By Carol Sandford


Chapter 09


"Why don't I feel guilty, Will?"

Will chuckled quietly as he heard the smile in her voice and knew she lay there peacefully beside him. - Well, head to head really. They'd spent an hour settling down in the shady clearing with its rays of warm sunshine filtering through the treetops and with a breeze so gentle, one could barely hear its peaceful whispers. They had eaten a large bulk of the food reminding them both just how much their worry had hampered their appetite. Now they ate with a gusto and energy that truly belonged in a school dining hall.

And now they lay completely satiated, shoulder to shoulder, head to head. Brown against copper, a startling combination. Will turned his head briefly and caught her eye, blue to blue. "Because you deserved this, Beverly."

Beverly continued to study his profile as Will closed his eyes and moved his face back to face the sun, soaking up the soothing heat. It had been a long time since she had gotten this close to her commanding officer, she'd realised. When had he sprouted grey hair in amongst that fuzz on his face!? When had he developed those tiny wrinkles around his eyes!? Where had time gone!?

Somehow Will sensed her intent perusal, but without opening his eyes he mumbled, "What?"

When she didn't immediately answer, Will turned to look at her, meeting her gaze head on. Beverly Crusher had a strange look upon her face and Will couldn't help but notice the lines of fatigue etched across her face; the shadows beneath her eyes revealing how much sleep she really was missing.

He repeated his question, gentler this time, "What, Beverly?"

Now it was her turn to turn back to the sun, her eyes closing out not only Will's intent gaze but the myriad of thoughts that flicked through her mind. "I was just wondering where the years had gone, that's all."

Will continued to watch her as he pondered on her choice of words. Was she remembering Jack, and if so, why now? Or was she wondering about her seemingly futile romance with Jean-Luc Picard? He had often wondered about that one. Had there ever even ~been~ a romance with the captain?

But he was mildly surprised when she answered. "Do you realise it's been three very long years since Odan...left?"

The question hung in the air between them. Memories filled their senses and precious moments filled both their hearts. It had seemed like only yesterday that he'd been a part of their lives and the memories were still vivid to them both. The love even more so.

And, yes, Will still remembered.

Will stayed silent letting Beverly lead the oncoming conversation, understanding her need to off-load whatever it was that had sparked the memory.

"I still miss him, you know?" Beverly glanced once more at Will before resuming her original position. Will recognised her need to visibly shut him out, so he stayed quiet.

"I thought that Odan and I would be together, forever. Y'know, that one true love; That one all-consuming relationship." Beverly sighed heavily, turning her head once more towards him. Will saw the pain in her eyes and felt it in her soul. "I really miss him, Will."

Will missed his presence, too and was surprised when he voiced his thoughts. "In some ways, I miss him too, Beverly. I miss how he..." Will struggled to find the right word but settled on the only one that seemed to fit. "felt."

Will pushed himself to his elbow plucking at a blade of grass as he tried to explain his strange comment. "I learned a lot whilst Odan was within my body...and my mind. I think it was his influence that finally made me see how much my wife meant to me; Made me face up to what I could lose if I didn't stop pretending that she was my friend and nothing more."

Beverly smiled tenderly at him, "You miss her?"

Will tried to grin but failed miserably. Remembering Deanna was like being punched in the solar plexus. He loved her; He loved everything about her, and more importantly, he knew what he could have lost if he had continued to ignore his true feelings. The symbiont Odan had forced him to reach out and show not only Deanna how much she was loved, but himself, too.

Until he had been Odan's host, Will hadn't known just how much self-loathing had invaded his being over time. Odan had taught him to love and for that he was eternally grateful to him.

He tried another grin and succeeded this time, "You bet I miss her. But I'm sorry your not having such a great time with your own loss."

Beverly pushed herself to a seated position, brushing tiny flecks of the various undergrowth from her limbs, "Oh, I'll be alright. Time is the healer, right? One day I'll be able to look back and not wince with pain."

A strange silence hung between them and Beverly felt a burning question bubbling from the man opposite her. Now it was her turn to ask the question. "What?"

Flushing slightly, Will took the bull by the horns and asked a question that had vexed him for a long time. "Don't you wish that...I mean, wouldn't you have wanted to...?" His embarrassment won and he couldn't finish the question, but with a grin, Beverly knew exactly what he wanted to know,

"Do I wish that I had had Odan's baby; that he had gotten me pregnant before...before he went away?"

Will could only nod.

Beverly pondered the thought for barely a moment and Will watched the brilliant blue eyes imagining the impossible. But it was there, the unmistakable maternal look whenever a brooding woman thought of an infant within her arms; The dream. The miracle.

Eventually, Beverly slowly nodded. It was the only answer she could give him as the lump rose in her throat severing the choked response from leaving her lips, and somehow she was thankful for that. But she couldn't fool the man before her and gratefully stepped into the open arms that welcomed her; Both remembering a time past, and both fully aware that technically, Beverly could have had Will's child, if things hadn't have happened when they did.

Were they both sorry for that?

Yes. In a secret, never to be mentioned again crazy moment of passion that had happened between them, yes, they were both sorry that a legacy, a gift, hadn't been left behind.

On silent sighs they unanimously both broke apart and began to collect up their belongings, knowing that the glorious time out that they had taken was done. It was time to get back to reality, in more ways than one.

But the time had left a lingering effect on Will and his gaze drifted up towards the cloudless blue sky searching for the outline of the Enterprise. Home. "I wish Deanna was here with me, right now."

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