By Carol Sandford


Chapter 10


Will stared at the man through slitted eyes, partly because of the loathing that he felt for him right at that minute, and partly because the snow battered at his face relentlessly, each tiny shard of ice pierced his frozen face only to freeze on contact, a million stinging needles impaling themselves, painfully reminding him that his situation was desperate, and what the hell was he going to do?

Did he plead to Jal’s better nature - if he had one? Did he tell him of Deanna’s urgent need for medical care? Hell, did he tell him about the tiny baby cradled in her arms, a baby that he wasn’t even sure the man knew about? Or did he stand his ground and treat him like the scum that he was for abandoning his Imzadi in her hour of need?

William Riker was torn in two. The two men were so intent at staring each other down that it was a long moment before Will registered the frantic movements beneath the blanket that he’d thrown over Deanna and her newborn. The rhythmic, thump, thump thump, and the small rising of the blanket in time with each thump could only mean one thing; Deanna’s baby had stopped breathing again.

Breaking his stare away from Jal, Will’s eyes dropped to Deanna’s half hidden face and gasped when he saw the terror etched upon her almost blue, icy wet face, mixing in with the tears that streamed down to her temples. Help me, Imzadi! she silently cried, the desolate plea carried off with the winds that tormented them.

Her desperation gave Will the decisiveness he needed. Will carried on, stepping towards his own shuttle only to come to a halt again as Jal stepped in front of him, barring his way. "You’re not...." he started to say before Will spat back at him. "Get out of my way, Collser. I need to get Deanna inside before she dies, you son of a bitch!"

Will decided not to tell Jal about the baby, he didn’t find it pertinent, nor necessary at that point. To him, Deanna and her child were one, they were all one now. They were a family. His family.

Warned by the fear in Riker’s eyes and by the quick glance he dared take at the bundle in the other man’s arms, Jal started to say, "What’s wr...?"

"Not now," Will warned back, twisting his body as he pushed past the big man and hurried towards the panel to release the door to the shuttle. Impatiently, Will bobbed on the spot as he waited for the hatch to slowly drop down and even before it hit the ground, Will was stepping onto it, ducking his tall frame as he hurried inside.

Gently, but quickly, Will pulled down the fold away bed and lay Deanna upon it, tugging away the blanket as he did so. Urgently, he whispered to her. "How’s he doing, Deanna, did you manage to revive him again?"

Trying to see the baby for herself, her voice, laced with tears, wobbled as she answered him. "I...I think so. Oh, Will, help us!"

Hearing the terror come from the very heart of her, Will offered her a tender smile, briefly reaching out to caress her cheek with the back of his chilly hand. "I will, sweetheart, you have my word that nothing is going to happen to you or this little one."

Frantically rubbing his hands together and blowing his warm breath into them after reassuring her, Will lay his gigantic hand upon the ridiculously small child’s back. Gratified, and relieved when he felt him jump beneath his still chilly fingers, Will breathed a sigh of relief, and grinned at her through a sheen of tears that had welled when he’d felt life beneath his hand. "He’s okay, Deanna. You got him going again. Well done, Mommy."

Pushing himself to a stand, he murmured. "Now let’s get you sorted." As he turned and spotted the forgotten man standing in the hatchway staring with bewilderment at the scene before him, completely stunned, everything fell silent except the howling wind outside, reminding Will that he’d left the hatch open, quickly filling the small shuttle with frigid air.

Barely giving him a glance, Will pushed him aside again as he reached for the medic-kit that was tucked away in a locker behind him. Will growled. "Either come inside and close the door, Collser, or get the hell out of my shuttle so that I can get Deanna and her child to a medical facility before they both die."

Will didn’t see the need to pussyfoot around the dire situation, and even though he outwardly didn’t give a damn about the man, Will did concede that Deanna was still his wife, and the child that she had given birth to was still his son, whether Will liked it or not.

The word, ’die’ broke Collser out of his daze and turning, he flicked the switch on the panel, closing the hatch, sealing them all inside. All of a sudden, the shuttle seemed to shrink in size. With two giant men and one prone woman the interior soon filled, and not only with people. A tangible cascade of emotions flared within, all swirling around them, tearing them this way, and then that way. Anger and despair. Desperation and hope. Hate and love. They were all there, tying them all together. A triangle of sheer unaccountable passion.

Locating the phial that was needed for the hypo, Will quickly loaded it and returned to Deanna’s side, dropping to his knees beside her. Gently moving the neck of the bathrobe aside, Will pushed the entire contents into her system, along with a prayer to aid it along its way. "That should do the trick until we reach the Enterprise," Will said with more confidence than he really felt. Studying her pale face, he asked her softly. "How do you feel?"

"Tired," Deanna murmured quietly, her eyes drifting shut with fatigue and worry.

Removing the cold damp blanket from her, Will pulled down three of the shuttle’s own thermal blankets and re-covered both her and her slumbering baby. Satisfied that they were both okay, Will moved away and started to make preparations to start the shuttle.

It wasn’t until Will sat in the pilot’s chair and began switching everything on, including the heating, that Jal finally broke the silence. Moving apprehensively towards Deanna, his eyes never leaving hers, he squatted down beside her face, her weary eyes opening again when she heard the rustle of clothing at her ear, knowing that it was her husband.

For a long moment he didn’t say anything, and Deanna didn’t ask. She knew what he wanted, but she was going to wait until he asked. Asking meant that he’d accepted that there had been a child born. His child. A child that he’d known nothing about when he’d abandoned her so long ago.

"Can I see him?" he asked quietly, his hand already moving the blanket aside. Deanna’s own hand moved to softly pull it further back, revealing the minuscule face that lay peacefully upon her chest. Deanna watched him study their son, realizing then that what they’d had between them had long since died.

"Why didn’t you tell me?" he asked quietly, his words etched with anger and regret.

Very conscious that Will was near and listening in on what should have been a private conversation, Deanna whispered wearily. "You weren’t here to tell, Jal, you were never here."

Deanna felt the guilt before she saw it. "I have to work. I couldn’t be here for you all the time." No apology left his lips.

"You left me virtually a prisoner in my own home, Jal. I had no way of communicating, no friends, nothing. You abandoned me, Jal, completely, without no shame or conscience."

At least he had the grace to look shame-faced, just for a long moment, and then another look took over, one of suspicion. "How come your old boyfriend is here? Is that what you’ve been doing behind my back? Seeing him while I’ve been out making a living. How do I know this child is even mine?" he added, just for spite.

As the tears and despair welled within Deanna at his cruel accusations, her arms instinctively moved to protect her son. What little she had felt for the man beside her was now completely gone. Did he not see the tiny ridges upon their child’s brow? The little pixie ears on the side of his head? The adorable double dimple in his chin? How could he even consider that he wasn’t his son, or that she had been unfaithful to him? There had been no one to be unfaithful with. He was blind with jealousy, and for no just reason, other than his own selfishness, a trait that Deanna abhorred, especially when not only her son’s life was at stake, but her own, too.

Swallowing convulsively, Deanna’s voice rose loud enough for the man in the pilot’s seat to hear. "I’d like you to leave now. I need to get my son to a medical facility. Please let us leave, Jal."

Pushing himself to his feet and reaching to his weapon tucked into his belt, Jal growled. "You’re not going anywhere with him." He turned his head towards Will, who was now moving from his seat. It only took a nanosecond before Jal spied the phaser in Will’s hand and laughed, pulling his own small hand phaser out and aiming it at Deanna’s chest. "You think that’s going to stop me, Riker? You shoot me and she dies, the brat too, if I’m lucky."

Will didn’t even hesitate as he fractionally moved the phaser, aimed it at Jal’s hand and fired. "Get off my shuttle, you worthless piece of scum."

Jal howled in anger and pain as the phaser fire burned a hole through his hand, his own phaser skittering off, clattering against the metallic hull somewhere at the back of the shuttle. Clutching his bleeding hand, Jal prepared to lunge for Deanna, but Will anticipated the move, leaping forward and putting the phaser within inches of his head. "Don’t you even dare, Collser. I’m giving you one last chance to get off this ship before I kill you. The choice is entirely yours."

Snarling, Jal spun away from both Will and Deanna and headed for the door. Will followed him over, jabbing the opening mechanism with his spare hand, the phaser still aimed steadily at Jal’s head. Taking one final glance at his wife, Jal stepped back out into the blizzard. Before he had barely stepped from it, Will had punched the closing mechanism, salvaging what little heat was inside the shuttle, and shutting Jal firmly outside.

Breathing hard from the fear that consumed him when he thought he was going to lose Deanna yet again, Will spun away and dropped down beside her, catching her trembling fingers within his own not-so-steady hands. Not even thinking about it, Will placed his hungry lips upon hers, needing to feel the response that she readily gave. The kiss was brief, so brief, but enough to reassure him that she was alive and with him again.

"Are you okay, Imzadi?" he croaked. At her teary nod, he gently lifted the blanket and studied the tiny sleeping form beneath. "And the boy?" he asked, holding his breath.

"He’s fine, Will," she reassured. "Get us away from here. I want to go home."

For a long moment they simply looked at each other, each grateful for too many things to list, the watery smiles telling them even more. "Home," Will smiled. "That sounds pretty good to me."

Planting one last quick kiss upon her mouth, Will hurriedly tucked her back in and made his way back to the pilot’s seat. Relieved at last to be finally moving off, Will started up the engines and prepared to lift off. He’d barely gotten ten feet off the ground when the ship shook like a rag doll, rolling precariously to one side as the impact to the near side pushed it over.

Deanna screamed as she frantically clung onto not only the bed, but the child upon her chest. "Will!"

"Hang on, Deanna, Jal’s trying to ram us. Guess that means he’s pissed at us." Will shouted, as he tried to right the small shuttle. But just as he got it levelled out again, Jal’s shuttle slammed into them again. But this time Will was ready for it and hung on to the steering column for dear life, managing to bank it away before it tipped over.

Now Will was really pissed. "So you wanna play, you bastard. Well, guess what? So do I." Even though his visibility was practically next to nothing, Will swung the ship away sharply, away from the pursuing shuttle, giving Jal the impression that he was running, and then, out of the blue, Will slammed on his anchors and spun the ship around to face his quarry. A second later Will fired a missile at the blurry lump ahead of him, taking a very good calculated guess at what he was aiming for. Another second and the boom of an explosion, along with a ribbon of smoke and fire, sent Jal’s shuttle hurtling to the ground, nose down into a thick bank of snow which, on impact, puffed up like a huge, exploding white marshmallow.

Terrified, Deanna pushed herself up onto her elbow. "Will, is he...?"

"No," Will assured her. "I’ve just crippled his ship. He won’t be following us for a while."

Relieved, Deanna sunk back onto the bed and relaxed. Thank God. Thank God. Thank God, she murmured, over and over again.

"Try to sleep, Deanna, we’ve got a long journey ahead of us," Will told her. But Deanna was already drifting off, the exhaustion finally taking its toll, and the relief giving her the peace of mind that she hadn’t had for a long time. She was going home, home to the Enterprise. Home to her friends, and home to Will.


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