by Carol Sandford
Rated: PG
Disclaimer: You want it, go get it
Set: Future as in after Nemesis

"Oh no, not now, not today!"

Deanna groaned into her daughter‘s hair, and this time she didn‘t breath in
her precious talcumy scent that normally brought a guaranteed contented
smile to her face. Nor did she place a feather-light kiss upon those tight,
soft curls like she usually did when she got within an inch of her beloved

Deanna sat forlornly in her dining table chair, surrounded by breakfast
chaos as her mother made her grand entrance, elegantly dressed as though
she was going to a business function rather than visiting her own daughter,
who was stuck at home with an ‘adventurous, mischievous‘ baby.

Only Deanna knew she wouldn‘t come any further than the door once she‘d
seen what she would be walking into.

Lauren‘s goopy rusk. Correction,  the vast majority of Lauren‘s goopy rusk,
was splattered not only over her, but the highchair, the floor, the wall
behind her and the remainder, over her mother. Deanna‘s ebony hair bore
streaks of the dripping mess, ensnaring itself amongst her own curls, now
mercifully shorter to accommodate Lauren‘s fixation for ripping it out by
its roots.

Deanna despaired of Lauren‘s fast growing independent streak. The one where
they insisted that they do everything themselves, from removing their own
nappy, regardless of its contents, to stuffing their food in the general
area of their mouths - and missing. In between of course, playing catch
with the goopy stuff.

Have you ever tried to catch goopy stuff?  The only thing that ever
succeeded in catching it, was hair, very successfully.

Lauren let out a squeal of delight when she spotted her gramma, and Deanna
quietly seethed. She was tired, crabby, in desperate need of a relaxing
bath, and lonely. God, she was lonely.

For that instant only, the decision to live on Earth after her and Will had
married, and then been blessed with their beautiful daughter was rapidly
becoming the wrong one. But what could she do? Will had brought them a
lovely large house, with a back yard most people would die for. Okay, it
needed a lot of work and bit by bit, Will was doing it, and loving the

And what a challenge. But the challenge was taking forever, much longer
than they had hoped. The work much more than they had thought too. But it
was getting done...slowly.

But it still didn‘t take away her loneliness; The endless days whilst Will
was out there, being a diplomat, and an instructor, and on the odd
occasion, an undercover operative for Starfleet. But Deanna gave him his
due, when he was there with her and Lauren, he was the perfect father and
practising DIY expert. It wasn‘t often, but those times she cherished, and
were all that kept her going day by day.

Deanna pushed away her resentments knowing that the negative thoughts only
erupted with the arrival of her mother. That and the independent tyke that
was grinning a two pegged toothy smile at her grandmother as she smacked
the highchair‘s table top with her little chubby hands, sending even more
of the goopy rusk into the air.

"Oh, darling! Don‘t you think you should be teaching Lauren not to do that,
she‘ll never learn table manners you know?"

Elegantly tip-toeing across the scattered debris that littered the floor,
Lwaxana Troi made her way towards the table, grimacing with displeasure at
not only what lay around her, but the very thought of stepping in

As Deanna watched her mother scan the seat for anything that might mark her
classically cut skirt, and brushing off invisible dust, just to make sure,
Deanna felt obligated to pacify the woman, even though it galled her to
know that she‘d had a baby of her own and would have known about ‘this
stage‘ in a child‘s development. But then she thought again. Maybe she
didn‘t. Maybe Deanna was passed over to a housekeeper for the ‘dirty jobs‘.
She didn‘t put it past her and that angered even more.

"Mother, Lauren is a baby, this is how she learns. Its called
experimenting, she thinks its fun, and meal times should be fun. They
shouldn‘t be all stuffy and forced. Eating should be an enjoyment. I don‘t
mind if Lauren makes a little mess."

She tickled her daughter under the chin as she said her last words, making
Lauren giggle and squirm. Deanna had been lucky, Lauren was a happy baby,
and only sad when she was in pain, or over tired, and Will idolised her,
even more than herself. She wished he was here so that he could fend off
the accusations and jibes that Deanna knew were coming.

But somehow, Lwaxana always managed to come when Will was away. She hadn‘t
decided whether it was a deliberate move or just coincidence. But
whichever, Deanna always found herself having to defend her husband along
with her role as a mother.

If she wasn‘t bitching about Will‘s absence, she was putting down whatever
Will happened to be working on, and Deanna wished with all her heart that
Will had managed to get a few more tiles up in the bathroom before he had

As Lwaxana cooed and aaaahed at Lauren, Deanna managed to scrape away the
worst of the goop, before lifting her daughter out of the highchair.  "Come
on, sweetheart, its bath time for you."

But even as Lwaxana followed the two of them up the stairs, Deanna knew the
topic of conversation, "But darling, you should bathe Lauren at night
before she goes to bed, that way she would be sleepy and go through the
night. I know she still keeps you up, you ought to be stricter with her."

Deanna sighed as she sat on the edge of the bath and turned the faucets on.
As she began to strip the squirming mass upon her lap, who was already
trying her hardest to get into the water, Deanna explained herself again,
"Lauren ‘does‘ have a bath at night and I like to give her one in the
mornings too. She‘s having trouble with her teeth, thats the only reason
she is disturbing me at night. I can accept that, its part of parenting,

She stopped to blow a raspberry on the now exposed baby pink tummy,
creating a husky chuckle from its recipient, before placing her gently into
the warm water.  But Deanna jumped a mile as her mother shrieked in her
ear,  "Deanna!  You didn‘t test the water! It might have scalded her!"

Exasperated, Deanna continued to  wash the tiny body that was happily
splashing the water, creating a geyser of water that saturated her mommy
from the neck down.

"Mother, I have  been bathing my daughter anything up to 4 times a day for
the past nine months. I think I know how much hot and cold water I need.
And besides, I assume you didn‘t see me testing the heat earlier as you
were too busy criticising my husband‘s tiling technique."

Lwaxana huffed, "I suppose your right." It was then she began to pick on
the bathroom, "Goodness! hasn‘t that husband of yours got the radiator put
in here yet? Lauren will freeze, poor darling. And when IS he going to
finish that tiling, it looks dreadful! Honestly, Little one, you‘d think
he‘d stick around long enough to finish at least one job in your home!"

Deanna quickly picked up the indignant sopping wet infant and wrapped the
huge fluffy towel around her. Almost pushing her mother out of the way in
her haste to not only escape the increasingly small area of the confining
bathroom, but also her mother‘s over-bearing presence, both of which she‘d
had enough of. More than enough.

Her temper was beginning to bubble with the relentless attack on her
beloved Will. But it wasn‘t just that, it was everything. The constant put
downs, the total lack of support from her one and only blood relative. The
one person who should have been there for her when her Imzadi wasn‘t. 
Being stuck planet side with no friends so to speak. Talking baby talk day
in day out, the endless circle of washing, ironing, housework, and the

The guilt of loving it all and not having anyone to share it with, apart
from her husband who wasn‘t around enough to enjoy it with her, or long
enough to watch and nurture their daughter together. For him to see what
she saw every single day; The smiles, the giggles, the goopy play, the day
time nap when Deanna could sit and watch the tiny life in the daylight
hours and be in awe of the creation that they had made together.

As Deanna powdered and creamed the baby, she ignored the inane natter
beside her as her mother prattled about her latest assignment. How every
thing was in bloom on Betazed whilst Alaska was rapidly approaching winter
- with no radiator in the bathroom. How all her old friends were preparing
for the grand summer ball, a huge affair held every year at the peak of the
summer season. With ball gowns and barbecues, dancing under moonlit stars
and the royal Betazed parade, when the cream of the crop, the top dogs of
the top houses joined forces and showed the planet who they were and how
important they were.

It wasn‘t so long ago when Deanna Troi was one of that crowd, and loving
every minute of it.

But that was until she met and fell in love with an off-worlder. That was
before she left Betazed and  sought her future elsewhere, much to her
mother‘s continued chagrin. That was before she married that off-worlder
and settled on Earth with the man that meant more to her than any dream she
could ever imagine. The man that gave her Lauren.

"...Don‘t you think pink is terribly girlie for Lauren‘s bedroom, darling.
Its so...twee!"

But Deanna wasn‘t listening to her. Her eyes were fixed on the child before
her as she connected the last popper on her sleepsuit, watching the tiny
thumb disappear inbetween her rosy cherub lips. Picking Lauren up, she gave
her a long comforting cuddle before placing her in her crib for a much
needed nap.

But even before she‘d turned, Deanna knew her mother‘s next argument. She
silenced the older woman‘s words with finger to her own lips.  Lwaxana
closed her own mouth as she realised Deanna‘s intent.

The two women stepped out into the half decorated hall, pulling the door to
before quietly walking back into the kitchen area. Deanna sighed at the
mess she faced, but sighed even deeper as her mother continued the
conversation she was about to start upstairs.

"Don‘t you think that Lauren should be kept awake more now. You know you‘ll
never get any sleep if you keep letting her have those naps."

And then she dropped the real reason for visiting.

"Of course, if you came home to Betazed, darling, we could get you a live
in nanny so that you could become part of the Betazoid system again. You be
with all your old friends, like Chandra. Did you know that she has joined
the higher consulate now that she has put her child into day care?  I also
hear that Wyatt has come home again to resume his duties now that he has
got his wanderlust out of his system...unlike someone else I know. You used
to be so fond of him, little one. And of course, I would get to see my
granddaughter every day!"

Deanna stood speechless in the middle of her kitchen. A kitchen that bore
memories of hours of experimenting with her husband as he tried to teach
her the art of cooking from scratch rather than using the replicator, now
hidden away in the corner of the room, complete with a huge picture of
their daughters feet and tiny hands.

A kitchen that through her husbands careful planning and thoughtfulness saw
sunshine pouring through not only the original window on one side, but now
the other which Will had installed so that the room was constantly bright,
welcoming and sunny.

As Deanna‘s eyes fell to the sturdy table, now adored with the remains of
breakfast and the recipe book, opened up onto the page that was to become
the next experiment for dinner tonight, that not barely four weeks ago held
two  almost naked passion filled bodies, oblivious to all and everything
but themselves and the moment; A very precious moment. A moment that saw
the conception of their next more than wanted baby.

But of course, her mother didn‘t know any of that. All she saw. All she
ever saw was Deanna seemingly at her absolute worst, always up to her ears
in goop and gunk. Always dressed in her tattiest clothes ready for the days
chores that lay ahead of her, every single day.

What she never saw was the happy, solid family that emerged as soon as her
beloved husband stepped through the door, shutting out everything beyond
the front door until it had to be opened again.

No, she never saw any of that, because she never wanted to.  Because she
could never believe that this was where Deanna wanted to be.

Lwaxana was startled when Deanna suddenly snapped out of her reverie and
grabbed her forcibly by the arm and dragged her back up the stairs, her
indignant squawks withered to silence by the steely look her daughter threw
over her shoulder.

Stepping into her own bedroom, Deanna ignored the unmade bed and the dirty
clothes haphazardly strewn over the huge rocking chair that Will had
brought just before their daughter had been born so that she could rock as
she nursed. Instead she extended her arm and pointed to the ornate carved
headboard. But amongst the numerous flowers and patterns, was a word,
lovingly etched into the glossy yew. It had taken Will six weeks to make
and was their pride and joy.

Lwaxana was stunned into silence, but Deanna never stopped, "That, Mother,
says ‘I love you, Deanna.‘

But before she could comment, Deanna took her arm again and led her into
Lauren‘s ‘twee‘ room and pointed to the mobile hanging above the crib. The
intricate shapes danced in the gentle breeze that wafted through the
slightly ajar window. Stars, planets and rockets of varying bright colours
sparkled as they twisted, the glittery glints bouncing off the walls.

Deanna whispered, harsher than she wanted to but couldn‘t stop herself,
"That mobile says ‘Daddy loves you, Lauren.‘

When Deanna returned downstairs, Lwaxana sheepishly followed behind, but
Deanna hadn‘t finished yet. Swinging open the back door, she stood with her
arms stiffly folded in the frame waiting for her to get near enough for her
to see outside.

Deanna nodded her head towards the tree swing, silently admiring the
structure and remembering the last time the three of them had sat in it.
Will‘s arm had been around her shoulders as his other hand alternately
lovingly stroked his daughter‘s soft cheek and then his wife‘s.

"See that swing, Mother, that is a future of precious times in our garden,
with our children, together. It may not be all the time, but those times
will be cherished."

Lwaxana looked around the garden finally seeing it for the first time.  The
sturdy fence around its edge - to keep their daughter safe. The tiny
sandpit in the corner, ready for when Lauren was old enough to play in it,
probably for hours.  She saw the bird bath, the flowers, none of which were
prickly. And finally her misty eyes came back to the swing. She watched it
sway in the summer breeze and the image of the three of them swam before
her eyes. The laughter rang in her ears and the love surrounded her soul.

Finally her eyes met Deanna‘s but was relieved to see nothing but
understanding and forgiveness, "I‘m sorry, Little one, forgive me."

Deanna smiled, "Sure, but only if you go and put the kettle on while I try
and scrape this mess off the kitchen floor..."

The two women turned to face the scene before them. One went off in the
direction of the utility room for the mop and bucket, the other took off
her jacket and rolled up her sleeves...