By Carol Sandford


Chapter 08


Deanna didn’t know what woke her, only that something did as silent whispers floated through her dreams. There were no words, no coherent sounds, just a dying silence, one born of desperation, its invisible arms reaching out, pleading, begging for help.

Groggily pushing herself into a seated position, Deanna searched her mind for the whispers that still floated through her mind. No words, no sounds, nothing coherent, but she knew, she ~knew~ that something was wrong, that some ~one~ was in trouble.

The room was dark, the corners shrouded in shadows as Deanna struggled to see her surroundings, trying hard to remember her last waking hours, the fog of lethargy dampening her normal senses. She shifted uncomfortably, wincing at the stinging pain in her tender nether regions, the gasp that slipped from her lips released by not only the pain, but the reason for it: the tiny being that had been born too soon.

Her baby! Her son!

Her cherished baby boy was beyond the door fighting for what remained of its tiny life within Will’s giant arms.

As Deanna hastily threw aside the bed covers, she put her feet to the floor and quickly pushed herself to a shaky stand, but she wasn’t ready for that level of speed. Her legs, still weak from childbirth and heavy from fatigue, wouldn’t hold her weight, and before she had even took one step, she crumbled to the floor.

But the eerie silence urgently summoned her and she knew she had to go, she ~had~ to make it. Quickly swivelling onto her knees, Deanna scuttled across the floor, the feint glow from the ajar door leading her way. Using the door as a leverage, Deanna shakily pulled herself back to a stand, moving the solid hulk wider, one half of her desperate to see what was happening to her child, the other too scared to know.

The last time Deanna had peeked from behind the door, Will was seated in front of the fire, holding her baby against his naked chest, keeping him warm, keeping him alive.

The scene was the same. It seemed to be the same, only it wasn’t. This time, Will’s giant hand was gently rubbing her sons ridiculously small chest, and blowing gently into his tiny mouth.

Her baby wasn’t breathing.

As she stared wide-eyed at the scene before her everything turned into slow motion. Huge uncontrollable tears rolled down her cheeks as she watched Will repeat his ministrations over and over.

He was in complete control. Unable to stop herself, Deanna watched Will massage the boy’s chest with movements so minute one wouldn’t realise what he was doing. But it was the fact that he gently lifted his tiny face to his and blew the puff of life-giving air into his lungs that told its own story.

On and on Will steadfastly kept the motions going, until at last, one tiny, scrawny arm twitched, and a euphoric gasp of utter relief washed over the room.

It was Deanna’s strangled gasp that alerted Will that he had an audience. He watched her step falteringly further into the room, the unspoken questions bounced between them. She wanted to know everything, but he didn’t want to tell her anything.

His eyes held hers as he fought against her intimate probing. The last thing she needed to know right now was that it had been the fourth time her son had stopped breathing. He was just grateful she hadn’t seen the first time that it had happened, and he been running around the room like a headless chicken, clutching the lifeless body tightly in his arms, frantically wondering what the hell to do.

And then his Commander mode had kicked in, and he had forced himself to think rationally, just long enough to help the poor little scrap, and it had worked.

But Deanna didn’t have to know that. Not yet.

Will watched as Deanna slowly made her way towards him, but his relief turned to worry as he watched her begin to sway. It was then he dropped his gaze to her lower body and as the colour drained from his heated face, his eyes widened in horror, a hushed "Oh, my God..." broke Deanna’s captive spell, and she dropped her own startled eyes downwards.

She was haemorrhaging, profusely.

A vivid scarlet stain trailed a path from her loins, getting bigger and darker with each inch. The material of her nightgown, dragged down with the weight of the warm moisture, and as she reeled back with shock two perfectly formed footprints stood out amongst the rapidly growing puddle on the floor.

Carefully balancing the infant in his arms, Will quickly pushed himself up off the floor and hurried to her side, finding himself not only holding onto the baby for dear life, but Deanna too as she struggled to stay upright. One traumatic moment had passed, and now another one was unfolding.

If Deanna hadn’t been so heavy on one arm, and if he had not have had the baby in the other, Will would have become the headless chicken again. What the hell was he supposed to do now?! Bringing a baby back to life and keeping him alive was one thing. Stopping a haemorrhaging woman, a woman he adored, from dying was another.

William Riker was out of his depth and he knew it.

The baby squeaked pitifully in protest as Will inadvertently held onto the tiny mite harder than he meant to as he struggled with his mother. Knowing he had no other choice, Will manoeuvred himself better and gently lowered Deanna’s trembling form to the floor, his voice miraculously hiding the terror eating away inside of him. "Come on, sweetheart, down you go."

He felt her fear all the way down to his boots, and saw it even more so in her tear-filled eyes. But she must have seen the fear in his own, too, because she tenderly reached out and touched his face with her trembling hand. The touch held so much for him, but his heart soared at the one thing he needed from her most. Trust. Deanna was trusting him with her slowly ebbing life, as well as her cherished son’s.

Hurriedly pushing a cushion under her head, Will grimly noticed Deanna’s colour ebbing away as the blood continued to drain from her body. He had a choice to make. Did he put the child down while he tried to help Deanna and risk him flat-lining again, or did he continue to practice his skill at being only one handed? An art that was rapidly becoming as natural to him as breathing. It was only now he was beginning to understand how mothers managed to do half a dozen jobs at once whilst nursing an infant, a talent he was fast learning to appreciate.

Deanna stared up at Will, her huge onyx eyes fixed steadily upon his face as he sat on his heels beside her, her baby cradled tightly in his muscular arms against his still bare chest. He was torn, she could see it. Will was at a loss with what to do. She could see the commander in him, trying to focus on which course to take, but at the same time she saw the man who loved her and who was scared stupid and in dire need of help.

Lifting both arms, Deanna held them out to him, her eyes and voice pleading. "Give him to me, Will. Do what you’ve got to do. I’ll be alright."

Her words snapped him into a decision and he unconsciously realised that it was what he had been waiting for. His eyes shifted along the rest her body, paling once more at the stain that stood out like something from a horror story against her once pure white night gown. He had to get it off her. He had to remove the evidence of his failure. It was an irrational thought, but it was one that somehow kept slipping into his head, more and more as time ticked past. Will was blaming himself for all that was wrong. He didn’t have a clue as to why, only that he did.

So many, ’if only’s’. So many regrets. So much love, but too late, he was always too damn late. And now it looked like he was losing everything that meant anything to him; Deanna, their bond, the same bond that had brought him to her in her hour of need, and God help him, Will tenderly, tearfully looked down at the tiny boy in his arms that now slept peacefully unaware of the terrors surrounding him, he loved him, too.

A moment later, Will had torn the child away from the safe haven of his chest and laid him upon his mothers. As he watched Deanna’s arms instinctively surround her baby, not only with her arms, but with her love, too, he felt another emotion rip through his soul. Loss. Everything he needed, and loved, lay before him on the floor, and with each heartbeat that painfully left their dying bodies, they moved further and further away from him.

  Book index   Previous chapter   Next chapter