By Carol Sandford


Chapter 08


"You heard her?!" she asked him with surprise.

Will nodded slowly as he fought against the anger rippling through him. "I heard."

Deanna turned back to her mother who now stood at the top of the elegant stairway, her own face etched with the same surprise that was on Deanna's. But it wasn't the same surprise that had captured Deanna, and it wasn't because Will had heard her thoughts. It was because up until that point, Lwaxana hadn't truly believed that Will had been 'the One' for her daughter. Becoming Imzadi had meant something something different for Lwaxana. Being partially telepathic took the whole relationship to another level, a level that now put them all in a dilemma, and until that moment, she hadn't believed - hadn't wanted to believe - that Will was indeed, The One.

But Will Riker had gone beyond her wildest expectations. It was unheard of; a Terran with the ability to integrate himself fully into the Betazoid way of life, if he so chose. It was no wonder Deanna had chosen him, just as she had chosen her own beloved so many years before. But even Ian hadn't had Will's ability and a sharp twinge of envy zipped through her at the knowledge.

Once again Lwaxana Troi made her way slowly down the stairs and came to stand between her daughter and her lover. Her gaze was intent as she silently studied the pair with curiosity. Will and Deanna could only watch her with unease as her eyes went from one to the other.

Eventually Deanna couldn't stand the tension any longer and blurted. "Mother...?"

Lwaxana's hand rose to silence her. "Hush up, little one." Turning her full attention to Will's face it was a long time before she spoke, but when she did, it was a shock to them both. "I was wrong to doubt you, Mr. Riker. You may go."

Deanna gasped and Will could only look to each of them with surprise. Eventually, after a long pregnant pause, it was Deanna who asked the burning question that they both wanted to ask her. "Have you gone insane?!"

The matriarch turned her aristocratic head to her. "I am not insane, Deanna, nor am I quite mad, as your boyfriend had the indecency to call me." Her eyes met his sheepish ones but he didn't miss the glint of amusement in hers. "However," she continued, "I believe you were the one at fault here, Deanna. It was you who pursued Mr. Riker, and not the other around, as I initially thought. Therefore, he is free to go. You, however, my girl, are not."

Startled, Deanna could only stare open-mouthed. "And where was I going, mother? Did you really think I was going to run away with a man that didn't even have the manners to come and say goodbye to me?"

Will cut in. "Deanna, I..."

His hand reached for her, but she moved away as hurt cascaded through her. "Dont...touch me. I don't want you to ever touch me again."

"But it was you who touched me first, Imzadi." He said with considerable pain, a pain that was as much as a surprise to him as it was to her.

Both women gasped anew as Will dared to used the endearment, but it was Lwaxana who responded first. "So you do believe she is your Imzadi?"

As Will reached for Deanna's chilled hand his eyes met her mothers. "Yes, Mrs. Troi, I do. I never had any doubt. It's only Deanna's loyalty to you that is holding us apart."

"So it's my fault now?"

Will didn't flinch under the scrutiny. "Yes, ma'am, it is."

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