By Carol Sandford


Chapter 01


The corridors of the Enterprise are a lonely place when you are waiting for something, or someone to come along, even if you aren't ready for it, or them. People pass you by and you see them frown, wondering why you are hanging around in a corridor looking as guilty as hell and as nervous as sin. As lonely as space, and rather stupid.

I know I look and feel all those and more, but I still can't bring myself to step into the turbo-lift a few feet away, knowing that when I step out of it at the other end, I am going to come face to face with Will. There is only one other person that knows about Will and I, and about how painful this meeting is going to be for me, and that, unfortunately, is my mother.

"I don't know why you are bothering, little one. You've let him go. You've told him that you didn't want to see him again. You've told him..."

On and on her voice droned in my head. I didn't need her to remind me about the foolishness of my actions. At the time, it seemed the right thing to do. At the time it was the only thing to do; telling Will to leave had been the hardest thing I had ever done. The second hardest thing I was about to endure was only a few more moments away, and that was coming face to face with Will again.

It had been my mother that had told me to let Will go. At the time, I thought it was because she didn't like him. I think she saw Will as a threat; that he was going to take me away from my home, and her.

"He's not a man that will stay, Deanna," She had told me. "He's not ready to settle down with you, so you might as well let him go. He doesn't love you enough to stay."

"He's my Imzadi, mother," I'd told her bravely. "I know that he does love me."

"He loved your body, little one," she'd said, brutally, "He did not love who you are."

"And who am I?" I'd cried with pain and with passion, hating the tears that had sprang to my eyes.

"You are my daughter, Deanna. You belong here, with me, and not out there with him." she'd added, her hand pointing to the azure skies that had blanketed Betazed, the same skies that had brought him to me.

"He would stay, if I asked him to," I'd wailed, futily hanging onto the dream that was slowly crumbling away little by little.

"No, he wouldn't." My mother had told me, saying nothing more than the truth. God, that had hurt.

No, he wouldn't have, not even for me, which is why I'd had to let him go.

She'd told me that I wasn't being fair; holding him back. Will belonged to the sky, and I belonged by her side. And besides, she'd added, he would meet someone else, out there, and I would soon be forgotten.

But I didn't stay by her side, and Will didn't meet anyone else. Barely two months after pushing him out of my life, I left Betazed and joined the Academy. I had dated some, but nothing serious, and mother had been furious, about leaving her, and for not finding another love.

"You're not even trying to replace William, are you?" She'd groused.

How could I even imagine replacing my Imzadi? My soulmate? I'd wondered, briefly. The answer was always there, before me, and within me. I simply couldn't and I couldn't comprehend why she didn't understand that, considering my life was almost duplicate to hers. I couldn't replace Will, and I wasn't even going to try. I loved him. Replace him?


"No, I'm not," I'd told her, honestly.

And she had sighed, resigned. "Alright, alright, I give in. I probably shouldn't be telling you this, but I've heard that William is to join the new flagship, the Enterprise. I can pull a few strings and get a placement for you, if you want me to, darling."

I'd grinned at her. "No thanks, mother. I think I can manage that one on my own."

And I did, and now here I was, waiting to meet the man that I had changed my entire life for. But even so, my mother's parting words still echoed in my mind. {Remember, dear, it's been two long years. Things change. He may have changed, too}

I knew I certainly had.

So, here I was, waiting in the corridor until I could not delay it any longer. Scrubbing my sweaty palms down my overly short dress and letting my psyche search out Will's presence, I finally decided it was time. Will Riker was up there, just a few floors above me, completely unaware that he was about to come face to face with his past. His Imzadi. Me.

I stepped into the turbo-lift and told the computer my destination; "Bridge." I could here the captain's voice as I exited the lift, talking to Will. And then I saw him. He hadn't spotted me yet and I was suddenly grateful for that; for allowing me that one moment of joy of seeing him again. Feeling his presence. Remembering, 'us'. But for a brief moment, I was disappointed.

He had changed. If Will had been handsome before, he was heart-stoppingly gorgeous now. Still slim, lean, dark and oozing charm. William Riker became a man I didn't know before my very eyes. A stranger, almost.

I'd wondered, despite our Imzadi bond if I would still feel the same way, or whether I'd been fooling my self into thinking that I was still deeply and crazily in love with him, even after all this time apart.

I was answered, as finally, Will spotted me and our separate worlds came to a halt and joined, just for an instant. I could hear my new captain's voice beside me but I couldn't tear my eyes away from Will's face. I wondered if he could still hear my thoughts. Even though Will was a Terran, the link between us had been so strong that he'd been able to both send and receive my thoughts.

That was why we had truly become Imzadi, and why I'd known that we'd be together again, one day. I had to know if our link was still as strong; whether I'd been wrong in following him. Whether he still wanted me. Whether he still loved me as much as I loved him.

I had to see; had to ask, just to know.

*Do you remember what I taught you, Imzadi, can you still sense my thoughts?* I silently asked.

But he didn't answer me. He heard me, but didn't answer me and I wasn't sure what to do. I watched his eyes widen with surprise and then darken with desire when he saw me, so I guessed there was something there. But what? What did I do now?

I guess I had to wait until we were face to face on our own before I could find out if we were still one. Still Imzadi, but my gut, my mind, my eyes, and my heart had already given me my answer. Soon I would have to decide which road to take; one with Will, or one without.

But not until we came face to face again. Alone.

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