By Carol Sandford


Chapter 01


Will glanced up into the sky in between the intermediate swipe of the windscreen wiper as it swept away yet another dusting of fine snow. The further he moved across the planet, the more the snow fell. And the more snow that fell, the colder it got. The darkening sky was heavy with its wintry load, and it steadily, and relentlessly, continued to fall as his small shuttle ate up the miles.

Inside the shuttle, Will was as snug as a bug. He wasn’t bothered by the weather, not really. Not at this point. Over the years, he’d travelled in a lot worse. But this time, though, it was worth the risk. Will was taking a journey that would hopefully end with a welcoming hug, and it was all that kept pushing him on, relentlessly.

Hour after hour the radio churned out melody after melody, some of which Will knew, most which he did not. It hadn’t been long after he’d set out, that he’d given up the pretence of enjoying the journey as he’d sung along and tapped the steering column in time with the jazzy beat. Steely determination slowly slipped in and replaced his high spirits as he struggled against mother-nature’s worst.

Minute by minute a journey that Will had waited a whole month to do was now becoming something he’d wished he’d done at least a week earlier. But he’d put it off for the sake of a date. A date that he was sure that Deanna would remember, because it was a date that he would never forget.

It was the day a year on that Deanna had left the Enterprise and married Jal Collser.

The day that his nightmares began.


It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.

Deanna pressed her hands to her swollen abdomen as it throbbed beneath her splayed fingers, her face drawn and anxious as she looked out the window again at the swirling, wind-whipped angry snow. Visibility was so limited that she couldn’t even see beyond the fifty yards to the ground. She was stranded in her little castle up in the air, a castle that could become her prison if the snow got too deep and trapped her within its thick metallic walls.

The temperature had plummeted alarmingly, and her tiny solar powered communication station had told her that the blizzard was going to be around for at least the next 24 hours, probably longer. She couldn’t wait that long, and nor could her baby, but she didn’t have a choice, and Deanna was more than aware that she was going to have to prepare herself for the hours ahead.

Deanna was in labour. Her unborn child was a whole month early, and Deanna knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that the tiny being within her was going to need a medical facility as soon as it was born. But she had nothing, and no one. She was alone. Completely and utterly alone.

Bitter tears welled within her as she turned away from the chill of the glass, making her way gingerly towards the warmth of the solar-fuelled fire. The electricity had gone over an hour ago. Communications were out, and the back ache that had niggled her for a week intensified enough for her to know she had left any chance to get help far too long ago. Far, far too long ago.

Deanna slowly looked around the home that her husband had brought her to a year ago. At first she’d thought it was wonderful; a true step into the future. A home on a planet in the Jabaab star system, with a husband who had worshipped the ground she’d walked on, even though it had only lasted until he’d broken her close connections with her past. How she had missed his deception, his lies, still caused Deanna to shake her head in painful disbelief. But it was too late now. She was on her own, on a planet a zillion miles from Federation space, and pregnant.

And now, with the impending birth of her baby, no husband, and no way of contacting the outside world, Deanna was locked in her own private torture, a torture that increased ten fold every minute that another snowflake landed. A day that should have been the happiest of her life was wreathed in pain, regret and loneliness as each contraction that rippled through her body brought her nearer to seeing her son or daughter.

Oh, what she would have given to have had Beverly beside her, helping her along, being there for her child when he or she finally said hello to the world. But what she really wanted, and needed, was Will.

Sinking heavily onto the modern chrome and suede-like synthetic couch, Deanna’s eyes were drawn to the window again, willing the snow to stop, and willing for someone, anyone to come to her now desperate aid. Deanna’s teary whispered plea cracked above the sounds of the only means of heat in the house; a furnace that roared through her home’s heart via a flue that rose through its centre "I wish you were here. I need you, Imzadi."

Will Riker had never been far from her thoughts, even when her life with Jal had been happy and content. Was it so long ago? It had seemed like a lifetime had passed since she’d left the Enterprise and her friends, and Will, but it was only a year. One, whole, nightmarish year.

The tears broke free and trickled down Deanna’s flushed face, but she didn’t notice them, nor did she notice the hiccupping sob that rose and lodged in her throat. She was lost in her past; caught up in the memories of a different life, and a different time. Deanna needed the tender loving care of Beverly Crusher, and the even more comforting arms of someone closer to her heart, William Riker.

Her husband didn’t even enter her mind. His betrayal hurt her too much for her to let him back in, even if it was purely for companionship and aide. Deanna would rather die than let him near her child. How did I get it all so wrong? she wailed, silently. Why didn’t I wait just a little longer for him?

But she’d made her choice, even though it was going to cost her everything she had ever wanted and needed in her life. Deanna had waited long enough for Will to move on with their relationship, more than long enough. And then she had met Jal, the one man who offered her more than friendship. The one man who’d almost come as close to Imzadi as feasibly possible. Deanna had taken a giant leap of faith and left. Everything. And everyone.

What a fool I’ve been she sobbed. Will Will ever forgive me? And as another contraction began to peak, Deanna took a deep unsteady breath and pushed all her thoughts of Will and her failures down and focused on the here and now. Memories and regrets could come later, she just had to get through this. She just had to.

Deanna picked up the padd that was face down but lit up on one particular page that had previously been perused and nervously studied it’s contents again. It was the page that showed her what she’d got to do when her baby finally made its premature arrival into the world. The pictures had terrified her, still terrified her, but the promise of soon holding her child in her arms pushed away the fears.

But now as she glanced at the first picture, Deanna was more than aware that she had to prepare herself. There was no going back now, and she knew without a shadow of a doubt that she was going to be doing this solo and hoped with all her heart that the Gods, anyone! were looking down upon her.

As yet another contraction began to tug at her womb, Deanna closed her eyes and prayed.

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