Connection Sealed

by D. Destiny

Several heads turned towards the doors as they slid open to grant another guest access to the party thrown at the Starfleet Embassy on Betazed. Most of the heads turned almost immediately back when recognizing the human that walked through, but some remained facing the man and sized him up.

His body was well-formed and the clothes he wore accentuated his well developed muscles. The blue, loose-fitting shirt revealed part of his hairy chest and the black pants fit tightly around his bottom, but loosely around his, undoubtedly, well-shaped, legs. His skin was tanned and fair. His face was dominated by a brown beard that showed a few strands of grey.

Piercing sapphire blue eyes scanned his surroundings, but did not notice the looks he received from several ladies in his proximity. For he was looking for one lady in particular, one that he knew would not be there. Suppressing his disappointment, he flashed each of his admirers a boyish grin and walked up to his friends standing by one of the view ports.

The large room was filled with Starfleet officers and Betazoids. Not many crewmembers of the Enterprise had opted to beam down; most humans were still uncomfortable around telepaths.

"Will? Are you alright?" Confused, he looked at the woman in front of him. Her floor-length white evening gown hugged her frame at all the right places and had a sexy slit up to mid thigh. A sparkling Orion-eye hung between her collar bones and a similar stone hung an inch below each ear.

"Why shouldn't I be?" She shared a meaningful look with the bald man at her side and turned back to him.

"Well, I don't see a drop-dead-gorgeous lady at your side for one." Grinning she slapped his arm. In return, he flashed her a smirk.

"Hmm, yes. Well Leya couldn't make it. Someone has to keep this ship running after all." Leya was his date for almost six months now. Strikingly beautiful; green, expressive eyes, reddish-brown hair, about 6'1 and a perfect figure. Lieutenant-Commander in rank and assigned to Engineering as LaForge's assistant. Quick-witted, charming and friendly...and, unfortunately, on duty right now. He had started seeing her about four weeks after Deanna and Worf had started their relationship.

"And you couldn't fix another date?" Looking into Beverly's twinkling eyes he smiled and shook his head.

"Unlike you, I see." Her eyes widened and she was too late to stop herself from glancing at Jean-Luc.

"Will!" He raised his eyebrows and couldn't help but tease her when he saw her cheeks redden.

"Why, why are you blushing, Doc?" With a glare, she warned him not to push the issue, and raising his hand up in the air, he relented. Jean-Luc turned around and seemed to scan the area around his First Officer for any sign of an escort. When he found none, a frown crossed his face and he opened his mouth to make a comment. Will, however interjected.

"Leya's on duty."

"Oh. Well, glad you could make it Commander." Hadn't he known better, he would have thought he'd seen a smirk cross Picard's face. Data, Geordi and, Geordi's date Sarah, joined them. Geordi flashed him a ear-to-ear grin, not bothering to even ask why he was alone, while Sarah on her part, threw him a pitiful look and hit her date against his chest.

"Is he keeping Leya for himself again?" Pouting Riker looked at the floor. "Oh, poor you." The blonde smiled just as widely as Geordi. "Well, I have something to cheer you up. Deanna promised to get her off duty. With a bit of luck she'll walk through those doors any moment now." His head snapped up in surprise. He didn't know whether to be happy or worried. Deanna and Sarah were good friends, Sarah and Leya were good friends and it hadn't been long before Leya and Deanna had become friends as well; just his luck.

"Great!" He thought he sounded enthusiastic enough, but the look in Crusher's eyes told him otherwise. Fortunately Sarah hadn't noticed it and happily continued talking. His eyes searched the ballroom once again and he realized that Deanna indeed wasn't present.

It was very unlike her not to show up on these kind of events. The opportunities to spend an evening among friends without having to fully shield her mind were rare and she usually enjoyed every second of such nights. And now they were also on Betazed, the more reason for her to show up. He wondered what was keeping her tonight. Lwaxana wouldn't be arriving for a couple of hours so she couldn't be the reason of her daughter's absence.

"I haven't seen Deanna..." He didn't finish knowing that Beverly would be more than helpful to answer. She refused to give up in her matchmaking scheme and was still fully convinced that he and Deanna belonged together. Well he wasn't so sure anymore. They'd been friends for so long now. Granted that they'd occasionally overstepped the line between 'just friends' and lovers but basically 'just friends' had been all they were to each other. At least that's what he thought.

When Deanna had started seeing Worf he'd been furious, surprised and jealous. But most of all he'd been scared. His pride, however, had prevented him from telling her the truth. And in some kind of reply to her relation, he started seeing Leya. He loved Leya, he did. He loved the twinkle in her eyes, her smile, her sense of humour. He loved Leya...but he worshipped Deanna.

"She said she wasn't feeling very well and would remain in her quarters tonight."

"Oh," was all the response he could think of. Deanna and Worf had broken up after less than six weeks; the differences between them had been too great. Or so she had confided in him. He felt guilty; when she'd been seeing Worf he had avoided her. Not for her sake or Worf's, but for his own.

Not because he was hurting or because he was jealous, but for the simple reason that he was angry. Angry at his Imzadi for starting a relationship with someone else. But Deanna hadn't turned away from him, not when she was seeing Worf and not when he was seeing Leya. As always, she understood.

She was hurting though, he could tell. Oh, she'd laugh with him, she'd make jokes and she'd talk, but she was hurting. He saw that every damn time he looked into her dark eyes. Although Deanna tried to keep contact, he didn't. He spent more and more time with Leya, and after two months he and Deanna no longer had late night dinners together and they rarely shared lunch anymore. The only times they'd see each other off duty was during poker games, crew evaluations or evenings like this one. Of course Beverly had lectured him about his behaviour, as had Sarah and even Leya, but dammit! he wanted Deanna to hurt just as badly as he had when she was seeing Worf.

"Ah, look who we have there!" Sarah's bright voice pulled him back to reality and he spun towards the doors with only one person on his mind. Deanna. The woman walked directly to him. Softly he whispered her name. "Leya." She wore a floor-length, deep blue evening gown. Similar to Beverly's on this one was a bit more decorated and strapless and made Leya look absolutely drop-dead-gorgeous. And he wasn't the only one who noticed. Several pair of eyes followed her inch by inch as she made her way towards him.

"You look breath-taking."

"Well, thank you, handsome." They shared a tender kiss before he allowed her to pass him and go to Sarah and Beverly. He watched her in awe until his Captain told him to close his mouth. Blushing, yes *blushing* he forced himself to keep his attention on the conversation.

Every once in a while however he stole a look at Leya. The dress fit her perfectly and was so...her. If that was indeed so, then why was he trying to imagine how Deanna would look in that dress? Why was he thinking about Deanna at all? Why had he been thinking and dreaming about her practically 24/7 the past two weeks? Shaking his head, he focussed on the conversation they were holding once more, every now and then glancing around to see whether Deanna had decided to show up after all.

"Well, well, just look who we have here!" The voice from behind him sounded somewhat familiar, but he couldn't place it, until he turned around. He recognized the blond woman immediately when he saw her face.

"Chandra! What a pleasure to see you again!" His enthusiasm was genuine, it had been ages since he's seen the Betazoid. She hugged him and gently kissed his cheek.

"My, my Commander William T. Riker; you haven't changed a bit. Well, maybe except for a bit of hair." Everyone who had heard her comment started laughing.

"And you are just as beautiful as the day I met you."

"You just say that to all the ladies."

"That's not true." He replied quickly, too quickly.

"Well, you've told me, Deanna, Lwaxana, my mother and I'm pretty sure you told Leya at least once as well." Quickly exchanged a glance with his date he corrected himself.

"Okay, but I only say when I mean it. And I've never said it to Deanna." Searching his eyes, Chandra smiled tenderly. She heard his mind telling him that he always told Deanna she looked even more beautiful than before and wondered why the two weren’t together. Surely Deanna would sense his emotions.

"You're right. I'm sorry. So, are you going to introduce me to your friends or what?" He had totally forgotten their presence.

"Oh, my apologies. Captain Picard, Beverly, Leya, Geordi, Sarah and Data," he dutifully pointed at each of his friends although he was sure that Chandra already knew who they were. "This is Chandra Xerx, Daughter of the..."


"All right, sorry. Chandra Xerx, Deanna's best friend." The thoughtful look in Beverly's eyes was one he'd rather not see. But there was nothing he could do about it.

"Wait a minute. Wasn't it at your wedding that Will and Deanna met?" He cursed the mischievous twinkles in Beverly's eyes when she asked the question.

"Yes it was. Though I admit no one would've guessed they'd end up like this." Her laughter was contagious and had soon spread throughout the group. Only Will was unaffected but only Chandra knew that. She squeezed his hand gently, excused herself, and left to welcome other guests.

Becoming bored, he took Leya's hand and guided her to the dance floor. They danced for a while, got a drink and joined the others again. But still his mind was on Deanna and still he couldn't concentrate on anything he was doing. Images of old memories flashed through his mind, distant voices floated through his head and feelings of a lifetime ago poured into his heart.

What was going on? Why was he feelings all this again after so many years? What had changed? Fortunately, he was able to mask his inner turmoil from his friends and even from Leya, because he wasn't sure how he'd react if any of them would start asking questions.

The rest of the evening went by slowly, too slowly. Each minute seemed an eternity and each eternity was filled with thoughts, memories and images of her. His Imzadi. He was about to excuse himself when something caught his eye. Or rather someone. And not only his eyes, but the eyes of pretty much everyone in the room.

There, on the threshold, no more than twenty meters away stood the most beautiful creature he'd ever seen. Compared to drop-dead-gorgeous-Leya hours ago, this woman was beautiful beyond description. It was like comparing a piece of simple glass to a perfect diamond, and that didn't even begin to do her justice.

Her hair was loose and the black silk curls reached down to the small of her back. Dozens of tiny, silver drops had been placed through out her hair and she wore the Fifth House Tiara. Around her neck was a triangle shaped, solid, white gold, necklace, the point ending just above the beginning of her dress. A square was cut out the middle of the necklace and in the hole created, hung a huge eye-catching fire-diamond.

Her dress was blood-red and very low-cut, after all, they were on Betazed. The bodice clung around her and left absolutely nothing to the imagination. The skirt was wide and covered with tiny red stones. Her milky skin was in perfect contrast with her dress. On each hand she wore a simple silver ring and on each wrist hung a silver bracelet.

His eyes focussed on her face; her lips had the same colour as her dress and her dark eyes seemed larger than usual by the make-up she had used. When their eyes locked, he released the breath he'd been holding ever since he'd laid eyes on her. As she began to walk up to him, he noticed that with every step she took, the high slit revealed her well-shaped leg and the red high heeled shoes she was wearing.

While walking up to him, she was constantly stopped by other guests. All of them offering her a dance or a drink. And with each contact between her and one of her admirers, he felt a stab of jealousy. Finally she was able to walk a few meters without getting interrupted. She had her chin slightly raised and presented herself, quite obviously, as the 'Daughter of the Fifth House of Betazed'.

Far, far away he heard a familiar voice whisper just how gorgeous his Imzadi was. But he didn't react, his gaze aimed at her face, impatiently awaiting the chance to lock on her eyes. In the corner of his eye he saw several Betazoids lock their gazes on him. He realized he was broadcasting his emotions rather clear, but he didn't care. All he cared about was meeting her eyes.

About five meters in front of him, Deanna stood still. His breath staggered in his throat as her eyes locked on his. Blue met black. His thoughts vanished and he saw nothing but Her.


Although she appeared to be calm and at ease on the outside, very much the opposite was true. Her heart was racing in her chest and the adrenaline was racing through her veins. She had no clue how she would react when she'd come face to face with Will Riker, her best friend, her Imzadi. She was hurt by the distance between them he had created, a little angered as well, but she also felt guilty.

She raised her eyes, searching his. Black met Blue. And all her questions and uncertainty disappeared. She loved him. Pushing past her own emotions she tried to get a reading of his. As his emotions poured into her, she gasped. Love, admiration, guilt, hurt and adoration radiated from him.

The entire room went silent, and throughout the room couples took each other's hands and watched the couple near the huge window. Realizing that Deanna was probing him, Will cleared his mind and opened the door to his soul. Abruptly he felt her everywhere at once; the connection was established.

They savoured each other's very soul, still holding the other's eyes. Hesitantly she took a step towards him, and another, and a third. Until they were barely an inch apart. ~Imzadi~ The endearment rang through his mind and settled in his soul.

He had almost forgotten what it felt to like be linked like this. In fact, he realized, it felt way more incredible than he remembered. Maybe because there were so many Betazoids around them, but most likely because both had matured and through their years of friendship, the bond had strengthened.

Deanna's eyes widened; the bond was so strong! Much stronger than she remembered, much stronger than she'd ever thought possible. But it was there, and it was impossible to deny or ignore. ~Imzadi~ The endearment rang through her mind clearer than it ever had. She realized that their bond had entered a new stage and that it could not be buried again. The question remained, how would they deal with it? Will answered her thought by cupping her face in his hands and tenderly brushing his lips over hers.

~I love you, Imzadi. Here, now, always and forever.~ And she smiled, speechless she threw her slender arms around his neck and hugged him tightly.

~I love you too, Imzadi. With all my being.~ Around them people started clapping, bringing the couple out the daze they'd been in. Somewhat embarrassed, they glanced around them; not sure what to do next.

"Dance with me." Deanna raised her eyes, wanting nothing more to than to accept.

"Leya." The wave of guilt that emanated from him made her sway a little and she was grateful that no one noticed. With his eyes lowered he turned around, but before he could even begin to apologize she cut him off.

"Go on! You where never really mine. I knew that from the beginning."

~Promise her the last dance.~ Deanna smiled as she sensed his frown.

"Thank you, Leya. But promise me one thing; dance the last dance with me." Smiling she nodded and as Will turned his back to her, she winked at Troi. "Well that went well." He softly murmured while guiding his Imzadi to the dance floor.

~She's hurt. But yes, she'll manage.~ Will was surprised to find out that Deanna was actually sad. ~Of course I am Will. She's my friend and I don't like seeing her hurt.~ Mentally he nodded. Having reached the dance floor he pulled her close to him and wrapped his arms around her tiny waist. Deanna sighed contently as she rested her head against his broad torso.

Together they danced on the rhythm of their combined souls, not noticing that all the other couples had left the floor and watched them silently.

~Congratulations, Little One, it is about time.~ Again Deanna sighed, only this time of annoyance rather than content. She realized her mother must have picked up her and Will's emotions when she'd approached the Embassy. ~Nonsense Dear, the reaffirmation of your bond could be sensed practically on the entire planet.~ Startled, Deanna brusquely lifted her head up, but just as quickly Will placed his hand in her hair and gently pulled her back.

"Let's worry about that later, shall we? It's been too long since I've held you like this." To strengthen his words he pulled her even closer. They danced together for what seemed an eternity, but might as well have been only a second. Eventually other couples joined them. Suddenly Deanna sensed...something from Will. Quizzically, she looked up and met her Imzadi's eyes. "What is that?"

"What?" Unable to explain aloud she sent the sensation she'd felt back to him. A tender smile crossed his face.

"That is an old Earth song that's been playing through my mind ever since I laid eyes on you tonight."

"Will you sing it to me?" Not sure how to take her request, he searched her eyes. Only to find that he couldn't possible deny her anything when she looked like she did at that particular moment.

Without releasing her, he motioned Data to approach them. He whispered something in the android's ear and then returned his full attention to his dance partner once again; keeping part of his mind closed to her.

His love and adoration enveloped her and made her forget what just happened. They danced like that for another five minutes when suddenly the style of music changed. A bit reluctant Deanna raised her head and met his eyes. In her head she heard his soft baritone voice.

~ I've never seen you looking so lovely as you did tonight ~
~ never seen you shine so bright ~

She felt his love as if it was her own, and she realized it was. She focussed her attention on his voice.

~ never seen so many men ask you if you wanted to dance ~
~ looking for a little romance ~
~ they don't have a chance ~
~ I have never seen the dress your wearing or the highlights in your hair ~
~ they catch your eyes ~
~ I have been blind ~

Will pulled his Imzadi closer against him and ran a gentle hand through her hair. He was, for the first time in months, truly content.

~ lady in red ~
~ is dancing with me ~
~ cheek to cheek ~
~ there's nobody here ~
~ it's just you and me ~
~ it's where I wanna be ~
~ and I hardly know ~
~ this beauty by my side ~
~ I'll never forget ~
~ the way you look tonight ~

The song was intoxicating for both of them. And while they were in each other's arms, slowly dancing to the music, the galaxy could've exploded around them and they wouldn't have noticed. All they were aware of was the music, Will's voice and each other's love. In that moment Will realized that was all he needed. Finally he had come home.

~ I've never seen you looking so gorgeous as you did tonight ~
~ never seen you shine so bright ~
~ you were amazing ~
~ never seen so many people wanna be there by you side ~
~ and when you turned to me and smile ~
~ you took my breath away ~
~ I have never had such a feeling ~
~ such a feeling of complete and utter love ~
~ as I do tonight ~

All the other people in the room had grown silent again and watched the couple. For the Betazoids, the process they witnessed was almost sacred. Will and Deanna were completing their bond without even realizing it. But already their bond was stronger than any of the Betazoids had ever heard of and the process still continued.

The non-telepaths had also realized there was something special happening between the two officers and they picked up on the silent communication between the two. Leya wiped a single tear away and smiled at Data who was witnessing the event with his usual curiosity. Geordi's arm slipped around Sarah's waist and pulled her close.

And under the influence of the intoxicating sphere, Beverly and Jean-Luc joined their hands and shared a long look. Throughout the planet, Betazoids experienced a feeling of love, peace and tranquillity, and took their loved ones in their arms. At the Embassy, Chandra and Teb hugged each other tightly while a few feet at their side, Lwaxana Troi cried of pure joy.

~ lady in red ~
~ is dancing with me ~
~ cheek to cheek ~
~ there's nobody here ~
~ it's just you and me ~
~ it's where I wanna be ~
~ and I hardly know ~
~ this beauty by my side ~
~ I'll never forget ~
~ the way you look tonight ~
~ I never will forget ~
~ the way you look tonight ~

The music slowed and grew gradually softer, indicating the end of the song. Deanna raised her dark eyes to meet the blue ones of her Imzadi. The tears that shone in her eyes startled him, but quickly a gentle brush of her mind reassured him. In those eyes, he knew now, lay his future. Deanna felt his realization and acceptance and his intense feelings overwhelmed her.

~ my lady in red ~

Thinking the song was finished Deanna laid her head back against his broad chest, but Will gently pushed her away and lifted her head by a gentle finger under her chin. Once again their eyes locked, but this time they looked right into the other's soul. And while Will send her all his love, adoration, admiration and need through their link, he whispered the last line to her aloud.

"I love you"

Deanna's tears fell as their lips met in a tender, loving kiss. Outside, high in the sky a star exploded and it's light enveloped the Imzadi couple. Sealing the connection between two reunited souls for always and forever. And only one whispered word rang through the planet.


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From poohba:
Oh, this is to Star Trek what Sleepless in Seattle is to movies... one of those "chick" stories that makes you cry because its just so beautiful. I really *felt* everything from the jealousy, the pain to the joy. Thank you for writing this.