By Carol Sandford


Chapter 16


Will’s footsteps slowed to a hesitant halt as he stepped into Deanna’s quarters. The sweet smell that teased his nostrils was becoming so familiar to him that he barely registered it beyond the acute sense of peace that assaulted his senses whenever he entered the room.

But this time, the sense of peace, the feeling of coming home and the tantalizing baby scent eluded him when he spotted the tears that slowly coursed down his Imzadi’s cheeks, her face, tight with pain, stared blindly at the tiny boy that lay quietly watching her upon her lap.

She had pulled the small coffee table nearer to the sofa and Will had frequently seen her slouched back upon the sofa withher feet upon the wooden edge, the baby laying upon her drawn up knees. It was usually a lovely sight, seeing mother and son watching each other, with Deanna keeping him mesmerized with her soft coos and gentle chatter.

The scene seemed the same. The boy still stared at his mom, enchanted with her beautiful features, as he himself usually was, but her sadness radiated through Will, hurting his own heart with her sorrow. Quickly and quietly making his way to her side, Will sat and tenderly caressed her shoulder, pushing away the fall of hair so that he could see her face.

Deanna...darling, what’s wrong?he asked gently, taking a quick glance at the small boy, checking to see if her distress was because of him, but when he saw that the child was well, his dark eyes turning, acknowledging him, recognizing the familiar face, Will turned his attention back to his mother.

Deanna, talk to me.he urged.

Taking a deep sniff but unable to tear her eyes away from her son’s tiny flawless features, she murmured.Danya. My son’s name is Danya.

Will blinked with surprise. It had taken Deanna a whole month and a half to decide on a name for her child, so much so, that she was being teased by all her fellow crewmates who were beginning to think the boy was going to spend the rest of his days being called, ’the boy’, or, ’your son’, or other cute endearments that he’d been saddled with.

Brushing away a tear with the pad of his thumb, Will gave her a tentative smile and said, with a hint of puzzlement as to why that should distress her so much,That’s great, Deanna, you’ve finally given him a name, and it’s a beautiful one. Does it mean anything?he asked.

She sniffed again, lifting her tear-filled eyes to his for a moment, letting him see her pain up close and nodding slowly as she told him,It means, Gift from God.

Will smiled, moving closer so that he could place a tender and chaste kiss upon her salty lips.It’s perfect, Deanna.

Placing his small finger against the child’s hand, instantly glowing with fatherly pride when the tiny fist opened and circled the much larger digit, Will grinned and said, his voice husky with emotion,Hello, Danya, welcome to the Enterprise.

The infant fixed his trusting dark gaze onto Will. Still very, very small, still not much bigger than Will’s hand, Danya positively glowed with health, thanks to the loving care of Beverly Crusher. Every single day, she weighed him, monitored him, smothered him with her own unique love, and then reluctantly handed him back to his true mommy.

After a long moment as a quiet tension built between them, Will eventually pulled his eyes away from Danya and turned his attention back to Deanna. Relieved to see that her tears had slowed as she sat simply watching her son, trying desperately to mask her sorrow, but even so, Will reached beneath the surface and saw how much she was hurting.

He figured that maybe she was grieving for her husband. Hell, she had every right to, seeing as he’d killed him. Her child’s father was dead and he was certain that she had absolutely nothing to show that the man had even existed. Nothing for her son to look back upon, and nothing to remember him by.

And then Will figured that maybe Deanna was suffering from post-natal depression, something that he’d heard about from their mutual friend, the doctor. But surely Beverly would have seen the signs and treated Deanna before it got this bad.

And maybe, Will realized, it could be something else entirely - like himself. Maybe she’d changed her mind about becoming his wife, maybe she’d changed her mind about him becoming a father for Danya and all three of them becoming a family, the one thing he’d constantly thought about since he’d seen the tiny boy being born from the woman he loved.

And then suddenly, Will became inexplicably scared. What could he say? How would he ask her? What would he ask her? But whatever he said, or asked, he had to do it because he adored her, and he had to ask, because, before anything else, he was her friend, and she needed him.

Deanna...he began, his heart beginning to pound with fear as he touched his palm to her jaw line, attempting to pull her gaze to his.Darling, tell me what’s wrong.

With difficulty, Deanna tore her eyes away from Danya and found his and saw the concern and his fear in their blue depths. Taking comfort in the hand that caressed her face, she leaned into his touch, her eyes slipping shut with longing.

She wanted him and it ate at her soul that it was too soon. Her husband was barely in his grave, her body was only just healed after the traumatic birth, even though Beverly had recently given her a clean bill of health and Deanna felt guilty as hell for wanting her soul-mate so much, and terrified that if she made it obvious that she wanted to move their special relationship onto the next obvious step, that Will would think bad of her.

And not only Will. What would her fellow crew-mates think? A widow barely a month, with a tiny baby, dragged back to the Enterprise because she’d failed at her marriage and failed at being desirable. Deanna knew that Will loved her, but he looked at her differently now. She saw it, and she felt it, and she hated it.

Before, Will’s desire had been heart-stoppingly erotic. She used to almost feel Will’s hands roving over her body, taking her to the dizzy heights that she had longed for. But now, desire was replaced with an inordinate need to care for her, and yes, she wanted him to care for her, but, God, she needed him to be more. Much more.

I...I can’t,Deanna admitted sadly, and Will’s heart plummeted. She didn’t want’s too soon, Will.

Instantly Will thought of her poor tortured body.Is something wrong, something I did when...?He asked hesitantly,suddenly reluctant to refresh her mind of their forced intimate time, but she was quick to reassure him.

No, no, it’s not that. My body’s healed.

Will’s face fell because he realized that if it wasn’t her body hurting, then it was her heart.I’m sorry, I know you must hate me for what I did to...

But again, Deanna broke him off, anger tinging her quietly spoken words.No, no, don’t you dare do that to yourself, Will. I know that you think you’re to blame for Jal’s death, but you are not. It was an accident, a tragic accident, Will.

Will’s eyes fell back to the now sleeping child upon her lap and murmured, his heart heavy with loss.He’s lost his father, Deanna, and that was my fault, even if he’d lived.

Deanna’s fingers pulled his face back to hers and whispered as quietly as he had.But he will have another daddy, one that loves him as though he were his own.

You’ll let me adopt him, one day?He asked, his hopes daring to rise.

You can adopt him the same day that we marry, Imzadi.she replied, a tender smile tugging at her lips.

Will’s heartbeat began to pound again, and he dared to ask, as his fingers gently tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear so that he could see her face, look into her eyes and see the answer to his question.When. When will you marry me, Deanna?

I don’t know,she said, honestly, and then reaching forward, she lightly touched her lips to his and whispered against their softness.But you will wait for me,wait until I’m ready, won’t you?

As he pulled up closer and prepared to devour her mouth, he promised huskily,Imzadi, I’ll wait forever, if I have to.

She chuckled against his mouth.It won’t be that long, I promise.Stopping him as he began to kiss her, she pushed him back a little and said.Let me lay Danya down, okay

Reluctantly Will took his hands away from Deanna’s tempting, lush body and allowed her to move. Gently lowering her knees, she tenderly scooped the boy up into her arms, kissing his downy forehead as she did so. She took him into the dimmed bedroom and lay him in his cradle, covered him, made sure he was settled and went back to the waiting man.

Will slipped his arms around her as she settled back into her seat and pulled her close again.Deanna.he breathed, as his lips touched hers and began to set them both on fire.

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