By Carol Sandford


Chapter 06


Deanna was waiting for Will when he stepped into their quarters barely half an hour later. Will studied her as he stood in the middle of the room suddenly noticing how much different she looked. She had always been stunningly beautiful, but now it was a different beauty that stared back at him.

She looked...tranquil. Will thoughts drifted back to the conversation that he'd had with Guinan only this morning who had said almost the same thing, and now seeing her face to face, seeing the evidence with his own eyes he was at a loss as to what to say or do.


Will didn't have to. Deanna beckoned him over with a delicate flutter of her fingers on the end of her out stretched hand, her smile radiant, "Come here. I'm glad you came before leaving."

Will chuckled as he simultaneously reached for her hand and sank to the sofa beside her, "You know I would never leave you without saying goodbye, my love."

He slid forward and kissed her gently on the forehead before sighing contentedly and swinging his legs around so that he could lay with his head upon her lap, one of his all time favourite places.

Deanna smiled as she began to automatically brush away the hair admiring the way it was greying at the temples giving him that distinguished look, making him even more devilishly handsome than he was before, if that was possible. Deanna had always considered Will to be an extraordinarily handsome man and knew her baby was going to be a beautiful boy, too.

Will watched the play of emotions flickering over her delicate features and knew she was far away in some romantic interlude and he just hoped that it included him. Reaching up, he lazily caressed her satiny cheek with a finger, finally coming to lightly trace her lips. The pull was instantaneous as their eyes met and held fast.

A groan a second later had them meeting half way, lips fusing, hands grasping each others heads as they hung on for dear life as they saturated their souls with a wash of love that sprung from their hearts, their bodies, their very essences.

It was with the biggest reluctance when they broke apart gasping for breath, searching each others eyes for an answer to their quandaries. But there was no answer. He was leaving her, for God knows how long. He was leaving the woman who had become almost physically attached to him and he felt like he was being torn apart from the inside at the prospect of being not only apart from her, but for who knew how long and it was killing him inside.

It hurt so much that his voice trembled as he whispered her name as he pulled her tightly to him, crushing her small frame to his enormous one. But he didn't care. He needed to feel her, to touch her, to hold her, just in case.

Deanna mentally squealed when Will's emotions cascaded through her mind as he hung onto her, almost crushing her somewhat smaller body. But she didn't complain. Her Imzadi was leaving. The father of her unborn baby was going away and the only thing on her mind was letting him go with peace in his heart and not with the knowledge that his baby was as good as a million miles away, growing without him being there. Deanna steadfastly refused to load that burden onto him. He had a job to do and it was going to be bad enough knowing he was worrying about her. He didn't need the worry of a baby added to the equation.


Will watched his wife through half open eyes. Through the fog of what her fingers were doing to him and his own creative imagination and he had to ask her, he had to know. "Deanna, are you okay with this...with me leaving you?"

Deanna's fingers stilled for barely an instant, a heartbeat and Will saw her eyes briefly close as she wished the pain she was feeling away. "Of course, Will. You're part of a crew and missions are part of your job. Just because we are married now, doesn't change a thing."

Will shifted his bottom restlessly as he tried to manoeuvre himself so that he could look at her. Really look at her. She studied him just as intently but Will noticed the unease, and albeit very slight, it was there. He tried a poker tactic. "You're lying, Deanna. Why?"

He felt her release a shuddering breath and her eyes looked everywhere but him. Her response was as far away as she wanted it to be right then. "Betazoid's do not lie, Will."

"Okay. What are you *not* telling me then. What are you avoiding, Deanna?"

Will captured her fingers as they absently trailed his chest, smoothing out the lines of his uniform as they felt the contours of his form beneath. He held her fast, insisting that she looked directly at him. He wanted...needed to see her head on. "Deanna?"

"I...I. It's nothing, Will. I'm considering going home to Betazed while you're away. I'd like to spend some time with mother. With you and Beverly away, it's a good opportunity to spend some time with her and be home amongst friends."

Will was surprised as he reached up and stroked her cheek. "Why didn't you say you were feeling homesick, honey? We could have stopped off en route. Captain Picard wouldn't have minded detouring a little."

She shook her head, her curls bouncing off each shoulder. Will captured one springy lock between his fingers revelling in its softness. "I only really just decided. I thought maybe it would help taking a break from the ship...from my job. I guess I've been a little stressed lately, with not sleeping and such. Maybe being home will cure all that. And then hopefully when you come back we can get on with our lives. We've wasted so much time, Will. Let's not waste anymore, anymore than we have to."

The silence that followed was broken by Picard's voice filling the air. "Picard to Commander Riker. Supplies and shuttle are ready at your convenience."

Will tapped his badge, pushing himself to a sitting position as he did so. "Riker here, acknowledged, captain. I'm on my way."

It sounded so final, so...decided and Deanna couldn't help but sigh as she allowed herself to be pulled to her feet by her husband and straight into his waiting arms. Deanna soaked up his essence as strongly as she soaked up his own intimate scent, imprinting her last moment with him in her heart and mind for the duration of the lonely weeks ahead.

"Oh, God, Will, I am going to miss you so much." She couldn't help the tears that formed despite admonishing herself for being weak. But still, she couldn't stop them and she found that she really no longer cared.

Will soaked up her grief as he sank his face into the heavy fall of her hair. "And I'll miss you, darling. I'll be thinking about you all the time, willing the days to go quicker so that I can get back to you. We've got things to do, my love, a future to plan, and I swear to you, this is going to be the last away mission I'm going on. That's a promise."

Deanna sniffed as she pulled out of his arms, instantly missing his warmth. Instantly missing him. She was missing him before he had even gone and she thought her heart was going to break in two. But she had to lighten the moment, she just had to, for his sake. "You bet it's a promise and it's one I'm going to hold you to. Now, please, go, Imzadi, before I do something foolish and stop you from walking out of that door."

Will tenderly wiped away the river of tears that still cascaded down her face and knew his own were a little glassy, too. His lips met hers in a brief, but, oh, such a sweet kiss, before turning away, pausing to look over his shoulder just once as he stepped out of the door. "I love you. Be here for me when I return, Imzadi, that's all I ask. Just make sure you're here." And then he was gone.

Before Will had even reached the surface of Lanaare, Deanna was crying in pain. But it wasn't just the loss of her beloved husband that was causing her the grief that she could no longer contain, but the plight of the dying aliens on the planet as they swarmed through her mind now that she'd let her defences down to mourn her husbands leaving. Waiting until she was sure Will had left the Enterprise, Deanna carefully made her way towards sickbay, and salvation.

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