By Carol Sandford


Chapter 09


They retraced their steps back to the gazebo. To anyone else's eye, they looked like any other courting couple as they walked along with their hands linked. But to the trained eye, anyone could see the stiff shoulders, and the reluctant pulling of her hand in his, the shadows of doubt in their eyes as they warily threw side-glances at each other as they tried to gauge each others feelings.

Even though their pace was slow and leisurely, the tension between them garnered feelings of urgency. Will tried to stealthily look at the woman beside him, but every time he did so, she caught him. She seemed to be so attuned to him, that it momentarily startled him. Was this part of the Imzadi legacy she had bestowed upon him? he wondered. Every thought that I had, or every look, she would know about, or feel?

Will began to feel uneasy again. Trapped, and he felt his throat and his heart constrict; squeeze tighter against the sudden threat of losing his soul and his sanity to something he didn't understand. But then he reasoned with his warring mind that she did try to stop him. She did try and fight against becoming - whatever it is they've become! He felt himself looking sideways again, only this time when his eyes met hers, it was with understanding. She was aware of his inner chaos, and knew she was the one to cause it. But was she able to allay it?

He was scared stupid, Deanna thought, as she caught him looking over at her again. She saw him frown when her eyes had met his and she quickly surmised that he thought it was part of the Imzadi gift that they now possessed. In truth, it was simply because Deanna hadn't taken her eyes off him, not even for a second.

They had made love together. They'd had the most beautiful experience bequeathed to man, and woman, and they had become Imzadi. Reluctant Imzadi. Deanna wanted - needed to know if their union had meant as much to him as it had to her, and the only way to do that was to relive it. Relive the love. Relive the moment when his body entered hers.

A warmth stole through her as she filled her mind with him again, letting the image of them making love tumble through her thoughts, and it brought a tender smile to her lips. Will turned his head to look at her again and she felt his gaze bore through her as his own mind begin to see what she saw. Deanna held on to the image, letting it transcend into his, watching the memory visibly shake him to his core.

Time stopped. Everything stopped. Their feet. Their hearts. Their breathing, as they stood and absorbed the intimate moment between them. Will's eyes glistened with hunger as the strange dream-like moment filled his senses. He turned his body towards her, his eyes never leaving hers as they both rode the wave again, its culmination releasing the breath in their lungs on a whoosh.

Sounds of the night began again as Will studied the small woman before him as she looked up into his face. "Is that what it is going to be like for us, from now on?" he asked, his questioning voice husky with emotion, and desire.

Her barely inaudible, "Yes," slipped from between her lips. Deanna didn't apologise for it, she didn't see the point, or the need. It had happened. It was done. Will was her Imzadi now, and he was just going to have to get used to it. But what Deanna wanted in her heart was for Will to accept it and embrace it, even possibly become her Imzadi, in every sense that the endearment meant, but first she had to explain her actions, and what she had bestowed upon him, and hope that he didn't end up hating her for it.

They took the last few steps to the gazebo and sank down together onto its softness. All of a sudden, a shyness crept in between them, and for a long moment neither one knew what to say. But Will had so many questions racing around his head, he had to get the ball rolling.

He studied her fingers, still entwined with his, marvelling the cascade of colours on her long, slender opalesce painted nails as the moonlight glinted on them. "Did you know this was going to happen..." he broke off, raising his eyes briefly to hers before adding, "to us?" Deep in the corners of his soul, a feeling that whatever had happened to them had been special and was not an every day occurrence. He still wasn't sure if he had been blessed or cursed and was becoming tremendously uneasy. It was gnawing away at his gut not knowing,

Deanna licked her overly dry lips, the movement releasing her even drier tongue, allowing her to speak. "My...mother warned me that it might happen, but I thought I could control it. I failed. I'm sorry." she trailed off, suddenly embarrassed again.

"Your mother!?" Will said, his voice rising with surprise, "Your mother knows that we we're...we've...?"

She nodded, "Of course. She is one of the most powerful telepaths on the planet, Will. I don't like that she knows absolutely everything that happens with me, but sometimes it can be a blessing not having to explain myself, or my actions, because she always invariably knows,"

And then she added sadly, "and sometimes I wish she'd leave my head in peace."

She didn't have to add, 'like now.' it was written all over her face; failure. Her head hung low, covering her forlorn features, and Will had no choice but to watch the crown of her head as he waited for her to continue. Deanna had failed in keeping Will out of her soul and knew that her mother knew. And she knew that her mother knew that the union hadn't gone well. True, destiny had been fulfilled, but at what cost? An overwhelming feeling of loss washed over her and Will felt its impact sweep through him too.

Deanna rose her eyes to his, but now they shimmered with moisture. His resolve to not succumb to her feminine wiles until she had revealed her secrets melted along with his heart when he saw her struggling with her pain and realised that this was as hard for her as it was for him. Moments later his arms moved towards her, and with a muttered, "Come here," he pulled her onto his lap.

She sank against his chest and let the relief pour from her as he cradled her in his large arms. He felt her voice rumble through his chest, "I'm sorry, Will. I never meant for this to happen. I know how important your career is to you, and I'm not going to hold you back just because of what's happened."

"But what has happened? Tell me, Deanna, so that I can understand." Will pleaded, quietly.

Okay, here goes, Deanna thought silently, and she took a deep breath. "On my planet, love..." she hesitated. The word 'love' seemed to be too strong for the moment and she tried to think of another one better suited, but couldn't, so she continued, "love between two people has become something of an extension of the spoken word."

She glanced briefly into his shadowed face, comforted by the intensity that held it rapt as she spoke, so she continued once she'd settled her cheek against the huge barrel of his chest, the heartbeat within it, solid and even. "Sometimes, people - lovers, are privileged to experience this extra level of the emotion. They go beyond the simplistic level of love that most people know."

"What happened to us tonight was beyond love. We became Imzadi because our feelings for each other are deeper than normal."

Once more she sat up higher, her face just a few scant inches away from his, her eyes studied his, beseeching him to look further than what he saw. "Will, can't you feel that what we have is more than you've ever felt before?"

Will's fingers stung with pain, linked together at her waist, holding her onto his lap. He did feel different, but he had never experienced the concept of love before. He had never been in love, so he wasn't quite sure that what he was feeling was love or magic, because the moment of intimacy that they had just shared had been magic. He'd felt like he was floating. He'd felt connected, to her. He'd felt...good.



"Yes," he whispered, "Yes, I feel it, but I don't understand what it means from now on, Deanna. What now?"

She turned her head away from him long enough in the vain attempt to hide the pain that her one word created, "Nothing." before re-claiming her heart, her voice, and her traitorous eyes to face him again, "Nothing. I'll live my life, and you'll live yours." she ended sadly.

Suddenly Will's eyes glittered with humorous malice and his voice dripped with venom as he spoke, "Oh, no, no, no, Deanna. It is not quite that simple, is it?" he growled, "I feel connected to you. I bet if I walked away from you now, inside my head, I would hear you call me back. When I leave this planet, you'll be coming with me, maybe not in person, but you'll still be with me, won't you, Deanna?"

He knew the moment he'd hurt her when he watched the tears well in her eyes when he said that he was leaving, but up until that moment he hadn't realised why it was going to cause her so much pain. He'd been arrogant enough to know that Deanna had probably fallen in love with him, and if he was totally honest with himself, he'd fallen for her. But she'd known, as he did, that he was going to leave Betazed, but until now, Will had thought that maybe he'd be leaving behind just a broken heart. Now he knew different. He would be leaving his own soul behind, too.

Her throat tightened around the words that wanted to come out, so she simply nodded, the movement releasing a tear. Will watched it trickled down her soft cheek, automatically reaching his hand up and brushing it away with his thumb. Tucking strands of wayward curls behind her ear, Will murmured, "Will that be so bad?"

Deanna didn't realise he had spoken until his silence was so obviously waiting for an answer. She was so rapt with losing herself in his sea-blue eyes, heavy with need and tenderness that she forgot everything except watching him. And then suddenly his question filtered through the fog, "Will what be so bad?"

Will rolled his eyes, and a half indulgent smile lifted his lips, but he soon turned serious again, "Will it be so bad if I take a little piece of you with me when I go?" he asked, a touch of hope lacing his words, as inch by inch pulling her slowly towards his waiting mouth, and as her lips settled against his, he heard her breathy, barely audible whisper of, "No, it won't be so bad, Imzadi."

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