THE ANNIVERSARY

 
 

By Carol Sandford

 
 

Chapter 03

 
 

Will expected - hoped - dreamed - that it would be Deanna that answered the door, but it was Beverly that greeted his arrival. The shuttle trip had been quiet and tense with each man brooding on what was past and what the future held. With Tom's arrival Will come to realise that he had lost Deanna forever. He swam in a mixture of sadness, bitterness and relief.

With his arrival Tom had brought with him the key to lock her away deep within his heart for good and leaving him to move on without her. Will hadn't been able to put away the past until now. Seeing Tom had changed all that, opening his eyes to the harsh realities, realities that he'd desperately ignored for four, long years. God, he wondered, how on earth did his crew put up with him?!

"Will, you look....not so good."

The smirk in her words took the sting out her initial assessment of him and hearing it lifted his heart to know that their old spat had been forgiven and forgotten and he couldn't resist teasing her back. "Yeah, well, you're looking a bit older yourself there, Bev. Heck, is that a grey hair or ten I can see there through that blonde you keep pretending to be?"

"Shove it, Riker." She huffed haughtily and then with a huge grin she lunged at him. "Come here, you big lug and give your ol' doc a hug."

As Will swept her into his arms for the bear hug that she needed, and, he admitted, so did he, badly and he laughed purely for the joy of it. "Damn, it's good to see you again, Beverly. I'd forgotten what a good dose of tonic you could be."

Giving him a healthy peck on his bearded face before releasing him, she murmured cheekily, "Yeah, I'm better than a bottle of Epsom Salts, any day and you should know, you've had some over the years, what with your culinary skills."

"Hey! I can cook better than you!"

"Yeah, but I never expected everybody else to eat it like you used to. Show off." Slapping his arm lightly in jest.

Laughing the two old friends eyed each other, watching the years melt away with the flood of good memories that replaced the pains of the past. Gradually the laughter subsided and an awkward moment of silence followed until eventually Will asked. "Where is she, Beverly?"

She tipped her head towards another door across the spacious room. "In there. But, Will, be gentle, okay? She's very... fragile."

Will frowned worriedly. "She is okay, isn't she, Beverly?"

Beverly nodded reassuringly, patting his arm again to placate him further. "She's fine, Will, really. Just, go easy on her. I'll make myself scarce"

His footsteps slowed as he approached the door. Suddenly he was afraid to see her again; afraid of what she might to do to him. He had steeled his heart a long time ago to stop her from hurting him any further, but seeing her on his vidi-screen a while ago had sent a shaft of pain right through him. Seeing her face to face and within arms reach was going to be hard, harder, he was sure, than he thought he could handle. But he had to do it, for Tom's sake. For Deanna's sake, and, in the end, for his, too.

Deanna opened the door on his tentative knock. Looking very small and scared Deanna looked up at him with her dark eyes, unsure of what he would do. She didn't expect him to do what he did.

Will held out his hand. "Hello, Deanna, it's good to see you again."

Her gaze dropped down to the out-stretched hand and she automatically put her much smaller one into it and shook it. "Hello, Will. Thank you for coming."

Looking around Will's tall frame as he almost blocked the entire doorway and into the room behind him, Deanna saw that Beverly had indeed made herself scarce and indicated to Will that they should move into the more roomy living area.

Moving awkwardly to the settee, they both perched on its edge; 'fleeing position' he had once called it. "Would you like a drink - something to eat? I'm sorry, I should have offered before. You've had a long ride to get here to see me."

Deanna made to rise from her seat but Will caught her hand and gently pulled her back down. "I don't need a drink or anything to eat. I came to see you, Deanna. We need to talk."

Deanna sighed as she settled herself again. "Yes, I know. I'm sorry. You said that you spoke to Thomas. How...how is he really, Will? He must be going crazy."

"That's an understatement." Instantly he was cast back to the day and days after that Deanna had walked out on him, everything rushing back to him. "But that's not why I'm here, Deanna. You must know that."

He took a deep breath and ploughed on. "I'm glad you remarried, found someone safe."

"Safe?" She queried, her pretty face frowning deeply, completely baffled by his choice of word. "How is Thomas safer than you, Will? I left you because I wasn't happy and I thought that Thomas could give me what I wanted."

"And did he?" He asked.

She was a long moment answering. "I...I think so."

"Good."

"Good?" She cried. "Will, we were....we were...."

"Is Imzadi the word you're looking for, Deanna? I don't have any trouble saying it. Why do you?"

She had the good grace to blush and purposely ignored his probing gaze. "It's natural for you to think that Thomas was to blame for us splitting, Will."

"I don't blame anyone, except for myself, of course, but I do find it curious that out of the blue, your husband contacts me and accuses me of harbouring his wife. Don't you think that's a little strange?"

Deanna was appalled. "Oh, I'm sorry, Will. Thomas shouldn't have..."

"My God, Deanna, in his position, I would have done the same thing! When you're demented with worry you have to clutch at any straw. Don't you think I didn't do the same thing, Deanna, when you walked out on me? Why did you leave me, Deanna, I'd like to know."

Deanna briefly looked away, fully aware at what Will was asking her. "I know. I owe you an explanation, Will, especially after the effort you've made, considering..."

Will was taken aback. "Effort? Coming here? That was no effort at all." Their eyes met and held and Will could have quite easily taken her into his arms and held her close. But he didn't.

"Will, it's so complicated. If only we'd met now and not all those years ago, things would have been so different for us."

"What changed, Deanna? I loved you, that would never have been any different."

"I'm different, Will. I wanted...more."

"God, Deanna!" Will exploded. "How much more could you have!? You had a husband who adored you, a career, friends. What the hell else is there!?"

And then it dawned on him and after a long silent absorbing moment, he whispered with a quiet certainty, "A family. You wanted a family. Is this what this is all about, Deanna? You're doing the same thing to Tom because you want a family and he doesn't?"

Deanna jumped to her feet and began to pace the floor. Slowly Will stood himself and watched his ex-wife seemingly age dramatically before his eyes. Tears streamed down her face and Will longed to do what he wanted to do before; pull her into his arms, but he held back. Something wasn't right here. Something was drastically wrong and he was scared witless that he wouldn't be able to handle it if he so much as touched her.

"Talk to me, Deanna. Please, darling." He hadn't used that endearment for years, but it slipped between his lips as though he'd only whispered it yesterday.

Gradually, Deanna slowed her steps until she stopped before him and lifted her tear-stained face to his, her anguish tearing at his heart. "Oh, Will, I've made such a mess of things. First my marriage to you, and now...."

"Deanna, it takes two to quarrel. And it takes two to become incompatible." Hating the latter, knowing that it was their lives he was talking about and not hers and Toms, not knowing the true reason for her leaving.

"I'm pregnant, Will."

Of all the things that he expected her to tell him and that could make his heart stop, he hadn't expected that. Pregnant! A baby! She was having Tom's baby. What could he say? What did he say? The last part of his future dream shattered. Even though he'd accepted that he'd lost her forever a tiny part of him held onto her in the vaguest of hopes she'd come to her senses and come back to him.

But not now. Not ever. She was having Tom's baby.

Now he did what he'd wanted to from the first moment he'd seen her. He pulled her into his arms and held her tight. Holding his own emotions in check by sheer will alone, Will whispered hoarsely, "Oh, God, Deanna, that's fantastic news."

Deanna sniffled against his shoulder. "You're not angry?"

"Hell, Deanna, why should I be angry? I accepted that I'd lost you a long time ago and despite that you've settled with my brother, I'm thrilled that you're happy."

Suddenly but gently holding her away from his body so that he could look down into her face so that he could search her eyes, he asked, "You are happy, aren't you, Deanna?!"

Will saw the torment and terror upon her face. "I...I don't know, Will. I know I should be, but I...don't know if I'm ready to be a mother. I don't even know if Tom wants children."

Will soon answered that question for her with a knowing grin. "He'll be thrilled. I take it he doesn't know?" he asked, already half knowing the answer. Tom would have told him if he'd have known, of that he was certain.

Deanna confirmed it with a shake of her head. "No, no he doesn't. Things have been so wrong between us for a long time, I realise now that it was me and my errant hormones causing the rift. Beverly helped me see that."

"Beverly knows?" Will asked.

"As soon as she saw me." Deanna said wryly. "Can't keep anything from her."

"True." Will agreed, smiling. "She's almost as bad as your mother." Will had a sudden thought. "Hey! does she....?"

Deanna laughed. "No! Thank God, not yet."

Giving her another quick hug, Will stepped back from her but not away and he missed her warmth immediately. "You've got to tell Tom, Deanna. He needs to know."

She wrung her hands in anguish and Will longed to pull back into his embrace but held himself back. "I'm sacred, Will. After going off like that. I had to get away, Will, I had to get my head straight before I...."

"Talk to him, Deanna. Now."

Her hands stopped as she looked up into his handsome features, her eyes widening in fear. "I can't. It's not something you talk about on a vidi-screen, is it?"

"Then why not tell him in person, right now?"

She stared at him mystified.

"He's here, Deanna. Right here. Go and wash up and I'll take you to him."

"But, how? Why didn't I sense him?"

Will shrugged. "Maybe because I'm here, too. I've kept your mind occupied. I guess it was enough to cover his. Go, Deanna. Make yourself look like a radiant mom."

Will watched her unconsciously run her palm over her still flat abdomen, managing to ignore the pang of longing that coursed through him. God, if only he'd know that that had been the key to their marriage; A baby. But now, perhaps with their animosities put aside, maybe be could be a part of their lives. A part of their baby's life. It was better than having nothing at all.

When Deanna stepped out of the bedroom some ten minutes later she had not only washed up but had changed, too. Her new sleek haircut bounced around her shoulders. The dress she wore was ebony and stylish and she looked like a million dollars.

"Ready?" He asked as he held out his arm for her to take.

"I'm ready." She smiled as she slipped her hand into the crook of his elbow.

~*~

They stopped in the door way to the small bar area that Beverly's ship had. It was by no means on the scale of the Enterprise's Ten Forward, but it was passable for somewhere to go and relax. They spotted Tom leaning on the bar nursing a tall glass in his hand, his booted foot propped on the rail that ran around the bar's base. He looked miserable even from behind.

They had barely stood there for seconds before they watched as Tom's whole demeanour became charged with awareness. Pushing himself upright he turned to look at them over his shoulder standing side by by, their arms linked. For a long moment fear filled his eyes as he stared at them, trying to determine whether they had come to tell him that she had changed her mind and was going back to Will, or that she had come to be with him.

Will had to put him out of his misery. Leaning down, he kissed Deanna's cheek and whispered into her ear, "Go on, go to him. He's come a long way for you."

Letting the woman that he would forever love go was easier than he expected, especially as he watched his brother's face light up first with astonishment, and then with relief, and then finally with joy. Smiling, Will turned and walked out of the bar, satisfied that, today, on his anniversary, he'd felt better than he had done for years.

 
     
  Book index   Previous chapter