Author: Michelle

Series: TNG

Part: REV: 1/1

Rating: PG-13

Codes: R/T, P/C

Summary: The story takes place immediately following "INSURRECTION". Will Deanna and Will continue what they started in that bathtub or will they play it safe and go back to being just friends? Just how far can they take their renewed feelings? And what will Beverly do now that Jean-Luc has found love in another?

Authors Notes: This was the first story that I ever wrote. It has been completely re-worked with loads of help from a very talented and dear friend. If you recall reading it the first time, you may recognize very little except the basic story. Thank you to my mentor for everything. Ian, you do work miracles – here is just one of them. To my inspiration for everything that IS Imzadi …. well, you know.

Disclaimer: As always, all disclaimers concerning the characters belonging to Paramount apply. The plot and storyline, however, belong to me. I make no profit from this work.

May 1999

Star Trek: The Next Generation

Command Decisions

by Micaela

revised heavily October-November 1999/February-March 2000


Chapter 1


First Officer’s Personal Log Stardate xxxx.xx: The Enterprise NCC-1701-E has just cleared the Briar Patch after successfully completing our mission involving the Ba’ku. I have asked Deanna to have a private dinner with me tonight here in my quarters. The metaphysic radiation caused some old feelings to resurface. I wonder how it changed her—changed our relationship … will we go forward or back. Hell, I am so confused. I think I know how I feel about her. I have found that my feelings have never changed, they were just buried until recently. I have to know what is in Deanna’s heart. Can we go back to being lovers or do we simply walk away as friends? I just don’t know….


Deanna Troi paused just outside of Commander Riker’s quarters and attempted to still her frayed nerves. As she reached to touch the announcer plate she stopped and blushed inwardly for feeling so self-conscious. She looked down and smoothed out some non-existent wrinkles from her dress. She swore silently because she knew she was late.

She had spent an inordinate amount of time trying on everything nearly in her wardrobe and had finally given up and ordered two new outfits to choose from replicated from a fashion catalog that her mother had sent her. She wore her hair back away from her face; yet cascading down her back - the way Will liked it best. God knows he had told her enough times. She smiled at the memory of him saying how it tickled his face when he kissed her neck.

Deanna shivered at that thought and took a deep breath thinking {You are acting like a love struck teenager. Come now, Deanna. This is just Will. Why are you getting so worked up over?} She knew the answer to this rhetorical question.

But that was just the point - it was Will. She sensed that tonight was an important step for both of them. She adjusted her red satin gown once more. It was strapless and form fitting with a sheer shawl draped about her arms. Sighing again, she rang the chimes.

Will met her at the door with one of his famous smiles. Deanna’s breath caught in her throat at the sight of him. He was so handsome, even more so than all those years ago on Betazed. He wore a silver blue tunic and gray woolen slacks. The tunic was opened the front just low enough to show a very sexy patch of his chest hair.

Will’s eyes lit up at the sight of this beautiful woman before him. His pulse quickened and he wondered if she could feel his blood pressure rise. He noticed how the color of her gown added a glow to her skin and made her dark eyes dance. Her hair was now accented with a few golden highlights from her time outdoors on the Ba’ku planet. Her smile was framed with luscious ruby red lips that made the heat rise up Riker’s body.

"Deanna, you look amazing. Just when I think you cannot possibly get any more beautiful, you up and surprise me."

A warm smile spread across his handsome face and he leaned in for a gentle kiss.

"Commander, there is an old earth saying that ‘flattery will get you anywhere’." {Hmmm… You might just find out how true it is tonight} (was her silent addition). She blushed, and her grinning dinner companion did not miss the hopeful twinkle in her eye.

He guided her to the table adorned with candles, flowers and wine. Great pains had been taken to pay attention to the details and it showed. All of her favorite dishes had been lovingly prepared and delightfully presented. Will pulled out her chair and when she was seated, he placed the heavy linen napkins in her lap.

She eyed him curiously and smiled. "Well, aren’t you the gallant gentleman tonight?"

"Anything for my favorite lady." An element of playfulness crept into his voice.

"Everything looks and smells wonderful, Will. I don’t know where to start."

He picked up a small stuffed shrimp and said, "How about right here?" He placed the delicacy into her opened mouth and let his finger linger on her lips for just a moment.

She closed her eyes sensually and savored the flavor of the shellfish. "Ummm, delicious."

Will took his seat across the table and picked his glass in a toast. "To tonight."

She smiled and returned the sentiment.

They continued eating in relative silence, save only for a few exchanged looks and smiles.



As their little feast came to its end, Will produced what was obviously a sinfully rich chocolate dessert which caused Deanna to roll her eyes in mock annoyance.

"Oh, Will. It looks delicious, but if I eat another bite this dress will split right down the middle."

"One can hope!" He raised his eyebrows suggestively. "You should know by now that I always have ulterior motives when it comes to you and chocolate, Counselor."

Deanna simply shook her head when a devilish grin spread across his rugged face and unable to resist, she threw a dinner napkin at him.

As Will cleared the table, Deanna took the remainder of the wine and went to the couch. She caught his attention and patted the seat next to her, indicating that he join her.

Will sat down, reaching and taking the glass from her hand. He placed the goblet on the table and then looked deeply into her eyes - searching her soul for the answers he so desperately wanted to find.

Deanna saw the seriousness of the moment etched in his face. "Will, I can sense apprehension." She took his hand in hers and rubbed it lovingly as she continued to probe. "What is on your mind?"

He sat there for a long time - fidgeting and stalling. She felt his palm grow sweaty.

"Will? .... Please talk to me. What is troubling you?" ~~Imzadi~~ She added silently.

Will had not heard her call him Imzadi out loud, but he swore he heard that word echo in his mind just then. That one simple word evoked such emotion from him. It was a word filled with such promise that he closed his eyes wistfully and leaned in close to her. Her exotic natural scent made him feel giddy and completely alive.

"Deanna, now that we are no longer under the influence of the Briar Patch, I have been rather anxious to find out how you feel about us - about the things that have happened between us recently."

He felt her clench his hand tighter as she realized that she was feeling the same as he was, and gathered his courage to continue. "I mean, I know I feel {for once in my life} (he said to himself). I was not completely sure until Geordi and I left the surface to make the transmission to Starfleet Command. I find that my feelings for you are even stronger now that we are outside of the radiation fields."

She felt her own heart begin to beat faster. Could this really be happening? After all this time?

He continued. "That was one of the few things that got me through all of it when the Son’a attacked us. Did I tell you Starfleet named that maneuver after me?"

She cocked her head in amusement.

" I am getting off track. It was then that I knew then that I could not live without you—that I was bound to you now than on Betazed. Now I know that there is nothing ... and I mean nothing more important to me than sharing the rest of my life with you."

Her eyes began to mist with love.

"Deanna. I … uh .. I need to know how you feel. Please be honest. I can keep my feelings under control and will always be your friend if that is what you want. But … "

His voice trailed off and she touched his smooth cheek with a tearful smile, silently encouraging him to continue. "Will …" She gave him a mental nudge as if urging him onward.

He had dropped his eyes to his lap. He could not look at her face while laying his feelings on the line. It was hard enough to do without looking into her lovely face, into her dark eyes.

"I … I guess I just wanted you to know what was in my heart. I know, I have hidden it for far too long because I was afraid. Imzadi …. I love you."

There! He had finally said it. Letting out a long sigh, he looked up to find that tears were spilling down over her soft cheeks.

Deanna found that her voice was gone; she could not say anything. Instead, Will heard her words in his head…

~~Oh, IMZADI. I was so afraid that it all would end when we left this system. I had no idea how I could go back to simple friendship after everything that has happened the last few days.~~

Deanna’s declaration startled Will. It had been such a long time since she had projected to him but he listened intently with his heart and soul.

Her small hands trembled from pent up emotion. Her heart was so filled with joy and relief. Her voice finally returned albeit still a bit shaky.

"Will, I have never stopped loving you. I just did not want to be in the way of your career. Oh, Will. My Imzadi!! I love you so very much."

She threw her slender arms around his neck and hugged him fiercely. The only thing he could do in response was to lean in and accept her embrace. Their lips met in a soft gentle kiss.

He pulled back momentarily to look into her dark luminous eyes. Placing sweet tender kisses on her fluttering eyelids, he whispered, "I can see myself right here - and I like it."

The final kiss of resolution was very deep and passionate. Will’s hands ran through her hair and down her neck and shoulders, causing Deanna to toss her head back in pure pleasure. No words were needed as he swept her up in his strong arms and carried her to the bedroom.


Chapter 2


Elsewhere on the ship, things were not quite so joyful. Beverly Crusher sat alone at a window table in Ten-Forward, her thoughts dwelling on Captain Picard. She was annoyed that he seemed to be so taken with the Ba’ku woman, Anij. He had seemed so happy when he was with her down on the planet. She could also hear the breaking of three hearts when they beamed back to the ship - Jean-Luc’s, Anij’s and her own. She was convinced that she had lost him forever - that much was certain.

At first, Beverly had hoped that he was just under the influence of the radiation - that it might have clouded his emotions. But at dinner earlier that evening, he had been quite distracted, even distant. All he could talk about was the virtues of Anij and her mysterious planet and he was completely oblivious to her despair. He was so enthusiastic as he recounted with joy his plans to visit the planet again on his next vacation and yet he seemed so sad that he had left her behind.

{That damned Ba’ku woman!} Beverly was in a quandary, for how could she complete with immortality? Jean-Luc did not even seem to notice that she had excused herself from the table before dessert. Morose, she took a sip of synthehol as a single tear slipped down her face.



Deanna awoke wrapped tightly in Will’s arms. She smiled broadly as she sat up and realized that this morning, it was not a dream. Thinking back though, she recalled that things had gotten a bit carried away last night and they still had much to discuss. She slipped out of the bed and put on Will’s robe as she made her way to the replicator.

She called up a cup of Colombian coffee for him and a Clovala tea for herself. Will came into the outer quarters, yawning, and found her sitting at the table sipping her hot tea. She smiled as he kissed her lightly on the head.

"Good morning, love. How do you feel on the first day of the rest of our lives together?"

She stretched luxuriously much like a cat and sighed heavily.

"A bit sore and quite tired, but wonderful. So where do we go from here?"

Will grinned devilishly and looked back at the bedroom.

"Will Riker - you are incorrigible. Drink your coffee. We do have other things to do today, you know."

He sat back in his chair and thought for a moment.

"Actually, I don’t think we have anything assigned. If I recall, we both still have a day to ourselves due to the post-mission stand down. No bridge duty for either of us. What about your patients?"

Deanna grabbed a PADD and called up her schedule. She found that all of her appointments had been canceled or rescheduled due to the uncertainty of their latest mission. Also, they were headed to Nathanson Station for a few days to repair the damage done to the ship by the Son’a. She would not have to be back in the office until they were under way once more

"I guess we’ve been outmaneuvered." she said.

"It is almost like a vacation, huh?" Will said.

"Yes, I just don’t know what I will do with myself with all of that free time. Maybe I will take up knitting." Deanna’s voiced dripped with playful sarcasm.

"We have several years to catch up on, you know."

"I know but I am due to meet Beverly in forty-five minutes for our exercise class and I have to work the kinks out that you put in last night." She grinned and then turned a bit serious. " I have a feeling that she will need someone to talk to after the way Jean- Luc was with Anij. She loves him, you know."

"I had a feeling."

"I’ve got to scoot," she said coming around and sitting on his lap.

Will placed a soft kiss on her lips and smiled seductively.

"Right now? Right this minute?"

"Well, I might have a few seconds to kill."

"Ummm. Then I guess we had better get busy."

He ran his hands around her slender waist and pulled her body against his chest. She greedily nipped at his neck as his fingers explored her arched back. His hands slid around to her front and delved inside her blouse. As he was fondling her fullness, he delicately kissed her throat.

Deanna felt her passions rise once more and was tempted to give in. But she knew Beverly was waiting. Twenty minutes later, the lovers reluctantly parted. They were both trembling with pent up desire and frustrations, bodies moist with sweat and arousal.

Deanna kissed Will’s lips once more and got up from his lap. She sighed deeply and redressed as best she could. As she was leaving to head to her quarters to change for the class, she heard Will in her head ~~Be back soon. I love you Imzadi~~. She headed off to class with a big smile on her face.



Even before she walked into the gymnasium, Deanna knew that something was definitely wrong with Beverly. The counselor had never felt such strong emotions - sadness, loss, despair - emanating from her friend. Sure enough as the doors to the gym opened, she saw Beverly wiping the tears away.

Beverly spoke first, before Deanna could even open her mouth.

"I am being so stupid, Dee. It is not like he was ever mine to lose. I just thought that maybe ... one day...," Beverly Crusher sobbed and broke down in her friend’s embrace.

Deanna did what she could to comfort her, but she understood what Beverly was feeling. For years she had sit by and watched woman after woman enter and leave Will’s life. Each time she wondered when this was the one who would take away her Imzadi forever. She and Will were finally together and she instinctively knew that this time he would not leave. Deanna could not bring herself to tell her friend of her own happiness just yet.

As Beverly’s sobbing began to subside, she pulled away from Deanna and apologized.

"Dee, I am so sorry to have gone to pieces like that. I guess I just had to get it out of my system before I had to face Jean-Luc again." Her voice was cracking through the tears.

"Don’t you dare apologize! That is what friends are for. I am just glad that I could be here for you. And if anyone can understand, it certainly is me."

A slight smile spread across the doctor’s face.

"Yeah, and just how are you and the Commander doing? You seemed quite cozy back on the Ba’ku planet."

Deanna just shrugged hoping that Bev wouldn’t pursue it any farther.

"It seems that things might be progressing, Finally! I’ll fill you in soon."

"You had better! Now I’ve got to work off some of this STRESS!!!"

Beverly got up and began stretching.

Deanna fell in beside her friend, thinking to herself, {She is trying to hide it well. I know that she does not want the Captain to pick up on her injured feelings. But true love cannot stay hidden forever}.

Deanna’s mind drifted to Will. Even at this distance, she could still sense such love and complete happiness emanating from him. It made her warm all over.

Deanna was carrying a basket containing a picnic lunch in both hands when she found Will already at the entrance to Holodeck 3. He had just finished activating his program when looked up and saw her slim form approaching. A huge grin spread across his clean-shaven face.

"Right on time. Shall we go in?"

"Please, I am starving. My session with Beverly was exhausting—in more ways than one."

He took the heavy basket from her relieving her of the burden.

"She is taking it hard, huh?"

"Yeah. I will tell you about it later. Right now I want to concentrate on you and lunch!" She winked at him suggestively.

"Well, I have a surprise for you, too."

She looked up in to his face and saw delight in his eyes.

"Oh really, Commander? I can’t wait."

He put a free arm around her and escorted her into the holodeck. Leaning in close to her, he brought the basket to his nose and sniffed appreciatively.

"Something smells great! The food isn’t half bad either."

"Oh, you!"

Deanna just smiled as she punched him on the shoulder. The archway of the holodeck door disappeared into exotic scenery. Deanna was standing in the heart of the Jalara Jungle on a mossy bank just across from the falls. She was overcome with memories of their days together on Betazed, that first time when they expressed their love for one another.

The realization hit her they had lost the chance back then to ‘do it right’. She wanted to do things differently and not want to rush. True, many years had been wasted, but they still had all the time in the universe. Now they had each other. She knew that Will Riker was the man she wanted to marry and be the father of her children; he had always been. But she also didn’t want their courtship to be a blur. She wanted to savor their renewed relationship slowly.

Deanna knew that Will would always be a romantic and thoughtful husband, but this was a special time that usually happens once, but had happened twice for them. She wanted to linger in each moment, remembering every nuance. How could she make Will understand that she wasn’t pulling away, that she simply wanted to savor this time?

She did not realize that she had been silent for so long until Will shook her arm. "Hey, you okay?"

She looked up at him and her face displayed so much emotion that it took his breath away.

"I am just perfect now that I have you again."

Will nodded and led her by the hand to a spot under a large tree by the river. They sat on the soft mossy grass with the rushing sound of the waterfalls in the background.

She sighed and sought for the right way to express her wishes. Looking down at their interlaced fingers, she began.

"Will, I need to talk about where we are headed in our relationship. I just do not know how to put my feelings into words."

He took both of her hands in his.

"Deanna, since we have become so close once again, I am find that our link is getting stronger. I can sense you - here." He touched his head and his heart. "There is no need for words. Just look in to my eyes and think about what you are feeling. I’ll understand."

Deanna forced herself to relax. She looked deep into his crystal blue eyes and she let her love and her needs about their relationship flow across the link.

When she finished, one Betazoid word sounded in her head, ~~’RaBeem’~~. He understood. Deanna breathed a sigh of relief as they shared a very intimate kiss there in the dappled shade.

Their basket food was forgotten as they satisfied their hunger in other ways.


Chapter 3


The next four months were, on the surface of things, pretty routine. The commander and counselor’s romance was a welcome relief to the senior staff who reasoned that it was about time. The couple spent most of their free time together and were seen most every night at ‘their’ table in Ten-Forward, sharing a drink or a hot fudge sundae.

Off duty, they could be seen around the ship holding hands and walking arm and arm. But they maintained a professional distance while on duty for decorum demanded it.

The crew wondered when the big announcement would be made, but Will and Deanna seemed happy just being together for now. Just when everyone had gotten used to the commander’s new, clean-shaven appearance, things changed once again.

One morning as Will was shaving, Deanna decided to take Beverly’s advice to try an experiment and she asked him to grow his beard back. After their first ‘bearded encounter’, Deanna that it felt pretty good after all.

"No more YUCK?"

"Shut up and kiss me Riker!"



Beverly seemed to have come to grips with Jean-Luc’s infatuation with Anij. It seemed that only Deanna could sense her underlying sadness when he was near.

Deanna was also concerned about the Captain. He was becoming increasingly unsettled, very distant and standoffish. He was unusually hard on the crew and especially with his senior staff. The Counselor noted that he had not been himself since their encounter with the Ba’ku.

She had tried on several occasions to speak to him about his demeanor, but he had brushed her off each time. One day about four months after the mission, he had been even worse during the weekly staff meeting. Deanna sensed his boredom with the tedious tasks that they had been assigned recently. But in his present state of mind, she was uncertain whether he would be capable of handling a crisis if such presented itself. She finally had to insist that he come to her office.

Deanna let him take the lead during the initial session. She wanted him to open up to her as he always had in the past.

Instead, she watched him pace her office, tugging at his uniform, denying that anything was wrong. Deanna finally became tired and frustrated just watching him. Eventually she had to take control of the situation and spoke.

"Captain, I sense a very deep unhappiness in you. It seems to be magnified when you see Will and me together. Do you have a problem with our relationship?"

The Captain sat down and looked at her, his face lighting up with sudden self-realization. It was simple …he missed Anij.

"Counselor, I feel suffocated within the confines of this ship. I truly enjoyed being planetside with Anij. Seeing you and Will together ... I don’t know. It seems to enhance these feelings."

"Captain, that is perfectly understandable. You long to be with her. You are only human, and a man, after all. Those emotions are to be expected."

"Counselor ... Deanna. I am sincerely happy for you and Will and you two deserve every happiness, but I suppose I am just a bit envious. I can see that I have been taking it out on the whole crew. I must apologize for my actions of late."

Deanna placed her hand on his and look at his thoughtfully.

"Captain, there is nothing to apologize for. But you cannot continue to ignore these feelings. They are affecting your ability to command. It seems to me that you have some very important personal decisions to make."

"I do have a lot to ponder. Thank you, Counselor. I think I shall return to my quarters and do some serious thinking."

"I will be here if you need me, Captain."

He touched her shoulder briefly in an unaccustomed display of friendship before leaving her office.

The next few days were difficult for Jean-Luc, but productive as he did decide on a course of action.



He contacted Starfleet Command and filed a petition for all of the shore leave that he had accumulated over the past many years, 318 days to be exact. He arranged for Will to take command of the Enterprise as Interim Captain until he was certain of his future plans.



The Enterprise would soon rendezvous with the Excalibur whose next mission would take them back into the Briar Patch. Picard had every confidence that Captain Calhoun could navigate the area without problems. It was pointless to try to send word to Anij since no transmissions could be sent or received in that area. That was one reason that Starfleet had hesitated to grant his request. Picard he would be out of touch for nearly a year. However, in the end, they decided that it was his personal choice. He was due the time off and it was up to him as to how and where to use it. Picard’s stature within Starfleet allowed him the luxury of using fleet vessels to accomplish his desires as long as it was within reason.

He had decided on a special ceremony where he would relinquish command of the Enterprise to Will, which was planned for tomorrow. The staff had insisted on a final going away party for the Captain which would take place immediately following the command hand over. They would then rendezvous with the Excalibur the following day.

Everything seemed to be in order, save one thing - Beverly.

Jean-Luc was uncertain as to how he felt about her. He knew that he would miss her company, their meals and the quiet times they spent together. But since the Ba’ku incident, she had pulled away from him. He finally wondered if she felt differently about him because of his relationship with Anij.

He would be having his final dinner with her that evening and while looked forward to it, he also dreaded it.



The quiet meal was filled with tension and when it was finally finished, Jean Luc held Beverly’s chair allowing her to rise. He then picked up their after dinner cordials and followed her to the living room area and stopped behind her, admiring the luster of her beautiful hair as she stood before the viewport watching the stars streak by. He could not know that she was struggling to control of her emotions as she desperately tried to reign in her thoughts. She felt his warmth as he came to stand behind her causing a shiver traveled through her body as she felt his breath on her neck.

Her silent thoughts were is a whirl. {I can’t do this… I can’t let him see me cry and I can’t tell him how I feel. I have got get out of here … NOW!}

Beverly turned to face him and looked into his eyes as she fought to keep her tears barely locked away.

"Jean-Luc, I will always be here for you and I am happy that you have found someone special. Take care of yourself and come back soon, okay?"

Before he could reply, she quickly hugged and kissed him good-bye. She was out the door before he knew what was happening, leaving a very confused captain in her wake.



As soon as she was in the relative safety of the corridor, the tears threatened. She literally ran back to her quarters. The emotions that had been suppressed for the past few months were about to break loose.

Beverly made to her cabin just in time as she lost the battle. She threw herself on to her bed and wept fiercely. How was she going to get through tomorrow?



In Riker’s cabin, he and Deanna were cuddling on the couch talking about all of the changes that would take place in the very near future. Will would finally be in command of the Enterprise. His promotion to Captain would be permanent pending Starfleet’s approval.

Even when Jean-Luc returned, Will would retain his rank, much the way the Spock had held the rank of Captain and yet was Kirk’s First Officer. Will smiled at the comparison.

One time his only goal was to beat Kirk’s record as the youngest Starfleet Captain in history. Now he thought he just might wind up the oldest First Officer ever.

They were still chuckling when Deanna sat up with a start.

"Dee, what is it? What’s wrong?"

"It’s Beverly, I sense that she is completely distraught. I have to go to her Will."

Will nodded. "Wasn’t she supposed to have dinner with the Captain tonight?"

Not dressed herself, Deanna tapped Will’s communicator which he had clipped to the lapel of his robe and commanded, "Computer, locate Dr. Crusher".

<Doctor Crusher is in her quarters>

"Handy thing - you being on call. Will, she needs me. I’ll be back as soon as I can. I love you."

Riker smiled as she reluctantly pushed herself away and headed into the bedroom to dress.



Deanna waited for what seemed to be endless minutes before Beverly finally answered the door chime. She immediately noticed her swollen eyes and blotchy complexion. Deanna had to force herself to control the wash of feelings emanating from her friend.

No words were needed. Beverly simply took comfort in the fact that Deanna was here and that she understood.

Excusing herself to the bathroom, Beverly washed her face while Deanna made her some chamomile tea and ordered a mild tranquilizer for the doctor.

Deanna asked gently, "Bev, do want to tell me what happened tonight?"

"Dee … I gave him up. I told him that I was happy for him and I left before he could reply. I just couldn’t look at him and keep my feelings inside…"

Deanna knew exactly what the doctor’s emotions were for the captain, but she knew it was important for Beverly to admit them to herself.

"And just how do you feel, Bev?"

Beverly’s voice cracked and her bottom lip trembled as the words poured forth.

"…I …::sniffle:: .. I ..love .. him, Dee. ::sob:: I love him so much…."

Deanna understood just what her friend was going through for she too had struggled with her hidden love for Will most of her adult life. She put her slender arms around Beverly and pulled her into a comforting embrace.



Deanna stayed and they talked for several hours. When Beverly was finally spent from the emotions that had ravaged her, she lay down on the couch. The medication and tea were taking affect and she was soon asleep.

Deanna covered her with a quilt from her bed and ordered the lights out. She secured the door and left. As Deanna walked back to Will’s quarters, she pondered just how her friend was going to make it through stress of tomorrow.


Chapter 4


Will Riker was looking as handsome as ever in his crisp dress uniform, freshly trimmed beard and a new haircut. Staring into the full-length mirror, he had to admit that he was quite dashing. The new uniform was flattering although uncomfortable. He had lost a few pounds since his reunion with Deanna. She had ‘worked it off’ of him. He smiled inwardly at the thought of her.

Today was a very important day as he would see two of his greatest wishes come true - the command the Enterprise (albeit temporarily most likely) and Deanna Troi as his fiancee.

Smiling to himself once more, he realized that in order to keep it a surprise, he would have to carefully shield his intentions from her. This would not be easy since their near telepathic bond had gotten quite strong again. He reached out to her with his mind and found her in her quarters with Beverly right now.

He went to his bureau and took out the small velvet box that he had gotten from storage earlier in the week. Opening the lid, he carefully took out the antique ring. It was a two-carat earth emerald-cut diamond set in platinum. This ring was unique and special, just like the lady that would soon wear it. It had been passed down through several generations, and had last been worn by Will’s dear mother before she died. His father, Kyle Riker had passed it on to him many years ago in hopes that someone like Deanna might someday wear it as well.

Betazed traditions did not call for outward symbols for engagement and marriage. Deanna was only half-Betazoid so he decided to follow his own earth custom concerning this matter, knowing that Deanna would both approve and appreciate the sentiment. Data had inspected and cleaned it thoroughly and now it shone as brilliantly as it did many years ago. Tonight was definitely going to be special.



"Deanna, it feels like we have been at it for hours …."

"I know, Bev. But it is Will’s big night and I want to look just right."

The two women had worked on each other’s outfits, hair, makeup and accessories until everything was acceptable for the ceremony.

Deanna stood before her oval cheval mirror and found, as she had hoped, an alluring sight. She had chosen a sweeping red and silver gown in a particular hue that she knew Will was fond of for the ceremony. The sleeveless gown had a high necked bodice that dipped to a ‘v’ just below the waist and was red velvet encrusted with hundreds of crystals and silver beadwork. From behind, all that was visible of the dress was a jeweled closure at her neck for it was then bare to the waist. Layers of sheer red chiffon flowed from her hips to just above her ankle forming a full ‘ballroom’ skirt. She thought that an appropriate description since tonight she felt as if she was dancing on air.

Just this once, she wore her hair up in order to show off the back (or lack of it) of the gown. The fastened her dark curls with antique silver crystal combs that sparkled as she tilted her head. She allowed several tendrils to fall around her face and neck.

Beverly was attempting to fasten her own gown when she decided it was a futile effort.

"Dee, can you come here and zip me up, please? I can’t quite get it?"

"Okay, suck it in …. there you go."

"Thanks. It is a little tighter and … uh .. more revealing than I originally thought."

Beverly did a pirouette as she modeled for Deanna.

"Well, Bev. That dress is certainly … alluring." Deanna teased with a raised eyebrow.

"Why should I work hard to maintain my body and never show it? I may not be able to stop Jean-Luc from leaving, but I sure intend to give him something to remember!!!"

They laughed together anticipating the Captain’s reaction. No doubt he, as well as the entire male population of the ship would appreciate the doctor’s ensemble. It was a departure from her usual choice in fashions.

She was stunning in sapphire blue that set off her eyes and hair. The dress was a simple, elegant sheath with a deep slit along the right side that accented her shapely legs. The bodice was strapless and quite low cut giving a good view of the doctor’s ‘assets’.

Deanna watched her friend put on the last of her accessories and noticed how Beverly was still a bit reserved, but determined to move on. Beverly had made the remark ‘What will be, will be’, and Deanna knew she sincerely meant it.

Besides, this was going to be a very special day Beverly’s two best friends. Will was being promoted and given command. He had also confided to her earlier that day as to his secret plans. She was so excited, but kept her emotions under control in order to keep the surprise hidden from Deanna.



Just as the ladies were making final adjustments, the door chime rang.

Seriously Deanna turned and faced her friend, trying to read her suppressed emotions.

"Bev, it’s Will. He is here to escort us to the ceremony. Are you sure that you are ready? That you will be okay?"

Beverly patted her friend on the shoulder and sighed deeply.

"I am as ready as I am ever going to be. Dee, we all have to move on. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine."

"You’re sure? I know how hard this is for you."

"Dee, forget about me and worry about Will. It is HIS day, you know."

They shared a warm embrace, grabbed their evening bags and headed for the door.



Will Riker was speechless as the two ladies when the doors to Deanna’s quarters opened. Seeing Will, Beverly raised an eyebrow upon which he patted his pocket that held the velvet box. This exchange did not go unnoticed and Deanna eyed them suspiciously.

"Is there something going on here that I need to know about?"

"All you need to know is that you are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen and that I am the luckiest man in the universe to have you beside me."

His eyes traveled down and then back up every inch of her well dressed form. When he had returned to her face and his eyes met hers, she saw a depth of love, commitment and passion, which caught her off guard. She smiled lovingly.

He proffered an escort’s arm to each of his ladies, saying, "I am going to be the envy of every man in the room when I walk in with you two exquisite creatures."

Deanna and Beverly laughed with delight as they each took hold of an arm and started down the corridor.

Beverly smiled for the first time in days.

"You always did know what to say to a lady, Will Riker! Besides, you look pretty damn good yourself !!!"

"Why I thank you, milady."

He bowed slightly to Beverly, grinned widely and then turned to Deanna.

"Well, what do you think my beautiful Imzadi?"

"Will, you have never more handsome and I love you very much."

At that she leaned into him and gave him a gentle kiss. With that done, Will guided each of his lovely ladies toward the turbolift.

The trio were greeted by a number of hushed ‘oooohs and aaaahhs’ from the crowd as they entered Ten-Forward. The crew was not accustomed to seeing the Doctor and Counselor dress in high fashion and they made their appreciation known. This made the two women simply glow in delight.

Riker felt immense pride at having his beautiful Imzadi by his side for this most important night. As he put a reassuring arm around Deanna slim waist, he smiled at her playfully and kissed the tip of her nose.

Deanna looked around and noticed how nice everyone was dressed. Data, Geordi and Barclay were quite dashing standing off to the side in their dress uniforms. All of the men had on standard full dress issue, but not the ladies.

The Captain and Commander had deemed it appropriate for all the female officers and crew to wear either uniform or formal gowns of their own choice for the occasion. They both understood well that the women enjoyed dressing up for special occasions. It seemed as if most had elected to forgo their dress uniforms and had taxed the ships clothing replication capabilities to the hilt.

Captain Picard, himself, was astounded at the beautiful gown that Beverly had chosen.

{Merde! I am reminded of what an extraordinarily beautiful woman she is. I must spend some time with her tonight.} he thought wondering at the number of times that they had approached but never crossed that threshold to true intimacy.

This train of thought was cut off when Data called him to the podium, just as the ceremony was about to start.



The change of command followed fleet protocol, which meant that everything proceeded mostly according to plan. At least it did until the rather emotional moment when Jean-Luc pinned a fourth pip to Will’s collar causing Deanna to beam with pride and then formally relinquished command of the ship and Captain William Riker accepted.

The ceremony was winding down and expressions of congratulations erupted from the crowd as Will stepped up to the podium and signaled for silence from the assembled throng. Captain Picard stepped back allowing Will to be the soul focus of the group. The room quieted.

Addressing the group, he said:

"This is your Captain speaking."

The crowd erupted in cheers and laughter.

"Okay. Quiet down." He raised both hands for calm. "You cannot imagine how long it has been that I’ve wanted to say that. But first there’s another part to this ceremony. Ship’s Counselor, Deanna Troi, front and center!"

Deanna was startled by the command but complied coming to a graceful stop in the open space before the podium.

"Many of you have noticed that the Counselor and I have become an ‘item’ as of late. What many of you do not know, however, is that once several years ago we were once to be married."

Murmurs of surprise could be heard throughout the crowd. Smiling sheepishly he continued.

"But, needless to say.... it was I that screwed it up. I thought at that time that my career was more important. Fortune has deemed that our paths cross again here aboard the Enterprise a second time, but idiot that I was, I still couldn’t express my true feelings and I did not have my priorities straight. I—we—settled for friendship for many years."

Deanna knew that he was building up to something and looked at him with a smile of complete love and admiration. She knew how difficult it was for him to admit that level of fallibility to himself, much less to the whole crew.

Will winked at her as he sensed her emotions.

"Anyway … all that has changed I am happy and relieved to say that fate has given me a third chance, one that I cannot—will not screw up. I know that nothing this universe is more important than sharing my life with Deanna Troi. I have learned that without her, I would have no life. She is my essence, my reason for living, my destiny, my future. I hope that tonight I can rectify the mistakes of youth and pride."

At that moment he stopped talking and went around the podium to stand before Deanna. Taking something from his right pocket he knelt on one knee before her and held the open presentation box before him."

"Deanna ... I love you more than I ever thought possible. I am nothing without you for you complete me. You are my soul mate ... my Imzadi. Will you do me this honor and become my wife? Deanna Troi, will you marry me?"

As he waited there on bended knee, Deanna could not speak. She covered her opened mouth with a trembling hand as tears of pure unadulterated joy fell down her cheeks. Her Imzadi had proposed. She had never allowed herself to even dream that this day would come.

She managed a very weak "yes" through the tears and held out her left hand to him allowing him to slide the ring onto her slender finger.

As Will rose to face her, he took her in his arms and kissed her deeply as their friends and colleagues erupted in a noisy bedlam of joy and applause.

No one noticed the single tear that slipped from Beverly’s eye … nor a like one from Jean-Luc’s ... or the fact that they studiously avoided looking at each other.


Chapter 5


At the post command turn-over party, Deanna was uncertain which announcement had received the most attention Will’s promotion or their engagement.

After she recovered from the thrill of the moment, she turned and confronted her smiling friend sitting next to her.

"Beverly Crusher! Just how long have you known and just how did you keep it from me?"

"I learned of it only this morning. And believe me - it was not easy hiding a secret like that from an empath!"

"Oh you …"

"Now let me see that rock! Will wouldn’t show it to anyone beforehand."

Jean-Luc stood and tapped the ships ceremonial bell sitting on the table in front of him and raised the first to raise a toast to the happy couple the gave the bell into Will’s care.

"Ladies and gentlemen … I would like to say a few things about Will and Deanna, if I may."

The group nodded in approval.

"I am very pleased to be witness to the events of this evening. I have every confidence in your ability to command the Enterprise in my absence, Will. Just don’t let your fiancee at the helm and you should be fine."

He glanced teasingly at Deanna as the crowd chuckled at the ongoing joke of the Counselor’s part in the previous Enterprise’s demise.

Picard continued, "Seriously though, I know you will guide her with a firm and loving hand. As for your engagement, I think one phrase sums up the feelings of all present … It’s about damned time!!"

They all raised their glasses in agreement. "Here, here!" "To the happy couple!" "Best of luck!!" "To Will and Deanna!!" were the well wishes spoken aloud.

Jean-Luc congratulated Will with a fatherly embrace and kissed Deanna gently on the cheek.



Afterward, he and Beverly waited until Will and Deanna took the floor to open the after dinner dancing. As the departing captain he was obligated to be the second and as such escorted Beverly onto the dance floor and into his arms in time to the music. This signaled the rest of the partygoers to join the two couples on the dance floor. Beverly and Jean-Luc danced closely together for a number of songs but without obvious enrapturement of Will and Deanna.

No one noticed that the ‘man of the hour’ and his lovely bride-to-be had slipped out quite early. Or if anyone did notice, nothing was mentioned. After all, they had some serious private celebrating to do.

Beverly couldn’t bear the tension any longer and told Jean-Luc that she was drained by the excitement of the day. In the end they shared an emotional final farewell dance after which he offered to escort her back to her quarters. Beverly looked around and found that Will and Deanna were missing, then declined. Anyone watching would have said that Jean-Luc and Beverly were the best of friends as they kissed briefly then parted when she told him that it was unlikely that she could ‘see him off’ tomorrow feigning a full schedule. That is everyone but a puzzled Jean-Luc, who watched the lovely back of Beverly Crusher walk away from him.

However no one, including Jean-Luc himself, could see the tears streaming down her face ruining her makeup as she exited the room.



Will and Deanna returned to his quarters to begin planning their future. Deanna couldn’t help herself and kept staring at the ring, which now graced her left hand.

"It is so beautiful, Imzadi. I have never seen anything quite like it. So simple and yet so elegant, where did you find it?"

"Actually, well, it is a long story ... actually, a very long story."

Will began the tale with Great Grandfather Riker’s proposal. When he had finished recounting the ring’s special history, Deanna was once more in tears.

"You mean that it belonged to your mother? Oh, Will. I feel so honored. You knew how much I would love it, didn’t you?"

"My mother would be proud to know that I am marrying someone so dear to my heart, Imzadi. You remind me of her so much - your gentleness and your sensitivity. I feel that my heart is safe with you."

She snuggled in close to him as he continued.

"No one has loved me as much as she did until you came entered my life. You not only completed my soul, but you also filled up that empty space in my heart. Deanna, I will love you forever, for you are my Imzadi. I cannot wait for you to be my wife."

Deanna looked up at his face and saw that, in this unguarded moment, Will had tears welling up in his blue eyes.

They shared a gentle kiss and silently basked in the warmth of the moment.



A bit later, Deanna sat up with a start as she realized that they had to take care of an immediately related matter.

"Will! We have got to set a date TONIGHT! The Captain, oops...Jean-Luc (she saw Will’s eyes light up as she corrected herself) has to be here and he will be out of touch in the Briar Patch, so he has to know." She said this in one long breath without stopping.

Will sighed. "You are right, of course. Things have gone so quickly the past several days that I have not really had the time to think much the ‘big’ question. Looks like we have a lot of plans to make before morning."

Breathlessly Deanna’s whisper made it to her Imzadi’s ears.

"Yes we do ... but it will have to wait for just a bit."

She nibbled his left ear and ran her hands up his broad shoulders and slid her arms around his neck. As she encircled him in a passionate embrace, he lifted her into his arms and strode to the bed. All the while, she was looking over his shoulder and down at her hand. As the light danced in the stone of her engagement ring, tears of happiness slowly trickled down her face.

She knew that there would be no slumber for her this night. Besides all that had to be done before morning, she was afraid to go to sleep. If this was a dream she never wanted to wake up.



Deanna and Will were still recording decisions and plans on a PADD for Jean-Luc when the computer chronometer announced ‘0600 hours’. They were to rendezvous with Captain Calhoun and the Excalibur in just four hours.

The basic framework of their wedding ceremony had been laid out. They had decided on a traditional Earth ceremony with some Betazed ‘touches’.

Deanna giggled, "Mother will be happy that we have chosen a clothed ceremony."

"So will Jean-Luc. I can’t see him remaining calm and collected while completely naked … at least in public anyway."

They both chuckled at the mental images that it conjured up.

All of the difficult decisions had been made. They had chosen a date three months away. Lwaxana would need that time to arrange everything with the Houses on Betazed. They also did not want Jean-Luc to have to return (even for a brief visit) so soon after he had left. Three months sounded like a reasonable amount of time.

The easiest part had been choosing who would stand up for them - Beverly and Jean-Luc.

Deanna frowned and then looked at Will, her eyes a question.

"Will, I just thought of something. If it is the Captain of a vessel that has the authority to perform a marriage ceremony, what happens when it is the Captain himself that is getting married?"

He rubbed his bearded chin and having never researched the problem decided to take this up issue with Data. He would find the answer quickly.

Finishing his coffee, he turned to Deanna and kissed her softly.

"I am going to go talk with Data and Jean-Luc about all of this. I know that you cannot wait to put a communiqué through to Betazed. Tell ‘Mom’ that I said hello. She will just love that."

"Actually, she has wanted me married for so long, you could probably get away with calling her a Klingon targ at this point. From her point of view anything is all right with her now, as long as we make her a grandmother soon."

He saw a grin of mischief on her beautiful face as he kissed her good-bye.

"Watch it woman! That is supposed to come after the wedding. In any case, I will meet you in the transporter room at 1000 hours for the Excalibur transfer. See you then."

Both heard inside their heads ~~I love you~~ as the door hissed shut.



Data had found a subtext to a regulation that a senior officer could be commissioned by the Captain to perform he wedding ceremony and Will had asked Data to do just that. Data’s emotion chip was fully functional because he was rather wistful when he accepted.



Will informed Jean-Luc of the planned wedding date and asked him to be his best man.

"You know that I would be proud to stand for you. Nothing could keep me away. I will work out the time schedule with Captain Calhoun. He can arrange for a transport to return for me at that time. Very well, Number One..." Jean-Luc said as he caught himself. "Uh, excuse me, Captain."

At that, the two men shared an embrace that spoke loudly of their friendship and love for one another.

"Don’t worry, I’ll take good care of her until you return."

"I’m sure you will, Will. Take care of the Enterprise too." he said, smiling.

"You will be sorely missed, sir." Deanna said as Jean-Luc kissed her on the cheek. Riker stepped back and saluted Picard, as the former Captain stepped on to the transporter pad. Jean-Luc turned and returned the gesture and then gave his own last order, "ENERGIZE."


Chapter 6


It was the morning of the second day since his pickup when Captain Picard entered the Excalibur’s wardroom. He was enjoying these days with his old friend MacKenzie Calhoun while in route to the Ba’ku planet. Jean-Luc found Mac already there along with Commander Elizabeth Shelby.

"Sit Jean-Luc, I have a surprise for you. But breakfast first." he signaled his steward who served Jean-Luc then asked, "Coffee sir?"

"No, Earl Gray if you have it."

"Of course, sir."

"You have a good mess here, Captain."

"Thank you, we try. It’s important for morale."

Jean-Luc finished off the last of his breakfast then sat back.

"Okay Mac, what’s this surprise you have for me?"

"You know how small ships are affected by the metaphysic radiation. Well Starfleet approved me leaving a shuttle with you so I commissioned Burgy to redesign one for you that will be immune to the radiation of the Briar Patch."

"My own shuttle?" Jean-Luc sat back and chuckled. "Seems I can’t get away from being Captain of something."

Calhoun laughed heartily.

"Maybe it is just that I spent so much time as a freedom fighter liberating Xenex that I transferred my feeling of not wanting to be stuck on any planet without a way out."

"True, Mac. Being trapped on a planet with no way to escape is not my style either, though in this case I don’t think I will have that problem."

"I heard, Jean-Luc. Congratulations. In any case I thought that maybe you would appreciate the ‘option’ as well, my friend."

"Just make sure that you’re back here when it’s time for me to return for Will and Deanna’s wedding. But thanks, Mac. You never know when I may need transport back to the Enterprise. You might be late you know and I will not miss this wedding. It has been too long in coming. Oh.. and I’ll look up Mr. Burgoyen and thank him later."

Calhoun teasingly corrected Jean-Luc, "Actually, you would be thanking hir. Remember, Burgy is a hermat. S/he prefers to be addressed with the special pronouns created for hir dual-sex race. You have never served with a hermat have you?"

"Uh, no. Can’t say that I have ever met one either."

Mac slapped him on the back and looked toward him with a very mischievous grin on his face.

"Then, you are in for a hell of a treat, my friend."

Jean-Luc shifted in his chair feeling a bit uncomfortable with just exactly what Mac meant by that comment. Then he brushed it aside and turned to Commander Elizabeth Shelby, Calhoun’s first officer.

"I remember that you and Captain Riker served here on the Excalibur a while back. I suspect that it was... er... interesting?"

Shelby laughed. "That’s an understatement. I thought that Riker was a talented blow hard who was too chicken to accept a command. I was wrong. So now he commands the Enterprise?"

"Yes, turned her over to him two days ago."

"I thought he’d never take command. Showed me I was wrong there, too. I thought he was going to be the oldest XO in the service."

"Me too. I was coming very close to throwing him off of the Enterprise because of it. His getting married doesn’t surprise you?"

"Not really. There was always something that he kept locked up deep down inside. Now I know who it was. Pass along my congratulations when you see him."

"I will."

Shelby stood up and said as much to herself as the others in the ward room. "Damn, I didn’t think I’d live to see it. CAPTAIN Will Riker. The S*O*B beat me to a command after all." She grinned. "No thanks to you, Jean-Luc."

Shelby sniffed disaffectedly at Picard and then stalked out of the room with an exaggerated pace. This caused the remaining officers to break up laughing.

"Quite a pistol you have there, Mac. Better be careful - I have worked with her before, you know. It was during our encounter with the Borg where I was assimilated into Locutus."

Picard’s voice trailed off in horrific memory of that time and then felt Calhoun’s hand on his shoulder.

He brought himself out of the past and continued.

"She was instrumental in my rescue, though I thought she and Commander Riker would kill each other before it was all over. "

"Riker seems to have earned her grudging respect though. No mean feat."

"Mac, you had better keep a tight rein on that one. She is a stick of dynamite and it’ll blow up in your face." Picard warned with a grin.

"I’m well aware of it, Jean-Luc. Remember, she and I were engaged for a while. I think that can handle Eppy." Mackenzie Calhoun downed the last of the coffee in his cup and gave Picard a sly wink.



Having finished her last appointment for the day, Deanna sat at her desk and returned to the myriad details of her wedding plans. She had just finished up one pad and picked up another when her communication terminal announced an incoming subspace call.

Deanna touched the base of the display.

"Hello, Mother." she said grinning as a familiar face appeared. She had expected this call knowing that her mother had received her subspace message sent earlier in the day.

"Deanna! What do you mean going off and getting married without consulting me first? At least it isn’t that horrible Woof person. I mean—"

"MOTHER!" Deanna yelled, cutting her off.

Lwaxana reacted surprised.

"Mother, It’s not for some months yet and yes I’m marrying Will. You just might as well get use to it."

Her mother’s image was laughing and crying at the same time. "Oh, Little One, I just want the best for you."

"Mother, Will is the best for me. He is my Imzadi in every sense of the word."

"I’ve sensed that from the first but was blinded by my need to protect you. The gods only know that I tried."

"I know you did but maybe you shouldn’t have."

"But you were so young and he was such a typical macho male. I worried for you—about your responsibilities to the Fifth House."

"Mother that was long ago now. Besides the Fifth house can go to my first cousin Lorinna by your sister Larani. She’s true Betazoid and the house will stay in the family line. You know that she is well prepared."

Her mother sighed. "I know but I had such dreams."

"Well you could help me to modify some of the Betazed traditions for ‘public’ consumption, Mother. You know that I’ve always treasured your advice."

Deanna chuckled as her mother rolled her eyes at the sly jibe.

"Well maybe some advice is in order. " Lwaxana paused, thoughtfully then sighed. "I guess getting your nice Captain Picard in the buff would be a little too much."

Deanna howled.


"Oh well, Little One, it’s not as if I were thirty again. You’ll understand what I mean when you get to be my age. Here’s what I suggest…."

With that she was off rambling an endless list of things that Deanna would have to do. Deanna, for her part was glad that the message was being transcribed to her personal log so she could pick and choose. Her only comments were "Oh?" and "Uh huh" which was more typical of her conversations with her mother.

"Well that’s about it for now. Tell my darling Will that I will have his head and other certain body parts as well if he abuses you. Are you sure you won’t reconsider having the wedding in traditional Betazed form? I will really miss seeing Jean-Luc in the buff!"

"Oh, Mother! You are simply incorrigible!" Deanna exclaimed as she gave Lwaxana ‘one of those looks’.

"Be well, Little One. I’ve got to spread the word now."

"Oh, please do not tell Chandra just yet. I want to surprise her later today. You know how long we’ve been friends and I want her to be my maid of honor at the wedding."

"I know she will be thrilled. Chandra has always been somewhat struck with your Will Riker and she has known about you two being IMZADI from the very beginning. I have to go now, little one, so much to do ... contact the heads of the Houses, get the Chalice out of storage, plan my dress - OH! I have not done that in quite a while. Dear me, where will I begin?"

Deanna chuckled as the screen went dark knowing that Lwaxana was still making her own ‘to do’ list that would likely be three times as long as her own.



Anij was only mildly surprised when Jean-Luc appeared at her door one evening.

"You came back."

"I told you that I would. Did you ever doubt it?"

"Never. Not for one moment."

At that he took her in his arms and kissed her passionately as they backed into her home.

Anij wrapped a robe around herself and went in search of her houseguest. Looking at the rumpled bed, his side with the covers thrown back she could only smile.

She found Jean-Luc in her kitchen, wrapped in only a towel, the morning light streaming through the east facing windows. She leaned against the door and watched his spare, efficient motion as he skillfully handled the kitchen implements.

He looked up. "Good morning. You look beautiful."

She was smiling radiantly and advanced on him. "I was beginning to think that it was my imagination that you were really here when I found you missing this morning." She wrapped her arms around him and kissed the back of his neck and felt him shiver.

"Sorry, I don’t usually sleep for long periods. Old habits die hard I guess."

"What are you doing?"

"Making breakfast." He turned and quickly kissed her. "Have a seat, I’m serving."

Anij smiled. {You are certainly some kind of man, Jean-Luc Picard.}

As they ate each luxuriated in the presence of the other.

"Well how have the rest of you been doing?" he asked.

Anij filled him in on their efforts to reintegrate the Son’a refugees back into their society. It had been difficult, but progress was being made. They had had established a few community forums to discuss bringing in some forms of technology to see how it would effect their lives. There was now a great debate about what was appropriate and what was corruptive.

"Why don’t you speak to the matter. I’m sure that you’ll be listened to considering what you’ve already done for us."

"I guess I could if you think it will really help."

"Your insights will be valuable. But first, after breakfast, we’re going out—I want to show you the way we live, here." Anij continued. She was smiling even more knowing that things were going well between them.



Deep in space the Enterprise now cruised the Turnem system. Riker was well into integrating the command of the starship under his command and seemed to take everything in stride. It was no surprise as this is what he had been both trained and borne to do.

He could not be happier. A full command and Deanna too. They were as happy as they could ever imagine. While each was busy with their own day-to-day responsibilities they found plenty of time to be together.

Data was now his First Officer. He had deliberately left the position of Second Officer, the ship’s third in the line of command, open until Captain Picard’s future plans were certain for he was entitled to reassume command after his extended leave.

In the month that had already passed Will and the Enterprise had only to deal with a few minor combat skirmishes while on border patrol. Other than that, things had been rather quiet for which he was grateful.

He was worried about Beverly though, as she seemed not to be her usual self. Deanna had told him that even she couldn’t get through the emotional barriers the CMO seemed to have erected around herself.



It was night, with a full moon, the second since he had arrived. Jean-Luc sat in a comfortable chair on Anij’s terrace, looking at the stars. He loved Anij and was enjoying his vacation immensely and all this society and planet had to offer. It truly was a delightful place. The beauty of the place combined with the simple peacefulness of the people had invaded his soul. He could not think of when he had ever been more content.

His loving relationship with Anij had blossomed to the point that he was contemplating the idea of staying here indefinitely. Even so he had a nagging doubt, unsure of his ability to remain planet bound for very long. Space was in his blood and it called out to him every night when he looked up at the millions of stars, which filled the night sky.

Additionally there was another need that summoned him—one that also tugged at his heart—one that he was surprised to find. Even with his love for Anij, he could not keep his mind from wandering back to Beverly Crusher.

Anij watched him from the doorway to the terrace and instinctively knew that he would not stay. That he could not stay for his heart was forever fused to another way of life. She loved this man without reservation but knew that he would be forever unhappy tied to the surface of a planet. She knew that he was not ready to give up all that he had built over his lifetime and that he still had much more to accomplish.


Chapter 7


As The Day approached Deanna and Will had Geordi remodel their adjacent living quarters into a single common living space. Deanna’s had decided that her old bedroom would the nursery as they had both decided that their fertility inhibitors reversed after the ceremony. Deanna joked that they weren’t getting any younger which caused Will to bluster and sputter that he didn’t think that there would be any problems in that area.

While their old quarters were disassembled and new ones put together Deanna accepted Beverly’s offer of a spare bed. Deanna was pleased with this bit of subterfuge in that she been trying to spend extra time with Beverly and had not been terribly successful.

Even though Beverly was fully engaged in the planning as her maid of honor, Deanna could sense how lonely she was without Jean-Luc around. In public, Beverly put on a brave front for everyone but at night, Deanna could hear her occasionally crying to herself. In the mornings as they ate breakfast, Deanna probed gently but was equally gently rebuffed by her best friend saying with false gaiety that this was the happiest time in her life because her very best friend was finally getting married.

In the end Deanna sighed and brought Beverly fully into the planning of the wedding. Beverly threw herself into the activity with an amazing amount of energy. Deanna could almost believe that Beverly was healing—getting over Jean-Luc. Almost but not quite.



Will and Deanna had chosen the holodeck to create the environment for the wedding ceremony. Will worked with Geordi on a program which recalled the Janaran Falls of Betazed, a place that held many special memories for Deanna. When she asked Will for a preview, he refused saying that it would be surprise.

Deanna coordinated with her mother to have flowers imported directly from Betazed aboard the same transport which would bring Lwaxana and Chandra and several other Betazoid guests. Deanna and Beverly were frantic at times trying to shuffle guest quarters to match up with the expectations of this or that guest. Kyle Riker had been informed - on no uncertain terms - he had better make plans to attend. He responded that he would be there and was bringing Dr. Kate Pulaski along. Other friends from Starfleet HQ wanted to come but with the Dominion situation they couldn’t get away and many had to send their regrets along with an ever-increasing mountain of gifts and artwork.

Data and Geordi planned ‘the’ bachelor party for William T Riker for he was acknowledged to be the most famous ‘long- standing bachelor in Starfleet’. Those malcontents that could make it considered it their sworn duty to Starfleet to make sure that this particular bachelor was sent off in fine style.

It was impossible to keep it a secret. Will trapped Geordi as he came out of the turbolift onto the bridge.



"Ah… about the bachelors’ party..."

"I wouldn’t worry about that. It’s coming along fine."

"That’s what I’m afraid of. " he grinned. "Just don’t get me in to trouble with Deanna. Believe me when I tell you that you do not want either her OR her mother mad at you."

"Awwww … come on, Will. You know that we wouldn’t do anything to get you in Dutch with either of them."

"Right. And if you do I’ll see that you are assigned to scrub out anti-matter chambers for as long as you remain in Starfleet." Will chuckled deeply and patted his friend on the chest and headed for the shuttle deck.



It was after hours as Beverly sat at the desk in her office, shuffling through assorted PADDS trying to sort out the myriad of details that preceded Deanna’s wedding when one note to call caused her to pause. She queried the time of day in the capital then told her console to put the call through to Betazed. The screen became bright with the smiling face of Chandra, the afternoon light shining through a window in the background.

Chandra immediately began speaking rapidly. "Beverly! How are things going with the wedding? How is Deanna? I cannot wait to get there and see these two ‘finally’ together…."

"Whoa! Slow down."

"It’s just that I’m so excited."

"I know, Chandra. It certainly has taken them long enough to get around to it. They are both very busy right now, what with the wedding plans and Jean-Luc being on extended leave. You know that they aren’t even going to have a real honeymoon—I mean off ship—at least for a while yet."

Chandra giggled. "Well if I know those two, they will make do." She winked at Bev.

She smiled back. "I know. I just want it all to be perfect for her. Deanna has waited her whole life for this. Now, as to why I called. I was wondering of you make arrangements to have you and Lwaxana arrive a bit earlier because we are planning to give Deanna a surprise bridal shower."

The Betazoid squealed in delight. "Oh Yes! That would be perfect! Let me check."

She paused for a moment and Bev saw a far away look on her face and then realized she was communicating with someone. Chandra’s voice came back.

"Lwaxana is delighted. We will change our plans to arrive two days earlier than planned. You’re going to have to be careful, or you know that Deanna will pick up on it and spoil the surprise."

Beverly waved the thought aside. "I have had more than my share of practice at shielding myself from Miss Troi. Don’t worry about me."

"Is there anything else?"

"Yes. I was wondering if you could bring..." They finished up a few more details.

When Beverly ended the transmission, she sat there in the dim light of her inner office thinking of the wedding to be. As her mind drifted to other things, a single tear trickled down her face. Wiping it away angrily she muttered, "Damn you, Jean-Luc Picard."



Deanna had entered Beverly’s office just as Beverly terminated a subspace call to Chandra.

"What’s going on, Bev?"

"Oh, nothing. Just getting some things straightened out for the lead up to the ceremony."

She put on her best smile to hide not only her secret plans, but also the pain that had wrapped itself around her heart and refused to let go.



Deep in the Briar Patch, it was nearly time. On the evening prior to his departure, Jean-Luc was standing in the courtyard when Anij came to him. She draped her arms across his shoulders and he pulled her to him and kissed her fiercely. As their lips parted she looked up at him.

"You will be leaving tomorrow?"

"Yes. The wedding is only a few days away and I have to go now to be back in time."

She looked deeply into his eyes and saw what was in his soul.

"Jean-Luc. I know you will not be returning afterward. I can sense it. You place is out there…"

He started to speak—to deny the truth of the matter—when she touched her fingers to his lips, quieting him.

"Listen carefully to me, my love. There is another in your life and your place is out there and it is with her, Jean-Luc. She has been like a ghost between us ever since you arrived. I have felt her in every kiss, each embrace, each time we …"

Anij’s voice trailed off and soft tears slipped down her cheeks.

Jean-Luc again tried to deny it, tried to find a way to explain how confused he felt. But he knew deep down that she was right. He missed the stars and he had already admitted to himself that he had loved Beverly since the minute he laid eyes on her oh so many years ago.

He put his arms around Anij and embraced her gently as she wept soaking his tunic. He held her close and softly stroked her hair as he desperately tried to find a way to say this one good-bye.

There was no way.



Deanna was putting the final touches on the decor of their new quarters when Will came up from behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist.

"Well, my love the last of the stragglers are aboard. Calhoun dropped Jean-Luc off today."

"That’s wonderful, Will, my Imzadi."

"My Imzadi—I like that. Just think, in two days you are going to be Mrs. William T. Riker."

"I know, love. And you’ll be Mr. Troi," she joked. "You know that I never even allowed myself to dream that this day would actually come."

"I don’t know how one man could be so blessed. Two beautiful females - you and the Enterprise. Even so, my pride in commanding her pales in comparison to the thought that you will be by my side from this moment on." Will said as he hugged her tightly.

She could not remember a time when she had felt so much joy, happiness, comfort and security. The warm ‘I love you’ he cast was all that was needed to express it. She was being overwhelmed by sense of the depth of his emotions and the only thing that she wanted to do was to hold him close and revel in the warm bath of care and love that filled and surrounded her heart.


Chapter 8


The bachelor party was in full swing when the doors to Ten-Forward parted to reveal a stunning, more youthful looking Jean-Luc Picard.

Will looked up and called out. "Hey everybody! He’s here. Now the party can really begin."

Jean-Luc smiled broadly as he gave Will a wave then approached. Will gave the former Captain of the Enterprise a quick hug. "Good to have you back aboard, Captain. The Briar Patch seems to have done wonders for you, but I have an odd question—Have you ever had any hair?"

Will’s features spread in to a wide grin as he rubbed Jean Luc’s bald scalp with both hands. Yes, the party was complete now with his best man on board.

Picard ducked out from Will’s playful attack. {Tomorrow, my boy} he thought {is going to be the most important day in your life, Mr. William T. Riker’s. Don’t screw it up now.}

He accepted a drink from Guinan, and went to find Geordi to see if the Enterprise was being taken care of properly.



Simultaneously, in the main conference the bride’s shower was in progress. The room had been gaily decorated for the party being given for the blushing bride-to-be. And blushing she was, as Deanna was engulfed in delight as her friends and family greeted her with gifts, some naughty and all nice with every one of them accompanied by hugs and special sentiments.

Beverly obviously had something special in mind when she delayed until almost the very last to hand Dee her present. Inside the colorful wrappings was a smaller carefully wrapped package that contained a single delicately embroidered light blue handkerchief.

"Dee, I carried this with me on my wedding day so many years ago. There is an old earth saying for brides – ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’. Anyway, this is blue and I wanted you to have it to carry with you down the aisle tomorrow."

Deanna was wiping tears from her eyes when Bev said, "Wait - there is one more here from me."

She rummaged around then handed another smallish package which Deanna unfolded this package to find a very, very small, sheer black lace lingerie ensemble. Deanna was blushing beet red as Bev said with a wink, "Actually I guess you could say that it is more of a gift for the captain than you."

This brought on howls of laughter. As it finally died down, Deanna reached for the last lone wrapped gift still on the table. She read the attached card; it was from her mother. Lwaxana sat sphinxlike watching her daughter, a most unusual condition for her. Deanna carefully peeled away the wrappings and found a beautiful antique ivory porcelain box. Opening it she found it lined in faded burgundy velvet. Nestled inside was a beautiful piece of jewelry that she didn’t quite recognize, but she thought she should. She lifted it carefully, allowing the exquisitely crafted interlink neckchain to drape over her fingers. She realized that it was actually hundreds and hundreds of tiny links in a glistening white that formed a soft mesh. Between segments of this sensuous chain mesh were beautiful carved metal islands studded alternatively with the rare michelones, a gem she knew came from the deep oceans of Betazed, and clear white diamonds.

Deanna was speechless, but projected her exclamation to her mother ~~this is exquisite, Mother, I do not know what to say~~.

"There is nothing to say, Little One. I just wanted you to have it. My mother gave it to me on the day that I married your father. I want you to wear it when you finally marry your Imzadi."

Mother and daughter exchanged a warm embrace for Deanna recognized in that simple statement her acceptance of her own love for Will.

"I love you, Mother. Thank you so much."

"Well, yes. Okay everyone. We have had quite enough fun for the evening. We must let my Little One .. er... Deanna get some rest. Tomorrow is going to be a very busy day."



The room gradually emptied. As Deanna and Beverly gathered up the remainder of the gifts, Bev asked, "Are you nervous, got any cold feet?"

"Actually - no. This is what I have wanted since the day I first met Will at Chandra’s wedding almost 20 years ago. I am marrying the man I love, who makes me safe and complete. There are no regrets, wishes, what if’s or what could be’s in my mind. He is the better part of who I am."

"I am so very happy for you, Dee. Very few people can honestly say that and I know that you truly mean it. I love you guys and wish you all the best. Now let’s get some beauty sleep, we all have to be stunning tomorrow."

Beverly helped Deanna carry the gifts back to her cabin.



As the bachelor party wound down, Will and Jean-Luc were having a last quiet drink near the viewport. Will leaned back against one window frame while Jean-Luc sat on the ledge his back against the opposite frame.

"Once in space you can’t seem to ever get it out of your system." Picard said, taking a sip of his drink.

"I suppose that’s true. How did you get along with Anij? Are you going to go back and finish up your leave after this?"

Jean-Luc was very pensive and silent for a long time.

"Will, to be honest with you, I don’t think that I will be returning to the Ba’ku planet. Anij is a remarkable woman, and I know that I love her, but when we were together it is as if there is some sort of invisible wall between us. We come from such different backgrounds. She is planet bound. I am rooted in space. In addition, I found that I could not easily embrace her society’s views of limitations on progress and technology."

Will watched Picard sigh as if something beautiful was being lost and not by their own choices.

"It was not meant to be for us and by the time I came back here we both knew it. I suspect that she and Sojef are finalizing their own plans to be joined, for I sensed this when I departed. She said a funny thing on the night before I left. She said that she could not be fully within my heart because that part of my heart had already been filled with another."

"And Anij sensed that?"

"Yes. And she knew who as well."


"Yes, Beverly. Even though I was with Anij and loving her, I could not get Beverly completely out my mind. I mean, we have always been good friends—well maybe a bit more than that—I mean ... Will this is very, very difficult for me to admit but I don’t think that I have been honest with myself about my feelings for her. Ever since I left I have found that there has been an empty place in side me... here."

He tapped his own chest with two fingers as he was apt to do. "It’s like a part of me is missing. Do you understand what I mean?"

"I understand probably better than anyone, Jean- Luc. What you’ve done to Beverly is what I did to Deanna during all those years we were together here on the Enterprise. I would not allow my true feelings to surface above the facade of friendship even though I wanted her."

Picard sighed. "This is not an easy thing is it?"

"It never is, Jean-Luc. I encourage you to examine those feelings and then talk to Beverly about it. Deanna and I found that once we finally set aside our masks our life together has become been so much sweeter. I find that there is a completeness in me now that I never expected I needed. I cannot put into words what it feels like."

"I know that you’re right but I still have much to sort out."

"Don’t wait too long. Life has a habit of snatching away opportunities. By the way does your not going back to the Briar Patch mean that you are returning to the Enterprise? Your cabin’s still intact." Will grinned.

"No, you don’t have to worry about that, Will. I have been in contact with Admiral Nechayev at Starfleet Command several times during my return to the Enterprise. Nechayev has an another command staff assignment in mind for me before I get a space assignment again."

"So you’re cutting your leave short?"

"I guess that I’ll be adding more days to my accumulation. With the Dominion, the Klingons, Romulans, Borg - take your pick. There’s both a crisis of command and diplomacy within Starfleet. There is also a good deal of internal bickering within the upper echelons of Command. You know that I enjoy being out here, space exploration is my life - it is in my blood, it’s just that right now I feel that I am needed more on Earth. It is where I can do the most good for Starfleet."

"I suppose you’re right, but we’re going to miss you."

"I wouldn’t worry about it. I know that this ship is in good hands. You haven’t crashed her yet."

"After the last one, we sent Deanna off to command school. Shouldn’t happen again."

"Argh! You mean that she has two captains now?" Jean-Luc gave his friend a mischievous half-smile.

"Ah, no sir. Deanna has agreed to keep her hands off."

Picard’s tone grew more serious.

"You know Will, those were some of the reasons that I hesitated to pursue a relationship with Beverly. First the issue of command authority and then the fact that our career paths would be different. Her life and career is out here, on this ship or others. I knew that I would eventually have to take a command staff assignment and couldn’t ask her to give hers up to follow me to Earth."

"I never said it would be easy, just worthwhile. Besides you never asked her or gave her the opportunity to make her own decisions. Dammit! Talk to her. If you do, things will work out. If not." Will shrugged. "Just don’t waste twenty years doing it."

Riker downed the remainder of his drink.

"Oh, I won’t, Number One - sorry - Will. I actually do learn from other people’s mistakes—at least sometimes. " Picard teased the younger man.

Will grinned. "And I made some bad ones that I’m going to correct tomorrow."

Picard raised his glass to his former first officer and now Captain of the Enterprise then drained it.

They said nothing more as they parted company.



It was just after 01:30 by the time Will returned to the quarters he had taken temporarily. He and Deanna had decided that at least this night they would not be together but that she should get their new quarters. He had taken an empty transient billet.

Earlier in the day he had carted in all of the attire he would need tomorrow. As he collected his own stuff he noted that other mysterious packages and covered items were scattered throughout their quarters. Will respected the secrecy and did not try to peek even though he was now intensely curious. He knew that both Beverly and Chandra were staying with Deanna tonight.

Moving his own clothes aside, he undressed, took a sonic shower and then lay down on the unfamiliar bunk. Tomorrow will be very busy and morning will come soon enough. ‘Just a few more hours’ Will said to himself as he drifted off to dream.


Chapter 9


"THE BIG DAY" *** This chapter is dedicated to someone very special to me who both inspired it and shared in the creation of it. Thank you … you know who you are. ***

The following morning began with a rush of activity in Ten-Forward for the post ceremony reception. Data was putting the final touches on his wedding discourse. Mr. Homn had arrived and set up the ancient Betazed Gong of Appreciation and the Sacred Chalice in Ten Forward where the reception would be held. Lwaxana and her attendants arrived and began decorating with the flowers from Betazed - exotic fragrant blooms from the Jalara Jungle itself.

In holodeck 3, Geordi was making sure that the holo program was in perfect working order, driving the engineering crew to distraction by requiring them to triple check everything. His lead chief finally booted him out saying that he had to get ready.

Later as he was putting the final touches on his own formal dress uniform he hummed to himself. He would be escorting Chandra as an honor attendant down the aisle. His white smile was brilliant against his ebony skin. He pinned the lavender rose that Lwaxana had delivered onto his lapel. Noting the time, he gave himself one final inspection then headed back to the back to the holodeck.



Already dressed, Will was already in the there finishing his own final preparations prior to the ceremony. He had placed a small table beside the area they would occupy during the joining. On it he put a large candle of remembrance, two long stemmed white roses and one small white rosebud, and three small holos - one each of his mother, Deanna’s father and Deanna’s sister, Kestra. Deanna had indicated that there would be a point during the ceremony dedicated to their memory. Will thought it was touching and said he would take care of arranging it.

When Jean-Luc showed up to confer with Data, Will stopped him and gave over Deanna’s matching platinum wedding band to him for safekeeping.

Looking about at the beauty of the place, he sighed. The sound of the cascading falls in the near distance was a soothing remembrance of times past and of the future. The sun was bright overhead in a cloudless purple sky as tropical birds flitted about in song. White chairs adorned the grassy area there on the riverbank as a tall garden arch stood in front of them. It was adorned with those lovely flowers imported from Betazed. The air was warm and sweetly scented, just like the Jalara Jungle itself.

Will breathed in deeply and sighed. All of the details had been handled. It was perfect. There was nothing left for him to do but wait nervously until the big moment arrived.

And that he did as he spent the remainder of that time pacing around until he had made all those with him - Data, Geordi, Jean-Luc and his father, Kyle - tired and nervous. They told him to relax.

He explained that he was not nervous - just anxious. They tried to reassure him by saying that in just a few short minutes, he would see the completion of a life long dream - he and Deanna would be joined in marriage. He asked the time and paced once more.



In her quarters, Deanna put the final touches to her hair. She was breathtaking. Her gown consisted of a white satin, strapless bodice that cut low in the back sitting atop a full skirt of silk tulle. The gown was heavy with silver beadwork and encrusted with crystals, clear sequins and pearls. The train was short and sweeping. The neckline of the gown set off the jewelry piece her mother had given her the night before. She wore silk stockings and white satin pumps. Instead of a veil, she chose a hairpiece crafted of the white gauze headband that was traditionally worn by Betazoid brides. It was the same headband that she had made so many years ago when she was to marry Will the first time.

Running her fingers over the delicate material of the band, her memory drifted back through many of the times they had shared from then and in the ensuing years. She was amazed that so much had changed and yet their love had grown stronger and deeper. The feelings now did not even resemble what they were back then. The emotions were richer - with more depth and clarity. This, she decided, was an everlasting love.

Deanna’s reverie was cut short when Beverly asked for assistance zipping up. As she tended to her, she noted the colors were matched to those of Betazed’s most famous flowers.

Beverly’s sleeveless sheath dress done in a exquisite merlot colored satin with the neckline accented by a faceted beaded fringe that sparkled in a cascade of light dancing off of the tiny cut crystals.

Chandra’s dress was identical in design but was a dusky shade of lavender. The pastel tone accented Chandra’s pale hair and flawless skin coloring, while the deep shade of Beverly’s gown highlighted her features.

Lwaxana yielded to Deanna’s wishes and chose a simple deep purple evening suit. She had decided that it might not be the time for one of her more outlandish, garish styles. Deanna kissed her and told her that she looked tasteful and elegant. Lwaxana gave her daughter a pained look but the colors did make her skin glow for she was radiant with her joy at her daughter’s happiness.

Kate Pulaski knocked gently at the door and announced that it was time.

They quickly organized by gathering their bouquets of white lilies, merlot colored roses and tiny lavender buds and making the final adjustments to their clothing and hair.

Deanna placed the handkerchief that her best friend had given her in her hand beneath the flowers.

As they assembled outside of holodeck 3, they all shared one last embrace.

Deanna had asked her mother to stand for her late father and escort her down the aisle. Having accepted her duty to ‘give her daughter away’ she bustled about getting everyone into the right order.

Finally ready, she projected to her daughter.

~~Your father would be so proud if he could be here with you right now. Are you ready, Little One?~~

~~I have never been more ready for anything in my life, Mother. Shall we?~~

~~I can sense that your William is a bit anxious. And you?~~

~~Terrified and incredibly happy, Mother.~~

They shared one last hug as they walked down the aisle.



As the doors opened to admit Deanna and the rest of her party into the holo recreation of the Jalara Falls, Will’s heart jumped into his throat for Deanna, his Imzadi, was a breathless sight. Within seconds the only thing that he could see were her gorgeous eyes and beautiful lips. He was drowning and lost in them as Lwaxana guided her daughter to this man who would be hers.

Deanna felt the waves of emotion emanating from him. Her breath was taken away as she too swam in the intense pools of his blue eyes, shimmering with tears. With each step the world faded away for she only saw, she only knew one thing - him.

Deanna was oblivious to Lwaxana’s final sweet kiss on the cheek as she placed her daughter’s hands in his and then stepped aside.

The couple was oblivious to anything around them as they were captured in this truly perfect moment. Their hearts were speaking to one another as Data proceeded with his short discourse on the meaning of the wedding vows.

The point arrived for them to light the ‘remembrance candle’ and have a silent moment dedicated to the memory of their late loved ones.

It was finally time. As they had planned, Will formally vowed his eternal love for Deanna, before slipping the wedding band on her finger.

Taking her slender hands and looking deep into her dark eyes, Will started to speak softly, addressing his love in an intimate tone of voice.

"When we met, we knew nothing of each other, and yet, so soon we knew each other completely. How long ago was that? Does it matter? No. Time ceased for us at that moment, becoming meaningless. And now we are to be bonded in front of friends and family, mine, yours, ours. Our friends, our family. I pledge myself to you, and to no other, forever. For none can ever take your place in my heart. I give myself, all that I am, to you, freely and without obligation. I embrace everything that you are with open arms and open eyes, accepting you for who you are, for I could have you no other way. I will spend the rest of my life at your side, supporting, protecting, caring for, honoring, respecting and loving YOU. I will share all things with you, and be honest at all times. I give you these vows and my word that I will keep them. I am completely yours, I have nothing more to give but my word. I love you and will spend the rest of my life with you."

The strength and certainty of his voice brought tears that fell softly down her face.

Data turned to Deanna who, with a softly choking voice pledged her vows to Will and nearly fumbled as she placed on his finger a matching band.

She looked up at him and finally spoke.

"I have waited my whole life for this day to come. You are the better part of who I am - my soul mate, my love, my Imzadi. We have been through it all, and we have done it together – whether as friends or lovers. You are my heart and you are my soul. You are THE ONE for me, of that fact there is no doubt. Without you I am nothing. You give me strength to be who I am without fear or reservation. You are the one I long to be with every moment, the one I will share the length of days with. You are perfect in my eyes, as you are foremost, my best friend. You know me as no one else does and you love me unreservedly. Our bond comes from deep within and I stand here today before all and pledge my life to you. I give to you my utmost respect, my undying devotion, my fullest support and my complete love. I shall live every day of my life in order for you to feel love and happiness. I am yours, and only yours, from henceforth and for all eternity."

When they finished speaking aloud the vows they made in their hearts long ago, they exchanged a smile that sealed their love.

Data then stepped back and offered Lwaxana his position in front of the couple for a final act of symbolism. Lwaxana stepped forward holding a heavy silken cord.

"This is the Betazoid Act of Joining," she said. "It was only performed when two true IMZADI were being wed, one to another. This is cord symbolizes the final link of their IMZADI bond. A bond which connects them completely for eternity."

The two had not turned from one another nor had they released the others hands. They were completely focused on and lost each within the other.

"My children," Lwaxana said looping the cord loosely one turn around their joined hands. "Close you eyes and clear your minds. Let nothing stand between your mind and soul."

Both Will and Deanna could feel the energy swirl about them as Lwaxana facilitated their rebonding.

"Become fully open to each other for you are Imzadi..." Will could feel the texture of Deanna’s mind and Deanna his - the renewed feeling of the bond was exquisite. Lwaxana slipped out of their minds leaving behind only this…

~~You are Imzadi forever, forever sealed as one.~~

A shiver ran down each of the couples spines as each saw deeply into the other and became one with the other. The total sensation of being a part of another’s essence once again was almost overwhelming.

"You are one." she continued for the benefit of the others in the gathering.

Will and Deanna opened their eyes and looked at each other, Lwaxana finished a second wrap of the cord around their intertwined hands as a symbol of the Joining of the Souls and then nodded to Data.

Data looked at them and said, "By the authority conferred upon me by the United Federation of Planets, I now pronounce you - husband and wife. You may kiss your bride."

Deanna’s face was warmed by a huge smile while Will’s own happiness was evident in his blue eyes, crinkled up in delight. Releasing only one hand, the other still bound to her by the bonding cord, he brought Deanna into him then surrounded her with his arms and caressing her parted lips with his in an ever deepening kiss.

There had never been a more perfect kiss - so sweet, so richly laced with forever. The kiss went on and on, the others attending had begun to stifle their giggles as Will and Deanna lingered within the kiss - they were so enraptured by the moment and by each other that time stood still for them.

When they finally parted, the assembled erupted into cheers and applause.

The happy couple was showered with flower petals thrown from the gathering of family and friends as they headed to Ten Forward for the reception.


Chapter 10


The reception was indeed a celebration to remember. Guinan had outdone herself.

Champagne flowed freely from a beautifully crafted crystal fountain. The wedding cake was a sinfully rich chocolate creation that was decorated with the fresh flowers from Betazed - tiny jungle blooms that resembled baby’s breath mixed with roses and greenery.

A fine assortment of delicacies from through the galaxy was served on the buffet. Everyone was having a truly magnificent time.



After Will and Deanna shared the first dance to a soulful rendition of "Nightbird", Jean-Luc quieted the crowd as he stood on a table to propose his toast.

"I have never known anyone quite like William and Deanna Troi Riker. They share a special bond that I could never begin to understand. They have a found a flame of undying love in one another after all these years. It goes to show you that it is never too late."

At that he looked directly at Beverly and smiled.

"They are two of the finest people that I have had the privilege of knowing and calling my friends. I wish them an eternity of happiness - Cheers!!!"

At that he raised his glass as the crowd repeated "To Will and Deanna".

"I also have a special wedding present that I would like to present to the happy couple now, if I may. Now I know that you two expected to have to spend an abbreviated honeymoon aboard ship but I have spoken to Starfleet Command and pleaded your case. They have permitted me to fill in as the temporary Captain of the Enterprise, while you two enjoy a full month of well-deserved honeymoon shore leave. Now, on to the other surprise. I have taken the liberty of reserving a secluded honeymoon cottage on Risa for you as my wedding gift to you both. Now from that point on you can decide together what to do."

A round of gentle laughter circulated through the room.

"After all, I figured that you two have waited MUCH too long for this moment not to have a proper honeymoon. Besides, every ship needs a few little counselors and captains running around under foot - so I thought you ought to have the best setting to get started right away."

Another round of laughter along with shouts of agreement rippled throughout the crowd as Deanna blushed and Will shook Picard’s hand vigorously in gratitude.



The time came for some of the fun and silly Terran traditions. Will lifted Deanna on to the bar. He hiked her voluminous skirts up to reveal to tiny lace garter sitting on her silk covered thigh. As sexy music played in the background, Will run both his hands up her leg as he leaned in and grabbed the lace with his teeth. The crown squealed as he worked his way back down toward her ankle until the garter was free. He then turned his back to the crowd and with a bit of the devil in his eyes, he tossed it.

The group of ‘bachelors’ parted to reveal a rather sheepish looking Picard with a white lace garter sitting atop his bald head. He looked at Will incredulously as a sheepish smile invaded his features.

"Thanks a lot, Captain Riker. It is just what I needed."

At that he shot a grin at a rather startled looking Dr. Crusher who returned the smile.

Deanna now stood up on the bar as Will supported her. She slowly removed the white gauze headband from her raven locks. She turned her back and tossed it over her shoulder—right in to the waiting hands of her best friend, Beverly.

Deanna turned and saw who had caught it. She raised her hands and the room quieted rapidly.

"You all know what this means, don’t you? ... Betazoid tradition says that whoever catches the bride’s headband will find that the great love of her life is in attendance here tonight. I can tell you now that this is how Will and I met?" she looked directly at Will. "Didn’t we, dear?"

Her new husband looking back at her with a sparkle in his eyes and nodded.

The crowd applauded as Deanna as Will helped her back down to the floor and gave her a deep kiss. Breaking the kiss, Deanna looked in Captain Picard’s direction and then winked at Beverly who came to her side.

"Catching the headband may mean that, but look how long it took you two," complained Beverly.

"Maybe so, Bev. But now I am finally Mrs. Captain William Riker, so you never know!"

"But Deanna, you know where Jean-Luc’s been and why."

"You have almost a month before he goes back on leave so you better make the best of it," she admonished.

"I suppose. Okay I’ll try but..."

"No buts!"

They laughed together as they headed off to grab the men for a dance.



After a nearly two hours of celebrating, cake cutting and other merriment, Will and Deanna decided it was time for a little ‘private’ entertainment. Will took her hand and led her to the podium.

"Ladies and gentlemen, please, if I may. My new wife and I .. oh, that sounds nice." He hugged her tightly to him and she smiled broadly with pride. "As I was saying. My wife and I would like to thank you all for sharing this most important day with us. Looking around and seeing the faces of our family and friends was one of the highlights of this day. The night is still young and Guinan is well-stocked on food and drink. So everyone, please stay and enjoy the party. Deanna and I have a few things that require our immediate attention."

He looked down at her and grinned wickedly as she jokingly poked him in the side. A round of light-hearted snickers laughter swept the room.

"Yes, everyone. Please stay and enjoy yourselves and thank you once more for being with us today." Deanna added before taking her husband by the hand and dragging him out of the room before he could embarrass her further.


Chapter 11


The Rikers had plans of their own as they made their way back to their quarters. They had much to do considering the surprise gift from Jean-Luc of a real vacation. Arrangements had to be made and luggage had to be packed. They were due at Risa in just two days.

As they strolled down the corridors, Will filled Deanna in on Jean-Luc’s experience on the Ba’ku planet and his departure from Anij. His plans, however, to return to Earth and take up a position with Command had surprised her a great deal. She never pictured Jean-Luc Picard behind a desk.

"It is where he says he feels he can do the most good right now. He seems comfortable with my command of the Enterprise and I think he has some ideas of settling down for a while." Will told her.

She raised her eyebrows in a question, "Beverly?"

Will nodded.

"I told him to tell her how he feels. They have wasted far too much time already. You never know, romance may be blossoming by the time we return to the ship."

Deanna hugged her husband tightly.

"I can’t wait to see her face after she finds out. I know she loves him a great deal and has missed him so much. I just hope they don’t screw it up with the notion of ‘just being ‘friends’."

"Now that’s a thought."

She punched him in the side and she took off running the remaining distance to their new front door. Will hot on her trail. As she reached to activate the door entry, he shouted, "Oh no you don’t! I intend to carry my wife over this threshold!"

She squealed and threw her arms around his neck as he scooped her up and entered the room.

Deanna nestled in his arms as he carried her through the now open doorway. When she peeked she gasped, her breath taken away by the change in their quarters. This day had been incredible and without question the most romantic day in her life but her breath was taken away once again. Will had somehow arranged to have the cabin decorated while they were at the reception. Jungle blooms filled nearly every corner of the rooms in vases and bowls, filling the quarters with the exotic scents that immediately took her back to their very first joining. The room was illuminated by candles of every shape, size and color. They caressed everything in an ethereal glow. Their bed was now adorned with silk sheets and covered in rose petals. Soft, sensual music played in the background.

~~IMZADI - did you do this? It is so BEAUTIFUL. I ... I think ... ~~ her thoughts trailed off as muted tears fell from her luminous eyes.

"I now know what you think, remember?" Will said as he kissed her gently and set her down on her feet, her arms still tightly clasped around is neck.

~~I know you do, my love.~~



Beverly Crusher had been in an emotional duel with herself all evening. She had so much enjoyed Jean-Luc’s return and his playful attitude toward her. Now she watched him from across the room and noticed just how handsome and happy he appeared to be and finally had to admit to herself that she truly loved him.

{Guess it is easy when you know he is finally in love and you accept that it isn’t you…} was the thought to herself.

He had been attentive to her throughout the day and she surmised that he was cushioning her for the blow but... on the other hand that maybe—the idea crept into her heart—just maybe... She brushed the thought aside quickly as the nonsense wish of an old widow. {Damn it, woman! Thoughts like those will only get you hurt again. It only opens your heart for more anguish! You have worked hard to get to this point – don’t screw it up now.}

She couldn’t help the thoughts as her mind then drifted back to an earlier hour when they had shared their first dance.

While cradled in his arms and swaying to a particularly sentimental melody, she had lain her head on his shoulder and he felt her warm breath on his neck. She thought she could feel him hold her more gently and yet more firmly—but it could have been her imagination. Even so, as the dance concluded, he kissed her gently on the cheek. She looked into his eyes with unspoken desire and questions.

"My, my, Captain. What has gotten in to you tonight?" she said playfully. "Please tell me so I can make sure it happens again." Beverly’s voice was deep and lusty - accented with a sly grin.

"Perhaps I missed you, Doctor."

The simple statement shook her to her core, for she was not expecting it. Rather than continue with the next dance she pleaded to sit. The Captain had guided her to her table and then begged her indulgence to be able to circulate among the others present.

That was then. Now she tried to banish these foolish romantic notions filling her head. She knew better. He was forever lost to her and she had accepted that. Or so her mind kept trying to convince her heart….

She looked up and watched Picard now sitting by himself as Geordi and Data rose and left. He caught her pensive stare, smiled and motioned for her to join him.



Deanna retired to the bathroom to don the black lacy attire that Bev had given her the night before. Will stripped off his formal uniform and tossed it into the closet. He was standing nude by the nightstand pouring two glasses of champagne as Deanna emerged.

Her breath caught in her throat as she gazed upon her husband. He had to be the most handsome man ever. She drank in his image thirstily. His broad shoulders, his strong thighs, his gentle hands, that sexy dark spread of hair that covered his abdomen and descended into a ‘v’ just below his waist ... she looked at his face. He held so much love in his gorgeous azure blue eyes. His smile that was so white against the dark patch of his beard could make her heart skip a beat. She longed to run her fingers through his soft thick brown hair. And his true beauty was held inside - the qualities of his heart and soul ... loyalty, devotion, commitment, tenderness, passion, deep love and pride for his dear wife.

No words were needed as he came to her and held out a glass. She took it and they made a silent toast - never taking their eyes from each other. Will set the glasses aside as he lay Deanna back onto the petal-covered bed. He slowly removed her lingerie.

As she lay there nude and her soul completely bare to him as well, he worshipped every inch of her flesh with his eyes, his hands, his mouth. Her skin warmed at his touch and flushed as desire rose in her like roiling lava in an active volcano. Now that the Imzadi link was complete, they felt what one another felt. Their passions merging as never before. And as their bodies were united in love, their souls were seamlessly melded as well. Their essences become ‘one’. The feelings were indescribable as the pleasures, both internal and external, came to a climax.

They lay together utterly spent and fully opened to one another. There would be no more secrets, no more loneliness, no more empty spaces inside. They filled each other totally and could never be separate entities again.


Chapter 12


Beverly and Jean-Luc sat in a corner table separate from the rest. They had endured quite a bit of good-natured teasing after he caught the garter and she the headband. Now, however, Jean-Luc was serious. Beverly could tell there was much on his mind and she was afraid to discover what exactly it might be. She had concluded that he was going to tell her that he was marrying Anij and returning to the Ba’ku planet for good. Without even noticing it, tears were forming in her emerald eyes.

Picard now looked at her with concern.

"Beverly, what is wrong? Is there something I can do?"

She tried to ignore the origin of the tears and just brushed them away and shrugged in reply.

"It has just been an emotional day. Will and Dee are so happy. And it is great to see you again. I have missed our meals and times together, Jean-Luc."

It was just the opening that he had hoped for. He reached across and took her hand, gently stroking the back of it with his thumb.

As he opened his mouth to speak, he was mildly surprised, to say the least, when Beverly responded by jerking her hand away from his as if she had been burned.

She assumed a defensive posture with arms folded defiantly across her chest as she thought she knew just what was coming. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of using and abusing her friendship again. She couldn’t, not ever again.

Picard looked at her, frowning in confusion. "Beverly, what is wrong? I have a few things I need to say .. to tell you .. to"

She stopped him in his tracks by fixing him with a very strong glare. "How dare you Jean-Luc. I mean, HOW DARE YOU?"

He stared at her, at a complete loss when she launched into a full-fledged tirade fueled by the hurt, the longing and unfulfilled desire.

"You used me everyday for years. You made me out to be the perfect ‘friend’, the ‘companion’ and even the right ‘escort’ when you needed to make a fine appearance. You did this knowing all the time how I felt about you. I mean I told you how I felt years ago, even before Jack died! For heaven’s sake! And I’ve waited in the wings endless years while you play ‘good little Starfleet Captain’ and follow the god-forsaken rules." She literally spat out the word. "You toyed with me and refused to allow me into your heart…"

Jean-Luc tried to speak. She shut him up with a fierce look stabbing the air in front of him with finger … as if daring him to say anything. Her angry voice rose in volume.

"And then what happens Mr. Captain Picard?" she said sarcastically. "You meet this perfect little woman from some magical planet and all of a sudden it is STARFLEET BE DAMNED! You give up your career, your ship, and the universe itself to go be with this … this .. person out in the middle of nowhere. Leaving me behind to pick up the pieces of my broken heart once again. This time, I have had ENOUGH!"

He wanted to say that she was wrong, that he knew now how he felt and that everything was okay, but the words stuck in his throat.

Beverly Crusher was furious now. Mostly at herself for allowing these feelings to surface, but also at this man whom she loved and needed. The one she felt was leaving her now forever.

By the time he could answer she cut him off again. Her anger burned, her face turned crimson and she was on her feet – hand in his face. Her voice was at a roar now as she finished …

"NO! Don’t say it! Don’t say a damned word! I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to hear that you are returning to her. Go ahead and marry her and have your perfect little immortal brats with her. I don’t want to hear the lie of how you will always be my friend and such. I have had more than enough of you and I cannot and will not take any more sh*t from you, Mr. Jean-Luc Picard! So go back to Anij! Go back your immortal ‘goddess and keep the HELL out of MY LIFE!"

Flinging the last invective at him, Beverly stood, raking her hand across the table sending champagne flutes, punch cups and cake plates flying. As they shattered on the deck she swept away from the table. As Jean-Luc rose to follow she turned and nailed him in place with one last glaring stare and a shouted "NO MORE!" and turned and stormed out of Ten-Forward.

Everyone in the room turned to see the source of the commotion and instead found Picard standing alone, staring at the now closed doors of Ten-Forward. His face was flushed with embarrassment and humiliation. When one of Guinan’s assistants came up and began sweep up the broken glassware, those within earshot could hear him muttering to himself, "You know what they say about the temper of a redhead."

Finally he pulled on the front of his formal tunic and stalked out of the room in the most dignified manner he could muster.



Once in the corridor, and alone he stopped and leaned back against the corridor and wondered just what in the hell was going on. He knew that he had to straighten this out before it became irretrievable. He tapped his communicator.

"Computer, locate Dr. Crusher"

<Doctor Crusher is in holodeck 3>.

He walked slowly to the turbolift and made his way to the holodeck. He knew he had to go after her and try to straighten things out. But he also wanted to give a few minutes to cool off. He had never seen the doctor in quite such a tizzy before and he was a bit reluctant to fuel it further … for his own safety.



Back in the honeymooners’ newly designed quarters, Deanna awoke from a restful slumber as a feeling of fear, loneliness and anger from Beverly swept over her. Fearing the worst, panic seized her heart and she began struggling to free herself from her husband’s sleeping embrace. Will, now wide awake from her efforts, sat up next to her and untangled their limbs.

"Deanna, what is it?"

Tears flowed down her face as she spoke.

"It is Beverly. Oh, Will – something awful has happened, I just know it."

As Deanna got out of the bed and began to pull on her robe, Will reached for the comm panel. Those familiar words rang again.

"Computer, locate Dr. Crusher."

<Doctor Crusher is in holodeck 3>

He frowned at Deanna as a question popped into his mind.

It was Deanna’s voice that sounded next as understanding began to emerge within her.

"Computer, locate Captain Picard."

<Jean-Luc Picard is just outside holodeck three>



Picard came upon the entrance to the holodeck and found that the doors and program was secured. He wondered if his authorizations had been revoked.

"Computer. Override security protocol, code: Picard alpha gamma alpha Five."

<Authorization accepted>

They had not been. The door to the holodeck split revealing the scene of Deanna’s wedding.



<Correction. Jean-Luc Picard has entered holodeck three>

Deanna smiled at her Imzadi as it finally dawned on him as well that Beverly was in good hands.

He took his bride by the hand and pulled her back down to the bed, slipping the robe from her body. Their bodies melted into one another as they drifted back off into peaceful sleep.



Jean-Luc found Beverly by the river, not far from where the ceremony had taken place earlier. She was sitting on the ground, her chin resting on her knees, her arms wrapped around her legs. She did not hear him enter, as the falls were close and the rushing of water drowned out his arrival.

He stood there for many minutes and looked upon her closed form. When he moved closer he could see that her eyes were closed tightly and tears flowed freely from the corners and down her cheeks. He watched as her slender body was raked with sobs as grief threatened to overtake her.

He approached and knelt beside her.

When she realized he was there, she jerked away and immediately tried to get up and run away, but she was too weak that she tripped. As she fell Jean-Luc caught her and she collapsed in his arms.

He held her close, stroking her hair as she sobbed.

After an indeterminate amount of time, she finally looked at him and immediately dropped her eyes from his piercing gaze.

"Why?" she questioned. This time it was he that put a finger to her lips and quieted her.

"Shhhhh… my turn. Please let me explain or at least apologize for the hurt I have caused. Will you let me do that?"

Through her tears, she nodded reluctantly in acquiescence.

"Beverly. I am sorry for being such an ass as to think that a captain could not be a good captain and divide his loyalties between his ship and a partner in his life. . You have every right to be angry at me. I am sorry that you thought that I left you and went off chasing a damned fool dream. In a way I did but in doing that I realized that there was someone else inside me pulling me back. Anij knew and then I knew. I am sorry for not letting you know what a beautiful, vibrant woman you are and what you mean to me. I am sorry that you cannot accept me or that I do have feelings for you… that I .. uh .. love you."

It was her turn to be speechless. Her eyes grew wide, but the tears did not stop. What was it that he just said. She could not comprehend what he just said. Finally her heart spoke and said, {he loves me… he LOVES me!}

"You.. love..... me?" she said in a shaky voice.

She could feel him shaking with nerves. He nodded, looking directly at her.

She leaned into him. He gathered her into his arms as if she had belonged there all of her life. As their lips finally touched, time stood still.

Beverly’s body came alive with the kiss. She had been reborn and her heart was instantly healed of its wounds. A feeling of utter peace and contentment came over her as they lingered there in the warmth of each other.

Jean-Luc had never realized just what this woman meant to him until this very moment. His soul welled up with sheer happiness when his heart joined to hers in the wake of the kiss. He did not in what direction they were headed, but he now knew it would be a journey that they would travel together.

When they finally parted, she simply fell against his chest and he wrapped his arms around her and held her close to him. They now lay in each other’s arms in the recreated setting of the Jalara Jungle of long ago. They lay together for the first time enjoying the closeness of the other. They lay there silently contemplating where they should go now. Some how they could sense each other’s thoughts. She rolled into his arms and he pulled her to him. Once again the feelings each flowed into the other as their lips touched. They did not know yet of Imzadi love but they would soon learn.


Chapter 13


After what Will had told her about Jean-Luc and her sensing of the events of the previous night, Deanna did not know what to expect when she and Will showed up in sickbay the following morning to have their fertility inhibitors neutralized.

As they entered Deanna sensed the happiness and delight radiating from Beverly. Her friend’s porcelain features had a glow to them.

She winked at Deanna and shook her head not yet and went about the simple procedure of administrating the neutralizer. Deanna lingered a moment after the hyposprays were completed allowing Will to departed with a quick kiss to make the final arrangements for their transport.

Once Will was out of earshot, Deanna turned to Beverly. "Okay Bev, tell all! The way you look, one would think that he had proposed!"

"No, it is nothing like that. He was just so different, so open to me. Last night was a revelation to us both. We were finally able to share our real feelings that have been pent up for far too long. I think that maybe there just might be a chance for us after all. I intend to try to make it work."

"See that you do—this time!" she tweaked. Deanna was relieved that things seemed to be sorting them selves out and hugged her best friend warmly.

"Dee, have a wonderful time on your honeymoon. Risa is a place for lovers, remember?"

"Maybe Will and I will have to return the favor to you and Jean-Luc one day soon and send you guys there."

"Oh, you. Get out of here. Will is waiting in the shuttlebay for you. Have a great time."

Beverly gave her another farewell hug before Deanna left sickbay for the shuttlebay.

Captain Picard was there to see them off. After the Rikers were on their way, Captain Picard tapped his Communicator.

"Picard to Crusher"

<Crusher, here. What can I do for you, Captain?>

"I thought that we might have dinner this evening."

<A date, Jean-Luc?>

He could hear her gentle jibe and smiled. "Yes. A date then. My quarters. 20:00 hours. Is that acc... okay?"

<You can pick me up at 19:45, sir.>

Jean-Luc smiled. {You are not going to be easy on me are you?} he said to himself.



That was the way the next few weeks went. Picard fell right back into the position of commanding this fine ship. Things had been quiet during a routine mapping mission assigned to them. During the off hours, he and Beverly spent most of their time together. They shared meals and long walks in the arboretum. They did lots of soul searching and shared many of their hopes and dreams with each other.

One night a few days before Deanna and Will were due back, Beverly and Jean-Luc were enjoying a cozy moment in front of a fire in holodeck 6. They had allowed some of their feelings for one another to surface, but they still had not yet been courageous enough to share them out loud after that one time. They sat with Beverly’s head resting against Jean-Luc’s chest, his arms wrapped around her middle.

He spoke to her in a low hushed tone.

"You know something, Beverly. My former first officer has taught me some valuable lessons. He told me that I had to be able to take chances in my personal life and make some command decisions. You and I have been through so much together over the years since I served as Jack’s commanding officer. They have not all been good, but we have weathered all of them together. I do not begin to understand the Betazoid concept of Imzadi or the bond that Will and Deanna share. But I do believe that each of us has a soulmate - someone who completes us. I also believe that you are the one that makes me whole. Beverly, I love you and I have for a long time. I just was not ready to admit it to myself or to you … until now. But the Rikers taught me that it is never too late."

Beverly turned to face him almost in disbelief. As she looked into his piercing eyes, tears flowed from hers.

"Oh, Jean-Luc. I have loved you from the very beginning. Since Jack’s death, a part of me has been so empty and I knew that only you could fill that space in my heart. I was so afraid when you left to be with Anij. I was sure that I had lost you forever. I too have been foolish in denying what I felt for you - forever trying to put it aside and replace it with simple friendship. Oh, Jean-Luc … I love you, too."

She threw her arms around his neck with joy. They parted just enough for him to catch her mouth with a very deep, passionate kiss. As the flames in the fireplace flickered out, the flames of love and desire were fueled in the two lovers that lay there consumed in the fire of passions finally released.


Chapter 14


Deanna Troi Riker was positively glowing as she and her husband stepped out of the shuttlecraft. They had a wonderful time exploring their new relationship as a married couple. But both of them were ready to return to the Enterprise and begin life together on board.

After more than two wonderful weeks on Risa, Will and Deanna had decided to go on to Betazed for a week before they returned to the Enterprise. As Deanna expected, her mother wanted to arrange formal reception in their honor. A Daughter of the Fifth House was a special position in of itself, but when that daughter was just been wed and ‘joined’ to her IMZADI - it was an event that deserved of special recognition. No one could deny that Lwaxana loved ‘pomp and circumstance’. Deanna didn’t resist too much as it also gave Will a chance to show off his beautiful bride on her home planet. Even so they managed to slip away for a few days and vividly revisit their past at the real Janaran Falls.

Beverly was among those who were there to greet them when they arrived. Deanna did not need to be an empath to know that things had progressed for Beverly and Jean-Luc. She could tell from her expression of radiant happiness.

As she hugged her friend, Dee whispered, "I can tell that we have a lot to talk about."

Beverly’s broad smile gave an affirmative answer.

"Where’s Jean-Luc?" Will asked.

"Where do you think?"

"On the bridge." Will sighed.

"Why don’t you go on up? Deanna and I and these strong yeomen will take care of getting you two reinstalled in your quarters. Besides she and I have girl talk to catch up on."

"Argh! Now you two will be comparing notes. Jean-Luc and I are doomed."

Will kissed Deanna passionately and Beverly quickly. "See you later, love." They both watched until the hanger deck turbo lift doors closed behind him.

"He’s a changed man." Beverly commented.

"Not as much as you might think, fortunately." Deanna grinned.



Beverly was helping Deanna unpack and put away all that they had brought back with them. She held up the black nightie, grinning.

"Where does this go?"

"Under my pillow of course, though Will doesn’t seem to let me wear it very long." she teased. "Now are you going to tell me what’s been going on between you two?"

Beverly launched into a detailed accounting of the evolution of her and Jean-Luc’s new relationship, it’s ups and downs and finally the special breakthrough that had occurred the night before last.

"Dee, it is like a dream come true. I am beginning to understand how you felt when you and Will finally got it together. It’s wonderful—like a great weight has been lifted from my heart. I have not felt like this since Jack and I ...".

Deanna put a reassuring arm around her friend’s slim shoulders to comfort her.

"Bev, do not feel guilty about allowing another man into your heart, especially Jean-Luc. Jack knew what a wonderful man Jean-Luc was and you know that he would have wanted you to find love again. You have been alone for far too long."

"I know but.."

"No buts! Jack would want you to be happy. Does Jean-Luc make you happy?"

"Oh Dee, He definitely makes me happy. I haven’t felt like this in … oh so long."

Deanna was now unpacking a small shipping crate of things Lwaxana had insisted that were essential for a Betazoid household. She held up a small wrapped present.

"This one’s for you but don’t open it until later. Now, what about Jean-Luc’s Headquarters assignment? Won’t that put a crimp in your new relationship?"

"I have almost as much leave time saved up as Jean-Luc so I decided to take some of it and return with Jean-Luc to Earth for a while. I’ve arranged for Commander Robertson to take over for me until I get back. Jean-Luc and I have so much living to catch up on and need some time to make what plans we can for the future."

Deanna was thrilled for her friend. Beverly had been the only dark spot for Deanna the past months. Deanna had felt a bit guilty for having Will to love when Beverly had been so lonely but now that too had apparently been sorted out. Her sense of joy was complete and Deanna Riker Troi could imagine it becoming even more so.



This time it was Will and Deanna seeing Beverly and Jean-Luc off as they transported down to Earth’s Starfleet Headquarters. They stood in the transporter room trying to find ways to say good-bye and were fumbling miserably.

"Are you going to take some time to see your family and the vineyards?" asked Will.

"Yes, Beverly and I are planning a weeks visit to France, sometime before you return. When will you be back through here?"

"Fleet has us out on patrol for about a month then we are scheduled back. Do you and Beverly think you’ll have your lives sorted out before then?"

Picard sighed. "I don’t know, with the war and everything is so unsettled. Will, there’s so much for us to figure out. Our careers, our lives, our love—you know I love her, don’t you?"

"I heard from an impeccable source. Well I’m sure that you two will figure out something."

Meanwhile, Beverly and Deanna were huddled and talking in shrouded whispers.

"Beverly, is a month enough time?"

"I don’t know, Dee. But I think it’s going to have to be. Jean-Luc will be here at Starfleet Headquarters for at least the next nine to twelve months. I don’t know what I’m going to do."

"I’m sure that you’ll figure out something. Bev, it’s time to go. The transporter tech is signaling you."

"Oh Dee. I love you and thank you for everything."

They hugged and Beverly took her place on the transporter pad. Will shook Picard’s hand for the last time. Then as Jean-Luc stepped onto the platform, he said, "Take care of them both, Will, you deserve them."

Will stood at attention and snapped off a salute as Beverly and Jean-Luc shimmered out of existence.

Deanna’s noticed that her own tears were matched by the moistness on her husband’s face. She knew how hard it was for him to say good-bye to his long time friend, just as it was for her.

It was, in fact, even more difficult for Will Riker than he imagined it would be. This time it seemed so final, as Jean-Luc Picard would no longer be in command of the Enterprise. The ship was now his. It now truly belonged to Captain William T. Riker, for Jean-Luc had figuratively given him the keys.

It would be so different without Picard here but Riker knew he was ready. He found is a bit strange, as he was both settling into life as a husband and the commander of one of the most powerful ships in the fleet. Odd, too, was that Deanna was anxious to get back to work for the counseling others was a kind of therapy for her as well. She excelled at her job and she enjoyed it immensely. Thinking about Deanna, Will’s chest swelled with pride for he was Captain of the flagship of the Federation. He commanded the fleet’s finest crew. And, best of all, he was married to the most incredible woman in the universe. He had no idea how his life could get any better—but it would.


Chapter 15


It was five weeks later and in a system far from Earth when they rendezvoused with a transport carrying Beverly Crusher who was returning to the Enterprise.

As soon as Beverly materialized on the transporter pad, Deanna ran to hug and congratulate her friend. Deanna also did not miss the flashing ring on the doctor’s left hand.

"You look wonderful, Beverly."

"I feel wonderful too," she said holding up the hand with the engagement ring, just in case Deanna didn’t notice the first time.

Deanna grinned. "I saw it. Apparently you and Jean-Luc sorted things out. Now you are going to have to fill me in on all of the details..."

"Whoa, Dee. Let me catch my breath, first."

She then noticed that Will was standing behind Deanna, watching her reception with interest.

"Just a second, Dee there’s someone else here who needs a hug." Beverly then wrapped her arms around and gave Will a hug and a kiss on the cheek. "Well, Will. Did you think that Jean-Luc would ‘do the right thing’ by me?" she teased.

Will gave her a warm embrace. "I never had a doubt."

Deanna took him by the arm and pushed him toward the exit.

"Will, my love, she’s mine for awhile. Why don’t you go play with your ship?"

Will stuck out his tongue in a most unprofessional manner. "I know when I’m not needed." he grumped.

Deanna slithered up against her husband and kissed him passionately. "Dearest Imzadi. I always need you, just not right this second."

He grinned, gave Beverly a peck on the cheek. "Have fun girls," he said and was gone.

"Hungry, Bev?"




In Ten-Forward, Deanna ordered a fruit plate, a chicken sandwich, a green salad and a large hot fudge sundae.

"Marriage must agree with you. I have never seen you with such an appetite." As soon as the words had left her lips, Beverly’s eyes widened and her mouth opened. "Deanna, have you been feeling okay?"

"Yes, fine. Well, I have been a little tired. There has been a lot going on with getting settled in once more. You know, after being back for over a month, I don’t seem to have my space legs back. That seems to be taking longer than I expected—I was only planetside for just over a month. Sometimes I cannot even look out the viewport in our bedroom and watch the stars streaming by without getting a little queasy."

Beverly grabbed Deanna by the arm and literally dragged her out of Ten-Forward.

"Come with me."

"Beverly!!! What is wrong with you? Where are we going in such a hurry? I have not even started on my chocolate yet. Where are we going?"

"We are going to Sickbay and I’m going to run a pregnancy test on you!"

Deanna’s eyes lit up at the prospect. "So soon?"

"It’s possible. The chocolate will wait." To the casual observer it was debatable whether they were running slowly or walking very quickly down the corridor.

It was about twenty minutes later when Beverly held up the medical info PADD after studying the results.

"Well Deanna, you are exactly four weeks pregnant, my friend. You and the dear Captain did not waste any time, now did you?"

"But you said that it would take several months for the effects of the fertility inhibitors to wear off?" said Deanna as she put her hands on her abdomen in an unconscious protective gesture as if cradling the new life in her.

"I said it usually takes several months. Perhaps it was a residual effect of the Briar Patch."

Tears fell down Deanna’s cheeks as she probed deep inside herself for any inkling of someone else’s presence. There it was! A tiny twinkling of existence deep within her. How could she have missed it? The feeling was undeniable. She HAD felt it earlier but had contributed it to the fact of the increased bond between Will and herself. Now there would be three of them. A ‘family’. Deanna rejoiced at the prospect. She had thought her life was perfect before, now it was .. it was even more perfect, if that was possible. She was carrying the child that was a creation of the love she shared with her husband.


She had to go to him right now. He had sensed her fluctuating emotional makeup as that her body chemistry changed, but had no idea what was bringing it on. She knew he could sense as he was continually concerned and curious as to what had brought on her emotional flair ups. She had been puzzled herself but now she knew. She hugged and thanked Beverly and ran to find Will and met him running equally fast the opposite direction, a desperately concerned look on his face.

She flew into his arms and whispered in his ear and mind simultaneously.

~~I’m pregnant~~

His concern turned to a huge smile. "A baby!" he yelled as he hugged and kissed his wife as they swung in circles in the ship’s corridor.

Not another word escaped their mutual lips but their minds kept exchanging the thought… ~~ a BABY!~~.


Chapter 16


Will finally put Deanna down, but would not release her from his arms. She was still overjoyed and could not find her voice. She simply looked into his eyes and opened her mind to him. She knew that he understood when he grabbed her and spun her around again yelling, "Father? I am going to be a Daddy?

~~No! You are a Daddy now!~~

He was laughing and still spinning with her in his arms as she stopped him.

"Yes, you are going to be both a father and a very messy Captain if you do not put me down. My stomach doesn’t take sudden movement very well these days."

She had never sensed so much love and pride radiating from him. His blue eyes glittered with pride and excitement.

"You are sure? We are really pregnant?"

"Well I’m certain that I’m pregnant, but I don’t think you are. You might ask the good doctor herself if you want to be sure," she said as she could see Beverly walking up behind Will.

Will sat his wife on her feet then turned, ran and picked Beverly up in the same manner he had Deanna just a few moments prior.

"Thank you, Beverly, thank you so much."

"You are welcome, Captain, but I really had nothing to do with it. I seems that you and the Counselor did this all by yourselves."

"Is she okay?" Will stepped back a bit. Beverly could see a bit of panic in his eyes and began laughing.

"All new fathers seem to have the same reaction. Yes, she’s okay -- just a touch of spatial disorientation. It’s really all quite normal. Now you get back to what you were doing. I need Dee to come back to sickbay so that I can finish my ‘new mommy lecture’. Now, git!" she said laughing.

Will gave Deanna another kiss and embrace. "You sure you’re okay?"

"Will!" she replied, a bit exasperated now. "I’m perfectly okay. I’m not sick, I’m just pregnant. Now go!" she said, reinforcing Beverly’s admonishment.

Will left the two of them to returned to sickbay and headed back to the bridge grinning from ear to ear. If one were to notice such things you might noted that his feet did not touch the deck anywhere in between.

The news spread through the ship quickly. That evening, Deanna put through a subspace call to her mother. On hearing that a grandchild was on the way, Lwaxana squealed in delight and moments later the entire planet of Betazed knew as she began a thoughtcast the news that she was to be a grandmother.

Will found time the following morning to contact Jean-Luc at his new desk at Starfleet headquarters. He could see San Francisco Bay illuminated by morning light through the window behind Jean-Luc.

"Looks like a nice day there, Jean-Luc"

Picard smiled and looked out. "Yes, I suppose it is though I got in before sun-up. This is quite different than being aboard ship. God, how I hate flying a desk." he sighed. "A small benefit is the small bakery and coffee shop that’s open at that hour. Coffee! You know I’ve even gotten to think of the damned stuff as marginally acceptable to drink."

Riker laughed. "Well you haven’t changed much."

"To what do I owe the dubious honor of discussing such minutia this early in the morning?"

"Well first I thought that I would congratulate you on finally convincing Beverly to accept you as a potential partner. Not bad for a bald headed old buzzard like you."

"I am not old!" Picard’s eyes twinkled.

"Ah … so you admit to the rest."

"No comment. And how is my red headed fire brand?"

"Making mischief with Deanna and missing you. You know I’m at a disadvantage with both of them here."

"I can imagine. How are you two getting along?"

"That’s the other thing. You are going to become a godfather."

"So soon!" Picard’s eyebrows raised in true amazement. "I figured that without the mandatory fertility inhibitors you could knock up half of the known universe. Now I know that the conjecture wasn’t far off the mark."

"To use your phrase, ‘no comment’. So when are you and Beverly going to tie the knot?"

Riker could see the pride in his friend’s face even though they were light years apart.

"Don’t worry. We will not be getting married for at least a year. Beverly is waiting to hear from Starfleet Medical about a medical research position. It usually takes about that much time for a good one to open up. By the way, when we do get married, I would be pleased if you would stand for me as my best man."

"I would be pleased to do just that, Jean-Luc."

"Will you and Deanna be bringing the new little Riker with you for our wedding? I must meet the future Captain of the Enterprise."

"I don’t think that anything could keep Deanna from doing that."


Picard began to shuffle PADDS around on his desk then looked up.

"Tell Beverly I love her and that I’ll be calling her a bit later this week. Give Deanna a hug and a kiss for me as well."

"Will do. Riker out."


Picard looked up startled then grinned and reached out and touched his communications console.

After Will’s own console went back to its standard display, he stood up and left his ready room to meet Deanna.


As he entered Ten-Forward, there was a round of applause as many of the crew were gathered to congratulate their Captain and Counselor. Deanna was radiant as she basked in the attention afforded by her condition. Will was the epitome of a proud papa and had the good sense to blush on occasion.


Chapter 17


*** A special thank you to Zlanna for the baby’s middle name. ***


As Deanna passed mid term she had grown large enough to feel like she was beginning to waddle a bit. Fortunately her good physical condition kept the back aches down to a minimum. Beverly finally ran the tests which had shown that they were going to have a daughter. Deanna had instinctively sensed this and felt that it was the probable reason that her empathic bond with the baby was so strong. The telepathic powers of the daughters of the Fifth House were well known throughout the galaxy. Though their child would only be a quarter Betazoid she sensed that the baby growing inside her would be phenomenal.

She smiled and patted her extended belly.

"You are going to be a handful, aren’t you little one? I can tell that already."

She motioned for Will to come over and she placed his hand in her belly. As he sat down, she took his hand and replace hers with it.

"Feel that? She is saying hello to her daddy."

Will smiled widely at the thump against his hand.

"She, her, it, the baby … when are we going to get around to naming this child of ours, love?" Will said as he leaned down and kissed his wife’s swollen tummy.

"I have been thinking. Remember when we first talked about a family back on Betzaed all those years ago?"

"How could I forget? I said I wanted a beautiful little girl named Alyssia who looked just like her mommy."

Deanna blushed at the memory and the compliment.

"Yes, you did say just that. Well, now your wish has finally come true. At least for the little girl part." Deanna winked at him mischievously and continued. "I think that it would be nice for her to have a part of your mother’s heritage as well."

"Well, you may not know this, but if I had been a girl – I was told that I was to be named Morgan after my mom’s mom."

"Morgan? Hmmmm….. Morgan Alyssia Riker. I like that."

"I think it is a very beautiful name for a very beautiful baby girl."

They smiled and Deanna placed her hand over Will’s, which still rested on her tummy and the baby inside her.

They looked at each other and said, "Morgan."


Beverly was keeping a mother hen’s close eye on her friend throughout her pregnancy, continually monitoring her condition. Deanna’s increasing girth concerned her as it seemed somewhat excessive for normal pregnancy. She had double checked her results and had confirmed only one fetal heartbeat, thought it was quite strong . All of the test results checked out fine but still she fretted. She was also concentrating on her own plans for her future as well. Starfleet Medical had a prestigious research and teaching position becoming available in the fall and had offered it to her. She had talked it over with Jean-Luc and then accepted and told them that she could be ready to go six months hence.

Their wedding plans were also being finalized. Jean-Luc had finally settled in at his new command position and seemed to be enjoying it -- to the extent one can be happy in the midst of chaos. Even so he seemed to have the time to take care of most of the major details of the upcoming event. Will suspected that he was delegating most of the normal aspects and just making his wishes known. That would have been more like the Picard he knew. Apparently, he and Beverly had decided that the wedding was to be a relatively simple, small affair to be held near the vineyard on the Picard Estate in France.


It was a few weeks later during a routine examination that Deanna was discussing their wedding plans. Suddenly she stopped and did a quick count on her fingers.

"Beverly! Will you be going before I give birth?" she asked in a bit of a panic.

"Deanna how could you ask such a thing. Do you actually think that I would let anyone else deliver this child? - You know that I would never let anyone else do it!"

Deanna was relieved then put her hands on her swollen belly. "Beverly, I feel like a walrus, I’m immense!"

"Are you having problems walking for any length of time?"

"Only my back and feet, a bit. I feel like I’m going to tip over most of the time. You know that I had not planned to take maternity leave from my counseling and bridge duties quite so early, but..."

"...you are becoming quite uncomfortable. Deanna you still have three months to go. I think that it’s time for you to have another counselor had come aboard to cover for your patients for the next six months."

Deanna sighed. {Life’s changes certainly have unexpected consequences.} She then smiled to herself. {But they are not all bad.}

Will and Deanna also recognized another problem that needed a solution. Both parents were bridge officers and you never knew when a ship’s emergency would call them both away in the middle of the night. They decided that they would need someone to act as a standby caregiver for the child, someone who could be called upon at any given time. They interviewed several candidates and selected Ensign Tharen.


Ensign Callista Tharen was a talented and rather unique individual for she held degrees in both child psychology and pediatric medicine. She was aboard the Enterprise doing graduate studies in human genotype cross species hybrids under Dr. Crusher. Callista was, herself such a hybrid, as her mother was a noted Vulcan scientist and her father a Betazoid ambassador.

Deanna found her bright, intelligent and quite a strong telepath - having gained those abilities from both parents. In addition, she appeared to be surprisingly well balanced emotionally considering her diametrically opposed genetic heritage - Vulcans suppressed their emotions and prized insular intellect while Betazoids embraced theirs emotional and were generally outgoing. Deanna perceived that the combination would prove advantageous in her position as the Riker’s ‘nanny’. She could empathize with the child’s mixed heritage, having lived it herself. She would also be good at honing any empathic abilities the child might possess.

Will and Deanna were pleased with their selection and Ensign Tharen took up residence in the ‘nanny’ suite they had made by appropriated a cabin adjoining theirs.


The days came and went as Deanna carried her baby to a completion. Deanna was asleep when the first contraction came. Surprised, she came instantly awake as did a somewhat confused Will felt the same sharp sensation that Deanna had inadvertently cast. They sat up in the bed at the same time. They looked into each other’s eyes.

"It’s time isn’t it?" Will said.

"Looks like it, my dear." She replied as he sent as much strength and love as he could along their link to her.

He could feel her wince through another contraction. Deanna now was not too sure that she wanted this as it appeared that it was going to be more painful than she had anticipated.

"Ooof!" Will grunted as another contraction came and went. ~~This is not fun.~~ He cast inadvertently as he tried to soothe Deanna’s concern and fear in anticipation of the coming child birth. He could feel her fear rising as Deanna had become increasingly unsure of herself and her ability to withstand labor.

"I think that we had better go... Now!" said Deanna.

Will slid out of bed and brought Deanna her robe and slippers, having pulled on a pair of pants himself.

Deanna watched, somewhat amused as Will hurried around their quarters, gathering discarded clothing, shoving assorted items into the recycler and other menial tasks. Deanna winced and Will staggered a bit when the sharp sensation of another contraction shot through them both.

"Will, what are you doing? Those things can wait! We’ve got to go because this baby is not waiting around to be born. I need you to get Bev and Calli - NOW!"

Will skidded to a stop and looked at Deanna. She could see that he finally realized that he and been running about like an idiot.

He tapped his communicator. "Riker to Crusher … report. Medical emergency."

<Crusher here> A somewhat sleepy sounding voice changed to wide awake came back. <WILL! What is it? Is Deanna okay?>

Just as he was about to answer, another even stronger contraction ripped through them both. Will groaned loudly as it swept over their link.

"Oowwwww…. Umph .. Bev… it is TIME!" was his labored reply to the doctor.

<I will be right there with a medunit. Should I bring two?>

He heard the gentle teasing in her voice but wasn’t in the mood to appreciate her attempt to lighten the moment.

"Ugh... I think one will be sufficient, Doctor. Thank you very much." His voice dripped with mock sarcasm.


Deanna was sitting on the edge of the bed, holding her abdomen and trying to calm herself. She opened her eyes to see a bare-chested, bare-footed Riker standing by the door holding her case.

"I think you could use a shirt and some shoes, dear."

He looked down and grinned – embarrassed at his oversight.

"I guess I am a bit anxious, eh?"

"Just a little…"


Ensign Callista Tharen was awakened more than a little surprised when her senses picked up Deanna’s pain and emotions at the first contraction. Sensing that is was time she hurriedly dressed, dragged a brush through her hair and was out the door, heading for the Rikers’ cabin. Her own communicator went off just as she was reaching for the door plate. <Ensign Tharen, I need you here in the Captain’s quarters> she heard an edge in Riker’s voice.

Will was shocked in that the door slid open before he could take his hand away from the communicator.

"Ensign Tharen, reporting, sir."

Deanna saw her and smiled. "Calli … I knew you would be here soon … uhhhhhhh…"

Callista instantly went to Deanna and tried to make her comfortable until Doctor Crusher arrived. She was massaging Deanna’s belly as the next contraction hit its peak. Deanna winced at the unnatural stress as it seemed that every muscle in her lower body contracted.

"Breathe, just concentrate. This one is almost over. We are coming down now. Hang on. Breathe ….. okay, good."

Deanna sigh was one of relief and fear. She had never dreamed it would be this difficult to handle the pain. She looked over at Will and saw his face had gone very pale under his dark beard. She immediately knew that he was feeling every sensation that she did through their link.

~~I am sorry, Imzadi … I ... I just cannot stop them.~~

~~Deanna, I am here to share everything with you. I will be fine. A burden shared is a burden halved, remember?~~

~~I love you.~~

He smiled at her lovingly as another intense contraction caused a wave of agony hit them both. A moment later, Will Riker hit the floor, out cold, as he fainted dead away.


A disheveled, haphazardly-dressed Beverly guided the medunit floater through the doorway, crashing it into the frame. As she wheeled it up next to bed on which Deanna was lying, she stared down at the fallen captain. She shook her head in disbelief as if noting that the situation was in some way typical.

"Men. I knew there was SOME reason why the woman had the babies." She said as she bent down and pressed a hypo to Will’s neck.

"Calli, I need some help here."

Seconds later, he opened his eyes as the realization came upon him. He was mortified. Beverly and Callista helped a very shaky captain back onto his feet.

He saw that Deanna smiling at him lovingly. She understood. She always did. ~~’RaBeem’~~

Beverly slapped something onto his neck. "Will, this is temporary and should at least keep you from falling down again. I’ll set you up with a neural transmitter block when we get to sickbay."

Will started to protest but Beverly cut him off.

"I know you want to share this fully with Deanna, but you will be of no use to her if you collapse onto the floor with every contraction. By the time she is ready to give birth you’d both be a basket cases." {And so would I!} Beverly added silently.

He grimaced, saw the agreement in Deanna’s eyes and reluctantly capitulated.



As Callista, Beverly and Will guided the medunit transporter towards sickbay, Another pain came upon them both. Will gritted his teeth and fought not to give into the intensity which threatened to turn his legs to rubber. They weathered it but Will sensed Deanna’s fear that she would not be able to make it through it all.

~~Will the pain...~~~

~~Beverly and I will both be here.~~ He reassured her. ~~We will do everything we can and make you as comfortable as we can. It is not an easy thing but you CAN do this, Imzadi. I know that. I am right here.~~

Deanna relaxed only slightly.


Once through the double doors of sickbay, Deanna was quickly and smoothly transferred into a birthing room. To settle her in, Beverly activated the bio-bed monitors as well as adhering several sensor devices to her in strategic locations. True to her word, Beverly also fitted Will with the neural transmitter block and showed him how to adjust the feed through. He felt no further pain, just her anxiety and anguish with each contraction. He felt a bit guilty and adjusted the monitor to allow more sensation through -- he couldn’t stand not being linked to Deanna no matter the pain.

~~I’m still here, love~~

~~I know. I can feel you~~ she said as she meditated letting Will’s presence flow into her, giving her strength. {I’ve made it this far} she thought to herself.


Her labor was progressing quickly and strongly. Deanna was becoming more taxed as the pains were now nearly continuous.

Will heard her exhaustion in his mind ~~tired, so tired … hurts so much.~~

He stroked her hair and whispered in her ear, "I know, my love. But we are almost there. Each pain gets us that much closer to meeting our little girl. Never forget that I am right here. I am not going anywhere…. Ever."

She was now too exhausted to speak aloud. ~~I love you, Imzadi.~~

Before he could respond, it was time to push again. Deanna’s eyes clinched tightly closed and tears of pain rolled down her from her eyes.


Will held her tightly and supported her as she mustered all of her strength to bring their baby into the world. Deanna’s face and body were soaked with perspiration. She had expended an incredible amount of effort. Will held her hand and wiped her forehead with a cool cloth. Her breathed right along beside her and opened himself to her – despite the block - trying to absorb as much of the pain as he could.

"Okay, Dee, she’s crowning. Just one more push and your little girl will make her debut! Okay, come on now! PUSH!" Beverly commanded.

Deanna felt as if her hips were splitting apart as Beverly eased their baby girl out into the world. Dr. Crusher suctioned her mouth and wiped her face then held the girl up as she gave out her first lusty cry complaining of entire procedure.

"It’s definitely a girl," said Beverly as she laid the baby on her Deanna’s chest. Will looked down amazement at the still bloody, somewhat wrinkled little creature and then put his finger out to touch the little one’s tiny hand which tried to contract around it.

"She’s here, love." He leaned down and kissed Deanna on the forehead as they silently communicated sweet words of pride, accomplishment and love to each other. Deanna held the tiny form against her breast as Will placed a hand on his daughter’s back. Tears of relief and joy flooded their eyes.

All of a sudden Deanna’s eyes widened in comprehension as she yelled for Beverly.

"Beverly, We’re not done yet."

Beverly looked up startled and then in recognition.

"What’s wrong?" The concern in Will’s voice was self evident.

"Well, you are about to become a father again. There’s another baby on the way."


Beverly looked down. "Yes." A second head was crowning while shaking her head in total disbelief, she delivered a beautiful baby boy! "I think that we can safely say that you two are the parents of TWINS !


Chapter 18


*** This chapter is dedicated to my son - Bailey - my ‘little one’ ***


Things made so much sense now - the increased bond Deanna felt for the unborn baby (babies), the unusual weight gain, the size - everything. Will was holding his son gently as Deanna caressed their daughter. They felt so complete. They were a family.

Beverly came to the side of the bed and touched Bailey’s tiny head. "This little fella threw me for a loop. Since he and his sister are fraternal twins, they each had a separate placenta and he was hidden directly behind her. That is why he did not make his presence known on our tests."

Will questioned her, "But we only ever heard one heartbeat?"

Deanna answered that question as she closed her eyes and reached out to her children. She spoke softly, "That is because they share one beat, one rhythm. They beat in perfect synchronization with each other. I should have know." she said somewhat chagrined.

Beverly and Will grinned in amazement. The doctor continued, "Well, I guess we have our answer to that mystery. Anyway, here he is. And just what are we going to name our little surprise guest? I have just completed Morgan’s record."

Deanna looked at her and smiled.

"We were just talking about that. Will likes Jean-Luc and I understand why. But Jean-Luc RIKER? Somehow it just doesn’t sound right to me. Since Morgan is named for Will’s mother, I was thinking about my grandmother’s surname - Bailey. Imzadi, what do you think of Bailey Lucas Riker - it still has a form of the Captain’s name?"

Will mulled it over in his mind for a minute, "Bailey Lucas Riker. I like the sound of that. Okay, Doc, Bailey it is!"

Beverly jotted it down and brought in the twins’ birth certificates. Morgan weighed in at 8 lbs. 1 oz. and her brother at 6 lbs. 13 oz. Morgan’s hair was jet black and curly just like her mother, but her unfocused irises were a stunning blue like her dad. Bailey had a lighter shade of brown hair and it was thick and straight like Will’s. He already had those huge onyx eyes, characteristic of Betazoids. Deanna wondered if they would have any of her abilities. She was quite certain they would, since Will was human and he was rather good at communicating with her. Besides, they did have Lwaxana’s blood coursing through their tiny veins. Life would never be dull in the Riker’s home - that much was sure!


They contacted Lwaxana as soon as Deanna was moved to a private room.

Lwaxana’s face filled the screen. "Little One! She is here! I knew it! I felt it! Wait …" Then her face became dark with questions.

"Yes, Mother. Twins. You are a grandmother times two."

Will came into view holding the babies. His face was filled with pride as he spoke. "Lwaxana, meet Morgan AND Bailey. Guys, say hello to your grandma."

Lwaxana reached out to the screen as if trying to touch her grandchildren from across the galaxy. Tears fell down her face as she was thrilled to finally be a grandmother. Twice over – no less! She said that it was a double blessing.

"Deanna, I am so proud of you. They are simply exquisite. Are you okay?"

"Yes, Mother. I am fine. We are all perfect now."

The conversation went on and on as Lwaxana wanted a ‘play by play’ of the entire episode. Finally Beverly said that Deanna needed to rest and Lwaxana ended the transmission with her promise to be there as soon as she could arrange transport.


Deanna was very appreciative of her mother’s extended visit and all of her assistance even though they drove each other crazy – as they always did. But Deanna welcomed her presence regardless as she the thought kept creeping into her mind and heart that Beverly would be leaving soon.


Deanna stood behind Will, rubbing his shoulders gently as he spoke to Jean-Luc through the terminal at the desk. After accepting her former Captain’s warmest wishes and congratulations, she went to the couch and settled in for a rare moment of peace as Will continued his conversation.

The past few weeks had been emotional ones for her. Her mother had returned home to Betazed. Lwaxana had been an invaluable help during those first few weeks, but Deanna had gotten the ‘hang of things’. Beverly was busy tending to the final details of wedding plans, packing up and transferring to Earth. Deanna wiped a tear away as it escaped from her dark eyes.

The thoughts of Beverly getting married both gladdened and saddened Deanna’s heart. She knew just how happy her friend was, but she also could not imagine the Enterprise without Dr. Crusher. She would miss her terribly.

Deanna heard a soft gurgle from the nursery and went to check on the twins.

Despite the longing she felt for her friend, Deanna looked at the tiny faces of her children and knew that she would be just fine. Her life had been altered forever now that she was a ‘mother’. It was a feeling that she had never known before.

As Will terminated the call to Jean-Luc, he sensed his wife’s emotions and smiled. Walking up behind Deanna holding the twins, he put a protective arm around his family. He magnified the feelings with his own. The union of their love had created the finest blessing possible. Will Riker knew deep inside that he was the most fortunate man in the universe.

Chapter 19


As the majestic USS Enterprise orbited Earth, Deanna Troi Riker was in the middle of packing trunks for herself, husband and two little three months old babies – a daunting task in and of itself. But she was also deep in thought – pondering her future. They would beam to the surface soon for Beverly and Jean-Luc’s wedding. Upon their return to the ship she was going to resume her full time counseling position and a minimal bridge duty shift.

The new CMO that had been assigned to the ship was working out nicely. So was Ensign Tharen - Calli as the Rikers called her. She was wonderful with the babies and Deanna knew they were in good hands.

Deanna had been working out in her spare time and had gotten her shape back quickly. She wanted to be sure to fit into her matron of honor’s dress Beverly had sent her.


Will came in as a yeoman gathered their bags.

"I will take these on to transporter room 4, sir."

"That will be fine. Tell them we will be there shortly."

The yeoman nodded and headed out the door, weighed down from the baggage.

Will went to his wife and gathered her in his arms. She snuggled against his chest and sighed.

He spoke softly n her ear. "Ready, my love? Calli is already there with our children. I am sure the others are waiting for us. And I know Beverly is anxiously awaiting your arrival."

She turned to him. "I know. I am ready, well almost." At that she smiled widely and kissed him deeply, strongly – allowing her love for him flow along their shared bond. It was a moment of pure spiritual intimacy.


The transporter chief saluted and sent his regards as the entire new Riker family and Data, Geordi and several other senior officers beamed down to the surface for what was to be the big event.

Both Beverly and Jean-Luc greeted them as soon as they materialized at the estate. They were all beaming with happiness and excitement as hugs and handshakes were heartily exchanged.

As the bride-to-be showed Deanna and Will the way to the rooms that had been set aside and prepared. This left Jean-Luc alone down stairs with the twins who were lying together on a couch in the center of the den. Jean-Luc knelt down beside the two little ones and watched them with wonderment. First as only a casual observer, he watched them squirm and grin, trying to focus on him looming above them. Instinctively, for he would have been embarrassed had anyone been watching, he began to talk baby talk to the twins. The gurgled and smiled at his resonant voice which pleased him as they responded to his gentle tone and kind face. Had Deanna or Beverly been watching, they would have found it highly amusing as he took turns with each baby, making cooing noises and marveling as each one smiled and pawed the air reaching for him. He touched their small hands and they grasped his finger and gurgled. It crossed his mind that these two just might change his mind about children. He found them precious.


Upstairs, Beverly filled Deanna in on all the events in her life. She and Jean-Luc had taken a beautiful apartment within walking distance of their Starfleet offices in San Francisco. She would settle into her research position in Starfleet Medical just as soon as they returned from their honeymoon.

She was clearly excited because she would be doing advanced research work, satisfying a passion that usually was not available to her even as the Enterprises CMO. She was positively radiant in her joy. However, her joy was mixed with a touch of melancholy because she missed her best friend terribly. Deanna assured her that they would keep close in touch.


The wedding ceremony took place outside at Jean-Luc’s family homeplace in France. They took their vows side by side on a hill with the vineyards in the background. The warm sun shown out of a blue sky with only white clouds occasionally shading those gathered.

Deanna admired the fact that Beverly had chosen to wear an ivory lace, tea-length gown. It was a straight, ‘Victorian’ style that had tiny strands of gold embroidery woven into the lacework. Her hair was accented with a wreath of creamy white and pale yellow flowers intertwined with ivory satin ribbon streamers.

Will noted that Jean-Luc was dashing in his uniform and thought that except for perhaps Deanna and him, that they were a perfect pair.

This caused Will to gaze at his wife. She was so beautiful standing here in the sunlight. She wore a pale yellow silk sundress that hung from tiny straps and the skirt swirled around her lower legs as the wind caressed her. A wreath of yellow daises and baby’s breath sat atop her head like a crown as well. Her hair hung loosely and twisted as the air blew the dark strands around her face. Her features were alight with pleasure as she drank in the moment.

She sensed Will and looked at her husband. He was so handsome in his dress suit. He was smiling and his blue eyes crinkled in the sun. She loved him so much that it consumed her. She glanced over at the covered carriage and saw the two sleeping angels there. They reminded her so much of Will. She saw him in their faces each time they looked at her. She felt as if her heart would burst from being filled so completely.

Their attention was drawn back to the couple being joined. They, too, would soon know this kind of happiness. She knew that Beverly longed for another child. And after seeing Picard with the twins, Deanna sensed that it would not take too much to convince the crusty old Captain either. There was another driving force as Deanna remembered that he had come to the Counselor some years earlier expressing a concern of having no one to carry on the Picard name. This had been shortly after his brother and nephew had been killed in a tragic fire. Deanna knew that he needed that sense of progeny. Beverly would get her way about this of that Deanna was certain.


After celebrating with their friends and sharing this special time together, Will and Deanna, along with the babies, returned to their lives aboard the Enterprise.

It was ships evening a few months later, they sat in their quarters sharing a rare, quiet moment. Their life schedules weren’t back to anything approaching normal but at least things were reasonably well ordered. Their busy shift duties were over, babies were bathed and now sound asleep, dinner was finished. As they cuddled and wrapped their bodies around one another, a sense of peace and happiness filled them as they reflected upon their lives.

He whispered against her skin. "Deanna, my Imzadi. Have you ever thought about just how richly we have been blessed?"

She smiled and he felt her head nod against his neck almost imperceptibly.

He continued, "I know we have traveled a long road to get to where we are now. It hasn’t always been easy and who knows what the future holds, but still…. here we are."

She reached out and took his hand, intertwining their fingers as a show of unity, love and support.

"I know, my love. We have been through a lot. Faced good times and bad. Best of all we have done it together. I know we will have some uphill battles ahead of us. But also so many good things to look forward to."


He smiled warmly and gestured toward the nursery, "Like watching those two in there grow up?"

"Yes, exactly. Things that are worthwhile never come easy."

"Is that why it took us so long to get it right?" he teased.

"Will Riker. Now you know you wouldn’t change a thing even if you could. Everything we have been through has made us who we are now. We have always been together in one way or another since we first met. Now we shall be together forever in the fullest sense. You cannot look back, only move forward."

He kissed her hair lovingly and spoke softly. "Yes, my love. I remember what you have taught me … live in the now, not the never." She turned to face him and they kissed. It was a kiss filled with eternity. They had each other. They had a family with two perfect children, a son and a daughter. They were whole, complete, fulfilled. The bond they shared was eternal, everlasting.

They were IMZADI.


*** Thank you G for allowing be to borrow your quote.***


Five years later...

A double anniversary party was being held aboard the Enterprise for Captain Will Riker and his wife, Counselor Deanna Troi Riker, as well as Admiral Jean-Luc Picard and Doctor Beverly Picard.

In his new position as Admiral of the 6th fleet, Jean-Luc would be exercising his space legs again. They were underway to the Utopia shipyards to pick up the first of the new Majesty class starships as his new flagship. He had not decided on a Captain for her but he was strongly considering Elizabeth Shelby for the position though Calhoon would likely have a fit. She would be commissioned as the USS Unity. As his first assignment, Picard would be the instrumental negotiator in the ongoing peace talks with the Romulans. Beverly would naturally be on board as the Starfleet Medical Science Officer with both the Ships CMO and the on board medical research unit reporting to her.


The four were standing in a close knit circle in the middle of Ten-Forward once again, reminiscing about the early years and what all they went through. "Do you remember the time…..?" "I cannot believe Q did ….." "What was that about when you ….?" These were the phrases that peppered the conversation.

Things got quiet among them as their faces became wistful. Thinking about the past and wondering about the future – these were important. But what mattered most were the friendships these four had woven over the years, and the generation yet to come. This is what bound them to each other. Nothing could compare to the love and loyalty between them all.

They looked around the room and smiled. So many of their friends - old and new - were near to join in the celebrations of their union.

Will put an arm on Jean-Luc’s shoulder and the older man patted him on the back. Deanna and Beverly hugged each other tightly as tears fell down their faces in shimmering streaks.

"Friendship sure is a fine thing to have and to share." Jean-Luc said.

Will returned, "It certainly is."

"I love you guys…" Beverly chimed in.

Deanna’s voice quivered, "Always and forever."


A small group in the corner caught the adults’ attention and brought them out of their tearful revelry. The upper house children were playing well together under the close watch of Lt. Callista Tharen. Jacque René Picard was a mature boy for only three. He and Bailey Lucas Riker were quietly building a block tower together. Morgan was commandeering the dessert table.

"Uh oh! It falled down," wailed Jacque.

Bailey consoled him. "It’s okay, Jacq. We can fix it. Take this one and put it here and I will hold the bottom steady."


Guinan was keeping an eye on Morgan as she perused the confections.

"Miss Guinan? What is that one made of? It looks yummy. I only had a ‘little’ piece of the big fancy cake earlier, and I ate all of my vegetables…" she smiled coyly.


The twins were five and were the spitting image of their parents.

Morgan was tall and athletic. She had long dark curly hair and piercing blue eyes. She was Will Riker made over. Her preschool teacher said that Morgan would take up her father’s ambition and would be the youngest Captain in Starfleet history. She had a commanding personality and was a natural born leader.

Bailey was the epitome of Deanna’s son. He had short, straight brown hair and her large dark eyes. He was small boned for a boy and had fine features. He had a quiet, mild, sensitive nature just like his mother. Everyone says he is destined to be a Counselor. He was the first one to the side of any of the children in his playgroup if he sensed that they were hurt or upset. He would always comfort them and try to make them feel better.

Jacque had his father’s mannerisms and his mother’s appearance. His gentle, mannerly bearing set off his auburn hair and blue-grey eyes. Jean-Luc put a friendly hand on Will’s shoulder and gestured for Deanna and Beverly to look in the direction he indicated.

"Will, Deanna ... Morgan is definitely your child, you two. Just watch her. She is in the middle of a negotiation with Guinan for an additional helping of CHOCOLATE cake!"

Bailey and Jacque chose that moment to come and take hold of their mothers’ legs. They reached down and scooped up their sons as Morgan appeared with a mouthful of fudgey goo.

Will picked his daughter up in his strong arms as well. As the four friends stood there holding their offspring, the basked in the comfort of knowing that the future would be in good care. They would forever live on in the hearts of these children.


the end




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