By Carol Sandford


Chapter 05


"Sit down, Will. Would you like some refreshment..tea, coffee?"

Will's eyes followed his captain as he made his way over to the replicator, taking in the easy smile, a smile of a friend. A smile that also indicated an upcoming inquisition. "No, thank you, sir, I'm joining the counselor shortly for lunch...before we leave for Lanaare."

Picard's grin widened as he made his way back to his desk with a steaming transparent cup of tea. The amber liquid shifted shades as he lowered it onto the table top, seating himself in the process. "Ah, Deanna. I take it she is alright with your mission...to Lanaare?"

Will openly frowned at the older man before shifting uncomfortably in his chair, moving it backwards so that he could swing his ankle up on to his knee, surprised and suspicious at the question. "It's a routine mission, sir, nothing that she should be concerned about...unless there is something...?"

Will left the question hanging. He hated it when his gut instinct told him that he hadn't got the whole story on a job. Stepping into the unknown was bad enough. Not knowing all the facts was a different story all together.

He heaved a sigh of relief as Picard leapt to his own defence. "Oh, no, no, number one, it is a straight forward mission. But I have noticed that the counselor has been a little...distracted lately. I just thought that you leaving the Enterprise...at this time, may cause her some unnecessary worry."

Will scowled openly, chagrined that Picard would think that just because he and Deanna were married now that she would start getting upset about him doing his job. "Deanna knows the score, captain, and she would never interfere with my duties unless she thought I was in serious danger, and we both know she has the ability to know when something is wrong. Is that what your telling me, Captain. Has she said something to you?"


Picard watched Will straighten up as every muscle reacted to the inner coil that suddenly seemed to grip the younger man's gut.

Picard inwardly groaned and cursed himself for offering to delve into Will's personal life. Looking across the desk at him knowing something that Will should know and constantly having to bite his tongue before he dared to speak was, quite frankly, wearing him down.

But he also knew the counselor. There was a reason, an important reason why she had not told him and it gnawed at his insides more than aware that it could not be anything but bad. It had got to be bad. If any couple were destined to have, nurture and adore children, it was Will and Deanna Riker.

Will watched Picard sigh heavily and the gesture sent a pain to his midriff like someone had punched him...hard. Now he really knew there was something was not right. He couldn't sit still any longer and Picard watched tormented as Will began to pace around the tiny office agitatedly. "I knew it. I knew there was something wrong. She has been acting strangely for ages. I figured it was just a little tiredness or something. But that's not it, is it, sir? There is something else, isn't there?"

Picard pulled himself wearily to his feet, making his way to come before Will and place a calming hand on his shoulder. Picard had not seen Will look quite as scared as he did now and he tried his hardest to dispel that fear with his words. "No, Will, there is nothing wrong with Deanna or the mission, you have my word on that. I'm sorry for making you believe that there was."

Moving away from Will once he had seen that awful glaze subside enough to know that Will believed him, Picard went and sat on the edge of his desk before continuing. "However..."

Jean-Luc watched the tall man's shoulders stiffen again. "However...I am a little concerned about your wife,Will. She is...not herself and I don't want you to go on this mission without talking to her. It may be nothing, but I would be happier with your departure if I was assured that you have spoken to Deanna...made sure that you both have clear minds."

Will nodded slowly, his concern over his wife evident in the worry that still etched his features. "Okay, sir. I still have the final arrangements to go over with Doctor Crusher and then I will spend some time with my wife."

Picard nodded as he watched Will turn to leave, noticing the slight hesitation as more questions flitted through his mind, but wisely he seemingly decided against asking them. Seconds later Picard let go a huge sigh of relief along with a painful awareness that he had failed in his mission and had more than likely instigated the counselor to an inquisition that would undoubtably end in tears.

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