don’t care, as long as I can
have you back in my life again. Oh Deanna…I love you.
I guess I’ve never stopped.” He took her face into
his hands and kissed her again, reveling in the feel
of her lips, even enjoying the wetness that coated his
face as she burst into another round of tears.
“I…I love you too, Will. You’ve always been in my
heart. I thought that we could serve together as
friends, that we could put our relationship behind us.
And I was doing fairly well until Wyatt came aboard.
When I realized that he and I were about to join
together in marriage, all I could think of was that I
would never have the chance to be your wife.”
Will grinned. “So you’ve been in love with me all
these years, huh? Well you hide it pretty well, Ms.
“So do you! You seemed so comfortable with the way
things were between us, I just assumed that you’d
gotten over me.”
“I will never get over you, Imzadi. Not ever.”
They held one another tightly, and Will felt tears
burn in his own eyes. She was in his arms. She still
loved him. Dear God, he owed Q anything and
everything he had just for this one perfect moment.
“I’ll remember that you said that, Commander.” The
voice echoed in his ears, and he looked around over
Deanna’s shoulder, wondering where he was hiding.
“Oh don’t worry, Commander. You still have time with
your Betazoid woman. I simply came to peek in and
watch your progress. I must say that you’re doing
rather well-for a human. Now don’t forget, I will be
waiting for you when you are finished. We have details
to discuss, remember?”
“How could I forget?”
“Good. See you in your quarters then-lover boy.” In
an instant the voice was gone, and Will felt shaken.
Caught up in the moment, he’d forgotten all about Q.
He wondered what the price he was going to have to pay
for this exquisite, precious moment with Deanna.
“What’s wrong, Will? I sense something…fear,
perhaps? Are you all right?”
“Deanna, I’ve never been better. I’m not
afraid…although I admit I’m a little intimidated by
your Mother. She’s going to blame this all on me, you
“I know, but I won’t let her. I’ll tell her that I
couldn’t go through with it because I still love you.
She will understand…someday. Whether she wants to
admit it or not, she was in the same situation many
years ago with my Father.”
“She was? What happened?”
“She was betrothed to a young man from the time she
was a child, much like I was. But when she grew into
womanhood, she met a another man, a human.”
Will’s eyes crinkled at the edges and he smiled.
“Your father…”
“Yes. Ian Troi swept into her life and she fell head
over heels in love with him. Well, naturally she
couldn’t go through with the wedding, and turned down
her fiancé’.”
“I guess everything worked out for the best then. And
since she’s been through this herself, she should
understand, right?”
“I certainly hope so. To do anything else would be
“Well then, Ms. Troi, can I ask you something?”
“You may ask me anything, Mr. Riker.”
“Will you marry me? I love you and I don’t ever want
to be without you again.”
Pulling him close, she kissed him, and nodded. “Oh
yes, Will. Yes, I will marry you.”
He felt as though his heart would explode. He was so
filled with joy and wonder he felt as if he could fly.
Reaching for Deanna’s hair, he pulled the intricate
clasp out and allowed the black curls to tumble to her
tiny waist. Then he ran his fingers through the lush
thickness, reveling in the feel of it. Laying her
down, he moved to lay beside her, and his fingers
moved to run the length of her body.
“Commander Riker, are you seducing me?”
“Only if you want to be seduced.”
She turned towards him and pulled his face down to
kiss him. “I think I’d like that….” she said, and
then lay back to allow him to undress her.

When it was over, they cuddled in each other’s arms,
wishing they were in a soft, comfortable bed instead
of a hard, cold rock. But it had been so beautiful,
so intense, that neither of them truly cared. Will
leaned up on one elbow to watch Deanna, as she drifted
off to sleep, his heart so filled with love that it
was almost painful. He couldn’t believe it, he’d
gotten exactly what he’d wanted. Of course they still
had to contend with Lwaxana, and he had to face the
music with Q. But none of it mattered.
He smiled widely, and decided to take a nap himself.
But before he could close his eyes, he felt the room
grow cold. He felt the rock beneath him disappear, and
Deanna’s sweet body along with it. A whirling vortex
over took him, and he winked out in a pool of light,
disappearing entirely.


Part 3/?

Blinding white light, frigid cold blasts of air, and
a thick pelting of snow greeted his eyes when the
rapid journey came to a stop. Shielding his eyes, he
squinted, looking for the pain in the ass who had
brought him here. “Q? Where are you? I thought that
we were supposed to meet in my quarters.”
“Ah, Commander Riker. So you’ve returned. And you
are absolutely correct-we did agree to meet in your
quarters. And so we have…” Q appeared in a flash of
light only a few feet away from Will’s position,
grinning widely. Motioning to the expanse of white
around them, he murmured, “Don’t you recognize it?
Why, over there, beneath that snowdrift, is your bed.
And over in that direction, behind the veil of icicles
is your bathroom. See? We haven’t ventured very far,
now have we?”
All of the pleasure of his time with Deanna
disappeared, covered with the beginnings of a
migraine. Tension gripped his shoulders and his hands
clenched into fists at his sides. “Okay, we’re in my
quarters…why the snowfall? The icicles? It’s
freezing in here, Q! Get me out of here right now.”
“Or what? You’ll yell at me? Intimidate me with
that devilish Riker-grin? I’m afraid you just don’t
frighten me, Commander. Pity, if you did, it might
make the next several hours much more interesting.” Q
leapt into the air and landed on top of an igloo smack
in the middle of the room.
“All right, what do you want? I’m here to make
payment…just name it and let’s get it over with.”
Will threaded his arms together, standing erect,
staring Q in the eye, daring him to blink him out of
“My, you do have the male bravado thing down. Why
any fair maiden catching but a glimpse of your manly
shoulders would certainly swoon with desire. However,
I don’t have time for such displays. If you are done
with your macho posturing, my friend, I would like to
get down to business….”
“I’m here. Name it.”
“Ah, ah, ah, you’re forgetting something, Mr. Riker.
Something very important. Didn’t your Mother teach
you any manners?”
Will flushed, knowing instantly what Q was after.
“You expect me to thank you? Is that what this is
“Well, I did give you your heart’s desire, didn’t I?
And, lest you forget how powerful I am, let me throw
this out at you…if you don’t express your gratitude
and put on a show worthy of your talents, then with
the snap of my fingers I will send your lady friend
back into the arms of that inept Betazoid. Do we have
an understanding?”
Bristling, Will fairly growled with the effort of
restraining his fury. “Yes…we do. Thank-you for
giving me time with Deanna…I won’t ever forget it.”
He jumped down off of the igloo and dove into a
half-frozen pool of water, coming up shouting. He
crawled up out of the frigid water and shook his head
like a puppy, smiling at Will.
“Much better! I knew you had the makings of a
gentleman, William. And now that we’ve gotten that
out of the way, perhaps you’d like to take a guess as
to what your payment is going to be?”
Will stared at the pool of blue water, shivering
inwardly. “Not particularly.”
“Well, let me assure you that it’s not going to be
what you’re thinking. No, this…” he spread his arms
wide, “is for my pleasure. While you were gone I
decided to recreate the atmosphere and climate of a
little star I found in the Angarian cluster. I do
love the cold, don’t you?”
“No. I don’t. I prefer warmer climates, hotter
“Well then! Isn’t this a coincidence? You must be
reading my mind, William. You see, where we’re going,
it’s much warmer than this…much warmer, in fact, than
any place you’ve ever been. Are you curious? Would
you like for me to tell you where it is?”
Sighing, Will flopped down on the icy ground, hugging
his knees tightly. “For God’s sake, just get it over
with! Take me there, make me do your tricks, then get
me the hell home! I’ve had enough of your games.”
“As you wish, Commander…but remember….this was your
A frission of fear trickled down Will’s spine…he
looked at the frozen tundra before him, not with any
enjoyment, but with at least a hint of familiarity.
It was cold, but so was Alaska, and he was used to it.
Heat was a different thing all together. In fact,
the hottest place he’d ever been was the Jalara jungle
in summertime, and if any place got much hotter than
that, he didn’t want to know about it.
“I’m ready,” he murmured, closing his eyes, unwilling
to watch the blinding spectacle of light that would
surround them.
“One, two, three…you can open your eyes now.”
He did so, expecting to have been transported to the
fires of hell itself. Instead, he saw nothing but
desert. Sand dunes rolled endlessly away from him for
miles, and not one but two suns beat their shimmering
heat down upon him. Catching his breath, he realized
that already his throat was parched…it was not a good
Peering through shielded eyes, he looked for Q and
found him. He was sitting in an oasis in the middle
of the desert, a small pool of water beneath a lone
palm tree. Sipping a frosted drink and wearing
nothing but swim trunks, Q lifted his glass as if to
toast him. “Well…what do you think? A bit warm, I
know, but truly one of the nicer places I’ve visited.
Now, why don’t you come closer and I will tell you
what I require of you. Come on, join me. Take a dip,
have a drink. Prepare yourself for what’s to come.”
Stubbornly, Will shook his head and held his ground.
“I don’t think so. Whatever it is you want me to do,
I want to get it over with. Now.”
Q sighed tremulously, and his eyes veered towards the
heavens. “You see what I have to put up with? No
gratitude whatsoever. What is that? Oh, yes, well he
IS a decent specimen of a human being, but honestly,
he has no gumption. Oh, all right, I will get it over
with, but don’t expect me back soon…I have other fish
to fry.”
Puzzled, Will walked over to Q, looking up at the
cloudless sky. “Who were you talking to?”
“The Continuum, of course. Now that I have the
Enterprise crew to play with, they seem determined to
horn in on my fun. I’m afraid they are a demanding
lot. They wish to have a bit of time with you as
well. But I refuse to share…they will just have to
get their own toys.” He broke off, sipping deeply
from a pink straw, and then winked at Will. “In any
event, the time has come. Shall we?”
Will started to speak, but found himself unable to do
so. A loud, whirring filled his ears and his body
coated quickly with sweat. His uniform clung damply
to him, molding to every muscle in his body, and he
felt briefly embarrassed. Reaching to wipe his
sweating forehead, he looked around. “Q?” But he
was no longer in sight. The oasis had disappeared
right along with him, leaving only an endless expanse
of dry sand.
Perplexed, Will began to walk, not having the
faintest clue where he was going. After about an hour
or so, he was completely dry, wishing for a bottle of
ice-cold water.
As he plunged on, his heavy black boots sinking in the
sand, he cursed Q and the entire Continuum. For a
second, he wished that he’d never agreed to Q’s terms,
and yet he knew deep down that he was grateful. Being
with Deanna was worth anything, even this, and he
would get through it. So far it wasn’t bad…just hot
and dry. He could take it.
Putting one foot in front of the other, Will
continued on, wondering what was going to happen…would
Q just let him starve out here? Or perhaps die of
thirst? Would he end up a dusty skeleton buried
beneath these sands, to be scavenged by birds of prey?
Or would he simply roam this patch of earth until he
was too tired to move, dying of exhaustion? Maybe
that was Q’s plan. But, there was no way to know what
was really going to happen, so he decided then not to
worry about it. For ten long minutes he walked in
safety, no problems, dangers, disasters awaited him.
And then, for the first time, he saw the sand spiders.
At first he didn’t know what he was looking at…from
far away it looked like a huge building in the
distance. It had given him hope, for perhaps three
seconds, until he drew closer and realized that the
huge thing before him was not a building at all, but
an arachnid. It was easily 50 feet tall and equally
as wide. Eight long legs sprouted from its
midsection, crawling slowly towards him through the
deep sand. It was black, furry, and had fangs the
size of a small 20th century automobile. It was, in
short, a nightmare come to life and it took every
ounce of Fleet training Will had not to faint dead on
the spot.
Shaking, he thought desperately of Deanna. Even she
didn’t know about his spider phobia, no one did. Yet
somehow, Q had discovered his little secret and
decided to play upon it. It was the worst thing he
could imagine and that was probably exactly what Q had
wanted all along.
Will swallowed hard, feeling as if everything that
had passed his lips was about to make a sudden
reappearance. Clamping down on his emotions, he
forced his feet to move forward. “I don’t know how
I’m supposed to beat you, but I suppose I’ll figure
out a way…” he murmured, taking tentative, shaking
steps towards the spider.
As he drew closer, the impact of his fear became a
numbing agent….he was simply too terrified to stay
scared, if that made any sense. His fear centers shut
down, everything was numbed out. It felt pretty good.
More confident now, Will moved forward more quickly,
reaching for his phaser. It felt wonderful in his
hands, and he began to smile. “I think I can handle
you now….you nasty bastard.”
The spider continued to move towards him, ambling with
a shifting movement that resembled a snake’s sinuous
slide. It’s eyes stared at him, its body moving
closer and closer with each eight-limbed step. And
just as it got within ten feet of him, Will screamed.
His eyes widened, and he stumbled, falling on his
knees. Behind the giant spider, looking like a team
of military officers, marched five more of them.
Horrified, Will screamed again, the numbness now
pierced sharply with fresh terror. He turned on his
heel and ran like the wind, scared shitless. But as
he ran, he noticed something…the spiders that had been
behind him were now in front of him. Frantic, he
moved in an easterly direction, but they appeared
there as well. Unwilling to give up, he tried for the
west, but within seconds, the tribe of spiders was
once again bearing down upon him. He was screwed.
Coming to a dead stop, he bent at the waist panting
heavily. His mind raced, trying to think of a way
out, and yet he knew it was hopeless. Short of calling
on Q for help, he was stuck. Sucking in enough air to
fill his lungs, he stood erect again and faced them.
Phaser in hand, he pierced the veil of his fear and
moved forward again.
“All right, which one of you wants it first?” he
cried, his voice shaking beneath the brave façade.
“Which one? Come on…I don’t care, just get close
enough for me to shoot you.” The one in front, the
leader he assumed, came forward, his legs plunging
into the sand, his fangs raised high in the air.
Will set the phaser on “kill” and aimed for the red
spot on the spider’s belly. The orange stream of
light burned a hole in the insect’s belly, and a
strange echoing scream seemed to come from within.
Angered, it moved forward again, leaning over Will
like a towering, black tree. It began to fall on him,
with the intent of pinning him to the ground, but Will
was fast and spun out of the way before the thing
could land on him. When it was on the ground, he shot
it again, and this time, it stopped moving.
“That’s right, you bastard! I got you!” He laughed
aloud, relief flooding his veins like an intoxicating
elixir. “All right, who’s next?” he called, watching
the remaining four. They stood still, as though
awaiting instructions from their leader, and even when
Will dared to get close, they still held their ground.

“Man, you guys must want to die today. This is like
shooting fish in a barrel.”
He pointed the phaser at the spider on the left and
blazed a hole in its guts. Then took out each one in
succession, feeling the wild sting of joy fill his
veins at being alive.
He watched them fall, their hideous furry bodies
landing loudly on the ground, and realized that for
the first time in his life he had confronted one of
his biggest fears.
Falling to the ground, he landed on his bottom and lay
back against the hot sand, breathing heavily. “Is
that it, Q? Is that all you’ve got? You thought you
had me, didn’t you? I guess Starfleet technology is
too much for your Continuum creations…”
“You always were a bit too cocky for my taste,
Commander. I think that you are in need of a lesson
in humility.” The voice spoke from above him, but Q
had not appeared. Getting to his feet, Will shouted,
“I don’t care what you think of me. I beat your damned
spiders and I’m ready to go home.”
“Are you really? I’m afraid that I’m going to have
to disappoint you, Commander. You see, I’m not quite
ready to let you go…in fact, I have one more little
surprise up my sleeve, one I think that you will
Will looked around, wondering what was going to
happen next, and then he saw it. Not fifty feet away
from him, was another spider. This one was over 100
feet tall…much bigger than its predecessors. It was
light gray, its fangs poised to bite, and it was fast.
In a split second, it was on him, and he had only
time enough to grab his phaser and point it. But
nothing happened when he pressed the discharge button.

Staring up at the spider, Will felt his bravado
slither out of his body, replaced by bone-deep,
no-shit terror. “Jesus…” he whispered. And then, as
the shadow of the spider engulfed him, he fell into a
dead faint.


Part 4/4

He was dead. He had to be. After being trapped
beneath a 100-foot-tall spider it would be pretty hard
to stay alive. And yet, Will could feel his body
aching from head to toe and he could hear voices
around him. Voices that did not sound like Q or his
Continuum. He had to be alive then, but how the hell
had he survived?
Puzzled, he opened his eyes, and saw with shocked
relief that he was in sickbay. His whole body
relaxed, going loose with the wondrous feeling of
being alive—and safe.
Beverly stood above him, running a tricorder over his
body, then smiled as she saw his eyes fluttering open.
“You’re going to make it, Will.”
“Bev, I’ve never been so glad to see someone in my
life. What happened? How did I get back here? Q…”
She nodded. “Yes, I know all about your run-in with
Q. And you’ll be glad to know that he was the one who
brought you back.”
“He was? I’m surprised. I thought he’d keep me out
there forever. What made him bring me back?”
Beverly smiled. “That, my friend, is the most
interesting part of this. It seems that whatever he
conjured up for his little game with you was more
shocking than he realized. You passed out, fainted
dead away, and he couldn’t rouse you. Imagine, an
omnipotent, all-powerful being, unable to bring a
human being back to consciousness.” She laughed
softly, then reached to squeeze Will’s hand.
“It is funny, now that you mention it. Although I
didn’t think so when I was out in the desert with
those…creatures. God, it’s good to be back. But I
still can’t believe he saved me. There must be a catch
somewhere…” he looked around the room then, almost
expecting Q to appear at the foot of his bed,
demanding even more from him than he’d already given.

“I would’ve thought so too, Will. But you’d be
surprised. When he brought you back aboard the
Enterprise, he came straight here to sickbay. He
seemed worried about you, if you can believe that. I
think that he felt powerless when he was unable to
wake you up, and that scared him. At any rate, he
brought you back, begged me to help you, and then
disappeared in a flash. I think he was embarrassed.”
“Good. He deserves to be, the bastard. After what he
put me through I think a little embarrassment is
“I’d have to agree. But, tell me Will, what did go
on out there? Where did he take you?”
“Bev, you don’t want to know. Let’s just say that
after what I saw out there, I don’t think I’ll ever be
afraid of another away mission. Nothing they’ve got on
any M-class planet out there can scare me…not
“Well, I’m just happy you’re back. Now, there is
someone who would very much like to see you. Shall I
send her in?”
Deanna. The thought of her brought memories of their
lovemaking on the holodeck, and a feeling of
overwhelming love filled his heart. “Yes, please send
her in Bev.”
She looked at Will knowingly, winked, and then called
for Deanna to come into the room. Deanna walked in
slowly, her hands laced in front of her. She still
wore the gray uniform she’d worn the last time he saw
her, but her hair had been pulled from its elaborate
headband and now hung to her waist in soft curls. She
looked so young and so beautiful that for Will, it was
as though no time had passed at all since their
meeting on Betazed. “Deanna. It’s so good to see you,
She moved closer to him, leaned down and kissed him
gently, and then pulled back to look into his eyes.
“What happened, Will? All that Beverly could tell me
was that Q had arrived and taken you with him. We had
no idea where you were or how long you’d be gone. I
was terrified. Are you all right? Did you harm you?”
Will chuckled at that. “Not exactly, but he sure as
hell tried his best. You should’ve seen what he cooked
up for me. The man is a bastard, but he’s also a
genius. He knew exactly what it would take to scare
the hell out of me.” He shook his head, recalling the
giant spiders, and felt a shiver pass through his
“But why did he take you, Will? I know you’re not
exactly his favorite person, but did he have a reason
for zeroing in on you?”
Will flushed. Should he tell her? And if he did,
what would she say? For a moment, he thought he would
lie, make up some elaborate excuse for Q’s presence on
the ship, but he knew that she could sense lies just
as easily as she could sense his love for her.
Breathing deeply, he cleared his throat, asked Beverly
to leave them alone together, and then took Deanna’s
hands into his own. “Deanna…I don’t know how you’re
going to react to this, but I want you to know the
truth. I don’t know why Q came, except that he was
bored and realized it might be fun to play with us.
He came to my quarters, toyed with me for awhile, and
then offered me something that I wanted more than
anything else in the world…”
“You don’t mean…he gave you his powers?”
“No, nothing like that. What I wanted was far better
and far greater than that. Deanna, it killed me to
think of you marrying Miller. You’re my Imzadi, not
his. I just couldn’t stand the thought of you being
his wife. I kept picturing you going back to Betazed
with him, making love with him, having his children.
God, it tore my guts out. I realized then how much I
still loved you, how I’ve never really stopped. I
couldn’t let it happen, and so when Q made me an
offer, I took him up on it.”
Deanna’s eyes had grown large with curiosity, as well
as another emotion he couldn’t quite read. She looked
at him intently, as if recalling their lovemaking
together, and then her face whitened. “When we were
intimate on the holodeck, oh Gods, it was Q’s doing,
wasn’t it? He made it happen. It wasn’t really a
choice that we made was it?”
“No, no Deanna it wasn’t like that. Q offered to let
me go back in time two hours. That meant that I could
go back to the holodeck, and talk to you again without
Miller coming in and interrupting. I knew that you
were dead set on marrying him, just to please your
Mother, and I just wanted one last chance to tell you
how I felt-to see if there was anything left between
us. That’s all he gave me. The rest, everything we
said, everything we did, that was our decision. I
swear, Deanna, it was something we both wanted,
something I’ve wanted ever since I left you on
Betazed. I love you…I had to take the chance. I hope
you understand.”
She rose from her sitting position beside his bed and
wandered around the room, looking everywhere but at
Will. “I don’t know what to say. I was determined to
marry Wyatt, before you came to me on the holodeck. I
would have gone through with it, Will, and I don’t
know how I feel about that. I’m a bit confused, but
also relieved. I don’t love him, and I don’t think
that’s fair to him. If you hadn’t done this, I
would’ve gone off to Betazed and married him, never
knowing how you felt about me. And you never would
have known that I still loved you.” She moved back to
him, standing over him, then she leaned down and
kissed him. “Will Riker I think that you are one of
the most romantic men in the world. I love you.” She
kissed him again, and this time, he reached up to hold
her tightly, pulling her down towards him.
“I’m so glad you’re not angry. I know you don’t
appreciate it when other people step in and make
decisions about your life. But I had to do this. I
couldn’t lose you. Not again. Never again.”
Tears filled her eyes and she wiped them away,
smiling at him. “You won’t lose me again, Will. We’ve
got something that I’ve wanted ever since you left…a
second chance. And if we have Q to thank for it, then
so be it.”
As she finished her sentence, a flash of light blazed
at the foot of Will’s bed, bringing with it a very
happy looking omnipotent entity. “Well, Commander,
you see? Your lady friend seems very happy with the
outcome of our arrangement. Aren’t you glad I popped
into your quarters this afternoon?”
“This afternoon? You mean it’s still the same day? I
thought that I’d been gone for days, Q.”
“I’m sure it felt that way. No, it is approximately
1700 hours. You were only gone for two…amazing how
time works, isn’t it?”
Will grunted a response, then turned eyes full of
anger on his nemesis. “I’m glad you find this whole
thing so interesting, Q. I have to admit I don’t
share your feelings. You almost had me killed? I was
this close to being consumed by that…creature. Why do
you do things like this? Does it get you off? Make
you happy? I don’t get you at all.”
“Why, Commander Riker, are you angry with me? I’m
shocked. And after all I’ve done for you. I guess I
can’t expect gratitude from an amoeba like you.”
“I am grateful…for Deanna. But not for the hell you
put me through in order to have her.”
“There is no such thing as a free lunch, you know
that as well as I. Still, I will admit that the
conditions I placed you in may have been a bit…over
the top.”
Will finally felt a smile creep across his face.
“I’ll say. And since you were unable to rouse me, I
guess your little game went to far for even you to
handle, huh?”
Q flushed scarlet, then stared down at the Starfleet
uniform he had donned, brushing off imaginary lint.
“Oh, all right. I’ll admit you had me there. I
didn’t know what to do. I didn’t now how to bring you
back to consciousness. Everything I tried failed
miserably. It was then that I realized the game was
over and I should bring you back to your ship. It
looks as though your Doctor Crusher was able to rouse
you from your slumber. She must be more talented than
I gave her credit for.”
“A stunning admission from someone like you. Not only
were you not powerful enough to do something as simple
as waking me up from a faint, but a doctor, a human
being, succeeded where you failed. Kind of makes the
whole omnipotent thing seem a bit unimportant, doesn’t
it?” Will was baiting him, enjoying the feeling of
sparring with the bastard. Deanna motioned for him to
stop, fear evident in her eyes. But Will continued,
unabated. “You’re not perfect, Q. Isn’t that
something? You come here and lord your power over all
of us, so certain that you are somehow inherently
better than us “humans”, and then you go and screw up,
make a mistake. It really was very human of you Q. How
does it feel to know that you are not all-powerful
after all?”
A thundercloud had appeared above Q’s head, an
actual, literal thundercloud. Rain fell upon his hair,
his clothes, his shoes, soaking him completely. His
face had turned five shades of purple and the look in
his eye would’ve made anyone cringe. “For someone who
has faced one of the greatest fears of his life and
lived to tell about it, you are certainly ungrateful,
Commander Riker. If I were you I would say no more,
because if you don’t shut that arrogant mouth I am
going to rescind my gift to you. I will send you both
back to the holodeck this instant and allow that
Miller person to come in. I will also erase any
memory of the time you had with your “Imzadi” from her
delicate little mind, and replace it with love for her
Betazoid friend. What do you think, William? Is that
a good plan? Shall I go on with it, or would you
prefer I leave things as they are?”
Will went white, with anger or fear Deanna couldn’t
be sure. But it looked like a tense mixture of both
emotions. His eye darkened to indigo and his hands
balled into fists at his sides. “Damn you Q. All
right. I…apologize. I don’t want anything to change.
Don’t…send us back. I’ve waited too long for this.” He
looked at Deanna, sending her a loving smile. She
smiled back, love shining in her eyes. It would’ve
been a wonderful moment had they been alone.
Moments later, the thundercloud disappeared, leaving
Q as dry as a bone. He smiled at the two of them,
obviously happy with himself once again. “Well now, I
knew that you weren’t a total Cro-Magnon, Commander
Riker. You know a good thing when you see it. And
now, since my duties seem to be finished here, I am
going back to the Continuum. There’s a party being
held in my honor this evening and I would like very
much to be there. But, don’t miss me too much. You see
I was intent on attending Ms. Troi’s wedding ceremony
and I still wish to do so. Since there will be no
marriage today, I will take my leave of you. But don’t
worry…when the two of you marry, I will be
there…tuxedo, cummerbund, and all.” He winked at them
then, and gave Will a salute, then he disappeared in a
flash of glowing white light, leaving Will and Deanna
“Gods…he was going to come to the wedding? I can
just imagine my Mother’s face if he’d appeared in the
middle of the proceedings.”
“Me too. But it gets better. He seemed interested in
the nudity that accompanies a Betazoid marriage,
Lwaxana’s nudity in particular.” Will’s blue eyes
twinkled at Deanna as a grin stole over his face. Her
eyes had widened again in shock, and she blushed
faintly. “He wanted to see my Mother in the nude?
Gods. The frightening thing is that knowing my
Mother, she would be flattered to hear it.”
“Mmm…you’re probably right. But, at least we’re all
off the hook for now. That is…unless you’d consent to
marrying me, Imzadi.”
Deanna’s smile widened, and she leaned to wrap her
arms around him. “Are you…serious? You really want
to get married?”
“I do. More than anything, Imzadi.”
“But, what about your career? It would be difficult
to make Captain with a family around…unless you
dragged us from ship to ship with you.”
“Family huh? I take it that means you want to have
my children?”
“Perhaps one day….”
“Well don’t worry, Deanna. I intend to stay on this
ship and become its Captain someday…but only when
Jean-Luc is ready to step down. This ship is my home
and all of you are my family. I’m not going to go off
gallivanting around the galaxy any more. I don’t need
to. I’ve got everything I want right here.” Thanks to
Q, he added silently.
“I can’t believe this is really happening! I’ve got
to go tell Mother…and Wyatt. He’ll be disappointed,
you know.”
“Well, I have a feeling that your Mr. Miller won’t be
alone for long….he seemed to be smitten with that
woman from his drawings. I wonder who she is...maybe
someone he’s destined to meet?”
“Maybe. I hope so. If this woman is his Imzadi, then
maybe he will really meet her one day. Maybe our
families can let go of this old contract and allow us
to live the lives we wish to live.”
Deanna’s communicator beeped then, startling her.
“Picard to Counselor Troi.”
“Troi here, sir.”
“Your presence is requested on the bridge, Counselor.
I believe this is something you would find
Puzzled, Deanna rose to her feet and looked at Will.
“On my way, Sir.”
“What do you think that’s about, Deanna?”
“I don’t know. But I have a feeling it has something
to do with Wyatt.”
“Maybe his dream woman has finally come for
him…wouldn’t that be something?”
“Yes, wouldn’t it?”