By Carol Sandford


Chapter 01

  "Deanna! Wait up!"

Deanna slowed her hasty retreat, not wanting to actually stop, turn and face him. Having just gone through one of the most humiliating experiences of her life, the last thing she wanted to do was have a heart to heart with Will Riker. To have to look into his eyes and see the pain that she had caused.

Gentle fingers tugged at her shoulder, forcing her to finally stop and turn around, and her heart began to pound in her ears with what she knew was to come. Deanna tried to look up into Will's face, but she couldn't bring herself to do it, and instead, her gaze fell to the floor.

Her name fell from Will's lips in a hushed whisper as he lifted her chin with his finger to see the impact of what the meeting had done to her. "Deanna..."

Will's breath caught in his throat when Deanna's eyes finally met his. Shimmering with suspended tears, her grief washed over him in a wave of despair. She was hurting and he had to find some privacy for her. There was only one place they could go, and decision made, Will said, "Come on, let's get you home."

Turning her about and wrapping his arms around her shoulders and pulling her close to his side, the two close friends made their way towards Deanna's quarters. No words were spoken, and right then, none were needed.

In the safety on her lounge, Deanna finally let go of the dam that had built within her. Sobbing in earnest as the tears cascaded down her face, Will could do no more than hold her close as the events of the last few hours catapulted her into a bottomless hell-hole.

Will could feel her shaking as the sobs wracked through Deanna's slender frame and he hugged her as tightly as he could without physically hurting her. The damp patch on his huge, barrel chest grew larger and larger by the minute, but he didn't care. He just wanted to ride the pain out along with her, no matter how long it took.

Will struggled with the raw feelings that coursed throughout his own body. He had never considered how he would feel if Deanna ever got pregnant with another man's child. But it had was happening, right now, and he was consumed with a jealousy that made him cling on to her even tighter as he battled with his own demons.

Unconsciously, his arms wrapped around her completely as he found himself struggling to hold back his own tears. The stinging behind his eyes angered him as he fought with his attempt to help her, when all he wanted to do was throw a tantrum and demand some answers. Tell her how angry he was that it wasn't his baby. That it wasn't him that had taken her to heaven and back as they had created the new life form within her, and that it wasn't him that was going to help her as she pushed their son into the world.

It wasn't going to be him.

Deanna froze as she felt the dampness on her head and her own misery was forgotten momentarily as Will's own torment filtered through the stunned stupor that had been with her since the whole nightmare had begun.

She attempted to move slightly so that she could look up into his face, but he held on to her body fast. Desperate to understand, his name broke from her lips. "Will?"

Will sniffed as he tried in vain to control himself, his voice, hoarse with emotion when he spoke against her hair. "I'm sorry Deanna, I didn't mean it to happen like this. It was just..."

Deanna broke him off by placing her finger to his lips, finally managing to lift her head to see him. Will watched her remaining tears glisten as she smiled gently at him. "Shhhh, I know, Will, I know. This must be as hard for you as it is for me."

Will went to deny her claim, but the words stuck in his throat and he found himself nodding and pouring his heart out to her. "I always imagined it would be me that would be the father of your baby. I...I always hoped that someday... that we could resume our relationship, and maybe have gotten married, in time."

And despite already knowing the truth, it still hurt as though a knife had been plunged into his heart when she shook her head. "We've moved past that, Imzadi, you know that. This child has changed everything for me, and for us. This child must have all my love, for however long I am blessed with him. And for whatever reason he is here. And I do believe with all my heart that he has a reason, and I will be there for him. You understand that, don't you, Will. Don't you?"

Will turned away from Deanna as the image of her nursing her soon-to-be born child flitted before his eyes, twisting the knife even further into his heart. But he understood her. He knew what she was asking of him. "Yes, I do."

Deanna's breath caught when Will turned back to face her. Crystal blue eyes sparkled as he searched her own still misty eyes, and his words, although they did not come as any great surprise, shook her to her very core at the intensity of his feelings for her. "I'm being there, Imzadi." he promised. "If I never do anything selfish in my life again, I will not miss this experience with you for anything. Please don't let me miss what should have rightly been the most magical experience of my life, please."

Smiling, Deanna stepped into his open arms again, giving him the answer he sought just by her action alone. A miracle was about to happen between them, and it wasn't just the the birth of Deanna's son.

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