Star Trek: TNG RETRIBUTION Exercise - All is Right With the Universe by Terilynn
Summary: A long time ago someone asked if I was going to write a "Post Retribution" work to help them find out what happened with Tom & Toni. Well - here's one take on it.
Categories: Next Generation, Expanded Universes Characters: Riker, William, Troi, Deanna
Genre: Drama, Other, Romance
Warnings: Adult Situations
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 3 Completed: Yes Word count: 8052 Read: 6654 Published: 08 Jun 2010 Updated: 08 Jun 2010
Story Notes:
Several years after the events of Star Trek: TNG - Retribution; Thomas Riker and Toni Steele deal with real life.

1. Part One by Terilynn

2. Part Two by Terilynn

3. Part Three by Terilynn

Part One by Terilynn
Sol System
Earth, North America
San Francisco
Starfleet Medical Building
Outpatient Psychiatric Wing
Suite #223

Thomas Riker eyed his psychiatrist warily. Sometimes he really just tired of the telepathic tricks. Betazoids and Irriol and even some Remans were now part of his psych team and they all knew what he was thinking – even if he refused to acknowledge it.

Three years of constant therapy led to two years of intermittent therapy. Now he was wondering whether or not the black-eyed analyst sitting across from him was either going to make him begin more frequent visits or maybe, and worse, just laugh at him.

To his surprise, the woman didn’t laugh at all. “Honestly Thomas, I’m surprised that you have come to terms with your true feelings so quickly. It’s a very positive thing.”

Thomas let the knot in his stomach slacken a little. “You mean, you don’t think it’s completely wrong for me to feel this way about her? You think it’s okay?”

“You two have…an awful lot in common to be honest,” the Betazoid woman replied with a smile.

Thomas scowled a bit. “Don’t you think that maybe we’ve shared a bit too much in common?”

“What do you mean by that?”

“We were Academy sweethearts and she ended up becoming the innocent recipient of the memories of my years of torture. I’m not so sure that’s a great foundation for a relationship Doctor.” He leaned back in his chair, absentmindedly stroked his well-trimmed beard and let his eyes drift from the desktop in front of him out the window to the image of the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. Its red-orange color glowed from the reflection of the sunset and the bridge’s massive pylons stood like two stalwart sentinels of the bay.

“Yet you love her. The fact that you feel this so deeply is what should be celebrated Thomas. You have finally reached another milestone in your recovery – you have allowed yourself to feel that emotion once more.”

Thomas felt kicked in the gut. “It’s terrifying me.”

“I know.”

Thomas growled. “Yes, you always know.”

“When did you start to realize that your feelings for Captain Steele had crossed over to attraction?”

Thomas had to allow a small grin cross his lips. “Well, I’ve always been attracted to her – she is part Deltan.”

The psychiatrist smirked. “You know what I meant.”

Thomas nodded and drew his eyes back from the bridge in the distance to look his therapist in the eye. “Last night. I walked her back to her apartment from the hospital. I felt myself wanting … to take her into my arms and hold her … and …” he stalled.

“And what Thomas?”

A pained expression wafted across his features and he closed his eyes softly. “And never let go.”

“What did you do?”

“Same thing I’ve done since we got to leave this place, I said good-night and watched her enter her apartment, turned and left.”

“But what was it this time that made you realize that your feelings for her are so much stronger?”


“Come now Thomas, there’s always a trigger. There’s always something that people in your position find as an avenue to open up to love again. Something that hits you straight in the heart and makes you not care whether or not you’ll get hurt again,” she said.

Thomas cocked his head to the side and swallowed hard. “She laughed.”

“She laughs frequently Thomas…”

“No she hasn’t…well – you misunderstand. Yes, she laughs all the time, but that laugh isn’t her real laugh – it’s not the laugh I know. It’s not the laugh that comes from deep down…inside of her.” Thomas connected his eyes to the therapist again. “I know her real laugh. I know it. When I heard it last night it meant…it meant everything to me.”

“So – what are you going to do about these feelings?”

“That’s why I’m here Doc. I wasn’t sure. I mean, I know what I want to do – but I’m not sure it’s the right thing for me…or for us.”

“If you’re asking permission, that’s not…”

“Not permission Doc, no. What I’m asking is – if I ask her out and if she says yes and if we – well, get back together – I need to know it’s not going to be a step backward for her – for us, for our recovery.”

A smile crossed the Betazoid woman’s face. “Love is never wrong Thomas. Never.”

“Maybe not. Still scary though.”

“Are you afraid that you’ll lose her like you have Deanna and Laren?”

Thomas’ nostrils flared and his heart ached with the mention of his former lovers’ names. “Of course I am,” he whispered. “Of course I am.”


“Deanna gave me her love and I blew it. Well…I guess you can say that eventually I figured it out. At least Will figured it out.” Thomas snorted a sarcastic laugh. “Deanna is with her Imzadi now and I’m happy for her. And Laren? Laren gave me her life…” Thomas rubbed his eyes and inhaled sharply. “…as well as her love.”

The therapist lifted her chin in a bit of concern when Thomas stalled again. “And Captain Steele? Has she given you anything?”

Thomas rolled his eyes. “You’re kidding right?”


“Toni? Toni has given me … the greatest possible gift.”

“Even more than her life?”

Thomas grimaced from the blow and let his pain stay reflected in his eyes. “Maybe.”

“What gift could be greater than that?” she asked pointedly.

“I feel like Toni has given me…me.”

“What do you mean she gave you…you?”

“Toni is the only person I’ve known since the transporter accident on Nervala IV split me in two who really does understand how I feel. She’s the only person who sees me as me. She knows I’m Will. She knows I’m a different Will Riker sure, but she knows it’s still me. I can’t even say that Laren knew that about me and I know damn well that Deanna never did. To them I was Thomas. To them I wasn’t the same man that I know I am.”

“But you are a different man than Will Riker.”

Thomas shook his head. “I am a different man than Commander, excuse me – Captain, Captain William Thomas Riker. Yes, now we are very different men. He’s married to Deanna and got the realization of the dream we had when we were the same man.”


Thomas lifted his head curiously to his therapist. “What’s odd?

“You’re not carrying the same anger or resentment about Will or Deanna that you normally do when you speak of them. Have you forgiven them?”

Thomas allowed another chortle of embarrassment to escape. “It’s not about forgiveness Doctor. There’s nothing to forgive. I guess I just realized that Deanna has done nothing but follow her own path. She’s done nothing but fall in love with the man she was destined to be with.”

“Even though at one time you believed that man was to be you?”

“Yes.” Thomas grimaced again.

“But something still bothers you. Are you having a hard time forgiving Will?”

Thomas shook his head succinctly. “No. It’s not about Will either. There’s nothing, nothing to forgive them for. I’m actually happy for them and … dammit – I really am rooting for them believe it or not. In some bizarre way if they’re successful in their relationship it will only go to prove …” he stalled again and dropped his head.

“Prove what Thomas?”

Thomas sighed with reluctance. “It will prove that the way I felt for her all those years on Nervala IV wasn’t just a waste. It will prove that I really did love her, that I really didn’t just think of her as disposable when Starfleet offered me promotions…that somehow…I really did grow up.”

“You didn’t feel that way when you were with Laren?”

Thomas shook his head ruefully. “No.”

“That’s the first time you’ve been able to admit that to yourself you know.”

Again, he felt a twist of a knife in his heart. “No, it’s not. I guess I always knew that about Laren. Somehow … somehow I think that Laren knew that as well. It wasn’t like our love affair was built on a foundation of daisies and rainbows you know.”

The therapist couldn’t help but grin with Thomas’ simile. “No. No it wasn’t. You two found a singular source of affection, tenderness and love in the middle of a torture labor camp. Your love was built on something completely different.”

“Laren was my only avenue to my freedom – she was the tangible thread that kept me from losing that last piece of myself,” he said softly, reverently.

“Yes,” the therapist replied. “And you were her avenue to her freedom as well. Even the freedom to chose to die as she wanted.”

“Head on.”

“Held high.”

Thomas swallowed as the memory of Ro Laren’s death sped past his eyes for the millionth time. This time however, the agony that used to accompany the memory seemed to bring out less anger and now brought out more admiration and acceptance.

“Yet you feel something different when it comes to Captain Steele?”

A smile briefly tugged at Thomas’ lips. “I … I haven’t felt this way about someone in a very, very long time doctor. Maybe I never have.”

The woman’s eyebrow lifted sharply. “No? Not even with Deanna?”

Thomas swallowed. “No. I’m not saying I didn’t love Deanna, because you know for a fact that’s not true. I was … was …” He laughed out loud and looked to his therapist in the eyes again. “I was her Imzadi. But I’m not now. Will is. He always was and the life I was handed is different. There’s no doubt that Deanna’s connection with me was special, but – it’s just, I don’t know, it’s just different. I have to admit, it’s a lot easier to let her go knowing that she ended up with well – me really.” He laughed again. “And the love I felt for Laren was definitely made from a pure need to feel real, to feel tenderness and affection in the middle of hell. But that too is very different from how I think I feel about Toni.”

“Which is what? A need to protect her? A need to be around someone who knows all your secrets?”

Thomas didn’t even fall for the bait, which elicited a smirk from his therapist.

“Yes…and no,” he replied. “Don’t forget Doctor, I know an awful lot about her too. While she may have memories of my torture implanted into her – I have a few of her memories as well. I know exactly how much she loved Paul Rice. I know the pain she felt at his loss and it was no less painful than how I felt when Laren was killed.”

“Even though she did not witness his death?”

Thomas scowled deeply. “Witnessing Laren’s death was actually a little bit easier doc.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“As awful as it was – as terrible and as heinous…” Thomas had to let the vision cross his mind once again. “As godawful as it was watching her chest explode from the Jem’Hadar rifle…” He lifted his gaze to this therapist again. “I got to say goodbye to her. We got to look each other in the eye and express our love and we got … we got to say goodbye.” Thomas shifted in his seat, inhaled and exhaled, then turned his gaze to the bridge in the distance again. “Toni never got that. Toni felt cheated. Toni had her heart ripped out. Paul died and she didn’t get to say goodbye. There was no finality to his death. She saw him one night and then he was gone. No body, no tangible evidence that he was …”

Thomas closed his eyes as he allowed a memory, a memory that didn’t belong to him, ripple through his psyche. He saddened as much as he had when the memory of Laren’s murder had entered his mind. “She loved Paul. She loved him very much. Her pain is just as real as mine is.”

The therapist nodded. “It is.”

She tilted her head again and tipped it in such a way that Thomas knew another hard question was going to be put forth. He buckled himself down for the inevitable self-revelations these questions always seemed to bring. “But…” he led.

The psychiatrist smiled. “You’re already preparing for a but…”

Thomas merely drifted his bright blue eyes to his counselor. Years ago he used to be bothered by her black irises. Memories of Deanna always seemed to be associated with them and those memories always seemed to bring feeling of inadequacy, of shame. But that was no more. He actually looked to his counselor’s eyes with comfort now, knowing that it was useless to hide his feelings and realizing how much his life seemed to be easier now that he was learning how to revel in truth. “Yeah, well – it’s the inflection of your voice. I already know you’ve got a whopper of a question for me.”

“Then I won’t beat around the bush,” she offered. “What if Captain Steele rebukes you?”

Thomas saddened immediately then huffed a breath through his nose. “One, that’s not quite the whopper of a question I anticipated and two, it’s not like I haven’t been thinking about that very question since I realized I was in love with her.”

“Well, what question were you expecting?”

“Now you’re just being mean.”

She smiled softly. “You opened the door Thomas…”

“Yeah, I guess I did,” he admitted with some agitation. “I thought you were going to ask me if I was allowing myself to become infatuated with Toni as a means to continue to use her as a crutch – to continue to allow myself to wallow in my victimization and torture again.”


“I fear that sure. I fear hurting her. I don’t want to – I can’t. I can’t hurt her. I don’t know if I could live with myself knowing that I ever, ever hurt her.”

“Do you think you may be using her as a crutch?”

“I don’t think so, but I’m not sure. I mean … like I said it’s been a long time since I’ve had feelings like this and to be honest, I’m not sure I ever really have. But considering what we’ve been through I don’t want to take the chance that I’m not just completely screwed up in the head and may not be feeling this way because of the fact…”

“Woah, woah! Thomas!” she sat forward in her chair. “You have been in therapy a long time. It shows. I think you’re over-thinking this whole thing. You’re scared. Good. You should be. Everyone who’s ever experienced real love is scared of being hurt and of hurting someone else. You’re worried that your feelings aren’t real? Well, considering that you’re here and expressing those normal fears means that you are at least considering the possibility that that may be true – or maybe you are merely trying to find an excuse not to deal with your real feelings for her. Finally, I have to ask does any of your hesitation revolve around the fact you don’t feel you’re worthy of having love? That you don’t feel you deserve to have happiness?”

Thomas was used to this now. He was used to having his therapist jab him from the side when his armor was facing forward. He chewed on her questions. He chewed on them hard. He learned long ago that she was not about to let him off without really thinking about her questions. Usually, he would have to give in – to admit defeat to her – to have to acknowledge that she was digging up some nasty stored-away bit of himself that he was hiding for fear he’d have to face it.

But this time he was surprised that the answer he was coming up with wasn’t quite what he thought it would be. He thought hard about it. Do I really feel like I don’t deserve love or happiness? Do I really feel like I’m so unworthy?

The answer was simple. No. I do feel worthy. I do feel like I deserve it. Damn – it’s almost the opposite. I feel like I’m overdue for some happiness and I feel like it’s about time. “No Doc – but I will tell you this. I am feeling guilty for wanting it. I’m feeling like somehow I’m cheating…” he drifted off again.

“Cheating on Laren?”

Thomas nodded. “She deserved happiness too. Of course I’m angry she didn’t get it.” He rolled the thought around in his mind, once again letting himself feel the emotions his brain was saying were there. “I still very strongly about my promise to her.”

“Your promise that you’d never forget?”

He merely nodded.

“Here’s a question. If you were to make love to Captain Steele – would you feel like you were going behind Paul Rice’s back?”

Thomas lifted his eyes. “I can’t say that I ever really thought about that. He’s been dead for seventeen years.”

His therapist smiled. Thomas both loved and hated when she found that one little iota of information that made Thomas twist his own thoughts. She leaned back in her chair confidently. “Something tells me that you wouldn’t think Paul would want to deny his widow’s happiness – why would you sell Laren so short?”

Burned, Thomas let the pain shoot through him. “She wouldn’t. Laren would have wanted me to be happy.”

“Well then?”

Thomas sat quietly in his chair. The sun had set and the standing sentinels of the Golden Gate Bridge muted in their hue. Softly, slowly his thoughts broadened and something clicked inside and he wasn’t sure he wasn’t more frightened now than when he faced a line of torture tools.

“Could it really be true?”

“Could what be true Thomas?”

He connected his gaze to her. “Could it be true that I really do just want to move on now?”

The therapist let a small exhale escape her chest. “Well now.”

“All of a sudden all I want to do is move back home. But I don’t want to move there alone if I don’t have to. I’d like Toni to consider going with me.”

“That’s a pretty big step for someone you haven’t even asked out on a date yet.”

“I know,” he admitted. “But I just feel like I’ve wasted a lot of time. I feel like I have a future again and I’d like to move forward. But … but I’d want her to share it with me…even if it’s just as a friend.”

The therapist sat back and eyed him cautiously. “You were offered a job, weren’t you?”

Thomas licked his lips and dipped his head. He didn’t answer.


“How so?” he asked.

“I take it you’ve accepted?”

“Not yet.” He eyed her again. “But I want to.” He finally stood from his chair and turned to walk through the spacious office.

“I take it from the fact that your guard is up that you don’t want to talk about the offer?”

Thomas turned to face her and smiled. “It’s not that I don’t want to … I’m just not so sure I can, to be honest.”

“Ah,” she replied. “I think this is where I will politely say I understand and then ignore most of what you’re about to say to me.”

Thomas chuckled. “It’s an amazing opportunity really.” He twisted around and began to slowly walk around the room again. “It’s unlike anything that’s ever been done.”

“You certainly seem to feel like you’re qualified for the job,” she offered willingly. “I recall a day a couple of years ago you were convinced you’d never feel needed in the work-force again.”

Thomas shot her an appreciative smile. “I am … uniquely qualified for this job Doctor.” The look that crossed the therapist’s face alarmed Thomas. “No Doctor – I will NOT be torturing anyone.”

“No? Well that is a relief,” she said with enough sarcasm to let him know she wasn’t really worried about it, but with just enough honesty to let him know that the thought had crossed her mind.

“No.” He moved around and sat back in his chair. “No, this job might actually allow me to help people. It might actually help people keep from ever getting into the position I was in.”

“You’ve been asked to go back to Starfleet Intelligence?”

Thomas didn’t answer.

“After everything you’ve said about them? After you were convinced that they were the ones who let you down – left you to suffer… and you’re considering returning to them?”

Again, Thomas didn’t answer.

“Look, I know I don’t quite have the clearance to talk to you about this – but I will bring in Dr. Loveni if it’s what you’d like.”

“I don’t like him.” Thomas said tartly. “His clearance level is exactly why I don’t trust him.”

“And I can’t help you with that decision Thomas. I have no idea what it’s about and frankly – I am damned sure I don’t want to know.”

Thomas pressed a small smile again and again drew his hand down the length of his beard. “Doc – I’m not here to talk about me taking the job. I’m here to talk about whether or not my asking Toni to go with me is a horrifically bad idea.”

The therapist sighed heavily. “Well Thomas, what’s the first axiom?”

Thomas shook his head and smirked. “Only I am responsible for how I feel. Others cannot make me feel anything than what I allow them to. If I hand the power of my feelings over to someone else, I only make myself suffer.”


“Toni can only say no.”

“And if she does?”

“Then I can live with that.”

“Can you?”

“I love her,” he said strongly. “But I also love her enough to feel the need that she be happiest with herself.” He cleared his throat slightly as he accepted his own words. “And if she’s going to be happiest living away from me – then I can’t be angry with that.” He looked to his therapist directly. “It also doesn’t mean I won’t call you.”

She smiled. “Fair enough.” She stood from behind her desk. “But I have a strange feeling that I may not be seeing you again Mr. Riker.”

Thomas let a saddened expression drift over his face. He stood to face her. “Maybe not,” he admitted.

“Don’t be afraid to feel the joy Thomas. And don’t be afraid to feel pain either.”

Thomas sought for a response to her. Realizing there wasn’t much further to add to her words he merely nodded and extended his hand. She took it in hers and the two shook hands professionally.

“Thank you Doctor, for everything.”

“You’re welcome Mr. Riker.”

Thomas turned away from her and began to walk for the door. Just as he reached that door his mind filled with terror, excitement and trepidation. The power of the emotions shook him to his core and he spun on his heel and turned to face his psychiatrist – not hiding any of his fear from his stance or his mind. “Doctor?”

She offered him a wizened smile. “It’s okay Thomas. That’s called life.”

Thomas laughed nervously and choked back a rise of mixed joy and sadness – tears eeked to his eyes. “Wow. Kinda forgot what this was like.”

“Welcome back Mr. Riker.”

Thomas shot her a look of astonishment then released another nervous laugh. “Thanks … I think.”

She laughed quietly. “Goodbye Mr. Riker.”

Building up his courage again he nodded his head and stood tall. “Goodbye Doctor.”

Without so much as turning back again, Thomas Riker walked out of his psychiatrist’s office and onto his new path – a path he never knew was there before and only now realized was made precisely for him...

Now all he needed to do was determine whether or not his path was also paved alongside the path belonging to the woman he loved.

Part Two by Terilynn

San Francisco
Fort Point

Thomas sat in his favorite spot on the bench that looked out at Fort Point. The waves were gentle and almost serene as they lapped up against the base of the 19th Century fort tucked under the Golden Gate Bridge. The sun shone warmly on his face and head and he wondered if there would ever be a time when he would miss this place.

He laughed internally when he realized that there was a time he actually never thought he’d miss Alaska either, but now here he was actually choosing to move back there.

It had been almost six years since he came back to Earth – almost six years since his war crimes tribunal testimony and six years since the long, long months of inpatient therapy began.

It had been four years since he moved out on his own. He still lived in a small apartment, not three blocks from the Starfleet Psychiatric facility just above Ghirardelli Square.

Now, he was facing leaving the Bay Area and the thought thrilled him – and terrified him at the same time.

He had been offered a position back with Starfleet Intelligence. The same group that was responsible for his whole messed-up life to begin with.

He thought long and hard about the offer and whether or not he was just allowing himself to become victimized again.

He had undertaken his original role with them in order to expose the Obsidian Order without any appearance of a violation of the Prime Directive. He remembered that he offered himself willingly to SI in order to accomplish their exposure and insure that the Federation didn’t make any move without having all the information about Cardassia available to them.

He did it to protect the Federation … and Bajor. He did it because he felt it was the right thing to do.

Only things didn’t go quite as planned.

The hijacking of the Defiant went perfectly. The outing of the Obsidian Order went absolutely according to plan; but it’s what happened afterward that went to hell in a hand-basket.

From the outset of the operation, Thomas knew that he would end up in Cardassian custody, but what he didn’t plan on … well, what no one had planned on was ...

… The Dominion.

Before SI could rescue Tom from the bowels of the labor camps at Lazon II, The Dominion entered the Alpha Quadrant and got stuck there. Eventually they thwarted every single pre-planned escape opportunity that Starfleet Intelligence had put into place to retrieve Thomas.

Essentially when The Dominion got stuck on this side of the wormhole, Thomas got stuck on Lazon II.

However Thomas didn’t know anything about that, he only knew that SI wasn’t coming to get him. He only knew that he had been left behind – that he had been forsaken by the one entity he had sworn his life to – and the one entity that was never supposed to leave a man behind.

To say that he was disappointed didn’t come close to the rage he felt.

Then he met her.

Laren was captured by the Cardassians and had avoided immediate termination. Not that the Cardassians didn’t want to kill her, no – it was The Dominion’s new influence that had … temporarily … saved her life. The Vorta and the Female Changeling felt that her knowledge of Starfleet might be “elicited” and any information on how they operated might give The Dominion an advantage on their new and perplexing enemy.

Laren had been through it before though. She knew Cardassia’s cruelty and had survived it before. She, like him, were trained – very well trained – on how to live through the pain. They never broke.

It was the first brick in their foundation – the ability to rely on each other to assure that neither one of them broke. Their ability to withstand the torture and the pain became a matter of pride…

But her appearance at the camp had brought something else that Thomas had not expected. She brought with her information about who this new “Dominion” were and about how the wormhole was effectively shut down to keep the rest of the invasion fleets from entering. She brought the other inmates information about how The Dominion had somehow manipulated a pact of non-agression with Romulus.

And she brought with her knowledge of how to escape Lazon II.

Laren wanted to escape to go help her Maquis brethren.

Thomas wanted to escape to help her.

He didn’t have any love for the Maquis, but he was a man without a country and if joining the Maquis meant escape from the labor camp, then he was more than happy to allow himself to be called a Maquis. Besides – everyone thought he was Maquis anyway. No one knew they had only been the Trojan Horse to hide his true objective.

It was the only secret he ever kept from Laren.

She never knew. He couldn’t bear the thought of how she would take it if she were to find out he only used the Maquis as a means to accomplish a Starfleet Intelligence mission.

So they escaped. Not for long really, it was only a few days when they were, luckily, captured by a Jem’Hadar attack squad. For some reason the Changeling held off on their executions – again, in the hopes that they had made some outside contact with the Federation or even the Maquis which might give The Dominion some insight to future plans of attack.

It was the only thing that kept them alive and both he and Laren knew it.

Instead of being sent back to Lazon II, they were sent to the mines at Hutet … and Gul Nekrit’s famous – or rather infamous torture rooms.

It was then that Thomas and Laren found out that the interrogators at Lazon II were but mere amateurs.

It was then that Thomas and Laren used each other’s mere existence as a means to survive.

Yes, it was love – but it was a very different kind of love. It was love for love’s sake. It was love for survival.

Laren had once told him that when she was younger she feared being a coward in the face of death.

He took solace in witnessing the fact that she was anything … anything but.

It was the only emotion he allowed himself to attach to the memory of her murder now. He promised her that he’d beat them and he did. He promised her that he’d never forget…

… and he hadn’t.

He came home only to find out that Starfleet Intelligence hadn’t forgotten him. They had tried almost everything to retrieve him from Cardassia when he was initially turned over to them. But the internal connections that Starfleet had with any Cardassian who might be able to help were quickly squelched when Dukat entered into his deal with the Dominion devil. All avenues that were meticulously woven into place unraveled the moment the Jem’Hadar, the Vorta and the Changeling took residence on Cardassia Prime.

And Starfleet Intelligence was, for the first time in years, completely frozen out from Cardassia.

Thomas became a victim to what was nothing more than really, really bad timing.

To this day everyone outside SI still believed that Thomas had defected to the Maquis. But, that was about to change.

Today Rear Admiral Shane had an appointment with Captain Toni Steele … and Thomas feared what her response to the information might be.

Would she rage against him? Would she never forgive him for withholding that secret from her like he did from Laren? Would she accept him? Would she understand?

Could he dare to hope?

He sighed helplessly as he watched the a waves lap up against the concrete retaining wall and smiled as tourists passed by him.

This time he didn’t even hear her approach. He was so bogged down in his own fears, he didn’t even realize how much time had passed.

Her smooth, alto, velvet-rich voice shattered his cocoon. “Can’t say I’m surprised to find you here.”

His eyes shot up to catch a glimpse of her beautiful face. Her onyx-black hair was pulled away from her face and held by a clip at the back of her head. Her amazing, vibrant and jade-green eyes seared into him. He swallowed hard. Well, here we go.

Her arms were folded in front of her and she quickly peered down to the ground, breaking eye contact with him.

He found it hard to breathe. “Do you want to sit?”

“No Will, I want…I want to cry.” She lifted her head and he could easily see the glistening in her eyes. “I want to scream. I want to hit you square upside the head and then walk away.”

He lowered his head. Her response wasn’t unexpected, but it still hurt like hell. “I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you about SI. I don’t blame you for being angry.”

She froze where she stood and the pain crossed her face. “I’m not mad at you for not telling me about SI.”

He shot his gaze to her blazing green eyes again. “You’re not?”


“Then why...why are?”

“You’d leave me? You’d really leave me Will? After everything…?” The tears lifted and fell. “…everything we’ve been through together, you’d really leave me…again? You’re moving away and you didn’t have the courage to tell me?”

Thomas shot up from his sitting position and straight over to the beautiful woman standing so stoically by the bench. “NO!” he retorted loudly. “Who, who told you I was leaving?”

“Shane said you were looking at property in Alaska,” she admitted. “He said you told him you wanted to go home.”

Thomas set his hands gently onto her shoulders. “Tone.” He moved his large hand gently to her lowered and locked chin. He pulled her chin up to force to look him in the eye. “I am not leaving you.” He caught his breath and choked back his shock and emotion. “I won’t leave San Francisco if you don’t want me to. I’ll move to New Mexico if that’s where you want to go. I’ll move to Andoria if you want me to. I’ll go anywhere…anywhere for you because…” He swallowed hard. “I love you. I love you so much I don’t know how to handle it.”

The woman in his arms swayed gently and he moved to steady her. Tears once again filled her eyes and fell silently down her cheeks. He wiped them away tenderly. “If you love me, why would you plan to move to Alaska without telling me?”

Thomas moved her towards the bench where he was finally able to convince her to sit next to him. “I planned on asking you to come with me..but…

“But what?” she replied defensively.

“But I wanted to make sure that if you said no, that you didn’t want to be with me - that I would…that I would have a place to move onto so I could leave you alone. You’ve already suffered enough because of me.”

She wiped more of her tears way from her burning cheeks. Her anger brewed and she grit her teeth as she turned to face him more squarely on the bench. “You haven’t been the cause my suffering Will, so stop saying that you are. I didn’t just go through six years of therapy so you could guilt yourself into caring for me.”

It was Thomas' turn to feel stabbed. “That’s not how I feel Tone.” He lowered his voice and his head reverently. “But is that how you feel about me?”

She growled and covered her face. “Of course not. I’m just angry that somehow…somehow you wouldn’t already know.”

“Know what?”

“That I love you too you big idiot. That I don’t know if I could go a day without seeing you.” She pushed her hands against his broad chest.

“Do you meant that?”

“Of course I do! I was mad that you would even think to leave me to go Alaska without even thinking of aski..”

Thomas bolted forward wrapped his arms around her and covered her lips with his own, silencing her sentence before she could finish.

Initially surprised by the veracity of his kiss Toni retracted, only to fall easily back into his embrace and return his kisses with passion.

Thomas pried his lips away and pushed his hands into her hair and gazed into her gorgeous green eyes. “You understand what Jack has asked you to do?”

She nodded without a verbal response.

“You understand why I want to do this?”

Again she nodded.

“I don’t want you to agree to do this unless your decision has nothing…and I mean nothing to do with me.”

Toni tried to laugh. “That would be impossible and you know it,” she retorted honestly. “However, I couldn’t imagine anything that would make me feel more useful too. Think about it Will, there are people whose lives are going to be forever altered…like ours were. We can help them. We’ll be able to help them forgo the suffering that we had. We can help them avoid the pain we share.”

Will smiled and kissed her deeply once more. “Somehow…somehow I knew you’d understand.”

She lifted her delicate yet strong hand to his face and drew her finger down the outline of his beard. “I love you Will.”

He pulled back from her and set his hands on hers. “Will you move to Alaska with me?”

She laughed brightly. “When can we go?”

He roared with glee and drew her back into his arms and he pushed his lips towards her ear and whispered, “I never want to let you go.”

“Don’t then,” she whispered in return.

Part Three by Terilynn

U.S.S. Titan

Exploring Sector 23578
Ready Room

Captain William T. Riker’s attention was drawn to the comm unit on his desk. The words “Incoming Transmission” alerted him and he tilted his head with curiosity when he realized the transmission wasn’t being generated from Starfleet Command, but rather from “Private Residence, Valdez, Alaska.”

“Clearance Riker Epsilon Two Tango,” he said bluntly to the console.

To his utter surprise his gaze was met with a pair of utterly unforgettable, penetrating green eyes and a porcelain-skinned face surrounded by long, straight and pitch-black hair. She was smiling sweetly at him and said, “I didn’t catch you at a bad time, have I Captain?”

“Toni!” he replied gleefully. “What? Where? How long…” he stammered before finally gathering enough of his wits to formulate a whole sentence and lowering his response with concern, “How..How are you?”

“Sorry I haven’t contacted you in so long Will…” she said apologetically.

“No need to apologize Tone, although I have been awfully worried about you. The last time we spoke…”

She dropped her head with embarrassment. “Yeah, you caught me on one of my rougher days I’m afraid.”

Riker didn’t reply, he knew she had more to offer and he was still so shocked by her call.

“That was what…three years ago?” she asked.

“At least,” he said.

Toni shook her head with disappointment. “I guess I had to heal a lot more than I thought.”

Riker didn’t know how to answer her and he tried to the let the uncomfortable feeling drift away, but Toni would have none of it. “It’s okay Will. I did have a lot of healing to go through and for the most part very few people from Starfleet were involved. That’s why I didn’t call you. For a very long time I didn’t want to have anything to do with Starfleet or have anyone affiliated with them – even my closest, dearest friends – to be within a parsec of me.”

Riker smiled at her ice-breaker. “But I take it that some of that has changed. Why the call Tone – is everything okay, can I help with...”

“Will…” she stopped him from rambling again. “I’m calling because I have some news and I’m ...well, we’re rather hesitant to tell you about it.”

Riker stiffened his back. “What’s wrong Toni? What happened?”

Toni Steele smiled gently. “Nothing is wrong really, but this news will most likely come as a complete surprise.” She stalled generously. “I value our friendship…you know that, right?”

Riker smiled broadly. “Of course I do. I value our friendship very much as well. We’ve known each other for too long not to.”

Toni nodded. “I know. It’s why you’re the first…heck, you’re the only person I’m telling this to. You’re the only person that matters enough in my life, but I just couldn’t let you find out from someone else…”

“Stop beating around the bush and tell me. I promise I’ll try my best to handle whatever it is you have to tell me.”

“Will, I’m getting married again,” she said bluntly.

Shock pulsed through Riker but was immediately back-filled with elation. “Toni! That’s wonderful news!”

However the look on Steele’s face hadn’t wavered. “Wait Will…don’t be too happy for me yet.”

Utterly confused, Riker stopped short. “What? Why not? I’m thrilled that you found someone Toni! I can’t think of anyone who deserves happiness more than you.”

“I hope you still feel that way after you find out who it is I’m marrying.”

“Excuse me?”

Steele sighed with dread. “Will, I’m getting married to Thomas…Thomas Riker.”

Riker didn’t know how to respond. Had he heard her correctly? She was going to marry Thomas? His double? Him? Him in another person’s embodiment? Thomas. That Thomas? She was going to marry Thomas? He merely sat there, with a stupefied and vacuous expression plastered across his face.

Steele started to ramble to fill the void of sound, “Yeah, I wasn’t sure you’d take this very well. It’s got to be a serious case of the dejavu-but-it’s-not-you kinda thing. I mean – here we are, former lovers and we became such close friends, but then I ended up meeting Thomas by way of a very circuitous, and may I add painful route, which ended up with both of us in Starfleet psych for six years and now I’m actually going to be marrying the man who, for all intents and purposes, is you but he’s not you because he’s very different from you except for the fact that you were the same person at …”

As Steele rambled on, something snapped inside Riker’s mind and he released an uncontrolled and heart-felt laugh. The laugh blurted out then built up and rolled on with such strength and vigor that he completely drowned out Steele’s nervous diatribe.

Steele stopped talking and watched as Riker burst into uncontrolled and joyous laughter.

“Am I to take this response as a positive one – or one in which you think I’ve gone off the deep-end?”

Riker brought his glee under control to look to one of his oldest and dearest friends in the eye. “Oh...oh Toni. It’s just…that’s just too damn perfect if you want to know the truth!”

“Sorry?” she asked.

Riker roared with another laugh. “Is he there? Is he there with you?”

Toni nodded weakly. “Aye, he’s right here,” she replied, a little taken aback by Riker’s jovial response.

“Thomas! Get on the comm!” he demanded.

Thomas Riker moved in and sat down next to Toni and Riker wasn’t too surprised to see that the man still looked identical to him. It was literally as if he was looking into a mystical mirror. “Will,” Thomas acknowledged his double with a smirk.

Will dropped his laughter succinctly. “Tom, I only want you to know one thing.”

Thomas sat up briefly, seeing Will’s change in demeanor. "I’ll take care of her Will, I promise.”

Will grinned brightly. “Of that, I have no doubt…no, what I wanted to say was this…a few seconds ago I said that I couldn’t think of anyone who deserves happiness more than Toni.”

“Yes. I couldn’t agree more.”

“Well, I was wrong.”

“Excuse me?” Thomas questioned.

“You do too Thomas. Of all of the people in the world, the two who deserve happiness the most – are Toni…and you.”

Thomas smiled and nodded graciously. “I don’t suppose there’s any way you could make it back to Valdez for the ceremony next week.”

Riker grimaced with disappointment. “I’m afraid not.”

Toni leaned forward. “Will…”

“Yes Tone?” Riker responded.

“Thomas and I are setting out to travel after the wedding. It may be rather hard to reach us…I just didn’t want to leave without saying goodbye.”

“Now I am sad.” Riker replied. “How long will you be gone?”

Thomas shrugged. “We’re not sure, several months…a couple years…”

“I’ll call when I can,” she offered. “I promise.”

“You do that.”

“I love you Will. Please send my best to Deanna. And please…if there’s any news or emergency or…whatever. Doctor Levani at Starfleet Medical will know how to reach us.”

“Okay Toni.” Riker replied.

“Will…” Thomas leaned in.

“Yes Thomas?”

“I know I don’t need to remind you, but take care of Deanna.”

Riker smiled. “And I don’t need to remind you to take care of Toni. But I will any way.”

“Good luck Will.”

“Good luck Tom.”

“I’ll call when I can Will,” said Toni.

“Send postcards you two – and please know… I couldn’t be happier for you both.”

Smiles were apparent on all their faces and Steele spoke up. “Bye Will.”

“Bye,” he said.

“Steele out.”

The comm screened darkened and he looked up to see his wife standing by the door. It became obvious she was standing there for awhile. He stood, slipped around the desk and moved quickly to take her into his arms gently.

He pulled back and looked down to see the amazing swell of her belly. The twins were certainly beginning to fight for space.

“Why didn’t you tell them about the pregnancy?” she asked softly.

Riker ran his hand lovingly over her pregnant belly then up into the waves of her dark brown hair. “They were so happy Deanna. I didn’t want to one-up them.”

Deanna smiled brightly. “We can always tell them after the wedding.”


Riker placed his wife’s arm through his and escorted her from his office and to the turbolift where they made headway to their quarters to celebrate that all was seemingly right with the universe … for once.
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