Blaze


I've had several people write me and ask for this now, and if I'm completely honest, I was toying with the idea, they just gave me the push I needed.

This story covers the time span from when K'Leena and Lucas are teenagers on the Enterprise, through their academy days and single lives, right up until the beginning of "Timeless".  

Thanks to Junior and Mel for the beta reading.  Rated R for adult themes and sexual content.



Klingon Hearts and Beyond

Blaze--Sudden Insight

by: Tracy L. Sobieski



Revelation


He felt it the moment it happened.  The force staggered him and he gripped the edge of the desk for support.  White-hot talons of agony ripped into his mind, tearing at his sanity.

K'LEENA!

"Are you all right?" Mike asked him.  They were in Riker's office at Starfleet Command.

Lucas struggled for air, just breathing was painful.  Red swam before his eyes and he swayed on his feet.

"Lucas!"

"What?" he asked, dazed.

"You better sit down, you don't look good," Mike reached out to grab hold of Lucas' arm.

"No!"  He pulled out of Burns' grasp and turned around slowly, like he didn't know where he was.  "I have to go."  Lucas said distractedly and left his second in command standing alone in his office, very confused.  

The dread built up in him as he moved through the halls.  Something was very wrong, he could feel it.  His pace quickened and he was running by the time he reached Flight Control.  It was in chaos, orders being yelled, people moving at breakneck speed through out the room.

"What happened?" he demanded, grabbing the nearest person.

"Shuttle accident.  Training maneuvers.  One of the students didn't follow procedure...."

"Was Lt. Paris in command?" Lucas interrupted her, harshly.

"Yes, sir, she was.  They beamed her to Starfleet Medical...she's in bad shape, sir.  They don't think she's going to make it," she told him gently.  Everyone knew that the Rikers and Parises were close, especially the two Lieutenants.

"Somebody better contact Captain Paris on the Enterprise and make sure my dad knows," Lucas called out behind him as he left the room.

K'Leena was in surgery by the time he got to the hospital.  So he paced, and prayed to a God he was never really sure he believed in, and paced some more.  She slipped further from him as each minute passed.  Lucas used his link with her like a lifeline.  He joined his mind with hers and held on for all he was worth.  When his mother and father arrived he barely registered their presence.  He only felt her.

Lucas hovered near the doors to the operating room.  He was completely focused on K'Leena.  

Worried about her son, Deanna wanted him to sit down but he wouldn't move away from the passageway.

"I'm fine," he snapped impatiently.

Will was so concerned with his son's behavior he tried to get him to leave the hospital for a while, but Deanna's stopped her husband.

"He won't go, he can't."

"What do you mean he can't?"

"Because he's the only thing keeping her alive right now, he needs to stay close to keep the link strong."

Will looked over at Lucas in shock.  "Christ!  Can he do this?  Will it work?"

"I don't know...Imzadi are capable of amazing things and Lucas is a strong telepath...maybe."

"But they're not...," Will's eyes widened with realization.  "Of course they are, from the very beginning, right?"

"Yes," Deanna replied with a small smile.

"Then why aren't they together?"

"They're just not ready yet.  Look how long it took us."

"God...I hope he's smarter than I was and doesn't waste years trying to figure out what he wants."

"I just hope he gets the chance to."

Dr. Crusher came out to see them after several hours.  K'Leena was holding her own, but it was too soon to tell if she would live.  

"Can I see her?" Lucas asked, quiet and broken.

"I can let one of you in since the Parises aren't here yet," she told him.

"Go, Lucas," his mother told him and pushed him gently towards the room where K'Leena lay.

Lucas entered the room and he paused.  She was so pale and lifeless, it scared the hell out of him.  He almost didn't recognize her without the flashing blue eyes and ready smile she always had.

Lucas pulled a chair close and sat next to the bed.  He picked up her small hand and laced his fingers with hers, it felt cold to the touch.

"Don't you do this, 'Leena," he begged and tears gathered in the corners of his eyes.  "Captain Proton can't battle the forces of evil without Blaze."  He drew his fingers through the flame colored hair that tumbled around her shoulders.  "Dammit, K'Leena, you can't die on me.  Not now...."

Lucas rested his forehead on the edge of the bed and, for the first time in more than a decade, he cried.



*****


Initiation


"They've been sneaking off to the holodeck in the middle of the night, you know."

"Really?!  The Captain's kid and Paris' girl?"

"Yeah, every Friday night for the last month they book two hours from two to four, hmmm... I guess that would really be Saturday morning...."

"Whatever!  So...the Klingon brat is doing the 'Crowned Prince.'  I wonder if Paris and Riker know."

"Are you insane?!  Riker wouldn't care, but Paris would go nuts!  Lucas is crazy if you ask me--screwing the Commander's pride and joy....You ever see Paris when he's angry?  The man is more Klingon than some Klingons I know."

"Still, you got to give the kid credit, he picked the hottest little thing on the ship."

"She's kinda young, don't you think?"

"She's -Klingon-, gods I'd love to fuck a Klingon once in my life, I hear they're the best.  I'm getting hard just thinking about it."

"Yeah, I bet she's good, I wonder how much the kid has taught her...."

Tom had heard enough, he strode around the corner, startling the two crewmen.

"Commander Paris!" they snapped to attention.

"Crewmen," Tom just nodded as he walked by them.

"Do you think he heard?"

"No way, we're still alive, aren't we?"


*****

"You're not really going to do the overprotective father thing?  Are you?"  B'Elanna couldn't believe he was acting this way.

Tom sat on the edge of the bed to put on his boots.

"My fifteen-year-old daughter is sneaking out in the middle of the night, to meet a boy, and you have to ask me that?"

"Don't you trust her?" she asked.  K'Leena wouldn't do this, she just knew it.  There had to be an explanation.

"It's not her I don't trust, it's him.  I remember the stories of his father's conquests at the academy.  I don't want my daughter alone with him."

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

"Right," she replied, knowingly, unable to keep the smirk from her face.

"That's different," he shot back as he left the room and B'Elanna couldn't hold back the laughter.


*****

"People of Earth.  You now belong to me.  I am the new Emperor!"

"Think again, Chaotica!" Lucas yelled, jumping onto the platform.

"Captain Proton!  I thought you were dead."

"He would have been, but you forgot one small detail," K'Leena called out from the small ledge she was perched on, just behind Lucas.

"And what would that be?"

"Captain Proton doesn't battle the forces of evil without Blaze," Lucas said smugly.  "She rescued me...."

"Computer, freeze program!" Tom called out upon entering the holodeck, then came to a stunned stop himself.

The suddenness of the stop in the program caused K'Leena to loose her footing on the ledge.  She was falling before she could regain it.  Lucas was there instantly, catching her against himself.  She impacted his chest with a breathless laugh.

"Captain Proton to the rescue?" she giggled, righting herself.

"At your service, ma'am," Lucas replied smartly.

"What is going on here?" Tom finally asked.

K'Leena looked at him, amused.  "We're playing Captain Proton, what does it look like?"

"At two in the morning?"

"I told you, it was the only time we could get, you said it was okay."  K'Leena was confused now.

"When did you tell me this?"  So was Tom.

"Last month, when I asked you to help me change some of the things in the program.  You said you couldn't do it then because of the crew reviews.  You suggested that I ask Uncle Harry to help if I didn't want to wait for you to finish with them.  So I did and when we finished the only two-hour blocks we could get on the holodeck...."

"Were from two to four on Saturdays," Tom recalled it now.  "I thought you meant in the afternoon."

"Oh sorry, I did say oh two hundred...."

"Yes, you did, I wasn't paying attention."

"We don't do it on school nights, but I'll come home if you want me to," she told him.

Tom looked at his daughter, ashamed of what he'd thought.

"No, this is fine," he smiled and took in her costume.  "Who are you supposed to be?"

"Blaze, Captain Proton's sidekick.  Uncle Harry helped us reprogram Buster's role.  I got sick of playing Arachnia.  I wanted to be a good guy," she told him with a grin.

He looked at the red velvet catsuit and couldn't stop the next question, "Did your Aunt Ani design the costume?"

"No, I did, why?" she asked, confused.

"Never mind, I'll let you get back to the fun."  Tom turned to leave and realized why everything felt just a little off since he entered the holodeck.  

"You colorized it!" he exclaimed in horror.


*****


"Who's there?" K'Leena called down the Jeffries tube.

"Captain Proton...who else would be saving your ass?" Lucas said angrily as he rounded the corner.

"What are you doing here?" she asked.

"Jesus, K'Leena, do you know how much trouble you're in?!"

"Why am I in trouble?" Innocent as all get out and Lucas didn't buy it for a minute.

"I don't know how you sweet-talked Powell into letting you fly those maneuvers, but your Dad -knows- it was you, K'Leena."

"I don't know what you mean."

"Your Dad knew, from the first run, who was piloting that ship.  He's furious with Powell...and you.  He's going to bust that lieutenant down to crewman and you're going to be grounded from now until the end of time.  What the hell were you thinking?!"

"Kahless!  Who else knows?"  She never wanted Lt. Powell to get in trouble.

"No one but me and your brother.  Robbie let me know your Dad's hunting for you now.  Good thing you were smart enough to leave your comm-badge behind, it gave me time to find you."

"What am I going to do?"

"Come on, I have an idea."  He led her down the Jeffries tube until they came to a junction.

Lucas stripped off his shirt once they were there.

"Take your shirt off," he told her.

"What!?"

"Settle down!  You've got a bra on, right?  I've seen you in less when we go swimming.  Your Dad's doing a sensor sweep of the ship for your biosigns by now, it won't be long before he gets here.  Do you want to be in trouble for flying a Federation shuttlecraft without permission or do you want to be in trouble for making out with me?"

K'Leena undid the ties on her tunic and Lucas suddenly began to think this idea wasn't such a good one after all.  Black lace.  In his wildest fantasies, and he had some wild ones, she never looked as good as this.  She'd kill him if she knew how often he dreamt about her.

Lucas dropped to the floor of the junction and settled against the wall.

"Come here," he held out his hand to her.  She hesitated for a second then walked to him.  Lucas pulled her down to kneel between his outstretched legs.  

He was probably never going to get another chance to kiss her, so he was going to do this right.

"Ever kissed anyone before?" he asked her.

She shook her head, "Have you?"

"Yeah," and then some, but she didn't need to know that.

He put his arms around her and drew her against him, the skin to skin contact was just about his undoing.  Then he kissed her and it stopped being just for show.  Her lips were so soft and sweet.  

Open your mouth, 'Leena.   

Gods, she was everything he imagined.  She tasted like some wonderful exotic fruit and he couldn't get enough.  Lucas brushed his tongue along her parted lips and she gasped and he explored her mouth further.  Her hands moved over his shoulders in a soft caress as she returned the kiss, her tongue meeting his in light, hesitant touches.

"Put your clothes on!"  Tom's cold voice interrupted them and K'Leena jumped back, her face flaming with embarrassment.

"Daddy!" she grabbed her shirt and held it to her chest.

He viewed the two of them silently for a moment.

"Go back to our quarters, I want to talk to Lucas."

"It's not what you think...," she started.

"You don't want to know what I think right now, young lady.  Get your tail back home!"

"But...."

"NOW! K'Leena!"

She put her shirt back on, fumbling with the ties, tears running down her face.  She should have just confessed, now Lucas was going to be in trouble.

I'm sorry, Lucas.

Don't worry, it'll be all right.

Tom made sure K'Leena was gone before he turned back to the now fully clothed Lucas.  The grin on his face took the boy off guard.

"Don't think for a minute I don't know what -really- went on today.  I'd know her flying anywhere.  The only other people on this ship who could have done what she did today are your father and myself.  And since we were both on the bridge at the time...."

"What are you going to do?" Lucas asked.

Tom stared at him for a long moment, then said, "Nothing.  No one was hurt and I'm pretty sure it will -never- happen again."

Lucas sighed in relief.

"Just how far were you planning on taking this little production?" Tom asked quietly.  Too quietly, Lucas realized.  He was more angry that they tried to deceive him than he was about the shuttle.

"We knew you were on the way, it wouldn't have gone any further, Commander," Lucas told him honestly.  It wouldn't have gone further, he may have wanted it to, but it wouldn't have.

Tom pinned the kid with a hard stare, trying to figure out if he had been taking advantage of his daughter or just trying to protect her.  He was surprised when Lucas laughed out loud.

"When you figure it out, Commander, could you let me know, because I'm not sure myself."


*****


"I wanted to give you this when we were alone," Lucas told her.  He handed her a little box, wrapped in shiny purple paper.

Her birthday party was over and they were just about to leave the holodeck.

"You already gave me a present," she reminded him.  Lucas had given her a new Captain Proton program, he'd worked for weeks on it with her father's help.

"I know, but this is different.  Open it."

She ripped off the wrapping and opened the little box.  Inside was one half of a little gold coin suspended on a delicate chain, it had an inscription, but because it was incomplete, she couldn't read it.

"What does it say?" she asked.

Lucas pulled the other half of the coin from under his shirt and placed the two halves together.

"It's an ancient Earth tradition when two people are going to be separated.  It says: May the Lord watch between me and thee while we are apart from one another," Lucas told her seriously.

He undid the clasp on it and fastened it around her neck.

"It's beautiful, Lucas.  I love it, thank you...but it's not like we're apart, we see each other every day."

"My Dad's been offered a promotion, 'Leena," Lucas said quietly.  "We're leaving the ship.  Your Dad's going to be the Captain."

"Leaving?" was all she could say, the words lodged in her throat.  K'Leena just stared at him, tears gathering in her eyes, then she turned and ran from the holodeck.



*****


"Hey."

"Hey."

"How come you aren't at the party?"

She shrugged, "Didn't feel like celebrating, I guess."

"Yeah, me neither."

They sat in silence for a few minutes, just staring at the stars.

"Nothing is going to be the same," she said sadly.

"I'm going to miss you," he told her and she started to cry.

Lucas put his arms around her awkwardly, not really knowing how to handle this.  All he wanted to do was cry himself, but he was a man now and he couldn't.

"It's okay, 'Leena, we'll still see each other and the academy is only two years away."

"But it won't ever be like this again.  No more Captain Proton or watching T.V. all night long.  I won't be able to talk to you everyday...."  and we won't have this.

We'll always have this.

She looked up at him with her tear-streaked face, her blue eyes watery sapphires.

"Lucas?"

"Yeah?"

"Could you kiss me again before you go?  For real, this time, not pretend."

He stood up and pulled her with him.  His arms slid around her waist and she decided she liked how it felt to be held by him like this.  Looking up, she realized how tall he'd gotten over the last year.  He towered over her, the top of her head barely reached his chin now.  His eyes were so dark and he was so very serious.  Lucas cupped her cheek with his hand and she shivered.  Then he bent his head and lightly brushed his lips across hers.  Once.  Then again.  And again.  Each time it lasted a little longer, and he pressed a little harder.  K'Leena found herself meeting his kisses, entwining her hands in his hair and pulling him to her.  He met her gaze after a few moments and then he captured her mouth.  There was no other word for it.  One hand held the back of her neck and the other pulled her tighter against him.  She opened her mouth under his and he invaded it with his tongue.  It was wonderful.  Then he abruptly broke it off.

"What's wrong?" she asked, confused.  "Did I do something wrong?"

"No, K'Leena, you didn't do anything wrong.  You did it too right."

"Huh?"

"Look, do me a favor, okay?" he paused to take a deep breath trying to control his annoyance.  "Don't go kissing any boys unless you know what you're getting into."

"I'm sorry it was so unpleasant for you!" she was getting angry now.  

"Dammit, 'Leena!  You don't understand!"

"What don't I understand?!  Aren't I pretty enough for you?  I'm not all blond and soft like Aria, so you don't want to kiss me.  What's there to understand?"

"You want the truth?" Lucas ground out.  "I do want to kiss you.  I want to do more than kiss you.  I want to hold you.  I want touch you.  I want to do a -whole- lot of things to you...most of which would shock the hell out of you."

Her eyes were impossibly wide.  "You want to...to...with me?"

"Gods, yes," he exclaimed.

"Why?"

He looked at her like she'd lost her mind.  "You're kidding, right?"

"You think I'm pretty?"

Lucas shook his head in amazement.  She had no idea how beautiful she was.  Pretty didn't even begin to describe it.

"Yeah, I think you're pretty," he told her softly.  "And smart and funny and the best friend a guy could ever have.  And I'm going to miss you more than you know."

"I can't do what you want, you know," she sounded almost sorry.  "We're not mated."

"I know."


*****


Misconception


He was here, she could feel him.  K'Leena smiled broadly.  Kahless, she'd missed this feeling.  That had been the hardest part of their separation.  The utter and complete emptiness that resided when they weren't together.  It was coming closer, getting stronger.  The girls in front of her stopped talking and were staring at something behind her.

"Wow," Nedri said.  "Get a look at that."

"Not bad...not bad at all," Kendra replied and K'Leena bit back the laughter.

It didn't take Lucas long to locate her, he could feel her presence and it drew him like a magnet.  He strode purposely through the crowd of cadets.  They hadn't seen each other in eighteen months, he'd missed her.  He approached from behind, she was talking with a group of female cadets.  He reached forward to tug her hair....

"Don't even think about it, Captain Proton," she said in amusement, not turning to look at him.

She was in his arms a second later.  

"Damn, 'Leena, I've missed you," he said hoarsely and she couldn't stop the tears.

"Oh, Lucas!" she sobbed and her mouth was caught by his.

He didn't care how many people were watching, Lucas kissed her fiercely and passionately, pulling her tight against him.

"Hey...what are the tears for?" he asked when they finally broke apart, wiping the moisture from her face with his fingers.

"I just missed you so much, I didn't think this day was -ever- going to get here."

"Yeah, I know the feeling."

"Ummm...are you going to introduce us, Paris?"

"Oh, sorry," she apologized.  "Kendra Wyatt and Lias Nedri, meet Lucas Riker."

"Riker?  As in Admiral Riker?" Nedri asked.

"Yeah," Lucas pulled a face, he hated to be reminded he was a 'Riker'.  "The Admiral is my father."

The Bajoran practically smacked her lips in anticipation.  K'Leena felt a flare of anger and Lucas raised an eyebrow at her.

Jealous, 'Leena?

No.

"Well, if you ladies will excuse us.  K'Leena and I haven't seen each other in more than a year.  We have a lot of catching up to do," Lucas said smoothly and he put his arm around her waist and led her away.

"Where are we going?"  K'Leena stopped him after a couple of steps to kiss him again.  

"Back to my apartment."  Lucas nuzzled her neck.

"You don't live on campus?"

"No, they were short rooms because of the damage done in the power grid attack.  Some of us are off campus this year.  Being an admiral's son has some advantages."

"I guess."

"Come on," he groaned.  "I don't want to waste time here."

"So, what did you have in mind for the rest of the evening?"

"I was planning on making love to you until you screamed my name and couldn't remember what it's like to be apart from me.  Interested?"

"Prophets!"  Nedri exclaimed.  "If she's not, I sure am."

"Is that a joke?" K'Leena asked, ignoring their little eavesdropper.

"No...I thought this is what you wanted too."

Lucas, I won't have sex until I'm mated, you know that.

You still believe in that?!

Yes, I do.

Lucas looked at her for a long moment.  To say he was disappointed was an understatement, but she was -here- and he guessed that's all that really mattered.  Smiling broadly he dropped a kiss on her lips.

"Come on, we still have a lot of catching up to do."

K'Leena relaxed and smiled back.

You're okay with this?

Yeah, I don't want to do anything you're not ready for.  I won't push you.


*****


"Lucas, I think we should see other people," K'Leena began gently.

"What?" he turned around, stunned.

"This isn't working and you know it.  You want a physical relationship and I can't give you one."

"We've been through this before, 'Leena," he sighed.  "I can wait."

"For how long?  And it's not just a matter of waiting, either.  Are you going to take the oath with me?"

It was something he didn't like to talk about.  Lucas knew that she expected to be mated for life.  It scared the hell out of him.  Somewhere in the back of his mind he always thought he could convince her to sleep with him and not have to commit to her like that.  Over the last three years, however, he'd slowly began to realize how much it meant to her.  She wanted what her parents had and would settle for nothing less.  He couldn't see himself mating with her, but he also couldn't see his life without her in it.

"I just don't want to lose you," he told her honestly.

"Lose me?" She smiled softly at him.  "Never...Captain Proton can't battle the forces of evil without Blaze."

"Are you sure this is what you want?" he asked.

"It's what we -both- want, Lucas.  We make great friends, but we're terrible at this romance thing."



*****


Separation


They finished their final year at the academy as friends.  Slowly pulling away from each other, not relying on the other anymore.  By the time they received their first postings, the separation was little more than an occasional twinge of loneliness.  They made new friends, dated different people, grew further apart.  Saw each other only when their families got together for the odd holiday or the chance meeting when their ships met.

It continued like that for their three-year ship postings.  When they discovered they were both stationed on Earth again, they hadn't seen each other in more than a year.  

They'd both changed....

"Did you see the new flight instructor over at the Academy, Lucas?" Mike asked him.  

"No, why?" Lucas wasn't really that interested.  He was so damn tired.  The specialized training they were receiving was intensive.

"Gods, is she hot!"

"Really?" that caught his attention.  Lucas was always game for a new challenge.  

"I saw her first," Mike claimed with a laugh.

"Like that's ever stopped either of us before," Lucas snorted.  They often played the 'who could get her first' game.  It was the thrill of the chase that they enjoyed... sometimes more than the conquest.  "So, what does the newest trophy look like?"

"Incredible...you wouldn't believe it.  Red hair and a temper to match, blue eyes, great body, a little smaller than I like, but her race makes up for that."

"Her race?"

"Yeah...that's the best thing of all.  She's part Klingon, Lucas.  Gods, what a perfect combination."

"Klingon?" Lucas asked sharply.

"Yep, why? what's wrong?"

"Let me get this straight--the new pilot is a red-headed, blue-eyed, hot-tempered, little Klingon?"

Mike nodded, a little leery of Lucas's sudden change in mood.

"Stay away from her, Mike," Lucas pinned him with a hard stare.  "I mean it."

"Why?"  What the hell was this?

"Because, unless you're willing to marry her, she's not for you."

"Marry her?!"

"Yeah, she's not for sport, understand?"

Mike had been Lucas' friend for three years now.  He knew exactly when not to cross him.

"Okay, I leave her to you," he conceded.

Lucas laughed out loud.  "She's not for me either, my friend, but I won't see her hurt."

"How do you know her?"

"K'Leena and I grew up together on the Enterprise.  Her father was my Dad's XO before he made Captain."

"Were you close?" Mike asked, already guessing the answer.

"Yeah, we used to be."  Lucas was surprised at the sharp pain in the center of his chest when he answered.


*****


"Someone told me the new pilot was a red-headed witch and I knew it had to be you," Lucas said with a grin, leaning against the door of her office.

"Lucas!" she squealed and leapt into his arms.  He hugged her fiercely.

"It's good to see you, Blaze."

"Kahless, I didn't know you were on Earth, or I would have contacted you."

"I've been busy, new assignment, lots of new training."

"What type of training?"

"Tactical, mostly, pretty boring really.  What about you?  -Lieutenant- Paris.  Flight Instructor, very impressive."

"I'm not the only one sporting a new solid pip," she reached up and touched his collar.

"Yeah, well, you know how it is, new assignment, new promotion."

"What are you doing for dinner?" she asked.

"Taking you out," he replied with a smile.

And so it went for the next two years.  Lucas' job tended to keep him away for long periods, but whenever he was on Earth, they spent time together.  

A comfortable friendship....

*****


Realization


"Lucas, you're drunk!" K'Leena giggled as they walked down the sidewalk, supporting each other.

"Yep, so are you."

"Yep," she replied.  "You're going to have to stay in my apartment, you can't walk home alone."

"Okay, but I'm not sleeping on that tiny couch of yours again."

"Where do you think you're sleeping?"

"In your bed."

"Excuse me?"

"I'm too drunk to be a threat to your virtue, Ms. Paris.  Have a heart, the last time I slept on your couch I couldn't stand straight for a week."

"Oh, all right, you can sleep in the bed," she gave in.  "Just don't try anything."

"Scout's honor."

"Lucas, you were -never- a scout."

"Hmmm...I think you're right."

Turning down the last street they paused in front of her building.

"Finally...I thought we'd never get here.  Kahless, I'm tired."

"Me too," Lucas admitted.

They made their way up to her home, stumbling and giggling the whole way.

"Shhhh! My neighbors are going to complain."

"Suhry."

"I'm going to use the bathroom first."

"How come you get it first?"

"My place."

"Do you still have that old sweat suit of mine?"

"Yeah, it's in my bottom dresser drawer, throw me my blue nightgown, would ya?  It's in the one above it."

Lucas pulled a blue flannel gown from the drawer.

"Ugh!  This thing is hideous!"

"What's wrong with it?"

"Not exactly geared to seduction, 'Leena."

"In case you hadn't noticed, Lucas, I'm not trying to seduce you."

"Why not?  I'm a pretty good lover, or so I've been told."  This conversation was treading on some very dangerous ground.

"I bet you have," she laughed.  "By -lots- of women."

"Just because you don't like sex, doesn't mean -I- have to abstain."

"Captain Proton, you wouldn't know -how- to say no."

"Why would I want to?"

"Don't you ever think that maybe there's more to it than just casual sex?  Maybe that bubble headed blond who's been sharing your bed isn't all there is?"

"Like what?"

"What about Imzadi?"

"I don't believe in that mythical nonsense."

"Lucas!  Your own -parents- are Imzadi!  How can you not believe in it?"

"It's just an empathic link," he dismissed their bond.  "My mother is an empath, of course she would be able to link with him."

"What about my parents?  They aren't empaths and they're bonded."

"Who knows," he shrugged.  "Could be anything.  They encountered a lot of unknown things in the Delta Quadrant, maybe they picked up some type of telepathic abilities."

"You are such a cynic," she shook her head.  "Not a romantic bone in your body."

"Oh, believe me...I have -one- romantic bone," he said lewdly.

K'Leena rolled her eyes and laughed as she walked into the bathroom, "And you wonder why you don't turn me on."


*****


Lucas was making love to her.  Slowly, sweetly he moved in and out, delicious friction sent waves of ecstasy from the top of her head to the tips of her toes.  K'Leena shuddered beneath him, gasping in pleasure as his mouth found hers again.  There was a feeling of pressure that built so strongly, she didn't think she could take it.  Her head thrashed back and forth on the pillow.  He moved against her and his fingers found her center, stirring her, taking her higher.  

"Come for me, 'Leena," he demanded softly and she did.  The climax coursed though her with a frightening intensity....

She woke with a faint cry, her body still throbbing from the orgasm.  Opening her eyes, she met his intense black gaze.  He lay on his side, stretched out next to her, one hand supported his head and the other rested lightly on the blanket between them, taking in her flushed skin, parted lips, dilated eyes.  

With slow deliberation his hand traveled over her leg and she couldn't believe she was letting him do it.  Her nightgown had hiked up while she slept and soon his hand was running up the inside of her thigh, raising goosebumps on her skin.  

He bent his head and kissed her deeply when he encountered the very wet, very slick junction between her legs.  He ran his fingers along the petal soft skin and took in the arousal and moisture from her climax, parting her gently so he could touched her more intimately at the same time he opened her mouth with his tongue.  

The duel sensations of being opened and invaded sent her reeling.  With slow, steady pressure a single finger slid deep inside and she cried out softly against his mouth, her back arching toward him in an unconscious move.  Lucas stroked her carefully, feeling her clasp around his finger.  His lips moved along her jaw, he nipped her slightly and was rewarded with a soft purr.

"So," he whispered against her ear.  "I don't turn you on?"

Her eyes shot wide with sudden insight and she met his knowing gaze.  

"You son of a bitch!"

She pushed him away with a growl and came off the bed quickly.  

"Stay out of my head, Lucas Riker!" K'Leena yelled and slammed the bathroom door behind her.

She could hear him laughing through the door.  Damn him!  He did that deliberately.  Show her for the liar she was.  Kahless, she did want him.  And he knew it.

Lucas lay back on her bed and was slightly shocked at the feeling of incredible relief that flooded through him.  It had been years since he touched his mind to hers.  Somewhere down the line there had been an unconscious decision by both of them to stop speaking telepathically.  He didn't even know when it happened, exactly.  He just remembered realizing one day that he wasn't tuned into her thoughts when they were together.  Up until today, he never tried to reestablish their link, never sure if it was still there and frankly, a little scared to find out.  

Making love to her with his mind was the most erotic thing he'd ever done.  Even if he had to put up with this raging hard-on for the whole day, it was worth it.  

Didn't turn her on?  Like hell.


*****


Lucas stepped out of her shower and grabbed a towel.  He was chilled to the bone.  He may have needed a cold shower but he was pretty sure her using all the hot water was not done with his best interests at heart.  Rubbing vigorously, he dried himself off and pulled his jeans on.  Walking back into her bedroom he was surprised to hear voices.  His jaw clenched when he realized who was talking to K'Leena.  

"Where were you last night?  I came by and you weren't home," Steven said and K'Leena gritted her teeth against the possessive note in his voice.

"I went out with a friend."

"Well, we can make up the missed time today.  We wouldn't even have to leave the apartment, if you didn't want to."  Steven brought his fingers to the open v-neck of her robe, touching the skin over her collarbone.

K'Leena almost jumped back from him.  When he touched her she felt uncomfortable.  When had this happened?  She'd been dating him for months, what was different now?

"K'Leena, honey, where did you put my...."

She spun around to see Lucas walk into her living room, wearing only his jeans which he hadn't bothered to fasten, his hair still wet from the shower.  She closed her eyes and swallowed hard.  It looked, for all the world, like the two of them had just showered together, since she was dressed in nothing more than her bathrobe and her hair hung soaking wet down her back.

"What the hell is -he- doing here?!"  

Steven never did like Lucas and looking at the menacing expression on Lucas' face, K'Leena realized the feeling was mutual.

"It's not...," she began only to be cut off.

"...any of your business," Lucas finished the sentence.  Of course, that wasn't what she was going to say, but....

"You two-timing little tramp," Steven hissed, grabbing her arm painfully.  K'Leena pulled out of his grasp and stepped back, shocked at the hatred in his eyes.

"I think it's time you left," Lucas said quietly, stepping between her and Steven.

The two men were of like height, but Lucas had a whipcord leanness about him that screamed of a man who could do considerable damage given a reason.  And Steven had just given him one.

"Yeah, I sure as hell don't want to be where I'm not welcome," Steven snarled and left.

Lucas turned around to find K'Leena glaring at him.  He shrugged and walked back into her bedroom to finish dressing.  It would probably be a good idea to be fully clothed when she threw him out.

She stood opened mouthed at his audacity.  Who the -hell- did he think he was?!  

When he emerged a few minutes later, completely dressed, she was fit to be tied.

"You arrogant," K'Leena threw a book at his head, --thud-- "over-bearing," a bronze statue, --thump-- "self-absorbed," glass vase, --shatter-- "jerk!" all of which he managed to duck out of the way of, causing her ire to rise even more.

"Isn't this some kind of obscure Klingon mating ritual?" he asked with pseudo innocence.  Lucas was really was pushing her today.

K'Leena's eyes blazed with fury, the man was going to die a slow and painful death.  

"You had no -right- to do what you did!"

"What are you so upset about?  He was just like the others.  All he wanted was your body.  He was just able to hide it from you better."

"That's not true!" but she knew it was.  Steven's behavior on finding Lucas half naked in her apartment proved it.  "Besides...that's all you want too," she said quietly.

"If you really believe that...you don't know me at all," he said angrily and stormed out of the apartment.


*****


K'Leena thanked the delivery man and struggled to close the door and still hang on to the large box.  What on Earth had Lucas sent her?

She set the box on her coffee table and opened it.  Kahless, the man had nerve!

The damn thing was filled with lingerie.  Long satin nightgowns.  Silk pajamas.  Even a couple of soft cotton T-shirts with matching shorts.  None of it was overtly sexual, either.  Not a single piece of gaudy red lace to be found.  Purples, greens, blues, yellow...all colors she favored and styles she might have chosen herself...and the correct size.  She didn't know what bothered her more, the fact the he knew -exactly- what she liked, or the fact that they were all the right size.  There were more than a dozen different things in the box along with a card that read:

          I will personally burn that
          god-awful piece of flannel if
          I ever see it on you again.

K'Leena snorted.  Like he was going to be allowed back into her apartment ever again after this morning.

Then she reached the bottom and found another box.  She sat down on the couch to open it.  Inside was the most decadent black nightgown she'd ever seen.  It was completely backless and almost as frontless.  Deep cut, halter style, sheer enough to see through in the right light.  Her face flamed red just looking at it.  She would -never- wear it, she thought as she opened the card that was with it.

          Yes, you will...for me.

K'Leena stared at the bold handwriting for ages.  Kahless, what were they doing?  They'd tried the dating thing, it didn't work for them.  But deep down, she knew this wasn't the same.  Back then they were too young and wanted different things.  

Lucas was playing for higher stakes this time.  The only problem was...she didn't know if she was ready for what he wanted.


*****


"You Klingon slut!" Steven pushed her into the apartment.  "Keeping me at arms length while you were fucking -him-!"

"Stay the hell away from me, Steven!" K'Leena backed up.

"Not a chance, Ice Princess," he shrugged out of his jacket and tossed it aside.

K'Leena tried to get past him and out the door.  He caught her and threw her against the wall slamming the air from her lungs.  She was surprised at his strength.  He closed the door and advanced on her as she struggled to take a breath.  

"You want it rough?" he snarled.  "I know Klingons like pain.  Shall we see just how Klingon you are?"  

Steven reached for her again and she ducked away, running for her bedroom.  She tried to slam the door but he got his foot in and they struggled.  With a Herculean shove he pushed to door open, sending her flying, her side hitting the post of her bed.  She felt a rib give way at the impact.  He was on her before she could recover, pulling her to her feet by her hair.  K'Leena bit back the cry of pain, she wouldn't give him the satisfaction.  Then she struck him across the face with her closed fist.  He roared in fury, backhanding her viciously.  She fell on the bed, stunned.  Steven wiped the blood from his lip with the palm of his hand, venom shot from his eyes, and K'Leena knew fear.  She scrambled up but he was too fast.  He slammed her to the bed with his body.  She couldn't stop the scream, her rib felt like it sliced right though her.  

Her nightgown tore under his grasp, exposing her completely to him.  His eyes blazed and she met his gaze defiantly.

"I will kill you for this," she barred her teeth with a growl.  

The sound was enough to take him off guard for a moment.  And that was enough for her to strike back, breaking his nose and sending blood spurting.  Ignoring the pain in her side she shoved him off her.  She grabbed the lamp off her nightstand and clobbered him with it, knocking him unconscious.

She stood over him, seething in anger, wanting nothing more than to tear him limb from limb.

"So much for coming to the rescue," Lucas said dryly from the bedroom doorway, his chest heaving from having run all the way.

K'Leena spun around. Lucas swore viciously at the torn gown and blood covering her.  He grabbed the blanket off the bed and wrapped her up in it.

"Are you okay?" he asked, his voice shaking slightly.  "Did he...."

"I'm fine," she replied coldly.  "He didn't hurt me."

That was debatable, but he decided not to push the issue right now.  There were more pressing matters to take care of.

"Go and call the authorities," he told her.  "I'll keep an eye on him."


*****


"Pack a bag, you're staying with me tonight," Lucas told her in a tone that brooked no argument.  Of course, K'Leena had been arguing with him since they were three years old.  Why he thought tonight would be any different, he didn't know.

"No...I'm fine."

"Look, we are -not- doing this tonight.  I kicked in your door and it's not safe here.  I'll carry you back to my place if I have to."

"Don't even think about it, Riker."

"K'Leena, get your stuff," he said tiredly.  "This conversation is over.  You're coming with me."

"When did you become so damned domineering?" she grumped, grabbing her overnight bag.

"When your life became more important to me than my own," he said, completely serious.

Her mouth formed a perfect "O".  She hadn't been expecting that.


*****


He watched as she favored her side again.  She was hurt.  He'd thought the pain he was sensing from her was emotional, not physical.  Damn, he should have insisted on taking her to Medical.  He should have known.  

"Take off your shirt," he said grimly.

K'Leena turned around in surprise.  He was standing very close.

"What?"

Lucas didn't wait for her to do as he asked.  He grabbed the hem of her top and pulled it up and over her head.  She hissed in pain and her arms crossed over her bare chest, but Lucas wasn't interested in her charms.  He was focused on the dark purple bruise that ran along her side.  

"Why didn't you tell me you were hurt?" he demanded angrily.

"It's nothing...I'll stop by Medical in the morning before work.  I just didn't want to go tonight."

"It's not 'nothing'!"  He probed the bruise with his fingers, feeling the rib move under pressure.  She couldn't stop the sharp cry from leaving her lips and he scowled.  "You've got at least one broken rib.  Sit down, I'll be right back."

K'Leena sat on the edge of the couch, holding her shirt against her chest, too worn out to argue with him anymore.  He returned a moment later with a Starfleet Med-Kit.  A very well stocked Med-Kit at that.

She raised an eyebrow when he pulled out an osteoregenerator.  It wasn't exactly standard issue.

"Just what is it that you do again?" she asked while he healed her ribs, taking a deep breath without pain for the first time in hours.

"I'm a Tactical Consultant, you know that," came the neutral reply and she knew, with undeniable certainty, that he was lying to her.

"Uh huh."

Lucas met her knowing gaze and swore silently.  "Don't, K'Leena," he warned her.  "Don't go there."


*****


He'd been waiting for this.  For it all to catch up with her.  Lucas walked into his bedroom.  She was sitting in the middle of his bed, arms wrapped around her legs, head buried against her knees, rocking back and forth.  Silent tears, like always, she never wanted anyone to know she was crying.  He always knew.

Lucas sat down next to her, she looked up in shock, her face wet and eyes red and swollen.  Then she did something that surprised him.  She threw her arms around him and screamed in anger and pain.  He pulled her close and held her to him as she sobbed.  

They stayed like that for a long time, before she shifted and drew herself up to look in his eyes.  Something unspoken passed between them.

Then she kissed him, for the first time in years, she kissed him.  It wasn't soft or tentative.  She was devouring his mouth, drawing him down, bringing him over her.  Her hands began pulling at his pajamas, ripping the shirt from him.  Feather soft touches moved over his body, sending shock waves through him.  He slipped the straps of her nightgown off her shoulders and down her arms until she was bare above the waist, wanting nothing more than to feel her against him.  His hand closed over her breast and he felt it swell to his touch.  She gasped in sweet pleasure.  

It was heaven...and it was hell, because he knew it couldn't go on.

Lucas struggled desperately to find some small piece of self control.  This couldn't happen tonight, it was wrong, he knew that.  She was doing it for all the wrong reasons, but his body didn't care.  It raged against him when he met her hands and held them away.

"No, 'Leena...not like this," he rasped in agony.

"What's wrong?"

"I won't do this...not now."

"I thought you wanted me?" she said accusingly.

"More than the breath I just took...but not tonight.  You're not ready for this."

"Why don't you let me decide what I'm ready for?" her voice was liquid seduction as she rocked her hips against his, feeling how much he did want her.  

Lucas gave in for a moment, groaning as his mouth found hers again, parting her lips with his tongue, tasting her, treasuring her.  He let himself go for a few seconds, let himself feel her completely, then he reined in the passion.  Pulling back, he put his weight on his elbows, his hips still nestled between her thighs.  She looked up, desire plainly written across her face, and he almost changed his mind.  It was what he wanted most in the universe.  The thought of making love to her was enough to drive him insane, the actual reality of it was so much more than he expected.  He brought his hands to her face, tracing the delicate features.

"Someday soon, I -will- make love to you, K'Leena," he told her, deadly serious.  "But not tonight, not when you're like this.  Not when the decision to accept me is being made out of the desire to block him out...not let me in, understand?"

"I don't want to be alone tonight," she replied in a small voice.

"I'm not going anywhere."

Lucas rolled over and brought her with him.  She lay along side of him with her head cradled against his chest.  Her small hand rested over his heart.  Lucas grabbed the blanket and covered them both.  

It was enlightening to lay with him like this.  She realized she liked it...a lot.

"Lucas?"

"Yeah?"

"What's it like to be able to read someone's thoughts while you're making love to them?"

"I have no idea, I don't use telepathy when I'm making love," he told her honestly.

"Why not?"  That intrigued her.  She would have thought it was something he always did.

"I've never felt the desire to, I guess.  It's enough to know their bodies, I don't need to know their minds."

You were reading my thoughts.

It had been years since she tried this and she realized, sadly, that their link must be gone because he didn't answer.  

"Go to sleep, Blaze," he said quietly, kissing the top of her head.  It wasn't long before she did.  Her last thought, as sleep took her, was the realization that his heart was beating in time with hers.

Lucas stoked her hair until he felt her breathing become slow and steady.  Her words still echoed in his head.  You were reading my thoughts.  She was right, he had been and hadn't even realized it.  The admission shook him to his very core.  He -never- allowed himself to join with a woman's mind when they were together.  Everything about it always felt so patently wrong.  

So why did it happen with K'Leena so easily?  


*****


"Lucas!  Get your ass out of bed, we need to...." Mike Burns stopped dead in his tracks in the doorway of Lucas' bedroom after he flicked on the light.

You couldn't mistake the woman curled up in Lucas' arms.  They lay spooned together, her face turned into the crook of his arm, legs entwined.  Her nightgown was bunched up around her hips, leaving very little of her body to his imagination, but it was the red-gold hair streaming over Lucas' arm that was unmistakably K'Leena's.  Mike had never met another woman with hair quite that color.  The hand that had been resting possessively over her flat stomach moved to grab the blanket.  Lucas glared at his best friend and yanked up the covers that she'd kicked off earlier.  Mike grinned and shrugged, he might as well look, he was pretty sure Lucas was never going to share.
"I'll be right out," Lucas whispered tersely, gesturing for Mike to leave.

She stirred, "Lucas?"

"Shhhhh...go back to sleep, I'll be right back," he brushed a kiss across her temple and slid out of bed.

Lucas grabbed his robe and pulled it on.  Mike was waiting for him on the couch, grinning like a Cheshire cat.

"This better be important, Mike."

"Didn't mean to -interrupt- you or anything."

Lucas gritted his teeth.  "It's not what you think...," he began, then paused and smiled sardonically.  "Well, maybe it is, but that's not any of your business.  What was so important that you had to wake my ass up at oh two hundred?"

"Admiral LaForge has moved up the schedule.  We leave in three days...."



*****


Consolation


Tom Paris sat alone in his Ready Room.  The Enterprise just received a priority message from Earth.  K'Leena had been injured.  She might not live and they might not make it home in time to say goodbye.

Was this the price he would pay for Caldik Prime?  

With a heavy sigh, he rose from his chair.  How do you tell a child's mother she may never see her again?

"Paris to Torres."

--Torres, here.--

"B'Elanna, get someone to relieve you and meet me in our quarters."

What's wrong? her mind touched his and he blocked her, it was something he'd learned to do over the years.

"Just meet me back home, okay?"

--Acknowledged, Torres, out.--

Down in Engineering, fear ran rampant through her.  Tom only blocked her when something was really wrong.  She left her domain with nary a glance and only a quick order to her second in command to take over until further notice.  She had the feeling she might not be back for a while.


*****


Tom was packing when she came into their room.  Throwing things into a bag without even looking.

"What?" she demanded.

He stopped and walked over to her.  "There's been an accident," he began gently.  "K'Leena was injured, we have to return to Earth...."

"How bad?"  B'Elanna tried to stay calm.

"Bad...we're taking the yacht, even at top speeds, a shuttle might not make it back in time...."

"Kahless...no!"

Tom gathered her in his arms.  She trembled in shock, clinging to him desperately.

"I'll get you there.  She'll be all right," he didn't know if he was trying to convince himself or her.

She pulled away suddenly, shaking herself visibly.  "We don't have time for this."  

With a calm she didn't feel she finished packing.  

Ten minutes later they walked out of the turbo-lift to find Harry and Seven waiting for them at the hatch of the yacht.

"I'll hold down the fort, Captain," Harry said quietly.

"I know you will.  We'll let you know when we know something more," Tom told him.

B'Elanna hugged Seven tightly.

"She will be all right," Seven stated with certainty.  Over the years B'Elanna had gotten to know this woman so well.  What sounded like a cold unfeeling conclusion, was really a declaration of utter and total faith that her God-daughter would be okay.  "Tell her, her Aunt Ani loves her."

"I will," B'Elanna promised.


*****


The trip back to Earth was dragging on.  B'Elanna paced around the Captain's Yacht furiously.  Stopping occasionally to check their position or tweak the engines in a futile attempt to increase their speed.  Finally Tom couldn't take it anymore.

"Enough!" he yelled.  "Either stop pacing and sit still, or I'm going to sedate you!"

"You and who else?" she shot back.  Sedate her? not a chance.

"B'Elanna," Tom growled threateningly.

"I -can't- just sit here!" she raged in frustration.  "I -need- to do something!  Kahless, I'm going insane!"  

B'Elanna struck the edge of a console with the heal of her fist.  Tom came up from behind her and grabbed her hands, crossing over her stomach to hold her close to his chest.  A sob caught in the back of her throat.

"Shhhh...I know...I know," he comforted and the soft words were too much for her.  She finally broke, wailing in agony, turning in his arms, grasping at him for support.  

Her mouth found his out of sheer desperation and need.  She didn't want to think anymore, just feel.  He kissed her back, distracting her, comforting her...and himself.  Hands tangled as they undressed each other between heated kisses and tender caresses.  They didn't even bother finding the bed.  Tom just sank to his knees and drew her onto him, holding her fiercely as they moved together, wearing each other out in the heat of their passion.


*****


When the Paris' reached Starfleet Medical, Will and Deanna were waiting for them.  

"How is she?" B'Elanna asked, hugging her friend.

"Holding her own," Deanna told her.  "Lucas is with her, they will only allow one of us at a time, but I can't get him to leave her side.  He's been there from the start."

"I want to see her," B'Elanna demanded.

"I'll take you."  Deanna put her arm around her friend and led her down the hall.

B'Elanna entered her daughter's hospital room with trepidation.  Lucas was sitting next to her bed, holding her hand in his.  He turned when the door opened.

"B'Elanna," he said softly.  "She's doing better, they're more optimistic than yesterday."  He didn't want to tell her that they still wouldn't guarantee her recovery.  It was enough that she was still here.

"Your mother is worried about you, Lucas," B'Elanna told him, taking in his haggard appearance.

"I'm fine," he dismissed her concern.

"Why don't you go out and reassure her, I'll sit with K'Leena."

He hesitated for a split second then stood up.

"I won't be long," he said quietly.



*****


K'Leena woke slowly and groaned softly, everything hurt.  What the hell happened?  Then it came back to her.  The training maneuvers.  Her cadet not following procedure.  Yelling at him to roll right and then....

"Hey," gentle reassurance eased her tension.  She opened her eyes and met his worried gaze.  Lucas looked like hell.

"You don't look so good, Captain Proton," she whispered hoarsely, her throat dry and scratchy.  Lucas helped her drink some water.

"Yeah, you don't look so hot yourself, Blaze.  How do you feel?"

"Sore."

"I bet."

"So tired," she couldn't keep her eyes opened anymore.

"Shhh...go back to sleep, you need to rest."  He stroked her hair gently.

"Don't go...."

"I won't."




*****



The light brush against her lips was enough to wake her.  She opened her eyes, moonlight filtered though the window.  Lucas was standing next her bed then, an instant later, he was gone.  Confused, she called out his name and reached for where he'd just been standing.  That's when she noticed the chain wrapped around her fingers.  It was the little gold coin he'd given her so many years earlier.  With shaking hands she fastened it around her neck and a tear slipped down her cheek.

Be careful.

She knew he couldn't hear her anymore, but she felt better anyway.  Closing her eyes again she gasped aloud when it happened.

I will.



*****



Action


"Aunt Kathryn, Uncle Chakotay!" K'Leena rushed to them as soon as she spotted them, she hadn't seen them in more than two years.  She was engulfed in a huge bear hug.

"It's been too long, mouse, you have to come to see us more often," Chakotay told her.

"I know, I promise...how are you two doing?"  They looked wonderful, you'd never know they were approaching eighty.

"Getting older," her aunt said with a wry grin.  "I hear you've been promoted, -Commander Paris-, congratulations."

"Thanks, it came with the new assignment."

"The Time Bound project?" Kathryn asked.  It still amazed her that Tom's daughter was chosen for this project.  Temporal Mechanics were never his strong suit, but B'Elanna always did have a good grasp of them.

"Yeah, the first leap is next month.  It's been fascinating.  I can't wait to...."

"You're the new pilot for Time Bound?" Lucas interrupted them.  He'd just gotten back to Earth yesterday and hadn't talked to her yet.

The tone of his voice rankled K'Leena.  Not so much as a 'Hello', either.  Since when did she answer to -him-?

"That's me," she said airily, meeting his annoyed gaze with defiance.

"We need to talk," he ground out, grabbing her arm and propelling her away from the party.  

Chakotay and Kathryn exchanged amused looks.  "Remind you of anybody we used to know?" he asked her and she laughed out loud.


*****


"When did you accept this new assignment?" Lucas demanded to know.

"About eight weeks ago, not that it's any of your business."  She really didn't like his high-handed attitude, who did he think he was?

"I don't like this, K'Leena," he told her honestly.  "Jumping around in time is dangerous."

"Well, then it's a good thing -you're- not the pilot here, isn't it?"

"I don't suppose the fact that I have a really bad feeling about this is going to make any difference.  Is it?"

"Not in the slightest.  You're just worrying unnecessarily.  It's a simple time jump, what could go wrong?"

"Anything...everything, that's the problem, you don't -know- what could go wrong!"

"What is the matter with you?!" she asked, incredulously.  "This is ridiculous!  This is -my- life and -my- career, I make the decisions."

"It's too dangerous."

"And your job is 'safe'?"  

"Of course it is, I'm just a consultant," he told her.

"Yeah, and I'm just a shuttle pilot."



*****


K'Leena prowled around her father's darkened office looking for the PADD.  She knew it was here somewhere.  It was late, everyone was asleep, except her.  As long as she was up she figured she'd get a little work done, but her PADD was not to be found.  

Damn Lucas for getting to her like this anyway.  She felt his eyes on her all day.  Every time she turned around he was looking at her, or touching her.  A hand on the small of her back.  A soft touch to her arm.  Fingers tracing little circles on her knee.  By the time the she ended up in his arms while they sat at the bonfire listening to the old Voyager stories, she felt like her entire body was a bundle of overstimulated nerves.  She had shivered, just once, and instead of handing her a blanket or something, Lucas sat down behind her and pulled her into his arms.

"Better?" he asked in a whisper, his lips lightly brushing against her ear.  She just nodded, too stunned to say anything.  That he was doing this in front of their entire family was too much to take in.  What was he up to?

For the love of Kahless, why did it bother her so much?

"Lose something?"  he asked quietly, not wanting to startle her.  It didn't work.  She jumped and spun around, her arm raised to strike.  If not for his fast reflexes she would have caught him a glancing blow.  "Settle down, it's just me."

"For crying out loud, Lucas!" she whispered fiercely.  "Don't sneak up on me like that!"  Blue eyes flashed with anger...and something more.  

His hand held her wrist in a firm grip.  The tension arced between them like electricity and he pulled her closer.       

Lucas had been unable to keep his eyes off her all day.  Or his hands.  When she allowed him to hold her during the storytelling, it took every bit of will power he possessed not to let his hands stray.  At one point, he hadn't even realized he was stroking her hip with his thumb until she stiffened in his arms.  The emotions she was projecting almost overwhelmed him.  If they had been alone, he would have taken her right there.  

His other arm slid around her waist and drew her against him.  She felt too good.  It had been months since he was this close to her.  He held her firm with his hand flat against the small of her back, fingers warming the cool satin of her nightgown.

She watched in fascination as his head lowered.  When his mouth touched hers there was an electric like shock that ran up her spine.  This had been coming all day.  

Lucas lost any control he had the minute their lips met.  He kissed her with all the pent up passion in him, overloading her senses.  It was fierce and intense.  Out of control to the point of violence.  

How she ended up on the floor with him on top of her, she would never know.  Her grasp of reality was almost completely gone at that point.  The heat and desire was so sudden and all consuming she couldn't control it if she wanted to.  And she didn't.  Lucas' hands touched her under the nightgown, exploring every curve.  His mouth closed over one satin clad nipple.  She gasped and arched into him.  One hand traveled lower as he paid homage to her breasts.  Over her flat stomach to the center of her passion.  Softly, tentatively he stroked her.  She was scalding hot and so wet.  

"'Leena?" his voice was thick with desire as he whispered into her ear.  The unspoken question hung between them for an endless moment--both frozen, waiting for her answer, then she brushed her lips across his.

"Yes...."

He found the hem of her gown and drew it up and over her head, quickly shed his own nightclothes, then he settled between her legs once again, almost losing it completely at the feel of her under him.  He groaned and ground his hips, kissing her fiercely.  She stiffened abruptly when he pushed slightly at her entrance with the tip of his manhood.  He had no intention of joining with her yet, but she didn't know that.  Pulling up to his elbows, he looked down on her and gently brushed the hair back off her face.  You didn't need to be a telepath to know she was scared.

"Easy..." Lucas soothed her with another deep kiss that left her breathless.  "I'm not going to do anything other than touch you right now, okay?"  He smiled when she relaxed a little.  "It's going to hurt this first time...you know that, right?"  

She nodded, looking away in embarrassment, but he brought her gaze back to his.  

"Don't...don't ever be embarrassed like that with me.  You can tell me anything.  If you don't like something...or if you do, I want to know, all right?  No secrets, no pretenses, no games.  That's not who we are...trust me, I'll be gentle with you."

She looked up at him, overwhelmed by the emotions in her.  She never thought he would be such a tender lover.

"Good friends always make the best lovers," he told her softly.

Awareness came crashing down on her like a tidal wave at the words.  Friends...not mates.  Kahless, how could she have been so naive?  He never told her he loved her, just that he -wanted- her.

"No...oh God...no," she pushed against his shoulders, her heart near breaking.  

Lucas rolled off her immediately, pain and anger radiated from her.  She sat up and scrambled away from him, grabbing her gown and pulling in back on.  Lucas could see she was shaking and on the verge of tears.

"What's wrong?" he asked, confused, reaching for her in concern.

"This is wrong.  I won't be used as some plaything, Lucas."  Her tone was harsh with unshed tears, she thought he wanted more than just a physical relationship.  How could she have been so wrong?  The pain at the realization was intense.  He only wanted what they all wanted.  She was nothing more than someone to warm his bed.  K'Leena left the room in a near run.

He was stunned.  Where the hell had that come from?  This was -never- casual to him.  The more he thought about it, the angrier he got.  She -knew- him better than anyone!  How dare she not trust him...believe in him.  Lucas stood up and pulled his nightclothes back on.  With grim determination he walked up the stairs to her room.  Not bothering to knock, he strode right in and closed the door.  She was furious.

"Get out!" K'Leena hissed, angrily brushing the tears from her face.

"Look, I don't know what you think just happened down there...."  Lucas tried to control the temper on a slow burn deep inside him.

"I know what happened, you tried to seduce me and you failed," she said haughtily, she was a Paris after all, arrogance was second nature to her.

"Seduce you?!" he trembled slightly with repressed fury and advanced on her.  "Trust me, K'Leena, should I ever try to 'seduce you'...I -won't- fail."

Black eyes blazed with hard promise.  Lucas' head swooped down and he captured her mouth in a bruising kiss.  With cold calculated intent he proceeded to arouse her to the point of madness, taking away her will in the process.  Every touch was designed to excite, every kiss to drug.  He used all his knowledge ruthlessly, she was no match for him in the sensual arts.  He was a master and she just a novice.  Lucas bore her down to the bed, stripping her nightgown, leaving her exposed completely to him.  He touched and teased, he even tasted, causing her to cry out in shock.  Then he drew himself back up to lay between her legs, still fully clothed with her naked, quivering and unfulfilled beneath him.  He watched and waited for her to open her eyes again.  Confusion and desire shone from them.

"I could have taken you at anytime," Lucas growled.  "I could have been inside of you before you knew what I was doing...and you couldn't have stopped me.  Wouldn't have even wanted to...."

"I could still do it," he taunted huskily, pressing his erection against her, showing her how close he was.  "One move, one thrust, and you're -mine-...."    

She looked up at him in dazed fascination.  Who was this man?  He didn't even look like Lucas right now.  The flat planes of his face had taken on a hawkish appearance.  Predatory.  He was the hunter and she was his prey, trapped and completely at his mercy.  

"No," she gasped in a last ditch effort to salvage her pride, but it didn't even sound convincing to her.  

The smile he gave her at the breathless denial didn't reach his eyes.

"If this was all I wanted, K'Leena, I could have had it -years- ago...and you know it."

Lucas levered himself off her.  When he reached to door he turned to look at her again, she hadn't moved, too stunned to do anything but lay there.

"Sweet dreams, love," he smiled knowingly, then left.

Lucas stalked back to his room, more angry with her than he'd ever been in his life and considering how furious he'd been with her in the past, this was quite an accomplishment.   He couldn't even be in the same room with her right now.  Arrogant, stubborn, reckless little fool.  Tomorrow, he was going to finish this nonsense.  Even if he had to bite her face in front of her entire family to prove he did indeed love her.  

You might try telling her first.

Surprised, he turned to see his mother standing in the hallway.  Her lips were twitching with a repressed grin.

Just how long have you been listening in?

Son, I didn't do it on purpose.  You were projecting so loud I bet Tuvok heard.

Great.

He turned his back and entered his room, his mother's silent laughter following him.  Then he stopped dead in his tracks and realized she was right.  He had never -told- K'Leena how he felt, he just expected her to know, like he knew she loved him.  Way to go, Riker.  You're the damn telepath, what the hell is the matter with you?  It was almost funny, blaming -her- because she couldn't read -his- mind.  Oh God, did he owe her an apology.  

He turned around  and opened his door to go back to her, but Mike was standing there instead.  Damn...he was really starting to hate his job.

"I take it, this isn't a social visit," Lucas said grimly.

"We've got a situation...."  

The next time he saw her was just after the time jump, he managed to get away for a couple of days.  Something drew him like a moth to a flame, he didn't know why, but he knew he -had- to be there when she flew that first mission.  

"You didn't cause any paradoxes did you, Paris?"  Where did that come from?  Lucas wondered.

"What the hell are you doing here, Riker?  I didn't invite you," she snapped back in annoyance.

"Like I need your permission."  Who did she think she was?  "I just wanted to be around in case you managed to screw up the timeline, and we ended up married or something."  What was the matter with him?  Why was he baiting her like this?  She would rip his head off if he kept it up, but he couldn't stop himself.

"In your dreams, Lucas.  You wouldn't know what to do with me if you had me," she taunted him, laughing.

Annoyed, he watched as K'Leena walked over to her parents.  She and her father exchanged words, he couldn't hear anything but he could feel the intense emotions from both of them.  Then K'Leena spun around and looked right at him.  She was so upset his anger was forgotten and he took an unconscious step toward her.  A brief fleeting word touched his mind, it was so full of pain and regret he reeled at it.

Imzadi!

Then it was gone, as fast as it came.  K'Leena's emotions cleared and he felt nothing more than her pleasure at the successful mission.  Lucas shook his head slightly, trying to understand what just happened.

It was very late that night before he got a chance to speak to her alone.

"Hey, wait up," he called down the corridor.  She was almost to her quarters.

"I'm tired, Lucas," she said, wearily.  "Can this wait until tomorrow?  I'm not up to sparring with you tonight."

He was a little stunned.  Is that all they ever did lately?  Argue?

"I don't want to fight with you, K'Leena.  We need to talk."

Yes, they did, but was she ready for this?  She didn't know.  Probably not.  He wasn't going to take no for an answer by the looks of it, though.

"All right," she gave in with a soft sigh.  "Why don't you come in.  I don't want to do this standing in the hallway."

He followed her into her quarters and sat down on one end of the couch.  She took the other.  Now that he had the chance, he didn't know what to say.

--Bridge to Lt. Riker.--

He hit his comm-badge in annoyance, "Riker, here."

"Sir, were are receiving a priority one encoded message from Starfleet Command, it is for your eyes only."

Damn!  Not now!

"Route it to my quarters, I will be there shortly, Riker out."  He looked at K'Leena with regret and touched her cheek with his fingers.  She shivered slightly at the contact.  "We -will- finish this conversation.  I'll meet you back home, okay?"

"All right," she agreed and he got up to leave.  "Lucas?"

He turned to look at her and noted the concerned expression on her beautiful face.

"Yeah?"

"Be careful, okay?"

He closed the distance between them with amazing speed and she was in his arms being kissed senseless before she knew it.  His mouth was insistent and demanding, taking what he wanted.  Then he pulled away with a groan.

"I will, I promise."  He gave her another quick kiss on the forehead and he was gone.


*****


Agitation


Three months!  The mission from hell, that's what it was.  Seven months total they'd been on this case now.  Thank God it was finally done with.  He hated surveillance, but that wasn't what was the worst part.  It was the dreams.  The dreams of him and K'Leena, together, married, for years.  It took weeks for him to figure out what was going on.  Then the confusion was replaced by anger.  Then the anger was replaced by desire.  Then the desire was replaced...by fear.

The Valiant was on it's way back to earth when it began.  He woke up crying her name, drenched in sweat, his whole body trembling.  Her screams echoed in his head, he could feel the pain and terror.  She needed him.  The feeling grew by the hour, so did his tenseness.

"What the hell is the matter with you?" Mike cornered him in his Ready Room after he bit the head off of his helmsman for miscalculating their arrival time at Starfleet Command.

"K'Leena's in trouble.  Real trouble, Mike.  I can -feel- it."

"Have you tried contacting her?"

"Yeah, I get the same message, 'She's on assignment.'  My Dad won't return my messages, either.  She's under his command since she left Time Bound.  He's avoiding me.  Something is -wrong-."

Mike nodded, he'd known Lucas for too many years to question him.  Especially where K'Leena was concerned.  "We'll be in orbit in less than a hour.  Hang tight, I'll take the bridge."

As soon as the Valiant was in orbit he beamed down to Starfleet Command and headed straight for the man who had the answers.

"Where is she?" Lucas demanded when he stormed into the Admiral's office without being announced.

"Nice to see you too, son," Will Riker said sardonically.  

Lucas' eyes narrowed.  "Don't even try it," he threatened.  "I want to know where she is, and I want to know NOW!"

"Where who is?"  the Admiral knew it was a mistake the second the words left his mouth.  

Lucas went deadly still and Will got the impression of a cobra ready to strike.  He had never seen his son like this.  This wasn't his child now, this was a hard and ruthless man who would stop at nothing to get what he wanted.  Will Riker suddenly knew one thing with absolute certainty: crossing Lucas was a dangerous thing to do.

"Let's try this one more time, shall we?"  Lucas said smoothly.  "I am going to ask you a question, and you are going to answer it.  Because, if you don't, I will not be responsible for my actions, understand?" he paused only slightly before continuing,  "Now...where is she?"

"If you mean Commander Paris, she's on assignment, her whereabouts are classified."  Will put on his Admiral persona, hoping it would be enough to dissuade his son for the moment.  He should have known better.

Lucas grinned broadly at his father and a chill ran up the older man's spine.

"Computer, recognize authorization, Riker, Alpha Team, one."

--Authorization recognized.--

"Identify me," Lucas instructed it, ice blue eyes locked with steely black.

--Captain Lucas Ian Riker of the Federation Starship Valiant.--

"What is my security clearance?" he asked, never breaking the eye contact and Will swore silently.

--Level 12.--

"Now, -Admiral-, no more games, no more evasions and no more pulling rank," Lucas' voice got quieter with each word.  "Where's K'Leena?"

"I don't know," he told his son finally.  

Lucas crossed his arms and watched his father sit down at his desk.

"What happened?" he asked.

"She was shuttling an agent out of Breen territory when we lost contact with her, it's been four days."

"Who was she partnered with?" Lucas asked and wondered why she was working on an intel extraction in the first place.

When his father didn't answer, Lucas looked at him in total disbelief.  

"You're kidding, right?  You didn't really send her out alone!"  He was going to kill him.


*****


Admission


Less than two hours later Lucas was back aboard the Valiant, sitting at the desk in his Ready Room, his ship holding course with the Enterprise.

Lucas picked up the picture on his desk.  He loved the image of the two of them.  His mother gave it to him, she took it at the reunion, during the storytelling.  K'Leena was so relaxed and happy, she looked like there was no other place in the universe she would rather be than in his arms.  There certainly wasn't any other place he would rather have her.  God...he hoped he got the chance to tell her that.

"I'm coming...Imzadi."