Title: Imzadi Unhinged

Author: Irina Tellen

Romance: R/T

Series: TNG

Rating: R

Part: 1/10

Abstract: Deanna has a vistor from the past who complicates and confuses her love life with Will in a post Insurection continuation of their reestablished Imzadi link.

Acknowledgments: I would like to thank Micaela for challenging me to write this by setting up a fiendishly difficult plot line and scenario that very nearly drove me crazy with an impossible writing task.

Disclaimer: Paramount owns the Star Trek franchise and the characters therein. We are allowed to play with them as long as we play nice. Copyright 1999 Irina Tellen.

Archive: Permission granted to store in official ASC and ASCEM star trek archive. No commercial use without my permission. All others please ask. Such requests will be considered promptly.

 

July-Aug 1999

Star Trek: The Next Generation

Imzadi Unhinged

or When Art Imitates Life

by Irina Tellen

Chapter 1

The digital clock said 9:30 AM.

I yawned and stretched.

"Okay lazy bones, time to get up" I said to no one in particular. As I shifted Samson protested from somewhere down near my feet. I could feel his furry weight pressing down on my legs.

I have to go. My bladder is full.

I yawned again pulled my feet out from under him and I finally slipped from beneath my warm quilted bedspread into the cold morning. I found my bunny slippers to keep my feet from freezing as I headed to bathroom.

On the way I pulled back the curtains to let more of the morning sun in, which illuminated the stuffed smiling bear sitting on my dresser patiently guarding all of my perfumes.

"Morning Pooh!"

Oh Ho! No answer again. The strong silent type, I mused.

I pulled my nightgown over my head then tossed it back into the bedroom then got onto the scale -- out of habit I think -- 115 pounds. Well I guess chocolate cake didnít do me harm last night, I thought.

The pressure of my bladder finally insisted. Afterwards I tucked my medium length auburn hair into the shower cap I kept hanging from the cold water knob. The overnight water, standing in cold in the pipes finally turned to warm as it was replenished from the water heater. I let it run for a few minutes to warm the shower stall before I stepped in. I first soaped my face and neck then rinsed. As I moved on to my breasts I began to think. Iíll have you know that I do some of my best thinking in the shower. I thought about the Imzadi challenge that I had accepted, trying to figure out one plot line or another but nothing seemed to work. Unfortunately, this morning, even with the meditation of water running over me, it did me no good. For I came to the conclusion that I was fundamentally clueless about this relationship. Why had I accepted?

~~~

By early afternoon I had run out of excuses. The laundry was done. I had sorted through all of my old panties and bras, throwing away the worn out ones. I had read the morning paper. The breakfast dishes were done and put away. I had even gone to the dry cleaners and picked up the dress I was going to use for my date with George tomorrow night.

I sat down to write and BLANK A writerís nightmare Ö the story would not come, not even a fragment or scene.

~~~

Time passed. I watched the afternoon sky darken until the clouds opened and disgorged a pouring rain accompanied by the delicious drums of thunder and clashes of lightening. As quickly as it had come it was gone and the cleansed air was sweet and fresh again. I figured that Iíd find Samson and Delilah huddling under my bed if I cared to look, for thunder and lightning frightens them.

All this while I continued to sit at my computer trying to write. Trying to conceive of how to write. Trying to imagine, conceiving about how to write the damned challenge story. A challenge for which I am ill equipped.

Another bundle of fur invaded my space.

"Hello Delilah, decided to come out, eh?" I said scratching the ruff around her neck. Delilah purred contentedly.

"Whereís Samson?"

Delilah looked up at me with the cat like equivalent of ĎYou were asking me a question?í

"Nevermind. Heíll show up for dinner. Okay Delilah, hereís an easy one. Iíve been challenged to write a Riker/Troi Imzadi story. Where do I start?"

Delilah looked up.

"Meow?"

"My thoughts exactly. Well, dinner time."

~~~

I fed Samson and Delilah first just to get them out from under my feet, replaced their water dish and put down their evening saucers of milk. My mind ran down scenario after scenario rejecting each as I made up a fresh salad for myself along with a chunk of French bread. I was running on automatic as I pan seared the filet of catfish - then added lime, vinegar, tomatoes and onions.

I donít even remember eating what I had prepared and, as I cleaned up, I couldnít even remember if it tasted good. I think it did but my mind was still distracted by my sorry state of affairs.

~~~

That evening I decided to try to clear my writerís block with a walk down to the general store about two miles down the road. Donning my Reeboks and shorts, I decided to forgo the bra and pulled a tank top over my head. By the time I got back I had worked up a good sweat but was still completely without a starting point.

After showering I decided to take one more shot at it before throwing in the towel and e-mailing back to my challenger that it was hopeless. After drying and powdering myself, I pulled on my terry robe and cinched the belt around my waist before heading back to the computer.

My writing command chair is an incredibly comfortable old executive model that I found in the back of a used furniture warehouse and convinced the guy in charge to sell it to me for thirty-five dollars. I had to ask George to set up my fancy new computer though because, even though Iím know how to use my software, Iím completely fumble fingers with the mystery of other stuff.

I still wasnít getting anywhere. Samson was asleep on the shelf above my computer - a warm spot, while Delilah had staked out and was snoozing on a pile of story printouts that I had shoved to one side of my desk.

Leaving the cats to sleep, I wandered back out into the living room and put my tape of Star Trek Insurrection in the VCR, and fast forwarding to the Troi and Riker parts hoping for inspiration. Still no clue but I could see that the characters had been able to work out some sort of relationship.

"Argh!" I clicked the VCR off and rewound the tape.

Returning to the computer, I had to move Delilah out of my chair - her preferred place - and back onto the desk.

I sat back in my chair and my eyes closed thinking. I never knew when resting my eyes turned into sleep.

~~~

On the screen of the computer in front of the sleeping woman a pair of eyes appeared then a smile that faded away. The air of the room shimmers causing both catsí fur to rise but neither awakes.

Chapter 2

Something is definitely wrong. I am awake but I refuse to open my eyes. I know that I am lying on my back in the dark on a bed. The air smells and feels strange -- a kind of mechanical undertone -- like a garage -- whatís a garage? I know I should know but my mind is muddled.

I canít remember going to bed. What am I doing here? This isnít my bedroom -- isnít it -- where am I?

I felt the bed move -- I am not alone. I freeze -- barely breathing -- trying not to make a sound. I can hear my heart thumping. I feel warmth as the other person shifts position. Big, I thought. Suddenly a strong arm is across my stomach. I feel panic begin to rise as my anxieties came into play. What am I doing here? I continue to breathe as shallow and as quietly as I can for the fear of what may come.

I feel different. My senses are not the same -- the same as what? Compared to whom? When? I try to search my memories for something that would tell me. It felt as though I was someone else but - as if in a dream Ö one that seems to be fading. Who am I?

Slowly, I ease out from under the arm that captures me. I sense that I know this place. But I donít. It is both familiar and strange. I rise and open my eyes. There are windows behind which there is only black with streaks of blue, white, gold and red. I think that I know this. But I donít. I find my way to the bathroom -- but thatís not what itís called here. Iím so confused. I touch a wall plate and the door closes behind me and soft lights illuminate the space. How did I know to do that?

There is a mirror. I am almost afraid to look. I must look but I donít want to. I am afraid. I look down. My body shape is different, my breasts are larger -- I can feel them shift when I move. I donít remember that before. I feel taller. That cannot be. Who am I? I am me, but not me. I sense someone else is here -- with me -- I am not alone.

Finally my innate curiosity overcame me. I had to see. I take a deep breath and step up in front of the mirror. I know the person that looks back but itís not me. A long heart shape face -- but mine is rounder. Dark eyes look back at me. But mine are green. The face is surrounded by long lustrous black hair, dark as night. But my hair is auburn. My hands slide up the silk-like material. My waist is thinner than I remember. I feel my breasts they are firmer than I remember, larger. I know this person -- but it is me and not me. Who am I? Itís so hard to think. That which I think is me is in bits and pieces and there is something here which is more but not me.

Ignoring the me/not me in the mirror, I pick up and look curiously at each of various bathroom things, some familiar and some not. An abstract, swoopy symbol on a small case looks familiar for some reason. A chill shudders through me.

NO! It cannot be. The place, the time, these people are imaginary -- it is NOT -- it CANNOT be real.

I hear a voice calling from the other room -- the bedroom -- my bedroom.

"Deanna, are you okay?" the voice calls.

Our bedroom?

A soft knock penetrated the door of my refuge.

"Deanna, are you in there?"

Deanna? It cannot be.

A voice came into my mind.

<<Who are you?>>

<<I do not know.>> I thought back. It seemed to be the right thing to do.

<<Why are you here?>>

<<I cannot remember>>

<<Leave!>>

<<I cannot. I donít know how>>

<<Let go. Let me back in>>

<<How?>> I replied.

There was silence. The voice in my head seemed annoyed but not threatening.

<<Hello?>>

Nothing. The voice seemed to have gone away.

Another soft knock.

"Deanna, answer me. Are you all right?"

I began to panic. My mouth went dry and I began to shake.

<<Answer him!>>

Sheís back. How did I know it was a she?

<<What do I say?>>

<<Say that you are fine.>>

<<Tell whom??>>

<<Will, of course>>

"This isnít happening" I moaned softly to myself in a voice that was not me. I felt an emotion of concern flow through the door -- it was so very strange.

<<Quit playing with that!>> said the voice in my head.

<<With what?>> I replied, distracted.

"Deanna?" called the voice outside my door.

"Go away." I told the voice on the other side of the door.

"What?" said the voice.

<<NO! You idiot. I said tell him youíre fine>> said the voice in my head.

"Deanna, open the door."

<<Open the door!>>

<<Iím afraid. This is so confusing.>>

<<Confusing isnít the word for it. Open the door!>>

I took a deep breath and brushed the doorplate with my Ďnot meí hand.

<<Say good morning.>>

As the door slid back into itís pocket I was confronted by a tall, dark haired, muscular, good looking and very naked bearded man. I opened my mouth but nothing came out but a squeak. Panicking, I pawed at the wall plate - reclosing the door between us.

<<You didnít say he would be naked!>>

<<What?>> said the voice in the back of my mind.

<<N-a-k-e-d! Without clothes.>>

<<Of course heís naked, you idiot. Itís the middle of the night and itís my bedroom.>>

"Deanna, whatís wrong -- Youíre acting very very strange."

<<What do I say?>>

<<You, my little twit, are going to say exactly what I tell you. Now tell him that you arenít well but for him to go back to his quarters and youíll meet him for lunch.>>

<<Iíll try.>> I thought meekly.

<<NO! You will!>>

"Deanna, If you donít come out immediately, Iím going to call Doctor Crusher."

I made up my mind, at least what there was of it.

"Iím okay, Iím just having a bit of a girl problem. Nothing to worry about."

<<Okay now the rest.>>

"Do you want me to call Beverly?"

<<Beverly?>>

<<Ships doctor and the answer is NO!>>

"No," I replied. "Why donít you get dressed and let me alone for a while to take care of it. Iíll join you for lunch."

"Deanna, this is very strange. Are you sure you are all right?"

"No, really." said my estranged voice, "Iíll be fine -- just go. Weíll meet later."

Again I felt an emotion flow into me. It felt like concern and confusion and frustration all at the same time. Suddenly the mental equivalent of throwing up of hands.

<<Now see what youíve done!>>

<<No I donít see. I havenít a goddamned clue as to what I done. I donít even know why Iím here>>

The voice in my head gave me a mental hurumph and then sulked. I slid down to the floor with my back to the door and put my Ďnot meí face in my Ďnot meí hands. I was too confused to even cry.

Outside of my sanctuary, I heard rustling and finally another door opens and closes with a strange swish-whoosh sound.

Chapter 3

I touched the doorplate. The door opened, allowing me to lean out and look. //Heís gone.// I thought even though I knew it to be true. Relieved, I returned and looked in the mirror at the beautiful, almost Grecian face that looked back at me.

"Who am I?" I asked aloud. No answer crawled up from the depths of my Swiss cheese memories. Some things seemed perfectly clear while others peeked out from the fog then disappeared before they could be known.

I tried to sort out what I seemed to know.

"Okay face, you seem to be Deanna and that gorgeous hunk..." My mind flashed back to the naked image of him now burned into my memory. "Uh, that gorgeous hunk was Will and this is impossible. Those people are not real. They are just characters on a television show. They donít exist."

<<I am absolutely real and we were doing perfectly fine until you showed up. Whatís a television show?>> said the voice in my head.

<<When is this?>> I asked.

<<What do you mean, Earth reference or stardate?>>

<<Earth year.>>

<<2376>>

"Ohhh shhhh." I moaned then sat down on the closed toilet seat. At least that hadnít changed too much.

"This is the Enterprise?"

<<Of course, how did you know?>>

I sighed. "The only thing I know is that I shouldnít be here."

<<Iíll second that. Youíve succeeded in ruining a perfectly good day off. Will and I hadnít planned to get out of bed until something past noon.>> the voice said wistfully. A feeling of a short burst of anger then a wave of regret swept over me. I shuddered.

"Was that you?"

<<Yes.>>

"Iím sorry."

<<What goodís being sorry now?>>

My stomach started to growl. Rising I returned to the bedroom and noted how the sheets and covers were rumpled - instantly knowing the reason. I felt a twinge between my legs. Embarrassed, I turned my back to stare at the colorful streaks outside of the bedroom window.

<<Stars? Warp?>>

<<How do you know this?>> the voice asked.

<<I donít really know. Some things are clear but others are not. Itís like I have gaping holes in places that I should know something.>>

She said nothing but I could sense that she was thinking. My stomach growled again.

"I think Iím hungry."

<<What time is it?>>

I looked around for something like a clock.

"I donít see any clocks."

<<Idiot, ask the computer.>>

"What time is it?" I said aloud.

A feeling of exasperation flooded through me. <<Say Computer? Time>>

"Computer, time."

"The time is 05:34" replied a female voice out thin air.

<<Itís still too early to eat.>>

"Donít you have anything here?"

<<Okay, Okay! Iíll get you something. Go to the replicator.>>

I looked around puzzled. I saw nothing here that I could construe to be a replicator.

<<Itís in my outer quarters!>>

I found the door. As I entered what was a comfortable, living room like space it was automatically illuminated to a dim but serviceable level. For some reason I recognized that the alcove like space in one wall was probably the replicator. An examination of it showed that there were no controls or buttons.

"Okay, now what?" I said aloud.

<<Say hot chocolate. It knows youíre here. And keep my hands out of the way.>>

"Possessive, arenít we?" I retorted. I was getting a bit tired of her attitude and continued with "hot chocolate."

Fascinated, I watched a cup shimmer into existence within the arch of the alcove. The rich smell of steaming chocolate assaulted my senses. I shivered with pleasure as I took a sip. <<Why did it do that to me?>> I asked.

<<Iím half Betazoid and it affects us more strongly.>>

I seemed to remember something taking another sip and again shivering in pleasure. <<You mean like catnip?>>

<<Whatís catnip?>>

"Never mind. I think I understand."

Unconsciously, I touched the base of a lamp forming a pool of light as I curled up on the couch and continued to sip chocolate nectar from the warm cup.

<<How do we get out of this?>> I queried.

<<I donít know yet. I donít know who you are or where you came from or why youíre here. All I know is that I donít like it. Youíre interfering with my love life!>>

I could feel the heat rise into my breasts, neck and face as I blushed.

<<Okay, now what?>> I questioned.

<<Weíre going to get some help>>

Chapter 4

"Computer, Time?"

"The time is 07:42"

I was getting the hang of this. I have come to the conclusion that the gaps in my memories are oddly specific, as if someone was quickly packing and threw assorted bits knowledge into a suitcase. Then, when it wouldnít close, randomly discarded bits until it would. It is most frustrating.

Fortunately, the female requirements of a half Betazoid are not too different from the bits and pieces that remain as me. Preparing to go out, however, has been a battle of wills. She keeps her things in much different than where I would have. Our biggest problem was, not so much what to wear, but how to use virtually every grooming and toiletry device of the here and now -- only combs, hairbrushes and hairpins seemed to have aged unchanged. I wonít even begin to tell you what taking a shower was like. Thank god she doesnít wear her hair up in some kind of roll. I would have never been able to cope with that.

"Hey, are you still in there?"

<<Are you finally ready?>>

"I think so. Can you see out?"

<<I havenít tried.>>

I felt a bit of prodding about in my head.

<<You are going to have to let me.>>

"How?" I was glad that no one else could see our one-voice conversations.

<<I donít know. Think moving over a bit.>>

An odd notion. I thought about scooting over in a booth to let someone else sit down. I seemed to know what a booth was but not where it was used. Again there was the prodding about then I could feel a bit of her presence a little stronger.

<<Okay, I can see what ever you see now. This is weird.>>

"Tell me about it."

I tested our newfound jointness by looking at different objects in her apartment, no ĎQuartersí she had called it.

<<We should have done this sooner. It would have made the fiasco of this morning much easier than flying blind.>>

"Thatís behind us."

<<Go stand in front of my dressing mirror. I want to check us out.>>

While I was gaining some confidence everything was new and nothing worked quite the way I thought it should so I did as she asked.

A feeling of mirth invaded me.

"What?" More mirth.

I looked in mirror. "Whatís wrong? I look fine!"

I thought I had done rather well with this new and unfamiliar body from the eclectic and slightly weird mix of clothing in her closet. I had finally selected a crimson silk like tank top over a soft thin black bra and high cut black panties. Most of her dresses and skirts were too long or weirdly draped for my taste. I finally found a simple black wrap around that was shorter than the others that I put it on side slitted so it would show off these great legs when I walked. I then looked around for some type of pantyhose but it seems that they donít use such garments now. Mores the pity. In any case, I liked the sexy effect of a band of skin between the ornamental belt I had put on over the skirt top and the bottom of the tank top. Rummaging through her jewelry, I selected a pair of simple bracelets and some nice dangly earrings. I used a comb to pin back her midnight black mane to get it out of the way. Shoes were a problem until I finally settled on short socks and pair of purple calf length boots that were incredibly comfortable.

<<You did all right under the circumstances..>> she said.

Sheesh! What a left-handed compliment.

"Just all right? I worked hard trying put this together and do you justice."

<<No, I meant that itís fine, it just... er... a little.. uh.. different than I would have done it, thatís all. Also, itís a little much for day wear around the ship. I would suggest that you wear my gray vest over that top.>>

"Oh. Okay then." That made me feel better. "Where is it?"

<<At the other end of the closet.>>

"Okay... Howís that?"

<<Fine. Ready to go?>>

"Sure. Want to try talking first?"

<<Itís worth a try.>>

"Okay, Itís all yours."

I tried to step back mentally when, suddenly, my tongue felt as if it were trying to tie itself in a knot and all that came out were gags and squeaks. She quickly she released me from her attempt to talk.

"Gagh! That was horrible."

<<Sorry! Itís not going to work! I canít control anything that requires muscle coordination. I seem to only be able to safely hook into my/your senses without screwing you up. Most likely because youíre in control.>>

"Okay, now where are we going?"

<<We are going to see Beverly.>>

"Who?"

<<Doctor Crusher.>>

"Why?"

<<Because we need help figuring this out and I need someone who wonít think that I/you/we are a raving lunatic.>>

Chapter 5

I enjoyed the attention that followed us as we walked through the ship. I suppose that somewhere in my Swiss cheese mind I am a bit of exhibitionist, but I could sense that my silent companion was uncomfortable with it as she guided me through the corridor after corridor. The Enterprise was impossibly and wondrously huge. I felt like a mouse on a grand tour of a maze.

<<If you werenít here, Iíd never find my way back to your quarters.>>

<<If you werenít here, I wouldnít be out this morning.>> she retorted. <<Turn here. Okay second double door on the right.>>

While I was used to automatic doors, these were amazing. They seemed to swoop back into the walls instantaneously and never closed on you accidentally. As we entered the medical facility, she had called it the Sickbay, I was immediately impressed by its size. An auburn haired woman sat with her back to me in a glass walled office.

<<Okay what do I do now?>>

<<Get her attention.>>

I rapped on the glass wall. "Doctor Crusher?"

She turned and looked at me then sat back in her chair and howled. After some minutes, she finally caught her breath, still laughing. "Deanna! I didnít think you had it in you!"

I looked down to see if anything I was wearing had come unglued. Nothing had. "Doctor Crusher. Is there a problem?"

Suddenly she looked puzzled. "Doctor Crusher? Deanna, are you okay?"

"Uh.. Not really." I replied.

<<You can say that again!>>

<<Shut up! This is hard enough as it is.>>

"Deanna, whatís going on?"

"I donít think your going to believe it."

"What?"

"Iím not Deanna."

<<Yes, you are!>>

<<No, Iím not -- you are!>>

"What!? Youíre going to have to explain that."

~~~

I went through the litany of what had happened earlier this morning. When I got to the part with Will Riker - the image of his handsome, nude body flashed into my mind.

<<Shall I tell about Riker?>>

<<Beverly knows about us but in this case I think not.>>

Heeding her advice, I avoided the subject as I continued, concluding with our experiments with sight and speech.

"Let me get this straight. You are in control of Deannaís body and sheís in there with you."

<<Hi Sis!>>

<<Quiet!>>

"You say that you think you have a form of selective amnesia regarding who you are and where you came from?"

"I guess that sort of sums it up, Doctor Crusher."

"For gods sake, will you please call me Beverly. Youíre making me uncomfortable with this act."

"Itís not an act!" I wanted to cry. If she didnít believe me, no one would.

<<No blubbering.>> said my companion.

"Go away, youíre not being helpful."

"What! Why did you say that?"

"I wasnít talking to you Doct.. er Beverly." Using her given name felt wrong some how. "I was talking to Deanna, who was bitching at me."

"You mean she was talking to you in your head?"

<<You bet, Sis.>>

"Stop that. Enough with the kibitzing."

<<Hunh? Whatís kibitzing?>>

"Deanna, You do not know how weird you sound."

"Doctor. Iím having a three way conversation between me, you and her - but you can only hear two parts of it." I collapsed into the armchair beside her desk, frustrated.

"Deanna, Come with me. I want to run some scans over you to see if youíre really okay."

"Beverly, you think that I crazy, donít you?"

"Well, Deanna, you are certainly acting more strangely stranger than normal."

~~~

After nearly an hour of electronic poking and prodding I was sitting on one of the Sickbayís bio beds idly watching my feet swing back and forth while waiting for Beverly to come back in and give me/us the results.

<<I hope that Beverly can find a way to send you back to where ever you came from.>>

"Believe me, Iíd like nothing better -- this forced intimacy is really a pain."

<<Remember, Iím an empath. Iím used to it. Sorry if I bitched at you, I know that youíre trying hard to do whatís right.>>

"Thanks." I said sourly.

At that moment, Beverly returned.

"Well, Iíve got some good news and some bad news. Which do you want first?"

<<Flip a coin.>>

"Well, I guess the good news first!"

"Well your memory engrams definitely show that thereís at least one and a half of you in there and it doesnít seem to be doing any harm to anything."

<<HARM?! And thatís the GOOD news?! Sheís ruining my love life!>>

<<Deanna, Weíll try to fix it up before we get me out of here.>>

I then turned my attention back to Beverly. "And the bad news?"

"Well, I canít be completely sure because the residual energy signatures were so faint. But I detected a bit of cronotron residuals and an energy signature which we have previously correlated with energy patterns recorded for Q and the Q Continuum."

<<Ohhhh S**t!>>

Uh Oh, I thought that sounded bad. I felt as if I should recognize the reasons for Deannaís despair so searched my memories for references to these Q and found only black holes different from the other missing parts of my memories. It was as if someone or something had deliberately excised any reference to them. This upset me. I could forgive the other missing memories but now someone was deliberately messing with my mind and I didnít like it.

"What does this Q thing mean?" I asked angrily.

"Simply stated, Youíre stuck here until the Q that sent you here decides youíre to go back."

"Go back where? The Q? You mean that thereís more than one of them? How do you contact these Q types?" My mind was racing.

"Whoa! Slow down. You donít contact them. They decide where and when to contact you -- normally at the most inconvenient moments. And itís not where, itís when. The best that I can guess is that you are probably from the late twentieth or early twenty-first century."

"You mean that Iím here as one of their toys? I mean the Qís toys."

"Thatís about the size of it."

<<S**t!>> I echoed my companions evaluation of our situation.

Chapter 6

<<Well Beverly wasnít much help. At least someone thinks that weíre not nuts. What do you know about these Q things?>>

<<More than I want to. Itís a long story which goes all the way back to when we first came aboard the Enterprise D.>>

<<D? Oh I see, predecessor to this one?>>

<<Thatís right. Anyway itís a long story. Can we defer it later?>>

I sighed. <<I suppose so. Unfortunately, Iím going to need to know more about these kinds of things as well as personal stuff just to keep from getting you in any more trouble.>>

<<Unfortunate is the operative word.>> I could feel her emote her own sigh. <<Isnít it uncomfortable going around without a name?>>

<<Not really. Iím me and youíre you and from the outside weíre Deanna. Doesnít seem to matter and I havenít had any problem keeping us straight. How about you?>>

The feeling of a shrug flowed into me. <<I guess not.>>

"Iím hungry."

<<Again! You just had breakfast three hours ago.>>

<<Why should that matter? Itís lunchtime and Iím hungry. Whereís the cafeteria?>>

A wave of disgust swept over me. I could see that with our split personality that the sooner that I could give her back her body the better of weíd all be. In the mean time I suspected that life would, unfortunately, become a bit awkward. At this time I had no concept of how true my premonition would be.

"Well, we did say we were going to join him for lunch."

<<Oh my god! I forgot.>> A wave of near panic flowed out of her.

<<Quick! Check the time.>>

"Computer, what time is it?"

"The time is 12:15" said thin air.

She moaned mentally. <<How are we going to explain this to Will?>>

<<Why not do it like we did with Beverly?>>

<<No! I donít want him to know yet. At least not until I have you reasonably well sorted out.>>

"Sorted out!" I snorted. "And just who do you think needs sorting out?"

A passing crewman looked turned and looked at me/us curiously. He apparently recognized me and was about to respond when I glared at him. Catching on, he quickly turned and hurried of to wherever he was originally headed, unknowingly leaving the two of us to argue.

Outside of Ten Forward, the ships all-purpose club/lounge, our argument was in full swing and I wasnít paying much attention to where we were or those around us. Although I did refrain from using speech because of the confusion that one-sided conversations seemed to cause.

<What is it with you and Will? I mean heís just a man.>> The image of his naked body flashed into my mind. I blushed. <<An admittedly very attractive one at that - but still just a man."

<<You donít understand. We are Imzadi!>>

<<Imzadi? Whatís that?>>

As we entered, I looked up; I became instantly aware of the presence of the same handsome man that I had had inadvertent inspected earlier that morning. He was coming toward me with a broad smile on his face tinged with a hint of concern. This time he was dressed -- well dressed -- I observed and devilishly bearded, muscular and trim with such blue eyes that they drilled into my soul. As he neared waves of love, concern and emotion flooded into me, scaring me half to death. I panicked, turned and ran.

<<Wait! Stop!>> yelled the companion in my head. But I did not, could not hear her. I was in full fear flight seeking refuge, leaving a very puzzled man wondering what he had done and whether he was going to have to apologize for it.

Chapter 7

I ran. I couldnít hear Deanna. I wasnít listening as I ran through the corridors of the Enterprise. There was no way I would find my way back to Deannaís quarters. Instead I raced back to Sickbay. The doors whooshed opened barely avoiding getting in my way.

Beverly looked up in surprise as I raced past her and dashed into the examining room I had used earlier. I hit the roomís doorplate hard enough to bend it if it hadnít been as sturdy as it was. I could barely wait for the door to open and slipped in as soon as it was wide enough for me to get in and palmed the door shut behind me.

"How do I lock it?" I panted.

<<Why?>>

"Dammit, just tell me how."

<<Tell the computer.>>

"Computer, donít let anyone in unless I tell you itís okay."

"Room secured."

"Thanks." I then realized that I had just thanked an inanimate computing machine and began to laugh uncontrollably.

<<Whatís so hysterically funny?>>

"At least someoneís on my side, even if itís only the computer."

Both of us were quiet for a while but I found the lights now hurt my eyes.

<<The lights?>>

<<Like before>> she replied.

"Computer, dim the lights, please."

//Ah much better.// The room darkened into a comfortable set of lighter and darker gray shadows. I hoisted myself up onto the examining table, still panting from my run. I stared at the ceiling, I let the bits and pieces of my mind go over the dayís events but I couldnít make heads or tails out of what had just happened.

A soft knock on the door.

"Deanna, Itís me, Beverly. Whatís wrong?"

"Nothing!" I was nearly screaming.

"Let me in. I want to help."

"No! Go away." I shrilled.

The tapping stopped.

I backed into the corner, fearful that someone would force the door. I heard Rikerís muffled roar outside the room. While I couldnít hear him in my head the way I had earlier, his presence was palpable. I actually feared being near him because the feelings were so intense. Oddly I could also sense Deanna. As I gained control of my breathing she was able to talk to me again and I could tell she was furious.

<Donít ever do that again!>

<Do what?>

<Lock me out!>

This was weird and getting weirder.

<I didnít mean to.> I switched back to voice mode. "What happened to me out there? It felt like he was everywhere around me and inside me all at once. It was so intense that it scared the hell out of me."

<<I tried to tell you, Will and I are Imzadi.>>

<<Is that like being married?>>

<<Not exactly. Itís a Betazoid term loosely meaning "Beloved". Itís more like being connected soul mates.>>

<<Connected!? Forever?>>

A feeling of wistfulness came over me. <<Yes, at least until one of us dies.>>

"But what if you or he is involved with someone else?"

<<It doesnít change the fact. It doesnít change the bond. I wonít lie to you it makes it more difficult, almost impossible at times. Sometimes I had to build a wall around my heart.>>

<<How did it happen? When?>>

<<It was a long time ago. Will visited Betazed where I lived. He was between assignments.>> In my skull I listened fascinated by the story of Will Rikerís pursuit of her. Their first encounter at a Betazoid wedding, nude by tradition. How she was aware of him and troubled by his presence from the very first. The rebuffs and her shocked surprise when he mentally ambushed her in the university quad. His fumbling and learning of her and her culture. I was amused at use of duplicity she used surreptitiously explore her physical attraction to him. Then came the Jalara Jungle with him riding in to rescue her and the exquisite sexual bonding, the Imzadi bonding that had occurred. Their parting and their awkward reunion on the Enterprise D and all that had happened since. << Anyway thatís how it happened to me.>>

<<So he was your first?>>

<<Yes but that didnít matter. You never know who or when you will meet one of your soul mates. When it happens, it happens and it has no respect for your situation or anything in your past.>>

<<What about Will?>>

<<Youíve seen him. A handsome naval officer, intelligent, sometimes sensitive, egotistical -- what do you think?>>

The image of him standing naked before me leapt to the surface of my mind. I shivered with erotic imagery.

<<My guess is that he had had plenty of liaisons before he met you.>>

<<And you would be right. Also after we broke up. He needs the company of women. It was so hard for me to stand aside and watch. When we are close I can sense that he cared for them but I know that I am the only one who has truly touched his heart for we are Imzadi.>>

<<Imzadi is more than just being soul mates, isnít it? Does this Imzadi thing require sexual contact?>>

<<Sex is only a part of it. The Imzadi bond completes itself in many ways. That it happened there and then... well it happened.>>

Suddenly she heard his voice.

"Deanna!" Willís voice penetrated the door then.

<BAM> The doorframe rattled with his blow.

<BAM> I felt a wave of frustration sweep over me. I could feel the pain in his hands. "Deanna! Come out! Talk to me."

<<Will! Help!>> Deanna cried out.

I felt strange, as if I was losing control, being pushed aside.

"Deanna!"

<BAM> Even harder.

<BAM> Frightened I lifted my hands as if to ward off an attack and .... they were both gone.

Beverlyís muffled angry voice penetrated the door. "Will, if you donít calm down, Iím going to call security and have you forcibly removed from my Sickbay!"

"But Beverly, Sheís in trouble. She ran from me! Sheís acting very strange. I donít understand whatís happened to her but she needs me. I heard her and now I cannot sense her at all."

"Will leave her alone. Iíll talk to her. Now GO!"

"But--"

"GO! Get out of here, you are scaring her."

"Scaring her? What in the hell are you talking about?"

"Will Riker I wonít tell you this again. Get OUT OF HERE!" roared Beverly.

The pounding stopped. Quiet then a gentle tapping at the door.

"Deanna, heís gone. I locked Sickbay down. No one can enter until I say itís okay. You can come out now."

I took a deep breath then asked my mental companion.

"It was him! I felt him then, all of a sudden he was gone. What happened?"

There was no answer. I searched for her. <<Deanna, where are you?>>

No answer. Oh god, what did I do? I then tried the thing we had done when she wanted to see. I made myself small and went around inside my head opening doors. Searching frantically. Suddenly she was there.

<<Deanna!>>

A feeling of ice cold shivering swept over me. I reached out and pulled her in next to me Ė the equivalent to a warm sisterly hug. <<Are you all right?>>

<<Noooo!>> Her mental voice was small and hurt. <<You shut me out again. All the way out. Itís frightening.>>

<<Deanna, Iím sorry I didnít mean to. It just happened. Please tell me youíre not mad at me.>>

<<Iíve never been able to shield like that. How did you do it?>>

<<I donít know. I was overwhelmed. It felt as if I was drowning in his emotions and being dissolved by you at the same time. I was afraid. All I did was >> and I repeated the mental and physical gesture.

<<Oops!>> I quickly opened the mental door again.

<<Burrr. Thatís some trick but what do you mean by dissolved?>> Curiosity had replaced fear.

<<When you called out to him, and he answered it was as if I was being shoved aside. I didnít expect it.>>

The mental equivalent of a thinking hmmm flowed over me.

<<I think that we need to tell Beverly.>>

"Why?"

<<Because, my fine little usurper. You may have discovered a way out of this mess.>>

"What do you mean?"

Deanna proceeded to explain what she had in mind.

"Are you sure that we should try this? Itís not dangerous is it?"

<<I donít know if itís dangerous or not but we have to do something.>>

"And youíll keep your promise to me?"

A pause Ö then <<Yes, but only if you keep to yourself and talk to me when Iím not busy with other things. Promise?>>

"Okay I promise. Now what do you want me to do?"

<<First find out where Will is. I want him out of the way for the time being.>>

I thought about this then decided it was like the clock. "Computer where is Will Riker?"

"Commander Riker is on the Bridge."

<<Good! Now unlock the door. We need to talk to Beverly about this.>>

~~~

The half an hour of strange three sided two voiced conversation nearly exhausted me when I slumped back into Beverlyís side chair.

"Deanna, youíve gone from being a bit weird to being a down right lunatic. You now say that when Will came storming in here after you that you nearly exchanged places with Deanna."

"I guess so. At least Deanna thinks it was when she tried to reach out to him that I felt that I was being pushed aside."

"And some how you were able to erect a mental shield of a kind that you, I mean Deanna never could. This is extremely strange talking to you and discussing you in the third person."

"I guess. Anyway yes, somehow I instinctively put up a barrier to protect myself."

<<Ask her!>>

"Deanna, you just had another puzzled look."

"Deanna wants me to ask you if youíll help set up a controlled meeting with him, Will Riker, I mean."

"What do you/she have in mind?"

"Well, Deannaís theory that if she can reestablish a full empathic bond with Will then it might be possible for us to exchange places and put her back in control of her body. I agreed to try only if she didnít try to lock me out afterwards. At least that way she can have her life back even if Iím a spectator -- that is until the Q things decide that theyíve had enough fun toying with us."

Chapter 8

Deanna had guided me back to her quarters where we showered once again then changed clothes. It was ever so much easier now that Deanna could see through my eyes. Unlike the morning there were no arguments. When we were ready we stood before the same mirror as this morning. I was amazed for the clothing that I considered eclectic accentuated Deannaís natural beauty.

We were now dressed in a close fitting blue-green off the shoulder dress. I blushed when Deanna told me what perfumes to put where. Deanna had had me pin our hair back, over and under into a layered double fall then pulled tendrils out on either side to accent her Grecian features. Matching slipper boots and earrings finished off the effect that she wanted.

I picked up the communicator badge.

<<Leave it.>>

"Are you sure?"

<<Yes, If this works out, thatís the last thing weíll need.>>

I set it back down on her desk, took a deep breath and headed for the door.

~~~

It was sometime later when I/we rejoined Beverly in one of the Enterpriseís holodecks. Beverly was waiting in front of a door unlike any that I had seen before. It was more like a portal than a door with control panel on one of the columns.

Seeing that we had arrived, Beverly incanted words of magic. "Computer, run Troi Alpha 9 - time, about 22:00 hours, full moon."

"Running," said the computer and the doors opened to a plateau overlooking a moon-illuminated jungle at night. I followed her in and startled when the doors closed and the portal disappeared. For all intents we were alone in the middle of a jungle. The stimulating sweet scent of flowers permeated the air. The ground felt like a cushion of moss. I could hear a small waterfall hidden but for its soothing sound.

"This is wonderful." I said aloud.

<<It is a recreation of the Jalara Jungle where Will and I became Imzadi.>>

The warmth that flooded out of Deanna inside me made me feel loved.

"That good?"

<<Better than that.>> I didnít know that a ghost could smile.

Beverly smiled at the interplay. "Will you two stop that? Itís most disconcerting. Okay, what do I call you anyway?"

"Deanna. For some reason we seem to be able to keep it straight. Did you set it up like she wanted?"

"Yes, Iíve told Will to be here at in -- Computer time?"

"The time is 17:50"

"In about five minutes or so."

I felt my stomach contract.

<<Easy! Get it together.>>

"Easy for you to say."

Beverly saw that I was trembling. "Deanna, Will loves you."

"He loves the other Deanna. I donít even know him" I complained.

"Well for this to work youíre just going to have to pretend."

I started to breathe deeply, quelling my fears attempting to find a quiet center. How did I know? -- I just did. It may have been Deanna, or it may have been my left over memories.

I heard the door open behind me. I knew it was him but did not turn around. Beverly, in front of me raised a hand and signaled him to stop and wait, then put a finger to her lips indicating that he should be silent.

The play began.

"Deanna. Will is here, behind you."

"I know, I can feel him."

I was nervous.

"I know you are hyper sensitive right now." Ah the excuse! "Weíve gone over that. Do you understand what Iím doing?"

I could see her wave him back.

"Yes, you are helping me establish control over this change."

"Will?"

"Yes?"

I shivered at the rich timber of his voice.

"Approach slowly until you are just behind Deanna but do not touch her."

I could feel him. The intensity of the feelings increased. The hair on the back of my neck rose.

When he spoke this time I could hear his voice in sound and thought.

"Deanna?"

My voice quivered. "Yes..." I forced myself to use his name "Will."

"Are you okay?"

I shivered again. "Iím not sure."

Beverly cocked her head. I nodded slightly. This play was becoming all too real. "Okay Will, I want you to put your hands on her hips."

The feeling of him became palpable within me. I felt his warmth on my back, the heat of his breathing on my neck. I began to shiver. I began to pant.

"Will step back!"

His hands were gone.

I calmed. She nodded and motioned him forward again. I felt his hands on my shoulders. Warmth flooded into me. This time I didnít flinch. I closed my eyes and leaned back. As I nestled into his arms I could feel his breath once again on my neck and ears.

"Okay Deanna. Think you have it under control?"

I nodded.

"Iíll leave you two alone then to sort yourselves out. Will be careful, sheís still skittish and may exhibit some strange behaviors."

I smiled at the ruse, but it was oh so true. In this whole time the partner in my head remained silent.

<<Show time?>> I thought.

I could feel her grin. <<This could get interesting! You okay?>>

<<I think so.>> I thought back nervously. <<Whatís going to happen?>>

<<Wonderful things, I hope.>>

Chapter 9

Will wrapped his arms around my shoulders and held me close. Will, I could think his name now without turning into a quivering idiot. The partner in my head began to whisper things into my mind -- gentle suggestions and instructions -- more like a stage prompter so that I would not forget my lines but it was Will that spoke first, softly, his rich resonant voice penetrated my soul.

"Deanna, my love. Are you comfortable with this?"

Afraid to speak, I nodded my head. It came into me a feeling of concern for my well being with an underlying fear that something was extremely wrong with me.

<<This is empathy?>> I queried.

<<Yes, now shut up and go with it.>> her mental voice trailed off into whispers telling me what she wanted me to say.

"Hold me, Will. This change has been a little frightening."

"Want to talk about it?" he said quietly in my ear, burying his face in my hair. I knew that he loved getting his hands into my/her hair.

"Not right now. I just want us to get back to normal."

"I want to, also. It has been so strange. You know that you smell wonderful. I missed you."

"I know." A tingling sensation coursed though me.

<<Turn around>> she whispered.

I wiggled in his arms. He released me without letting me go so that I could turn and hold on to him. I couldnít yet look at him so I buried my face in his tunic. I could feel his beard soft against my face and the strength of his arms as he gently stroked my back and hair.

He kissed my forehead. I felt love and warmth flow through me.
It was impossible to fathom what was happening to me as Deanna flooded her love for him into my mind. This time it was not frightening -- almost overwhelming but not frightening. I moved my hands to his chest.

I was shocked when he easily swept me up into his arms and carried me deeper into the Jungle. Instinct made me circle his neck with my arms. As he carried me I felt comforted. Finding a mossy-bedded glen within a circle of tree he allowed me to find my feet again. Then he did something that I did not expect -- he stepped back, held his hands out in invitation. He was giving me the freedom to flee or stay as I chose.

<<You said he was egotistical and self centered?>>

I felt a smile. <<Not all of the time. Go to him. Iíll help you.>>

Following Deannaís instructions, I took his outstretched hand then sank as gracefully as I could onto the mossy ground pulling him down with me. He did not resist.

"Remember the lake?" I whispered.

He grinned. "Ah yes. You mean the place where you invented a whole new kind of Betazoid nude therapy? I found out later."

"Caught!" I said smiling for the first time remembering Deannaís story. I then turned more seriously to him. "Will I need to be held. Please Hold me."

"Come here." He opened his arms and took me in, fitting my back to him spoon fashion, lying nestled in the warmth of his arms."

It became more difficult to concentrate as my body began to think for itself. I began to appreciate Deannaís predicament. For all her Betazoid ability to intellectualize, when she was with this man - in this way - rational thought processes were almost impossible. It was as if our two halves became whole in the presence of each other, neither of us was complete without the other.

We stayed like that for quite some time. Each time Will stroked the curve of my hips or my stomach I could feel twinges of need and desire flow into my center.

"Are you going to tell me whatís going on? Beverly only told me that you were undergoing some sort of consciousness expansion."

<<You might say that>> I though laughing.

<<Pay attention!>>

<<I am at attention. My nipples are so hard they hurt!>>

<<Answer him!>>

"Uh, I donít know what to call it. I just seems that I much more sensitive than usual."

His hand accidentally brushed the underside of my breasts through the fabric of my dress. I shivered.

"Cold?"

"No -- not really." I didnít care what Deanna wanted now, I knew only that wanted this man. Deanna flooded my mind with images from her past. I groaned with need, rolled over and pushed him onto his back, reaching down and ran my hands sensually underneath his tunic, feeling his warmth. Leaning close and nuzzling his neck drinking in his man scent. I NEEDED this man.

"Deanna! Are you sure that we shoul--"

"Shut up, Idiot and kiss me." I pounced on him, capturing his lips with mine, my hunger devouring him. My body was giving him full permission.

He held me, his hands touched my dress in various places and it seemed to melt away from my body. I pulled at his tunic, pulling it free of his trousers. He allowed me to pull it over his head. I threw it aside then ran my hands through his chest fur.

<<Traction>> my companion whispered in my mind fondly.

I smiled, still fondling his fur. "Traction?"

A huge smile illuminated his face.

"Youíre really back?"

Deanna wasnít yet but I wasnít going to say anything as he gathered me back in. I pressed my aching breasts to him, his fur stimulating me further. Each of his touches brought me -- us --, shiveringly closer to completion.

I wanted him.

I needed him.

I would have him.

My hands and lips were not idle causing him to groan in his own need as I stripped him of his pants. When I slid back into his arms, his beard tickled my neck. His neck was exposed to me. I instinctively bit into his warm flesh, marking him as mine.

"Deanna!" he cried.

I slithered up upon him, taking him and fitting him into me. We were two halves once separated and now whole. As I began to rock, sliding my body on his fully joined with him, as I/we came ever nearer to the magic of release. I could feel Deanna, every bit as excited as I, reaching out to him through me, mentally hugging us both. I cried out.

"Will!"

I wanted him so. I wanted him more than anything. Taking him with me, I rolled, pulling him onto me, into me. We were intertwined. Our hearts were beating as one. I opened our mind and felt us fuse Deanna, him and me. Our minds, our hearts and our bodies were in one another, as one.

It was unbelievable.

It was exquisite.

It was perfection.

The three of us fused, sweeping aside our individuality in a silent, intense voicing. "Imzadi!" our minds cried out. I felt him a part of me. I felt Deanna a part of me. We were me. We were us. We were all. Love permeated my being.

I felt Deanna slip into place beside me. I was no longer in control but I did not care for I was with her, not outside to where she had been. We were joined. He held us, stroking our hair. I could feel her joy and his but mostly I reveled in my own.

She wept.

~~~

It was late. We had exhausted each other repeatedly. Deanna now rested, panting softly. I too was exhausted, though now along for the ride. I so wanted to sleep, to regain my energy.

<<So thatís the Imzadi bond?>>

<<Um hum>> She sounded cat-like pleased.

<<Wow>> I thought.

Deanna chuckled in my mind and snuggled deeper into his arms. I too was content.

~~~

As the sensual lethargy of sleep began to overtake my/our body, I let my mind drift in the pleasant mental sea. As my perceptions widened I became aware of other minds. Minds, quite different than any I had encountered on this wild journey.

<<Okay, pay-up.>> said a soft contralto female voice.

<<Youíre going to gloat over this for all eternity, arenít you?>> said a male voice.

<<Maybe.>> she laughed.

It was the last thing I remembered.

Chapter 10

It was Delilah that awoke me from my dream state, sitting on my lap talking as she does when she was hungry. Morning light streamed into my sanctuary.

I remembered it all. It was unlike any dream I had ever had. I felt so relaxed. But it was such a private thing, and my nipples were still hard. I grinned as Delilah butted my hand.

With what I was sure was a sappy foolish smile, I answered her insistence.

"Hungry, little one?"

She looked at me as if to say "Are you kidding? Itís morning!" but it came out "Meow."

"Okay then but Iíve got to do something first."

I set Delilah on the desk when Samson jumped up and sat silently beside her. They were like two furry bookends that looked quizzically at me. Had I changed? What could they sense?

Pulling my chair up to the desk I began to type.

 

Dear One,

I found that, at first, I could not answer your challenge for I had no clue as to what Imzadi meant.

 

I smiled to myself then continued.

 

I gave it a great deal of thought and did some deep research into the subject. It is with a sad heart that I must now conclude that I have no ability to transcribe what I have learned about Imzadi into a meaningful story.

 

I chuckled.

 

I have come to realize that the bond is sacred and deeply personal. It is a most special joining of minds, hearts, souls and bodies in a way that defies explanation. Therefore, it is beyond my capability to find the words to express the deep meaning of this unique connection defined as Imzadi. As such your challenge has beaten me.

Me.

 

I was now laughing aloud - sensing exactly how true those words were. Samson and Delilah looked at me as if their mistress had gone mad. With tears in my eyes I pressed SEND then leaned back in my chair.

"Thank you, Deanna." I whispered into the cosmos.

<<Youíre welcome, Imzadi ours. He knows now.>>

 

End