By Carol Sandford


Chapter 01


"The baby has a good strong heartbeat, Deanna. All his fingers and toes are just visible and he looks like he's going to be a tall one, just like his daddy."


Deanna's eyes followed her doctors and a smile of pure happiness stole over her features. Beverly slipped Deanna's clothes back into place and she slid her feet to the floor, shaking her hair back over her shoulders as she did so, bracing herself for what she knew was to come next.

Deanna knew what Beverly was going to say next before the words even left the redhead's mouth. Deanna had delayed telling Will about the pregnancy for more than one reason. The one uppermost in her thoughts was that they had only been married for such a short time and because of that she selfishly held off the eventual obvious until she had no choice. They were still in the throws of loving one another without interferences, and most importantly, they were still learning about each other, inside and out, again. Their union had been quick. Their marriage even quicker.

Deep in her heart Deanna knew that Will would be overjoyed about the baby. Sometimes the possibility of having children came up when they talked about their future. Neither were getting any younger having realised that they had wasted a lot of time, and time was almost against them.

Well, maybe not wasted. The last ten years of their lives had been spent getting ready for this cherished moment. Ten years of building a relationship that was based on deep respect, friendship and acceptance, and eventually, a loving bond that had refused to be denied any longer.

But Deanna had a feeling, a feeling that haunted her every waking moment and sometimes her dreams too, now, and nothing could convince her otherwise that her silence was the best thing for everyone, but mostly for her husband. Somehow Deanna telling her husband about the baby was not the right thing to do, of that she was certain. Absolutely certain. She had no reason why she felt so strongly, only that she knew it in her heart.

Beverly's tapping foot brought Deanna out of the daze, a daze that seemed to follow her around like a shadow these days. "I know, I know, you don't have to say it, Beverly. I know I've got to tell Will. I just need a little longer, please, Beverly."

Beverly Crusher looked upon her friend with confused astonishment. Planting her fist against her hip, she scowled exasperated at the tiny Betazoid that sat on the edge of the bio-bed clearly waiting to escape the verbal battering that she knew she was going to get. "But for heaven's sake, Deanna, why!?" She cried. "And quite frankly I'm amazed he hasn't guessed already. You can't hide a baby for too long and your little one is almost ready to try punching his way out!"

The telltale flush on Deanna's face and the quick aversion of her dark eyes spoke another story. "Will has guessed already, hasn't he?" She grilled further.

Deanna was quick to deny the accusation. Jumping to her feet and pushing pass the taller woman to make good her escape she murmured, "No, he hasn't. He...he just mentioned about my...my bosom, they've um...grown a little."

Beverly's eyes searched hers as she tried to understand Deanna's reticence to telling Will that he was going to be a father, but Deanna was adamant and she could do nothing more than go along with her patients wishes.

Deanna's whole posture pleaded for understanding and Beverly could only nod in agreement as she watched her friend hastily walk from sickbay. Sighing audibly, the doctor made her way to the sanctuary of her office, punching the com unit as she sank into the chair. "Crusher to Picard."

His voice filled in the void around her. "Picard here. What can I do for you doctor?"

Beverly tapped the desk as she spoke distractedly. "Are you alone?" She asked and after his affirmative reply she continued. "I've just had Counselor Troi in for her ante-natal check-up."

Picard paused briefly before collecting himself. Keeping the counselor's condition a closely guarded secret was beginning to tell on him, but not as much as the woman that stared back at him as he watched the deep worry lines trace their way across her normally flawless and pretty features. "Is there a problem...with the baby?" he asked with dread.

Beverly heaved a massive sigh and Picard breathed one of relief as she slowly shook her head. "No, no, no problem. But she still insists on keeping it from Commander Riker."

Picard pursed his lips before tugging at his tunic, the resolution dulling his gaze. "Counselor Troi has that right, but she cannot hide it for much longer. It's only a matter of time, a very short time before he learns the truth. You can do no more than keep her well, Beverly, and let things take their own course."

Leaning towards the tiny screen before him Picard seemingly searched Beverly's eyes as though she were there within the room with him. His voice was low as he spoke. "I know this is eating you alive, Beverly, and I'm glad that you confided in me, but we can do nothing more. This is between Will and Deanna. I don't want it affecting you...us, alright?"

Beverly nodded sadly, unable to utter any words. Beverly continued to stare at the black screen for some time after the connection had been severed before making a conscious effort to pick herself up, step back into sickbay and carry on as though everything was okay.

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