By Carol Sandford


Chapter 08


"Well, Ensign, there haven't been many firsts in my career, but I've got to say, this is one; a crew member hauled before me twice within 24 hours. What have you got to say for yourself?"

Will circled around the woman for a moment before pulling himself up short, aware now of the need to change his questioning strategy. Instead he moved to the front edge of his desk and sat against it, consciously hunching his shoulders forward to release the tightening grip of his uniform.

But even so, Will couldn't stop himself from glancing down at his own chest to see if the objects of his humiliation were on view. Satisfied he wasn't about to be ridiculed, he turned stern eyes to the woman before him again, and in an even sterner voice, muttered, "Well?"

Kathleen tried her hardest to ignore Commander Riker's chest and was lucky to move her gaze away from it just as the piercing blue chips of ice looked back up at her. What could she say in her defence? She didn't have a clue other than sorry, but she knew that sorry wasn't enough.

Kathleen inwardly groaned, 'God, how could I have been so stupid? I know I wanted attention, but not this much!' It wasn't even because she couldn't hold her drink, she knew that she could. But she didn't know that Counselor Troi couldn't. But even so, the intimate conversation about the man before her should never have happened. She should never ever had said what she did, but, it had certainly got her noticed.

She took a deep breath, but it didn't ease the growing pain that slowly climbed through her torso, making her heart throb with terror and trepidation. But the pain didn't stop there, it climbed higher making her head begin to pound as though her brain was going to explode.

It was like everything happened in slow motion. As Kathleen spluttered out a feint, 'I...' she felt her vision, her thoughts go black and she knew she was falling, slipping away into a dark void.

Will watched with stark horror as the woman before him seemingly lose touch with herself and begin to slip to the floor. He barely reached her in time to stop the worst of the collision, but managed to capture her shoulders just in time, stopping her head's impact with the solid floor. Kathleen Carson had feinted.


She didn't know how long it was before the blackness in her mind began to evaporate leaving the painful thump in its place. She felt the cool cloth touch her face and the soft words close to her ear, "Hey, it's okay, come on, Kathleen, wake up."

Despite her continued state of unconsciousness, Will must have realised she was coming to as he raised her head slightly more and she felt the cool edge of a solid object touch her lips. "Here you go, take a sip of this water, it'll help."

Kathleen meekly opened her eyes instantly colliding with his barely a heartbeat away from her. He was kneeling on the floor and she was across his lap, his arm supporting her head as he tried to administer the drink.

She took a tiny sip, slumping back against his arm as another wave of haziness swept over her. Commander Riker's concern touched her as she heard the worry in his voice, "Do you want me to call, Doctor Crusher?"

She was quick to reassure him, "No, no, I just need a minute, I'm okay, honest."

He seemed satisfied with that, nodding his head in agreement, moving the cup towards her mouth again, her own fingers automatically reaching up to aid the cup's movement, the intimate contact going unnoticed by Will as he intently watched her progress.

It was barely two minutes later, when Will pushed himself to a stand and held his hand towards her. Reaching up her own hand, Kathleen took hold of his strength and used it to lever herself to a stand. But as he went to release her, she began to sway. Will didn't seem to have any choice but to pull her against his body and give the support she obviously needed for the moment.

Kathleen, highly embarrassed, tried to step away from her Commander's strong, but gentle embrace, but he held her fast, "Hey, take it easy otherwise you'll end up back on the floor again."

Slowly as her mind came back into focus and she found her feet again, Kathleen moved away from Will's arms, insisting that she was alright. He let her go, but his eyes never left her face looking for a sign, any sign that she was going to swoon again. But moments later, it was clear she was back to her normal self as she stood to attention before him, her hands firmly clasped behind her back waiting for the interrogation to continue.

Will smiled at her bravado, shaking his head as he did so, "I think we'll leave this conversation until tomorrow, Ensign. I want you to report to sickbay and have yourself checked out before you come and see me tomorrow, we'll continue this then. I may be an ogre, but I'm not heartless. Tomorrow, 1100 hours, dismissed."

Her curt, "Aye Sir." as she spun on her heels was barely registered, but the speed of her exit was. She all but ran out of Will's office. What Will didn't see was her ground to a halt as the doors slid shut and her triumphant smile as she walked away.

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