Disclaimer: Paramount owns all Star Trek characters. I make no profit from this story.

Author's note: This is my second story. All feedback is welcome but please be gentle.

Again, big thanks to Jeannette L. for reading my story and checking my grammar and spelling. Jeannette also came up with the title, so thanks for that too. :)

Rating: PG-13

Time Well Spent

by Sunstar 3/2001

It was two weeks before Christmas and the Enterprise was orbiting Earth. Deanna Troi was in her quarters cleaning. She was digging up Christmas decorations and humming to herself while she worked. Although Deanna was from Betazed she had grown to love this Earth holiday. Everything was always so calm and peaceful and people were happy and relaxed. To Deanna this meant a lot because she did not have to deal with depressing emotions and stress. She could walk around the ship keeping only minimal mental shields in place. She could truly relax and enjoy the Christmas spirit.

Suddenly Deanna's thoughts were interrupted by the door chime.

"Come in!" she called.

The doors to her quarters opened to reveal a smiling Will Riker. His smile faded and was placed by puzzlement when he could not see anyone inside. He stepped trough the door and looked around.

"Deanna?"

"I'm here!" came a muffled reply from the bedroom.

Will walked towards the sound and his smile came back when he saw Deanna. Or..well, all he could see was Deanna's bottom. She was on her hands and knees in her closet going trough a box of decorations.

"Hi, can I help you with that?" he asked chuckling.

"What? Oh, no thanks I'm finished here but you could help me to decide where to put these." She said getting up and looking at Will.

"Sure, did you already have something in mind?"

When Will and Deanna were finished hanging up the decorations they sat down on the couch.

"You know what would be really great, Will?"

"What?"

"To have a Christmas tree here in my quarters."

"Well, that's easy to arrange. Just replicate one."

"No Will, I don't want a replicated one. That's not the same as a real one. It doesn't feel the same and it doesn't smell the same."

"Yeah, I guess you're right..."

"Captain to Commander Riker!"

"Riker here."

"Commander, could you come to my ready room. I could use your opinion on something."

"I'll be right there, sir. Riker out."

Will looked to Deanna and stood up.

"Sorry, duty calls!"

Deanna smiled up at him. "Go, we'll talk some more tomorrow. Want to come over to breakfast?"

"I'd love to. See you then." He gave her a peck on the cheek and with that, he was gone.

The next morning after breakfast Will asked Deanna what she had planned to do next.

"I am going to make a gingerbread house! Or at least I'm going to try."

"Wow, that sounds great! Where did you get that idea?"

"I read some more about Earth's Christmas traditions and I got the idea from there."

"Can I help you make that, please? I remember my grandmother making those when I was a child but I have never tried making those myself."

"Of course you can help. I'm pretty sure I'm going to need all the help I can get and who better to help me than the master cook himself!" Deanna said smiling.

"Great! So, what do we do first?"

"I made the dough yesterday so we can start baking the house parts right away. Now, were did I put those molds...? Oh, here they are. You can start rolling the dough and then I can use these." Deanna said holding up the molds.

Will did as he was told and soon they had the house parts ready for oven. (Deanna had asked Geordi to replicate an oven for her and Geordi had just brought it into Deanna's quarters.)

While the house parts were baking in the oven. Will and Deanna made lots of trees and other things to go around the house. They had so much fun that they did not notice how much time they had used. When the last sheetful of gingerbreads came out of the oven it was already time for lunch.

"I'm not hungry at all! I've been eating so much dough and this wonderful smell of gingerbread has completely taken my appetite!"

"Still you better eat something because I have a surprise for you after you've eaten!" Will said looking mysterious.

This brought back Deanna's appetite and she quickly replicated them something to eat.

After clearing the table Will asked if Deanna was ready for her surprise. She was.

"Good, then we'll meet in transporter room 1 in 20 minutes."

"What? Where are we going?"

"Down to Earth. Don't forget to bundle up. It's cold down there."

"Okay..."

Before Deanna could ask anything else Will was out the door.

The first thing Deanna saw after beaming down was snow, lots of snow. She had to squint her eyes because it was so bright. The sun was shining and the sky was clear blue. Everything looked so beautiful. The trees were drooping under the weight of the snow and little birds were hopping on the ground picking up food people had thrown to them. Deanna inhaled deeply and then watched her breath form little clouds while she exhaled.

"Oh Will, this place is beautiful."

"I thought you'd like it."

"Where are we? Alaska?"

"Yes. Valdez."

"So, are we here just to enjoy the view?"

"Nope. We're here because you wanted something."

"I wanted something? What was that?"

"A real Christmas tree."

It took a while before Deanna understood what he had said.

"A tree? We're going to get a real tree for me?"

"Yup!" Will said with a nod.

"Oh Will! Thank you so much! You're the best!" Deanna said and gave him a big enthusiastic hug.

"You're welcome. Come on, we better go to the marketplace and find someone who sells trees."

They walked in silence for a while but suddenly Will felt something hit him. He stopped and turned around. Deanna stood a few meters away giggling and holding snowballs.

"You didn't just throw a snowball at me, did you?" he asked pretending angry.

"Who me? I would never do such a thing." Deanna said still giggling and threw yet another ball at him.

"Oh this means war!" Will said and started making balls of his own.

Soon a huge fight was going on! When they finally finished they both looked like snowmen.

"Have you ever made snow angels?" Will asked.

"No. How are they made? The same way as snowmen?"

"No. They are made like this." Will said and lay down on the ground and moved his arms and legs up and down.

Deanna wanted to make angels too and soon they had a whole angel choir flying on the ground.

For hours they played with the snow making snowmen and snowballs. Will thought Deanna looked so beautiful. Her cheeks were flushed and snowflakes rested on her eyelashes. She looked so small inside all her thick clothing and her head was barely visible under the oversized skicap and scarf.

Finally they had had enough for one day and they went to the town to get the Christmas tree.

Soft snowfall accompanied their trip back to transporter site.

Back on the Enterprise Will had settled Deanna's tree down on one corner of her quarters and now they were eating dinner and talking about Christmas.

"You know we really should finish making our gingerbread house." Deanna said "The parts have had enough time to cool."

"Yeah, you're right and maybe afterwards we can decorate the tree."

"That sounds like a good plan. Let's get to work!"

Deanna planned how to put everything while Will melted the sugar. Soon they could start gluing the parts together. That part was done fast thanks to the two pairs of hands instead of one. It was the decorating part that took a long time. They glued lots of colourful candies on the house. And on the house and everywhere around it, even on their hands, faces, hair and clothes, were frosting. White, pink, green, yellow, red and blue frosting. Sweet and sticky frosting.

Deanna looked at Will and laughed. "You look so yummy I could eat you!"

"Well then, why don't you?" Will asked with a smirk.

Deanna tilted her head and Will could see a mischievous glint in her eyes. She stepped forward so she was standing right in front of him. She lifted his right hand and brought it in front of her face. She then stuck out her tongue and ran it over his palm.

"Mmmmm...yummy..."

She did this few more times before moving on to his face. She cleaned the tip of his nose by kissing it lightly and then suddenly she kissed him on the lips. The kiss was deep and passionate but still so quick and surprising that Will did not have time to respond. Deanna was already moving away from him cleaning her own hands and face and acting like nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

"So, you ready to decorate the tree?" she asked holding a big box of decorations and looking innocent.

Will just stared at her but then he chuckled and shook his head "Sure, where do we start?"

While Will put the lights on the tree Deanna hung up little angels and shiny ribbons. When she could not reach any higher she got a high stool and stood on it. Everything was perfect. She was decorating her own Christmas tree and Christmas songs were playing in the background. She had her best friend next to her and she could feel that he was feeling fine too. So relaxed and happy.

When Deanna reached to the top trying to place the star she suddenly lost her balance and she felt she was going to fall. She shrieked and tried to get her balance back but could not. When Will heard her shriek he quickly moved next to her and caught her. He felt the odd sensation of déjà vu and soon he remembered. This time she had not fell from a tree but everything else was the same, her hands around his neck, her startled expression and the fact that their faces were mere inches from each other.

"You okay?" he asked.

"Yes, I'm fine. Thank you."

"You're welcome."

Will still had not reacted to her kissing stunt earlier but now was his chance to get back at her. 'I guess I could continue this déjà vu a bit farther' he thought and kissed her hard. She was caught off guard first but since he was still holding her in his arms she could not resist. She gave in to the kiss and responded to it.

Will carried Deanna to the couch and they sat down without stopping kissing. Suddenly Deanna felt something in her mind, something strong and powerful. She broke off startled. She had just felt something she had not felt in a long time and she was not sure she could handle it. She had felt their bond, the imzadi bond getting stronger and she could not let that happen. She knew Will cared for her but did he care enough to be with her the rest of his life? If he did not she could not let the bond form. She was confused. She did not know what was going on. Why was she being so flirtatious? And Will? He should not be kissing her like that if he did not mean it. Gods, she loved him and wanted him in her life but...

"Deanna, what's the matter?"

Will could see she was in pain. Something was obviously troubling her. She was near tears.

"Dee? Did I do something wrong? If I did, I apologize. Why are you so upset?"

Deanna could feel Will's worry and concern.

"No Will, you didn't do anything wrong. It's just that I... I don't think this is such a good idea. I think you should leave now."

Will did not want to leave but he did not want to cause her anymore pain so he got up.

"Okay Dee, I'll go. You going to be alright?"

She nodded and looked sadly in his eyes.

"Thanks for today. I've had a great time."

Will went and Deanna was left alone.

She sighed and let the tears come. 'What am I going to do? We have spent so much time together lately that our bond is getting stronger. I can feel him all the time. I don't even have to try to find his mind because he's with me all the time. I think he could send to me quite easily but he doesn't know it because he hasn't tried. Oh, it would be wonderful to complete the bond but that can't be done if we're not going to be together for the rest of our lives. Living with the bond would be too difficult. We couldn't live separate lives if our minds were one.'

In his quarters Will was thinking same kind of thoughts as Deanna was. He did not know why he felt the way he did and why he had acted the way he had.

'I think I'm falling for her all over again. I have been in love with her almost all of my life but now I feel it so strong again. When I kissed her today I felt something in my mind. I wonder what it was. The feeling was gone when she broke the kiss. But whatever it was it was strong and felt good. I could have kissed her all night. She's my Imzadi and I want to make her feel happy and loved. It hurts me to see her suffer. I love her and that's never going to change. I can't live without her. But what does she feel? Why did she break the kiss? Doesn't she want me? Love me?'

Days went by. They were busy with work. They only saw each other on the bridge but they could not talk there. They were not even ready to talk. They needed to make sure what they wanted before they could talk about it with each other. They shared long glances but nothing more.

It was Christmas Eve and the Enterprise crew was having a Christmas party in Ten-Forward. There was a big (replicated) Christmas tree, decorations and lots of good food and music. No one was wearing a uniform. Women had beautiful dresses and men wore suits or some other off duty clothes. Everybody was cheery and happy. Laughter filled the room and the Christmas spirit could be felt. In the middle of the room was a mistletoe hanging from the roof. Every now and then couples happened to stop under it and whenever someone noticed this they were forced to kiss (if they did not do it willingly).

The senior crew of the Enterprise was also having a good time. Captain Picard was dancing with Doctor Crusher and Will had asked Deanna to dance with him. Now they were moving slowly across the dance floor holding each other tight. It felt so right to them both. Deanna wanted to know what Will was thinking and probed his mind gently. She tried to do it so that Will would not notice but of course he did. He was a little surprised but he willingly opened up his mind to her. He did not want to keep any secrets from her. He had decided to tell her how he felt. He let her feel his love and need for her. His desire and his will to spent the rest of his life with her. In his mind he thought only one thing, "I love you".

Deanna sure did feel everything Will had wanted her to feel. Her heart raced and she felt like her feet were turning into melted butter. With a questioning look on her face she looked deep into his eyes.

"Are you sure?" she whispered to him trembling in his arms.

"Yes. I love you!" he said tightening his hold of her.

At that moment the music ended and people stopped moving. Deanna and Will stopped too, right under the mistletoe.

"Kiss her Will!" someone called.

Deanna and Will looked around and found everybody staring at them.

"We want to see a kiss!" someone yelled again.

Will looked up at the mistletoe and then at Deanna. He lifted his eyebrows in question and hesitated. But Deanna did not hesitate anymore. She knew now how Will felt and had recovered from the surprise so much that she put her arms around Will's neck and pulled him down for a kiss. Their kiss was sweet and gentle and full of love and in the middle of it Will heard Deanna in his mind "I love you too".

When the kiss ended Deanna looked at Will and smiled her eyes full of emotions. She took his hand in hers and whispered, "Come, we need to talk. Let's go to my quarters."

Deanna lit up a few candles and sat down in front of her tree. Will sat next to her and took something from his pocket. It was a small box wrapped with golden paper and ribbon. He gave the box to Deanna and said "Merry Christmas Imzadi".

With trembling hands Deanna removed the wrapping paper and opened the box. Inside was a small diamond ring.

"Oh my god! Will, it's beautiful!".

"I'm glad you like it."

Will took the ring and held it in front of her. He took a deep breath trying to calm himself. He looked deep into her eyes and finally said "Deanna, Imzadi, I love you. Will you marry me?".

Deanna's eyes grew large and filled with tears of joy. She nodded and managed a weak "yes".

Will put the ring on her finger and Deanna watched it reflecting the lights from the candles.

"I love you so much! I can't believe this is really happening" she thought to him.

Will just smiled to her and was about to kiss her when suddenly she pulled away.

"What's the matter Dee?" he asked concerned.

"I...Are you absolutely sure about this Will? If we kiss there's no turning back."

"What are you talking about? Of course I'm sure! I love you and I want you to be my wife! "

"But Will... You don't know everything... If we kiss and...(she hesitated) and make love...our bond will form. It will become complete. Are you sure you can handle that?"

"Yes, baby. With you I can handle anything."

"But it's so strong! Our minds will be linked forever. We'll be one. I can never leave you and you can never leave me. We'll be true Imzadi."

"I know and I understand. Last time that we kissed I felt something very powerful in my mind and I liked it. It felt so good and so right! I want to do this. I can't think of anything more pleasurable than to spend the rest of my life with you!"

Deanna looked at him and knew he was telling the truth.

"In that case, I would be happy to be your wife! I love you and I want to marry you as soon as possible!"

"I am so happy to hear that!" he said and again was about to kiss her but this time he stopped and looked at her.

"Can I now kiss you, my beautiful bride to be?"

"Yes, you can!" Deanna said laughing.

Will bent to kiss her but instead of her lips he kissed her neck and shoulders. He caressed her face and ran his fingers through her long black curls. He let his hands wander on her body and whispered words of love in her ear. Will's touch was making Deanna dizzy and she leaned closer to him for support.

When Will started to remove her dress Deanna got a bit nervous. She had not been with anyone in a long time and she wanted this time to be perfect. She was afraid Will would be disappointed with her. She pulled away a bit to give her time to think but Will did not let her go. He had read her thoughts and could not quite believe what he had heard. He lifted her chin up and gazed into her dark eyes. They were filled with love and passion but also with fear.

"Imzadi, you could never disappoint me. I know it's been long since we've been together but...In the jungle we taught each other and learned from each other. It will be like that again. Together we learn to love, to know what feels good. You're the only one I want to be with. No one else can make me feel the way you do. With you sex isn't sex. It isn't even love making. It's soul searching and mind melting, becoming one. Don't be afraid. Let go of the fear and trust me. Let me love you."

Deanna nodded smiling and let Will remove all her clothes and then removed his. They stood nude facing each other. Will traced a line along her body and made Deanna shiver. She took his hand and guided him to the bedroom.

They stood under a mistletoe and Will pulled her to him "Merry Christmas, Deanna".

The second their lips touched, it was like fireworks had been shot to the sky. A powerful surge ran trough their minds and bodies. They dived head first into each other's consciousness and would never come up for air. Their minds locked to an eternal lock that no one had the key to. Their souls were sealed together forever.

The End