By Carol Sandford


Chapter 04


Will felt the blood drain out from his features when he looked at the padd that Deanna handed to him. Deanna felt and saw the shock, but could do nothing to allay his fears as yet another contraction began to take over before she had a chance to soothe his shocked state.

But an instinct that Will had buried deep within him surged up from nowhere as he glanced at Deanna’s face and saw the signs of another contraction take hold of her. Immediately, Will put the padd down and kneeled back down on the floor beside her, holding her hand, unconsciously breathing along with her as she panted through its peak. Dipping the wet cloth into the bowl Deanna had placed near her earlier, Will wrung out the excess moisture and lay it gently upon her brow.

Deanna’s eyes never left his as she waited for a moment to talk to him as with one hand still holding hers, he picked up the padd once more and begun to study it in earnest. Her breath rasped through her throat as she voiced her concerns. "Will?"

He didn’t even look at her as he continued to read, his brow furrowed with deep lines as he sat on his heels. "Yeah?" he said absently.

Deanna licked her lips and watched his face as she spoke. "They’re getting closer together."

He went still as her words sunk in, until at last, he sought out her worried features. "How close?"

She swallowed painfully, nervously. "Very close, but I don’t know if I’m ready to push yet, Will." She paused for a long moment before adding quietly. "You’re going to have to check."

Will felt his cheeks go scarlet as the implications of her words filtered through the crazy, unlaughable moment. "Ch...check?"

But Deanna was already concentrating elsewhere as another contraction made itself known, this one much stronger and more painful, leaving her gasping in pain and fear. Will felt as helpless and as scared as she as he helped her through it once more, dimly realising that she was right; they were getting closer. Very close.

It was then that it was forcibly rammed home to him just what he was facing. Now desperate, Will focused all his thoughts on the padd before him, its contents telling him about how and when the contractions should be happening and more importantly, the precise moment that she should be able to push ... But to know that he was going to have to examine her ...

Deanna knew he’d read the part that she’d just told him about when she watched him drop the padd from his fingers and stare at her with a look that in another time and other situation would have made her laugh. But now it was too important, and it needed to be done. Deanna knew it, and Will knew it too, "’s okay, Will. I know you’re scared, and embarrassed, but I’m okay about this, really."

Nodding understandingly, he reached up and scratched his head, then looked at his hand as though it belonged to someone else. Pushing himself to his feet, he muttered walking quickly away, "I need to wash up. I’ll be right back."

But once he was inside the bathroom, Will quietly closed the door. Turning the tap on, he mechanically washed his hands, but his eyes never left the image that stared back at him in the mirror. Before him he saw a man that was shit scared of what was about to happen and was mortified about what he was going to have to do to her. How the hell was he ever supposed to look her in the face again after this? What the hell was he going to do if it all went tragically wrong? His heart thumped with the implications that broke him out into a cold sweat.

But he didn’t have long enough to answer even one of his own questions as Deanna’s terrified wail brought him out of his nightmarish moment of selfishness, and he finished washing his hands and arms, rapidly drying off the excess water with a small fluffy towel that hung behind the still closed door. Taking a deep, shuddering calming breath, Will let himself out and made his way back to Deanna’s side.

But when he reached Deanna, every hardened part of his mind that was needed to allow him to perform the task in front of him shattered to bits when he knelt back down beside her. Her body, her hands, her legs shook with terror and exertion, and even though her eyes were wide with fear as she stared up at him, she was crying silently, her small hiccupping sobs tore at his heart, and he wanted nothing more than to pull her up into his arms and hold her close.

Before Will could do or say anything though, she turned her head away from him, but he didn’t miss the way her face screwed up and she let out another pitiful wail as yet another contraction began, her desperate plea of, "Oh, Will, it hurts, make it go away!" as she squirmed in pain against the cushioning beneath her made him cold with dread.

Will gripped her hand as he leaned in close to her, doing his best to soothe her, unsure if anything he said was even registering. But it didn’t stop him from trying, and when at last the lengthy contraction abated, he kissed her dampened forehead before moving away enough to look into her dark, scared eyes.

Swallowing, Will licked his lips before speaking. "Deanna, I’m going to check you now, okay? I...I just want to say that if I hurt you, I’m sorry. I’m kinda new to this childbirthing thing...okay?"

But right now, Deanna didn’t care if Will touched her or not, she could already feel yet another contraction building. Under his fingertips that lay gently upon her tummy, Will felt it too, and he knew he’d have to wait until it was over before he did the examination.

Once more, Will rode the storm with her, marvelling at the power beneath his fingers, but once it had died away, he moved his hand down towards her lower limbs and settled it upon her trembling knee.

Sitting back on his heels again, he searched her face for anything that told him not to go any further. But pulling her knees up high once more, Deanna draped one arm over her eyes and muttered almost bitterly to him. “Do it, Will”, pushing him past the tense moment enough to move his hand.

Closing his eyes, Will gingerly inserted one finger, gently probing around for the entrance of her cervix. But on finding what he was searching for to be larger than he expected, he entered another digit. The way his brow furrowed as he bit down hard on his lip revealed his concentration and dedication at assessing just how far she’d got to go.

But before he’d even removed his hand, Will felt the powerful tightening in her muscles as she rapidly went into another contraction, her moans and squirms louder and more violent than before, leaving her gasping and drained when it finally abated. She felt battered, exhausted and desperate for sleep.

Even so, Deanna still managed to seek out Will’s face as he moved back towards her head and picked up the padd again. His silence and the way he studied the padd intently made her heart pound harder, her strangled voice as she asked the question that she really didn’t want to know. "How long, Will?"

He didn’t take his eyes off the padd as he answered. "Soon...very soon. I need to get everything ready, Deanna, I’m sorry, I’m going to have to leave you alone for a few minutes." He searched her face. "Will you be okay?"

For the first time since he’d arrived, Deanna chuckled, nodding her head, allowing a fresh set of tears to fall. "I’m just glad you’re here, Will," she said with gratitude. "I thought I was going to have to do this all on my own. I’m sure a couple of minutes won’t kill me."

Will grinned, his eyes lighting up with relief. "Good girl. I’ll be back as quick as I can. We’ve got a baby to deliver, Deanna, and I’m here for the duration, like it or not."

More tears trickled as Deanna swiftly pulled his fingers to her mouth and mumbled. "I like it, very much, I’m just so glad you’re here." But her words were lost as she pressed her lips tenderly against his knuckles.

Even as Will stood, Deanna was already in the throws of another contraction, the action making his feet move even quicker as he began rounding up everything he needed. By the time he’d counted to 100, Will had found everything that the padd had listed, all except one thing; the most important thing of all: an incubator.

Even without knowing how far along Deanna was, even a blind man could have seen that her unborn baby was tiny, and he desperately hoped that its lungs were going to be strong enough to allow it live. Will also knew that by this time tomorrow, he was going to have Deanna and her hopefully still living baby in the best medical facility that he knew of, under the care of the best doctor that he knew of.

But he had to get through today, and as he made his way back to Deanna’s side, Will came to a sudden halt a few feet away from her and watched as her body arched off the floor, its position as unnatural as the scream that reverberated around the room, her gut-wrenching howl freezing his feet where he stood as he watched her clutch at her distended abdomen as she made an futile attempt at holding her baby inside.

It had begun.

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