"Tasha, wait--" The door slid shut behind the sauntering security
guard, effectively cutting Troi off. With a sigh of exasperation she tapped
her comm badge.
"Troi to Captain Picard."
"Sir, I think Tasha's been infected, too. She's just left my quarters..."
<It's not actually an 'infection,' Counselor.>
Deanna rolled her eyes, biting back the annoyed tone in her voice. "Yes
sir, it's more like an intoxication, but whatever it is, she's got it."
<Thank you, Counselor.> With his curt reply, the comm channel was closed.
Letting out an audible breath, Deanna surveyed the mess Tasha had left behind
in her normally immaculate quarters. Shimmering, brightly colored fabrics of
various hues were scattered about the main living area as well as the bedroom.
She reached for the closest one, a silken floral print that was draped across
the back of the chair. As she placed the garment back into the closet, her fingertips
lingered on the delicate fabric. Her thoughts wandered to the past.
She was not normally one to indulge herself in clothing beyond what was necessary,
an unconscious form of rebellion against her mother perhaps. Whatever the reason,
she had broken her unwritten rule one gorgeous Betazoid summer afternoon.
They had just finished a late lunch in a small cafe and had decided to take
a stroll along the main street before he had to return to headquarters and she
had to attend her next class. Arm in arm, they paused at some of the store windows,
admiring the merchandise.
A particular garment caught his eye and he leaned over to whisper seductively
in her ear. "I would love to see you in something like that."
She allowed a small giggle to slip past her lips before she half-heartedly
chided him, but the smoldering look in his bright blue eyes gave her pause,
so she pulled him into the store behind her.
A small, sad smile graced her lips at the memory of that day, that time in
her life. Everything was so different now and she knew that she could never
Deanna angrily swiped away the one tear that had managed to escape. "Stop
living in the past." She had lost track of how many times she had told
herself this. "What matters is right now. And right now I need to clean
up this mess."
As she bent to retrieve the next article of clothing the room began to spin.
The sudden wave of dizziness slammed into her, forcing her to place a steadying
hand on the bed. When the sickening sensation had passed, she straightened up
again only to have it quickly return.
"Maybe I should lie down."
As her head hit the pillow the dizziness ebbed away and was replaced by a cacophony
of the crew's emotions. Whatever was making her dizzy seemed to also be affecting
her ability to filter out the overwhelming noise of emotions.
One particular individual's mind began to slowly push its way above the din.
Deanna grabbed a hold of it, wrapping herself up in the wonderfully familiar,
A single whispered word fell from the edge of her lips. The only word that
could describe it, "Imzadi."
Physically drawn to the source, she made her way out into the corridor and
headed straight to Engineering, the mess in her quarters long forgotten.
Her empathic sense was stumbling. The minds were different somehow, swirling,
free. Thoughts and emotions were fragmented, disjointed, incomplete. She held
fast to her sense of him, letting it guide her through the madness that was
threatening to consume her.
The doors to the turbolift opened to allow her access to the main engineering
"Bill..." She drank in the sight of him.
"Deanna, what--?" His question was stopped short by a pair of small
hands making their way around his midsection.
Deanna held him tight, her awareness of him increasing tenfold thanks to the
"So many minds on this ship, Bill... all free... released..." She
let his presence wash over her and reached out to lightly brush his mind. Her
hands caressed sensually up and down his back, his response to the physical
contact and her ministrations only adding to her desire. The absolute need to
get him out of his uniform immediately was temporarily placated by the sound
of his voice.
"I can feel them all... what they feel... what they want... I feel a side
of humans I've never felt before."
"Come on, I'm getting you to Sickbay." He effortlessly scooped the
petite Betazed into his arms, her delicate hands instinctively encircling his
"Wouldn't you rather be alone with me -- with me in your mind..."
Her hands began running feather-light patterns across the sensitive area on
the back of his neck.
**Sickbay. I need to get her to sickbay.** Like a mantra, Riker repeated the
phrase in his head in an effort to ignore the incredible sensations that were
building up inside. A very unfortunate, or fortunate side effect of having the
beautiful Betazed in his arms, doing that thing with his neck.
His mantra was having the desired effect, successfully keeping him on course
to sickbay until the sudden feeling of a small moist tongue leaving a wet trail
along his earlobe caused his precarious resolve to snap. A low moan made its
way from deep within and he was forced to drop Deanna to her feet in the middle
of the corridor. A futile, desperate attempt to quell her ministrations, it
did nothing to alleviate the problem.
Instead, he found himself with his back against the bulkhead and a small, lithe
body pressing firmly against him. Soft lips kissing the skin being exposed as
delicate fingers slowly lowered the front fastening of his uniform.
That's when he felt it, felt her, all around him, within him. His very being
became suffused with her essence. She brushed his mind, barely a whisper, stroking
the flames of his desire until he could bare it no longer.
Lifting her face to his, Riker captured her lips in a desperate, urgent kiss.
He wrapped his arms tightly around her, pulling her as close to him as was physically
possible. It still wasn't enough. Shifting their positions, he pressed her firmly
against the bulkhead, his large frame towering over her. Their kiss continued,
neither one daring to stop to even take a breath, their hands mimicking the
seductive dance of their lips and tongues.
Deanna pushed forcefully on his shoulders and Riker willingly let her regain
the dominant position. Instead of the bulkhead, his back came in contact with
a door, which obediently opened when the sensors detected them in the doorway.
Unable to halt their forward momentum, the pair landed unceremoniously in a
heap on the floor of an empty conference lounge.
It took a few moments for Riker to recover his breath, having had the wind
knocked out of him by the beautiful Betazoid that was now lying on top of him.
Seemingly unaffected and rather indifferent towards the fall, Deanna continued
to rain small kisses along Riker's jaw and neck.
Whether it was from the fall or from the lavish attention she was pouring onto
his body and mind, Riker's head was spinning.
Through the muddled mess of his brain, sobering realization finally surfaced.
"Dea -- Deanna, wait." He gently pushed back her shoulders in an attempt
to dislodge her lips from his neck. When that didn't work, Riker decided that
a more drastic tactic was needed.
Rolling onto his side, dumping the dazed Deanna onto her bottom, Riker ended
up on his knees facing her.
"Hey, Deanna." Riker placed a gentle hand under her chin, forcing
her unfocused eyes to meet his.
"Imzadi," the word left her lips like a caress. "Don't you want
me?" She leaned in, her lips just a whisper away, taunting, daring him
to close the gap. "I know you do. I can feel it."
Riker swallowed hard, trying to resist the magnetic pull. Just when he thought
he had himself under control, Deanna's tongue made an appearance, sensuously
moving across her bottom lip. A trail of moisture was left in its wake. Just
as quickly as it appeared, it was gone again. He couldn't hold back any further.
"Yes," he moaned into her mouth as he crushed his lips to hers.
Their tongues and lips tangoed sinuously, tangled in a dance only the two of
them knew. Hands groped and caressed, desperate for the contact.
No longer content with the feel of fabric, Deanna returned her attention to
the front fastener of his uniform. She bore him to the floor, once again pinning
him on his back, her hands greedily exploring the newly exposed skin of his
torso. Reaching out through their bond, she continued to stroke the flames of
his desire with her own. Emotions combining, fusing until they could no longer
tell where one ended and another began, let alone from whom they were originating.
From this swirling vortex rose a single, unmistakable emotion. Love. Pure,
unadulterated love. They let themselves be pulled under, overpowered by its
Deanna wrapped herself in it, reveling in an emotion so pure. No, not pure.
It was tinged with something else. Something she had a difficult time wrapping
her empathic senses around.
With sudden sobering clarity, Deanna broke the kiss. "Fear." Their
eyes met as the word hung between them.
Riker swallow audibly. "Deanna, I –" That was all he managed
to croak out before Deanna transformed into a dead weight on top of him. He
shook her gently, but she was unresponsive, her even breath caressing his neck.
"Out cold. Just great."
Riker carefully rolled Deanna onto her back, dislodging himself from her dead
weight. He remained on the floor for a breath, trying to gather his thoughts
and clear the fog that hung in his head.
"Sickbay," he mumbled, the word pushing its way through the fog.
"Shit, I have to get her to sickbay."
Rising from the floor on unsteady legs, Riker was forced to grab the back of
the nearest chair to keep himself from falling on his ass once again. "This
would be a hell of a lot easier if the damn room would stop spinning."
With his eyes shut, his hands white-knuckled from gripping the chair, he took
several deep breaths. This action seemed to have the desired effect, and he
slowly opened his eyes again.
Still gripping the chair for support, Riker took in the scene. Deanna remained
blissfully unaware in the middle of the conference room floor, and he remained
partially out of uniform. He quickly amended the latter, refastening the front
of his uniform, and then set about getting the unconscious Betazed to sickbay.
Scooping Deanna up into his arms was usually an effortless task, almost second
nature for Riker, but considering their current state, it proved to be a bit
more of a challenge. Thrown off balance by the shift in his center of gravity,
he staggered back against the bulkhead. Deanna stirred only slightly, instinctively
wrapping her arms around his neck.
Riker looked down at the precious cargo he held. Her soft breath caressed his
neck as her head lay on his shoulder.
Serving with her aboard the Enterprise was most certainly not going to be dull.
Not that he ever expected and assignment on the flagship to be anything but
adventurous, but having this woman on board added a whole new dimension to the
mission that he had not anticipated.
Steadying himself before pushing off the wall, this time he managed to stay
on his feet. Riker made his way through the door and out into the corridor.
"With any luck you'll stay asleep at least until I get you to sickbay,"
he swallowed audibly. "I don't think we'd ever make it there if we ran
into another… distraction." A was her only response.
Riker breathed a sigh of relief as he rounded the last corner and the sickbay
doors came into view.
* * *
A silence hung between the two women as they stood together in the turbolift.
Tasha let out a breath. "Counselor, I just wanted to apologize for…
my behavior in your quarters." Her eyes never left the bulkhead in front
Deanna turned toward the security chief. "There is no need to apologize
Tasha. None of us were exactly in our right minds." A small frown tugged
at the corner of her lips.
Nodding in agreement, Tasha replied, "Exactly."
The turbolift doors opened and the two women stepped out onto the bridge, heading
for their stations.
Deanna placed a pleasant smile on her face, hoping it didn't seem as forced
as it felt. "Captain, Commander." She avoided making eye contact with
Riker, the awkwardness of the previous events still hanging thickly between
them. Sitting in her usual chair, she carefully arranged her hands in her lap,
focusing her gaze straight ahead at the view screen.
Riker's gaze never left her. Deanna could feel his eyes upon her and the strange
yet familiar swirl of emotions emanating from him. He was surprisingly calm
and his mind was incredibly focused.
Her thoughts were brought back to the bridge at the sound of the Captain's
"I put it to all of you we may end up with a fine crew... if we avoid
Their gazes were drawn together. **There is one temptation that I don't want
to avoid.** His voice was clear and strong within her mind.
It had been so long since he had sent anything to her and Deanna's surprise
made it difficult to respond with any coherency. A small smile tugged at her
lips and the color rose in her cheeks. She looked away demurely.
**Even if we must remain just friends.**
Her only response was an almost imperceptible nod.
The captain's voice ended their exchange. "So let's get to our next job,
"Aye, sir." He turned toward Lt. LaForge. "Helm, stand by for
warp three. Heading two-hundred ninety-four mark thirty-seven."
Geordi's fingers glided over the console. "Warp three, two-hundred ninety-four
mark thirty-seven, sir."
Commander Riker gave the order. "Engage!"
Riker grinned. Things were definitely looking up. His decision to take the
time to meditate and focus his mind had not been in vain. They still had a long
way to go to build their friendship, but at least they were on the right path.