By Carol Sandford


Chapter 46


Will held his breath as Deanna slowly walked towards him, steadily holding her eyes as he estimated that it would take her eight steps to reach him. By three he felt rather than saw the men around him begin to fade into the background, acknowledging the approaching woman in silence, retreating even quieter away from the intimate union about to happen. The party was over, in more ways than one. Will knew that, and they knew that. But not as clearly as the woman heading his way.

Deanna couldn?t move her eyes away from Will?s as she slowly walked to him, hoping, praying that the audience surrounding him would take the hint and leave. They read her mind as one by one, they vanished as though a force had locked on and beamed them away from the couple. One minute they were there, the next, gone, their footsteps fading away along with the echoes that followed them through the metallic structure.

Deanna came to a stop before Will, her breath catching in her throat as she devoured his very essence as it swirled around them. Slowly, she lifted her palm and settled it upon his chest and as she did, Will?s eyes broke away from hers and dropped them to her mouth, triggering a memory that skittered a powerful surge of desire that stirred his loins enough to force his face to lift to the heavens and gasp for the breath that she stole away from him as she touched him and felt his body react violently to the intimate caress.

Will wanted her, even more than his next breath, he realized. He wanted her so much that in that instant, that moment, he almost threw away everything he was fighting for, just to have her beneath him once more. Just to feel the way he had felt when they had first made love. God, just to, feel

But he couldn?t, he wouldn?t, but he had to do something, something that would transcend them somewhere other than where they were now; at the abyss of loneliness. The intelligent, sensible thing to have done right then was to have walked away. It was madness, to prolong the agony, but God help him, he couldn?t step away from her, not yet. He still wasn?t ready, just as Deanna wasn?t.

As Will moved his own hand to cover hers, he dropped his gaze back to eyes, holding it as he rose his other hand and ran his thumb along her lower lip, cupping her jaw tenderly as he lost himself to the moment. Her mouth parted and her dark eyes, heavy with passion, struggled to remain focused. Futily she gave up the fight and let them drift shut as Will continued his torturous assault on her lips, wishing with all her heart that it was his mouth that was tormenting her.

She could feel his breath upon her face, amazed that the simplistic movements upon her mouth, the caress of his hand upon hers could be so erotic. She was melting inside. She wanted more, more than his touch, more than his thoughts that rushed through her, making her aching and wanton.

Will?s ferocious need was holding on by a thread, along with her own. It was pointless trying to hold off the inevitable. Why should they? They were adults. After tomorrow, the chances of them meeting again were so remote that it clawed at Deanna?s soul.

But this was goodbye, a goodbye that couldn?t be uttered. A goodbye that had to be said in a different way. And it had to be this way, for both of them.

Will hovered close to Deanna?s mouth, absorbing her breath as she reached her face up to him, his own quickening with anticipation. With each breath that slipped past her lips he felt her heartbeat accelerate beneath his fingertips. Turning his hand, Will covered her breast. Immediately it begged to be caressed, pushing into his heated palm. Deanna?s desire pooled low in her belly, making her burn and squirm against him. She was on fire.

The sizzling currents between her and Will were so potent they were nearly visible. The suggestive heat in his eyes burned through, making her bask in a glow that, at the point, she really shouldn?t be feeling. But she couldn?t help herself. It was always like this for her when Will touched her, the knowledge hurting even more to know that it wasn?t going to happen for them again.

He was about to leave her, damn it! But before he went, Deanna was going to remind him what he was leaving behind. The hunger for his kiss increased, but with it came the pain, the pain that started as hunger and was now, when she least wanted it, turning to a feeling that ate at her heart.

Oh, God, she thought, desperately, God, not now, please...not now But despite her silent pleas, Deanna felt the pain that she had pushed away slowly emerge from places that she?d forgotten about, probably deliberately, if she were honest with herself.

Will saw the pain fill Deanna?s eyes. She was like fire and ice. A moment ago he felt her need, letting it heat his own growing ache to devour the woman in his arms. But just when he was sure their lips were about to collide and set them both aflame, a bolt of sorrow consumed him, he saw it in her eyes, heard in the gasp that left her lungs.

Not now! Will moaned silently. They had to fight the all-consuming terror that fought to take them both over. Just for a short while, that was all they needed. Just a little while longer. Just long enough to give them a memory worth holding in their hearts. Pulling her hard against his body, crushing her tiny hand against his solid chest, he held her gaze. Kiss me he ordered with his eyes. Don?t talk, just kiss me goodbye, Deanna

As though he were tormenting her, Deanna gamely reached up and pressed her lips to his, and with it came release; the dam burst within them both and as Will?s tongue swept into her open and willing mouth, Deanna?s met his half way and drowned in the deluge that overpowered their souls as they connected for the final time.

With a groan that started from his hardened loins, Will gripped her waist and hauled her up higher. With an urgency that sent his pulse racing, Deanna knotted her freed hands in his hair, twisting his head to a better angle, sweeping her tongue further into his mouth, swallowing the same groan as his heat raged higher, scalding his throat.

Suddenly, Will?s only thought now was, where. Where could her take her to make love to her? Back into his room, or the office? Nothing flat there but his desk and that was covered with abandoned paperwork. His abandoned paperwork. Tang was going to rip his ears off when he got back on his feet, he mused before shifting his frantic mind back to the matter at hand; Deanna.


Oh, God, Deanna.

Deanna felt the two changes in him as his thoughts went from highly erotic to despair in moments. For a moment she had been sure that had there been somewhere suitable that he could have taken her, both literally and figuratively, they would now have been making love, and she would have let him. She would have welcomed him.

But then something clicked and Deanna sensed it as clearly as a light being turned off. She felt it in his mind. Felt it in the way the kiss turned from carnal to desolate; a sadness invaded his soul and poured itself into her, consuming her entire body and mind too, turning desire into grief.

Stifling the sobs that began to rise, Deanna clung to Will?s shoulders as she felt him struggle, and fail, to hold onto his emotions. Will was losing himself to the grief that was taking over. It was the last thing that she wanted to happen. Deanna rationally knew, more than anything else, whether she liked it or not, that Will had to leave.

She had to end this, now, for both their sakes, before she couldn?t stop making a fool of herself, and leaving Will in a position that would undoubtable destroy their lives.

Moving her hands back down to Will?s chest as she manoeuvred her body lower until she touched the floor again, ignoring the tug on her heartstrings as Will clung onto her lips and her body as he dimly realized what she was about to do.

She tried in vain to disconnect her unwilling mouth from his as she gently pushed away from his body, but Will only held on tighter, fusing his lower limbs to hers, stretching his face to hers as she moved her own away, forcing her body to bend backwards, the end result only heightening the need of their lower bodies.

Will! She cried silently, desperately, pushing harder until at last she finally managed to tear her mouth away from his. Will stared down at her with fascination; Deanna?s lips were swollen with his kisses, her eyes swam with the tears that he had created, and she had never looked so beautiful to him. In a heartbeat, Will yanked her back towards him, fastening his mouth upon hers again, plundering it?s depths like a man about to die of thirst.

Deanna struggled for as long as the shock of his sudden movement startled her, but within moments, her arms snaked around Will?s neck and she kissed him back with as much fervour as he as whimpers of frustration mingled with the scalding tears as they squeezed from between her tightly shut eyelids. God, she didn?t want to cry, not yet, but the sadness that invaded Will?s mind now merged with her own.

A minute later when they reluctantly broke apart, it was mutual. It was as though they both, at the same time, acknowledged that it was time. Slowly they broke apart and simply stood devouring each others features, carving them into their memories for a life time.

Unsteadily, Deanna took one step back, dropping her hands into his, unwilling and unable to break that final link. In the distance, they both heard movement. The base was coming back alive again. It had let them have their time of privacy and now it was time to move on. Men were returning to their posts. Ships were firing up, preparing to leave. And they were equally conscious that Will?s was one of those waiting.

Deanna took another step back away from her soulmate. The knowledge that this was it; that this was the end, finally set free the tears that had waited a lifetime for this moment, clogging her throat as she tried to utter goodbye.

Quickly shaking his head, his own eyes brimming with carefully held back tears, Will reached up a hand and touched her lips with a trembling finger. Don?t say anything, Deanna. Don?t say the words

When Deanna took another step back, it was too far for their hands to stay linked. As they let go, they seemed to let go of the hold that had kept them locked together. Destiny had finally set them free.

Tears streamed down her cheeks as Deanna choked back the hysterical sobs that she could feel bubbling deep inside. She had to go, now before she did something stupid, like tell him that she loved him, or not to go. To stay and be her true Imzadi, in every sense of the word. But she couldn?t. She absolutely would not, even though every part of her screeched at her stupidity and her cowardness.

Spinning on her heals before her mouth could utter one damning word, Deanna quickly moved away. But she had barely taken half a dozen steps when Will mentally called to her, stopping her flee with a suddenness that caused her to sway where she stood.


Deanna dropped her head in defeat but didn?t turn, even though she wanted just one last look at him. She could hear Will?s fear as he spoke her name, scared that he would never, ever see her again, and knew she needed to let him know that she was going to be okay. But she didn?t turn. She couldn?t, nor wouldn?t. It was over. It was done, there was nothing more to say, nothing more to do.

Taking a deep breath and squaring her shoulders, Deanna spoke silently as she began to walk away, this time without stopping, the tears blurring her vision so much that only memory guided her way.

Remember what I?ve taught you. Remember me as I will always remember you, Imzadi

Ten minutes later as she walked back towards her home, Deanna pondered on how her life was going to be from now on. She knew that it would never be the same again, a man called William T Riker had made sure of that, and Destiny had secured their fates, at a terrible cost of their happiness. For now. Would they ever meet again? she wondered. Would they feel the same way about each other? Would their Imzadi endure the time apart?

In her heart, Deanna knew that it would. She?d witnessed her mother?s, even though their had been other men, and it looked like there was soon to be another to take her father?s place. But there would never be another Imzadi for her, just as there would never be another Imzadi for Deanna.

Deanna heard a ship soar into the clear blue skies above her and knew that Will was it?s pilot. Stopping, she couldn?t help herself from watching as the small craft banked and headed away from Betazed and away from her. She watched until she could no longer see him, or feel him. Taking a deep, shuddering breath, Deanna pulled her watery gaze away from the heavens and continued on, numb with a loss that she knew would stay with her until they came face to face once more.

He was gone, and now it was up to Destiny to decide when their paths would meet again, and Deanna hoped with all her broken heart and soul that it wouldn?t be too long.



Epilogue: Two weeks later...

Deanna lay back and stared up at the clear blue sky through the glass. It was as clear today as it was on the day when her love left her behind, but she didn?t see the turquoise songbird that hovered overhead as it teased a potential mate. Nor did she see the fluffy white clouds as they passed by, slowly moving time along.

One hand cupped the back of her head and the other settled lightly upon her stomach, calming the churning within. But nothing could settle her scattered thoughts, nor the longings that gripped her heart still even though Deanna came to the arboretum to specifically meditate and soothe her bruised soul.

Drawn by the peace, the solitude, and the memories that continued to haunt her, Deanna invariably ended up here, on a daily basis, in the arboretum, on the chaise longue, the same chaise longue where her intimate romance with Will had deepened beyond thought.

And it was the one place that Deanna allowed herself to remember, and grieve for what was lost, and today was to be no different. She wore the black outfit that she had said goodbye to her soul mate in. It seemed fitting and suited her mood. Today was going to be a bad day, she knew that as soon as she woke this morning after a restless night, tormented by memories of the past and visions of a future that was beyond her grasp, and when she woke and realized that nothing had transpired from her dreams and she was alone in her bed, still, Deanna wept with misery.

Very aware that she was still here, thinking about Will, and Will was still out there, somewhere, but was he still thinking about her? There had been no communication from him, no passed along messages via his comrades, nothing, nothing but an emptiness that was growing bigger in her soul by the day.

Her mother, bless her, had tried to help; told her that it would get better. That she knew what she was going through. That one day, in time, she would see her Imzadi again, she promised. But Deanna didn?t want to hear it. If it hadn?t been for her playing that stupid poker game, this whole, *thing* would never have even gotten started. If it hadn?t been for her being a Betazoid, she would have never have even had to make Imzadi part of her life, and she wouldn?t be hurting like she did now.

But she was, despite her half-hearted attempt not to take on the ancient and traditional ritual. And her mother had warned her. And she hadn?t known that Will was capable of even becoming her Imzadi. It just didn?t happen normally. It just didn?t! The chance was so remote, especially with her being only an empath, that realistically, it should *not* have happened.

But it had, and now she was going to have to deal with it.


But later, in an hour or so, when she went home and tried to carry on with her life. Right now though, she just needed time to remember, alone, and here was the best place; away from her home, away from her mother. Just away from everything but her traitorous thoughts. But it was hopeless.

Will she murmured quietly, feeling the familiar ache in the pit of her stomach grow. Deanna rubbed it absently with her hand, the tiny circular movement comforting until a shard of desire bled through and stabbed lower still, creating a heat that pooled in her womb causing her to squirm. A low moan of despair slipped past her lips as Will?s features swam before her eyes, his blue eyes, alive with love, smiled down at her. The hand left her waist and raised itself unwittingly to him, reaching up towards the vision that hovered above her.

Oh, God, Will, come back

{Why do you keep doing this to yourself, Little One?}

Startled, and guilty of being caught, Deanna gasped before shooting upright, the surprise upon her face now flamed with shame instead of longing. "Mother!" she cried, "I come here to stop you from interfering in my private time. Why have you come?" she asked, spitefully, the flush turning from shame to anger. "Is it to lecture me again?"

Stepping from between the shrubbery and shadows, batting away the overhanging branches with feigned irritation, Lwaxana Troi stepped towards her daughter, ignoring the flush that coated her skin along with the indignant and insulting thoughts that ran riot through her mind.

"It?s been two weeks, darling," she said worriedly as she settled herself beside Deanna, grimacing at the slightly grubby lump of furniture that she had placed her raw silk gown upon. "I think it?s time for you to stop being silly."

Deanna blinked rapidly and disbelief raged through her at her mothers heartless comments. "Silly!" her normally low and melodious voice stepped up along with her rage. "Silly! You think that me mourning for my Imzadi that only left me two, whole, long, incredibly agonizing weeks ago, is silly?!"

Once again, Lwaxana batted away the question with a dismissive wave of her hand. "Oh, hush, Little One, anyone would think that Will had passed away the way you?ve been mooning all over the place. You haven?t, I might add, even been to see the Xerx?s to offer them any support, after all, they have just lost their daughter. Chandra is dead, you know."

Guilt swept through Deanna again when her treasured friends beautiful face filled her thoughts for a moment and she sighed with defeat and shame even though facing Chandra?s parents was possibly the last thing she wanted to do right now. But she owed them her loyalty. They had seen her born and grow into the woman that she was today. "You?re right, Mother," Deanna sighed, "I know my priorities are misplaced. I?ll go and see them tomorrow, I promise."

A long silence stretched as mother and daughter looked at one another, trying to breach the awkwardness that had never been there before. It was a new experience for them both. Oh, they had had their tiffs before, some had even escalated into full scale arguments, but this was different. This was about something that they had both been through, and still suffered for. Something that still affected their hearts, their futures. But within moments, Will flooded her thoughts again, eradicating everything but her acute loss.

"I?m sorry," Deanna murmured as unwilling tears flooded her eyes, "I...I just miss him so much."

Lwaxana melted. Slipping her arm around her much smaller daughters shoulders, she pulled her to her breast. "I know you do, Darling, I know you do. I miss him too. He was an enormous presence in the short space of time that he was here."

Long moments later, when she felt Deanna?s mind settle as she comforted her she puffed out an over-exaggerated breath of air and said, "I wish her were still here, I don?t think I?ll ever play a decent hand of poker ever again without him." she mused,"Humans are so transparent, they take all the fun out of the game. Except William, of course," she added, with pride. "Now that man knew how to play."

Pushing herself to a stand, Lwaxana wandered over to a rare rose that hung from a branch, heavy with other roses born from the same root but each blossom as different as the next. It was why it was so rare; from the deepest crimson to the palest of pink, the rose was beyond beauty. She touched one delicately, her orange nail-polish a stark contrast to the flowers own beautiful colour.

Absently, she said quietly, as she moved her face closer to take in the heavenly scent. "I?m glad you lost that game, Deanna." Deanna stayed silent, realizing that she had more to say. "Without Will," she carried on, "you would never have contemplated ever leaving Betazed."

Deanna pushed herself to a stand and moved towards her mother. "But, why? I thought that was what you wanted of me, mother; to follow in your footsteps, to become an ambassador like you. To carry on what would die otherwise if I didn?t."

Smiling sadly, Lwaxana linked her arm through Deanna?s and lead her back through the maze of fauna, away from the area that prompted unhappiness. "Darling, to become an ambassador, you must see beyond your own home. You must come to understand other cultures, other peoples way of thinking and doing in order to be as successful as I."

"But you...!"

"No, I didn?t, not until it was too late to truly appreciate what a wondrous universe lay beyond our own. Deanna," she said with wonder, "there are things out there that you would never believe could be true. There are people that will leave such a mark on your life that will go even further than friendship. You can win wars with knowledge, Deanna, but not if you stay here."

Stunned, Deanna could only stare at her mother and let her astounding words sink in, and when they did, she could only retaliate with, "But I..."

"Yes, you would, Little One. Until William came along, you had not considered that there was other worlds out there to explore. You were happy here. You would not have gone any further than your own back yard."

The silence stretched between them again. By this time, they had stepped from the glass enclosure out into the sunshine and were heading towards the college, the one place that Deanna had steadfastly avoided since that fateful day when Chandra, and others, had lost their lives.

At first, she battled against the lies that her mother revealed to her, but slowly, each lie became a truth. Deanna had been happy here, and she have never wanted to leave the security of her family, her home, her friends, or indeed her life. She thought she?d got it all within the palm of her hand. She thought her life had been mapped out quite nicely. But that was until William Riker had come along and made her see beyond herself.

As they sank onto a park bench to watch the workforce rebuilding the shattered remains of the college, Deanna turned her body towards her mother, gathering her fingers in hers as she asked. "What should I do?"

For a long moment, Lwaxana said nothing, but finally, without taking her watery eyes away from the scene ahead, she murmured, "Go after him. Don?t let him go."

"But he?s already gone, Mother." Deanna cried.

"That?s not what I mean, Deanna, and you know it." she retorted, quietly, breaking her gaze away from the disturbing sight ahead to instead turn and take in her daughters troubled features.

"Will has only gone physically, you mustn't let him leave your soul. You must go after him, Deanna. You must not let him go."

Deanna?s mind raced with elation and dread. Could she leave her life and start another? As soon as she asked herself the question, her heart gave her the answer she sought. Yes, she silently cried, joy soaring from somewhere deep inside bringing tears to her eyes. Yes, I could

Deanna sprang to her feet with excitement and Lwaxana silently moaned with dismay. "Not yet, Deanna, you can?t go after William just yet."

Deanna deflated like a punctured balloon. "But, you ..."

Wearily, Mrs. Troi pushed herself to a stand and captured Deanna?s fingers again. "Darling, you cannot just up and leave, and William is not ready for you to find him again just yet." Deanna stared at her with bewilderment, unsure why her mother was back-tracking on such a heartfelt command. "Finish your studies, Darling, and then go and hunt your man down."

Deanna chuckled at the serious expression upon her mothers face, knowing full well that she was being anything but. "Hunt him down!?" she giggled.

Lwaxana Troi nodded, letting the smile that she deliberately kept hidden erupt on her classically beautiful face. "Hunt him down, Deanna." she reiterated again before adding, "That boy owes me a poker game and he owes you a rather a lot more. No man takes on the Troi?s and get?s away with it."

Laughing, the two woman linked arms again and headed home. It wasn?t long before Deanna Troi did indeed leave her home and head for Planet Earth to start a life that would eventually lead her back into the arms of the man she loved, a bittersweet journey that she would never have even dreamed of, if it hadn?t been for Lieutenant William T Riker.



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