By Carol Sandford


Chapter 07


The room was in darkness when Deanna woke, apart from one solitary illumination that shone like a beacon, telling her she was safe, that she wasn’t alone. It let her know that someone was here with her. It was that same someone who had swept into her life and become her knight in shining armour, and Deanna dimly realised that it was always Will that fitted the role. It was always Will that came to her rescue. She guessed that somehow, someway, it would always be him, for as long as they both lived.

If she were truly honest with herself, Deanna never, ever wanted it to be any other way, not even while she was married to another man. It was their bond, she knew that, and so did Will, only Will had never given up on its power, or them, like she had done. It still pained her when she remembered what she had put her Imzadi through.

Why did she marry a stranger; a man that deep in her heart she knew was wrong for her? It was a question she had asked herself time and time and then time again. Even when her common sense had slapped her around the head, telling her in no uncertain terms that she was wrong, and that she was abusing what her heritage had bequeathed to her, trusting her to take Betazed’s most revered gift and treating it with the respect that it deserved.

But she had callously thrown it aside, along with her Imzadi’s shattered heart and married an outsider. Deanna bit back the stinging tears as she stared towards the door in the dimness, accepting that the Gods had dished out their punishments: a failed marriage, her tiny dying baby, and a man that couldn’t possibly love her anymore, even though Deanna was sure that something akin to love had washed over her on several occasions during the past few turbulent hours.

Her throat, dry and sore from the constant effort and usage of pushing her baby into the world, seized as she huskily tried to call out Will’s name. She badly needed to use the bathroom, almost as badly as she needed to see her son and the man caring for him, but Will was too far away to hear her feeble call. So gingerly pushing the heavy quilt to one side, Deanna wearily pushed herself to a sitting position, grimacing at the unaccustomed soreness in her groin area.

Putting her bare feet to the cool floor, Deanna tentatively pushed herself to a stand. Her legs wobbled uncontrollably, causing her to sway and reach for the night stand to steady herself until she regained her equilibrium and allowed her woozy stomach to settle enough to come upright again and take enough steps to bring herself to her bedroom door, welcoming its solidness like a long lost friend.

But the unexpected sight before her made her heart swell with such tenderness that she couldn’t stop the stream of tears from falling, her mind instantly snap-shooting the picture for an eternity of memories.

Will sat on the floor cross-legged in front of the fire cradling her tiny new born son against his bare chest within his huge arms. His little finger was gently stroking his tiny cheek as his low, soft voice murmured something inaudible to her.

The room was almost steaming as the heat swirled about them both, leaving a sheen of glistening sweat on Will’s body. But without a shadow of a doubt that same heat was keeping her baby alive. Will was using it instead of an incubator. He didn’t have any other choice. She knew as well as he did that the small child wasn’t technically ready for this world yet. He was pitifully tiny and before Will had wrapped him snugly and securely in the fluffy towel, Deanna could see how thin his skin was, its milky protective layer evident against her own olive complexion.

The urge to use the bathroom became too strong and Deanna reluctantly broke her loving gaze away from Will and her son and slowly headed towards the bathroom. She was weak even from just the few minutes she’d been out of her bed, but even so she managed to drag a comb through her sweat-soaked hair enough for it to resemble hair and not a tumbleweed on a stormy day.

Will heard the toilet flush, mentally cursing himself for not hearing her stir. He mumbled agitated as he carefully pushed himself to a stand, his eyes never leaving the minuscule face that slept peacefully against his chest, "Pipsqueak, that mother of yours can’t keep still for one damned minute."

Will caught her just as she was climbing back into bed, taking in the way she violently shook, her face draining of colour. Hurrying over to her, he pushed her feet further into the bed and rapidly pulled the covers back over her, his worried eyes never leaving her face. "Damn it, Deanna, can’t you ever ask for help?"

Silence and accusations hung in the air between them at the double meaning to his words, but Deanna chose deliberately to opt for the safer answer to his question, knowing that the other answer was for another time and another place, "I needed the bathroom, Will, I’m sorry, I couldn’t make you hear me. I did try," she squeaked.

Instantly contrite after hearing the way her voice quietly croaked out her explanation, Will’s face softened. Lowering himself to sit on the edge of her bed, he gently apologised. "I’m sorry, I should have known. Are you okay? Can I get you anything?"

Deanna nodded tiredly as she reached out her arms for her baby. The need to hold him was as strong as her need to rid her heavy heart of its burden. "I’d love a drink please, Will."

Reluctantly, Will handed over his precious cargo, protectively tucking the towel closer to its body so as not to let the cooler air touch its skin. "Sure, Honey, I’ll just be a minute."

But Deanna wasn’t even listening. Even though she was still exhausted, the short sleep she’d had had been enough to stave of the worst of her fatigue. Now she wanted to meet her baby, properly. Tucking the tiny bundle close to her, Deanna was already staring down at the little features with wonder, her smile radiant, her love flowing freely.

Will felt a tinge of jealousy along side the pride and happiness he felt for Deanna. Against all odds, Deanna’s son had made it through the first six hours of its life. He was by no means out of the woods yet, but with every hour that passed, Will’s hope of a happy outcome increased ten-fold.

But come the morning’s first show of light, no matter how the weather was, he, Deanna and her baby son were leaving the planet, come hell or high water. He knew it was the baby’s only chance. He also knew it was his and Deanna’s only chance, and he wasn’t going to lose this opportunity to put a few things back to rights, and leaving here was the first one.

Will’s footsteps were quiet as he approached the bed once more, the tall glass of milk in his hand forgotten as he looked down at the duo snuggled up in bed. Deanna had successfully manoeuvred her body enough to nurse the baby boy that suckled noisily at her breast.

Will eyes broke away from the child’s face to Deanna’s, tenderly smiling at the serenity that lit up her features, giving her skin, her eyes, that magical glow. The glow of a new mother. This was her chimera. It was all Deanna had ever wanted. Almost.

Deanna sensed Will’s intense scrutiny and his wonder. Raising her still weary eyes to his, they smiled at him with contentment and peace, and he knew that he was the sole reason for that feeling. Inside he welled with hope and pride as just that one look, and that smile, had given him the answer to the question that had tortured his soul for the last two years of his miserable life. She still loved him. He was sure of that now.

After quietly putting the milk down and hunkering down beside the bed, Will brought himself to Deanna’s eye level, but both sets of eyes settled back onto the tiny being between them. Will gently moved the fluffy towel away from his face so that he could watch the child nurse, moved once more by his smallness and his perfection.

He whispered. "He is so tiny, Deanna and yet so perfect in every detail, it truly is a miracle."

Deanna lifted her hand and stroked the peachy skin, tenderly touching a feather light kiss to the soft downy fluff on top of her son’s head, "I know, I have been truly blessed, in more ways than one."

It was a long moment before Will’s thoughts brought him back to the present and her words. He found her eyes boring into him again, drawn by their longing and the moisture that swam in them, he couldn’t stop himself from reaching forward, touching his lips to hers, and then even more reluctantly, forcing himself to sever the kiss before it had barely begun.

Unspoken words, questions and answers leapt between them in the dimness of the room until the baby’s snuffling alerted them to his presence. Taking a deep, thankful breath, Will came to a stand again, his huge hands already reaching for the little body.

"Come on little guy, you’ve had your breakfast, now it’s Mommy’s turn for a sleep." Gently lifting the boy to his shoulder, preparing himself to somehow get a burp out of the tiny form, Will watched as Deanna wearily pushed herself to sit up, forcing himself to ignore the lush breast that she had not yet re-covered. "Drink your milk, Deanna, and get some more sleep. When you wake up, we’ll be all packed up and ready to get out of here, okay?"

Deanna looked up at him, her worry etched in her features, "But what about the weather, Will? Are we going to be able to make it out of here?" she asked, the fear that had long past rearing its ugly head again with her question.

Will knew what she was thinking; she was worried about the baby. He was worried too, but she wasn’t going to know that, not yet. "We’ll be fine, Deanna. The storm has almost blown itself out, and I guarantee you, we’ll be heading away from it. As soon as we’ve cleared the planet’s orbit, I’ll send a communiqué to the Enterprise, and before you know it you’ll have Beverly Crusher giving you several long lectures, and your son so many cuddles, he’ll eventually wonder who his real Mommy is."

Deanna chuckled tiredly as she downed the last of her milk and allowed her head to fall back on the pillows, her eyes already closing, but not before she uttered with relief. "Oh, Will, I can’t wait. I have been such a fool, for so many reasons."

Will reached down and pulled a strand of hair away from her face, allowing his finger to trail a path along her jaw line, his voice serious. "Hey, don’t beat yourself up about it, okay? You’re fine, your baby is fine, and everything else is fine, that’s all that matters now. Now sleep, Deanna," he pleaded, "please, for me."

But she was already drifting off as he spoke. Cradling the baby against his huge chest, Will gave her one last, tender, lingering look and left the room and closed the door quietly behind him. He had a lot to do in the next couple of hours.

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