By Carol Sandford


Chapter 11


The shuttle had been soaring through open space for nearly an hour, heading ever nearer and nearer to the Enterprise, but not near enough. Another couple of hours or so and he would be close enough to transmit a message and prepare them for his arrival.

Sinking back into his seat, Will tiredly rubbed his eyes. He was exhausted. He hadn’t slept for more than twenty four hours. Other things had gotten in the way, things like the woman and child that slumbered behind him, completely oblivious to his dire need to join them. Unable to resist the pull of being beside Deanna again, Will set the shuttle on auto-pilot and made his way to the shuttle’s rear.

Grabbing the thick coat that he had long ago discarded when the shuttle began to heat, Will lay it on the floor beside Deanna’s cot. As he lowered his tall frame to the floor, Will couldn’t resist studying her face once more. He couldn’t believe that she was here with him, going home to the Enterprise. Softly moving a curly tendril away from her cheek, Will smiled warmly to himself. Right then, at that moment, he was the happiest man alive, and as he lay down on the floor beside her, he drifted off into a deep sleep, thinking of Deanna, junior, and himself, strolling through a park, all holding hands, happy to be alive and together.

A little while later, Deanna stirred, rousing herself from the deep, drugging sleep of the unwell. And she was unwell, she knew that. She was losing too much blood, even with the drugs that Will had pumped into her. They’d been too long in stopping the worst of the loss. She felt heady, hot and weak, and a vagueness continually threatened to consume her mind.

Deanna desperately tried to focus on just one thing, and one thing only. William Riker. He was the one constant in her life. He was the one image that swam through her fuzzy senses. He was the one man that kept her alive with his undying love. He was there, with her, for her, always, and she needed him. She needed to see him, touch him, and tell him.

Twisting her head, Deanna tried to see into the cockpit. The tiny squirm upon her chest reminded her that she had her son resting against her, and the hands that had fallen to her sides in her sleep rose to comfort him. Trying again to see into the cockpit, Deanna was perturbed to find him missing. Panic quickly surged through her when she thought he’d abandoned her, but then she remembered who was piloting the shuttle. Will Riker. Will would never abandon her.

Swinging her gaze around the dim interior of the shuttle, she focused her thoughts on him. But when she heard a feint snore, she looked over the edge of her cot and found what she had been searching for. Weakly smiling at the sight that met her, Deanna dropped her arm over the edge and reached for the large hand that sat spread upon his chest. Lacing her fingers with his, Deanna sighed and closed her eyes, instantly drifting off to sleep again.

When Will woke a short while later, somewhat refreshed but more than aware that he had not had anywhere near enough sleep to sustain him for long, the first thing Will felt was the rock hard metallic hull beneath his aching back. The second was the burning sensation within his fingers. Lifting his hand to see the cause, Will was startled to find Deanna’s fingers interlocked with his, and they were hot with fever.

Quickly rising to his knees, Will lay his somewhat cooler hand against her cheek, aghast to find it as hot as her hand. "Christ," he muttered under his breath, before lifting the coverlet to check on the child. Silently studying the rise and fall of his little body, Will breathed a sigh of relief before turning his attention back to his mother.

Tapping her cheek lightly, Will tried to rouse the sleeping woman, but his only response was a garbled moan that told him much more than he wanted to hear. Deanna was in trouble. Even worse trouble than she was in before. Quickly moving to the medi-kit again, he hunted through the assortment of phials, whispering a prayer that there was something suitable amongst them to help her, whooping silently when his fingers curled around one that he hoped would do the job. Loading the hypo, Will rapidly squeezed the contents into her system and then ran for the cockpit.

Checking his distance, unsure whether the Enterprise was in range or not, Will crossed his fingers and pressed the communication button. "Riker to Enterprise, come in. Riker to Enterprise, come in please. Medical emergency."

He waited a heart-stopping whole minute before, at last, the Enterprise responded. "Enterprise here, Commander Riker. Good to hear your voice. What is the nature of your medical emergency?"

"I have Deanna Troi on board, sir. She is haemorrhaging pretty badly, and she has a very premature infant that requires urgent medical care. How soon can you reach me, Captain? I can’t get to you for another three hours at my current speed and I need you sooner than that, Captain." Will pleaded.

"Hang on, Will, we’re on our way. Ensign, lay in a course for Commander Riker’s position, warp nine."

"Aye sir, laying in course now, warp nine," said the young voice of Ensign Calloway.

Slumping back in his seat, Will released the lungful of air that he’d been holding and laughed aloud. "Ha haaaa!" he cried, "We made it!" Hurrying out of his seat and back to Deanna’s side, Will dropped to his knees, catching her fevered fingers within his. Tenderly stroking her damp brow, Will smiled for the first time in ages with genuine relief. "Hand on in there, darling, you’re nearly home. You’re nearly home."

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