Bright. Blinding light. Reflex brought Riker's arm up to shield his eyes against
the assault. As suddenly as it came it was gone, replaced by an all-consuming
Sickness. Spinning vertigo. Closing his eyes and placing his hands on his knees,
Riker forced himself to take deep breaths. As his body began to calm again,
a strange sensation washed over him. The darkness that had threatened to overtake
him was gone, but something was wrong, very wrong. Using Betazoid techniques,
he focused his mind, trying to calm the turmoil that was attempting to devour
What the hell is going on, thought Riker.
All he could remember was that he had been on an away mission on Hervegla VI.
He was working crowd control when all hell broke loose.
And where is everybody?
Taking in his surroundings he found that he was now standing on the edge of
a beach, and he was still wearing his Starfleet uniform. The calm blue water
lazily lapped at the shore in front of him. Shining brightly in the sky, the
sun's rays of heat were quickly dissipated by the gentle breeze that came off
the lake. He suddenly realized he was at Lake El Nar on Betazed. The rest of
the away team was nowhere in sight.
What could have happened to them? More importantly, what is happening to me?
His worries over his crewmates and his situation were quickly quelled by a
reassuring warmth that washed over him.
Light and floating, a beautiful song reached Riker's ears.
"Hush little baby, don't say a word, Papa's going to buy you a mocking
The woman's voice was calm and beautiful. Riker turned, searching for the source
of the soothing song.
An exquisite old-fashioned, Victorian style house stood majestically before
him. The large white porch, running the entire length of the bright yellow three-story
house, made the house very welcoming and inviting.
Riker had never seen this beautiful house before, but the same strange sensation
washed over him as he took in the scene before him. A vague sense of familiarity-
maybe - he couldn't quite pinpoint exactly what it was.
The beautiful voice continued its song as Riker walked towards the house.
"And if that mocking bird don't sing, Papa's going to buy you a diamond
A young woman was sitting in a swing on the porch. Her black hair fell in soft
curls around her face and shoulders. Hanging from her slim shoulders was a simple
blue sweater, and a pair of black slacks completed her ensemble. Her attention
was focused on the small bundle that was in her arms. They gently swung back
and forth as she sang quietly.
"And if that diamond ring turns to brass, Papa's going to buy you a looking
She looked up at him as she finished the phrase, a beautiful smile brightening
up her face. Although her smile was genuine, her crystal clear eyes told the
story of an exhausted new mother.
I have never seen eyes so blue, Riker thought, they're bluer than mine even.
"I just got Andrew to sleep." The young woman stood up slowly and
delicately placed the small bundle into the bassinet that is next to the swing.
Turning towards Riker, she extends her hand.
"Come with me. I have to find mother."
Without knowing why, Riker took the offered hand and allowed the young woman
to lead him across the porch to the house. As he stopped to look at the tiny
sleeping form in the bassinet, he didn't even notice when the woman's hand slipped
silently from his. Looking into the bassinet Riker reaches out his large hand
to gently caress the baby's cheek, being careful not to wake him.
What a beautiful baby, he thought. Suddenly the strange sensation washed over
him once again.
"Hush little baby, don't say a word, Papa's going to buy you a mocking
There is that same song again.
Looking towards the house for the mysterious young woman, he realized that
he was now alone on the large porch. Even the bassinet and the baby were gone.
What the hell is going on, he questioned once again. For a moment his mind
spun with confusion. The confusion was quickly replaced by a sense of reassurance
"And if that mocking bird don't sing, Papa's going to buy you a diamond
The song continued and Riker turned towards the new source of the serenade.
The voice now belonged to a little girl who was no older than nine. She was
on the walkway leading up to the house playing with a hovering skipping rope.
The slap of the plastic rope against the stones kept a steady beat for her song.
Dark shiny curls bounced around her shoulders every time the little girl expertly
jumped over the rope.
"And if that diamond ring turns to brass, papa's going to buy you a looking
The girl's game came to a sudden stop when she spotted Riker on the porch.
A bright smile lit up her face as she ran to him at top speed.
"I can sing the song five times without missing a jump or getting tired.
I'm hungry now though." Her blue eyes sparkled as the words tumbled from
her mouth so quickly that Riker had a hard time understanding her.
He couldn't help but smile along with her. What a charming little girl, Riker
thought. And she has the same beautiful blue eye as that young woman.
Slipping a small hand into his, she pulled him towards the house. "Come
with me. I have to find Mom."
The little girl lead Riker trough the front entryway and into the large living
room. The room was tastefully decorated. A dark green and blue couch sat along
the wall with an oak coffee table in front of it. Opposite the couch there was
a loveseat of the same color. A beautiful antique winged-back chair and an end
table were situated at the far end of the room. The wall directly in front of
him held a wood fireplace under a simple oak mantle that complemented the rich
wood floor wonderfully. Sunlight from the large window over the couch filled
the room with a warm glow.
As he looked around at his new surroundings, Riker's attention was drawn to
a small holo sitting on the table at the other end of the room. Releasing the
little girl's hand, he walked towards it, trying to see who was pictured. He
got close enough to make out three figures in the holo before he senses were
assaulted once again with that strange sensation.
"Hush little baby, don't say a word, Papa's going to buy you a mocking
The young voice that began singing the song came from behind Riker. When he
turned around he saw that the young girl was no longer with him, but an even
younger girl around the age of four was sitting on the couch. The little girl
gently rocked her doll back and forth as she sang to it.
"And if that mocking bird don't sing, Papa's going to buy to a diamond
Riker was amazed that a girl so young could sing a song as well as this child
did. The bright sunlight from the window illuminated the mop of dark curls on
top of her head. She looked up and before Riker could say anything she placed
a finger over her mouth.
"Shhh. The baby is sleeping." The little girl's clear blue eyes sparkled
with the seriousness and innocence of a child playing. Carefully getting up
off the couch, being careful not to disturb her doll, she placed it in the small
cradle that sat on the floor.
She has those same blue eyes again, Riker realized. His questioning mind was
quieted again as he watched this beautiful little girl walk up to him and place
her tiny hand in his.
"Come with me. I have to find Mommy." Once again, he followed willingly.
The doorway next to the far end of the couch opened up into a smaller room.
There was a couch against the opposite wall and a massive desk sat in front
of the wall on the right.
"Mommy! Mommy!" The little girl yelled as she bounded towards the
woman sitting behind the desk. Lifting her head from her the PADD she had been
looking over, Deanna pulled the energetic child into a tight hug.
Riker froze. A barely whispered "Imzadi
" was all that managed
to get past his lips.
"I found him mommy. I brought him back to you just like I said."
The girl took her mother's hands and pulled. Deanna got up from behind the desk
and walked towards the stunned Will Riker. Her dark eyes were sparkling with
"Hush little baby, don't say a word, Papa's going to buy you a mocking
Her sweet voice filled Riker's senses. Something was different about her, but
he couldn't put his finger on it. Then it hit him. As she sang her right hand
absent-mindedly rubbed gentle circles on her slightly swollen abdomen. It was
very clear that Deanna was at least seven months pregnant.
"And if that mocking bird don't sing, papa's going to buy you a diamond
Taking Riker's hand, she placed it over her stomach and looked up at him with
her most radiant smile. A slight flutter was felt under Riker's hand as another
wave assaulted his senses. The dizzying confusion was too much for him to handle
and he succumbed to the blackness.
Deanna's voice penetrated the darkness surrounding Riker. Soft beeps were now
the accompaniment for Deanna's serenade.
"And if that diamond ring turns to brass, Papa's going to buy you a looking
Opening his eyes, Riker pulled all the information together. He was now in
sickbay on the Enterprise.
How in the universe did I get here, and what the hell happened? Frustration
and confusion threatened to overwhelm him, but he calmed when he felt the soothing
wave of comfort that Deanna sent over their link. He looked over to his left
and saw her beautiful smiling face. She was sitting in a chair next to his biobed
holding his hand against her rounded stomach. Another flutter was felt against
his palm. Looking down at his hand and then back up to Deanna's beautiful face,
his jaw dropped.
Deanna's silent laughter echoed inside his head. **Welcome home Imzadi,** she
thought cast to him. **A lot has happened while you were gone. We have to talk.**
Deanna awoke to the soft beeping of a biobed and the hushed voices of her best
friend and the Captain.
"What should we tell her?" The concern was evident in Picard's voice.
"All that we know. With the connection those two share, I wouldn't be surprised
if she knew more than we did."
Their conversation abruptly stopped when the biobed beeped quietly, signaling
that Deanna was waking up. Dr Crusher moved quickly to her side, checking the
readouts on the panel above her head.
"Welcome back." Beverly's smile didn't quite reach her eyes, and
Deanna sensed her apprehension. "How are you feeling?"
Deanna swallowed, trying to clear her throat. When she spoke her voice was
raspy and weak. "What happened to me? How long have I been out?"
The Counselor did not miss the look that passed between the doctor and the
Captain. It was Beverly that finally spoke. "What do you remember?"
Closing her eyes, Deanna tried to focus her mind. "I remember the peace
negotiations on Hervegla VI. Things were going really smoothly, but then something
went wrong." She strained to put the fragmented images together. "Fighting
broke out. The captain pulled me out of the hall and then
A sickening terror consumed her and she sat bolt up right, dry heaves wracking
her small frame.
When the fit had subsided, Beverly was at her friend's side with a glass of
water. Deanna took the offering with unsteady hands. "He's gone."
Silent tears flowed unheeded down her pale cheeks.
p>Picard cleared his throat. "We are doing everything we can to find out
what has happened to him. So far neither side is taking responsibility for his
disappearance." Placing a comforting hand on her shoulder, he looked directly
into the despair in her eyes. "We will find him." He exchanged another
look with Beverly before making his exit.
The silent tears continued to fall. Crusher sat down next to her on the biobed
and pulled her into a comforting embrace, helping to fight off the silent agony
that threatened to overtake the Counselor. The two friends remained like that
until Deanna ran out of tears.
"There is something else that you aren't telling me." It was not
an accusation, just a simple statement.
"Yes, there is." The concern was evident on the doctor's face as
she continued. "How have you been feeling lately?"
"I was hoping you would be able to tell me. Have you been tired at all?"
"Bev, why are you looking at me like that? I've been fine. Better than
fine actually, ever since the Briar Patch."
"By your reaction to my questions I would presume that you don't know
Deanna's eyes went wide as her hand shot up, covering her mouth in shock. It
took a couple beats for her to recover her voice. "But how? It's impossible.
Will and I are both on fertility inhibitors."
"The only thing I have been able to come up with is the Briar Patch. The
effects must have somehow counteracted the inhibitors. Besides, it had been
a while since either of you had come in for a boost." She ran a tricorder
over Troi to double check the results. "You are just shy of a month pregnant,
which would make the timing right for my theory. I have a feeling you're not
the only one that was affected in this way."
Deanna remained motionless, the shock of her situation not quite tangible.
Her entire reality was tossed aside and replaced by a hallow nightmare.
"Hey," Beverly placed a comforting hand in her friend's shoulder,
"you are not alone. I am here, and we will find him." She returned
her tricorder to her pocket. "There is no need to keep you here any longer.
Why don't you return to your quarters and get some rest. I am sure the Captain
would like your assistance as soon as you are feeling up to it."
Deanna stood slowly, accepting another comforting hug from her friend. "Come
one, I'll walk you to your quarters."
The two women left sickbay and headed towards the turbo lift, silence clinging
to them like a thick fog.
When they reached her door Beverly pulled Deanna into another embrace. "If
you ever need anything, ever, you know where to find me."
Deanna nodded numbly. "Thanks Bev." Her voice was quiet, barely above
a whisper. She watched as Crusher retreated down the corridor.
Turning towards her quarters, she raised her hand to the access panel. Instead
of keying in the code to allow her access, it hovered in a moment of indecision.
She looked to the door that lay directly next to hers. Dropping her hand with
a sigh, Deanna walked to his quarters and deftly keyed in his access code. The
door slid open in an eerie welcome. She stepped through. The door barely slid
quietly closed behind her before she fell to her knees.
Empty. Her soul was a hollow void. The pain was unbearable. She shook uncontrollably,
finally allowing herself to feel again. Panic overwhelmed her. She couldn't
sense him at all. It was as if her soul had been savagely torn from her. Her
mind was unable to focus enough to determine if he was alive or hurt or dead.
Reality was a dizzying vortex.
p>Somehow she made her was to the bedroom and onto the bed. Fully clothed, she
fell into a fitful sleep plagued with confusing, disjointed images.
The Enterprise away team, consisting of Captain Picard, counselor Troi and Dr.
Crusher, beamed directly into the outer room of the great hall where the earlier
negotiations had taken place. Counselor Troi immediately recognized the leaders
of the two factions as they stepped forward to welcome the group. Nodding politely
at their greeting, Deanna concentrated on the emotions of the two politicians.
Absolutely none of the hostility remained in either of them. It was as if there
had never been any tension between the two races.
"We are sorry about what has happened and we would like the Federation
to know that they have the full cooperation of both the Perig and the Nahlu.
We will do all that we can to help resolve this situation." The Perig leader
spoke on behalf of both parties.
"The Federation thanks you for your assistance in investigating this matter."
Captain Picard indicated the inner chamber with a wave of his hand. "Why
don't we proceed?" The two leaders of the planet lead the way through the
While the Captain questioned the various members of both delegations, Troi
focused on the various emotions that emanated from the individuals being questioned.
She sensed worry, concern, confusion, but she sensed no deception, no hostility.
Both sides were telling the truth - neither of them was behind the disappearance
and no one knew who was responsible. As Picard questioned the final delegate
a severe sense of hopelessness and loss caused her breath to catch in her throat.
Her stoic, professional front never betrayed the turmoil that was churning within
When the inquiry was concluded the away team beamed back to the ship and convened
in the observation lounge to discuss their findings. They were joined by the
rest of the senior staff, Commander Riker's empty seat a painful visual reminder
of the profound loss that permeated the air.
"The thing that seems strange was the utter lack of tension or hostility
between the Perig and the Nahlu. I sensed none of the emotions one would expect
between two warring peoples. This is surprising especially considering the fight
that broke out at the negotiations. It's as if it never happened, like the entire
war never happened." Deanna's frustration with the situation was increasing
exponentially every time she attempted to sort out the empathic reading she
received from the inhabitants of Hervegla IV. There was something more going
on here than what was immediately perceived, that she was sure of, but she just
couldn't put her finger on what it was. Her train of thought was interrupted
by the COMM.
<<Bridge to Captain Picard.>>
"Picard here, go ahead."
<<We are getting some strange energy fluctuations emanating from just
above the northern pole of the planet.>>
"On my way"
With a nod the meeting concluded. The senior officers followed the Captain
on to the bridge and took their stations.
"Report Mr. Data."
The android's hand skimmed quickly over the consol. "The energy reading
seems to be emanating from some sort of vessel."
"On screen." Standing, the Captain gave his uniform a sharp tug.
"Why didn't the scanners pick up any vessel before this?"
"Unknown sir." Data's fingers continued to fly over the controls.
"It is possible that it had been utilizing some sort of cloaking device
up until the energy fluctuations occurred."
Deanna sat in her customary chair going over the readings that were displayed
on her consol. A sudden wave of nausea washed over her almost causing her to
pass out. She tried to center herself by taking long, deep breaths, but another,
very familiar sensation pushed against her empathic senses.
"Will." Her voice was nothing more than a choked whisper.
Beverly turned to her friend. "Deanna, what is it? What's wrong?"
"Oh Gods," she stood and walked to the center of the bridge. "It's
Will. He's on that ship." She faltered slightly and Picard grabbed her
to steady her. "He's in terrible pain. I can sense him very clearly now.
We have to help him!" She was becoming frantic, desperate. **Imzadi! I'm
here. We will help you. Just don't give up.**
This time she received a faint response. **Deanna, Imzadi, please help. Make
it stop. Pain. So much pain.**
It was all too much for Deanna to handle. Riker's pain and helplessness slammed
against her until she could take it no longer. Captain Picard was quick enough
to catch her before she hit the floor. Beverly was beside her friend in a flash,
her tricorder in hand, gathering information.
The ship on the view screen suddenly radiated an intense blue light and then
"Mr. Data, what happened?"
"The readings indicate that the ship created a type of worm hole and then
traveled through it."
"Is there anyway to follow it?"
"Negative sir, the worm hole closed in on itself after the ship passed
"Jean Luc, I need to get her to sickbay immediately."
"Data, help Dr. Crusher get the Counselor to sickbay and then return to
the bridge. We need to go over the readings from that ship and figure out where
it has gone."
Data picked up the Counselor and carried her still form to sickbay. The entire
length of the short trip Beverly called out orders over the COMM system, readying
the medical team for their arrival.
In the weeks that followed Counselor Deanna Troi's life settled into an equilibrium
of normalcy. Her time was mostly filled with appointments and bridge duties.
The Enterprise was on a routine mapping mission so the stress level on the ship
was relatively low. The small amount of off-duty time she afforded herself was
spent in her quarters reading or sharing a meal and conversation with Beverly.
Sitting in her quarters, the Counselor mulled over her notes from a particularly
interesting and enlightening session with Lt. Hetherington. Her feet were propped
up on the small table in front of her, her boots removed a long time ago. A
small cup of steaming hot chocolate was propped precariously on her rounded
stomach, her left hand preventing it from tipping while her right held her data
PADD. She could feel herself at the edge of an epiphany involving this patient
when her thoughts were interrupted by the COMM.
<<Picard to Counselor Troi>>
"Troi here," she stifled her sigh of frustration.
<<Please report to my ready room.>>
"I'm on my way." When the COMM channel closed Deanna let out a groan
of frustration at the thought of having to put her boots back on her feet.
Stepping into the Captain's ready room, the first thing that Counselor Troi
noted was the interesting myriad of emotions she was sensing from both Beverly
and Picard. On the immediate surface there was the typical worry and concern,
but underneath she sensed relief and a hint of elation and joy.
"May I get you anything to drink Counselor?"
"No thank you, Captain. I'm fine." At the Captain's indication Troi
took a seat next to the Doctor.
A small, almost imperceptive look passed between the doctor and the captain
before he began to speak. "We have received a sub-space communication from
Starbase 42. A few days ago during the night watch a comatose individual suddenly
appeared in the station's sickbay. No transporter trace was left and no one
outside of the normal medical staff was reported in the area at the time."
Another look passed between the pair and Beverly continued. "The patient
was in bad shape - extensive bruising, extreme dehydration and malnutrition,
but the team was able to get his vitals stable, though he still remains in a
coma. Through DNA tests there were also able to make a positive identification."
Realization slowly began to push through Deanna's conscious mind. A gasp of
surprise caught in her throat as her hands flew up to cover her mouth. Her black
eyes shone with barely restrained tears as they met Beverly's and asked the
silent question. The doctor's slight nod was all that was needed for the first
tear to make it's way down her cheek.
Picard continued in a soft tone. "We have already set course to Starbase
42. Our ETA is approximately nineteen hours. There will be a short briefing
at 1100 hours. Until then, I suggest you return to your quarters and get some
Deanna Troi was restless, unsettled. Pacing her quarters, she desperately wished
to find her center and calm her nerves. Five hours had passed since her meeting
with the Captain and although ship's night had already begun, she was still
unable to capture that rest that had so successfully eluded her all evening.
"Troi to Crusher."
There was barely a pause before she received her answer. <<Crusher here.
What is it Deanna?>>
"I can't seem to get any sleep. I was thinking about heading to Ten Forward
for some chocolate and I could use some company."
<<Sure Deanna, I'll swing by your quarters in about ten minutes. Crusher
Although it was ship's night, it was still early enough for a slight crowd
to be gathered in Ten Forward. Crewmembers were relaxing, unwinding from the
day shift by having a drink with their friends. Small clusters of people were
scattered throughout the lounge, their conversations muted. The air seemed light
Beverly and Deanna found an empty table and ordered a round of chocolate sundaes
from a passing waiter.
Sensing that Deanna just needed the company, Beverly kept up an easy chatter
talking about her work in sickbay and the latest play she was putting together.
For her part, Deanna simply nodded occasionally to let Beverly know that she
was still paying attention to the extremely lop-sided conversation. Her chocolate
ritual was performed automatically, without thought.
When Beverly eventually ran out of topics of conversation, the two sat in silence.
Deanna stared out at the stars streaming past at warp speed as she once again
tried to relax and center herself. Her meditation efforts were interrupted when
the baby shifted slightly and then kicked her sharply in the side. Startled
by the sudden movement, Troi let out a yelp and her hand flew to her stomach.
"Are you all right?" Dr. Beverly was already reaching for the tricorder
in her pocket.
Deanna raised a hand to stop her. "I'm fine. That was the first time she's
kicked me with any force and it just surprised me a bit."
"That's understandable. I nearly jumped out of my skin the first time
Wesley kicked me that hard. I was so excited that I immediately sent out a communiqué
to Jack to tell him about it. He had been so disappointed that he hadn't been
there, but I assured him that there were many more milestones to come and they
would be a lot more exciting." Beverly placed her hand over Deanna's. "Just
like there will be many memories and firsts that you will be able to share with
Will. He is back and he is alive and I plan on keeping him that way. I promise
you that as soon as he is in my sickbay I will do everything in my power to
figure out what has happened to him." A small smile spread across her face.
"He has got so much to live for Dea, and I know he will fight this."
A tear forged a trail down her cheek and in a shaky voice she replied. "Once
again my world has been completely turned on its end. I no longer know which
way is up. I had just begun to tread water again after his disappearance. Just
when I had finally figured out which way was up everything is flipped again.
Finally I had accepted that he was gone, I was beginning to feel like I could
handle life again, alone. Suddenly he's returned and I am drowning once more."
The silent tears were falling freely down her face and she made no move to wipe
them away. "I don't know how much more I can take, how much longer I can
Beverly rose from her chair and pulled her best friend into a hug. "You
don't have to be, you never had to be." She pulled back and met Deanna's
eyes. "We have a big day tomorrow. Do you think you can get some rest now?
I can give you something light to help you sleep that won't affect the baby."
"I think I will actually take you up on that offer."
"Good. We'll make a stop at sickbay on the way to your quarters."
Counselor Troi awoke the next morning more relaxed. The morning hours were
spent deep in a meditation ritual trying to center herself and free her mind.
At first it seemed as though the minute she began reaching the meditative state,
the baby would shift and break her concentration. She had never been so easily
distracted, but she tried not to let her frustration build and compound her
problems. Instead, she shifted her focal point for her meditations from the
melodic Betazoid chant to the almost rhythmic movements of the life within her.
When Beverly arrived at her quarters at 1045 hours Deanna was in a considerably
calmer state of mind than she had been the previous night. After a quick scan
from the doctor's medical tricorder, the two headed to the observation lounge
for the morning's briefing.
The last to arrive, Troi and Crusher took their respective chairs around the
table. When everyone was settled the Captain indicated to Data, who had taken
over the duties of the First Officer since Riker's disappearance, to begin the
"Currently very little is known about the events surrounding the disappearance
and subsequent reappearance of Commander Riker. Commander LaForge and I have
been analyzing the data gathered from the mysterious ship that was cloaked above
Hervegla VI. From the energy readings that were recorded before the ship disappeared
we have determined that it utilizes a propulsion system not unlike our warp
drive." Data moved to the screen behind him and called up some images to
further illustrate their findings. "The creation of the worm hole though
leads us to the conclusion that this species is in some ways technologically
superior to the Federation. They also seem to have the ability to manipulate
the thoughts of humanoids as witnessed on Hervegla IV. Their motivations behind
causing the war on that planet as well as their motivations for kidnapping Commander
Riker are still unclear. We have speculated however, based on Commander Riker's
current medical condition, that they are interested in testing and observing
humanoid behavior and responses." Taking his seat again he nodded to Dr.
Crusher to begin her report.
"When Riker appeared on Starbase 42 he was severely dehydrated and malnourished.
There was extensive bruising on his arms, legs and torso. Two ribs were broken
and his left lung was punctured. Brain scans revealed minor anomalies mostly
in the form of chemical imbalances possibly as a result of mind probing and
thought manipulation." Taking a deep breath she looked to Troi whose face
was surprisingly calm and impassive, before continuing. "The medical team
was able to get him stabilized and his vital signs are strong, though he still
remains unconscious. After I examine him myself I will determine a course of
action. I don't think I would want to attempt to revive him prematurely because
of the unusual brain activity."
"Thank you Doctor." Picard leaned forward slightly in his chair.
"Data, what is our current ETA?"
"Approximately forty three minutes, sir."
"Very well. Dr. Crusher, Counselor Troi, you will be accompanying me to
the Starbase. We will meet in transporter room three when we arrive at our destination.
In the mean time, I will be in my ready room. Data, you have the bridge. Dismissed."
The Enterprise away team was greeted in the Starbase transporter room by two
individuals. A tall, regal human female with light brown eyes and chestnut hair
stepped forward and addressed the group.
"Greetings Captain Picard. I am Captain Ilianna Raatko and this is my
Chief Medical Officer Dr. t'Srawpt." She indicated the short, squirrelly
humanoid male from a species called the Bretissians that stood next to her.
His short purple hair, typical of his race, stuck out from his head at every
imaginable angle. Intense green eyes regarded the away team as he inclined his
head in greeting.
The trio stepped down from the transporter pad as Picard acknowledged their
hosts. "Captain, Doctor, this is my CMO Dr. Beverly Crusher and ship's
counselor Deanna Troi."
Polite handshakes were exchanged, but the usual pleasantries were kept short.
"Well, I am sure you are all anxious to see the patient. Dr. t'Srawpt,
please lead the way."
During the walk to sickbay the two doctors kept up a continuous dialogue about
the latest developments in Commander Riker's condition while the captains discussed
the circumstances revolving around his mysterious reappearance. Counselor Troi
was the only one who remained silent, focusing her thoughts inward, desperately
holding on to that thin string of calm and balance.
When they arrived at sickbay it was quite and calm, the minimal activity was
centered around a biobed in the far corner. The technician stepped aside and
Deanna's breath caught in her throat. Even though he was unconscious, her pull
to him was overwhelming. Walking ahead of the group she made her way to his
side. Afraid to touch him, afraid she would break the illusion, wake up from
her dream, her trembling hand hovered over his forehead. Closing her eyes, she
took a deep breath and opened up her mind, expanding her senses. There he was,
her sense of him was faint, but undeniable. Finally convinced that this wasn't
a dream, Deanna let her trembling hand brush tentatively over his forehead smoothing
away a stray lock of hair. When he stirred slightly at her touch she let out
a breath that she hadn't even realized she was holding.
"Unbelievable." Dr. t'Srawpt whispered as he swept past the group
to check the readings on the biobed. "He has not moved on his own since
he arrived here."
Captain Raatko observed the two officers for a beat longer before turning back
to Captain Picard and Dr. Crusher. "She's a Betazoid." It was more
a statement than a question. "But that still should not have been possible,
Commander Riker is human." Her gaze returned to the biobed in the corner
and realization hit her at warp speed. "He must be the father of her baby
then." Her voice was barely above a whisper, but she still saw the nod
of confirmation from Dr. Crusher out of the corner of her eye.
Six days had passed since Commander Riker had been beamed up from the Starbase
and settled into a private room in Enterprise's sickbay and there was still
no change in his condition.
Deanna kept up a vigil by his side alternately trying to reach him through
their link and talking to him about the mundane day-to-day ship happenings that
occurred while he was gone. She only left when Beverly forced her to get some
rest in her own cabin or when the good doctor dragged her to Ten Forward for
something to eat and to take a break.
Sitting in her usual spot next to his biobed, Deanna was in deep meditation
trying to contact her Imzadi when the baby gave her another sharp kick in her
side, breaking her concentration. She rubbed her hand over the location of the
kick and was rewarded with another jab. Reaching for Riker's hand, she placed
it on her abdomen where her hand had just been. As the baby continued to stir
an old Earth melody that her father used to sing to her enter her mind and she
began to sing softly.
"Hush little baby, don't say a word, Papa's going to buy you a mocking
bird. And if that mocking bird don't sing, Papa's going to buy you a diamond
ring. And if that diamond ring turns to brass, Papa's going to buy you a looking
glass." Wonderful memories form her childhood came rushing back to her.
Trying to remember the next line of the lullaby she practically jumped out of
her skin when she felt the almost imperceptible movement of Will's hand on her
stomach. Her sense of him gradually shifted and intensified as he struggled
back into consciousness. Finally his eyes fluttered open and she immediately
felt a wave of frustration and confusion. Sending her comfort and strength through
their bond, she finally felt him relax. Her smile lit up her face as he slowly
turned his head towards her. As if on cue, the baby kicked her again causing
Will to look down at his hand and then slowly back up into Deanna's eyes. His
jaw dropped and Deanna couldn't help the soft laughter she sent echoing in his
**Welcome home Imzadi,** she thought cast to him. **A lot has happened while
you were gone. We have to talk.**
Three days had passed since Will Riker woke up and Deanna still had not had
a chance to sit down with him and discuss the baby and their future together.
The doctors kept him busy with physical therapy and there always seemed to be
at least one member of the medical staff in the room making it impossible for
the two of them to have any sort of personal conversation.
Deanna had resumed her normal duties though her appointment schedule was kept
light so that she may spend as much time with Will as was possible. When they
were together they talked mostly of the mundane events of each other's day,
carefully avoiding any subject involving the events that had transpired while
he was gone. Deanna could sense that some vague and frightening memories of
his imprisonment had slowly begun surfacing, but she also sensed that he was
still unable to articulate these disjointed images. She just hoped that he would
talk about it when he was ready. What worried her most though was the mental
block he had placed up around him, intentionally keeping himself distant from
her. She tried to look past it, but the distance was getting to great to ignore.
They had to talk soon before the distance became insurmountable.
Riker made wonderful progress and was released to his quarters on the fourth
day. Deanna came off of her bridge shift to find Will packing up his belongings.
"Finally drove the sickbay staff crazy enough to get yourself kicked out."
Deanna stood in the doorway of his private room, a playful smile tugging at
the corners of her mouth.
Will looked up from his task, startled by her presence. "I still am not
cleared for duty, but at least I can sleep in my own bed and be without people
constantly hovering over me."
Not knowing how to interpret his last statement, her sense of him still vague
because of the blocks he kept firmly in place, she simply nodded. Deanna was
getting frustrated, but she did not let her frustration show. He had a lot to
deal with and her vague sense of him was enough to let her know that he was
on the edge and he really did not need to be pushed off the cliff right now.
"Would you like me to walk with you to your quarters? I could make you
some dinner." Off his look, she amended her last statement. "OK, I
could replicate you some dinner."
His shrug was noncommittal. "Sure, why not." He snapped his case
closed and slung it over his shoulder. "After you." The grand gesture
he made towards the door was over the top and a bit forced.
Exiting out of the turbo lift, the pair fell into step, Deanna's short legs
moving twice as quickly just to keep up. A few feet from Riker's quarters Deanna
stopped suddenly stifling a cry of pain. Hunched over, one hand instinctively
shot to her abdomen the other one steadied herself against the bulkhead. Riker
was instantly back by her side.
"Are you all right?"
Taking a few breaths to steady herself before straightening up again, she nodded.
"Yes, I'm fine. Either she just kicked me really hard or that was my first
Braxton-Hicks contraction." Her hand smoothed over her stomach. "At
my last appointment Beverly warned me that I might start experiencing some of
Riker suddenly felt as though he was caught in a haze somewhere between dream
and reality. "She?" Deanna looked up at him in confusion. "You
said that she kicked you. It's a girl?"
Troi immediately felt the strange shift in Riker's emotions and there was no
denying the raising sense of panic within him. The only response she could manage
was a slight nod.
Will quickly became overwhelmed. He closed his eyes to try and calm himself,
but all he saw was the little girl from his dream. A dream that he had forgotten
about, pushed it to the back of his mind. Shaking his head sharply to rid himself
of the image, he finally opened his eyes again only to be met with a tear-filled
pair of the most beautiful obsidian eyes he had ever known. In that instant
Riker knew that he had let his guard slip and that Deanna had felt his panic.
He opened his mouth to apologize, but instead he said, "I'm really exhausted,
I think I am going to call it a night." And with that he keyed in his access
code and let to door slide shut behind him, leaving a bewildered Troi alone
in the crowded hallway.
"I understand where he is coming from Bev, but I can't help the incredible
ache that I feel here." She pressed her hand against her heart.
After a fitful night alone in her quarters Deanna was in sickbay for her scheduled
checkup. When she had arrived Beverly immediately become concerned for her friend.
Although her hair and uniform were their usual immaculate selves, the weariness
and exhaustion were evident in her face and posture. Without saying a word Dr,
Crusher led her over to a biobed and pulled out her tricorder. Frowning at the
results of her initial scan, that was when she began to pry information out
of Troi. With only a minimal amount of initial resistance Deanna quietly recounted
the incident in the corridor.
"After he has had some time to adjust to the situation, I am sure he will
come around." Beverly placed a comforting hand on her friend's shoulder.
"And when he does, you two will talk things out and the air will be cleared."
"I just can't share your optimism, Bev. You didn't feel the overwhelming
sense of panic that overcame him when I began talking about the baby."
Slowly shaking her head dejectedly, she let out a deep sigh. "It wasn't
the sort of apprehension one feels when thrust into a new and strange situation;
it was the panic one feels when facing certain death." A shudder ran through
"Dea, we both know that the physical scars are easy to heal, but the mental
ones could be with him for a long time. No one even knows the extent of the
damage to his psyche, not even Riker himself. He doesn't remember most of what
happened to him." Pulling out her tricorder, she once again ran it over
her patient. "Now, how about we take a look at this baby?"
Troi laid back on the biobed as Dr. Crusher positioned the imaging scanner
over her abdomen. A soft blue light emanated from the device and soon a three
dimensional image of the baby appeared on the monitor above Deanna's head.
"The baby looks very healthy. She's a little smaller than the average
human at this stage, but that could be because Betazoid babies are typically
smaller." She helped Deanna back up into a sitting position so that she
could see the image herself.
Troi's face lit up with a smile as she ran her fingers over the image of her
child. "It just still doesn't seem real sometimes Bev."
"I know exactly what you mean." Beverly's own smile was soon replaced
by the stern look of a doctor. "You need to start taking care of yourself.
Your cervix has thinned considerably since your last exam. I insist that you
to take the day off and go get some rest."
"But Bev -"
Raising a hand to silence her, "No 'buts' about it Dea. Do I have to make
it an official order?"
Deanna shook her head in resignation. "No, I'll cooperate."
"Good." A small smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. "I
will give you something to help you sleep."
Deanna remained sitting on the edge of the biobed as Dr. Crusher went to retrieve
a hypospray. Beverly returned just as the door to sickbay opened and Will Riker
walked in. Her attention immediately drawn to the room's new occupant, Troi
barely heard what Beverly was telling her.
"This should take effect in about twenty minutes. I want to you come back
tomorrow for another exam and if things have not gotten worse I will let you
return to duty." Realizing her patient's attention was no longer focused
on her, Beverly followed Deanna's gaze to find Will staring at the image on
the screen above the biobed. She cleared her throat causing the two to jump.
"Well, I will let the physical therapist know that you are here Will."
With a nod she left quickly.
Will dropped his gaze and shifted his weight uncomfortably from one foot to
the other. "Is everything all right?"
"Everything is fine. Beverly is just being overly cautious." She
hopped off the biobed and smoothed out her uniform tunic.
His eyes once again locked with hers as an uncharacteristically uncomfortable
silence followed. Finally it was Will that ended their silent standoff; he tore
his eyes from hers and swallowed audibly. "Well, I have an appointment."
And with that he turned and headed for the physical therapy room.
Troi barely made it into her quarters before she began to feel the effect of
Dr. Crusher's hypo. Crawling into bed with her uniform still on, she quickly
fell into an easy, dreamless sleep.
Crimson red. Blood was everywhere. Riker chocked back a sob as he cradled her
dying body in his arms. He had been powerless against their attackers, there
had just been too many of them. She had held her own fighting next to him, but
she didn't see the knife until it was too late. A soundless scream shook her
as the cold metal tore deeply through her flesh. Rushing to her side, Riker
was only half aware that their attackers had disappeared. Her breath was shallow,
uneven and her pulse faint. He gathered her close, pressing his lips to her
forehead, repeating his words like a mantra.
"Hold on Imzadi, please. Don't leave me."
For a moment the life seemed to return to her eyes as she turned her head towards
him. **Imzadi** was heard softly in his head before the light left her dark
eyes and her body went limp in his arms.
An anguished scream tore from his throat as Riker sat bolt upright in bed.
A dream, it was only a dream. Riker shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts.
There had been something eerily familiar about that scene that had just played
out in his subconscious mind.
In her cabin next door, Deanna woke up suddenly from her nap confused and disoriented.
When her head cleared she reached out with her senses trying to determine what
had woken her. Singling out Riker immediately she noticed that he had let his
blocks down slightly. Unable to resist the opening, Deanna pushed past what
was left of the wall between them and entered his thoughts. She knew what she
was doing was wrong, but she was desperate to know what was causing his incredible
distance. The images surrounding her were still disjointed and fuzzy and she
was unable to make any sense out of them.
Riker got out of bed and stumbled over to the sink in his bathroom. Splashing
some cold water onto his face he stared unseeing at his reflection in the mirror.
Suddenly, as if they were being pushed from the corners of his mind, the images
and memories from his time of imprisonment came slamming to his conscious mind.
Anguish, darkness, death, despair, everything became clear and he could remember
all of the details of his torture. Retching from the sudden rush of memories,
he emptied the contents of his stomach before falling to the floor in a heap.
After a few deep breaths he was able to calm himself and that was when he noticed
that familiar sensation within his mind. Driven by anger and hurt he burst from
his quarters and within seconds was next door face to face with a pale and trembling
"WHY?!" The venom in his voice startled even himself. His eyes slid
shut as he tried to calm himself, his fists repeatedly clenching and unclenching.
"Why?" He repeated, this time barely above a whisper, the naked anguish
apparent in his voice.
Deanna swallowed audibly. "I
I'm so sorry Will," she stammered.
Taking a step forward she reached out to him. "Imzadi."
"Don't." Their eyes locked and his anger slammed against her senses.
"Just don't." He began pacing the small space. "What you did
"Wrong, I know."
"Inexcusable." He stopped, his eyes boring directly into her soul.
"Do you really need to know what happened to me? Is that why you invaded
my thoughts tonight, pushed past my block?" His voice was clam and even.
The hazy images she had sensed before suddenly slammed into her mind once again
with such agonizing clarity that she couldn't help but stagger backwards. Along
with those images came all of the pain and fear. She fell to her knees, covering
her ears and squeezing her eyes shut, trying desperately to rid herself of the
horrible images. She looked up at Will, tears streaming down her face, anger
flashing in her dark eyes. "That was completely unnecessary."
"Oh, was it? I thought that it was exactly what you had been searching
for when you violated my thoughts." Ice dripped from his words stinging
her to the core.
"I was worried, concerned for your mental well being." Her anger
continued to boil as she rose to her feet. "I am sick and tired of you
shutting yourself off from me. Did you think that I couldn't handle it? Or were
you just too busy wallowing in your own pool of self-pity. I hate to break it
to you, Imzadi," she practically spit the word out, "you aren't the
only one that has been affected by this. I know that whatever happened to you
must have been horrible and you are only now beginning to remember all of the
horrors. I am not trying to belittle your pain. I am just trying to make you
see that you are not alone in your suffering. You need to talk about it. Now."
She moved to the couch, made herself comfortable and waited for his response.
Stunned into silence by her outburst, he sat down next to her and then, changing
his mind, he sprang up and began to pace again.
"Six months of my life were taken from me. Stolen, ripped away. I was
happy, truly happy. Our renewed relationship was blossoming; I was serving on
a wonderful ship surrounded by people that I consider my family. All of that
was taken from me." He ran his hands through his hair. "When I was
returned I had no recollection of what had happened. I believe your little intrusion
has forced much of it back to the surface."
Finally sitting down in the chair, he took a deep breath before continuing
quietly. "The experiments they performed went beyond any pain that I had
thought possible. First they began by inflicting physical harm and gauging my
reactions. When they tired of that game they began messing with my mind. They
-" He choked back a sob. "They made me watch you die over and over
again. Everyone that I care for, I had to watch them die. Sometimes the deaths
were quick and merciful, but mostly they were drawn out and excruciating. It
was always the same agonizing conclusion no matter what I did." Deanna
reached out a comforting hand, but the minute she made contact he sprung up
from the chair and continued his pacing. "I gladly welcomed the times where
they would lock me in my dark cell. There were no windows and no lights. It
was just an empty room no bigger than a closet.
"They never fed me, only injected me with enough fluid and nutrients to
keep me alive. It became so bad that I didn't know what was real anymore. The
images they were feeding into my brain began to mix with memories. Hell, I don't
even know if this is real. This could just be another one of their experiments
to see how I would react to this new situation."
Deanna rose from the couch and cautiously approached him. "Will, look
at me." Grabbing his arm to stop his pacing, she forced him to face her.
"I am real, please believe me." He refused to meet her gaze. "Damn
it Imzadi, open your mind. If you let down your block completely you will see
that I am real." Theirs eyes locked and Deanna felt the wall slowly crumble
away. She reached across their open link and surrounded him with her soul.
Several moments passed before a tentative hand reached up and caressed her
cheek. The familiar electricity passed between them and Riker was emboldened
by the slight contact. Bringing his other hand up he gently brushed the curls
from her shoulder and ran his fingers over her neck and collarbone. As if being
pushed together by an unknown force their lips met. The first contact was minimal,
just a slight brushing of lips. Breaths mingling, they remained mere millimeters
from each other. Deanna slowly ran her tongue along Will's lower lip causing
a low moan to emanate deep within his throat. In one swift movement he threaded
his fingers through her hair and captured her lips in a soul-searing kiss. Raking
her nails along his neck, she let out a moan as his lips and teeth continued
a path down her jaw to the sensitive flesh of her neck. Running a hand down
to the small of her back, he pulled her body flush against his. He froze. Deanna's
rounded abdomen shifted slightly against him bringing him back to the reality
of his current situation.
He staggered away from her embrace trying to ignore the hurt and confusion
he could clearly see in her eyes. "I
I just can't. Not right now."
That was the only explanation he offered her before making a hasty exit.
Unable to quell the anger and frustration, Deanna picked up the nearest object
and hurled it at the door. With a satisfying crash, the vase smashed into hundreds
of pieces and the delicate white flowers fell silently to the floor.
Fists clenched tightly at her sides, Deanna slowly counted down from one hundred.
When she reached zero her anger had not dissipated, in fact, it had increased.
Slamming her hand against the door release she walked across the shattered glass
and made the short trip to the cabin next door. Not even bothering to ring the
chime, she simply keyed in the access code and stepped through the door. Startled
by her sudden intrusion, Riker jumped up from his position on the couch.
"How dare you?!" Her body shook with barely contained rage. "How
dare you run away from me every time you are faced with the fact that I am carrying
your child. This child is not going to disappear just because to refuse to accept
its existence. In about ten weeks, whether you like it or not, you are going
to be a father."
"Deanna, I -"
"No, let me finish." Her dark eyes contained an anger the likes of
which Riker had never seen before. "When you disappeared, when all sense
of you was torn from me I had no idea how in the universe I was going to live
each day without you." Tears began to form, but she fought them back. "When
Beverly told me that I was pregnant, the same day I had lost you, I didn't want
to accept it either, but I knew that I couldn't just ignore it, couldn't make
it go away." She took a shaky breath, finally loosing her battle with the
tears. "It didn't take long for me to realize that I didn't want it to
go away. This baby was the last connection that I still had with you and I discovered
the one thing that would get me through the days." Forcing herself to meet
his eyes once again she continued, "I am not going to force you to accept
this child and help to raise it. All I am asking right now is for you to acknowledge
that she does exist and to promise me that you will stop walking out on me like
Riker took a deep breath and opened his mouth to respond, but no words wanted
to form on his lips. Closing his mouth once again, he sighed heavily and dropped
back down on to the couch, his head cradled in his hands.
"Fine. When you want to talk, you know how to find me." With that,
Deanna turned on her heel and stormed out of his cabin.
Several moments passed after the door shut behind Deanna before Riker regained
his power of speech. "Deanna wait!" But he made no move to go after
her. "Damn it!" Another vase fell victim to their fight as it smashed
against the bulkhead with a wholly unsatisfying crash. Still frustrated by his
anger, but lacking the energy to hurl any more objects, Riker slumped dejectedly
on the couch.
Will Riker was not ready to be a father. Aside from the feelings of inadequacy
brought on by his horrible childhood and the fear of becoming his father effectively
ruining the poor child's life, his entire existence had been turned completely
upside down by the recent events. He no longer felt comfortable in his own skin.
The ordeal had left him with a complete feeling of unease. The line between
reality and imagination had been erased by his captors and he wasn't sure where
he should draw that line again. He was scared and he was angry, angry with himself
for letting a small child, not even born yet, scare the absolute shit out of
him. On a purely intellectual level Riker knew he was pushing Deanna away as
a result of his own feelings of inadequacy and fear, but he could not simply
push aside the incredible panic that ran through him whenever he was faced with
his future, as uncertain as it was. He still loved her. He knew that much to
be true, and perhaps it would always be true.
"Damn it!" Those seemed to be the only words his mouth was capable
of forming at the moment. He made a decision and activated his COMM badge. "Riker
to Troi." Waiting patiently for her reply, when none came he repeated,
a bit louder and with a hint of irritation. "Riker to Troi, please respond."
Another pause followed.
<<What is it Will?>> He could still hear the tears in her voice.
He cleared his throat. "You have had over six months to process the
situation. I have barely had a week. I need you to understand that I need time
and I am terribly sorry for any hurt that I have caused you. My life needs to
be set upright again before I can look ahead. Riker out." He closed the
COMM channel abruptly, not giving her a chance to respond.
**I will give you the time you need, Imzadi.** Her voice echoed in his mind
accompanied by a wash of calming love and forgiveness with still a measure of
hurt and sadness. It seemed as though a truce was achieved, for the moment.
The weeks that followed passed by quickly. The Enterprise returned to its
mapping mission and Commander Riker's life began to return to some state of
normalcy. In order to appease the good doctor so that he could return to duty
as quickly as possible, Riker even began seeing one of the psychologists on
Deanna's staff. After eight weeks of physical and psychological therapy he was
given a clean bill of health and allowed to return to active duty with the promise
that he wouldn't over do it.
Deanna was on strict orders from Dr. Crusher to take things easy and her bridge
shifts and appointments were reduced slightly. The extra free time only served
to make her even more restless. There were only so many times her quarters could
be cleaned from top to bottom.
The couple's uneasy truce remain in tact and Deanna was silently relieved that
Will was finally talking to someone about the events of his abduction, but the
hurt remained because that someone was not her.
The two slowly fell back into an easy friendship. At first they were courteous
and polite when their paths crossed, but neither were actively seeking out the
company of the other. As Riker began to feel more and more like his old self
they found themselves thrust together in social situations, mostly gatherings
in Ten Forward and the weekly poker game, and an easy banter was formed once
again. Deanna began noticing a subtle shift in his state of mind every day that
passed. Though it seemed to the average outsider that their relationship was
normal, there was still an unexplainable underlying tension that prevented them
from simply picking up where they left off. It was this tension, combined with
the love that she knew still remained between them that was slowly driving Troi
It was poker night and this week the game was to be held in Commander Riker's
quarters. Since she had already cleaned her quarters earlier that day, Deanna
decided to head over to the game early and help Will set things up. If she played
her cards right she might be able to get him to talk.
Ringing the chime on his door she didn't have to wait long for his reply and
the door slid open to allow her access. When she stepped into his quarters Riker
was nowhere to be seen. "Will," she called out and he suddenly emerged
from the bedroom pulling a gray shirt over his head, obviously just coming from
the shower. "I, uh -" Deanna swallowed hard. "I thought you could
use some help setting up."
He ran his hands through his wet hair causing it to stand on end and flashed
her a disarmingly brilliant smile. "Sure, that would be great. You know
where the poker supplies are."
Deanna pulled open the storage unit as Will disappeared back into the bedroom.
As she was setting out the poker chips and cards he emerged from the bedroom
once again with his hair neatly combed and his uniform jacket in his hand. Tossing
the garment over the back of the chair, Riker headed over to the replicator.
"One hot chocolate and one coffee." The beverages shimmered into
solidity and Will turned to offer a mug to Deanna only to find her hunched over,
steadying herself with one hand on the table and one hand on her abdomen. Riker
was by her side in an instant. "Dea -"
After a couple deep breathes she straightened up again. "I'm fine, just
a small contraction. I have been having them sporadically all day." She
chuckled slightly at the look of panic that graced his features. "Don't
worry, it's perfectly normal. I'm not in labor yet; the contractions would be
a lot more intense and more frequent. Beverly warned me about this. She says
that it's just my body's way of preparing for the event. Oh chocolate!"
She greedily took the cup from his grasp and moved to sit on the couch.
Riker watched her intently as she sipped her hot chocolate until he was convinced
that she indeed was not going to drop the kid right there in the middle of his
quarters. Deanna unflinchingly returned his gaze, her feet propped up on the
table in front of her and her hot chocolate resting on her rounded abdomen.
Riker became mesmerized by the site before him.
"Deanna, I -" The door chime interrupted, breaking the spell. "Come."
Riker pulled on his uniform jacket as the door slid open allowing Dr. Crusher
and Captain Picard to enter the room.
"Hi Dea." Beverly greeted her friend warmly. "You look comfortable.
Any more contractions since this morning?" She pulled out her ever-present
"Another small one hit a couple minutes ago." She lowered her voice
so only Beverly would hear. "It scared the hell out of Will." Beverly
caught the wicked glint in her eye and the two dissolved into a fit of giggles.
The two men exchanged a look. "Can I get either of you anything to drink?"
Riker easily fell into the role of the host. As he retrieved the beverages from
the replicator Geordi and Data arrived and everyone took their seats at the
table, everyone that is except for Deanna.
"Uh guys, can I get a little help over here, I think I'm stuck." The
group burst into laughter as Riker came to her aid. "You guys try carrying
a squirming three kilo kid in your abdomen and see how graceful you are."
Deanna took her seat at the table next to Riker and threw her anti into the
pool as the first hand of the evening was dealt out by Picard.
Deanna delightfully watched her pile of chips slowly increase as the evening
wore on. It had been a while since she had had a decent night at the poker table.
To further her delight, Riker was right in the middle of a pretty bad loosing
"I will see your twenty and I will raise you another fifty." Deanna
threw her chips into the pool and flashed an enigmatic smile to the player on
her left. "Your bet Will."
His jaw twitched slightly, an almost imperceptible movement if you didn't know
him as well as Deanna did. He didn't have the straight.
"I call and raise another fifty."
Everyone at the table folded and the bet quickly returned to Deanna's control.
"Call." She deftly tossed her chips to the exact center of pool. "Let's
see what you have."
Riker flipped his hold card. "Ten high." He eyed Deanna suspiciously.
"How did you know? You didn't use your empathic sense did you?" There
was a slight teasing tone in her voice.
"I'm just a better poker player than you think." She smiled sweetly
as she stood to collect her winnings. As she reached across the table a sudden,
intense contraction hit and she cried out in pain. Riker was immediately on
his feet helping her back down to her chair. "I'm fine, thanks. That one
was just a little bit stronger than the others and it took me by surprise."
Data tilted his head to the side. "Are you in labor Counselor?"
"I've been having small contractions all day, but none of them have been
anything significant until just now."
Dr. Crusher already had her tricorder out. "The baby has dropped so she
should be here any day, but there is no indication yet that it will be now."
She patted her friend on the knee. "Just let me know if another hard contraction
Everyone returned to their seats and Picard began dealing the cards once again.
"The game is five card stud, deuces wild."
"I think I am going to sit this one out. If you will excuse me for a
moment." Deanna rose from the table and disappeared through the bedroom
and into the bathroom to freshen up.
Riker's luck began to turn and he won the next two hands. He was holding a
flush, trying to determine whether or not Beverly had the cards she seemed to
be betting with when Deanna's voice called out from the bedroom. "Bev,
you might want to come here."
Dr. Crusher exchanged a puzzled look with the Captain before excusing herself
from that table. Peaking her head into the other room she found her friend sitting
calmly on the edge of the bed. "What is it Dea?"
"Since I left the table ten minutes ago two contractions have hit and
my water broke."
"Are you sure?" Deanna shot her a wry look. "Of course you're
sure, it's just that when I scanned you there was no indication that this would
be happening so soon. Lie back, let see if you are dilated at all." Troi
made herself comfortable as Dr. Crusher ran the tricorder over her once again.
A small smile played across her lips. "You are at about two centimeters.
Congratulations Dea, you are officially in labor." As if to punctuate her
statement another contraction hit causing Deanna to roll onto her side and curl
up into a ball.
It was at that moment when Riker stepped into the doorway. A look of panic
crossed his features at the sight of Deanna. "What's going on?"
"Her water broke, and that," she nodded towards her friend, "is
"She's in labor?" Riker's voice went up an octave. "Shouldn't
you be going to sickbay or something?"
Dr. Crusher let out a low chuckle. "Relax Will. She's only at two centimeters;
she has about eight more to go before anything more will happen. Depending how
quickly she progresses, I think I will keep her here until she's at about six
centimeters. It would just be more comfortable for her."
"I hate it when people talk about me like I am not in the room."
Deanna was now comfortably sitting cross-legged in the middle of the bed.
Beverly gave her a sheepish look. "Sorry Dea. Would you rather we go to
She tilted her head in thought. "You're right, it would be a lot more
comfortable here and besides, it's going to be a while right?"
Beverly nodded. "Do you want anything for the pain?"
"I'm doing fine for now, but I will let you know." Her eyes slipped
shut and she began the meditation her mother taught her that was to ensure a
stress free birth.
The poker game disbanded and Geordi and Data left. Captain Picard remained
and kept Riker company in the main room. The two sat drinking coffee and talked
about ship's business. Beverly split her time between the rooms, chatting with
Deanna between contractions and meditations and constantly running a tricorder
over her. She shared a few cups of coffee with the Captain and Commander whenever
Deanna was deep in her meditation. Three hours into the scene, after a not-so-subtle
hint from Beverly, the Captain returned to his quarters for some much needed
rest before duty the next morning.
The whole scene was incredibly surreal for Riker. Some how he expected thing
to be a bit more chaotic. Deanna remained incredibly calm due mostly to her
meditations, but the comfort of being in quarters surrounded by friends also
helped. In between contractions you wouldn't even know that she was in labor.
When one hit she would curl up into a ball, breathing deeply and whimpering
from the pain. Every once in a while, when a particularly powerful one would
hit her by surprise she would cry out in a string of profanities in her native
tongue. Beverly was astounded that such a peaceful race would have so many strong,
Riker on the other hand was a basket case. He didn't know what his role was
supposed to be in all of this so after Picard had left he spent most of his
time pacing restlessly. He would poke his head into the bedroom occasionally
to see how Deanna was doing, but he didn't dare get too close. After about six
hours he fell into a fitful sleep on the couch.
Deanna had been in labor for ten hours before Beverly declared that it was
time to head down to sickbay. Once they had arrived, the Counselor became almost
as restless as Riker. She wouldn't sit on the biobed, instead she walked the
small space of the private room stopping only when a contraction hit.
Much to Deanna's continuing frustration Riker still kept his distance. Instead
of joining her in the small room, he remained in the main area of sickbay, hovering
just outside the door. She desperately wanted him to be a bigger part in this
whole event, but she feared that it would be too much to ask of him. His anxiety
and concern over the situation was readily apparent and she didn't want to push
him into anything he couldn't handle.
After two more arduous hours Deanna was fully dilated and sitting in the birthing
chair. Exhausted from the twelve-hour ordeal and the lack of sleep, Troi had
trouble finding the energy to bear down.
**Imzadi** she called out with her mind, desperate to find that connection.
At the sound of her voice in his head, Riker finally found the courage to
step through the door and join the scene in the private room. Remaining by the
door, he observed from a distance. Controlled chaos played out before him. Various
medical technicians hurried around the room preparing the swaddling and warmer
for the newborn. Deanna was in the birthing chair, her eyes were closed and
her breathing labored and shallow, a sheen of sweat covered her face.
"OK Dea, you are doing wonderful. I can see the head, so on the next
contraction you need to push as hard as you can." Beverly tried to hide
her concern over her friend's current state. When the next one hit, with all
of the energy that was left within her, Deanna did as she was told. The force
of her exertion left her breathless and light headed, she began to fade into
unconsciousness. "Damn it Deanna, you need to stay with me!"
Riker closed his eyes and breathed deep. Concentrating solely on the beautiful
Betazed, he opened up his mind. He could still feel their connection, it was
still there, only narrowed. Opening his eyes once again he locked gazes with
Deanna who had been startled back into consciousness by Will's actions. He knew
instantly when the next contraction hit and when it did, he sent Deanna all
of the strength and encouragement he could through their bond.
"Great Dea, you are doing great. The head is out and during the next
contraction I just need one more push."
It didn't take long for the next contraction to come and accepting more support
from Will, Deanna pushed one last time and was rewarded when the loud cry of
a newborn filled the air. Tears filled her eyes as Dr. Crusher placed the squirming,
fussing newborn on top of Deanna. The new mother tenderly ran her fingers over
the tiny head of dark curls and instinctively counted the fingers and toes.
Calming from the gentle touch, the newborn opened her eyes and let out a big
yawn. "Me too Little One."
Thirty minutes later mother and baby were resting comfortably on the biobed.
The newborn suckled at Deanna's breast as she marveled at the tiny person in
her arms. Riker still had yet to move from his spot next to the door. The room
had quieted down considerably and the only staff member present was Dr. Crusher
herself who was running a tricorder over the pair on the biobed.
"She's absolutely gorgeous Dea and perfectly healthy to boot." Beverly's
smile lit up her entire face. "I will hold off on that birth certificate
until you've decided on a name. In the mean time, get some rest."
"I will. Thanks Bev."
"No thanks needed, you're the one that did all the work." With that
she turned to leave, but right before reaching the door she turned to Riker
and gave him a push. Not expecting the action, Riker stumbled forward.
"Hello, Will." Deanna's face held a bemused smile. "It's safe
to come out of the corner now." Moving over to the far side of the biobed,
she patted the spot next to her. Hesitantly Riker stepped forward and sat down
next to her, facing her, but not meeting her eyes.
Troi let the silence hang between them for a moment before she spoke. "Thank
you." Her voice was barely above a whisper. Riker opened his mouth to respond
only to be silenced by a single finger on his lips. "I know I couldn't
have gotten through this without you." She took a deep, shaky breath and
let her hand drop. "I've missed you terribly and to have that connection
back, even if it were only for a moment, it was when I had needed it the most."
Will reached out and cradled her cheek in his large hand, gently wiping the
tears away with his thumb. Leaning forward he placed a tender kiss on each of
her eyelids before placing a feather light kiss on her lips. Pulling back just
enough to meet her eyes he said in a low voice, "I should go. You need
to get some rest." Deanna nodded mutely and he rose from the biobed, tugging
on his tunic. He drank in the site before him before he turned to leave.
Moments after he had gone, an image of her and the baby floated into her mind
and his voice rang loud and clear. **Thank you**
The baby was now just over five weeks old and she still did not have a name.
Deanna of course had taken to calling her Little One, but she would also call
her Hirlara, the Betezoid word for 'baby girl.' She was a very good-natured
baby, but like all newborns she was very aware of the moods of those around
her, especially Deanna. Whenever the Counselor was stressed or agitated, the
baby would pick up on that and begin to fuss, successfully escalating the tension.
This was one of those nights.
Deanna was scheduled to return back to light duty the next day and she was
worried about being separated for the first time. Though the child would only
be a few decks away in primary care, this would be the first time the two would
be apart for a significant amount of time.
She was at the end of her rope. It was past midnight and she had her first
appointment at 0800 hours. Sleep had been but a distant memory for the past
two days and she couldn't get the baby to calm down. Her nerves were frayed
and the child new it.
Setting her daughter down into her play set, Deanna futilely hoped that the
shiny toys would distract her enough to make her forget her mother's distress.
When that didn't work she called out, "Computer, location of Dr. Crusher?"
"Dr. Crusher is in Captain Picard's quarters."
Deanna's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "My my, I will need to have a
little talk with her tomorrow." Her heart sank. "Damn! She would kill
me if I interrupt." She began pacing the room. "Data and Geordi are
on shift and Guinan would still be working in Ten Forward. That leaves one person,
and I know he's still up."
Turning to her daughter who's cries still has not ceased, "Looks like
we get to pay a visit to daddy so that I can get some sleep and keep my sanity."
She gently scooped up the fussing child and headed next door.
Will Riker was sitting comfortably on his couch reviewing the last of the
day's reports from their survey mission. As soon as he got through the final
data PADD from astrophysics he was going to call it a night. He felt his plan
being pushed out into the vacuum of space when his door chime sounded.
"This had better be important," he said with a yawn. "Come."
His door obediently slid open to reveal a very frazzled Deanna Troi desperately
trying to calm her extremely unhappy baby girl.
Riker opened his mouth to speak, but before he could form any words Deanna
entered his quarters and placed the fussing infant on his lap. "Will, please.
I am desperate. I just need a couple hours of sleep and I know you don't have
bridge duty until 0200 tomorrow. Please." The last word was said with such
quiet desperation that when combined with the pleading look in her large, luminous,
tear-filled eyes, he could do nothing to resist. Before he could stop himself,
he nodded mutely.
"Thank you!" Deanna kissed him quickly, but firmly on the lips. Placing
the small bag she had also been carrying on the table, she quickly exited his
Riker looked down at the squirming bundle in his lap whose ear-piercing screams
had died down to frustrated whimpers.
"Hello there, well I guess you don't have a name yet do you?" At
the sound of his voice she stopped fussing and stared at him intently. He positioned
her so that she was facing him directly, cradling her small head in his large
hand. "Well, if you are anything like your mother then I am sure 'Princess'
would be appropriate."
The pair continued to stare at each other. "You really do look just like
your mom." He gently ran a finger down her tiny, perfect nose and over
her O-shaped mouth, an exact miniature of Deanna's. She had definitely inherited
her chin from Riker though. Large blue eyes regarded Will with curiosity. Although
her eye color was almost identical to her father's, the size and shape reflected
her partial Betazoid heritage.
"You are being an angel now Princess. Why were you giving your mom such
a hard time?"
He spoke too soon. The big blue eyes shut tightly, and she let out a yell that
would have made a Klingon proud.
"Whoa, hey I'm sorry. Whatever I said I take it back." Riker was
on his feet. Holding the baby close, he began walking the confined space bouncing
the screaming child slightly with each step in the hopes of calming her down.
When that didn't work he switched tactics. Repositioning the baby so that he
was able to cradle her with one arm, he used his free hand to open up the small
bag on the table. Reaching inside, he pulled out the first object he came in
contact with, a bottle. "Are you hungry? I hope so because that is something
I can easily fix." To Riker's delight she immediately ceased her fussing
and greedily took to the bottle. Will breathed a sigh of relief. "OK, maybe
I can get the hang of this after all."
Riker sat down on the couch making the two of them comfortable. "I'm not
sure if you know this Princess, but I'm your father." She hiccupped in
reply. "I know I haven't really been around the past weeks, but that's
because things are kind of complicated between your mom and me right now."
He let out a heavy sigh.
"Don't tell anybody that I told you this, but I am afraid. I'm scared
shitless about how much I love your mother, about doing something stupid and
hurting her again, about becoming my father and screwing up your life."
He placed a finger in her palm and the tiny fingers immediately wrapped around
it. "Funny how such a little thing like you can scare a big guy like me
"The time is 0700. The time is 0700." Soft beeps accompanied the
Deanna Troi rolled over and hit the panel next to her bed effectively silencing
the offending announcement. She stretched slowly, not yet willing to raise.
Something was different, but she couldn't quite put her finger on it.
The baby! She hadn't been woken up by the baby. Leaping out of bed, she threw
her robe on. When she reached the empty bassinet it hit her. "Riker! Oh
damn, I left her there all night." She dashed out the door.
When there was no answer to her chime she deftly keyed in the access code and
the door slid silently open.
Deanna couldn't help but smile at the sight before her. The two were sound
asleep on the couch, Riker on his back snoring softly with an arm protectively
around the infant on top of his broad chest.
Sitting on the low table in front of them, Deanna leaned over and placed a
kiss on her daughter's head. Brushing a stray lock of hair from his forehead,
she called out his name softly so as to not startle him. "Will, wake up."
He didn't even stir so she tried again a little bit louder. "Wake up Will."
Once again there was no response. She decided to try a different approach. He
looked so sexy lying there that she couldn't resist. Leaning forward she placed
a light, lingering kiss on his lips. She was rewarded with a slight stirring
and a low moan. Emboldened by his response, Deanna pressed another, firmer kiss
against his lips. Another low moan sounded in his throat and he was soon kissing
her back. The couple separated, breathless.
"Good morning." Deanna broke the silence that followed.
"Morning? What time is it?"
"Just after 0700. I'm sorry Will. I didn't mean to sleep through the night."
She moved to take the sleeping infant from him, but he stopped her. Sitting
up, he repositioned the baby to rest in the crook of his arm. She stretched
and opened one eye at the intrusion into her slumber, but then quickly fell
back asleep. Deanna marveled at how Riker's large frame seemed to dwarf the
infant even more.
"It's all right." He smiled down at the sleeping baby. "We came
to an understanding, a small agreement, if you will." Deanna raised a questioning
eyebrow causing Will to let out a low chuckle. "She is going to stop driving
her mom nuts, and I," he cleared his throat, "I am going to start
being a better father."
Deanna couldn't stop the tears brimming in her eyes. "Are you sure? I
don't think I could take it if..."
Riker took her hand in his. "Dea, I know that I, that we still have a
lot of things to work through, but I do want to work through them."
A sharp cry filled the cabin as the baby made it clear that she was now awake.
"She's hungry." The two said in unison.
Deanna settled onto the couch and when she had the top of her nightgown unbuttoned
Will handed her the baby. The screams stopped abruptly when the child began
nursing. Pulling Deanna to him, Will propped his feet up on the table and settled
back. He ran a hand over the teeny head of dark curls. "She has my ears,"
he stated quietly. Deanna merely nodded in response.
Another long silence passed. "Dea, what exactly am I supposed to call
her? Beautiful would be fitting, but that might get confusing because I know
her mother could answer to that too." Riker smiled when he felt her silent
"Always the sweat-talker." She gave him a playful elbow in the ribs
before growing serious.
"There is an ancient Betazoid myth about a goddess who would watch over
loved ones while they were apart and she would ensure a safe reunion."
She paused to gather her thoughts. "When you were gone, I had a dream one
night. It was the image of our daughter trying to let me know that you would
return to me, that she would bring you home. I didn't want to believe in and
false hope so I just dismissed it."
Will pulled her closer. "I had a similar dream right before I woke up
in sickbay. A little girl led me to you."
Deanna shifted until she was able to look into his eyes. "For some reason
the story of this goddess came into my mind a few days ago. I hadn't thought
about it in over twenty years." She looked down at her daughter in her
arms. "I realized that the story was a lot like my dream so I have decided
to name her after that goddess. Eiralond Elizabeth Troi, Daughter of the Fifth
House of Betazed."
"Eiralond Elizabeth?" Riker raised a questioning eyebrow and Deanna
"Elizabeth in honor of her human side and her paternal grandmother."
"Eiralond Elizabeth Troi." He tested it out. "That's a very
regal name. If she turns out to be anything like her mother, it will suit her
well." Riker let out a yelp as Deanna's elbow found his ribs once again.