DECISIONS Title: DECISIONS Here and Now (Part two of the MICAELA Trilogy)
Author: Michelle
Series: TNG/NF
Part: NEW
Rating: [pg-13] for language and mild sexual situations
Codes: R/T, f/Mac, xover with ST:New Frontier book

Summary: Deanna and Will run into a few minor problems planning
their wedding. Micaela is adjusting to life aboard the USS
Excalibur commanded by Captain MacKenzie Calhoun. She searches
for and finds an unlikely romance that is full of obstacles of
its own. This is part two of a trilogy that began with BETRAYALS
Past and Present.

Disclaimer: The characters used here are from ST:TNG and ST:New
Frontier, a Trek book series by author Peter David. They belong
exclusively to Paramount. The plot and characters of Micaela and
Victoria Leon belong to me. All rights belong to Paramount. No
infringement is intended.


May 1999

Star Trek : The Next Generation

Decisions Here and Now

by Micaela


Lieutenant Micaela Leon, half-sister of the Enterprise's Counselor Deanna Troi and newly transferred to the USS Excalibur, was adjusting as well as could be expected to her new post. Things had changed so
much for her in the last six months. Her beloved mother,
Commander Victoria Leon, had been killed on an away mission. She
had been posted to the flagship of the Federation - the
Enterprise. She had fallen in love with William Riker only to
give him up to his first love, her half sister, Deanna Troi. She
and Deanna had been working on building their relationship via
subspace communications after her transfer from the enterprise to
the Excalibur. They had gotten off to a rocky start.

Deanna had a hard time accepting the fact that she had a
sister. It wasn't that she had anything against Micaela
personally (except that she was romantically involved with Will
at the time), but the fact that her father had been unfaithful to
her mother was quite difficult to come to terms with. She had
always held her father in very high esteem - almost to a point of
worshipping his memory. However, after discussing it all with
her mother, Lwaxana, she had come to accept the matter and was
now overjoyed to have a sister. Deanna was also thrilled that
Micaela had helped her and Will to see the light as far as their
feelings for one another. They were a couple once more after all
these years and were planning their wedding. Micaela was very
happy for the two of them, but her heart ached from loneliness.

She still grieved for her mother and the loss of Will.
Although, she came to learn about Will and Deanna's special bond
as "IMZADI" during her relationship with Will and knew that he
could never be hers, Micaela had nonetheless fell for him. She
never let on to either of them, though. The last thing she
wanted to do now was to come between her sister and her true
love. But the fact remained that she still loved Will and a part
of her probably always would.

Chapter One

Micaela Leon was lonely ... very, very lonely. She knew better than to go headlong into another shipboard
relationship this soon, but she did need someone to talk to.
She entered the officers ward room (more often called 'the team room') and scanned the crowd for possible companionship.
The room itself was largely empty of people she knew except for Lt. Robin Lefler sitting alone at one of the
observation port tables.
Micaela walked toward her.
  "Mind if I join you?"

  Robin motioned at the empty seat. "If you don't mind a grump.
I'm not in the best mood tonight."

  "Man problems or the lack there of?"

  "Both!" Robin blurted out.

  Micaela felt an instant empathy for her table mate.  "Well
there's Ensign Warren, he's smart and decent looking. Oh then
there's the Vulcan twins TuVin and TuVan. No, they're too much
into each other. Ah, then there's--"

  "Enough!" said Robin, cutting her off.

  Micaela sat back, a little surprised.


  Robin cut her off again.

  "Look Micaela, you're the newbie on this ship.  There's a
lot going on that you don't know about yet.  I guess it's time
for someone to fill you in on who's who and what's what and who's
skeleton is in which closet."

  Micaela had to admit that she was right.

  "Mic, we're still a fairly new crew but we've had our share of
difficult missions and due to the intimacy we had quite a few
pairings and repairings.  It may seem that we're a bit more laid
back than the Enterprise, but our smaller size and mission
profiles require us to have a nearly blind trust in each other so
we've naturally become more intimate."

  Micaela was chagrined.  She should have realized what Robin
was pointing out without explanation but she had her own blind

  "How about Captain Calhoun," asked Micaela.

  "He has a lot to do with how effective we've become."

  "I'm all ears."

  Robin regaled her with the myth and reality of their Captain's
past. Micaela noted the sparkle in Robin's eyes as she told tales
of  their maverick boss.  A maverick but a remarkable man in and
out of Star Fleet.

  MacKenzie Calhoun had been a freedom fighter on his home
planet of Xenex and was instrumental in winning their freedom
from the Danteri when he was still just a teenager. He then left
the planet's government to his brother and he joined Starfleet.

  His first real problem came when he was first officer on the
corvette Grissom. He had been the first officer when the captain
was killed during a rather difficult and dangerous mission. He
had blamed himself even though that was their only loss and he
successfully completed the mission. Even  though Starfleet had
cleared Calhoun  had resigned his commission and had only
recently been convinced to return to active duty.

  It had been Captain Picard who had helped Starfleet Command
bring him back in to serve as the captain of the Excalibur.
During the recent destruction of Thallon, MacKenzie had another
brief, yet strained encounter with his brother.

  Mac did not approve of the way D'ndai had managed the affairs
of Xenex. Regardless, Captain Calhoun had already made a name for
himself with Starfleet with his handling of the problems they had
encountered here in Sector 221-G.

  Robin stopped to take a sip of her drink. Micaela took the
opportunity to satisfy a curiosity.

  "Is there something between him and Commander Shelby?  I have noticed - I don't know - she just that she seems to stay very
close to him. A little more than a first officer should."

  "You catch on quick! Shelby and Calhoun were lovers for three
years and had been engaged to be married, or so I hear. They
broke up quite a while ago. The way I hear it is that the Captain
is a bit traditional person when it comes to the bridge
relationships but that didn't quite suit Shelby.  I can't imagine
having an ex-fiancee as my first officer!"

  Micaela pictured the difficulties in her mind as a direct
result of her own problems and began to laugh.  Warming to the
companionship, Robin joined in.

  "Mic, I guess that while I am at it I should fill you in on
the rest of the gossip!!" she giggled.

  It wasn't long before Micaela was fully convinced that she had
learned far more than she ever need needed to know about the
Excalibers crew.  There were two senior staff who were pregnant -
Dr. Selar, their Vulcan CMO and Burgoyne 172, Excalibur's Chief
Engineer.  What made that unusual were the genetics involved as
Burgy was a hermat - a dual sex race. S/he had both female and
male biology and S/he was the FATHER of Dr. Selar's child. It
seems that things had heated up for them recently during an
episode of the doctor's Pon Farr. In turn, Lt. Mark McHenry and
Burgy had been quite an item just prior to that and Burgoyne had
become PREGNANT by Mark! It was going to get quite interesting in
the next few months.

  "Now try to explain that one during a family reunion!" Robin

  Micaela finally caught her breath when the laughter and
hiccups finally subsided.

  "Nothing could top that, Robin.  What about the others,
anything else juicy going on?"

  "Nothing else quite that good, but there is Si Cwan - oh he is
so yummy! I would love to get hold of him in a jefferies tube!
But I think he has eyes for Lt. Soleta. Besides, he says that I
remind him of his SISTER... that doesn't make me sound very
desirable!!!!" Robin turned her mouth up in a pout.

  Laughing once more, Mic managed to thank Robin for the
conversation.  She had been really down upon entering the lounge,
but her spirits had definitely been lifted.

  "Robin, you're a nut case! I am ever so glad that I sat down
here tonight. You have made it all better!"

  "Me too, I guess that I needed the company but that doesn't
solve our problem.  We still don't have any men!"

  "Hey, don't give up on Si Cwan. Soleta doesn't seem interested
to me. Maybe you should give him a little encouragement. Maybe I
could get him transported into to a jefferies tube tomorrow!"

  The two women were again doubled over in hilarity  at that
idea.  It was a good thing the ward room was pretty empty right
now. They could have been accused of being drunk and the drinks
were not even alcoholic!

  It was now Micaela's turn to hand over some information so she
told her tale of woe to Robin.

  "And, my dear Micaela, just who catches your fancy?"

  Micaela blushed and stammered a bit.

  "Oh, no. I couldn't at least not just yet. Besides, the ones
that I am always attracted to seem to have ties to the past."

  Robin looked at her with knowledge in her eyes.

  "You never do things small, do you, Mic? First the Commander,
now the Captain, eh?"

  Mic shook her finger at Robin. "I never said a word about
anyone. Don't go getting any wild ideas!"

  Robin just grinned. "Okay, okay, but he is single, available
and those violet eyes just melt your insides."

  Micaela picked up cup then looked at Robin and simply shrugged
her shoulders but her eyes sparkled as took another sip of her hot

Chapter Two

Deanna Troi sat in her quarters curled up on the couch next to
Will Riker. They had been sharing ideas for their wedding.

Deanna wanted it to be held on Betazed because according to
Betazoid traditions there would be a week a festivities leading
up to the actual ceremony. Lwaxana had already begun to make
plans for all the banquets and parties to be held.

"Do we really have to be naked, Dee? The captain doesn't like
that very much." Will pleaded.

"Hey, you didn't seem to mind when we first met! As I recall,
you has some interesting thoughts after seeing the maid of honor
at Chandra's wedding dressed in her birthday suit!", Deanna

"Yeah, too bad I did not get to act on them at the time..., "
Will came back.

Deanna pressed herself against him. She put her mouth quite
close to his as she whispered, "Well, why not make up for that

He caught her mouth and laid her back on the couch. He was
definitely not turning down an invitation like that!!!

The plans were being finalized and the date had been set. The
wedding would take place in exactly three months on Betazed.

Captain Picard had made arrangements for the Enterprise to
orbit the planet for the entire week while the celebrations were
being held. He would be the one to perform the ceremony and
Beverly was to be Deanna's honor attendant. Jean-Luc had to
admit a bit of anticipation at seeing the good doctor 'au
natural', but the thought of performing a dignified ceremony
while being completely out of uniform was a bit daunting. He
would, however, find a way to muddle through.

William Riker was his closest friend and he was pleased to see
him and Deanna finally admitting to themselves what the rest of
the universe had known for years. Picard was also anxious to see
how Lt. Leon was working out on the Excalibur. He had seen quite
the potential in her as an officer and a person. He regretted
her decision to leave the Enterprise, but he understood it

Romantic entanglements and the consequences thereof is what
made shipboard relationships an 'iffy' area. Of course, it was
more than a busted romance with Riker that sent Micaela packing.
The strained newfound relationship with her half sister, Deanna
Troi, was also more than she could bear. At least things seemed
to be working out for everyone now. Micaela and Deanna were
getting closer all the time and discovering just how similar they
were to one another.

Deanna and Will would be married in just a short while and
Captain Calhoun seemed rather pleased with Micaela's performance
so far aboard his ship.

Jean-Luc rubbed his chin in thought.

"And I just might get a gander at Beverly's gorgeous dancer
legs and much MORE because of all this.... hmmmm", Picard said to

Yes, things seemed to be working out for all involved.

Deanna had just ended a subspace communique from Micaela when
Will stepped out of the shower. He came up from behind her and
placed his strong hands on her slender shoulders as he leaned in
for a kiss.

"Hmmm, why do you always have to smell SO delicious? Yum, I
just can't get enough of you, you know." Will said as he nuzzled
her ear.

"You have to put your passions on hold for just a little
while, Commander, we still have lots of things to discuss about
the wedding. Have you talked to your father, is he coming?"

Deanna asked. Will replied, "He said that he would check his
diplomatic schedules and get back to me. At least that was more
than I expected."

Deanna patted him understandingly on the hand. She knew the
estranged relationship that Will and Kyle Riker shared, though
they were as close now as they had ever been. Deanna continued,
"Well, Micaela has found a suitable escort. Much to Commander
Shelby's dismay, I might add."

Will raised an inquisitive eyebrow as he grinned
mischievously, "Captain Calhoun?"

Deanna nodded an affirmative.

"She hasn't said as much, but I think she had some feelings
for him. She continuously tells me what an extraordinary man he
is, what a fine commanding officer, how she loves his renegade
style...and on and on. He is quite a man from all that I know of
him." Deanna added.

Will pulled her into a protective embrace. Deanna eyed him
quizzically, "Jealousy doesn't suit you Will. Are you jealous
because of what I said or because Micaela has moved on?"

Will turned her around to face him fully. He said, "I have
told you that what Micaela and I shared is over. You know that I
was only trying to fill that void that you left behind when you
were with Tom and Worf. I am now whole, complete. My soul mate,
my Imzadi, is here beside me for always.


Deanna felt a flood of emotions flow from him and she basked
in their warmth. He caught her mouth with his as he gently
commanded her lips to part. He wiped the tears that had fallen
from her eyes away with his thumbs as he held her face to his.
After long moment, they parted once more.

No words were needed to convey the love they felt for one
another. Deanna finally spoke, "Will, I know where this is
headed and we REALLY do have to finish up our plans."

Will thoughtcast to her, {not now, Imzadi, I have plans of my
own to finish right now}. He scooped her up and she kissed him
again as they headed to the bedroom.

Chapter Three

Micaela had been working side by side with Calhoun on a
scientific survey of his homeworld of Xenex for the past couple
of weeks. MacKenzie Calhoun had chosen Lt. Micaela Leon for his
assistant on this assignment because of her background in science
and planetary politics. It also was due to the fact that she was
the new person on board. Mac was a very unique individual with
most of his peculiarities stemming from his upbringing on Xenex.
The majority of the senior staff and many of the crew were
already familiar with this because of their encounters during
their maiden voyage. This survey seemed to be the perfect way to
'initiate' Micaela in to the workings of his manner of command.
She would have the opportunity to understand his homeward and his
history as well as get to him as a person. Better yet, as well
as ANYONE could get to know MacKenzie Calhoun. Due to his early
days as a freedom fighter, he never allowed himself to form close
relationships. He had had very few close friends over the years,
Picard being one of them. He had had very few romantic
encounters, only one that he would consider an actual
relationship. That was with Shelby. Even with her, he could not
open up completely. It just wasn't part of his makeup. That is
why MacKenzie Calhoun had sworn off of women. Too much damned

"Tell me more of how Xenex was freed from the Danteri, if it
is not too personal," Micaela asked on their third day together.

She immediately lowered her eyes as if embarrassed by her own
boldness as he answered, "Well, Lieutenant, let me share a little
story of how I got this scar on my face."

Mac tapped the scar that ran from his temple to his jaw as he
recounted his final days on Xenex and how he joined Starfleet.
The account was pretty much what Micaela had been told by Robin
Lefler, but she felt better that this time it came from the
Captain himself. Micaela felt the boldness return as she
inquired, "Why did you keep the scar, if I may ask? You know it
is easy to have it removed....doesn't hurt at all."

Calhoun smiled at the humor, "It reminds me of what I was and
who I am. It reminds me to never let my guard down - ever

Micaela noted the double meaning of that statement and the
sadness in Mac's voice when he said it.

They had gotten close to the end of the survey when MacKenzie
asked Micaela if she would like to beam down with him to see the
actual planet before they departed. She readily accepted. She
was shocked when Robin mentioned to her later that no one on
board had been to Xenex before - not even Shelby.

Micaela shrugged as she said, "So? Robin, what are you saying
- the Captain has the 'hots' for me? I don't think so."

Robin made a comment on what a bad mood Commander Shelby had
been in the past couple of weeks.

Mic shrugged, "How many times have you seen her in a good
mood? I am sure it doesn't have anything to do with me. There's
nothing going on. How many times do I have to tell you that,

Robin replied with a grin, "Your mouth says one thing, but
your eyes say something entirely different."

Micaela shot back, "When did you become an empath?"

Robin smirked, "I just know that look, I see it in myself when
Si Cwan is around!" They laughed together as they exited the
Team Room.

The transporter beams faded as Micaela and Calhoun were
assaulted by the dry heat and howling winds.

Micaela asked, "So this is where you became famous, huh?"

Mac smiled a lopsided grin, "I guess you could say that. I
was simply fighting for my people, for freedom, for what I
believed in."

Micaela noticed the faraway look in his eyes as he surveyed
the area called the PIT. Mac recalled, "Micaela, stay sharp.
Although there are no humanoid enemies here now, the natural
forces can be just as deadly. Because of the topography of this
area, violent storms can be upon us in just a matter of moments
with no warning."

"Sounds like Paradise, Captain.", Micaela replied with a bit
of sarcasm in her voice. She continued, "Still it is
lovely...not unlike where I was born on Earth. A place called
Mexico. The terrain is quite similar."

Calhoun indicated that they climb a bit higher for a better
view of the vista. Micaela could not help but notice the warmth
that coursed through her when Mac touched her body while helping
her over the stones. They navigated the rocky walls for a while
until they reached an overhang. It was becoming late evening and
the three suns were setting, creating a multitude of colors in
the purple sky.

"Oh, Captain. This is so beautiful. It is hard to imagine
the suffering that your people went through when you look upon
the peacefulness of the moment.", Mic observed.

They watched the sunsets in silence. It was MacKenzie that
broke it when he said, "Lieutenant, I feel a change in the wind.
I think one of those aforementioned storms might be brewing. It
happens often at this time of the day when the temperatures
change drastically. We'd better be heading back."

Before they could even signal for the Excalibur to beam them
up, the whirlwind broke loose. There was going to be no way the
transporter could breach the ionization in the atmosphere during
the storm.

Calhoun lead Micaela to a partial cave cut into one of the
rock faces. They made it just as the winds became to fierce to
fight. Mac backed Micaela into the far wall of the opening and
held on to her tightly. He told her how he had seen grown men -
including himself - be picked up a hurled for hundreds of feet by
these winds. The rain hit and they watched sheets upon sheets of
water fall just outside the opening. Winds howled ferociously as
they clung to each other for safety.

Mac looked at her with regret in his violet eyes, "Micaela, I
am sorry to have gotten you into this. I had no idea that the
storm would happen. I just wanted to share a bit of my past with
someone. You seemed to be the right person."

Micaela began to feel warm all over her body once again as her
heart began to pound in her chest. She had been attracted to the
Captain since she first laid eyes on him. The attraction became
stronger the more she got to know him. He was a lost soul, not
unlike herself. She felt a connection to him. He stared at her
intently as a fire burned within his eyes. Her face was wet with
rain, her dark curls sticking to her features like ribbons.

Mac reached out to move a soft strand from her large brown
eyes and something caught them by surprise. MacKenzie took her
face with both his hands and pulled her lips to his.

Electricity crackled all around them as lightning danced just
outside the cave and currents ran through the veins of the two
inside the cave. They kissed each other gently, lovingly. They
completely devoured one another's warm wet lips and tongues. Mac
had his hands in Micaela's wet hair as she titled her head back.
He then moved his ministrations around from her mouth to her neck
and earlobe. Micaela was gasping with pleasure as he held her
long body against the rock wall with his own.

Thunder rumbled outside but it was not heard by the two.
Their pulses were pounding so hard inside their bodies that the
noise was blocked. Micaela moved her arms around Mac's waist and
pulled him into her as he continued nipping her neck.

He moved back to her mouth as their kisses deepened to the
point of ecstasy.

Micaela gasped, "Oh, Captain..."

That word was enough to snap Calhoun back to reality. He
stopped and looked into Micaela's face. He began to loosen his
hold on her and backed away slightly. Micaela saw the conflict
in his rugged features. She started to question what was going
on, what was wrong, when Mac put a finger to her lips.

The storm had subsided and he tapped his communicator and told
the transporter chief <the storm has retreated. I believe it is
safe to bring us up now, chief. Two to energize>.

Calhoun and Micaela stood on the transporter padd dripping wet
and completely flushed with unreleased passions. No one
suspected the cause of the redness in their cheeks - it could
have been from the wind.

Calhoun turned to Micaela, "Lieutenant, I believe we both
could use a dry uniform. Your bravery and resourcefulness is to
be commended. I will see you on the bridge."

At that he turned and headed out of the transporter room.
Micaela still stood there with her mouth opened in astonishment.
She thought to herself, "What the hell just happened here?"

She then stomped angrily out into the corridor leaving a very
confused transporter chief behind the console.

Chapter Four

Micaela was doing something that she rarely did ... she was
crying as she spoke with Deanna via subspace communication.

"...and he just walked off, never saying a word. That was
three days ago and he has even mentioned it. Hell, he hasn't even
spoken to me except when it was necessary during bridge duty.
What did I do wrong, Dee?"

Deanna replied, "Mic, I don't think you did anything wrong.
From what I know of MacKenzie Calhoun, he doesn't relinquish
control easily. From what you described, he came close to losing
control with you in those moments. Maybe he was scared of what
he was feeling. Maybe he just needs some time to sort it all

"Yeah, and maybe he just had a little 'fun' and then decided I
wasn't worth it!", Micaela heatedly came back.

Things were silent for a few moments. Micaela regained her
composure and changed the subject, "So, tell me. How are the
wedding plans progressing?"

Deanna answered, "Well, we have hit a little snag. I wanted a
traditional Betazoid ceremony where everyone is nude. It
symbolized that there is nothing hidden. Everything is open and
free. Anyway, Captain Picard is very uncomfortable with the idea.
Will and Beverly are not too keen on it either. I want to hold
to tradition, but we can't seem to come to a compromise. I don't
want part of the group to be clothed and the other part
unclothed. It would make too much distinction. I want harmony.
Do you understand?"

Micaela nodded and thought for a minute. She then said, "Dee,
I have an idea that might work for everyone. I saw a gown the
other day when Robin and I were browsing through the replicator
patterns. The fabric was a very sheer iridescent silk organza.
It was transparent, but gave off a sheen that would rival
sunlight through a crystal prism. What if you had some type of
simple wrap made for everyone? The nudity or feeling of openness
would still be there, but there might be some semblance of
modesty. It could make everyone involved feel a little better."

Deanna pondered the idea a moment and then said, "You know,
Micaela, that just might work. Can you send me the replicator
pattern number for the fabric? I will work on it. Thanks so
much. It is a wonderful idea!!!! I am going to start on it
right away. Will will be thrilled."

Micaela sent the information Deanna needed and they said their

Micaela ordered a cup of Darjeeling tea from the replicator
and went to her bedroom to find something comfortable to put on.
She picked out an old white tee shirt and put her red satin robe
over it. She put on her thick white socks and padded back to the
couch. She had just settled in for the evening when her door

"Who in the world?" Mic said to herself as the answer was

"Lieutenant Leon, this is Captain Calhoun. Might I have a
word with you?"

Micaela heart turned over and then her anger flared back to
life. She looked down at her attire and shrugged, "Just a
minute!" She tied her belt around her waist a bit tighter and
opened the door.

Mac inquired, "May I come in a moment? Is this a bad time?"

Micaela shook her head and said, "No, it is as good a time as
any. Please excuse my attire. I wasn't expecting company."

MacKenzie looked at Micaela. Her hair was tussled and free
from the constrains of the barrettes she wore while on duty. Her
dark skin of her long legs were visible through the folds of her
robe. The crimson satin clung to the curves of her breasts. The
silkiness of her hair and skin, as well as the fabric of the robe
called out to be touched. Mac had never seen a woman look so
beautiful in his life.

Calhoun gathered his wits about him before he spoke,
"Lieutenant . uh... Micaela, I think I owe you an explanation and
apology for my actions on Xenex the other day."

Micaela stood before him, her face impassable. She crossed
her arms over her front, "Go on."

Calhoun gestured for them to sit down in the living room. He
took a place in the chair as she plopped down onto the couch.
That action revealed a bit more of her legs than she had meant
to. It did not go unnoticed by Mac. He stuttered, "Micaela, you
just have to understand who I am. I am just not cut out for a
relationship. I don't know what came over me the other day. It's

His voice trailed off as his gaze dropped. Micaela could feel
the desperation emanating from him. She knew what was going on
inside him - the conflict.

Deanna was probably right. She moved to the edge of the couch
closest to him. She reached out to him and touched the scar on
his cheek. He looked up at her and the inner beauty he saw in
her deep dark eyes amazed him.

"Mac, may I call you Mac?" she asked and shook his head
affirmatively. Mic continued, "I know what you have been
through. I know how you feel about losing control. I know of
loss and being alone. I know of feeling inadequate to love or be
loved. I have lived it. My mother was the only person I was
ever close to and after she died, my heart just shut down. I am
trying now to work past that and learn to open up once more. But
isn't easy. Loving means risking being hurt. It means giving
over control of a part of yourself. But refusing to love, that
is no good either. If you allow your heart to die, you might as
well let your body follow it. It is a slow and painful death,
Mac. I know, I have been there,"

Calhoun briefly pondered what she had said. Maybe this was
one woman who just might understand him. Maybe this was he one
person he could take a chance with.

He looked deeply into her face, "Micaela, I can't promise
anything. But I can try."

She replied, "Mac, that is all anyone could ask for."

At that he moved beside her on the couch. He pulled her close
and encircled her with his arms. He put his hand under her chin
and brought her face up so that they could look at each other in
the eyes. He whispered, "Are you sure?"

She said, "Mac, I am not sure of anything anymore, but I know
I want this - here and now."

He laid her down on the soft cushions and put his lean form on
top of her soft one. She brought her leg up against his strong
thigh. He ran his hand up her silky calf and thigh. He caught
her mouth in a sensuous kiss. He delved deeply into her warm
caresses. She returned his passions twofold.

They stood up momentarily as he slipped the robe from her
shoulders until it pooled at her feet. He then pulled the white
shirt over her head. He then scooped her up and took her to the

After a few moments, her lace panties and white socks joined
the Captain's uniform on the floor. Soft sounds came from the
two joined on the bed as Micaela Leon and MacKenzie Calhoun
learned to relinquish a little of themselves to one another.

Chapter Five

Deanna worked on possibilities for wedding attire all that
evening before she felt ready to share the idea with Will. She
had replicated the fabric that Micaela had told her about in
different pastel shades. She had also created several designs of
wraps that she felt were both elegant and appropriate.

Shimmering cloth was laid out all over her quarters when Will
arrived at the door. He steeped in and looked around, "What is
all of this, Deanna?"

Deanna grinned mischievously, "It is called compromise."

Will look at her questioningly. She proceeded to fill him in
on Micaela's idea. He really liked it. He held up a
particularly sheer piece and looked at Deanna incredulously,
"Will you model this one for me?"

She didn't even bother to answer. She took the cloth from him
and continued explaining her plans. She had made a short kimono
like wrap for her and Beverly. Deanna's would be in a silvery
color, while Bev's in a golden hue. Will's piece would be
patterned after a towel wrapped around your waist and done in the
silver tone as well. She wanted his gorgeous chest bare.

Jean-Luc's would be styled the same as Will's but done in
white. They would replicate similar garments for the guests to
wear in various pastel shades of the same fabric. Deanna could
imagine a room filled with her closest friends all decked in the
sheer, iridescent garments. She decided that it would be

Will asked, "Have you told your mother yet?"

"No, I wanted your opinion first before I mentioned it to
anyone. Do you think they will all go for it?", Dee replied.

Will said with another grin, "As opposed to wearing nothing?
Oh, I think Jean-Luc will be quite pleased!!!"

Deanna was clutching a piece of the material in her hands as
they shared a good laugh before heading out to Beverly's cabin
for drinks with her and the Captain.

Back on the Excalibur, Captain Calhoun was sitting in his
ready room reflecting on the events of the previous night. He
and Lieutenant Leon had shared some beautiful moments together
and he wasn't quite sure what to make of all of it. His warm
thoughts were interrupted as Commander Elizabeth Shelby -
Calhoun's first officer and former fiancee slammed into the room.

She was fuming. She stood there for a minute with her hands
on her hips, tapping her foot. Mac looked up, "Something I can
do for you, Eppy?"

At that she tore into him, "First of all, do NOT call me that
stupid nickname. Second, tell me where you were last night
because you sure as hell weren't in your cabin!"

Calhoun was indignant, but said nonchalantly, "Checking up on

me, Eppy? Afraid I might be having a little fun without you
being invited? And just for the record, Eppy is not a stupid
nickname. As I have pointed out before, your name is Elizabeth
Paula...E. P. Eh-Pe. Get it?"

Shelby stammered a bit because he had hit the nail on the
head, but she replied as cool as possible (trying to ignore the
comments about Eppy), "..N It is not that. I just did
not know where to find you in case there was an emergency or

Mac raised his eyebrow, "Or something? First of all, my
communicator was active. I had simply informed the ship's
computer to only patch through emergency messages code 3 or
above. Secondly, I am entitled to have a life of my own. I am
ALWAYS the Captain - therefore, I am ALWAYS ready in case of an
emergency. But what I choose to do when I am not on duty is of
no one's concern, not even yours, Eppy. Third, why the hell
should you care where I was? You gave up your claim on my
private life a long time ago when you returned the ring I gave
you and called off our engagement. Or did you forget that little
piece of history?"

Inside Shelby cringed because she had never forgotten that
day. She knew things between her and Mac would never work out.
They were too different, but GODS! she still loved him. The idea
of him lying in someone else's arms last night tore her apart.
Outwardly, however, she simply said, "No, I haven't forgotten and
that was not what I intended to imply. I was just concerned,
that's all."

As she turned to leave, she looked back over her shoulder one
more time, "Just who was she, Mac? Leon? I figured as much."

She stomped out of the ready room and back to her chair.

Robin Lefler was sitting at her station at opps and watched
the entire scenario. She smiled to herself privately as she
thought, 'I have got to talk to Mic! You go girl!!!'

Deanna and Will had returned from Beverly's cabin.

Will spoke as he sank onto the couch and put his feet up, "I
think they were both pleased with the attire."

Dee replied, "Yes, they were. Except I felt a twinge of
disappointment from the Captain when he found out that he would
not be viewing the doctor in her full birthday suit!"

Will chuckled, "Really now? The old dog!" Deanna punched him
on the shoulder as she brought him his coffee. It was only a
couple of weeks now until they would be in orbit around Betazed.
They had a week of festivities to attend before the actual
ceremony would take place. Betazoids were very deeply steeped in
tradition, and with Lwaxana being the daughter of the Fifth
House, there were a multitude of functions that tradition
demanded. Since so many from the Enterprise would be in
attendance, Jean-Luc requested special permission for the ship
and crew to be taken off of active duty for that week (barring a
fleetwide emergency of course). The ship would be in orbit of
Betazed for the entire time, providing quarters for everyone
except the immediate wedding party.

They would be accommodated with suites at the Troi mansion.
Lwaxana had spent a month getting the rooms ready.

Several days later, Deanna was speaking to her mother on her
monitor, "Mother, we will be arriving in two days. Captain
Picard will have the Enterprise in orbit by 0900 hours. That
will give us sufficient time to beam down with all of our luggage
and get settled before the tea that afternoon.

Micaela won't arrive until the next day, however. The
Excalibur will be tied up until then. She will be escorted by
none other than Captain Calhoun himself. Mother, are you crying?
Are you feeling alright?"

Lwaxana blew her nose before replying, "Oh, Little One, it is
just one of these seasonal colds, I suppose. Most everyone I
know has it. What terrible timing for all of our outdoor

Deanna reassured her, "Everything will be perfect, Mother.
Just go to bed and get some rest. I will see you day after

Deanna signed off as she exhaled slowly. She said to herself,
'In just over a week I will be Mrs. William Riker. That sounds
soooo good.' She lay her head down on the desk and drifted off to
sleep with dreams of Will Riker in her mind and soul.

Chapter Six

The Enterprise arrived on schedule and was in orbit around
Betazed, when Will, Deanna, Beverly and Jean-Luc beamed down to
the surface. After a quick welcome drink, they each retired to
their respective rooms to settle in before the afternoon's
festivities. Despite her illness, Lwaxana had everything
perfectly prepared for them.

Will stretched out across Deanna's soft bed and watched as she
unpacked their belongings. As she brushed past him, he reached
out and grabbed her around the waist - pulling her onto the bed.
He teased, "When you we growing up, did you ever think you would
have a MAN in this bed?"

He waggled his eyebrows suggestively. She remarked, "For you
information, I HAVE had a man in this bed before!!!"

His expression changed immediately and he sat up.

She patted him on the arm and explained, "My father, Will, I
was talking about my father. He used to always tuck me in at
night. I miss him so much. I wish he could be here for this.
And I wish he could meet Micaela. He would be so proud."

Tears were flowing from her dark eyes as Will encircled her
with his strong arms. He held her gently as she cried. When the
sniffling had subsided, she looked into his beautiful blue eyes.

He held her face in his hands as he brushed away the last few
teardrops with his thumbs. He softly said, "I know how much you
loved him, Dee. And you're right, he would have been very proud.
You have become a fine officer, an elegant lady, and the most
incredible person I have ever met. But there are still many
people that are here and now that love you very much, too....
Micaela, your mother and most of all, me."

He pulled her into him as he kissed her lovingly, deeply. As
their embrace became more passionate, Deanna thoughtcast to Will
{If we aren't careful, we are going to be late and Mother will be
missing us. Now what is she going to think?}.

Will cast back {Imzadi, right now, what your Mother thinks is
the last thing on my mind. But you are correct, we ARE going to
be LATE...very late!}. He laid her back on the soft coverlet as
their bodies and souls melded once more.

The party was in full swing as Will and Deanna appeared at the
base of the stairway. Deanna's face reddened slightly as a few
hushed giggles ran through the crowd. Deanna saw her old friend,
Chandra, running toward her. They threw themselves into a warm
embrace. Dee kissed Will quickly on the cheek as she and Chandra
headed to the powder room for a little 'girl talk'.

"Oh, Dee. Will looks even better than he did over 15 years
ago, I didn't think that was possible!!! It is no wonder that
you were late arriving - I probably wouldn't have even made
it!!!", Chandra exclaimed.

Deanna blushed again as she said, "Reading my thoughts,
again?" Chandra replied, "It doesn't take a telepath or even an
empath to see the love between you two. Remember, I have known
you too long. I knew all those years ago that you would
eventually get together. An IMZADI bond is eternal, you know. I
just never imagined that it would take THIS long!!"

They laughed together as they headed back to the crowd.

Lwaxana had arranged for a formal ball the next evening to
honor her daughter's 'joining' to her Imzadi. It was a special
honor since Deanna was of the Fifth House. The Excalibur had
arrived earlier that afternoon and was now in orbit as well.
Captain Calhoun and Micaela had beamed down to the surface.

Micaela wore a gown of rich crimson red silk. It had a halter
bodice that draped low in the back - ending just below above her
curvaceous hips. The dress was cut rather low in the front as
well, giving an inticing view of her ample cleavage. The skirt
clung to her curves and was slit up one side revealing her long,
dark legs.

Calhoun eyed her approvingly. He purred, "That dress is
something else, Mic. It reminds me of your robe that I have
become so fond of removing."

He tightened his grip around her waist as her cheeks turned
the same shade as her gown.

Deanna was on her way to greet the new guests as she felt
something odd from Beverly. She stopped to see about her.

Beverly was standing off to the side watching Jean-Luc and
Lwaxana Troi engaged in conversation with Gart Xerx. Deanna put
her hand on her friend's shoulder and asked, "Are you alright,
Bev? I can sense some type of anger from you."

Beverly just shrugged, "I'm okay. It just makes me mad that
Jean-Luc is supposed to be MY escort tonight and he has done
nothing but FLIRT shamelessly with you mother all night."

Deanna dismissed it, "Oh, Bev. He is just being polite. You
know how Mother can be. At least she is not in PHASE!"

Beverly laughed with Deanna as they went to greet Micaela.
She still could not control the fury and jealousy bubbling just
below the surface - waiting to erupt.

Deanna ran to hug her sister and meet Captain Calhoun.

She told him, "I have heard many good things about you,
Captain. It is a pleasure to finally meet you."

Mac said, "I feel likewise, Counselor."

She said, "Please, it is Deanna."

He nodded in agreement. At that Jean-Luc came and took him
and Will away for a little chat about Sector 221-G and all the
strange occurrences there recently.

Deanna and Micaela watched them from across the room.
MacKenzie wore a dark grey suit with a deep purple silk shirt
beneath. He preferred his uniform, but Micaela would not hear of
it. She noted how his ensemble brought out the color in his
violet eyes. Will looked very handsome as well. He wore a
simple black tuxedo and chose a royal blue shirt to complete his
outfit. The color accented his eyes, too.

Mic and Dee looked at them and smiled with their whole hearts
as they said simultaneously, "Let's go get our men!"

As the evening progressed, Deanna continued to sense so many
negative emotions - rage, apathy, jealousy, indignation - running
rampant through the crowd. She had been witness to a rather
heated argument between a young couple from Earth that were here
on Betazed attending the University. She had no clue as to the
nature of it, but the spat ended with the young woman throwing a
drink in his face and storming out.

This in of itself was unusual, because Betazed was normally a
haven of peace. At that Deanna sneezed and said, "Damn! What a
time to catch this stupid bug."

She went to find Will when something else caught her empathic

She could sense an outburst of uncontrolled FURY emanating
from Beverly and Jean-Luc. She knew something was terribly wrong
and she ran to find them. She could hear the shouting before she
ever reached the gardens where the two were fighting.

Deanna was appalled to hear Picard say, "THAT is ENOUGH,
Doctor!!! You are being INSUBORDINATE."

Bev heatedly replied, "Oh, come off it, Jean-Luc. We are not
on active duty right now and you are therefore NOT my commanding
officer. In fact you are just a MAN and acting like a complete

Picard's face was flushed with anger now as he shot back, "I
do not even presume to understand what your PROBLEM is, Doctor.
I was NOT panting after Mrs. Troi. But even if I WERE, what
business is it of yours????"

Bev screamed, "YOU JUST DON'T GET IT - AUGH!!!" and she
slapped him clear across the face and ran off.

Deanna looked at the Captain's stricken expression and
reddened cheek in confusion and then went after Beverly.

Chapter Seven

Deanna found Beverly in her room inside the mansion packing up
her belongings. Her face was flushed and her eyes were
bloodshot. She was sobbing. Deanna went to her and Beverly
shrugged away from her.

Dee began, "Bev, I can sense such anger from you. Can I...."

Beverly sarcastically interrupted, "Don't start the empathic
crap with me, Deanna. Any FOOL could see that I am angry. If
your MOTHER was not acting like such a ...a...harlot! then Jean-
Luc would not be panting after her!!!!"

Something in Deanna snapped and she began yelling as well,
"How dare you!!! Just because you have the HOTS for Jean-Luc and
he isn't FALLING at your feet, don't blame my mother!!! Maybe he
PREFERS a woman of dignity and upbringing!!!"

Beverly slung her suitcase to the floor as she shouted, "I
wish Will all the best. He will need it. ANYONE who can put up
with a TROI day in and day out - deserves all the luck he can
get. I personally have had my FILL!!!"

At that she stormed out of the mansion and beamed back to the

Will came to Deanna to see what that was all about.

She ran into his arms and sobbed. She told him all that
happened. Will explained, "Dee, Bev had no right to say those
things, but you have to admit your Mother can be quite a piece of
work sometimes."

Deanna backed away from him and he saw the cold fury in her
dark eyes. Will put his hands up, "Now don't start with me. I
know that look in your eyes. I was just making an observation."

Dee shot back, "Yeah, just like the OBSERVATION you were
making tonight at MY SISTER. Oh, don't make any excuses, I saw
how you were oogling her. You still want her, don't you?"

Will replied in a voice a bit louder than he meant to use,
"NO!!!! How can you say that? She has wonderful qualities, that
much is true, but she is not my IMZADI - you are!"

Dee said, "Just what KIND of qualities??? Good on her BACK?!?"

Will shouts, "I don't believe you!!! Yes, as a matter of fact
- she is an OUTSTANDING lover, but more than that, she is a
wonderful person. She is caring and giving. She is down-to-
earth and humble. That is much more attractive than being a

Deanna screamed and ran at him with balled fists. He grabbed
her to keep her from hitting and scratching him. They were
locked in this undignified struggle when Lwaxana came bursting
into the room. She exclaimed, "MY GODS!!! What is going on
here? William, Deanna?"

They both shouted in unison, "SHUT UP, MOTHER!!!!"

Lwaxana almost fainted from the onslaught of negative
emotions. She collapsed to the floor as Deanna ran to her room
and slammed the door.

Will went outside and beamed back to the ship. The fact went
unnoticed to most, though, that fights and arguments were
breaking out all over the grounds of the Troi estate. Data
cocked his head in wonder and amusement as he noted each of the

Micaela looked at Mac in astonishment, "What in the universe
is going on here? Have they all lost their minds?"

Calhoun shrugged and said that maybe she should go to Deanna.

Micaela found her lying across her bed, crying. She went to
her and brushed the hair from her tear-stained face. Mic
whispered, "Oh, Dee. What happened? What was all this about?"

Micaela was doing her best to comfort her sister when Deanna
turned her fury upon her. She screamed, "Well, YOU are one of
the biggest problems!!! Why couldn't you have just stayed away?
You are a constant reminder to me and Mother as to Daddy's
infidelity as well as WILL'S!!!!"

Micaela was taken aback, "Deanna, that isn't my fault. Why
are saying such things? You and Will were not together when he
and I were. I didn't even know about you two then...I..I..."

Tears were streaming from Micaela's brown eyes as she backed
out of the room. Her heart was rent in two from Deanna's hurtful

Maybe she was right, maybe she didn't belong here, maybe she
didn't belong ANYWHERE - she was just a BASTARD child. No one
would ever love her. No one could. She wasn't worthy. She ran
back to Calhoun.

His heart turned over at the distress she was going through.
He cried, "Micaela, Micaela...wait. Where are you going????"

She pulled away from him shouting, "Leave me alone!!! You
don't want me either...NO ONE wants me!!!!"

He tried to go after her, but he lost her in the crowd. He
tapped his communicator, <one to beam up>, and he returned to his
ship to sort this out.

Chapter Eight

Calhoun crossed the bridge to his ready room. He ignored all
the stares from the crew who knew that he was supposed to be down
on the planet attending a function for Lt. Leon's sister and her
fiance. He was muttering under his breath, "Damned fool
people...they have all lost their BLOODY minds. Hell, I am a
SAVAGE and I act better than that..."

Robin looked at Shelby to see if she would follow him into the
ready room and find out what was going on. Shelby just shrugged
and had a satisfied smile on her face.

After a few minutes, Calhoun returned to the bridge.

He commanded, "Lefler, do a sensor sweep of the area and find
Lt. Leon's biosignature."

Robin replied, "Yes, sir. Working. Got it!! She is on a
precipice that overlooks ....ah, let's see...Lake Gitan."

Calhoun said, "Acknowledged, send those coordinates to
transporter room one. Shelby, you have the bridge."

Robin looked at Shelby once again and this time it was her
turn to have the satisfied smile on her face - again much to
Shelby's dismay.

Mr. Homn had called a physician in to see Lwaxana and Deanna.
After a thorough examination, Dr. Naxeim determined that they
both had the virus that was going around. It would be the cause
of the physical symptoms of runny nose, sneezing. body aches.
But he was unable to find a cause of the hostility Deanna was
harboring. He told Mr. Homn as he left, "Maybe this is all for
the best. I never liked the idea of a Betazoid/Terran joining
anyway. Even if they are Imzadi. It only leads to trouble."

Back on board the Enterprise, Data went to sickbay to inquire
as to how Dr. Crusher was doing. She was still in hysterics -
fueled by anger. Data tried to calm her down, but to no avail.
She was running around swearing and breaking things. He finally
prepared a hypospray and placed it to Beverly's neck. He caught
her before she hit the floor.

Several hours later, Beverly awoke. She sat up groggily on
the biobed and looked over to see Data working at her terminal.
He saw that she was awake and he went to her, "Good. I am
pleased to see that you are awake and are in a more suitable

Bev rubbed her temples, her head was pounding, "Thanks, I
think. What the hell happened, Data?"

Data proceeded to fill her in on his interpretation of the
events of last evening, leading up to his incapacitating the
Doctor with a tranquilizer.

Bev said, "But Data, that is not like any of us. Why would we
act like that? Especially Will and Deanna."

Data replied, "I believe I have an answer for you, Doctor.
But I would like to show you my findings and allow you to draw
your own conclusions. You are the physician and I am not."

"Thank you, Data. What do we have?", Bev asked.

After reviewing Data's findings, Beverly sat back. It was the
virus, a simple organism that had destroyed so many lives. Data
had took samples from different ones that had been present at the
ball. It seemed that the virus simply caused flu-like symptoms
in full Betazoids. They had adapted well to the virus, since it
was indigenous to the planet.

However, when it invaded a Terran human, it produced far
different symptoms. It attacked the chemicals in the brain that
control negative emotions. Therefore, those on the surface that
were from Earth were plagued with feelings of anger, fury,
jealousy, self loathing.

Data said, "I believe that is why all of the arguments and
disagreements are still taking place. Can you find an antidote,

Bev replied, "That should be fairly easy since you have
already isolated the virus. But Data, can you assist me? I
still have the virus in me and I don't know what will happen if I
have another attack."

Data assured her, "Of course, Doctor."

Dr. Crusher and Data worked for several hours until she was
satisfied with the results. Data went to replicate the serum and
load the hyposprays as she injected herself. She called Captain
Picard and asked for an immediate meeting of the senior staff.

She briefly explained their findings and Picard readily

An hour later, the senior staff sat around the conference
table. Things were very quiet and you could cut the tension in
the air with a knife. Deanna took a seat beside Geordi, instead
of her usual seat next to Commander Riker.

She glared at Will and he returned the stare with ice in his
blue eyes. Captain Picard was still sporting red streaks on his
face from Dr. Crusher's assault. Beverly looked at him sheepishly
and dropped her eyes.

He indicated for her and Data to step to the front and present
their findings. She first had Nurse Ogawa to come in and give
everyone who had been down to the planet a hyposray of the
antidote. She then explained what she and Data had found out
about the virus and its effects on Terrans and Betazoids.

Beverly looked at Troi and said, "That is why you had both
sets of symptoms - the negative emotions and the cold-like
effects. You are one half of each race."

Deanna nodded solemnly. Captain Picard now stood and said,
"Well, now that we are all feeling a bit better and we know and
understand that none of us were acting with our full mental
capacities, let me be the first to apologize for my actions on
the planet."

Everyone exchanged apologies and hugs of forgiveness. As they
exited, Will took Deanna by the arm and said, "Can we go
somewhere and talk?"

She nodded an affirmative and headed for Ten-Forward.

Chapter Nine

MacKenzie Calhoun was searching through the darkness for
Micaela. He finally spotted a dark form on the edge of the

He ran over and saw that it was Micaela and she was not
moving. The clouds drifted and the moon came out to cast a bit
of illumination on them. Calhoun was aghast at the site that met
his eyes. Micaela was bleeding profusely from hundreds of small,
yet deep, lacerations on her arms and legs. Just as Mac looked
around for her attacker, he noticed a sharp piece of glass in her
right hand. GODS! She had done this to herself.

He checked for a pulse. She had one, but it was very faint.
He immediately commanded a beam up directly to sickbay.

Dr. Maxwell took Micaela's limp form from Calhoun as he
immediately began administering anti-shock and plasma expanders.
He was cleaning the wounds and putting in temporary sutures as
Micaela began muttering almost incoherently. Mac came to her
side and heard, "..hate one loves me....couldn't love
me....not worthy....wanted to die....'bye Mac...wanted to be able love you...."

Micaela fell unconscious as Dr. Maxwell indicated to the
Captain that he had sedated her.

MacKenzie Calhoun was surprised when he touched his face and
felt the salty sting of tears. He had not cried since he was
eight years old and saw his father tortured to death at the hands
of the Danteri. He had certainly never cried over a woman. But
Micaela was different and he knew at that moment that his heart
would never belong solely to himself again.

Will and Deanna sat quietly in a corner table away from the
questioning eyes of the crew. Will held her hands in his, "But,
Dee. I know you did not mean anything that you said down there -
just as you know I didn't. We were both sick, don't you see
that? Please tell me that you are not serious, Imzadi, please."

Deanna say the pleading in her beloved's azure eyes, "Will, I
know that I love you and that you love me. And although we were
under the influence of the virus, what we said had to have come
from somewhere. There is an old saying that you only speak what
is in your heart. Even though we might not meant to SAY those
things, somewhere down deep inside it was a reflection of our
feelings. I just think we need some time to sort it out. I just
cannot make a commitment to you right now."

She got up and headed back to her quarters when her
communicator beeped.

<Picard to Troi...Counselor, we have an incoming message from
Captain Calhoun. It concerns Micaela. Please report to the

She replied, <On my way, Captain. Troi out.>

Deanna stepped off the turbolift just as Calhoun was saying,
"....she tried to take her own life. She is in serious, but
stable condition in sickbay."

Picard filled him in on Dr. Crusher's findings about the virus
and its effects. Calhoun agreed for Dr. Crusher and Counselor
Troi to beam over with the antidote immediately.

While Dr. Crusher conferred with Drs. Maxwell and Selar,
Deanna stood by Calhoun next to Micaela's bed.

Deanna had tears forming in her large onyx eyes as she stroked
her sister's pale skin. Dr. Maxwell had repaired most of the
deepest lacerations, but she had lost a great deal of blood.

Deanna sobbed, "I should have never said those things to her.
I didn't mean them. I just don't know what came over me. I..I."

Calhoun put his arm around her slender shoulder as she wept.
He consoled her, "Counselor, Micaela has a lot of demons from her
past that continue to haunt her. After her mother died, she has
been lost - with no connections, except to you. She puts on a
good front, but she has a very low self-esteem. She denies the
fact that someone could actually love her. Don't blame yourself,
you were both ill at the time. You will both be okay given some

Deanna wiped her face as she said, "Thank you for your help
and for saving my sister. I can sense that you care about her a
great deal."

Calhoun silently nodded. She continued, "Do you mind if I
stay here on the Excalibur for a couple of days, so I can be
close to Micaela? Captain Picard said that neither ship would be
leaving orbit until the end of the week."

Calhoun replied, "Of course, Counselor. I will have quarters
ready for you immediately. But if you don't mind my asking,
don't you have a wedding to attend?"

Deanna smiled sadly, "No, Captain. There will be no wedding.
I called it off."

Chapter Ten

Deanna was sitting beside the biobed when Micaela came around.
Deanna shushed her and told her not to move too quickly.

Micaela looked around disoriented, "Dee? What happened?
Where am I? Ohhh, why do I feel so bad?"

Deanna said that she would answer all her question in time.
Right now someone wanted to see her. Deanna backed away and
allowed MacKenzie to approach.

He stroked her hair as he gently said, "Hey, gorgeous, welcome
back. I missed you very much."

He kissed her on the forehead gently. Micaela was surprised
because they had agreed not to show affection in public.

Deanna sensed this and said, "Don't worry about that right
now, Mic. After the past week, I think most everyone knows about
you two anyway. The good Captain here has been quite a lunatic
waiting for you to recover."

Micaela smiled weakly at him and he could see the love in her
eyes. He bent down and kissed her softly on the lips.

"I am going to get back to the bridge now. Dr. Maxwell wants
to take a look at you and Robin Lefler is waiting outside.", he
said. He kissed her hand once more and quietly left sickbay.

Deanna bent over her sister, "I will return later, too, Mic.
I have got to take care of a few things, but I will be back

Deanna left sickbay and headed for the transporter room. She
had to return to the Enterprise and do the hardest thing that she
had ever done - say GOODBYE.

She was in her quarters packing when the door chimed. Without
even looking up she said, "Come in, Will."

Will Riker strode into her room. He said forlornly, "So you
are really leaving? I thought that once you had time to think
about all that happened, that you would see what a mistake you
are making. Imzadi, I love you. I need you right here beside me.
Please, I am begging you, don't go."

She saw that he was actually crying. She stopped what she was
doing and went to him. She cried, "Oh, Will. I love you, too, as
much as I ever did. But I just have too many doubts right now.
I can't go through being hurt again if things didn't work out.
Besides, I am only leaving for six months. I am going to teach a
semester at StarFleet Academy - training future counselor's. And
I want to be there for Micaela. She will be undergoing her
therapy at a facility near the academy. We are going to share an
apartment and help each other. We both need this time. We both
have a lot of healing to do. We all have some decisions to
make. I cannot make any promises for the future, Will. But I
vow to return to you, Imzadi. And I will always love you."

She sank into his embrace sobbing with released emotion. Will
Riker held her and his tears merged with hers as they cried

Micaela was in her quarters packing as well. Calhoun came in
and she stopped to look at him. They shared a silent embrace for
several moments before they spoke.

MacKenzie kissed her soft hair as he whispered, "I will miss
you very much, Micaela. I have become accustomed to having your
presence near me. But I want you to get better. Even though you
were under the influence of the illness, you have many deep
seated feelings of unworthiness. Your attempted suicide and the
things you said immediately following is an indication of that.
You must learn to love yourself before you can truly love someone
else. Someone very special told me that."

He felt warm tears soaking his tunic. He held her as she
cried silently.

She finally looked up at his rugged features and into his deep
purple eyes, "You are an exceptional person, M'k'n'zy of Calhoun.
I will miss you, but a part of you will always be with me." She
tapped the area over her heart. She continued, "I want to get
better, especially for you. I want to be able to truly love you,
but most of all, I want to be able to accept the fact that you
could love me in return."

He held her tightly for a while.

She pulled away for a moment and said, "I hate that Deanna and
Will called of the wedding. But they will get back together in
time. They are IMZADI and nothing can keep them apart for long.
Besides, it will be nice having her there with me on Earth. I
know she will be a lot of help to me. There are just many wounds
inside me that have to heal. Not all scars are visible on the
outside, you know. (she touched his face) Promise me you will
keep in touch."

He said. "Oh, you know I will. When you complete your
therapy, though, and return to the ship, you know we will have
some big decisions to make. But don't think of that right now.
Let's enjoy this night together. Tell me more about this IMZADI

He lifted and carried her to the bedroom as she began
explaining the Betazoid philosophy of being beloved and how one
person is the first to touch your soul, how we are all two
separate halves searching for our soulmate to complete us.

Calhoun whispered in her ear as he gently laid her back, "I
can relate to that."

She smiled and allowed him to love her.

the end

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