All rights to Star Trek and it’s characters are owned solely by Paramount.
Deanna Troi circled the bar, pacing slowly, hands twisted behind her back. Ten-Forward was nearly empty this time of day and she was grateful for a few moments alone. The only presence in the room was the silent form of Guinan; her large blue headdress bobby gently as she wiped down the bar.
Deanna stopped beside the far window, watching the stars slip by, one by one, mirroring the years of her life. They too had slipped by, faster than she’d realized. Years she could never get back. The hardest thing to live with, she mused, were those things left undone. Unsaid. And now there might never be another chance to say them.
Will was gone. The feel of his emotions, the spark of his personality no longer lit up her mind. Instead, there was a distant sort of hum, as though a line was open but no one was at the other end. Missing-presumed dead. Such harsh words.
When Captain Picard called her into his ready-room earlier that day, she didn’t imagine this kind of news. Looking stern, Jean-Luc had spun his chair around to face her. His eyes darkened and she noticed a slight shake in his hand as he reached for a cup of tea.
He was nervous. She could feel it coming from him in waves. ”Counselor. Please sit down.” He motioned to the chair. “Would you care for a cup of tea, or perhaps hot chocolate?”
”No, Captain, thank-you.”
She looked at him, but he was staring at the computer screen, not able to meet her eyes. ”Counselor, I want to show you something. This transmission was sent to me at 1300 hours this morning. It’s from Will.”
He cleared his throat and Deanna felt her palms dampen. What in the world was this about? She’d rarely felt this emotion from the Captain; not since their last encounter with the Borg. Why was he afraid? Her heart turned over and her eyes widened. Quietly, she motioned for him to turn it on.
Riker’s image appeared on the viewscreen in front of them. The image was fuzzy, out of focus, but most definitely Will. “Captain, the shuttle is losing power. I’ve tried every trick Starfleet ever taught me on this old girl, but she’s dying. She’s shaking, like she’s trying to rip herself apart. What I wouldn’t give to have LeForge along right now.”
The image rippled and then faded out, leaving only an ominous silence. ”I don’t understand. Why aren’t we going after him? Can’t we send Geordi out in another shuttle to help him?”
Picard shook his head. “We lost the shuttle’s warp signature. It’s as though the fabric of space and time opened and then it winked out of existence.”
”Did you sense his life signs before he disappeared?” He was silent.
”Counselor, um, Deanna, please. I did not mean to put such a final face on things. Yes, the shuttle has disappeared, but it happened so quickly, for all we know, Will could be fine. We are doing what we can to find him, it just might be a bit trickier than I first thought.”
Numb, she stared at him. Finally, she managed to speak. “What can I do to help?”
”The two of you have always had a special connection, haven’t you? Perhaps you can use your empathic abilities to sense where he might be.”
Nodding, she breathed deeply to calm herself, and adjusted her burgandy uniform. Her hair spilled over the back of the chair as she relaxed, and her thoughts went out to Will. ”Will, can you feel me? Can you hear me? Are you alive?”
The silence was almost deafening. It was as if their link had been severed completely. For nearly an hour she tried to contact him, for nearly an hour nothing happened. Finally, Picard sent her back to duty with a strict admonishment to take some time off if she needed to. Time, she thought, coming back to the present. That was the problem. There was never enough of it.
She sat down at an empty table, and Guinan glided over, bringing with her a Sunarian Sunrise. The glass glowed, brightened, then settled into a sky-at-dawn pattern. “Thank-you, Guinan. How did you know I needed this?”
Guinan sat down across from Deanna and smiled. “Your very welcome. I knew by the look on your face it was either a chocolate sundae or a Sunarian Sunrise kind of evening. I’m just happy I chose the right one.”
”It’s a beautiful night, isn’t it?”
Deanna sipped her drink and shrugged. “I suppose it is. I don’t seem to have noticed.”
”It’s Will, isn’t it?” Tears gathered in Deanna’s eyes and tumbled to the glasstop table. Guinan took one of her hands in hers and held it. ”You know, once upon a time, I was very much in love with someone. Joren and I, we had this connection, this “special knowing”. I believed that we would always be together.”
”And then what happened?”
Guinan’s broad face seemed to fill with the memories. “I let him get away. And when I decided that I wanted him back, it was too late. He was gone.”
”But aren’t your people immortal?” Deanna asked, utterly confused.
”In a sense. Remember when Data saw me down on old Earth? Well, that was me, only we hadn’t met one another yet. My people live for many centuries, and I myself have lived quite a few. But we are not perfect. There are things that can end our lives, and unfortunately, Joren’s life ended before we could reconcile.”
Deanna nodded and took a sip of her drink, fascinated. ”Anyway, when we went our separate ways, I always assumed that one day we would come together again. That we would have many centuries to love each other. As far as I was concerned, we were only temporarily separated. Then, last year I sought him out. He had died.”
She looked very sad, and she turned to stare out of the window. ”Deanna, I thought that man and I had forever to love each other. I was wrong. He is beyond this life, and I will never see him again. Not until I die. There won’t be any second chances for us.”
Suddenly, Deanna realized what Guinan was trying to say. She and Will would not have endless opportunities to renew their relationship. But, if he came back, if he was alive and safe, she was going to finally break her silence. She would tell her Imzadi that she had never stopped loving him. If fate gave her the chance. ”Thank-you, Guinan. You know sometimes I think you’d make a damned fine ship’s Counselor.”
Grinning broadly, she replied, “Ahh, but that job is already taken, is it not?” They hugged tightly, and then Guinan quietly disappeared, leaving the night and the stars to Deanna alone.
“Connections”-pt2 Tracy 126 12-16-98 (all rights are owned by Paramount Pictures-just in case they’re reading this!)
Will slowly opened his eyes against a blazing shaft of light. His head was throbbing and his body was one solid mass of pain. Gingerly, he tried to sit up. Pain shot down his back and legs as he moved, and he clenched his teeth against it. Finally sitting, he was able to take a good look around. Where in the hell was he?
The shuttle had crashed, pieces of the roof were missing, most of the control panel looked as though it had been gutted and the windows were sliced in two. He could see now that he’d landed in some sort of field. A large forest surrounded him, reminding him of the woods behind his house in Alaska. Well, the air was breathable, so he had to be on a Class M planet-the only question was which one?
When he tried to contact the Enterprise, he‹d been about eight light-years away-or, three days. But now, now he could be in the Delta Quadrant for all he knew. The last thing he remembered was desperately trying to control the shuttle, and sending an urgent message to the captain. Then, nothingness. There was no memory of the actual crash, or of how he happened to land on this particular planet. It was as though he’d simply fallen down out of the sky, and landed on the nearest clump of dirt.
“All right, old girl, let‹s see if any of your systems are still operational.” Will poked and prodded, threw switches, jammed buttons, but nothing whatsoever happened. She was dead in the water. No life support, no communications, no way of getting back to his ship. The loss of communications worried him the most. With this atmosphere, he’d be all right without life support, and the ship was still together, so there would be a semi-warm place to sleep. The larder had been stocked with old-fashioned rations-no replicators on shuttles, but at least there would be food and water. But, they wouldn’t last forever, and if he were stuck here for good-don‹t even think it, Riker.
Beneath his seat he found an emergency medical kit, and silently thanked Beverly for her foresight. He was able to attend to his bruises and bleeding hands, and the hypospray did wonders for his headache. Now, the question was, could he stand up?
Unsteadily, he rose to his feet, and the pain was unbearable. He fell back into the seat knowing he‹d broken his leg. Back at the Academy he had fallen while playing Parisi squares with a buddy, and broke the opposite leg. That feeling was hard to forget, and this was too familiar to deny. It was broken.
”Damn it,” he swore, wondering how in the hell he was going to get out of this with a broken leg. If Beverly were here with the medical tricorder, she could heal it almost instantly. But the emergency kit only held the bare necessities-bandaids and aspirin, in 20th century terms.
Frustrated with himself, he rose again, and tried to limp to the door of the shuttle. His foot tapped the floor accidentally and he nearly screamed aloud. Defeated by a broken leg. He could just imagine what his father would say. “You’re a Riker, William. Are’nt you made of stronger stuff than that?”
He pushed the memories away and tried to think. It hadn’t been long since the crash, maybe the Enterprise had picked up his warp signature and was on her way now. So, all he had to do was sit back, relax and wait for the cavalry to ride to the rescue. Great.
The next day, it turned cold and Will found a hoard of old blankets to cover up with. He ate a few bites of canned chili and a bottle of water, then stared out the window feeling helpless. He thought of Deanna. Was she all-right? Did she know that he was missing? If anyone knew it would be her.
He pictured her face in his mind, imagined her comforting voice. She was the best thing that had ever happened to him, and whether they were friends or something more, he would always feel that way. Something more.
Now there was an interesting thought to keep him occupied. Why hadn’t they ever resumed their relationship? If anyone were to ask him, he would say that what had been between them was over, but they still held feelings of friendship for each other. He’d say that they respected one another’s careers too much to endanger them by renewing a romance aboard a ship on which they both served.
Or, maybe he would say that she didn’t love him any more and there was nothing he could do about it. The first two reasons were bull and he knew it. The last was the only one that had a ring of truth. Deanna no longer loved him. But, what he’d finally admitted to himself was that he still loved her. Admitting it had been a relief. One lonely night he’d even confessed his feelings to Guinan in Ten-Forward. On his fifth synthehol, he admitted that he still loved Deanna, only to hear Guinan say, “Will, I think we all realize that.”
So much for keeping it a secret. Yet, if Deanna knew, she was certainly good at pretending to be unaware of his feelings. Perhaps because she didn’t return them. He turned over and tried to get comfortable. A sharp ache in his chest roused him just as he was drifting off to sleep. It hit again, this time below his ribcage. When he touched it, the skin was on fire and it became hard to breathe. Looked like he had a broken rib to add to the list of complaints.
As the hours wore on, he called out for help. If his ribs really were broken, he could be in trouble. And not the kind he could easily get himself out of. “Help! Is anyone out there!” He shouted again but it was silent. A beautiful night, actually, if you liked being stranded on strange planets with a broken body. ”Deanna, can you hear me?” Will remembered the way he was able to push his thoughts into her mind, and vainly tried to do so again. “Deanna! Imzadi, help me!!”
The pain was getting worse and he had a fever-the freezing cold chills along with the sudden sweats told him that. He remembered the last time that they saw one another, and realized suddenly that it may have actually been the last time. Damn it, Deanna, answer me!! I need you!!
He’d never wanted anything as much as he wanted her at that moment. If she were with him, he would do it. Finally. He would hold her in his arms and tell her what he‹d been fighting to keep inside for years-he’d tell her that he loved her. That she was still his Imzadi and always would be. If I get out of this, he thought, I’m going to tell you exactly how I feel about you, Deanna, I swear. Chills overcame him, and he nestled down into the blankets, drifting into a fitful sleep.
Connections-pt 3 Tracy 126 12-28-98 All rights owned by Paramount Pictures
The stars seemed much brighter than they had the previous night. In silence, the Enterprise crept through the night, as Deanna sat staring out of the window. She was tense, still waiting for news of Will, but nothing had happened. Beverly and Guinan had both kept her company tonight, along with numerous chocolate sundaes.
In Ten-Forward, they’d spent the better part of the evening attempting to out-eat one another as the two friends tried to distract Deanna with stories. Beverly’s yarn about her first meeting with Jean-Luc was amusing, and Guinan regaled them with a story regarding a year that she’d spent playing the piano in a nineteenth-century bordello.
But Deanna no longer smiled, and when her friends left her alone, she merely stared out the window, twisting a black curl around her fingers. Pondering the past, wishing that she could re-write history. If it were possible to go back, to change their lives, she would begin with her arrival on the Enterprise. Unbeknownst to Will, those first few weeks were extremely trying for Deanna; due largely to nightly dreams about her old lover. His presence on the ship was impossible to ignore, especially since their mental connection had been re-established almost immediately.
One night in Will’s quarters, they’d gotten slightly tipsy and shared a kiss. She could feel his desire for her as easily as she had on Betazed, years before. Desire laced with love and regret. She knew that if they made love that night, they’d fall in love all over again, and what would that have done to their careers? Afraid to tempt fate, Deanna had reluctantly pulled away that night.
Now, if given a ticket to return to the past, she knew that she would let nature take its course. There was nothing to be afraid of. There were plenty of couples on board who successfully combined their careers with marriage. Even children.
Her dark eyes suddenly filled with tears. Now she would never carry Will’s child. Never be his wife. Weeping openly now, she let her pain and loss spill out completely. Moments later, a voice filled her head. “Imzadi!”
“Will! I can hear you!”
“Deanna, I need you! I don’t know where the hell I am, but I need your help.”
The pain in his voice told her that he’d been hurt.
“Tell me, Will, tell me what you can.”
“My shuttle, it disappeared. I landed on a small planet; one that seems to be in another dimenision-or at least another galaxy. But I can tell you this-before I left our space, my readings were at 0204 mark 2. Have the Captain come to those coordinates.”
“Of course. But how will we find you once we get there?”
“Oh, Deanna, the same way that I found you tonight, my love. We’re Imzadi, remember?”
Smiling and crying she gratefully closed her eyes and sent him her thoughts. “We will always be Imzadi, Will. Hang onto that, alright? We will be there soon-I promise.”
“Deanna, I haven’t got alot of time. When I crashed, my leg and my right rib were broken. I have a fever, lots of pain. I don’t know how much longer I can...”
“Don’t worry, Will. Beverly will fix you up as soon as we find you. Soon, Imzadi, soon we’ll be there. You aren’t alone any longer.”
The warmth of his thoughts faded, but she heard the last part of them. “......love....you..”
Her heart leapt and she closed her eyes again, forcing every ounce of concentration into her thoughts. “I love you too, Imzadi. I will love you always...” Hoping that love would be enough to find Will, she sped to the bridge and prayed to the Gods that it wouldn’t be too late.
Connections-pt. 4 Tracy 126 12-30-98 All rights to Star Trek characters are owned by Paramount.
“Mr. Data, bring the Enterprise to coordinates 0204 mark 2.”
“Yes, sir.” The android deftly piloted the ship to a point in the sky where no stars were visible. Where nothing but intangible darkness lay. Deanna sat next to Captain Picard, nervously twisting her hands. Her beautiful face was lined with tension and her large dark eyes were wide, trying to absorb every sight through the viewscreen.
Moments later, the Captain spoke. “All stop, Mr. Data.”
“Aye, sir.” And the ship slowed almost imperceptibly, finally resting in space like a large, hanging ornament from the bough of a Christmas tree.
“Scan the area for any unusual anomalies.” All was quiet for the moment. Deanna could feel Jean-Luc’s apprehension mingled with excitement. They were on the verge of finding Will. The only question was how.
“Sensors indicate a small fissure in the fabric of space/time, Captain.”
“A fissure, Mr. Data?”
“Yes, sir. Possibly the remnants of a wormhole, or some similar structure. Readings show that Commander Riker’s shuttle was indeed at these coordinates; approximately five days ago.”
Feeling her pulse speed up, Deanna let a cautious hope kindle in her heart. He’d been here! But, that had been five days ago. Could he still be alive?
“Counselor, can you detect any sign of Commander Riker?” Picard asked, tugging down his uniform shirt as he rose out of his seat. She shook her head and stared into the distance.
“Nothing yet, sir.”
“Data, can we take the ship into the anomaly?”
“I do not think that would be wise, Captain. There is no evidence that anything exists on the other side of the fissure. Taking the ship across could be dangerous. If this is a tear in space/time, we may find ourselves lost in the stream, unable to return to our present time.”
“Are there any other options? Suggestions?”
Worf cleared his troat. “Sir, I believe that if we sent a probe into the anomaly, it would be much safer. We could gain information about the other side as well as let the Commander know of our presence.”
“Excellent idea, Mr. Worf. Prepare the probe immediately.” As the Klingon worked, Deanna reached for Will in her thoughts. “We’re here, Imzadi. All of us. We are just outside of the anomaly. Can you hear me, Will?”
Will Riker jerked suddenly out of a deep sleep, wondering what day it was. He was burning up, painfully thirsty and starving. Dragging himself over to the storage unit, he pulled out a bottle of water and downed it in two gulps. His side ached miserably, and he was angry. With himself. Never had he felt so ineffectual. The great William T. Riker, bested by a damned shuttlecraft.
Wincing, he tentatively tried to find a comfortable position. It was getting more difficult to move; his leg pulsed and throbbed with every motion and he cursed it aloud. Just for the hell of it, he tried the shuttle’s controls again, hoping to find a way to at least generate a warp signature for the Enterprise to follow.
At least there was hope; he’d been able to reach Deanna. Silently he thanked God for the abilities she’d taught him years before. When he’d thrown himself headlong into her mind back on Betazed, she hadn’t exactly welcomed it. But now, their silent communications might just save his live. He was counting on it.
Suddenly, a soft voice caressed his mind. “We are here, Imzadi. All of us. We are just outside the anomaly. Can you hear me, Will?”
“Yes! Yes, Deanna, I can hear you! I’m alright.”
“Thank the Gods. You’ve really had us worried, Imzadi. What am I going to do with you?”
The question made him grin widely. “What would you like to do with me?”
“Oh, I can think of a few things. But right now, we’ve got to get you out of there. The Captain is launching a probe now to gather information. Let me know if there’s anything else that we can do from our end.”
“Deanna, that’s great. In fact, it’s given me an idea for a little something I can cook up down here. Make sure the ship stays its course, though. I don’t want the entire crew getting stranded down here.’
“Aye, aye, Imzadi. Will, I....”
“I know , Deanna, I feel the same way.”
Deanna updated the Captain a few minutes later, who agreed with Will’s assessment of the situation. However, he hated siting idly by, waiting for the damned probe. “Mr. Worf, any information from the probe?”
“Yes, sir. It seems that Commander Riker is still within our galaxy, but in a different stream of time. There’s a planet directly across the fissure, a class-M one. Evidence of carbon and oxygen, but no life forms other than Commander Riker are on the surface.”
“Very good, Mr. Worf. Can you tell us anything else?”
The Klingon nodded and looked directly at Deanna. “Yes. There’s a possibility that this planet is your homeworld, Counselor. Betazed.”
Her face went white and her hands shook suddenly. “Betazed? But how is that possible?”
“I do not know. But it does fit the coordinates. Apparently, the Commander is stranded on Betazed, but thousands of years before it became the planet that you know, Counselor.”
She was stunned. Will had slipped through a hole in time and landed, of all places, on ancient Betazed. “Can you hazard a guess as to why or how, Mr. Worf?”
“I do not like to “guess”, Counselor.” Data decided to chime in. “Perhaps the anomaly is a method of traveling through not only the galaxy, but through time as well. Think of it as a worm-hole, but with a time-machine built into its structure.”
“Although we’ll have to pursue this further at a later date, I am, for the moment, satisfied with Mr. Data’s explanation. Our main focus should be getting Commander Riker home, though. So, I suggest we get on it.” Waiting and listening, Deanna hoped that Will had come up with a plan.
Hours later, Will lay exhausted in the craft. He had found a way to rig the shuttle’s engine manually, so now the old girl gave of a glowing warp signature. For good measure, he’d crawled out to the probe and connected one of the shuttle’s communication wires to it; hoping that when the Enterprise recieved her information, his whereabouts would be included. Well, he’d done his best, now all that he could do was wait.
“Captain, I’m picking up new readings from the probe. It looks like....yes, it’s the shuttle’s warp signature.” Deanna smiled. Will had found a way to guide them. She knew he would. “Captain, can be send a tractor beam through the anomaly and lock onto the signature?”
Picard raised an eyebrow. “I don’t know, Counselor. It would be risky, but I’m willing to try. Transporter room one, lock onto the the following coordinates.”
“Aye, sir, locking on.”
Everyone was silent as they waited. Deanna breathed deeply and spoke to Will in her mind. “We’re getting you out of there, Imzadi. The Captain’s locking onto your signature right now.”
“Imzadi. I knew you wouldn’t let me down. I....”
“Yes, Will, I love you too....”
Their connection was suddenly severed, and Deanna turned to look at the Captain. Before she could speak, a voice from the transporter room cut through the tension on the bridge. “Transporter room one to the bridge-we have the Commander, Captain.” A long sigh escaped Deanna, and she joyfully lept out of her seat to fly down to the turbolift.
In sickbay, moments later, Beverly managed to subdue Will with the hypospray and tended to his wounds as Deanna looked on. “I think you two need some privacy. I’ll be back at 1400 hours to check on you. But Will, “
“Don’t you ever scare my best friend like that again, you hear?”
“Loud and clear, Bev.” He winked at her and then she winked back, tiptoeing out the door.
Deanna held Will’s hand and bent to kiss his bearded cheek. “I missed you, Imzadi.”
“And I, you. Thanks for saving my sorry hide, Deanna. I couldn’t have done it without you.”
“You’re my Imzadi, Will, and you always will be.”
“Deanna, there’s something I have to say to you.” He looked so solemn, that her eyes filled with tears. “I can’ t go on pretending any more. When I thought I’d never see you again, it nearly killed me. I have to say this Deanna-it’s long over due. I love you.”
Crying softly, she cradled his head to her chest. “Oh Will, I’ve wanted to hear you say that for years. Wanted to say those words to you. I’m sorry we’ve wasted so much time.”
They cried together, mourning their lost past even as they joyfully acknowledged their feelings in the present. It was a perfect moment, one they’d never forget. Deanna filled Will in on his actual whereabouts for the last week, and he was even more shocked than she’d been. “Why do you think I landed there, Deanna?”
“I’ve no idea, my love. What do you think?”
“Well, when the shuttle started going haywire, I was thinking of you. Of how much I loved you, of our time on Betazed. You know, my heart has always been there, back on Betazed with the beautiful young Betazoid I feel in love with. Maybe my heart led me back to where I belonged.”
“That’s beautiful, Will. But, why in the past, I wonder? No one was there?”
“I really don’t know. Maybe so that I could see how beautiful your planet really is. It was special, Deanna. But, honestly, your presence gives Betazed it beauty.”
“You are a sweet talker, Commander Riker, and I am about to cry again.”
“Not if I can help it,” said Will, and he took her into his arms, covering her mouth wiht a deep, endless, passionate kiss.
When they came up for air at last, Will looked into her eyes. “How about marrying me, Counselor Troi?”
“I thought you’d never ask, Commander.”
“Captain’s log, stardate 92024.2-
Today I had the great honor of joining my First Officer, William Riker, and my ship’s counselor, Deanna Troi, in marriage. I must say I have never seen a more beautiful bride, nor a more nervous groom! The pair have been give a month’s shore leave to honeymoon on Betazed. While they will both be missed, I cannot imagine a more fitting closure for Commander Riker’s recent adventures.”