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         Will Riker was a basket case. He knew it, and at the rate he was going today, it wouldn't be long before everyone on the Academy grounds knew it too. Including Deanna. He knew that was an understatement, she would probably have known all along. At least she would have under normal circumstances.

 

         He sighed. Circumstances were definitely anything but normal. In a matter of days, the life he had thought he had all figured out long ago had come flying apart at the seams. Just days ago, the biggest worry in his life had been a cut class or two from his teenage daughter, and now....

 

         His daughter. That was the catch in it all, wasn't it? Mandy had been his whole world, along with Deanna of course, for the past 17 years. Many times they had discussed to possibility of more children, but never managed to act on it. Deanna was quite content to make little Amanda the center of things when she was young, almost to the point of obsession, or so they had often joked. Now, he wondered.

 

         Even though Deanna hadn't remembered, could little Alexandra have been behind it all, after all these years? He remembered, in the days on the Enterprise, after the Ba'ku mission, when she had drawn away from him. It had taken him weeks to get her to believe him when he told her that it was more than the Briar Patch that had made them rekindle the relationship. And then, when she had found out she was pregnant with Mandy, it had all come together.

 

         Could it really be that, somehow, deep inside, Deanna did know? That all of the attention she had showered excessively on Amanda, have been some why of compensating for the loss of their other child?

 

         Another child. He hadn't even begun to process what that meant to him. In his minds eye, he could still see the pictures of her. Her dark brown curls, the eyes that seemed so much like his own. He had focused so much on what this was like for Deanna, he had never fully assimilated the idea that this little girl was his as well. Was she out there somewhere, or was she dead, as Deanna seemed to believe?

 

         That question tore at his heart as he sat at his desk, facing the still ungraded exams. The students had all gone now, having left early after the exams, eager to begin semester break. That was when he heard it.

 

         Deanna's tortured scream lanced through his mind, quickening his heartbeat. She was in trouble. Whatever the danger was, somehow he was certain it was connected to the past.  He was up and out of the classroom in seconds, everything but reaching Deanna immediately forgotten.

 

*  *  *

 

         Lana's last statement hung in the air, waiting, almost daring Alexis to respond. The problem was, there really was no appropriate response for her to make. Somehow, Lana's words had confirmed the one thing she had tried to deny since she had learned the truth about Jackie's operation. She was just like the others.

 

         Her world suddenly became a backwash of vile emotions. For so many years she had felt nothing but hatred for the people who at one time would have been her family. Anger and betrayal had followed every thought of these strangers she no longer knew for as long as she could remember. And now...

 

         Now it was all directed inward. How could she have been so stupid? Blindly she had believed them when they all told her that there was no one left to care, even when she knew everything else had been a lie. How could she have hated those she was supposed to love the most, only to find that it was all based on nothing but lies?

 

         "Who am I?" The question came out dull and lifeless, aimed at thin air.

 

         Lana knew the best thing to do at that moment would be to run away again, to put as much distance between herself and this nightmare as possible. She also knew that would be impossible. The same thing that had made her stay thirty odd years ago still existed. She had gotten them both into this, and she had long ago thought she had gotten them out. That was a lie, and she knew it. She always had, hadn't she? Well, this time, she would set it right, once and for all. She stood, focusing her eyes on her goal.

 

         "Come on then, Al. That's a story I only plan on telling once."

 

         Alexis followed, as blindly as had the child she had once been. She was too tired and in too much pain to understand.