Accident of Fate 

Rated: NC-17 for language and violence
Warning: This story contains character death.
Disclaimer: Paramount owns all TNG characters, I have
no claim on them except that I am in love with them
and they like to leave the ship to live in my
imagination occasionally. <g>

Part One

They stood apart, facing each other like two
gladiators in an ancient Roman battle. Both faces
shone with sweat, both mouths twisted in anger. They
both wore black pants, boots, and dark blue
sweaters it was hard to tell who was who simply by
looking. Twin faces glared, voices raised in anger,
"Bastard!"one of them cried, striking at
his twin with a raised fist.
His brother lifted an arm to ward off the block, and
slid a knife out of a sheath at his hip.
"Come on. I've had enough of your games. Enough of dealing with
you. Let's get this over with-now."

Dark brows rose over glittering blue eyes and a slow,
sarcastic chuckle emanated from his lips. "You'd like
that wouldn't you? I'd be out of the way, and you
could have her all to yourself. Keep dreaming, Tom.
It ain't gonna happen."
"That's what you think." Tom lunged for Will,
knocking him backwards, sending him flying across the
holodeck's painfully hard floor. There was no program
running, only the yellow gridlines showed in the
blackness. But then, they weren't here for a fun
afternoon's holo-adventure. They were here for blood.
One reason and one reason only brought them to this
moment-they both loved Deanna Troi. And neither was
willing to share.

Will pushed himself up onto his feet, breathing
heavily. Staring at his other self, his "brother",
his eyes roamed up and down, trying to keep track of
the small flash of silver that Tom was hiding.
"Aren't knives a bit 20th century? I mean, come on,
you could have the very latest in phaser technology at
your fingertips."
Tom grinned. "You're right. I could. But I think a
good old-fashioned stabbing would hurt more than a
phaser blast. Wouldn't you agree?"

Will leapt forward, noting the knife's position and
kicked it out of Tom‹s hand. Then he swung his leg up
to knock Tom's knees from behind, sending him slamming
face forward to the floor. "Son of a bitch!" He
cursed some more, stringing together a plethora of
words that were designed to vent his frustration as
well as piss off his brother.

Clutching his wounded cheek, he staggered to his feet
and ran towards Will full throttle. They grasped one
another almost as though they were dancing; their
bodies flying together in one mock ballet movement
before plummeting gracelessly to the floor.
"Damn you. What the hell do I have to do to get you
off this ship? What do I have to do to get it through
your stubborn, thick skull that she is mine? She
always has been, she always will be. She loves me,
Tom, not you. Get over it!"
Will's face was flushed from the fight; his eyes were wild, vivid.
Tom was beneath him, and in this position he could easily
strangle him. His hands, as though hearing his mind's
thoughts, moved to clutch his brother's neck. Tom
stared up at him, unafraid; the only emotion playing
across his features was anger.

"You won't kill me, Will. I'm you-how can you
possibly kill yourself? Besides, you know that if you
hurt me, Deanna would never forgive you." There was a
teasing quality in his words, an obnoxious know-it-all
sound that reminded Will of Q.

"And I suppose you‹re not worried about hurting me?
If you kill me she will hate you. She will never
return your love Tom. Not only does she not love you
now, but if you killed me, you'd never have a chance.
Are you going to risk that?"

Beneath him, Tom struggled to push him away, hatred
glaring in his piercing blue eyes . "I'm willing to do
any damn thing it takes to rid this universe of you.
Up to and including killing you. I'm not stupid,
Will. Those years in the prison camp taught me many
things. I could easily kill you and make it look like
an accident-or blame it on someone else. I have
abilities you don't know anything about. Don't test
me, brother, because you will regret it."

Furious, Will grabbed Tom's head and began to hit it
against the cold, hard floor.
"You fucking bastard! Why did you have to come into our lives?
Deanna is mine, do you hear me, mine!" His anger
flared so brightly that it was blinding for a moment.

Beneath him, Tom bucked and reared, trying to force
him off, like a horse shedding its rider. Gathering
his strength, he finally managed to push him off.
Diving for the knife, Tom found it, palmed it, then
moved to his feet. Will got to his feet as well and
the two danced around one another in a circle, their
faces a perfect mirror for each other.

"Come on, Will. You know you aren't going to hurt
me. Hell, you don't even have a weapon on you.
What's wrong, brother? Afraid to hurt me? Are you a
coward, Will, is that it?"

A cold, deadly look stole into Will‹s eyes, and his
fingers reached into his pants pocket surreptitiously.
They tightened around the unseen weapon, slowly dragging it
from out of its hiding place. "A coward? No, I don't
think so. I'm willing to fight for the woman I love.
I'm even willing to kill you, Tom. No questions

Tom smiled, a grin so evilly beautiful it was
frightening. "And risk losing your Imzadi? I don't
think so. What do you think she would say if you came
walking out of here with my dead body in your arms?
Do you think she'd run to you and offer comfort?
You're forgetting that I know Deanna as well as you
do. She will be sickened by your behavior, she will
grieve for me. She will never love you again."

"I'm sure that's what you hope will happen. But let
me tell you this–I'd rather spend the rest of my life
alone, without Deanna and have you dead, than have you
haunting our relationship for all eternity."

Their eyes locked, and Tom parried, trying to strike
Will in the stomach. The blade skimmed the fabric of
his sweater, and a jagged tear appeared immediately.
Will fingered his own weapon, itching to use it, yet
not quite ready for the game to be over.

"Almost had you that time, brother. Now, why don't
you tell me something, since we seem to have nothing
but time. Why is it you think I'm an impediment to your
relationship? I mean, if Deanna chooses you, then I'm
out of the picture, right? Unless our Deanna isn't
quite able to get me out of her mind." He gave a
nasty grin and wiggled his eyebrows.

"Deanna doesn't give a damn about you, Tom. She
doesn't want you, doesn't fantasize about you. You
know what she feels for you? Pity. She feels sorry
for you, Tom. And that's it-that's the total extent
of her feelings for you. You just can't seem to
accept that."

Tom lunged again, missed, and Will lifted his right
hand, drawing the silver hypospray into his palm.
"You might like to think that, Will, but if Deanna no
longer has feelings for me, then why did she kiss me
last night? Why did she stay in my arms for hours in
her quarters, dancing with me to old jazz tunes? For
that matter, why, when I came aboard the ship five
days ago, did she break into a beautiful smile and run
into my arms? She was happy to see me, that's why.
She loves me. You just can't deal with it."

Will felt the anger climb into his stomach, radiate
out from his fingertips, fill his eyes with dangerous
intent. Swallowing back his doubts, he muttered,
"Deanna would never let you touch her. Not now.
We've been back together for a long time, she wouldn't
jeopardize our relationship by playing around with
you. I don't know what you think happened the other
night, but I'd say you had a little too much to drink
and ended up with one of the pretty, young things from

Tom laughed, and moved around and around in a circle,
looking for another shot at Will. "I could have any
woman on this ship, just like that," he snapped his
fingers, "but the only one I want is Deanna. I think
I'd know if the woman I was with were actually someone
else. You just can't handle the idea of us together,
can you?"

"I would never accept the two of you together. Even
if Deanna came into the holodeck right now and told me
that she was in love with you, I still wouldn't accept

"That's really too bad, brother, because I intend to
ask her to marry me. Tonight. And if she accepts,
then you'll have no choice but to accept it. Of
course, I could just kill you and be done with it.
That would solve all of my problems."

"Then why don't you, you chicken-shit bastard. We
came here to fight; you brought out the weapon first.
I imagine you've intended to kill me from the
beginning. So get it over with-if you have the

›Have it your way, brother." Moving sinuously like a
snake moves across the desert, Tom wound his way
towards Will. The knife was in mid-air, slicing in a
quick downward motion. Before Will could move it
sliced his chest, and he cried out as the metal cut
his skin. He swore, touched the bleeding scrape with
his fingers, and came away with a handful of blood.
It infuriated him.

The hypospray burned in his fingers, covered now with
sweat and blood. He was ready to use it. As Tom
danced around him again, he fingered it, looking at
Tom's neck. It was a narcotic, a sleep agent; it
would knock him on his ass for at least three days.
Long enough to get him officially thrown off the ship
and out of their lives.

He smiled, wanting Tom to come closer. "Come on Tom
is that all you've got? As you can see, I'm still
standing. Obviously you're not as tough as you look
or I'd be unconscious by now. Come on you pansy, get
over here and give it to me!"

Enraged, Tom moved like a bull in heat, ramming
himself against Will. They fell again, slamming into
the far wall, and Will reached for the hypo again. He
closed his eyes, panting, realizing with satisfaction
that in one short moment, Tom would be out of their
lives-finally. Grinning, he slid his hand out from
under Tom‹s body and moved to stab his neck with the
gleaming hypospray. As the instrument moved, as it
inched closer to Tom's neck, Will felt his brother's
breathing become heavier, angrier. Mentally, he
murmured, "This is for fucking with us," and then
jabbed the hypo straight into Tom's jugular

A muffled cry escaped his lips, and Will waited,
knowing that in seconds Tom would fall off of him in a
heap of dead weight, ready for the brig. But as he
waited for the drug to take effect, he looked up at
Tom and was surprised. Tom was leaning up, glaring
down at him, smiling so widely you would have thought
it was Christmas morning. "Good-bye, brother."

Puzzled, Will felt a sudden, painful stabbing
sensation in his gut, a piercing ache that sent
throbbing shots of pain throughout his body. Stunned,
he looked up at Tom, but his brother was already
falling under the influence of the drug, his body
falling gently off of Will's and onto the floor. In
his hand, he held a bloody knife.

"Oh Jesus, no," Will murmured, trying to move off the
floor to his feet. But the stab wound was deep, the
blood plentiful, and as he tottered on his knees
towards the door, the room seemed to drain of all
color. Whiteness filled his eyes and ears, and he
felt as though he would throw up and pass out at the
same time.

His fingers reached for his comm badge. Falling
forward on the floor, he hit it, and softly said,
"Riker to sickbay. Medical emergency, holodeck 4."
"Will! Are you all right? I'm on my way."
"Bev. I'm injured. Hurry." His voice lost its
strength as he struggled to stay conscious. He hoped
that she had heard him. The distant sound of feet
running down the corridor comforted him. Maybe they
would get to him in time.

As that thought crossed his mind, the world spun on
it axis, jarring every thought out of his head,
throwing him down the deepest, darkest, well of pain.
His body, no longer controlled by conscious thought,
fell to the floor. His head struck the hard surface,
but he didn't feel it. He didn't feel anything.


Part Two

A throbbing headache woke him from his distant slumber, and he was
surprised to find himself alive.
Will reached a hand down to touch the stab wound, but already it was
disappearing from Doctor Crusher's long ministrations. Still, he
didn't know how deep it had gone, or what if any organs it had hit.
Between the thumping of his head and the ache in his side he was
barely holding onto consciousness, but he had to know. Reaching
slowly, he grabbed for Beverly's coat sleeve.

She spun around, surprised and delighted to see him awake. "You're
among the living! I knew you'd pull through, you big ox."
He tried for a smile but it was too painful, so he settled for a
wink instead.
"So how bad is it, Bev? I mean, am I going to…make it?"
He looked so lost for a moment that she wanted to pat him on the
head like a small boy. "Well, it was touch and go there at first.
That knife Thomas was wielding knicked several large arteries. If
you hadn't called me when you did…." She broke off, not wanting to
say it outloud.
"It's all right Bev. I get the picture. I'm just glad you guys
found me when you did."
"So am I. Now, why don't you tell me what the hell you two were
doing in the holodeck last night? Were you deliberately trying to
kill each other?"

Will looked guiltily away, unable to meet her eyes and though
Beverly had been joking, she caught his expression and her mouth
fell open in surprise. "You were, weren't you? Oh my God, Will what
were you thinking?"

"I wasn't. And neither was he. Look, I never wanted to hurt him, but
I knew he'd try and kill me, that's why I took the hypo, just to
knock him out. Then I figured the Captain could figure out a way to
get him off the ship. I hate that guy, Bev, but I'd never kill him.
Not unless he tried to kill me first."

"Oh Will, I know that. It's just…that stab wound. I'm sorry to say
this, but I think he meant business. It's a miracle you're not dead
right now, buster, you know that?"

"I know. I'm glad I've got you to save my skin every now and then,
Bev. I don't know what I'd do without you."

They grasped hands and squeezed, then Bev leaned down and hugged
him. "Now, before Deanna gets here to see you, I want to ask you
one more thing."

"You might as well, doesn't look like I'm going anywhere," he
teased, blue eyes twinkling.

"All right smart ass. Now I need to know something about last
night. Were you two…that is…was the reason you were fighting…"

"Oh for God's sake Bev, just ask! Yes, it was because of Deanna. I
love her and so does Thomas. Thomas is here on board hoping to get
her to go with him when he leaves. He can't get it through his head
that what he had with her was over nearly twenty years ago. But
worse, he can't forgive me for having something with her now…" Will
broke off and stared off into space, feeling the oddest twist of
pain somewhere in the region of his heart. He almost…almost mind
you….felt guilty for the poor son of a bitch.

Bev pulled a chair beside the biobed and tucked a hypospray into her
coat pocket. "I had a feeling it was something like that. But
Will, what I don't understand is why the two of you can't understand
each other. I mean you are him, he is you, you have the same
childhood, the same parents, the same memories, at least up until he
was stranded for those years. Why can't you accept each other as
just another part of yourselves?"

He looked at her inquisitive blue eyes and her earnest face and
realized he didn't know the answer. He hadn't wanted to hate
Thomas, but the shock of finding him all those years ago never
turned into anything else. It was as though he couldn't or wouldn't
feel anything for the man, and over time the shock just morphed into
anger. Anger was the only thing he could allow himself to feel.
After all, if he accepted Thomas as a friend, a brother, a twin,
then he might also have to accept himself and his own imperfections,
and that was something he was not willing to do. Not yet.

To make matters worse there was Deanna. And he knew in his heart
that was the second reason for keeping the other Riker at a
distance. The man could take away his Imzadi in a heartbeat, and
that made him a greater threat than any alien species that he'd ever
come across on his years aboard the Enterprise.

As though hearing his thoughts, Bev squeezed his hand again and
looked into his eyes.
"I can't even imagine how I would feel if I were you. If there were
suddenly another Beverly to cope with. Lord knows, one of me is
plenty! But I'm sure I'd feel a lot of the same things that you
do. I just wish…well, for Deanna's sake more than anything…that you
and Thomas could get along with one another. It hurts her so much to
see the hatred and fighting between the two of you."

"I know, Bev. And believe me I hate hurting her. I just don't know
any other way of relating to Thomas." He grew silent for a minute,
and then curiosity got the better of him. "Where is he, anyway?
Did he…?"

She gave Will a wry grin. "Yes he survived your little narcotic,
Will. He is currently getting some rest and should be on his feet
by tomorrow."

Will closed his eyes and shook his head. "So…we're right back where
we started aren't we?"

"Well…not exactly. Thomas is leaving in a matter of days and you
are still alive. I'd say you're both doing pretty well, wouldn't

"Yeah. Until he finds me and tries to kill me again."

"I wouldn't worry about that. Captain Picard is having Thomas get
his period of "rest" in the brig, and that is where he'll stay until
we reach Earth."

Will could almost feel the relief running off of his body as though
it were a hot liquid sweat. The bastard was locked up. Good.
Suddenly things looked a whole lot rosier than they had a moment

"Thanks for telling me."

"You're welcome. Now, Deanna is outside fairly chomping at the bit
to see her Imzadi. Shall I let her in?"


A moment later Deanna Troi walked into the room and leaned over him,
laying her tiny white hands on his bare chest and looking deeply
into his eyes.

"Deanna. It's so good to see you."

"You too, Will. I thought…I felt….I was so sure…"

"That one of us had been killed?"

Her dark eyes clouded with tears. "Yes. I felt your emotions during
the fight, Will, and I felt Thomas's as well. It was horrible. You
could have killed each other…over me."

She started to cry and he wished that he could sit up and take her
into his arms. Instead, he took her hands and held them tightly,
rubbing them softly with his own. "Imzadi, don't cry. I love you. I
don't ever want to hurt you again, not when we've been through so
much to get where we are now. Thomas will be gone soon and then
things will be back to normal. I promise."

"Will they?"

"Of course, Deanna why wouldn't they be?"

She sighed deeply and fairly fell into the chair beside his bed. "I
don't know. All I know is that when I sensed your emotions, I was
scared but I understood them. Anger, jealousy, resentment, all of
those things make sense in this situation. But when I sensed
Thomas's emotions….oh Will it frightened me. Badly."

His blue eyes immediately filled with concern. "What did you sense,
Deanna? What scared you so badly?"

"I don't know how to say this except to just say it. Thomas…he's
changed since the prison camp. Something is very, very different.
When he was on the "D" with us before ever going to Cardassia, he
was fine. I mean, living alone for 8 years would make anyone a bit
lonely and have issues with relating to others. But aside from that,
he was fine. But last night, oh God, I could feel his hatred of
you. The anger and resentment, all the things you were feeling, he
was feeling too, which would be expected. But beneath those
emotions was something darker. Blacker. I think that the violence
and abuse that he was subjected to on Cardassia has broken something
inside of him. I think he really meant to kill you last night,
Will. And even if we drop him off on Earth or any other part of
space, he is still going to be out there feeling exactly what he's
feeling now. Obsessed."

Will felt a chill cross his spine at her words. "He is obsessed. I
sort of figured that out when he couldn't let you go after all of
that time."

"No Will. I mean, he has strong feelings for me and would be with
me romantically if I were interested, but I do not sense that he
would hurt me. No, he has become obsessed with you, and I'm afraid
that it won't end until he's killed you."

Remembering the look in Thomas's eyes he wondered if the man were
still sane. Or had he been pushed over some precipice from where he
could never, ever return?

As though hearing his thoughts, Deanna whispered, "I don't know,
Imzadi. I really don't know."


Part Three

He lie on a hard metal bunk covered with nothing but a pair of
jockey shorts. It was freezing, but they wouldn't give him a
blanket. They'd barely given him food. But, he supposed grimly,
that's what happened when you hurt one of their precious crew.

Thomas turned over and stared at the blue-gray walls, feeling the
anger course through his system like bitter-black bile, coating his
thoughts as well as the back of his tongue with its rancid flavor.

"I should've killed him. I never should've played with him like
that, given him that much time. If I'd had the balls to do it right,
and quickly, he'd be dead right now and Deanna would be mourning her
precious "Imzadi"." God. The thought of him being with her, of her
calling him "their" special name, it made Thomas sick to his
stomach. What they didn't understand, what no one seemed to
understand was that Thomas was simply his own middle name, something
he chose to use instead of "Will". In reality, he was still every
bit as much "Will Riker" as his duplicate. And that brought him to
his next painful thought.

Will Riker, Commander of the Enterprise E, was a duplicate. Not
him. When the transporter had split them, it had left him behind on
that God forsaken lonely planet and taken the other Will to the
ship. Everyone assumed that the man they knew as Will was the "real
one" and that he, Thomas, was the copy. It never once occurred to
them that their Commander might actually be a duplicate of HIM.

From the very beginning they assumed that he was not as good as,
that he was different, only a copy of the "real" person known as
William T. Riker. Why hadn't they taken him seriously and treated
him as a real, live human being? Didn't they realize what hell he'd
been through? Not even Deanna, who was attracted to him and cared
about him, fully realized who he was. She treated him as though he
were the young man she'd first met on Betazed; as a chance to go
back in time and be with the young man she'd once loved. But she
didn't see the man that those eight years had turned him into, and
she certainly didn't see the man he was now. How could she, when
the other Riker was always in her field of vision?

He sighed deeply and tried again to get comfortable, but it was
impossible. There was no one in this universe or any other that
understood him or cared about him. Not really. And when he went to
Earth he'd be going alone. No way would Deanna even consider a
relationship with him now. Not after he'd almost killed "her"

The pain crossed his face in a spasm as he remembered the first time
she had called him that. It was so special, what they'd found
together. Deanna was the first woman he'd fallen in love with, and
he knew it was the same for her. Sharing their bodies, their
thoughts, their feelings...God it had been more than he'd ever
dreamed of. Even after they'd parted he always hoped that somehow
fate would throw them together again, that he'd have another chance
to love her the way she deserved to be loved. But that never
happened. Instead, he lived out endless days and nights talking to
himself hundreds of thousands of miles away from any human being,
while his duplicate reaped the rewards.

Acid burned in his gut when he thought of it. The other Will, not
only having a stellar Starfleet career, but getting to see Deanna
again. Getting to build a whole new relationship with her. How lucky
can you be? "It should've been me, dammit. It should've been me!"

Frustrated, he punched the solid metal wall and barely felt the
spasms of pain pinching his fist and shoulder. A decades-long haze
of resentment and anger clouded his vision and the urge to do
violence was so great that the act of restraining himself only made
it double in intensity. The older he got the harder it was becoming
to control himself. But that was hardly his fault. Will had never
spent years in a Cardassian prison camp being tortured nearly to
death's door. But he had. He knew all about hate and punishment,
fear and degradation, terror and rage. He had felt all of those
things and by the time he'd escaped they'd covered him as thickly as
a second-skin. Coloring his every thought and action.

"And that is your fault too, you son of a bitch." If he'd had his
own life to come back to, a real life, he never would've taken that
ship and gotten caught by the Cardassians. If anyone should've
rotted in that stinking cess pool of a prison it should've been

The pain raged again and he felt as though a high violet flame
flared through his body and into his throbbing brain. He was losing
control again and this time there was no one to unleash his violence
on. 8 years on the planet, half a decade on Cardassia....twice in a
life time he got shafted by the fates. Twice he'd lost out while
Will lived the life of a king here on the Enterprise with HIS woman.

Well, he wasn't going to lose out again. Not this time. Pacing
faster, he scratched his beard thoughtfully. A plan was formulating
in his mind, a plan that would make everything about this fucked up
life of his right again. He'd lost himself for nearly two decades,
but now it was time to pick up the pieces of what remained and go
forward. All he had to do was get Will out of the way and
everything he'd dreamed about, everything he knew was his, would
once again be in his grasp.



Part 4

Night crept into Deanna's room on shadowy feet, softening the
corners with dark shadows, cooling her room as if an breeze from
Earth was drifting into an open window. Curled in a purple afghan
on the small couch, she stared at her empty mug and looked at the
tiny spots of chocolate on the bottom. Trying to see some sort of
meaning in their arrangment, as though they were some dark version
of tea leaves, ready to tell her future.

Looking across the room and out the viewport she watched the stars
pass by and wondered how things could have changed so much. One
minute, she and Will were celebrating their new beginning, even
hinting around about getting married. The next, Tom appears and
Will is almost killed. That quickly he could've been gone. That
quickly all of their plans would've dissolved in the heat of Tom's
passionate hatred. And what if that had happened? Did he really
think that she would forgive him? That somehow they could resume
the friendly relationship they used to have?

"Oh Gods," she muttered, sitting down the cup on a table and laying
her head on her knees. The events of the past few days had caught up
with her and she felt drained. Overwhelmed. Granted, Will was going
to be all right and that was the most important thing. But Thomas
was here and he was far more dangerous than she ever imagined. The
moment he had stepped on board last week she knew the danger was
there, lurking beneath that handsome, bearded face. But at the time
it seemed that the only thing dangeous about Tom Riker was his love
for her. She felt it coming off him in waves, mixing with the
sexual lust that he'd never been able to quench, and had recoiled
from it with a mixture of both fear and desire.

Not that she would ever act on it. And certainly not after what had
just happened. But, Deanna knew in her heart that no matter what
Thomas's state of mind might be, she still wanted him, and that made
the situation more explosive than anyone could ever know.

"I just hope that Thomas never senses my feelings," she whispered
aloud. "Nor Will for that matter."

Both men had nearly killed one another...over her. The last thing
she wanted to do was to have it happen again. She'd never be able
to forgive herself if one of the men she loved died because of her...

Curling on her side, Deanna slowly drifted into the land of sleep.
And it wasn't until she was right on the very edge that she realized
what she had thought. Not the man who loved her, but the "men".
The thought was enough to bring her fully awake and she leapt off
the couch as though she'd been burned.

She ran into the bathroom and splashed water on her face again and
again, hoping to calm herself down, hoping to quell the frightened
beating of her heart. But when she looked in the mirror, her cheeks
were crimson and her eyes filled with a strange, glittering light.

"What on earth is the matter with me?"

To her complete surprise, a voice answered.

"Nothing is the matter, Imzadi. You're a little scared, that's all.
But you don't have to be. Not of me. I would never, ever hurt you."


"Yes. We still have the old connection, Deanna. I was as surprised
as you are."

She stood there in her pink robe, long black hair piled on her head,
looking like a teenage girl before the prom. Innocent, beautiful,
and very, very nervous. "What is it you want from me?" she finally

His voice was warm. Liquid. Masculine. "You."

She shuddered involuntarily, responding to him without even choosing
to or wanting to. As she thought quickly back to what she was
thinking about earlier, she realized he must've picked up on her
slip of the tongue. He must've heard her thoughts about desire and
love. About him. Oh Gods. This was the last thing she needed.

Trying to block any unwanted thoughts, she forced herself to get
angry, throwing up a defense that would keep him at bay.

"Look, I do not appreciate your coming into my mind uninvited.
This "connection" you talk was broken a very long time
ago. I need you to understand and accept that I am with Will
now....the other Will. I will not do anything to hurt him or our

The voice snickered. "Really? And just who are you trying to
convince, Deanna? Me or yourself?"

Touching her fingers to her temples she tried an old trick of
Lwaxana's to block him out completely. In her mind, she built,
appropriately enough, a prison. A square of glass, with no way in
and no way out. Thomas was in the center, unable to speak, think,
move, or anything else. Sending her strength and energy into the
visualization, she felt Tom's voice grow smaller and smaller in her
mind. Further and further away.

And just as silence fell across her mind, she heard one final

"You may keep me in this may block me from your
thoughts...but there is one thing you cannot do. You can't make me
stop loving you."

A sob broke from her lips, suprising her, and then she was on the
floor, dissolving in tears, crying for what never was and what never
could be.


Part 5

After a day of solid sleep and Beverly's gentle hands working
wonders on his wounds, Will Riker felt like a new man. The pain was
gone, the wounds barely visible, and the best part was that he was
alive. Nothing in his 40+ years had hit him as hard as the
realization that he could've died yesterday. He could be a
motionless hunk of flesh, ready for transport to Earth to be buried
next to his Mother...or, nothing more than a tin of ashes read to be
shot out into space to orbit whatever star they were near for all
eternity. He could have been dead. D-E-A-D. Which meant one
thing...never seeing Deanna again.

God. The thought of their relationship being over. Never sharing
their thoughts, their bodies, never marrying and having hit him squarely in the pit of his stomach. They had
spent far too many years coasting along, before finally beginning
the road back to one another again. Now that they were officially
together, it was time to go further. It was time to put a diamond on
Deanna's finger and ask her to marry him. What in the world were
they waiting for? An engraved invitation from the universe?

He sat up abruptly and nearly smacked his head against the wall
above the biobed. He angry. At himself. There were too
many "should haves" in his life, too many times he didn't take a
chance when he knew it was the right thing to do. Well, he wasn't
going to make that mistake again. Thanks to that bastard Thomas
he'd nearly lost his life and any chance to be with Deanna. Now,
the fury of that thought burned inside his brain, fairly glowing
with the heat of it. Anger and resentment and hatred glittered
brightly, so brightly he could barely see the cool blue walls of
sick bay that surrounded him.

Galvanized, he made two decisions. The first was to get Tom off
this ship, right now, before he did any more damage. The second, was
to get cleaned up, put on his handsomest suit, and have the
replicator create the most delicate, beautiful diamond ring that had
ever existed. It was time to live his life, no more putting things
off until some imaginary point in the future. As he'd learned rather
abruptly from yesterday's mishap, life could end at any time. There
was no planning for that, and so he had to live in the moment. Now,
while life was still here for him to grasp.

He stood and dressed, surprised to feel only mild pain on rising,
and after a quick check up Bev released him, warning him to return
if he had any pain or dizziness.

As he strode swiftly down the hall of the Enterprise, one thought
filled his mind. "The only person that's going to be in pain is
you, you son-of-a-bitch." He fairly chanted it as he made his way
to the brig, hoping that somehow Tom could hear him coming, could
hear his thoughts, could know the pain that he was about to inflict
on him.

Lying on a bench still dressed in a yellow and black uniform, Tom
glanced at the shield holding his cell closed and found his twin
standing on the other side of those swirling electrons. Raising an
eyebrow he grinned, a cocky smirk that made Will want to rip his
lips right off his face. Instead, Will stood stiffly, marshalling
his thoughts, unwilling to show the other man just how badly his
brush with death had ruffled him.

"What are you doing here? Come to pay a visit to your beloved
brother, Will?"
"Not exactly."
" sound angry. Maybe because you weren't able to kill me
Will grimaced. "As I recall, you weren't able to kill me
either..."brother". We're both still standing, or hadn't you
"Oh I'd noticed, I just didn't particularly care. After all, once I
get out of here, well...I can always try again. Can't I?"

The shiver that crossed Will's back was a palpable mixture of fear
and fury. He was man enough to fight Tom face to face but the
thought of his twin skulking around the ship waiting for a chance to
kill him when he was gave him chills.

"You wouldn't dare. Besides, once we get to Earth that's where you
get off. And I don't think the Captain is going to let you come back
any time soon, so if you want to try again, you'd better do it now.
Oh that's right, I can't. You're in a cell...too bad.
I really would've liked to have seen you try to kick my ass."

Tom leapt off the bench and stood face to face with Will, his
handsome face glowing red with barely contained rage.
"You know, Will, I've said this before but I will say it again. I
should've killed you when I had the chance."
"And maybe you could have if I hadn't drugged you. You never betted
on that part, did you? You should never underestimate me, Tom. Of
all people you should know what I'm capable of."

Tom curled his hands into fists by his sides and glowered. "Oh I
know what you're capable of. The problem is, you don't know what I
am capable of. You have killed, sure, using your pretty little
phaser and only in the line of duty. I on the other hand, have
killed with knives, with a gun, with my bare hands. Anything I had
to escape that prison. I could look you in the eye and stab you in
the heart while I'm doing it. Tell me...could you do something like

Will knew the answer. Of course he couldn't. Unless he was in dire
circumstances. But to walk up to someone he didn't like and just gut
them like a he wasn't capable of that. And that is what
Tom had counted on when they'd fought. He knew Will wouldn't kill
him, that he wouldn't take first blood, and he was right. It was a
mistake to fight with Thomas...after all, who knew his weaknesses
better than...himself?

"Look, we both know what I'm capable of. And I'm not ashamed of what
I did. I'd love to kill you, don't ever doubt it, but the idea of
you living on Earth far away from me and Deanna...well, that's
better than seeing you dead. Much better."

He grinned at Tom then, watching him rise to the bait, watching his
face redden and the hands clench and unclench. It was driving him
crazy that there was nothing in the cell that he could hit or grab
or slam. Nothing but a bench and a wall full of glowing
forcefield. What would Tom do if he were suddenly let out? Will
had a strong feeling that he really didn't want or need to know.

With a voice filled with heat and hatred, Tom murmured, "Why are you
here? Did you just come to stare at me like some animal in the zoo?
If you're trying to tempt me into another round, you're doing a good
job. As soon as they let me out of here I'm going to find you and we
are going to have a very special goodbye, my brother. Don't think
for a minute this is over between us."

Will's blue eyes glinted with a heat that almost matched Tom's.
Truth was, he wasn't sure why he came down here, just that he needed
to see the man who'd almost killed him. And maybe he was hoping for
the chance to give a little of what he'd gotten. After all, he could
lower the forcefield. He could brandish his phaser and shoot Tom
right in the heart. He could. The phaser was already on kill, which
spoke volumes about his state of mind. But the truth was, he wasn't
going to do it, he couldn't. And there was one reason and one
reason only. Deanna.

Finally, feeling tiredness creep over him and his fury slowing to a
boil, Will leaned as close as he dared towards Thomas's face.
"You're damned right it's not over between us. It never will be. You
want to know why I'm here? I wanted to see the man who almost
killed me, thats' why. And I wanted to let him know to watch his
ass. He is going to be the next casualty in sickbay and I'm going
to have the pleasure of putting him there."

Tom looked stoic for a minute, almost afraid, then his bravado came
back and he dredged up a grin. "You don't have the guts, Will. Truth
is I'm going to walk off this ship a free man, alive and whole, free
to do whatever I want, including coming back to visit Deanna
whenever I feel like it. You don't have the guts to kill me, Will,
and you and I both know the reason why. Don't we?"

Enraged, Will nearly lost it, but tightned his grip on his self-
control and calmly walked to the door. Turning back to look at
his "other half" he wished he had the perfect comeback, the perfect
throw-away line to leave Tom with as he walked out the door. The
only thing that occurred to him was this:

"At least I have the one thing you never will, Thomas. I have
Deanna's love. You can go to hell after you leave this ship for all
I care, but wherever you go, one thing is for will never
have her. Never!"

With that, Will slapped a button on the wall and the doors slid
open, allowing him to walk into the corridor.

Behind him, Tom curled up on his bench, grinning like a Cheshire
cat. And in the semi-darkness he whispered, "That's what you think."


Part 6

Ten Forward was filled to capacity, but Will wasn't aware of anyone
or anything in the room except his own racing thoughts. He felt
poised on the knife-edge of the worst conundrum he'd ever faced in
his life. All of his talk about being satisfied to have Thomas off
the ship and out of his life was bull shit. He wanted the bastard
dead. Dead and buried, gone for good, nothing but a memory of
something that never should've happened anyway. Damn him! But the
problem was that no matter how much he felt the urge to hurt him, he
couldn't. Deanna was the delicate thread that bound he and Tom
together, and he knew that if he were to give into his feelings in
the heat of the moment and kill him....well...there was a very good
chance he'd never see Deanna again, let alone become her husband.

And yet, he didn't trust his twin. Not for a second. How could he
just leave him on Earth knowing of his feelings for Deanna. Knowing
of his obsessive hatred for him? What bothered him the most was the
knowledge that he would have to spend the rest of his life looking
around corners, staying on edge, wondering if and when Tom would re-
appear. As much as he liked to think he knew the man, the truth
was, he did not. Not at all. That "Will Riker" had experienced
things that he never dreamed of going through and was capable of God
knows what kind of violence. Was he capable of coming back to haunt
them? Would he reappear on some distant day in the future just when
he and Deanna's lives were blossoming with their full potential?

Trying not to imagine all of the scenarios that could occur, he
blinked hard and shook his head, then picked up a tall, frosty mug
of beer and chugged it down.

"You know, Commander, you're wrong if you think that beer will solve
your problems." Guinan had wandered in from the back room, looking
wise and lovely in a caftan made of gold and pink silk with a
matching head dress. Perching on a stool, she leaned towards Will
and rested her chin on her fist. Will merely looked at her,
shrugged, then finished his drink.

"I'd like another one, Guinan, and keep them coming."

Her brows knitted together and she picked up his empty mug, reached
to fill it, then turned in her seat again, plunking it down in front
of him. "There you are. Now, do you think THIS beer might solve your

Finally he looked up at her. "I don't know. All I know is I can't
sleep, not like this. I can't get him out of my head. I want to
kill him!"
"But you can't...and you won't. Right?"
He nodded.
"That's what's really bothering you isn't it? Feeling helpless,
feeling like Thomas has all the cards because he IS willing to go
that far..."
"God damn it! Why did he have to come here again? Why do I have to
worry about this again? What the hell does he want?"
"I think you know the answer to that, Commander."

Sipping his beer, he closed his eyes and tried to force the anger
down, away, into some other place where it couldn't touch him.
He was silent for a few minutes, just relaxing in the safety of
Guinan's warm presence, and then he finally spoke.

"I'm scared, Guinan. God I hate saying that outloud, but it's true.
I'm afraid he's going to take her away from me. I'm afaid that he's
going to try to kill me again and succeed. If that happened then
there wouldn't be anything at all stopping him from taking her with
him and I wouldn't be here to keep her safe...oh hell..."

He lay his face in his hands and felt the gentle pressure of the
bartender's touch on his head, gently patting him like a little boy.
"You love her very much, don't you?"
"Of course I do!"
"And she loves you, right?"
"Yes, I know she does."
"Then why are you so worried about Thomas?"

Will lifted his head and looked into Guinan's eyes, feeling as he
always did that there was some magical, immortal pool of knowledge
behind them. "I...I don't know."
"Now come on, you and I both know what you're thinking. Say it. Get
it out. You will feel better, I promise."
He sighed loudly. Admitting his feelings about Deanna and Thomas was
like stabbing himself in the stomach with a steak knife, but he took
a deep breath and looked down at the bar and said softly,
"I'm afraid she's in love with him. That she would go with him not
because he forced her, but because she might want to.."

Guinan smiled. "You see? Was that so difficult? Now that it's out
in the open I want you to think about something. Deanna loves you
and from what little I know of your past, I think she always has.
Thomas is only another version of "you", and so it would make sense
that she would feel something for him, just as if there were
suddenly another Deanna Troi, you would feel something for her. But
even if there are feelings there, they are only reflections of her
feelings for you. There is nothing threatening about
least, there doesn't have to be. Besides...gossip on this ship
spreads pretty quickly and I know what happened between you and
Thomas. Now, knowing Deanna as well as you do, do you think that she
could be involved with someone who tried to kill the man she loves?
I don't think so."

"Maybe you're right. I don't know why this has gotten to me so
badly. I guess it's hard to forget that Deanna almost left with
Thomas back on the "D" when he was assigned to the Ghandi. I can't
help but wonder if she regrets that decision now."

"I think you just answered your own question, Will. She "almost"
left...but she didn't. Probably because she couldn't bear being away
from you..."

He smiled then and she winked at him. "Feeling any better?"
"Yeah, thanks to you. What would I ever do without you?"
"May you never have to find out!"

Oblivious to the other patrons in the lounge, Guinan reached across
the bar and hugged Will. He hugged back and felt some of the
night's tension run from his body, leaving his limbs slack and his
body relaxed. "Now, why don't you go see her? You know you want to.
And if I know Deanna she's chomping at the bit to see how you're

"You're right. I'd better go see her before she heads for sick bay
and wonders where I've gotten to!" He moved from the bar and walked
towards the doors, and then turned his head to look over his
shoulder. He murmured, "Thanks," and then with a wink he gave Guinan
his best Riker grin and then headed out the doors, ready to see

When the chime rang, Deanna was unprepared. Her thoughts were
dancing around chaotically, her emotions in turmoil. But she knew
that Will was on the other side of the door and she had to see him.
She had to know if he was all right. Everything else....well, it
would have to wait. Her only concern was whether or not she could
sheild her thoughts once they were alone together. Remembering the
glass cage trick, she quickly imagined herself inside of the glass
walls, an inverse of what she had done with Thomas. This time she
was protecting herself and her thoughts, making them unreadable to
anyone but the very best empath. She had to do this, not just for
herself but for Will's sake too. She just hoped he didn't notice
and feel hurt that she was keeping him out of her mind.

Finally, she called for him to come in, and pushing aside everything
else but her love for him, she flew toward him and allowed herself
to melt into the safe comfort of his arms.
"Imzadi! I've been so worried about you. Beverly was supposed to
let me know when you were being released."
"I know. And I would've come here the minute I got out, but...I had
a few things to take care of."

Deanna's eyes darkened. Her thoughts may have been protected but
Will's were painfully obvious, as easy to read as a child's
storybook. He'd gone to see Tom, and he was still smarting from the
visit. If only she knew what to say...

"Come, sit down. Tell me how you're feeling."
"I'm all right. It's almost fully healed and I feel pretty good.
Still a little unsteady but I'll be my old self again in a day or
"I'm glad. When I thought...oh Will."
"I know...I know..." They held each other tightly and she wondered
what in the name of Betazed she'd do if Will had been killed. If his
big, warm body wasn't here to hold her right now. The thought of it
made her physically ill it was so painful, and her anger at Tom
flared to life all over again.

She wanted to get dressed and go down to his cell, give him a piece
of her mind. Force him to understand how badly he would have hurt
her if he'd killed Will. But she knew him well enough to know that
anything she said wouldn't matter. Tom's love for her was there and
very real, some part of him must care about her feelings. But the
larger part, she knew, was filled with his blistering hatred of
Will, and when that was awakened, everything else that was Tom Riker
ceased to exist.

"What are you thinking, honey? I can't feel your thoughts tonight."
"Mmm...just upset about what's happened. I can't believe it, it
still seems like a nightmare or a bad holo-vid. I love you so much,
you're a part of me and you could've been gone...just like that."

Her eyes filled with tears and she let them come, crying on his
large shoulder like a little girl. He held her, touching her hair,
kissing her cheek, reassuring her that he was still there, still
hers, still part of their connection. But it wasn't enough. She
needed something more.

Pulling back slightly, she looked deeply into his beautiful blue
eyes and then leaned in to kiss him. Soon her robe was falling to
the floor, his slacks were sliding down to his ankles, and then they
made fierce, fast love right there on the couch. It wasn't even
about sex so much as about getting as close to each other as
possible. It was about celebrating the fact that he was alive and
they were together. That they had a future.

As they both rode waves of love and desire and joyful gratitude,
Deanna's mind loosened, relaxing as her body tensed and thrust. The
longer they moved together, the more her mind slowly slipped out of
it's self-made prison. As they rode the waves of arousal together,
they both felt it coming, and soon they were kissing deeply,
thrusting harder and harder, finally exploding at the same moment,
screaming in their pleasure and joy.

And then the doors to the glass cage in Deanna's mind swung
completely open.


Part 7

She fought the urge as long as she could, but even the comfort of
laying in Will's arms couldn't keep the anger at bay. In her mind's
eye she saw the two men fighting, remembered the feeling of their
thoughts, the horror of knowing that one of them was going to die.
The fact that they both still lived was a miracle, but Deanna
couldn't relax and enjoy the fact that her beloved Will was there in
her bed. She couldn't think of anything but Thomas and how he
almost took away everything that meant anything to her.

Finally frustration drove her from her bed and into the uniform that
she left hanging on the chair beside the viewport. In the starlight
she dressed, quietly so as not to wake Will, then went to brush her
teeth and hair. As her hand reached for the pot of makeup beside the
sink, a little voice inside whispered,"You don't need to get made up
for's the middle of the night for God's sake." But it
wasn't for Tom. It was war paint, an extra layer of defense against
him. Deanna needed to look and feel her best, her most confident, if
she were going to confront Thomas Riker, and makeup was the
equivalent of donning armor and a shield.

She checked her reflection, adjusted her uniform, and took a few
moments to adjust her thoughts as well. The last thing she wanted
was for him to sense anything from her beyond her blazing anger.
Nothing else must be allowed to show. With that in mind she tucked
any other thoughts and feelings about Tom into a tiny corner of her
mind, then closed an imaginary door, leaving them behind it's locked
facade. Checking that Will was still asleep, she left a small kiss
on his forehead, then headed for the brig.

The door slid open, revealing the one occupied cell in a whole
cluster of barren rooms. Tom's cell was squarely in the middle of
the large room, and she moved toward it, willing any tentativeness
or nerves to disappear. He was fast asleep on his bench, covered
only by his own clothing, and her heart twisted because for a
second, he looked young and vulnerable...sort of like the cocky
young man she'd first fallen in love with on Betazed.

<Oh Tom...> she thought, closing her eyes against a sudden pricking
of tears. How could she both hate him desperately and yet love
him...almost as much as she loved Will? It was insane and if she
were any sort of counselor she would go and get her own
psychological help. Obviously she needed it if she were feeling such
things about Thomas after what he'd done.

Either he'd heard her thoughts in his sleep or he'd simply sensed
her presence, but either way, Tom Riker came abruptly awake while
she was watching him. He rubbed his eyes and sat up, turning to face
her, surprise etched on his sleepy features. "Deanna..."
"Hello Thomas." Her voice could've cut glass it was so sharp, and it
made him sit up even straighter on his bench.
"What are you doing here?"
"What do you think?"

He knew, of course, the reason for her visit. She was furious and
had every reason to be. The question was, what could he possibly
say to her? "I know why you're here, I just...I don't know what to
Deanna's beautiful black eyes darkened even further. "You don't know
what to say. You almost killed the man that I love, that I'm going
to marry, and you don't know what to say?"

Tom's mouth tightened and he could feel a spurt of acid in his
stomach. He was torn, as he knew he would be, between regretting
the way he'd hurt her and the satisfaction of hurting the bastard
who'd stolen his life. "Look, Deanna. Why don't you sit down? I'd
like to explain something to you."

She glared at him, then looked around the empty room and finally
found a metal chair over in the corner. Pulling it in front of the
cell she sat down and folded her hands in her lap. Unable to
completely meet his eyes, she murmured, "I'm listening".

This was it. Did he really want to explain his position to her?
Would it make any difference at all? Even if she understood how he
felt, in her mind there would never be any excuse for trying to kill
Will. The truth was, he had changed and she had no idea just how
much. Had no idea what he was willing to do to be with her.

Realizing it was now or never, he rolled the dice and began to
speak, searching her face with his eyes, trying to get her to look
at him. "Deanna. Look, it's been a long time since you and I were
together. Alot of things have changed. You can sense it, I'm sure,
and I'm not going to try to hide it. When I was in that prison on
Cardassia, I learned alot of things I never wanted to know. I
learned about torture, about killing, and about doing whatever I had
to do to save my ass. It was kill or be killed and you can believe
that I did my share of killing. Otherwise, I wouldn't be here now.
I can't say I'm proud of what I did...but I am proud that I survived.

He took a deep breath and she could almost see the memories crossing
his mind as his face twisted and hardened. It was like seeing a
beloved painting suddenly run and blur, the beauty disappearing as
the painting became nothing but paint again. "Anyway, for five years
I lived that way, and I became hard...tough. In the end I knew I had
to escape or die there with so many others, and escape I did. The
problem was, I took that man that I became with me. He's still in
here, guiding my decisions, my actions. When I become angry now, it
is so much more than anger. It is as though a full-blown rage takes
over my body and sometimes it's beyond my control. I'm sure that
this doesn't help anything, but I wanted you to know. The man I used
to be would never have tried to hurt Will...but the man I am
now...well, to be honest, I don't think I can help it. And I can't
promise it won't happen again."

Deanna's eyes widened, and her face paled considerably. There was a
monster inside of him, one that he admittedly could not control.
That frankly, knowing how he felt about Will, probably did not want
to control. Her stomach knotted and she felt a mixture of nausea
and fear as she looked at him, realizing that what had happened
between he and Will was far from being over. Realizing that he was a
killer and with one fell swoop could devastate her heart and her
life. How could she have thought that she had any feelings for him?

"I have to leave now," she muttered and stood, heading for the
door. It was just too much for her to take in, too painful to even
think about. Not only was the man she loved in danger, but the
other man she cared for was never going to be the same. She felt
devastated, as though someone had kicked her in her stomach and her
back at the same time.

From behind her, Tom called, "Please...please don't go. Not yet.
Please talk to me, Deanna. We used to be able to talk, remember?"

Gods, how could she not? With a painful jolt to the heart, memories
of dating Tom when they were all on the "D" came flooding back. The
romantic notes, the surprises, the rough and tumble playing in the
exercise room, the love-making...Gods the lovemaking! And the
feeling she was getting something back in her life that had been
missing for years. Before she could get out the door the flood of
memories touched her where she lived and she burst into tears,
oblivious to the fact that he was in the room right behind her.

She sat on the floor and cried. Sobbed. For everything. For Will's
near-miss, for Tom's changed personality, for never getting to be
with him after he left on the Ghandi. For loving both he and Will
for so many years and never getting to tell anyone. For everything.

"Deanna...Imzadi...don't cry. I love you. I still love you and I
always will. I don't want to hurt you. God I'd never want to hurt
you on purpose. Please don't cry sweetheart."

It was a few minutes before she could pull herself together and by
the time she did, any mental locks were broken, her heart and her
thoughts were right there for him to read. " could you? You
say you love me and yet you would kill Will so easily. As if he
didn't matter at all. How?"

Torn between the ache in his heart for her and the anger he still
held for Will, Tom finally decided to tell her the truth. All of it.

"Deanna...there's more to this than you seem to realize. From the
beginning, from that first day when Will found me...all of you have
just looked at me as some sort of freak. An extension of "him" but
not a real person in my own right. Has it ever occurred to you, to
any of you, that in my mind I AM Will Riker? That to me, HE is the
duplicate? I am the one who loved you on Betazed, I am the one who
lived in Alaska with a father I hated. I am the one who had the
roving eye and liked to drink too much on occasion. I'm the one who
served on the Potemkin and who eventually ended up living on a
planet all by myself for 8 years with only the memory of my Imzadi
to keep me going. Don't you understand? I AM Will Riker! And that
man you call Imzadi has taken MY life. He has the career I should
have had, the woman who I love. How could I NOT hate him? Don't you
understand Deanna? The only difference between he and I is that I
never got to come aboard the "D" and meet you all over again...'

Tom's head hung down and he put his hands over his eyes. "I loved
you so much and when I left Betazed, I always hoped we'd have
another chance. I thought about you so many times for so many years
that for me, it was like our relationship was still alive. Like we
were still connected. And then after the hell of living alone on a
planet with nothing to do, and no one to talk to, I finally get my own self. I see what my life could've been if only
the transporter accident had never happened. And then I get the
total shock of my life when I find out that you, the greatest love
of my life, are aboard the Enterprise. Do you know how it felt to
see you again after thinking that I never would? I was thrilled,
Deanna. Thrilled. And even though it broke my heart that you
wouldn't leave with me when I got the Ghandi assignment, I knew that
we had reconnected and that we would be together again. I counted
on it. I admit, I screwed up royally by taking that ship and ending
up in prison. But even after that, after all of these years, I
hoped that somewhere we would meet again and have another chance."

He broke off and looked up and into her face, seeing tears falling
down her cheeks. Locking eyes with her, he continued. "Don't you
see? I am that same guy you made love with in the Jalara jungle. The
one you taught about love and emotions. The one you laid naked with
all night long as you taught me about being with a woman rather than
just having sex with her. I'm still here, Deanna, and I still love
you and I look at you with him and I just can't stand it. He stole
my life. Everything he is, everything he has, should be mine. I
lost my chance when I was stranded on that planet, but I am here now
and I want you to know that I would do anything it took to have you
in my life again. Anything. I love you Deanna. God how I love you."

If Deanna was crying before, she was positively sobbing now. Head in
hand, she sobbed, as his words sunk in. She'd never thought of Tom
as "Will" before. She'd never treated him as that same man she'd
loved as a young woman. Instead she treated him just as everyone
else an interesting freak of nature who had nothing to do
with the "real" Will Riker. No wonder he was hurting, no wonder he
was enraged. And no wonder he hated Will.

Finally her sobs came to an end and she looked up into his face
again, seeing so much love in his eyes it was almost painful.
"Tom...I am so sorry. I had no idea. I never looked at what happened
from your perspective. I suppose back then I didn't know how.
After...after you were gone I missed you, but I told myself that any
sort of relationship was just a fantasy. As if you had been nothing
more than a holographic trip back in time where I could recapture
what we had on Betazed. Then I forced myself to forget you,
especially once Will and I resumed things. But to be honest, I've
never forgotten you. Not really. Maybe this is the reason
why...because I never faced the fact that you are Will Riker every
bit as much as Commander Riker is."

Tom's blue eyes filled with emotion and he longed to reach through
the force field and hold her in his arms. "Thank you for saying
that. You are the first person who's ever been willing to even
consider my feelings about this. I can't tell you how hard it is
trying to live my life when everyone acts like I don't belong here."

"I'm sorry. I know that you must feel like your life, your very
identity have been taken from you."

"That's exactly how I feel," he whispered, unable to believe that
she understood.

"I wish there was something I could do, or say, to make things
different. I want you to know that I loved you very much when we
first met, and then when we had our second chance ten years ago. I
did love you, Tom."

He smiled at her. "I know. I felt it. I wonder though,
you still?"

Her heart thumped against her breastbone, wondering if it were
possible to hide her feelings from him at this point. She didn't
want to admit it, but if he already knew, already sensed it, what
was the point in hiding it? Blushing, she looked at him and
nodded. "I do. I always will. You're a part of me, as much as Will
is. I can't help but love you, Thomas."

Tom's grin was so wide it nearly split his face in
half. "'ve made me so happy. You can't imagine how

She smiled back. "I'm glad. And I'm sorry....for everything that
happened to you, for the way you've been treated since you were
rescued....everything. You deserved better."

His heart warmed and opened, and more than ever he longed to hold
her in his arms. " are so special to me. I love you and
what you've said means so much to me. Can you....will you lower the

Her eyes widened and she looked afraid for a moment, until he calmed
her with his voice. "No, no, I don't want to escape. I swear. I just
want to hold you in my arms. It's been so long..."

Deanna felt her eyes fill with tears again and despite everything
that had happened, she knew she wanted nothing more than to hold and
be held by him. If only for a moment. Against her better judgement,
she moved to a panel on the wall and lowered the forcefield. Then,
like a very nervous teenager she moved toward him, seeing only that
young man she had loved so long ago.

He tenderly took her into his arms, and their bodies melted together
like candles beneath the heat of a match's flame. He felt like Will,
and yet there was a difference. He was leaner through the waist, a
bit slimmer all over. Otherwise it was just like being held by
Will. She realized that she'd been fighting this ever since Thomas
came on board...and especially since the fight with Will. If he had
killed Will how would she have dealt with her feelings then? It was
too much to think about and it was beginning to feel too good to be
in his arms. She looked up at him, getting ready to pull away, and
then as if sensing her imminent departure from his embrace, Tom
leaned down and covered her mouth with his.

She was surprised, but did not pull away. Instead she returned the
kiss, slowly, tentatively, allowing herself to sink into the feel of
being with him again. As the kiss deepened, she could feel him press
against her, and she realized with a twinge of guilt that she wanted
him. Right then and there. The part of her mind that knew better
was slowly being drowned out by the mixture of longing and love
inside of her body. At some point, the regret she felt for what
happened to him and the love she'd never stopped feeling combined to
override anything else, and soon she was allowing him to undress

His hands undid the uniform, deftly pulling it down and off her
petite body. His breath caught as he looked at her, his eyes
lovingly covering every inch of her porcelain skin. He pulled off
her bra and panties leaving her completely bare, then pulled her to
him, kissing her neck, her full breasts, fondling her bottom. She
unzipped his uniform and somehow pulled it off while he was kissing
her, and finally they were both nude. Laying her down on the long
bench, he whispered, "I love you Deanna Troi. I will always love
"I love you too, Thomas. Make love to me. Now."
He didn't need any encouraging. Laying on top of her small body, he
kissed and caressed, whispered in her ear as he teased her nipples
with his fingers, pressed his hips against hers and moved up and
down, driving her crazy. Finally, when she was wet against his hand,
he moved above her and slid himself inside, inch by hard, velvet

Her eyes fell closed and she sucked in her breath. It felt so good.
So good. She'd wanted this for a long time and it was
happening...and dear Gods was it worth the wait.

Each slow, velvet stroke made her nearly scream aloud, made her body
shake with pleasure. Tom kept kissing her to keep her quiet as her
moans grew louder, and she reveled in the feel of his mouth on hers
as his cock slid in and out of her vagina. The temperature seemed to
rise in the room about a 100 degrees, they were covered in sweat,
nearly sliding off the bench as their bodies moved faster and

Deanna grabbed his ass in her hands and pressed him more deeply
inside of her, moving against him faster, grinding him with
everything she had. He sped up his movements, matching hers, and
finally felt her start to shake beneath him. Her moans came more
frequently, as did his, and soon they were rocking together in
perfect rhythm, riding the throbbing pleasure to the very end of the
line..... Finally, they looked into each other's eyes and kissed
desperately as their orgasms hit them at the same moment. Desperate
to keep quiet, they kept their mouths together until the rest of
their bodies came down from the dizzing heights they had just

Finally quieting, they both breathed heavily, kissing, looking at
each other, holding each other tightly. "Deanna..."
"I've missed you."
"I know. I've missed you too."

They were quiet again for awhile, and lay there just enjoying the
feel of each other's bodies in the aftermath of the best love making
they'd ever shared. Finally, Deanna realized that it must be close
to time for her shift. She was supposed to be doing an Alpha on the
bridge this morning and she had no idea what time it was.

"Tom! I almost forgot. I have a shift this morning. Do you have
your chrono on?"
"It's 0500, hon. You've got some time."
Relived, she smiled at him and relaxed against him again. The truth
was, she didn't want to leave, but someone could come to check on
him at any time. She needed to get out of her and back to her own
quarters before someone saw her.

"I don't want to leave...but I should get back to my quarters, Tom."
"I know. It's all right. I'm just....I'm so glad you came to see me."
"So am I."
"Will I see you later?"
"I'll try to come back when I can."
"Deanna, look at me. I know you and I know that you are going to
have alot of doubts about what just happened here. So do me a favor.
Don't. We haven't done anything wrong, remember?"
"I know. And I'll see you later. was very special."
"For me too. Now get that uniform on and get out of here before we
get busted."

He smiled at her and she grinned back, feeling incredibly silly,
like a teenaged girl getting ready to sneak back into the house
after she'd snuck out. Moving towards the door, she looked back at
Tom. They didn't say anything because they didn't need to.
Everything they felt was just expressed in the most intimate way
possible. Instead they stared, held eyes, and then looked away, a
silent goodbye until the next time they saw one another.

Walking briskly to her quarters, Deanna adjusted her uniform and her
hair. She hoped that Will would still be asleep and that she would
be able to get a shower before he realized what she had just been
doing. As the door opened she walked into the room and stripped off
her uniform, thanking the Gods that she had a real shower. Water
beat on her, erasing Tom's musky smell, and she felt a moment of
regret. Part of her would have liked to have gone to bed smelling
like him....the other part was relieved. Will's snoring was audible
when she came in the door, and so she assumed she was safe.

As she toweled off, she walked into the bedroom and pulled on a
fresh uniform, readying herself for the day. Then, a voice from
behind her startled her, wakenening her to the realities of what had
just happened. "Deanna...where have you been?"


Part 8

Deanna spun around, shocked to hear Will's voice, assuming he was
still dead asleep. "Will. I...thought you were asleep."
He moved to sit up on the side of the bed. She felt a tremor of
fear, terrified that somehow he knew what had just happened. But she
needn't have worried. Will reached out his hand and pulled her to
the bed, holding her in his arms. "I missed you. Were you at the
Breathing an inward sigh of relief, she nodded. "Yes. I couldn't
sleep, and so I thought I'd get my work out in this morning rather
than in the afternoon."
"Well, I'm glad I woke up so I could see you before your shift."
"Me too."
"Listen...I'm not due on the bridge until Gamma about
meeting me on the holodeck for a romantic dinner after you're
finished today?"

She looked into his bright blue eyes and was nearly overcome with
love and guilt. Forcing herself to act normally, she smiled and
hugged him. "I'd love to."
"Good. Holodeck 2 then."
"I'll be there, Imzadi."

Looking at him for a long moment, she leaned in and kissed him,
thoroughly. No matter what had just happened with Thomas, she loved
Will desperately. Nothing could change that. He was the man she
belonged to, belonged with, and never wanted anything to pull them
apart. Still, the fact was, she'd just made love with the man who'd
nearly killed was she going to live with that? And if
Will were to find out, could he ever forgive her?

Realizing her mind was open, she firmly clamped down on her
thoughts, blocking Will from them as best she could. Then she leaned
over and kissed him again, feeling a mixture of pain and pleasure
that could never, ever be explained. "Will, I love you. You realize
that if anything had happened to you..."
"I know baby. It's all right. Nothing is ever going to happen to me,
I swear. It's taken us nearly twenty years to get this relationship
back on course and I'm not going to let anything stand in the way of
our being together."
She nodded, overcome with emotion and hugged him tightly. Then, she
got up and finished readying herself for work and grabbed a mug of
hot chocolate for a quick breakfast before leaving.

As she busied herself she hoped and prayed that she looked and acted
normally. In her own heart, making love to Tom was nearly the same
as making love to Will. They were the same person, after all. Thomas
had finally made her understand that. Granted, they'd had far
different life experiences, but they were both Will Riker. Loving
Will the way she did, how could she not love Tom too? Still, her
heart thudded against her chest when she thought about Will's
reaction if he ever discovered what had happened. He would NOT see
it the way that she did. He would see it as a betrayal. As the worst
betrayal there could ever be because of how he felt about Tom. And
now, doubly, because Tom had been so violent with him. All Will
would know is that she'd been unfaithful to him and slept with
another man. He would never be able to see anything beyond that....

Shaking her head as though to rid herself of the nightmare of her
twisting thoughts, she then looked back at Will, now curled up
beneath the blankets, looking innocent and sweet. Silently she
mouthed, "I'm sorry, Imzadi" and then left for the bridge, praying
to all of the Gods of Betazed that he would never have to find out
just how badly she'd betrayed him.

Hours later, Will woke to an empty bed and wished that Deanna were
there next to him. He had wanted to make love to her that morning
but was too tired...well, that was okay, they'd more than make up
for it tonight after dinner. Dinner was going to be far more than
Deanna knew. After all this time, he was finally going to ask her
to be his wife. He smiled, imagining her reaction, then dressed
quickly in his uniform, splashing on a musky cologne and combing his

When he was satisfied with his appearance, he went to the replicator
and thought a moment. He remembered being a little boy, sitting on
his Mother's lap, playing with her wedding rings. The engagment ring
was stunning, an endless loop of thick silver crowned by an eye-
popping heart-shaped diamond in the center. It would be perfect for
Deanna. Giving the replicator the specifications, he was rewarded a
few minutes later with a perfect reproduction of his late Mom's

Taking it into his large hands, he looked at it and remembered
Elizabeth Riker, the first woman he'd ever loved. How appropriate
that he would be giving her ring to the second.

Tucking it into a black velvet box, he slid it into his pants
pocket, then checked his chrono. It was almost time. Finally, she
was going to be his for the rest of their lives.

Moving out of her quarters he headed for the holodeck to make futher
preparations. It wasn't every day he asked a woman to marry him and
it had to be perfect. Deanna deserved that.

When he was finished, the holodeck looked like Betazed in
springtime. Thousands of purple blossoms decorated the room, dancing
their colors amid a forest of green trees and bushes. A replica of
her Mother's home stood in the distance, and in a private little
nook beneath a tree, stood a table and chairs. A bottle of
champagne and two flutes waited beside a plate of chocolate-covered
strawberries. It looked perfect.

Will looked at his chrono and realized that he was nervous. Nervous,
of all things! His heart was beating quickly and his palms were
damp. What if she said no? What if she wasn't ready? What if she
was content to leave things just as they were?

His stomach did flip flops for a minute and before he could get
settled down the door to the arch opened and there she stood.

It was now or never.


Part 9

It was quiet. So quiet, he could hear only his own thoughts. None of
the ship's noises reached him and no one was on duty in the brig to
watch over him. He was alone again. But now it was a little easier
to bear. Closing his eyes, Tom lost himself in the memory of what
happened this morning...Deanna's incredible beauty, the feel of her
beneath him, the love shining in her eyes. He had expected her to
ream him six ways from Sunday when she first came into the room,
hating him with everything she had. The hatred was there of course,
at first, he'd felt it glowing brightly from her mind as though it
were a raging fire in a chilled brick fireplace. But beneath that
emotion was an even stronger one. She'd been hurt by what he'd done,
by what he had become. Still, she was able to dig beneath the first
two layers of emotion down to a

It still amazed him that she'd listened, that she hadn't turned on
her heel and left, never wanting to see him again. She would've had
every right to react that way, so why didn't she? He almost wished
that she had....almost. But only so he could spare her the pain of
being caught between himself and the other Will. Now that they'd
drawn closer, become intimate, it was going to be hell on her.

Still, despite his concern for her well-being, over all his main
feeling was one of joy and relief. She was still part of him, still
his in a very real sense. And nothing could've made him happier.

Except, he thought, if Will would disappear. It would make his life
so much easier. But after this morning, he knew he couldn't allow
his rage to get the better of him. If he killed Will, hell, if he
even just hurt him, she would be furious and devastated and any
beginning they might have made would be torn to shreds. No, there
had to be another way.

Turning on the bunk, trying in vain to get comfortable, Thomas
smiled. Maybe there was another way. He had thought of it the other
day, had tucked it away for safekeeping as a secret plan in case
things didn't work out the way that he meant for them to. Deanna
would probably not be first. But if the feelings she
showed him today were genuine, she would eventually get used to it.
Maybe even be grateful.

He smiled into the darkness, and lay his hand behind his head. There
was still nothing he wouldn't do to get Deanna...but maybe there was
a way to have the ultimate solution come about without once having
to hurt her. Maybe the universe was ready to open up and send him
the help he needed. If it did, if his plans did eventually come to
fruition, then everything he had been through in the past decade or
so would have been worth it.

Closing his eyes, he allowed himself to drift off, floating on the
memory of Deanna's beloved face and body, on the notion that she
cared for him and understood him-two gifts he never expected to
receieve. Before nodding off completely, he whispered, "I love you
Deanna" and sent the thought with as much passionate speed as
possible. Then he fell soundly asleep.

The holodeck was alive with color and beauty and Deanna sucked in
her breath, amazed at the delicious scents in the air and the care
Will had taken with re-creating her home. It was lovely, he must've
spent ages on the computer looking at specs and reading about plants
that were local to Betazed. "He really went all out for me," she
thought, both pleased and devastated by his generosity. He loved her
this much and yet she had done the one thing that would stab him in
the heart if he ever found out. It hurt too much to consider that,
so she shoved everything away, walking towards him in a snug, violet
dress that left little to the imagination. Her hair was a tumble of
black curls on her head and she looked so beautiful it was like
seeing a Grecian statue come to life.

"Wow. You look amazing."
She grinned. "So you do!" He had swapped his uniform for a tuxedo
and it nearly took her breath away how handsome and debonair he
They hugged and kissed, then he sat her down, pulling out her chair,
offering her champagne. They sipped, looking into each other's eyes,
and the peaceful surroundings relaxed them both. She wondered what
he had planned...Will Riker never did anything without a plan in
mind and tonight was no exception. "Thank you so much for doing
this. It's just beautiful!"
He grinned widely, very proud of his efforts. "You're welcome. I
know that you've been homesick lately and I wanted to give you a
little taste of Betazed."
"I love it, Will. It's perfect."
He beamed, and then leaned across the glass topped table to give her
a kiss. Then, he pulled back and snuck a hand underneath the table,
pulling out his little black box. No longer nervous, he held her
eyes with his own and sat the box on the table. Then he pulled it
open, revealing the precious treasure inside.
"Deanna, will you marry me? I've waited so long for you, for us, and
now that we've reconnected, I want it to last forever. I want you to
be mine forever. Please say yes..."

Her eyes had grown wide and tears shone in their depths as she
lifted her hand. Will slid the ring onto one delicate finger and
looked at her more intently, waiting for her answer. She stared at
the ring, then looked at Will, her heart in her throat.

Could she dare to marry him given what she'd done? Could she hide
it from him for the rest of their lives? She swallowed hard,
blinking back tears and realized that no matter what, there was only
one answer to his question. "Of course I'll marry you, Imzadi. I
love you. I love you so much."

His grin threatened to bust his face in half and he fairly jumped
over the table, taking her in his arms, pulling her to her feet and
kissing her until she was unable to move or breathe.

"I am so happy, Deanna. I swear I'll be a good husband to you. I'll
always put you first, always be willing to work on our relationship
when we have problems, always love you and only you for the rest of
my life. Oh baby I can't believe this is happening!"

"Neither can I, Imzadi. Neither can I."

He caught her in a kiss then, and she allowed herself to get lost in
it, forgetting everything for the moment but this wonderful man who
meant so much to her. Will's kiss deepened and lengthened, and she
felt his desire as suddenly as a summer rain storm breaking on the
horizon. His mouth moved down her neck, his hands sliding the
delicate straps of her dress down past her shoulders. She closed her
eyes and reveled in the feel of his touch, until his beard scratched
her neck and she was forcibly reminded of Thomas.

Her throat tightened and her stomach clenched, recalling the way
she'd been with Tom this very morning. Gods, could she really let
Will make love to her now?

Looking up at him she saw such love and light in his eyes, felt such
desire from him, she knew that she wanted this as much as he did.
If only she could turn off the memories...

Soon he was pulling down the front part of her dress, baring her
bosom, kissing her breasts, her tummy, pulling the dress down to
reveal a tiny pair of satin panties. He nuzzled her abdomen through
the fabric, then pulled them down and began to kiss the most secret,
sensitive parts of her.

Reaching down, she took his head in her hands, and steadied herself,
overwhelmed with the feelings shooting through her body. His tongue
began to wind its way around her clitoris, then down between the
folds of her labia, and back again. Everything that was holding her
back receded for the moment as she lost herself in the feel of his
mouth. And when she was softly moaning and soaking wet, he stood
up, picked her up in his arms, and sat her on the table. Then he
pulled down his slacks and took her right there.

Her hands went to his waist, then his backside, trying to pull him
closer, deeper. He was thrusting slowly, pulling almost all the way
out then diving back in again. It was exquisite torture, and she
could barely catch her breath as her body throbbed with the
sensations. Finally, he pushed her gently back, climbed up on the
table completely, and lay on top of her, riding her. It was so good
she was tempted to scream, but instead grabbed his head and kissed
him deeply. The kiss lasted until the fireworks struck, shattering
them both with a climax that was so powerful it rocked the table
beneath them. Will held her tightly, kissing her neck, her mouth,
her cheeks. And she lay there looking up at him, trying to recover.

"That was a nice surprise," she teased.
"There's more where that came from!"
"Oh Gods, no, no more. I have to rest!"
"All right. But you're mine again tomorrow, Deanna. So be ready."
"Aye Aye, Commander." She saluted him which solicited a giggle and
then the two of them were laughing together.

"I really hope you engaged the privacy locks, Imzadi or else we
might have had an audience."
"Of course I did. It was the first thing I took care of when I
"Hmmm...I guess you meant to seduce me all along then didn't you?"
"Damned right." He grinned at her and her heart flopped over, he
was so cute, so adorably handsome, he still knocked her socks off
after all these years.

"Well, how do you plan on getting us up off this table? I for one
can't move," she said, feeling her back plastered to the glass
beneath her.
"Let me get up then I'll help you, okay? Hang on."

Soon they were both standing, tugging on their clothing in case some
crew member decided to use the holodeck for a little middle of the
evening fun. Then she went into his arms and they held each other,
looking at each other for a very long time. "I love you Deanna.
Tonight is the best night of my life."
"I love you too Imzadi. So much more than you know."
They hugged tightly and then Will took her hand walking her towards
the arch. "I'm sorry to have to do this but my shift starts in a few
minutes. I never should've promised Data that I'd work his Gamma
"It's all right, Will. This was perfect. I loved it. Besides, I
have a feeling you'll be sneaking into my quarters later on tomorrow I'll see you then."
He kissed her, and they walked back to his quarter together to say

Finally, she walked away, down towards her own quarters, and called
for the door to open. She peeled off her dress, fell onto the unmade
bed, and felt her thoughts spin so wildly it made her dizzy.
She was going to marry Will. It had been coming for a long time and
was something she had looked forward to for so long. Glancing at the
ring on her finger, she touched it and marveled at the loving heart
that had created it for her.

She pulled on a soft night shirt and panties then climbed into bed,
laying back on the pillows as she stared outside the viewport. She
was so happy it seemed impossible. She felt ready to burst with it,
suddenly as light as the bubbles in tonight's champagne.
Instinctively she knew she would never be able to sleep. She simply
had to tell someone.

Locating her comm badge on the bedside table, she hit it and called
for Beverly.
"Deanna? What's the matter? Are you all right?"
"I'm fine! Look I know it's late but I have to see you. Can you come
to my quarters?"
"Well there goes my beauty sleep. Yes, I'll be there. Give me about
ten minutes."
"See you then."

Deanna smiled in the darkness. It was going to be so wonderful to
tell Beverly. She knew that Bev had been waiting for this almost as
long as she herself had and would be just as overjoyed as she was.

Pulling on a robe she got up and made two hot mugs of chocolate, and
then curled into a chair at the dining table. When the chimes rang
she called out, "Come in!" and then Bev was straggling through the
door looking as though she'd just woken from a two week sleep.

"What on earth is so important that I had to pull on this hideous
bathrobe and come all the way down her?"
Deanna grinned up at her friend and then moved her left hand beneath
Bev's field of vision. "This."
Bev rubbed her eyes, then took Deanna's hand, touching the ring. Her
blue eyes widened and she smiled broadly, unable to believe what she
was seeing. "Oh my God! He did it! He finally asked you to marry
him!" Bev jumped up and down then pulled Deanna into a huge hug.
"I am SO happy for you two! When did this happen? What did he say?
Where did he propose?"
Deanna laughed softly. "That's too many questions all at once! But
let me try to answer. It happened tonight. He told me that he loved
me and wanted me to be his wife, to be with him forever. And he
proposed on the holodeck, which by the way, he had decorated to look
like my Mother's estate. It was gorgeous, I wish you could've seen
"It sounds wonderful, Deanna. God I am so happy for you guys! I
can't believe he finally took the plunge. Do you know how long he's
been waiting to do this?"
"I know. I can't believe it either."
"Where are you going to be married? Here on the ship or maybe on
"We haven't gotten quite that far yet, Bev, but I would love to have
the Captain marry us. Of course, it would be perfect if he would do
it back home."
Bev gave her a sly grin. "Yeah, Jean Luc officiating at a naked
wedding. Somehow I don't think he's got it in him."
Deanna laughed again. "Probably not. But you'll be there and that's
more than enough reason for him to get naked!"
Bev blushed. No one but Deanna knew that she and Jean Luc had begun
a romantic relationship. It was still too new to tell anyone about.
"You are a bad girl, you know that? Now, I want to hear more. Tell
me everything!"

They talked into the night, about the wedding, about Bev and the
Captain, about Betazed...everything and anything they could think
of. Finally around midnight they wound down, wearing themselves
out. Bev's face grew serious for a moment and she took Deanna's
hand, squeezing it. "You know there is one more subject we haven't
"What's that?"
"You know very well what 'that' is."
Deanna's joyous look disappeared quickly. "Tom."
"What about him?"
"We're going to arrive at Earth in less than a week and then he will
be gone. Are you going to tell him about your engagement?"

Oh Gods. For the first time in hours, she thought of Tom and of
what had happened between them. This would devastate him.
As she stared at her best friend she realized that she had just made
love with both men in the space of a day. It made her feel odd, like
she was on the cusp of living two separate, distinct lives.

Finally she blew out a breath and looked up at the ceiling. "Bev, I
don't know if I can. I mean..." Her throat closed and her eyes
filled with tears.
"Dee, honey, what is it? What's bothering you? Has Tom done
something to hurt you?"
"No. Nothing like that." She hesitated. Should she tell Beverly
what had happened? As much as she longed to get it off of her chest
she was afraid of risking Bev's disapproval.
"You're obviously upset and it obviously has to do with Thomas. You
know you can talk to me about anything and it will never go any
futher than these four walls."
"I know. It's not that I don't trust you...I just...I don't know how
you might react."

Bev lifted an eyebrow. "Is it that bad? Oh hell honey, even if it
is I'm still going to be your friend. I'm still going to love you.
If you want to get it off your chest, go for it, I'm listening."
With a grateful, watery smile Deanna told Bev everything. Bev
listened, squeezed her hands every now and then, and kept on
listening. Finally, she drew Deanna into a hug. "Look I'm not
thrilled about this, but only because I don't trust Tom. He's
dangerous and I'm afraid that he could hurt you. I'm also Will's
friend and I know that this would be devastating to him. But, as a
woman, I can understand why it happened. I know you've had feelings
for Thomas for over ten years, you've managed to hide that from
everyone but me. The question now is, my friend, what are you going
to do?"

Deanna looked as lost as an orphan wandering the streets in ragged
clothes looking for food and drink. "I don't know. I mean, I DO want
to marry Will, there's no doubt about that. But I'm afraid he's
going to find out about about Tom and I. If that happens....I could
lose him for good."
"Well, soon Tom will be off this ship and out of your lives and so
your secret will stay a secret."
"Yes, as long at Will doesnt' read my thoughts. It's been very
difficult keep them blocked."
"You're doing fine, just keep it up for a few more days and then
you'll be all right."
"I hope so."
"Now, the other issue...are you going to tell Tom about the
"I don't know. I mean, I think the smart thing to to would be to
hide it from him. The last thing I want to do is to set him off and
have he and Will going at each other again. But he can read my
thoughts too, which means I'm going to have to keep things blocked
from both of them, and that's not easy. I'm nowhere near my Mother
when it comes to that."

"Well, let's take it as it comes all right? And by the way, I will
never say a word to Jean Luc about this. This is girl stuff, just
between us. Besides, much as I love the old guy, he is a bit of a
prig sometimes." They chuckled together and shared another hug, then
Bev headed for her own quarters and some much-needed sleep.

Deanna put her mugs into the replicator and called for the lights to
go off. Then she climbed into bed feeling relieved. Until she heard
a voice inside of her head. "Deanna...are you awake?"


Part 10

Deanna sat in Ten Forward beside one of the large viewports, staring
at the ring on her finger. The thought of becoming Will's wife
thrilled her, it had been so long in coming. But in her heart she
was afraid that her moment with Tom might have ruined everything. If
she and Will were going to spend a lifetime together, then at some
point he would have to be able to feel her thoughts. Her memories,
her guilt, all of it would come out at some point. It was one of
the things she regretted most about being a Betazoid. At least full
humans could keep their thoughts to themselves. Tonight, as soon as
she slipped into bed, Tom had contacted her, and she hadn't been
able to block him as well as she would have liked to. Instead, she
ended up talking with him, mentally, for quite some time. When they
finally broke contact she was more confused than ever, and torn with
more guilt. Not only for what happened, but also because she hadn't
told Tom about the engagement. Now she was hiding things from both
men, and it was getting more and more difficult to keep her secrets
to herself.

Sighing, she looked around and was silently glad for the empty room.
She needed to be alone, to figure out why she'd slept with Tom and
what it meant in the grander scheme of things. In front of her on
the glass table top sat the biggest sundae Guinan had ever created,
but the lucious folds of chocolate mousse and rich ice cream failed
to tempt her, and so the lovely creation sat there melting while
Deanna stared off into space ignoring it completely.

"What am I going to do?" she whispered to no one in particular. But
as fate would have it, Guinan was pretty empathic herself and homed
in not only on Deana's whispered words, but her agonized thoughts as
well. Swishing her full caftan around her, she came from behind the
bar and sat down across from Deanna before the Counselor even knew
she was there.

"Guinan! I didn't hear you coming."
"That's what they all say. I can be pretty quiet when I want to be."
She winked and gave Deanna a smile, but the Counselor was unable to
return it. She was too full of guilt and confusion to do anything
but grimace.
"What's wrong, Deanna? Would you like to talk about it?"
"I don't know. I But thank you. I'll be fine."
Guinan rolled her eyes in a long-suffering motion. "You know, for a
Counselor you're not very good at taking care of your own emotions
are you?"
Deanna's dark brows rose and her eyes darkened."What? I resent that.
I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself and my emotions."
"Really? Is that why you're wearing a brand-new engagment ring but
looking as miserable as if you'd had a death in the family? Usually
women who are newly engaged are smiling, dying to show off their new
ring. Somehow I get the feeling that's not exactly what you're
feeling right now. Am I right?"

It took a few minutes, but Guinan had the patience of the ages, and
finally Deanna's lower lip started to tremble, her eyes began to
film over with tears and her hands went to cover her face. Then she
began to talk. "Oh Gods, Guinan. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be so
defensive. I's just...oh Gods."
"There's no one here but the two of us, and anything you say,
anything, will never go beyond these walls. If you want to talk
about it, you can."
Deanna pulled her hands away from her face and wiped her eyes, then
tried to give Guinan a smile. This effort was a little better than
the last, but not by much. "I don't know where to start. Or what to
say. Or even how I feel."
"Well, if you don't mind, why don't you let me tell you what's on
your mind? If I'm right, you can say so and fill in the blanks. If
I'm wrong, well, you can kick me off the ship at any time and send
me packing. Deal?"
Deanna chuckled. "Deal."
"Okay. I admit I'm not completely familiar with your history with
Will, but I do know that you were involved before the two of you
ever came aboard the Enterprise D. I think most of us have known for
years how you feel about each other, and the engagement ring cements
it for sure. The problem isn't with you and Will is it? The problem
is Tom...."
Deanna nodded, feeling her eyes filling up again.
"You love him, don't you?"
"Y-yes. I do. At least, I think so."
"And so you're torn between them now, is that it?"
She nodded again, wiping her eyes on a napkin.
"All right. Now, my friend, I am not going to judge you because I've
been there. I know just how possible it is to love two men at the
same time. But, if you remember our last conversation, there is one
thing that hasn't changed. Tom is still dangerous. He still came
close to killing Will during that fight. If you were for some reason
to chose Tom over Will, do you understand what you might be letting
yourself in for?"

Deanna tried to speak but Guinan rushed on, concern filling her
deep, warm voice. "He may never hurt you. May. But then again, he
might. Would you really want to take that kind of chance?"
Deanna shook her head. "No. I mean, I'd never put myself in a
situation where I could be abused. I've counseled dozens of women
who are in abusive marriages, and I always knew I'd never want that
sort of relationship for myself."
"That's good. I'm glad to hear you say that. Now, what are you
really thinking, Deanna? That he might change? That he's the same
man you fell in love with a long, long time ago? I care about you
and I don't want to burst your bubble, but he isn't that same man.
Not completely. Life has changed him in ways that it has not changed
Commander Riker. I can understand your loving him, after all he is
Will in a very real sense. But don't forget that they are two very
different men now. The young man you loved is gone, Deanna. And you
can never bring him back again."

Now Deanna was really crying. She wasn't sure how Guinan knew her
heart and mind so easily, but deep down she had to admit that
finding the young Will Riker was exactly what she'd been trying to
do. She wanted another chance. A chance to take those brand-new
feelings and run with them. To have a relationship with that young
man she'd loved instead of being parted for ten years. She wanted
what she felt was denied to her in the past, and Tom, for whatever
reason, was more tantalizingly close to her young lover than Will
could ever be. Maybe that's why she was so eager to be in Tom's
arms, why she let him make love to her. And, maybe it was why she
was so able to disregard the changes life had made in him and what
they could mean for her and for Will.

Taking deep breath as the tears finally dried, she reached out and
grabbed ahold of Guinan's hands. Her friend smiled and squeezed
back. "How did you know, Guinan?"
"I've been around a LONG, LONG time Deanna. I've seen alot of things
and I've done alot of things. I also sense things just as you do and
as soon as Tom came on board I sense the love and longing and regret
that you carried. No one else may be able to read you like that, but
for me it was glaring like a neon light."
"I don't know what to say. But thank you. I guess I have some more
thinking to do."
"Well, from what I hear your friend Tom is going to be leaving us
very soon. The distance might help you to finally let him go."
"Maybe you're right. Still, I don't know if I should've accepted
Will's proposal. I mean, given what happened between Tom and I..."
Guinan shook her head. "I know what you're thinking. You're thinking
that Will deserves better than to marry a woman who has just slept
with his twin."
Deanna's brows shot to her forehead and her eyes widened.
"But," she continued,"you are half human, Deanna and humans are far
from perfect. You and Commander Riker still have a good
relationship, you still want to be together. It's not too late just
because you've made a mistake. What I'm getting at is that you still
deserve to have Will's love, to build a life with him. Don't beat
yourself up, okay?"

For the first time since she'd come into Ten Forward, Deanna Troi
was able to raise a genuine smile. "Okay."
"Now, why don't you see if that fiance' of yours is off duty? I
have a feeling he'd like to see you..." She winked at Deanna which
brought another smile.
"I think you're right. I'm going to go to my quarters immediately.
Thank you so much. I don't know what I'd ever do without you."
"Well, you won't ever have to find out as long as you're on this
ship. Now go and have a good night. And remember, the bar's always
"I'll remember. I promise. Good night, Guinan."

Guinan watched Deanna walk towards the doors with a mixture of
feelings. She was glad that her friend understood more about her own
emotions, but at the same time, she sensed that this thing with Tom
was far from being over. And that the repercussions for Deanna might
be just beginning.

It was very late by the time Deanna got back to her quarters and she
was grateful that there was no morning shift on the bridge to
prepare for. Instead, tomorrow held only three patients, a work out
with Beverly at the gym, and then nothing but free time. She was
grateful. After all that had happened she needed some time alone to
sort it all out.

Making her way toward the bed, she pulled off her uniform and pulled
on the nightgown that lay on the covers at the foot of the bed. Then
she looked up and saw that Will was snuggled beneath the covers,
looking adorable, delicious, and very, very handsome. He probably
had just gotten off duty and fell into her bed, poor thing. Grinning
she tucked herself in beside him, and wrapped her arms around his
naked back. He was wearing only a pair of light blue pajama bottoms
and she was suddenly tempted to remove them and have her way with
him. But she refrained, as difficult as it was. He looked so sweet
sleeping that she didn't want to disturb him, and besides, her body
was still ringing from their wild moment on the holodeck. She wanted
him, but she could wait. They would have all the time in the world
to make love.

Curling on her side, she pulled the covers up and got comfortable,
letting her mind roam as she tried to relax. Talking to Guinan, well
actually, listening to Guinan, had helped tremendously. She knew now
that she was not going to let what had happened ruin her
relationship with Will. That had to come first. The only thing she
had to do now was to tell Tom about their engagement. That wasn't
going to be easy, but he did deserve to hear it from her instead of
through the ship's grapevine.

As she drifted off, the memory of Tom's eyes looking into hers and
the way he touched her came vividly back, as though taunting her.
She realized with a pang that she still had all the same feelings
for him, that nothing had truly changed. But now she knew that she
couldn't let those feelings determine the course of her life. Her
place was here with Will and on the day they arrived at Earth, she
was going to say goodbye to Tom with no regrets.

Or so she hoped.


Part 11

Will rolled over and reached for Deanna, feeling nothing but the
chill of soft, empty sheets. Damn. He'd forgotten that she had
patients today. Shifting onto his back, he closed his eyes. Maybe he
could fall back asleep. It was only 0900 hours, and he wasn't
expected on duty until 0500 that evening. Plenty of time to

Smiling to himself, he wrapped Deanna's purple comforter around his
large body and let his mind drift. He saw Deanna, as naked as the
day he'd first seen her on Betazed, only this time, it was for her
own wedding. He could imagine the crew shifting uncomfortably in
their nudity, and gave a full-out laugh thinking of the Captain
trying to stay professional with nothing on but a smile. It was
going to be an amazing day. He still couldn't believe that it was
coming, that she'd said yes. They still had to set a date, but he
knew it would be soon.

Drifting on a tide of relaxed bliss, he was suprised to be rudely
shaken out of his reverie by a very familiar voice calling to him
through his comm badge. "Hey Riker"
Oh lord. Tom. "What do you want?"
"I want you to come down here. After all, I'm going to be leaving
soon and I thought we might have a little chat."
"A chat? You mean like the one in the holodeck when you stabbed me?
Sorry, not interested."
"I don't blame you. Look, we both know how we feel about each other,
and honestly, I'd still love to get my hands on you. But, there's
someone else to think about here and that's what I want to talk to
you about."
Deanna? What could Tom possibly have to say about her?
"If this is a trick, you're going to be standing tall before the
Captain, you got me? I don't feel like being f-ed with today,
especially not by you."
"It's no trick. Now get down here as soon as you can. It's

Tom's voice disappeared into the air and Will grimaced. He HAD been
in a good mood. Now it was shattered. The last thing he wanted was
to spend time with that son of a bitch. But Deanna was his first
priority, if Tom knew something about her, something that Will
needed to be aware of, well he wasn't going to just lie there and
ignore it. Whatever it was, he might as well find out now. Then
maybe he could crawl back in bed and get some zzzz's before his

Tugging on his uniform, he ran a comb through the graying black hair
and and stared at his reflection for a moment. He was still a good-
looking man. Sure, Tom looked a little younger, but that wasn't
because of anything good. He'd fairly starved in that prison of his
and that more than anything made him look like he was a sinewy
thirty year old rather than nearing 50.

Why was he suddenly comparing himself to Tom? "You're being an ass
Riker. Who cares what he looks like? He'll be gone soon and besides,
she's marrying you remember?"
His reflection smiled and he gave himself a grin. He hated facing
Thomas, but it had to be done. Might as well boost himself up a
little beforehand.

Finally he was ready and headed down the halls to the turbolift. On
the ride down, he wondered what Tom wanted to talk to him about. It
was ridiculous to think that he could possibly know anything about
Deanna that he himself didn't know. Still, his stomach tensed as he
got off the lift and when he walked into the brig area his eyes were
glaring and his shoulders were fully squared as though he were
prepared for another fight.

Looking up from a PADD, Tom nodded. "Good. You're here."
"Obviously. Now what was it you wanted to talk to me about?"
"I thought you should know that I've asked Deanna to go with me when
I leave for Earth on Thursday."
If Will had been expecting anything, it certainly hadn't been this.
His heart thudded fast against his chest and he felt a sharp
invisible kick to the stomach. "I don't know what fantasy you've
been living in, Thomas, but I just asked Deanna to marry me
yesterday. She said yes. So whatever you're planning, it's not going
to happen."
Tom's usually cocky demeanor suddenly faded and his face paled
visibly. "What?"
"You heard me. We're getting married. Next time you see her, look at
her ring finger. Maybe that'll prove it for you."
Will rolled his eyes. "But what? Are you really surprised? I mean,
you come here after what? Ten years? And you expect her to start up
with you again as if no time had passed? Deanna and I have just
spent the past few years together, we finally woke up and realized
what we've got. I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this, but you
can't just come on board this ship anytime you feel like it and
presume that Deanna is going to want to be with you again. Life does
go on and she forgot about you a long time ago."

Tom, looking visibly pained, stood up, and faced the side wall of
the cell, leaning against it. Damn. He thought, well okay, he hoped
that she might have at least thought of coming with him after what
they'd just shared the other day. Now it was obvious, she'd planned
on being with Will and staying here all along. A spiral of hurt and
anger began to swirl in his chest, and he wanted desperately to tell
Will about sleeping with Deanna. It was on the tip of his tongue. He
had to force his mouth to stay closed in order not to blurt it out,
but the urge to do so was overwhelming. The last thing he wanted to
do was to hurt Deanna, but Will looked so complacent, so smug, that
he wanted to shock that look right off the man's face.

Finally, Tom stood straight and faced Will with a glare that would
shatter ice. "Really?" he said, beginning to pace, never once taking
his eyes from Will's face. "Then why did she make love with me right
here in this cell? Hmmm?"
Will's face reddened and he fairly flew at the cell, hitting the
forcefield so hard it tossed him backwards and onto his ass.
When he was standing again, he marched over to Tom like a robot and
ground out his next words. ""
"You heard me, "Commander". I said, if Deanna had forgotten about
me, why did she make love with me the other day? Why did she let me
touch her? Why did she let me inside of her beautiful body? And why
did she tell me that she loved me? Sure doesn't sound like she
forgot to me."

Tom looked absolutely triumphant while Will looked ready to hurl
everything he'd eaten for breakfast at Tom's feet.
Finally he forced himself to talk. "I don't believe you."
"I dont' blame you. Why don't you ask Deanna yourself?"
"Oh I will, believe me I will."

Torn between disbelief and the fear that it might be true, Will
staggered to the door and took one look back at his twin. There was
no way. No way would Deanna be unfaithful to him, especially not
with Tom. God, anyone else but Tom he might be able to live with,
but not this. It couldn't be true. Tom was trying to screw with him,
to fuck with him, to get his goat. Well, he wasn't going to fall for

"That was a nice try, Tom, but as you can see I'm still standing.
And, Deanna is still wearing my ring. I think it's time you figured
out that it's time to let her go. She doesn't belong with you and
she never will."
"If you say so. But I think that on the day I leave this ship, your
fiance' might be more than tempted to come with me."
"Keep dreaming, ass hole," Will spat out, and then left the brig
before he could do some serious violence to the one prisoner inside
of it.

On shaky feet he went straight to Deanna's quarters. When she was
finished with her last patient she would come here to change before
going to the gym. He would wait for her. He would wait and he would
find out if Tom was delusional or if his Imzadi had just ripped his
heart right out of his chest. It was going to be hell, but he would

Hours later:

Deanna came bouncing into her quarters, thrilled that her duties
were over for the day. She was eager to chat with Bev again as they
stretched and exercised, and was fairly singing when she got through
the door. Until she saw Will sitting at her dining room table,
glowering like a hell hound in heat.
"Will! What are you doing here? What on earth is the matter?"
His eyes roamed over her face, and as violently as a physical rape,
she felt his mind probe into hers, searching for something.
<What are you doing?>
<I want to know something, Imzadi. And I'm not sure you would tell
me if I were to ask. So I'm going to find out for myself.>
<Will! Please...let's talk. I love you. What has happened? Please
tell me>
<I think you know what's happened, but let me see if I can't find a
feeling, a thought, a memory just to confirm it>
Involuntarily, a memory of making love with Thomas surfaced before
she could push it away, and Will felt it. Saw it. Knew it was true.

He pulled out of her mind as roughly as a rapist pulling out of his
victim's body, and stared at her as though she were some hated,
hideous creature that he did not know and never wanted to know.
"It's true then. I thought maybe Tom was blowing smoke up my ass,
but I could feel it in your mind. You did sleep with him didn't you?"
"I...oh Gods."
"When? Was it before you accepted my engagement ring? Or was it
after? Were you wearing it while you were fucking him?"

Deanna slid onto a chair and lay her face down on the wooden table
top. "I don't know what to say."
"I'm sure you don't. Tell me, was I as good as he is? Or should I be
asking that the other way around? Is he as good as I am? Or, hell,
since technically we are both Will Riker, are we exactly the fucking
She broke into sobs and shook her head, completely unprepared for
this and yet knowing it was going to come some day. What could she
say to Will? There was nothing, and she knew it.
"Do you have any idea how I feel right now? Like the world's biggest
idiot. I made a fool of myself romancing you, asking you be my wife,
making love with you and all the time you were fucking him behind my
back. Who the fuck do you think you are?"

She had NEVER heard him talk to her like that, not once in the two
decades they had known each other. It devastated her and yet she
felt she deserved it so she did nothing, said nothing. Just sat and
let him vent until he was finished.
"You know what the worst thing is? It isn't that he touched you that
way. It's that you told him that you love him. Tell me something,
Deanna. Is that true? Do you love him? Do you want to be with him?"

She raised her head and looked at Will, tears streaming down her
cheeks, and realized that she was suddenly afraid of him. "There's
no point in lying to you, Will and I'm not saying this to hurt you
further...but...yes. I do love Thomas. But that doesn't negate what
I feel for you. I know you can't understand, but I...I love you

Will's face looked like someone had just stabbed him in the heart
and he felt a fury fly through him that was closer to Tom's rages
than he would have cared to know. "You love him. And you love me.
What, did you think you could marry me and fuck him on the side?
That you could have us both?"
That was exactly what she'd thought, but it was not something she'd
ever admit to Will. She could barely admit it to herself.
"No, of course not."
"Then how could you have let that happen? How? I almost lost my life
to that son of a bitch but you think it's all right to have sex with
him? You think that there is something about him that is loveable?
I don't get it, Deanna. I really don't get it."
"It was a mistake, Will. Not something I was ever going to repeat."
"Really? Well Tom seems to think that you're going to leave with him
when he leaves the ship for Earth. I wonder where he got that idea
"Yes, it's true he asked me, but I said no. He knows very well that
I love you and want to be here with you. That I want to marry you."
"Well maybe you should've thought of that before you let him touch

He glared at her with such fury, such hatred that she quivered
inside. It hurt her terribly to know that she had done this to him,
and there was nothing she could do or say to make it better. She'd
done it, ruined everything, exactly what she'd been afraid she would
do. It was over, that much was obvious.

With an almost deadly calm, Will walked over to her side and picked
up her left hand. He slid the ring off her finger and shoved it into
his pocket, then he walked to the door. "Now there's nothing keeping
you from being with him, Deanna. Nothing at all. I hope the two of
you will be very happy."

And with that, he left her, leaving her to fall on the floor, curl
into a ball, and cry her heart out for the rest of the night.


Part 12

The days passed with all of the slowness of cold molasses running
from a sapling in the middle of winter. Everyone had heard about
Deanna and Will's engagement, now everyone knew that the wedding was
off, and they took pains to give both Will and Deanna a wide berth.

Will was like an angry seal barking orders while he was on the
bridge, while Deanna cleared her calendar for the next couple of
weeks and decided to curl up into a ball in her quarters, not coming
out for anything. The pain was palpable, even to Thomas, who, while
sitting in his cell could sense both Will and Deanna's turbulent
emotions. He hated to admit it, but he felt a strong measure of
guilt for hurting her this way. She was devastated, and there was
no reason for her to be. It was his fault that she was hurting so
badly, and on top of that, he knew for sure that whatever tentative
beginning they'd made towards being close again he'd just shot them
down in flames.

He was always doing this, shooting himself in the foot, screwing up
the things that meant the most to him. Why? Was he determined to
screw up his life? His father certainly seemed to think so...maybe
that was why he was always on a collision course with destiny.
Whatever breaks came his way he would unerringly put his foot in it,
leaving a path of wreckage behind him.

"Damn it," he muttered, leaning over to lay his face in his hands.
All he wanted was his life back. All he wanted was the woman he
loved. And here he was in a jail cell having nearly killed someone
and the woman he loved would probably never speak to him again.

Maybe everyone was right. Maybe he never should've existed at all.
It certainly would've been easier if he weren't here.

His self pity was palpable, filling the room with a tense miasma of
misery that anyone with any degree of sensitivity could feel the
moment they came in the room. God he wanted Deanna. He wanted to
talk to her, to apologize, to make things right. Feeling her pain
was even worse than feeling his own. At least he could take
responsibility for the way he'd screwed up his life and try to do
better. But this...this was something he could never make right.

Feeling desperate, he tried to contact Deanna. There was no harm in
trying and maybe she would actually listen. He doubted it, but had
to try. There was nothing left for him to do.

<Deanna. Are you there? Can you hear me?>
An angry, stony silence greeted his words and he could feel her pain
and rage all the way across the ship.
To his surprise, she sent him a thought.
<How could you?>
<I'm...I'm sorry. I wanted to hurt him, Deanna. I found out that
he'd asked you to marry him and I just lost it. It hurt so much that
I wanted to hurt back. I wanted to hurt him. I never meant to hurt
you in the process.>
Silence again. This time he could feel the tears coming, could sense
her shaking as she sobbed.
<Why? Do you hate me this much that you would hurt me this badly,
Thomas? What have I ever done to you except love Will? I can't help
having feelings for you both, but I shouldn't be punished for it!>
He sighed, and pinched the top of his nose, feeling his own tears
coming. <Oh Dee, baby, you're right. You shouldn't. We've put you
right in the middle of this. I'm so sorry. I just, well dammit, I
just wanted you back that's all. I wanted you to be with me, not
<Well, you've got part of your wish, Tom. I'm not with him. He's
broken the engagement. The only problem is, you're not going to get
the other part of that wish....after this...I could never be close
to you again.>

Something inside of him died then and he felt one of his rages
coming on, helpless, out of control, passionate rage, filling his
mind and heart, making him long to destroy anything and everything
in his path. He didn't send anything futher to her. Instead he shut
down the connection and blocked her from reading his thoughts.

The pain was too much. He had to do something or he was going to go
crazy. At the very edge of despair, it dawned on him that he still
had a plan. He'd decided against it after being with Deanna, but
now...well it was his only hope. And if it didn't work out the way
he planned, he wouldn't have lost anything anyway. He'd obviously
already lost her.

He just hoped that someday what he was going to do would bring her
back to him.

Tomorrow he'd be leaving. And yet it would solve nothing. She and
Will would remain aboard this ship, serving together as they always
had. Only now there would be a painful hatred in the air, an angry
distrust that would color Will's every word to her. "I've been so
selfish, Will. I'm sorry, my Imzadi. My love. I wish you could
forgive me."
<And I wish you hadn't slept with Tom>
Deanna jumped, never expecting Will to send to her. She'd only been
thinking outloud, but apparently their bond was as strong as ever.
She wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not.
<Will, I'm sorry. I miss you. I know I've ruined everything. But
please, come talk to me. We've gotten through so many things before,
we can get through this too>
His pain was a living thing, heating the very thoughts that he sent
to her and she wanted to reach out and hold him so badly, but knew,
of course, she would not be welcome.
<I don't know if we can, Deanna. You have no idea how this feels. I
trusted you. I gave you everything I had. And you betrayed me.>
<You're right.>
<Can you at least tell me why?>
She sighed. He would never, ever understand. But she'd already lost
him, there was no harm in telling him everything.

<I don't know if I can explain this, Will or if you could ever
understand. But, even though you and I regained something wonderful,
built something new, I always regretted losing what we had when we
first met. I always fantasized about that young man, about that
young woman I used to be, and I wished that I could go back and have
that young, new relationship with you all over again. For whatever
reason, Tom...well...he brings to life that young man you used to be
for me. When I'm with him I feel like that young girl, I feel like
there's another chance for her. For them. I suppose I still wanted a
taste of that old relationship, even though what I've got in the
present with you is wonderful.> She realized what she'd said, and
that she didn't have anything anymore. But the relationship had been
so good and so strong, she wasn't ready to let it go yet. Maybe Will
wasn't either.

He was quiet for a long while and at first she thought he'd broken
the connection between them. Then he finally spoke in her thoughts
again. <Deanna, I love you. So much. And I can even almost
understand what you're saying. Don't you think I'd like to go back
too? If there were a time machine aboard this ship I would take you
and get in it, go back to Betazed and never leave you this time. We
would get married, go on the Potemkin, have our twenties together as
man and wife, the way it should have been. But we can't do that. All
we have is right now. Well, all we had was now, anyway.>
<I've ruined things between us for good, haven't I, Will?>
<I don't know. All I know is that I'm hurting and I want to kill Tom
for the second time in as many weeks, and I don't know what to do.>
<Nor do I, Imzadi. But I know that I love you and that what happened
was a mistake. Caring for Tom is one thing, but what I did was
wrong. I'm committed to you and yet I've taken your trust in me and
thrown it away. All so that I could recapture some fantasy of my
youth. I am so sorry, Will. More sorry than I can ever say.>

He was quiet again, but this time she felt the anger lessening
slightly. The connection was so strong it was almost as if he were
in the room with her, and to her delight she could feel his love
pulsing through the bond that drew them together.
<I need time, Deanna. But I still love you. Maybe after Tom
is...gone...we can talk.>
<Oh Imzadi, I'd like that>
<I have to go. Time for my shift. But we'll talk soon, all right?>
<Yes. Whenever you say, Will. I'll be waiting>

With that, he broke the connection, and Deanna felt a flickering of
hope through the veils of pain that covered them both. Maybe there
was still a chance. Maybe her moment of lustful insanity hadn't
ruined the precious relationship she'd built so carefully with her
Imzadi. Her best friend.

It was good that Thomas was leaving tomorrow. Whatever happened, for
whatever reason, it had nearly cost her what she had with Will and
for that reason alone, it was not worth it. She couldn't go back in
time, and no amount of wishing could make it so. She had to let Tom
go and focus on a future with Will, if he still wanted to build that
future with her.

Sighing softly, she went to get dressed for the day. She wasn't
quite ready to see patients, but at least she could go over case
files and type up some reports on the computer.

She showered, dressed, fixed her hair, and then swigged down two
large mugs of hot chocolate. Then she sat at her computer and began
to work. A few minutes into her first set of notes, a headache
began behind her left eye. She massaged the area, and continued
working, not giving it much thought. But an hour later, the
headache returned and this time was worse, almost migraine-like in
its intensity.

Rising she headed for the bathroom, hoping to find some painkillers,
but the medicine chest was nearly empty. She shrugged her shoulders
and decided to get some from Bev later, once she was finished

Walking back to her dining table, she felt her head throb again, and
this time tiny colored spots flickered before her eyes. The room
felt like it was starting to spin, and she grabbed the back of the
chair, taking it with her as she fell to the floor in a dead faint.


Part 13

Somehow Will made it through his shift. He was grateful that nothing
earth-shattering had happened for the crew to deal with, he had
enough to think about as it was. He spent most of the time staring
out the huge viewscreen at the stars, wondering why everything had
to fall apart just as things were going so well.

The Captain kept staring at him, which didn't improve his mood and
longed to turn around and shout, "What are you looking at?!" Of
course he didn't. He couldn't. He cared about Jean Luc and would
never treat him that way. But God knew he wanted to yell at someone,
something. If he didn't get moving and do something soon he was
going to implode.

When the shift finally changed, he nodded to the arriving crew and
then stormed off the bridge, walking briskly down the corridor,
trying to get rid of the violent tension that he carried. He knew
what he wanted to do. He wanted to head straight to the brig, lock
the doors using his security code, drop the shield and beat the
living shit out of Thomas. Well why not? He wasn't exactly concerned
about Deanna's feelings at the moment, given what had happened. And
Tom certainly had no compunction about hurting him....

He smiled. Yes, he would would get rid of his fury by taking it out
on the one person who deserved it. He just hoped that if he came
stumbling out of the brig with a dead body thrown over his shoulder
that the Captain wouldnt' be too upset.

Taking the turbolift down a few levels, he walked briskly into the
brig and told the ensign on duty to leave. Then he stood in front of
Tom, staring at the oh-so familiar face, and felt his fingers fairly
itch with the urge to kill. "Security lock, Riker Alpha 2-7-5-2.
Engage." The locks fell into place and no one could get in here
even if they wanted to. Well, the Captain had his codes, that was
true, but he was the only one and it wasn't likely he'd come down
here and check up on him.

No. He was alone with Tom, just as he wanted to be. Will found
himself amused to see that Tom was looking a bit peaked around the
eyes, a bit pale. Scared, even. Oh, yes, this was going to be fun.
"I'm sure you've been wondering when I was going to pay you a visit.
Well, I'm here now. Get up off your ass, "brother", we're going to
play a little game."
Tom quailed a bit, looking nothing like the cocky, dangerous man
who'd fought Will on the holodeck. Then he rallied, standing up,
knowing he could take Will on in a heart beat.

Calling for the shield to come down, Will then grabbed Thomas by the
shoulders and threw him to the ground. He jumped on top of him, his
hands wrapping around his neck, his fury building as he pictured
what happened in this cell room with Tom and Deanna. "You son of a
bitch. You fucking son of a bitch!"
"No chance. You deserve to die you pissant. How could you do this?
To me, to her? Did you just plan on coming on our ship and fucking
with both of our lives? What did you say to her to get her to sleep
with you? What sob story did you hand her in order to get in her
Tom tried to speak but Will's hands were tight around his throat.
"Then what was it like? I'll tell you what it was like. You were
lonely and felt like getting laid. Deanna feels sorry for you
because you're a part of me, a man she loves. You give her a little
song and dance about how you've always loved her, she drops her
panties. Am I right?"
"No! I love Deanna! I'd never use her like that!"
"Well I love her too, and I've decided that I can't wait until you
get off this ship tomorrow. You're leaving now, buddy."

Will let every emotion come blazing fully to life, holding nothing
back. His deep love for Deanna, his aching pain at her betrayal, his
white-hot hatred for Thomas. All of it blended into a blazing fire,
filling his mind until he could see nothing but Tom's face on the
floor, until he could feel nothing but the urge to kill. His large
hands tightened around Tom's throat, and he shook him by the neck,
banging his head against the concrete floor.

"I hate you. God dammit I hate you. I wish you'd never come here.
She's mine, do you understand? Mine!!!!" He was screaming now,
completely out of control, and beneath him Tom struggled for breath,
his eyes rolled back in his head and he nearly lost consciousness.

Then, right at the pinnacle of Will's fury, his Comm badge beeped.
"Oh Christ." He didn't want to answer it, didn't want anything but
Tom's untimely demise. But he was trained well, and the part of him
that was Starfleet backed away from Thomas. Standing there sweating,
swearing, breathing heavily, he slapped the communicator.
"Riker here"
"Will! It's Beverly. Come to sick bay immediately!"
"What? What's happened?"
"It's Deanna. Come now. Please."
"On my way."

He and Tom looked at each other and Tom went for the door. Will
grabbed him and pushed him back towards his cell. "You're not going
"But I have to see if she's all right."
"I'm sure someone will let you know later. Now get in there or so
help me God..." His blue eyes were blazing dark indigo and the look
on his face would've cowed even the bravest warrior.
"All right, all right. Just have someone let me know. Okay?"
Will nodded, pushed him in the cell, and set the force field up
again. Then he went running for sick bay as though his legs were on

Deanna lay on a bio-bed in a blue hospital gown, covered to the
waist with with a soft white blanket. She was conscious, and Bev was
standing by with the tri-corder, taking her readings.
"Well, Dee, aside from scaring the hell out of us, I think you're
going to be all right. But you have to know...this isn't going to be
Deanna's large black eyes widened. "What do you mean. What happened
to me? What do I have?"
Bev sighed, knowing that she'd better tell Deanna before Will
arrived. The last thing she wanted to do was to give her this news
in front of him. "Deanna honey, you're going to have a baby."
"I said, you're going to have a baby."
"But...I just...I mean...there hasnt' been time for a pregnancy!"
"So you had a cycle last month, right?"
"Have you had it for this month yet?"
"And you made love with both Will and Tom, right?"
Deanna flushed, embarassed. "Y-yes."
"Well then as shocking as it might seem, it IS possible. Granted,
pregnancies are not usually able to be diagnosed this quickly,
especially for a Betazoid. I would think a month or two months would
be the norm."
" is it possible that it's evident already?"
Bev shook her head. "I'm not sure. The only thing I can think of is
that whatever the transporter accident did to Will and Tom when it
created two of them, well, it must have effected their reproductive
systems as well. Your baby is probably only a few days old, and yet
you're showing all the signs of a woman who's nearly two months
along. I've never seen this before, Deanna, but I'm going to do all
of the research I can to find out more. In the meantime, I want you
to stay right here for a day or two so I can keep an eye on you."

Deanna nodded, then layed back against the pillow, in shock. A baby?
But she had an inhibitor! Granted they weren't 100%, but pretty
close. How could this have happened?
Swallowing hard, she reached for Bev's hand. "I have to ask you
something, Beverly. Is it...I mean...can you tell if..." she broke
off, not wanting to ask because she didn't want to know the answer.
"If you're asking whose baby it is, I honestly don't know. That's
going to have to be part of my research too. Given that Tom and Will
are identical at the cellular level, I'm not sure it's possible to
say whose it is."
"Oh Gods..." Deanna looked completely dejected. Her life had gone
from being joyous and full of plans to being empty and lifeless.
There was no guarantee that Will would forgive her and try to repair
their relationship, and Tom was going to be gone tomorrow. She would
be alone. She and What on earth was she going to do?

Before she could sink any further into misery, the doors to sickbay
flew open and Will came flying in. "Is she okay? Where is she? What
Bev guided him to Deanna's bed and he looked down at her with fear
in his eyes, wondering what had happened. "Deanna. Are you all
right? Are you sick? What happened?"
"Dee, I'm going to file a few reports in the office. Just hit your
comm badge if you need me, okay?"
Deanna nodded and Bev walked out of the room, giving them privacy.

"I'm here, Deanna. I'm right here. Now, what happened?"
"I...I had a splitting headache this morning and fainted in my
cabin. The next thing I knew I was here, in sickbay. Bev must've
tracked me down when she didnt' hear from me."
"Are you all right? Does she know what caused this?"
Oh boy. Here we go, she thought miserably. Clearing her throat, she
looking into his eyes and murmured the words softly, "I'm pregnant."
His brows lifted and she could see just a hint of a glimmer in his
eyes. Then he must've remembered her tryst with Thomas because right
away the light went out and he was all business.
"You heard me."
"But that's not possible. I mean, you're on an inhibitor."
"I know but they're not 100% effective. The oddest thing about this
is that it's apparently only a few days along. The pregnancy
shouldn't be able to show up on tests this early."
"What does Bev say about that?"
"Well...she's not sure. Given that I with both
you and Thomas..." she broke off, embarassed, then began again,
unable to look him in the eye,"it's possible that something from
your transporter accident all of those years ago had created
something in this fetus, something that's made it unlike other

He looked thoughtful. Part of him wanting to hold her and tell her
it would be okay, the other part wanting to know if this surprise
baby could possibly be Tom's. Finally, he took her hand in his and
squeezed it. "Deanna, does she know if...?"
She shook her head. "No, I'm afraid not. Bev's doing research right
now to see if it's possible to determine which of you is the father.
But it may take time."
"God. I just can't believe this."
"Neither can I."

They looked at each other intently, Deanna's eyes filled with regret
and silent apologies, Will's filled with pain and a love so strong
he couldn't hold it back. "God, Deanna...I love you. I love you so
much." He fell into a chair beside her bio bed and leaned across
her, feeling his eyes fill with tears.
She reached to stroke his hair, and said softly, "I love you too,
Will. I always have."
"I don't want to lose you. What are we going to do?"
"Oh, Imzadi, I don't know. All I know is that I don't want to lose
you either. Can you think you will ever be able to forgive
me? To trust me again?"
He looked up from his pillow on her tummy and his eyes were flooded
with tears. "I don't know. I want to. God knows I do. I'm...willing
to try. But you've got to understand that I'll need time to get over
this. It won't happen over night."
"Of course not. Just knowing that you love me...that there may be a's all I need, Will."

He lay on her a bit longer, just relishing the feel of her soft body
and her gentle hands in his hair, then he got to his feet and leaned
over her, kissing her on the mouth, running his hands through her
long, black curls. They hugged tightly, and he whispered, "I don't
know how, but we're going to get through this. I know I was horrible
to you the other night, and I'm sorry. I don't hate you. I love you
as much as I ever have. I just...I just hate what you did, Deanna."
"I know, Imzadi. And I pray that you can someday forgive me for it.
That we can get past it."
"I want that too. God, I've been so angry with you, I thought I
never wanted to see you again. Then Bev called for me and I
panicked. I thought you were...I thought you were dead. That I'd
really never see you again. The idea that you were gone or seriously just reached me, Deanna, in a place that I thought had
died. In a matter of days I've gone from feeling that my life is
over, to knowing that without you, I don't even have a life. I don't
want to lose you, Deanna. And after what happened, I've been
terrified that you'd leave me for Tom. That deep down maybe you
wanted a life with him. It's been killing me."

", sweetheart. I'm not leaving. I don't ever want to leave
you. Not for Thomas or any one else. I wanted...I wanted something
that no longer exists, and I made a mistake in order to try and get
it. But it's over. There's no relationship between Tom and I. The
more I get to know him the more I realize that there never could

He sighed aloud and kissed her cheek. "I'm glad. It's taken a long
time to get you back, Deanna. To move from being your friend to your
lover. I want to be your husband now, to take the next step, and I
don't want anyone getting in the way of that."
She smiled. "You still want to marry me, Imzadi?"
His eyes pricked with sudden tears, loving the way her voice sounded
when she called him that. "Yes. I do. I still need time...but I know
that I want you to be my wife. That hasn't changed."

Reaching into his pocket, Will found the diamond ring he had so
lovingly created, and pulled it out. Looking into her eyes, he got
down on one knee beside the bed, and slid the ring onto her finger,
back where it belonged. "I think I need to ask you again, Deanna.
Will you marry me?"
"Oh Gods. Yes! Of course!" She burst into tears, and for the first
time all week they were happy tears. She reached up to hug him and
when Beverly came back into the room moments later, she grinned
widely and clapped her hands.
"You've made up! I'm so glad. Do you know how worried I've been
about the two of you?"
They chuckled and smiled at her, then motioned her over for a hug.

When they all broke apart again, Beverly smiled at them and said,
"I think I may have some good news. Not that you need it."
"What is it, did you find something already?"
"Well, I have a ways to go with this stuff, but I can tell you this
much. That transporter accident that created two Wills...well if
what I've just read is correct, it should have left its mark on one
or both of you. If I can scan your DNA and Tom's, I may be able to
tell you who the father of the baby is."
Will looked at Deanna intently. "Do you want to do this, Deanna?"
"Yes. But only because I think it will put your mind at ease."
"Okay, Bev, let's do it."

She nodded, went to grab the tricorder, then scanned him, taking an
imprint of his DNA signature. She already had one from the fetus, so
all that was needed was Tom's contribution. "I'll leave you two
alone for a few minutes. There's just one more part of this equation
I have to take care of." They nodded at her, and looked at each
other, wondering what to say.

"Will...if...if it turns out that the baby is Tom's...will you be
able to handle that?"
His handsome face turned stony for a minute, then he forced himself
to nod. "I admit, it'll be hard at first, but I'm sure once I see a
little baby that looks just like you...well, I have a feeling I'll
forget all about Tom."
They hugged again, Deanna feeling blessed with a second chance, Will
feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of sudden fatherhood.

Before they broke apart, Bev came walking swiftly back into sick
bay, and looked at them both. "I'll just run this test and we'll
know in a few minutes, all right?"

They nodded, and then sat silently together, wondering what the news
was going to be and how they were going to deal with it.


Part 14

Tom was surprised to see the Captain at the doors of the brig,
staring in at him with an almost loath-filled intensity. The great
man walked into the room with a rather stiff bearing, more stiff
than usual due to the fact that he was attempting to control his
anger toward his prisoner. "Mr. Riker, our ship has just entered
Earth's orbit. I have come to inform you that you may take one of
our shuttles for your journey. I expect you to be off my ship within
the hour."

So much for emotional goodbyes. Oh well. He couldn't blame the
Captain. He was attached to Will, the other Will, and was not a fan
of Tom's by any stretch of the imagination, especially after the
things he'd just pulled while on his ship.
"Thank you, sir."

Picard nodded, tugged down his bluish-grey uniform top and began to
march out of the room. Then, he thought better of it and turned back
around, looking Thomas straight in the eye. "Before I leave I have
something I want to say to you, Mr. Riker."
Tom sighed inwardly. "What is it?"
"Firstly, you have created chaos aboard this ship since you've
arrived. And not the for the first time. While I sympathise with
your situation, with everything you've been through these past
several years, I cannot tolerate your coming aboard and trying to
kill one of my crew members. Nor can I tolerate the emotional storms
you've generated by placing yourself squarely in the middle of
Commander Riker and Deanna Troi. Granted, your personal lives are
none of my affair, but, when two of my best crew members lose their
ability to function in a professional manner, their work does not
get done. This ship ran fairly smoothly before you arrived, Thomas,
and I expect it will do so again once you have left. What I am
getting at, is this: Wherever you go in this universe, is your
concern. But you are no longer welcome aboard my ship. Is that

Tom grimaced. He had liked the Captain. Respected him. Even on
occasion wished he could serve under him. The man's obviously
negative opinion of him was painful to hear. But he had earned it,
hadn't he? And so instead of instigating an arguement, he swallowed
his pride and pain and nodded stiffly. "Understood, Captain."
"Good. Now, on a more personal note I want to say something to you.
This is between us and will never go further." He began to pace the
room, hands behind his back, bald head glistening in the overhead
lights. "I've had the chance to encounter my own duplicate. It was a
long time ago, but I've never forgotten it. Granted, he was not he
result of a transporter accident, but of a timeline cross. Still, it
was eerie and uncanny to meet the man, to meet "myself" that way.
And instinctively, I disliked him. Hated him on sight. So I can
understand how you and Will must feel about one another."

Tom's brows rose and his eyes widened. He had no idea the Captain
had ever been through anything like this. He was certain he and he
alone had to share the universe with another like himself. In
amazement, he kept quiet and continued to listen.

"Here's what I am getting at, Mr. Riker. When I encountered my
double, I felt very angry, as though my own place in the universe
had been taken over, stolen, if you will. What I failed to realize
until many months later was that he felt the same way. I know that
you think everyone on board this ship feels you are a mere copy of
the man they know and care for. But I am not among them. Although I
am not thrilled with your conduct, I can respect your feelings
because I have shared them. What if that other Picard came on this
ship and wanted to take over? What would I do? How would I deal
with that feeling of displacement? I honestly can't tell you. And so
I want you to know that I feel for your situation. You are in every
respect Will Riker, albeit with different memories and different
experiences. And yet everywhere you turn, everyone treats you as
though you weren't real somehow."

Tom nodded, once again amazed to have another person understand his

"Thomas, I am going to say this only once and I hope to God you hear
me. You are a clever, brilliant man, able to do anything you wish in
this life. Don't throw it away because Will's life seems more
attractive to you right now."

He nodded. Picard was right. He'd done nothing but waste time since
his rescue, especially since breaking out of prison. He'd done
nothing but mark time, and the emptiness of his life spoke volumes
about how he'd spent it. It was time to build something instead of
destroying it...he knew that now.

"Thank you sir. What you've said, it means more than you know. And I
am ready to build a new life. I'm tired of just existing..."

"I'm glad to hear you say that. Now, I have to get back to the
bridge, but Ensign Cragen will escort you to your shuttle. If you
have any goodbyes you wish to say, I would say them now."

"Thank you, I will."

"And one last thing, Thomas..."


"If I were you, I'd get some help for that anger of yours. I had to
do something like that myself after the Borg assimliated me, and
although I hated every second of it, I came out of it a new man. I
think maybe you'd benefit from the same sort of therapy."

"I'll give it some thought sir. And, thanks. Thanks for caring."

"You're welcome." Nodding, Picard turned and left the brig, leaving
Thomas with a new mixture of emotions. If the Captain cared enough
about him to share his experiences and to offer advice, maybe Tom
wasn't such a bad guy after all. Maybe it wasnt' going to be that
hard to build a new life.

Still, memories of Deanna burned inside his mind and he knew he
couldn't let her go. Not after the other day. She'd loved him and
wanted him every bit as much as he had her. How could he leave her

Not wanting to attract attention around the ship by calling her on
her comm badge, he sent his thoughts in her direction:

<Deanna...Deanna I'm leaving soon>
<Tom. I...I don't know what to say>
<I know. You don't have to say anything. I just wanted you to know,
thats all>
<Be safe, all right? You'll be in my thoughts>
<And you in mine. Always>

Tom started to break off the connection, then felt a strong flicker
of emotion from Deanna. <What is it? What's wrong?>
<Nothing, Thomas. Will's here with me. I can't...block him and speak
to you at the same time. It's painful and dangerous>
<I understand. Can you come down here and say goodbye to me in
<I'm afraid not. I'm in sick bay and likely will be here for several
<Sickbay! Are you okay? Are you injured?>
<No, nothing like that. Bev says I'm going to be fine, there's
nothing for you to worry about>
Damn. Something was up and she wouldn't tell him. What the heck was
going on? If he could get Will out of there then he could stop by
sickbay before he left the ship, just to make sure she was all right.

Looking at the ensign on duty by the desk, he smiled. <I'll see you
soon, Deanna.>
<All right.> She broke the connection and then he was alone again.

Rising from his seat he asked the ensign to lower the force field
and stepped out of his cell. Taking the young man by the shoulder,
he said, "I need you to get hold of Commander Riker right away for
me. I don't have a comm badge and have no way to reach him. Have him
meet me in shuttle bay 2 on the double."
The scared-looking teen shook his blonde head and muttered, "Sure. I
mean, yes sir. Right away sir."

Tom smiled as the boy called for Will, then when enough time had
elapsed for the Commander to have left sickbay, he headed down there
like a shot, wondering what had happened to his Imzadi.


Part 15

Tom fairly fell on his ass as he burst through the doors to sickbay,
speeding around the corner like a race car driver. Once he got
through the doors, he straightened his dark blue shirt and black
slacks, smoothed his hair and walked toward the back of the room
where he could see Deanna lying on a bio-bed alone.

She looked up and was shocked to see him. "Thomas!"
"I couldn't leave without seeing you again, Deanna."
She looked at him and a mixture of emotions played across her
beautiful face. There was a flicker of love, then sadness, then
anger, and then something like painful acceptance. Without planning
on it, she reached for his hand and he took it, squeezing it
"Deanna, can you ever forgive me?"
Her dark eyes held his and she blinked back tears. "I don't know. I
mean...I've done nothing but think about what happened, and even
though I've been furious with you, I can understand your side of
things. I made love with you and told you I loved you, then accepted
Will's ring. That must've really hurt you."
"You have no idea. I knew that you were together, that I was an
interloper, but I never stopped loving you and after you were
intimate with me, I thought maybe that meant you were able to shed
your life with Will and be with me. I shouldn't have made
assumptions..." His hair hung over his brow like a young boy's and
his eyes were full of pain. Not for the first time, Deanna felt
herself drawn to him, wanting to take him him into her arms. But
this time she resisted.

"We both made mistakes, Tom. And for what it's worth, I never meant
to hurt you. Not for a moment. I care too much for you to do that."
"I didn't mean to hurt you either. You're a part of me. You always
will be. I love you, Deanna. Believe it or not, despite my actions,
I do love you."
"I know. And I love you."
"Tell me something...if Will didn't exist, or was involved with
someone else, would you have considered a relationship with me?"
She smiled. "What do you think?"
He chuckled. "I think you're using your counseling techniques on me,
and doing it pretty well too."
"You're right. I suppose you do deserve an answer. The truth is,
yes, I probably would, Tom. But, and I mean this with all of my
heart, you would have had to have gotten help for your rages. I
couldn't be with a man that I'd have to be afraid of. I just
wouldn't live that way."
"I understand. And I don't blame you. Although I meant it when I
said I'd never hurt you."
"I know. I feel you're telling the truth about that. But
much as I care for you, I love Will too and I want to marry him. Can
you understand?"

He couldn't, and didn't, but had to pretend to for her sake. "Of
course. As long as you try to understand that you and I will always
be Imzadi in my my heart."
"I know."

"All right, now that we've gotten that out of the way, are you going
to tell me what you're doing here?"
Her eyes widened and she nearly panicked. Would Tom still be willing
to leave the ship if he knew about the baby? Well, much as she'd
like to hide it from him, he could access her thoughts...might as
well tell him the truth and hope that he'd understand why he had to

"Tom...I'm going to have a baby."
"You're what?"
"I'm pregnant."
"Really? Does Will know? How far along are you?"
"Yes Will knows, I just told him. As far as the age of the fetus,
well, it's a few days actually."

Tom wrinkled his brow and looked confused. "Say that again? I mean,
I didn't think you could detect a humanoid pregnancy until the
second month."
"Normally, that's true. Especially in women who are Betazoid. But,
this is...well...different."
"How so?"
She took a deep breath and squeezed his hand again. "It's different
because of the accident that split you and Will apart. Beverly is
trying to find out more information, but as far as we know that
accident did something to each of your reproductive genes. Something
that made this pregnancy easy to detect after only a handful of

He was in shock. A baby. A few days along? That could be
his. "Deanna, are you saying that the baby is mine?"
"I don't know, Tom. You see, I was...well...intimate with Commander
Riker this week as well. We aren't sure which of you is the father."

As he digested this, Beverly came out of her office and was
smiling. "I have news. Do you want to know who the father of your
baby is?"
At the very same moment, Tom said, "Yes!" and Deanna cried out, "No!"
Beverly cocked an eyebrow, looked into Deanna's eyes, and finally
realized it was not Will sitting there beside her.

"Tom. I didn't realize you were here," she muttered inanely.
"Hello Beverly. Deanna was just telling me the news. Since this does
concern me I'd like to hear your test results if you don't mind."
Looking at Deanna for confirmation, she then nodded. "All right.
Deanna, um, it looks as if the baby's father is Will."

Deanna beamed, relieved, while Tom glowered at the news. "Beverly, I
how can you tell? I mean, if he and I are identical..."
"I know. I thought the same thing in the beginning. But it seems
that after looking at your DNA and Will's, there is a slight change
in the strands, probably stemming from the transporter accident.
Simply put, the change is evident in Will's DNA and the baby's, but
not in yours."

He wasn't sure what to say. It was another nail in the coffin. He
wasn't expecting anything like this kind of news, but he wished that
if it had to come, that the baby could've at least been his. This
was just one more thing for Will to take away from him and it was
the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.

Almost unable to control himself, he looked down at Deanna and
muttered a hasty goodbye, then walked briskly out of the room before
he did something stupid like bust up the joint or burst into a round
of unmanly tears.


Part 16

She'd hurt him again. Not on purpose, but the news about the baby
was shattering to his ego, she could feel it. Why had she allowed
herself to get close to him again, only to hurt him as well as

Closing her eyes, she thought about the night she'd been with Tom,
and flushed all the way to her toes. She'd have done anything not to
lose Will, and especially, to undo the hurt she'd caused him. But in
her secret heart of hearts, she could not regret making love with
Thomas. It would be like regretting being intimate with Will. It had
felt as natural and "right" as being with Will had, and she knew
without a doubt that if Thomas had a reason to stay aboard this
ship, she would probably find herself in his arms again, despite her
good intentions. Despite nearly losing Will for good.

Even though Tom was halfway across the ship, she could still feel
his anger and his pain. She hoped he wouldn't run into Will. If
those two came together again she had a feeling that only one of
them would be left standing.

"All because of me. Because I can't turn off these damned feelings
of mine, because I am capable of loving them both. Why can't I just
hate Tom and be done with it?"

"Because you're an empath, my friend. And that means you can feel
whatever Tom is feeling. You feel sorry for him and that keeps your
other feelings very much alive." Beverly had walked into the room
and heard her talking to herself, and Deanna blushed in embarassment.

"Is that your professional opinion, Doctor?" she teased, trying to
lighten the moment.
"Absolutely. Now, what are you doing sitting here berating yourself
for? Let it go...for your sake, for Tom's sake and for Will's sake,
let it go."
"I'll try."
"Good girl. Now, you'll be happy to know that you can return to your
quarters in the morning. Everything looks stable."
"What about the headache I experienced? I've never had anything like
that before."
"Well, some women do get migraines when they're newly pregnant, it
isn't unheard of. I'll give you a hypospray to take with you in case
another one crops up, but if they get out of hand or are very
frequent I expect you to get your butt back her, pronto."
Deanna laughed and saluted her. "Yes sir!"
"Well, I have a dinner date with a certain Captain of ours, so I'm
going to leave you now. Will you be all right for a few hours?"
"I'm not dying, Bev, I'm only having a baby."
"I know, I know. But I worry. Will you call me if you need me?"
"The very second, I promise."
"Okay. Goodnight, my friend. I'll see you in the morning."
"Night Bev."

Left alone with her thoughts, Deanna lay back on the pillows and
finally allowed the news to really sink in. A baby! And thank the
Gods it was Will's! Despite the hellish time they'd given each
other, they were still going to be married and now they were going
to be parents. It all seemed almost too good to be true. The truth
was, Deanna felt though she'd gotten what she wanted and
had not quite had to pay the price for it.

She almost wished that Will was still not speaking to her, that he
hated her. His loving concern earlier was almost painful to accept.
Maybe because she knew, deep down, that if he had not found out
about Tom...well, she probably would've seen him again.

Sighing, she closed her eyes and tried to sleep. But both men
haunted her, their much-loved faces all too clear inside of her
mind's eye. What would it be like if she COULD have them both? If
they accepted each other instead of hating each other? It was
ridiculous to even think about and she knew it. But, she also knew
that she would go to her grave wishing it were so.

Breathing deeply, she slowly moved from awareness to that fuzzy
stage that precedes sleep, floating on a sea of memories and dreams,
fantasies and wishes, and then just before she was finally in the
land of Nod, she felt whiskers on her face and a familiar mouth upon
her lips.

It had to be a dream. It was a dream, after all, Tom was long-gone
by now. A lucid dream, how amusing! She realized that if she was
dreaming than it wouldn't hurt to kiss Thomas, to enjoy his kissing
her. It was only make-believe anyway.

Surrendering herself to his kiss, she felt his hands move along her
body, across her full bosom, baring her breasts as he untied the
hospital gown. The hand moved to her tummy, caressing it, as though
caressing the child within her womb, and then made its way even
futher downwards. Her hips moved involuntarily, as Tom touched her
in this very-vivid dream, and she reveled in the feel of him. Their
mouths continued to softly, warmly surround each other, as his hand
continued to warm the area between her legs. Then, he gently lay
himself on top of her.

She opened her body for him, and he slid between her legs, taking
himself in hand, sliding a painfully hard erection into her
beautiful body. She gasped-for a dream it felt so real! And then she
was riding on waves of pleasure, feeling him in her arms, smelling
his erotic scent, hearing his thoughts as if they were her very own.

<I love you so much, Deanna.>
<I love you too, Tom. I can't help it.>

He smiled above her, then leaned to kiss her again, as his body sped
up the pace above hers. They made love for what seemed like hours,
fast, then slow, then somewhere in that magical place in between,
finding a perfect pattern that suited them both. Soon, all too soon,
her body was throbbing with excitment and she clung to him, moving
harder against him. He sped up his loving assault on her, taking
everything she had and giving her himself completely.

The bed shook beneath her, and she was biting her lip, trying to
keep the sounds of her passion inside. Then as Tom was whispering
something in her ear, something lovely and erotic and wild, she
came, exploding with the power that only love and lust combined can
bring. He soon followed, grasping her curls in his hand, covering
her mouth with his, then burying his face in her neck saying her
name over and over and over again.

When it was over, she opened her eyes, assuming that the dream had
ended and she was coming awake again. Instead, she found that Thomas
was really and truly with her. That she had really just had sex with
him again. "Oh Gods. It wasn't a dream. You're really here."
"I had to be with you. I can't stay away. I love you, Deanna."
The look on her face was one of shock mixed with streams of desire,
and they both realized that they hadn't sated their appetite for one
another at all.

"I need you. I want you. Please...let me have you again. Be with me
again. This time I want you to know it's not a dream."
She leaned up carefully, took him into her arms, and sighed
deeply. "I love you. I can't stop thinking about you. I don't want
you to go. I don't want to lose him, Tom, but I dont' want to lose
you either..."

There was nothing for him to say, words were not what was needed. No
matter what they'd all gone through, no matter how she felt about
Will, Tom didn't care. Right now, in the middle of the night in this
secret place, she was his. And if everything went well, Will was
locked in the shuttlebay and would be til morning. That gave them
time. Plenty of time. Laying her down again, he leaned to kiss her
neck, her breasts, her belly, finally kissing her in the most
intimate place of all. She cried out, taking his head in her hands
and lay there in blissful silence as he worked his tongue all over
her most sensitive spot.

When she was on the verge of another orgasm, she gently pulled his
head up and whispered, "My turn."
Then she had him sit while she leaned down towards him, taking him
into her mouth. His head snapped back. It felt so good. He never
thought he'd get to be with her like this again, but he really never
thought she'd do this for him. Her mouth was so hot, her hands so
soft, it was like drowning in a sea of liquid arousal. He nearly
exploded as soon as her tongue swirled around his head, but held
back. He wanted, needed to be inside of her for that moment.

For now, he closed his eyes and let her take him over and over again
into the sweet warmth of her mouth. And when she felt his body begin
to shake, she knelt over him, sliding herself down on his shaft,
facing him. Wrapping her arms around him, she moved up and down,
taking him inside of her, pulling back so that he was nearly out
again, then sliding all the way down again. It drove him crazy it
felt so good, and the position incredibly pleasurable for her as
well. She could grind her clitoris against his pelvic bone while he
kissed and suckled her was Heavenly.

They rode each other like cowboys on wildy bucking horses, making up
for all the years they'd been apart. Making up for the fact that the
only relationship they could have now was this...

Finally, their bodies quickened, their moans combined into one long,
lovely howl and they were bursting into the stratosphere together,
their orgasms as perfectly timed as though they'd been

Holding each other tightly, they let their bodies cool off, then
they diengaged, and dressed quickly, in case Bev decided to check up
on Deanna. She lay back on the bed, watching Thomas get dressed, and
and then reached for him again. He lay on the bed next to her and
held her tightly, completely surprised at what he had done, that she
had accepted it and enjoyed it. "Deanna..."
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have come back. But I couldn't leave you
"I know. The truth is I wanted it too, so much so that when you came
in I assumed I was dreaming about you."
He smiled. "Was it a good dream?"
"Oh yes."
"I'm glad."
"I just wish..."
"What do you wish, Imzadi?"
"I wish that you didn't have to go. That somehow we could
"I know. But that can never happen.You know how he feels about me."
"You're right. Still...oh never mind. It doesn't matter."
"Anything you feel matters to me, Deanna. What were you going to
"Well, you won't like it any more than Will would, but...well, part
of me wishes I could have you both."

He stiffened, and then relaxed. After all, she'd been intimate with
Will since he'd been with her and it wasn't getting in the way of
them being together right now....sharing her wasn't what he had in
mind but it was better than not having her at all.

"I think I understand. Not that I like it, but I can understand.
Somehow I doubt that HE would though."
"Ummm...I know. I think you're alot more tolerant than Will would
be. Anyway, it's a moot point. You'll be going and he and I will be
here..." she broke off, not knowing what to say.
"I wish you could come with me. I'm going to miss you so much."
"So will I."

Their mouths met again and they held each other tightly, knowing
that the moment to part was all too close at hand. "Deanna, do me a
favor, will you?"
"If ever something should happen with you and Will, if you're ever
alone and want to see me, will you get in touch?"
"Of course I will. Do you know where you'll be going yet? Do you
have a number where I can reach you?"
"Not yet, but once I do, I'll send you a communique."
She nodded, then lay her head on his shoulder, feeling overwhelmed
all over again by her conflicting emotions. Then, she sensed
something that made her sit upright, knocking the sheet off of both
of them. "Tom...I...I sense Will. He's on his way here. You'd better
go. Now."
"Shit!" He jumped up, made sure his pants were done up, and started
for the door. "No, no, he's out there. Hide. In Beverly's office."

He ran for it, shutting the door behind him, darkening the lights as
he crouched down behind Bev's desk. Then the doors to sickbay opened
and a very angry-looking Will Riker stepped through them.

"Will! Where have you been?"
"I've been locked in shuttle bay 2 for the past few hours. It seems
Tom decided to have a little joke at my expense."
"Oh Gods. Are you all right?"
"Yes but when I find him, he's not going to be."
"Don't. Please. Just let him go and stop this. I'm tired of the two
of you being at each other's throats. I just can't deal with it
right now."

Remembering the baby, his expression softened. "I'm sorry, Imzadi.
We've put you between us from the moment he came aboard. Are you all
right? I mean, any symptoms, headaches, anything?"
"I'm fine. Nothing has happened since that episode in my quarters.
In fact, Bev says I can get out of here in the morning."
"I'm glad. Do you want me to stay here with you tonight? Keep you
Oh boy. She shook her head. "It's not necessary, Imzadi. I love you
but I need to get some sleep and I know that you're switching to day
shift tomorrow. You need some sleep too and not on this narrow bio-
He grinned, then came closer, leaning in for a kiss. "Okay. But call
me if you need me. I'll come running."
"I know you will. I love you."
"I love you too. I'll see you as soon as I can get away tomorrow,
They kissed and then Will left, leaving Deanna to heave a huge sigh
of relief.

"Thank Gods!" Tom heard her and crept out of Bev's office, coming
back to stand beside Deanna's bed. "Christ, I thought he'd never
"I know what you mean. I was terrified he'd hear you in there."
"Well, at least he didn't come by a few minutes earlier."
They shared a look that spoke volumes. If Will had caught them,
there would be no second chance. That much was certain.

"Tom, you'd better go before he comes looking for you. I don't want
the two of you getting into it again."
"I know. It's just hard to leave you. But I'll go. Luckily my little
plan worked and I got Will out of my way for a couple hours. I can't
complain." He grinned and even though she felt terrible for Will,
she was sort of glad Tom's plan had worked out.

"I'll get in touch when I get settled, okay? That is, if you still
want me to."
"Yes, please do. I...I'm not sure what to say. This is harder than I
thought it would be."
"I know. Let's just say "see you later" because I will see you
again, Deanna. I don't know how or when but I will. I love you."
"I love you too."

They shared a kiss and then he forced himself to leave, headed for a
life he didn't want, headed away from the only thing that mattered
to him. A little voice in his head whispered, "There was another
plan, you know. You could still do it..." But he cared about her too
much. He had to leave, anything else was out of the question.

As he walked into the shuttle bay, he was surprised to find Will
there, sitting in the pilot's seat of the Hawking.
"What are you doing here?"
"Good question. Let's just say that after you locked me in here I
realized I can't trust you. Not that I ever could. Anyway, I've
decided to escort you to Earth myself. Just to make sure you
actually go."
"That's not necessary. I am a big boy and I can get there by
"I'm sure you can. But knowing how you feel about Deanna, somehow I
doubt you'd actually go through with it."
"Look, she needs you right now. She's carrying your baby, remember?
I think you should be with her now. I swear on Mom's grave that I'm
going to Earth. Straight to Alaska, in fact. The old cabin's waiting
for me and I have a feeling I'm going to like living there again."

Will narrowed his eyes. He still didn't trust Thomas, but he did
want to stay with Deanna. Maybe...just maybe...he should let him go
alone. After debating long and hard with himself, he knew he
couldn't leave her now. If something happened to her or the baby and
he was gone, he'd never forgive himself. And he was pretty sure Tom
knew that very well. "All right. I'm going to stay, but only for her
sake. Now go. And I don't ever want to see you again, you

Tom nodded, then jumped into the shuttle. Leaning his head out one
last time, he said, "Take good care of her." And then he was
shooting out into the sky, through the stars, on his way home.


Part 17

Will looked so angelic lying beside her in their bed. Deanna watched
him and felt such love fill her heart, her soul, felt the strings
that bound them to each other move invisibly in the air, drawing her
towards his sleeping figure even closer. She wrapped her arms
around his back, slid one hand around his waist and just reveled in
the comfort being close to him brought.

They were close again. Now that Thomas was gone they'd had a chance
to move beyond what had happened and Will was as loving and trusting
as he'd ever been. Well, that was almost true. Once in awhile she
caught him looking at her with something different in his eyes, a
sort of questioning..... But that happened less and less and even
though he'd probably never completely forget what had happened, the
important thing was, he'd forgiven her. Looking at the ring on her
finger she smiled, feeling such relief and joy that Will wasn't lost
to her. Unfortunately, although the wedding was on again, they were
going to have to postpone it. In the morning, Will was shipping out
for the Argolis sector and would be gone for at least six weeks.

They thought of having a quickie wedding, but Lwaxana's long,
frantic communique the night before had ensured that would not
happen. She "couldn't possibly" make it to the Enterprise by then,
and of course she went on to list all the reasons why. By the time
Deanna ended the call she was exhausted and as usual, gave into her
Mother's demands. In the end, she and Will would travel to Betazed
for a Lwaxana-planned wedding, with all the Enterprise crew in tow.
They'd just have to wait until Will's assignment was finished,
that's all.

Deanna sighed and slid closer to her Imzadi, breathing in the scent
of him, enjoying the feel of his large body beside her. "How could
I have ever chanced losing this?" she thought softly, closing her
eyes, relaxing into him.
<I hear you, sweetheart....and just so you know you're never going
to lose me.>
<Gods Will I thought you were asleep!>
He chuckled mentally. <Well I was until you started sending me all
of that stuff about your Mother and our wedding. By the time that
was over I was wide awake. It's impossible to sleep once Lwaxana
arrives on the scene.>
Deanna laughed softly. <Well I'm sorry to wake you, Will. Go back to
sleep, I'll stop sending, promise.>

He rolled over then, and his gorgeous blue eyes caressed her face
with a rather loving look. "Actually, since I'm awake, there's
something else I'd much rather do than sleep..."
Deanna felt a wild flutter at the base of her throat as her pulse
throbbed against her skin. Gods. After all these years, he still
could set her heart on fire. Not to mention, her body. When he
looked at her this way, it was the most intense combination of love
and lust that she'd ever known. Her body wanted him, of course, but
it was more than that. He held her heart in his hands, gave her
that special feeling of being cherished and needed, being special
and wanted. He made her feel like no one ever had and she hoped that
it was the same for him.

<Of course it is. Now come her, Imzadi> he sent, giving her a wicked
look as he slid out of his blue pajama bottoms.
<I'm coming, Will.>
He laughed out loud as he pulled her into his arms. "No, you're not.
Not yet. But you will be."
She slapped him playfully, and then he slid her lavender panties
from her bottom, exposed her full breasts from beneath their silken
camisole cage, and got busy pleasuring her.

Lying on top of her, he pinned her to the bed with his hands, then
nuzzled his whiskered way down her cheeks, her neck, nibbling and
kissing that area very softly. His mouth moved to her breasts then,
kissing the silken fullness, then capturing each nipple before
sucking like a newborn baby. Deanna's eyes fell closed and she
began to relax, feeling the sensations stir throughout her body,
reveling in the feel of his mouth all over her torso.

He moved downwards, kissing her belly, kissing their child in a way,
then tonguing her belly button as he continued his descent. She
watched him, her dark eyes filling with emotion and desire, and her
elegant fingers wound their way through his thick, dark hair, gently
guiding him downwards, downwards.... Finally he was directly above
her most secret, sensitive place, his warm mouth eager to capture
her clitoris...and then he felt her push him gently down and he
obeyed, sliding wetness against wetness, taking every part of her
that he could.

She moaned softly, her head lying backwards against the pillows, and
was soon sliding in and out of his silken-hot mouth, losing herself
in the was like riding an elusive, bucking horse,
one that she couldn't get control of. Will was so good at this,
first slow and methodical, then fast and wild, then back again,
changing up the rhythm just when she thought she'd gotten used to
it. Finally, when she knew it was going to come, she held him in
place, begging him silently to keep the same pace, to not change a
thing. He did as she asked, knowing instantly what she wanted, and
began a constant pattern of circles around her aching clit. When
her bottom started to buck, he flicked his tongue up and down, over
and over, again and again, finally bringing her to a crashing,
thunderous release. "Gods, yes! Will!! I...I...Oh Gods!"

Her voice, lost in passion, was music to his ears and he stayed
close as the shudders died down and her body finally relaxed. Then
he kissed her ivory thighs, and leaned up on one elbow to look at
her beautiful face, flushed and sweaty but still perfect.
"Was it good for you?" he teased.
"You know damned well it was!" she teased right back, reaching for
He lay on top of her and began kissing her neck. "You are so sexy
when you come, you know that?"
"Mmmm and you are so sexy while making me come, Commander."
"Commander hmmm? Are we back to ranks now, "old friend"?"
"Absolutely. After all I'm not Mrs. Riker yet and therefore you're
not Mr. Riker either. This is the 24th century you know."

He smiled at her. She looked so cute laying there naked, teasing him
with her prim school-teacher voice. It reminded him sweetly of
Betazed, about twenty years before. "You're adorable you know that?"
"I know. Now why don't you get up here and make love to me?"
"I want know I do. But I don't want to hurt the baby."
She laughed and rolled her eyes. "Oh Gods. Is that why you just gave
me, um, "oral pleasure"?"
"Well yeah. I want you Deanna but I dont' want to hurt the baby for
"You are something else, Commander Riker. Now come up here I want to
feel you inside of me."
"Are you sure it's okay?"
She nodded, reaching for him. "I talked to Bev about this and it's
fine. I won't have to stop making love with you until at least the
ninth month!"
"Whoo-hoo! Hot damn. Now I know why I fell in love with a Betazoid!
Those ten month pregnancies are something else!"
"You! Come here!"

He did, and as he leaned over her, they kissed. Deeply and sweetly.
Then, with as much love as throbbing passion, he slid himself inside
of her and began to ride.......