By Carol Sandford


Chapter 14


The scene was surreal. In the intimate privacy of Deanna’s quarters, the new mother sat curled up on her couch with her feet tucked comfortably up underneath her thighs. Her son, barely much bigger than her hand, suckled noisily at her breast, his minuscule fist lay against the swollen mound, it’s paleness a stark contrast against his mothers skin. And sitting beside them both with his arm laying protectively around Deanna’s shoulders as he watched the nursing infant with a tender smile and complete adoration and contentment upon his handsome face, was William Riker.

He simply could not keep away from either Deanna or the little one. Taking on the role as surrogate father and husband had become as natural as breathing for him. There had been no questions, no concerns, and no guilty feeling towards Jal. Deanna had simply taken up her life on board the Enterprise, and Will had been beside her all the way.

It had been three weeks since the fateful day since Will had come to Deanna and her son’s aid. Because of Beverly’s excellent care and technology that went beyond what they could ever have hoped for, the tiny being, born too soon, too small and too fragile, had been saved, and even though he was still very small, he was thriving. More so because of the love that was constantly showered upon him by his mother, the man that wanted to be his father, and the moonstruck crew of the Enterprise.

Reaching out with his remaining hand, Will stroked the baby’s cheek softly with the back of his index finger. Grinning, Deanna watched the tender motion before turning her face to smile into his. Suddenly caught shy at the outright display of longing, Will’s cheeks tinged pink as he bashfully looked away from Deanna’s knowing gaze.

But she wasn’t having any of it. Deanna was proud of her son, and she equally proud of the man beside her. Seeing him with the boy time and time again sharply brought home how much time they had wasted over the years. Had their respective careers not stood in the way, or their own stupid stubbornness at revealing the true feelings that had bubbled beneath the surface for years, Deanna knew that this intimate scene, this beautiful, beautiful moment, would have been for real years ago.

"It’s okay, Will," Deanna whispered understandingly, "it is a miracle that we are here together." Turning away, she concentrated on detaching the tiny cherub lips from her breast, tucking herself away before moving him up to her shoulder for the required, ’burp’. But even so, Deanna pushed on. Smiling she added, as she began to tap the little back rhythmically, her voice crooning against her son’s head, lulling the already drowsy child "Don’t hide yourself away from me anymore, Will," she pleaded, "you keep forgetting that you’re an open book to me and I know how you are feeling," Turning back to face him so that he could see the honesty in her eyes, she added, "about us."

Will stared back at her. He was so close to her face that he could see himself in the deep brown orbs. He was so close that he was sure she could hear his heartbeat as it pounded loud within his own ears. How well she knew him. He was like an open book to her and he wondered just how deeply she had delved to find his utmost desire.

"I know it’s wrong," he started, quietly, his eyes never leaving hers. "I know you’re married and that I’ve lost my chance with you, but I can’t let you go, either of you."

"I don’t want you to, Will." There, she had said it, she had spoken the thought out aloud. She had given him the answer he was searching for. "I want you to fight for us, Will."

For a long moment there was silent as he digested her words. The heartbeat that pounded within his chest became so loud with her admission that he was forced to take deep, steadying breaths to calm himself down, but as Deanna’s spare hand snaked up and cupped his jaw, pulling his face to hers, Will’s heart began to settle on it’s own as it realized that it was about to do what it wanted to do.

Deanna nervously settled her lips against his, and theirs sighs met and melded together. Gently, Will’s arm moved to circle her waist and he heard the whimper deep within her throat, given him the permission he needed to pull her tighter to him. Will’s tongue tested against her lips and at first Deanna resisted, afraid of stirring the dormant desires within her. But she hadn’t counted on Will’s persistence, or the need that poured from his soul, pleading with her to let him inside.

It was too soon. She was still married, and if she let Will in, he would want more. She would want more. But, God help her, as his large hand began to make circular movements upon her still slightly swollen tummy, bringing to life the womb that had borne her son, the same womb that craved another much wanted child. Will’s child, Deanna’s resolve slowly but surely crumbled.

A flood of heat pooled within her and set fire, and with it came the submission that Will sought. On a tiny cry of frustration and guilt, Deanna’s mouth opened and Will darted his tongue within the hot recess and danced with hers before she could change her mind. Growling with satisfaction and desire, he allowed the one word that flooded his senses to escape, the same word that had meant so much to them a lifetime ago but still held the same heart-stopping meaning to them now.


And he heard it reverberate back to him through the link that had lain dormant for so long. Too long.

Cupping her jaw as he broke his lips reluctantly away from hers, Will murmured as he looked deeply into her eyes. "We will find a way, I promise." Touching his lips to hers again, Deanna saw and felt the truth in his promise. Turning her face to the side, Deanna slipped her palm up to cradle his head and deepened the kiss, accepting the change in their relationship, wanting to take it beyond what it was before.

But what was that?

A closet love affair that never got out of the door. Did they even want to open it?

Or just two close friends that didn’t want to rock the comfortable status quo of their relationship?

Or two ticking time-bombs just waiting to explode together?

It was probably - undoubtedly, a little of all of them.

The long awaited for ’burp’ finally burst from the infant’s tiny lungs, breaking the intimate bubble that held the threesome. Reluctantly, Deanna’s hand left Will’s head and her lips broke away from his at the same time.

Focusing her mind and her attention on the boy, Deanna gently manoeuvred him so that he could nurse from her. Silently, Will watched as Deanna helped him fasten onto her, his tiny fist resuming it’s familiar position upon the swell of her breast.

Will felt and heard the restful sigh leave Deanna’s mouth as she settled back, closed her eyes and let the precious moments to come take her over. She loved this time with her little one. With each time that the boy fed from her, Deanna felt their connection strengthen. He was her son. He was in her arms, he was safe, and alive, thanks to Will and Beverly. And because of them both, so was she.

Will quietly watched Deanna nurse her child. So many questions filled his head, questions that he desperately needed answers to. Answers that could move them on beyond the hiccup that they seemed to have reached. Will was overjoyed that Deanna had kissed him. It meant he was winning her back. It meant so, so much more than that too, but he wasn’t going to push her. He didn’t need to, he felt it in her bodily response to him. Deanna wanted him, and he was content with that. He was content to wait for as long as need be.

"Have you thought of a name for him yet?" he asked, in an effort to break away from the tumult of questions that couldn’t be answered yet.

Lifting her head, Deanna let her gaze onto the now slumbering boy, still attached to her nipple. "I haven’t been able to decide," she whispered sadly. "It keeps running through my head that Jal should be involved in naming his son, somehow."

Breaking her gaze, she turned her worried eyes to Will. "Stupid, isn’t it? But I can’t help it." She shrugged lightly as she switched her gaze back to her son and absently stroked his downy head with the soft pad of her thumb, but something inside her changed and Will felt it, felt the icy grip of dread clutch his heart and knew what she was going to say even before she said it.

"I need to go back, Will."

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