By Carol Sandford


Chapter 28


The hushed, terrified whispers trickled through the still dazed captives aboard the oppressive and dimly lit hold onboard the Sindareen ship. For a long time, the only sounds that could be heard besides the thrum of the engines were cries of pain and suffering. Of fear and of prayers being systematically repeated, over and over.

But eventually as time passed, when it seemed that their deaths weren't immediate, or that they weren't about to be brutalized, or raped, an uneasy calm settled over the prisoners, and they began to quietly chatter amongst themselves. Even though each and every one of them could communicate silently to each other by telepathy, somehow, the sound of their spoken words added to their calm, and Deanna was no exception.

She sat in the safe curve of Jebs arms, mostly to stave of the chills that racked her body, most of it born from terror, and some from the cold that permeated through the ship's hull as it moved further and further away from the moon's orbit and out into the depths of open space. They had no idea of their destiny, and they had no idea what fate had in store for them.

Jebs hands tenderly stroked Deanna's arms, the motion not only warming her, even though his own hands were chilled, but soothing her inner hurts. She missed her home, her friends. Chandra, her mother. But most of all, she missed Will.

"Tell me about him," he said quietly against her hair. "Tell me about this man that has captured your heart. I've heard your mother's interpretation of the infamous William Riker, but I want to hear yours. Can you tell me, Deanna?" he asked gently, but persuasively, as if knowing talking about him would help her through.

It would also remind him of a love that was long lost. Jeb would have done almost anything to feel what Deanna was feeling for her man right now. Within his own heart, his love was as powerful as hers, but without Lwaxana, without his heart's desire, that love was as hopeless as his life. But his love was too long past. Too late for him. But it wasn't too late for the woman in his embrace.

Jebediah Murser didn't care about his own worries. All he cared about in this moment was that in their most desperate moments, as he had stood and witnessed the most abominable act of his life, a voice had cried out to him. It was a voice he knew very well. A voice that he had remembered from a long time ago, a time when he was young and foolishly in love with a girl that he had no chance of ever claiming for his own. This voice, or more appropriately, the woman it belonged to, had silently pleaded with him to help her beloved daughter.

Being one of the most powerful telepaths on the planet of Betazed, Lwaxana Troi had seen in her mind, the attack on the city centre, and the college where she knew Deanna was. But worse than that, she had heard Deanna's horrific cries, and unable to break through her daughters terror, somehow, someway, Jeb had stepped into her thoughts and told her that he would take care of Deanna, no matter what. No matter how.

And so here he was, doing as he promised, for the woman he had always loved, and always silently would.

"Tell me about him," he repeated quietly, his voice thick with emotional remembrance.

Deanna trembled violently as the pain of loss swept through her soul. "I miss him, Jeb," she murmured, before pulling away far enough away to look up into his eyes, her own dark orbs filling with fresh tears as Will's love saturated her thoughts, "I need him here. I need him in my arms." her voice breaking.

Jeb hugged her close again, giving her that precious moment to gather herself together. He knew Deanna would talk, she needed the release. Needed to be reminded that not everything in the universe was sullied and bad, and sure enough, barely a minute later, he heard her soft rumblings against his chest.

"He loves me, Jeb, and I love him," she said simply. "I tried and tried not to fall in love with him because I knew that if I did, he would break my heart." She paused momentarily as the shock of her own confession, and realization of what her future held, came and forcibly smacked her across the face again.

How many times would this feeling of desolation, and betrayal haunt her. Cause her to cast aside the good for the bad. Unthinkably disregard Imzadi for sanity. Chase away happiness for unimaginable agony. Abuse destiny because of what was happening to them now. And as hard as she tried, Deanna could not avoid the thoughts. They plagued her every moment of the day, except for the few precious times that Will physically absorbed her, heart, body, mind and soul.

Jeb heard the heavy sigh leave her lungs before she said even more quietly, "But I can't let him go. I don't think I'll ever be able to let him go," Her shoulders lifted in a resigned shrug, as though stating the obvious held all the answers to her dilemma. "He's my Imzadi."

She felt Jebs chin rest on top on her head as he pondered over her words, but when he lifted it again, there was an urgent stiffening of his whole body, along with a cascading wave of uneasy silence that drifted throughout the hold. Deanna lifted questioning eyes to his, but Jeb's were staring ahead and with an air of foreboding, Deanna turned her head in the same direction.

The big Sindareen that had brought her aboard stood in the doorway, and he was looking straight at her, his menacing face that had previously been devoid of colour, was now tinged with red. He appeared to be angry, at her, and she had no idea why.

But Deanna didn't have any time to wonder what had brought the anger on because a second later he stretched his hand out, extended one long finger towards her and slowly turned it over, bending it at the knuckle.

"You," he spat, "come here."

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