Story number 2 because I said I would. Not sure if this is quite up to the standard of the first one, but I think it's quite close. I apologise for any spelling errors in advance - it took me half an hour to check this and some of the things my computer found weren't even in English!


Summary: Not about a landrover! People find stuff out.
Rating: PG-13 (some minor violence, stress, ect)
Pairing: I wonder?
Archive: It's yours if you want it, just so long as its still mine, if you know what I mean!
Set: post Nemesis, but not too much.
Disclaimer: Don't sue, unless you want my monopoly set - because that's the only type of money I have.
Oh yeah, and paramount own everything, we grovel at their feet, ect, ect,

Commander Serrian Kuraitis newly appointed first officer of the USS Titain was a man well used to keeping his cool. Once as a lowly helm operator he had been forced to take command of a boarder patrol vessel in the middle of a fire fight. Shields were down and his CO was dead; killed by a ruptured plasma conduit as the bridge was wracked by phaser fire. Out gunned and out manuvered it should have been the last mission for all of them, but some how he had managed to get the small ship to safety. His actions that day had lead to the first of many commendations for calm thinking under pressure. Right now however, he was nervous. His eyes flicked to the bridge chrono. It was over fifteen minutes since he'd received the transport request and there was still no sign of the captain. Something wasn't right, and while neither his Orion grandfather nor his human mother should have given him any form of extra sensory perception, it didn't take a clairvoyant to figure out that what ever had happened, it was serious. He didn't even realise he was drumming his fingers against the arm of his chair until the young woman staffing the nearby science station threw him a curious glance.
"Do you have a problem, Ensign?" He snapped, sorry for his harsh tone as soon as the words had left his mouth. It was one of the first things they taught you about command. No matter how angry, how concerned you become over a situation, never let your crew see it; and never, never take it out on one of them. What had Riker reduced him to? Unable to sit still any longer he stood, making his way over to tactical, desperate to find something that might explain what had happened down on the planet. Finally, after a delay that had seemed to last an eternity the turbo lift doors hissed open. It wasn't the Captain who entered however, but lieutenant Tharek, their Andorian chief of security. To his credit, Kuraitis allowed the other man enough time to approach before asking after the still absent commanding officer.
"He's in sickbay," the answer, like the man who gave it was blunt, with no time wasted on useless pleasantries, or polite words. And if the lack of respect in his tone bothered the first officer at all he had the good sense not to make an issue out of it on the bridge. Andorians were by nature abrasive, and this particular Andorian seemed to have formed an immediate dislike of him. Tharek did at least have enough knowledge of protocol to keep his voice at a level below which any of the junior officers might be able to hear.
"I knew I shouldn't have let him lead the away team," In truth of course when Riker claimed captain's prerogative there hadn't been a lot he could have done to prevent it.
"The captain's not injured,"
Kuraitis frowned at that, if Riker wasn't injured, what was he doing in sick bay? Unless... "Oh my god,"

After a career filled with danger and life threatening situations, Will Riker realised that he had never been so helpless nor so scared as he was at that moment. Sitting in the safe, comfortable environment of the CMO's office with nothing to do but wait as the woman he loved fought for her life in the adjoining room. And while he waited the circumstances which had lead to her being in there, like that kept running through his head, repeating themselves in unnerving clarity over, and over and over again.
When he closed his eyes he was back there, standing rigid in the heart of the structure as the blast hit, screaming the order to run as the great stone ceiling started to collapse in on them. He could actually feal the heat of the fire against his skin, the way the dust from the crumbling masonry mixed with the smoke making it impossible to breath. Ghosts of screams still echoed in his ears with the stampede of feet as they tried to get out. But most vivid in his rememberings was the moment his heart thought it was going to shatter into a thousand pieces. The moment she stopped running beside him and turned back into the chaos. He never had time to ask her how she'd known they'd left somebody behind, but he could remember calling after her, shouting her name begging her, ordering her not to go. It had been useless, of course, with all the noise she couldn't possibly have heard, and even if she had he knew she would have ignored him anyway.
Casting her mind through the devastation around her, she'd quickly located a little boy, about four years old, still crouching where he'd fallen not far behind the main group, and she'd called back to say they were coming out. She'd almost made it to the door when the great wooden beams that had supported the porch way started to tremble ominously in their place. There was no way she could have hoped to make it out carrying the extra weight when the beams started to tumble, but some how she managed to push the child clear. He was forced to watch in horror as she lurched towards him, trying desperately to get out of the way as the wooden monolith crashed down towards her. He knew he'd never forget the panic in her eyes as she'd looked at him then, reaching out, pleading with him to do something, her scream as the beam hit her, the splintering crunch of wood on stone, and the sickening crack as her head hit the hard floor. When the dust cleared, he had been able to see her there, lying where she had fallen, broken pieces of building still pinning her to the ground, her hands outstretched only metres from where he stood. It was the stuff nightmares were made of.
The rescue mission that had gone wrong. Every time he went through it, he came to the same conclusion. It was his fault. He should have been more careful. He should never have lead them into that hall. It was far too convenient that the trapped civilians could have been found all together like that, that the rubble blocking the doorway could be so easily cleared by star fleet's advanced recovery equipment. Almost as if some one had known the could move it, known they'd be able to get in side. Which they had, of course. He should have realised that with the negotiations in progress they could become targets for the Oren separatists as well. But he'd been to caught up in his own success to see it, to relieved to find those people still alive after five days of searching, and too tired to recognise the warning signs when they presented themselves. And he'd let her walk in there behind him. Damn it was his orders that had made her part of the team to start with. Her empathic sense might have proved invaluable in their search, that's what he had told her, but if he was honest with himself, he'd had other motives. He'd known that she wasn't much more accurate than their portable scanners in a situation like this, they didn't need to discover the emotional state of the missing civilians, just their location; he didn't need her there to report on their mental health, he'd just wanted her close to him - and away from the appreciative eyes of that junior minister. If she never woke up, he knew he'd have to carry that knowledge with him for the rest of his days. What he didn't know was how he'd ever forgive himself.
It was almost three agonising hours later when Dr SeCara walked through the office doors. In appearance the Bajoran woman couldn't have been further from Beverly Crusher, short and athletic with intense hazel green eyes and her blonde hair pulled back into a severe pony tail, she was hardly unattractive but not what he would have called the feminine type either, still, she shared Bev's skill and sharp wits coupled with more years of battle field experience than he'd had in space. At least he knew that Deanna was in safe hands here. She looked at him with a mixture of exhaustion, concern, - and could that be relief as she stood, just inside the door unsure of how close she should get to her captain at a time like this. There was something wrong, he could tell by the way she finally slumped into the couch beside him, resting her head in her hands for a while before she dared to meet his eyes. And when she did there was such pain in his crystal blue depths, such desperation that it stole her breath.
"We've managed to get her stabilised, Sir," she said at last, watching his heart soar before her eyes, and hating what she had to say next. "But we can't wake her up. I don't understand it, surgery went well, and the damage to her brain tissue was minimal, she should be conscious,"
"Are you sure?" he asked, pleading with her to be wrong, "Is there something you could have missed?"
"We've tried nearly everything, Sir, I just can't get her to open her eyes," Her voice was cold, distant, but thick with restrained emotion, and he knew that if she hadn't turned away he would have seen the very real anguish behind her eyes. There was enough of the horrors she'd witnessed in the past contained in the official logs for him to realise that right now she was reliving every time she'd been in this kind of situation before, and how often she'd been forced to admit defeat.
But this wasn't Bajor, this was Star fleet, they had all the medical technology of the Federation at their disposal, there had to be something they could do "Nearly?" he clung onto that word like a life preserver, "You mean there is something else you could try?"
"There's a new compound from Betazed," she explained reluctantly, "called tetracortamine, it works by kick starting the regenerative cells in the paracortex, which has the effect of stimulating the rest of the brain,"
"But," he asked, knowing that the doctor wouldn't have needed to discus this with him if it was a normal part of procedure.
"It's still in the experimental stage, no one's ever used it on a hybrid brain, and there's no way to tell what it will do to the baby," and it was the way she said it, so calmly, so innocuous, as if she was totally unaware that she had just turned his world upside down
His head snapped up, eye's wide with shock, "the baby?" he whispered, disbelieving, "She's pregnant?"
"She said she was going to tell you," said the doctor quietly, only now realising the impact her words were having, "I thought you knew,"
"No," he shook his head for emphasis, "When did she find out?"
"A few days ago, she came in here complaining of head aches and dizziness, she said she'd been getting them for a while, and she hadn't thought it was important, but with the mission to Oren coming up, she'd wanted it checked out, just in case,"
"Sounds like Deanna,"
SeCara shrugged, not really knowing her patient well enough yet to make that kind of judgement "I ran a scan, and we found out she was pregnant," she looked up at him then, concerned for how he might be handling all this, "She was a little worried about how you'd react, I think, but she promised me she'd tell you before you left for Oren,"
Now it was Will's turn to look away, "I think she tried," he said, "right before the mission, we were meant to have dinner together, she said she had something important to tell me, but I got called away early, and I never found out what it was,"
"I'm so sorry, you shouldn't have had to find out like this,"
"It wasn't you're fault," he said, then he paused, remembering what they'd originally been talking about, "Doctor, this wonder drug," he asked cautiously, "What's going to happen if you don't give it to her?"
"As far as I can tell, she might never wake up," She drew a deep breath before pushing on, "And if she's unconscious for much longer I'm afraid that her brain might start shutting its self down completely,"
"And I'd loose them both," he stared down at the deck for what seemed to her like an eternity, silently praying that he was making the right choice, before his head came back up, and still not looking at the doctor, he said, "all right, do it,"
The Bajoran stood silently, and with an awkward squeeze of his shoulder, returned to sickbay to carry out his wishes, and he was left once more to wait it out.

It felt as if her mind had been set free. Floating in the dark, separated for that brief moment from the chaotic onslaught of emotion that followed her even into her dreams, Deanna Troi knew silence for the first time in nearly a decade. She was able to relax for the first time with out fear of being overwhelmed, to completely let go of her carefully constructed barriers and heave a mental sigh of relief. And it was as she stretched out into this gentle oblivion that she felt it. The first stirrings of a new life, not yet coherent enough to be called a thought, or even an emotion, but it was there all the same. She felt her self smile at the intruder, recognising it immediately and reached out to the growing child. Instinctively she pulled it closer, surrounding it in warmth, already trying to protect it from anything that might mean it harm. And to her surprise and sheer delight, it seemed to 'move' at her touch, changing somehow as if it recognised her presence, although it was unable, for now to respond in kind.
It was a phenomenon she'd heard about when she was growing up on Betazed, but one she'd never dreamt she would experience for herself. She could remember the first time one of her teachers had tried to explain it to her class, the way his voice had dropped when his eyes met hers, the waves of pity she'd felt rolling off him as he realised what she'd already managed to work out on her own. This was a sacred event, the first sharing of mother and child in the early stages of pregnancy had an almost mythical quality to it. It was also extremely rare, even amongst the most gifted telepaths, and she was the product of a mixed marriage. Her abilities were diluted by her human heritage, and there was just no way that she would ever be strong enough to block out the emotions of those around her to the extent that she would need to pick out the quiet emanations of a developing child, unless something drastic happened. But something had happened, a falling pillar that had almost cost her her life had given her the impossible, and she thanked the gods for their precious gift.
The serenity wasn't to last though, and just as suddenly as it had been achieved, the connection was ripped away. A blinding white light exploded into the darkness, breaking open the floodgates to her mind, and a thousand outside thoughts and emotions crashed through the breach. The intensity of the physical pain it caused was beyond her ability to contain and she was forced to abandon the fragile link to her child and open her eyes as she woke, screaming into the world of men.
Strong practised hands clamped around her arms, holding her in place as she struggled to shield herself from the onslaught, a firm, calming voice telling her to concentrate, to block it out. But she couldn't. They'd caught her at her most vulnerable, and she was trapped amongst the chaos invading her mind, unable to find the stability she needed to centre herself and reconstruct her mental barriers. Her hands reached desperately for her head, wrapping themselves in her long hair as she started to panic. Her heart hammered against her chest, threatening to break through, large dark eyes stared unseeing around her searching for something familiar, and she felt her self shaking as she called out again and again, pleading for somebody to help her.
Then, some where behind the din, she heard a woman's voice asking for a tranquilliser, and a hiss before she felt the vice squeezing her mind relax, and balance returned. Blinking as the haze lifted from her eyes, she found herself looking into the doctor's face. "Doctor?" she asked, not quite believing, "where am I?"
"Sickbay, they beamed you back to the ship after that place collapsed," the doctor said, checking a few read outs on the overhead panel, "You gave us quite a scare for a while there,
"Is everything OK," there was a quaver in her voice as she asked "The baby?"
The doctor smiled down at her, truly glad to have the younger woman awake and lucid after so long, and remembering how protective she'd felt when she'd realised she was pregnant for the first time. Every bump was a minor emergency, but then if she'd suffered these kind of injuries when she was pregnant, she knew that there was no way she would have recovered from them. "The baby's fine Deanna," she said, using the counsellor's given name for the first time since they'd come aboard, "but I want you to be very careful for a while, smallest sign of trouble I want you to come see a doctor," she advised
"All right, what about Will?"
Her smile widened, "He's fine too, refuses to leave my office until he knows you're all right, but he's fine,"
Deanna knew there was something that the doctor wasn't telling her, and from the waves of guilt coming off her, she could guess exactly what it was, "You told him, didn't you?"
"I'm sorry," she found that she couldn't look the younger woman in the face, "I thought he knew,"
"He should have," now it was the counsellor's turn to feel uncomfortable, "I should have told him days ago," she admitted.
"Do you want me to show him in?"
"That would be great, thanks,"

Will Riker practically ran across the main sickbay until he drew level with her biobed. He just stood there for a while, drinking in the site of her and giving thanks to what ever gods there were that she was still alive. Then, tenderly, he reached forward to brush a stray lock of raven hair from her face and leaned down to kiss her. As he straitened back up, he noticed the small smile that lit up her eyes as they both realised where his spare hand still rested, and he smiled back, caressing her still flat stomach as he did so.
"Are you all right about this?" she asked, sounding more vulnerable than he'd ever heard her.
"Deanna, I'm thrilled," he said honestly, "I was a little shocked when I found out, but now I can't imagine it any other way,"
She smiled up at him with tears welling in her beautiful onyx eyes, "Thank you,"
"Imzadi," he whispered gently wiping away the little beads of salt water as they fell." I didn't do anything,"
"You're here," she said simply "its enough,"
"I love you so much," his voice was thick with emotion, making it hard for her to hear the words, but the feelings came through clear enough. Fear and guilt as well as passionate relief. He'd always been protective of her, from the day they first met, and having her hurt like this, he felt like he had failed her some how. "I don't know what I'd do if........."
"Sshhh," she lifted a weary arm, reaching for his bearded face and brushing her fingers across his lips to quiet him. "I'm all right,"
"This time,"
"This time," she acknowledged, studying him carefully for a moment before adding, "I heard you,"
"What?" He frowned, confused by the sudden leap in conversation.
A gentle sigh escaped her lips and she closed her eyes, unwilling to look at him as she answered. "When I turned back into the building. I heard you calling for me, ordering me not to go." Even without seeing him she knew when he stepped back. She heard his sharp intake of breath at her admission, felt his anger flash painfully against her empathic sense. He'd been blaming himself for her injuries, and she could only imagine what he had put himself through while she had been unconscious. "I'm sorry," she whispered, knowing that it was inadequate.
The anxious hours spent in the doctor's office had taken their toll, and though he wanted to ask her why she had done it he didn't want to shout at her. He knew if he tried to speak to her now that he wouldn't be able to stop himself. So he took another step back, away from her, taking a few deep calming breaths and searching for that peaceful centre she'd taught him about before asking, "why did you do it, Deanna?"
His anguish would have been clear even to a non-empath and it forced her to open eyes now moist with his tears as well as her own. "I could feel him being left behind," she said softly "It was all I could think about. He was terrified. He didn't know what was going on, why people were running, so he hid. I had to find him. At that moment, it was all that mattered. Everything else, you, the explosion, just faded away." It was a poor explanation for what had happened, in a language that lacked the words for a better description. The uniquely Betazoid affliction occurred somewhere beyond the grasp of the human consciousness, when another being's experiences were so pervasive, so overpowering that they drove everything else out. It wasn't possession exactly, she still knew who she was, but instinct had taken over. Someone else's instinct. She was forced to either do something to alleviate the symptom, or become trapped by it.
"Ananoseyrra?" He asked, realisation starting to dawn.
She smiled slightly, and nodded. Few outsiders knew about the condition, but she wasn't really surprised that her husband was one of them. "It's one of the reasons star fleet was so worried about letting us serve on star ships, especially as officers."
He smiled back, anger washed away by understanding, "Just try to be careful in the future - it's not just you I nearly lost today,"
"I know," her hand drifted back to her abdomen and the smile fell away, "But I don't understand it. This has never happened to me before,"
"They say that pregnancy does strange things to a woman, maybe this is one of them," he teased lightly leaning down to kiss the small worried crease that had formed between her brows.
"Oh, so you're an expert now?"
"Give me a few months and I'm sure I'll be able to give Dr SeCara a run for her money," he said only pulling far enough away to get a better view of her face. No matter how many times he saw her, how much time passed, he was still amazed at how utterly beautiful she was. "You're gorgeous, you know that," he told her, not giving her a chance to respond before closing the gap between them once more, this time to claim her mouth with his.
It started out innocently enough, with the gentle passing of his beard across her soft skin and the teasing brush of a tongue on her lips. Then slowly, as her jaw relaxed and he felt her begin to respond beneath him their link took over. Eyes slid shut and she leaned up unthinking to trap his lower lip between her teeth. Tugging him back towards her she released with a low moan, licking the tiny amount of blood away. That singularly aggressive move sparked his already growing arousal and he pushed his way inside her mouth, his tongue exploring, demanding to know everything in that small space. Hearts raced together, breathing became shallow and irregular, and time stood still. Unbidden his hand slipped from where it cradled her face along the graceful column of her neck and lower still to cup her breast as the universe fell away in a passionate haze.
When they finally broke apart flushed from the encounter and gasping for air, the captain turned his head to see his CMO standing by the door. Her hands rested on her hips and she wore a disapproving frown that made her nose ridges stand out even more than usual. She was obviously none too pleased to see him molesting one of her patients so soon after she'd regained consciousness, regardless of their marital status or the fact that they both technically out ranked her. If there was one thing he had learnt from his long years of service with Beverly Crusher it was that doctors were extremely territorial when it came to protecting the sanctity of their sickbays. You could order them around as much as you liked up on the bridge, but down here they were gods. Or at least they thought they were.
Dr SeCara seemed to be no exception as she marched forward, seemingly secure in her belief, and deliberately miss quoting Admiral McCoy stated "This is a hospital, not a brothel, if you don't mind!" Her captain had the good grace to look embarrassed, and she treated him to one of her rare smiles. She really wasn't the ogre many took her for. "At least we know you care," she said charitably before turning to Deanna and asking, "I take it this means everything's all right?"
"Yes, thank you," Troi's smile took on a bit of the imp as she looked back at the older woman, "I was just trying to persuade the captain to pull a few strings and get me out of here a little early,"
"Hazard a guess that with a technique like that most people find it quite difficult to say no to you!" The Bajoran's eyes shone with amusement, but for the benefit of her captain she managed to keep her laughter to her self.
"Especially her husband," Riker nodded his agreement, and his thanks for the doctor's restraint.
Deanna showed no such consideration however, when with elegantly arched brows she pointed out "Your mouth was otherwise engaged at the time dear!"
This time SeCara was forced to turn away to hide her smirk, and Will decided that it was time to change the subject before things got any worse for him. "What do you think, doctor?" He asked "can I take her home?"
The light banter was forgotten in an instant as the Bajoran woman shifted back into the role of concerned physician, "she needs time to recover, sir, her body has gone through a great deal, and she'll be very weak for a few days," when she saw that he was about to object, her expression softened and she spoke directly to the counsellor, "I see no reason why you can't get the rest you need in your quarters, but I don't want you to attempt anything strenuous, and I won't be clearing you for duty until I'm absolutely certain you're up to it."
Riker frowned at the apparent ease with which she agreed, "Some how I expected you to put up more of a fight, Beverly-"
"I'm not Doctor Crusher," she cut him off before he could finish the thought. "I've seen people recover from far more in far less luxurious surroundings. The computer can monitor her vitals, and I see no reason to clutter up my sickbay with patients who would be happier and more comfortable in their own quarters."
"Fair enough," he allowed. There wasn't really a lot more he could say. It was clear from her slightly aggressive defence of her position that she had her patients best interests at heart, something she shared with Crusher, and just about every other doctor he had ever met, it was just that her methods would take a while to get used to.
The doctor's posture relaxed and she acknowledged his acceptance with a nod, "I just need to run a few more scans," she told them pulling out her tricorder, "The results will take a couple of hours, but after that you can be on your way."
Troi smiled her thanks before looking up at her husband and asking "Shouldn't you let the bridge know what's going on?"
"It's OK, I sent Tharek up there after he'd been checked out,"
"Tharek's on the bridge?"
He nodded
"With Kuraitis?"
His eyes widened in momentary alarm, but the he reasoned "I'm sure they'll be fine, they're both star fleet officers after all,"

"Mr Tharek, a word in the conference room, if you would," announced the first officer, just loud enough for the whole bridge to hear. The green ensigns on the fore deck straightened visibly at his authoritative tone, but the intended target of his displeasure failed to react. Instead the Andorian security chief simply turned and preceded the commander through the doors. They'd barely made it inside before Kuraitis rounded on him. "I've had enough of your attitude, Lieutenant" he snapped "I am your superior officer and you will give me the respect I deserve!"
Tharek stood impassive, staring directly into the other man's eyes. The only visible sign of tension were his antennae which quivered slightly atop his close cropped skull. "In my culture," he began calmly, "A man must prove that he is worthy of such respect, Sir,"
The first officer's eyes narrowed, not liking what was being insinuated, but unable to do anything because the security chief had made it an issue of race. "You respect the Captain," he pointed out instead.
"There is not any one in the Federation who wouldn't." Tharek stated "The Sindareen, Romulans, Cardassians, the Dominion, The Borg." His blue lips curled up into what might have been an Andorrian sneer as he regarded Kuraitis, "I believe he even had a run in with an Orion pirate early in his career. His achievements and valour are a matter of record. Sir."
Kuraitis completely ignored the penultimate statement, and struggled to hide a smile at the last, believing the burley alien had just played right into his hands. "Of record?" He repeated, unable to hold back the note of triumph in his voice, "Have you read my service record, Mr Tharek?"
"I have,"
"Then you are aware of my achievements, of my valour?"
Tharek smiled, "I am aware that you have been in the right place at the right time, and that you conducted your self as I would have expected any officer to do in a similar situation,"
"And the commendations?"
"A man might be able to think, but can he act?"
"And if all he does is act?" He asked, "I've read your file too,"
The Andorrian bristled, "I've never lost a captain."
"And what about your own life?" Although he kept his expression calm, the first officer's voice was hushed and quivering with barely controlled anger. "How many times has that been put in danger by your reckless actions? What happens to the captain if you die? What happens if the ship is left without a chief of Security? You put us all in danger with you so called heroics!"
"I do my job."
"No you don't. You are a body guard, not a security officer!"
"And you, with all due respect, are a petulant child hiding in the shadow of a great man! Sir!"
"Say what you really think, Lieutenant," if Kuraitis hadn't been so incensed he might have laughed.
Tharek took a deep cleansing breath, and his expression returned to its former glacial calm. It would have felt good to beat some sense into this cocky, over rated piece of work, but it wasn't worth sacrificing his career over. "I do not believe you have the necessary experience to fill such an important position aboard this ship, sir," he said neutrally.
The first officer likewise forced himself to cool off some, if only to not be out done by his junior. "Be sure you're not mistaking youth for inexperience, if that's really all that's bothering you," he said
"Yes, Sir," having said his piece the security chief was unwilling to let the argument drag on any longer than it had to.
"Then you are dismissed," Kuraitis allowed himself a relieved sigh as he watched the other man leave. This looked like the beginning of a very long, very difficult tour of duty. Their positions necessitated that he would have to work closely with Tharek, and to do so efficiently they would have to put their personal animosity to one side. He didn't doubt his own ability to eventually earn the Andorrian's respect, but he had a feeling that there was more to the older man's dislike of him than he was letting on.

The captain in him woke reluctantly that morning, pulled too soon from sleep by the persistent, unfeeling, computerised alarm. Leaning over to turn it off, Will brushed against the delicate form of his wife, still blissfully unaware of the world around her. He smiled, glad that one of them at least would get some much needed rest, and sat back to watch her.
She looked so peaceful as she lay there bathed in starlight. Her dark hair, curling up rebelliously after her shower last night, spilled across the pillow beneath her framing her angelic face. A gentle, trusting smile graced her lips, reminding him of the first time he had seen her like this while her thin cotton shift hid the evidence of the time that had passed. She had been so young then, barely more than a girl when he had found her in the jungle, although he hadn't known it at the time. No wonder her mother had wanted to kill him when they got back.
Sometimes he looked at his wife and wondered what had happened to the naive young woman he had left on Betazed. She had grown up of course, they both had, but occasionally she would say something, or do something that would remind him of how they used to be. Even after living in the same cruel universe as the rest of them, witnessing the horrors of man and nature, after being hurt and betrayed, Deanna had some how managed to preserve a measure of her former innocence. She was still warm, and open, and honest despite what she had suffered over the years, and her soul was still as captivatingly beautiful as the body which housed it. At least to him. And now there would be someone else for her to share it with. He wondered briefly what their child would make of its mother.
She loved children, and they seemed to return her affection. He had always known she'd be wonderful with some of her own. She had a very nurturing spirit and her experiences, first with her own son Ian Andrew, then with Alexander, proved she was more than capable of caring for a child.
She seemed to notice his scrutiny and her soft lashes fluttered open to look up at him with the darkest pair of eyes he had ever known. "What?" She asked sleepily.
"Well, good morning to you to!" He chuckled, then realising she was still curious about the complative emotions which had woken her, he added, "I was just thinking,"
"About me?"
"Yes," he nodded, his hand sliding down to rest above where their baby now grew, "And this,"
Her voice and the emotions she was projecting through their link took on a note of concern, "Will, we hadn't talked about this, hadn't planned it, are you sure we're ready,"
"It's about time, don't you think," he said, smiling, "The war is over, the galaxy is finally starting to settle down, and we're going to be engaged in mainly diplomatic missions for the next few years,"
"Just because something is diplomatic doesn't mean it is completely free of danger," she pointed out reasonably, "the last couple of days should have made that abundantly clear,"
"We will never be able to please everyone, but incidents like that will become the exception," he smiled grimly, "and I'll be damned if I put you in danger like that again,"
"It wasn't your fault,"
"I know,"
"Good," she said tolerantly, now almost completely absorbed by the feeling of his fingers against her skin as he traced lazy circles across her stomach, "Now, are you sure about this?"
"I want this for us. We're both old enough and mature enough for the responsibility," he smiled down at her, capturing her with the mischievous sparkle in his crystal eyes, "Hell, I think I'm too old!"
She wasn't buying it for a second, "No you don't."
"Well I'm older than you," he tried to defend himself, all the while knowing that it was a hopeless cause. He'd never be able to deceive an empath. Still it was fun to try, and who knew, maybe one day she'd let him get away with it.
"I wouldn't bet on it," she said, responding to his unspoken thoughts.
"What did you say?" He asked, clearly confused by what he hoped was just an intuitive guess at what he had been thinking. He hadn't been projecting, and she shouldn't have been able to focus that tightly, even through their link, without his help.
"You weren't projecting," she did it again, "You just said 'I know I can't lie to you, but maybe one day you'll let me get away with it,'" she frowned, "Didn't you?"
"Deanna, are you feeling all right?" He didn't like to admit it but this new twist in her mental abilities - if that's what it was - was starting to unnerve him. "Maybe we should get the doctor to check you over again, just in case,"
Dark eyes rolled back to regard him, disbelieving. This really was the height of hypocrisy. The man hated being stuck anywhere remotely 'medical' for any length of time, yet he was more than ready to commit everyone else to sickbay for the slightest ailment. Still, she was touched by his concern, and couldn't help smiling up into his worried azure gaze. "Relax," she told him softly, "All the scans came back clear, how much can really have changed in a few hours?"
"If you're sure,"
"I am," she could tell he wasn't completely convinced, but decided that, on balance, it was something he could live with. "So, when are we due on the bridge, Captain?"
"About forty min..." He trailed off as he realised what she'd said, shaking his head in mild disapproval. She looked slightly to innocently at him and he found himself trying to suppress his silent laughter, "Oh no you don't," he said. "SeCara hasn't cleared you for duty, and she doesn't strike me as the kind of woman I'd want to get on the wrong side of."
"And she hasn't even shown you her collection of knives yet," said Troi, only half teasing.
"Really?" Will couldn't decide if she was joking or not.
Deanna nodded, taking note of his confusion, and explaining, "She'd probably give Worf a run for his money. I walked into her office on our first day here to find her hanging a machete on the wall!"
"I've never noticed it,"
"Yes well," she offered him her most disarming smile, "I - tactfully - pointed out that it might not be the most reassuring thing for someone to see walking into a consultation with their surgeon."
"I'm glad," he chuckled, "What is it with doctors and sharp objects, any way? I seem to remember Bev being quite handy with a batleth,"
Deanna shrugged, "Maybe they're just trying to make up for lost scalpels."
"Maybe," he smiled running a gentle hand through her unruly morning hair.
"So, can I at least walk you to your office?" She asked
"I don't see why not, although," his smile broadened, "it might be an idea for us both to get dressed first,"
"I suppose so," she said, doing her best to sound disappointed, but not quite able to pull it off as she sent him an image of herself emerging naked from a turbo lift onto the bridge. As she watched storm clouds of desire started to gather in his eyes, and she felt something hot flash through her, but when he reached for her, she darted away, denying him what he so obviously wanted. She was already half way across the room when she called out to him "Race you to the bathroom!"
"Minx!" He hissed, throwing back the covers and giving chase.

Will reached the door just in time to have it shut in his face, but as he was about to turn away in disgust something stopped him. Deanna's soft melodious laughter filtered through from the other side; a high note of joy in the tension of the last few days . And rather than retreat back to the comfortable sanctuary of their bedroom he stood there, and he smiled. Resting his head against the cold metal that separated them he at last allowed himself to release the relieved sigh he had been holding back since he'd woken, giving thanks to the gods of his ancestors and hers for being able to hear that sound again. She was alive and happy and home with him. It was almost enough to make him forget that he was the one she was laughing at. Almost.
It hadn't been fair of course. She was more agile, faster on her feet than him anyway; and then there had been the head start. She also had the easy grace that allowed her to avoid running headlong into large immovable objects - like the sofa for example - as she flew through rooms in the semi-darkness. Any sensible person would have admitted defeat after the first time they landed in an inelegant heap on the lounge rug. But he'd never been particularly sensible when it came to Deanna and if their relationship had taught him anything it was that persistance payed off. Still he had been soundly beaten and he was going to have the bruises to prove it. Oh well, maybe later he could get her to kiss them better!
With that in mind he settled into a chair near to the view port to indulge in a spot of star gazing while he waited for her. Even after living amongst them for so many years they still facinated him. The stars called to him now, just as they had for every day of his earthbound child hood. He would always be an explorer, he realised, but he knew as the captain of a star ship what he hadn't in his youth. That exploration didn't always mean traipsing across the galaxy, and that stars were sometimes at their most beautiful seen twinkling through a planet's atmosphere. It had been his wife who had helped him see those things. Leaning back he caught sight of his reflection in the reinforced glass and wondered briefly what the universe would think if it choose to look in. Sitting naked in the dark with tousled hair and satisfied eyes, it appeared as if he was out of breath from rather more than a sprint to the shower. But that hadn't been the case for a couple of nights, and with the pregnancy and the accident he wasn't sure if he should. She had seemed so fragile lying on that biobed and he didn't want to hurt her.
His thoughts were interrupted by a gentle mechanical hiss from behind him. Deanna stepped from the bathroom looking for all the world like Aphrodite emerging from the waves. She was barely covered by the towel she had wrapped around herself, her cheeks were flushed from the steam, black eyes fairly shining as she regarded him. All the blood rushed from his head and for a moment he was unable to do anything save letting out a low appreciative whistle.
"My god, Deanna," he managed hoarsely when he was able to find his voice again, "you look good enough to eat!"
She moved closer, offering him a sinful smile before bending down to whisper "Then why don't you?" in his ear.
He swallowed hard, fighting the sensation of her warm breath tingling against his skin, "The accident," he reasoned, "I don't want t-" but there was no conviction behind his words and all it took to silence him was the brush of one delicate finger across his lips.
"Ssshh," she murmured, replacing the finger with her mouth as she slid effortlessly into his lap, "Do I look like I'm injured?"
Her tong danced across his lips sped by little teasing kisses, enticing not demanding his response this time. There were small touches, flashes of feeling, the barest hints of what she could give him but nothing more. Images of them together that melted like snow flakes as soon as they formed. It was only a kiss but it was slowly driving him wild with anticipation. And as the delicious torture continued he found himself willingly drowning in her essence. Clear blue eyes darkened and fell shut and he reached for her, trying to pull her inside as their contact deepened. She shifted against him causing a low moan to develop in the base of his throat and all of his concerns evaporated in the heat of her caress. Everything he knew now was her: her tong massaging his, her hands, her towel against his naked chest, and her spirit as it wove their minds together. It was an amazing feeling to be so consumed by another being and he couldn't get enough.
As the kiss continued his hands searched out the satiny skin of her legs. Tracing an intimate path beneath the soft fabric that hid her, her heard her gasp as he grazed her inner thighs. The towel fell away and she squirmed under the gentle pressure of his fingers. Her movements spurred him on and he repeated the motion, stroking up across her stomach to rest above their developing child. She smiled against his lips, revelling in his acceptance and the unconscious protection he offered them, before pulling back to look at him through smouldering black eyes.
His chest was heaving from the intensity of their encounter, heavy lids almost covering his beautiful eyes, but he was smiling too. "Shower with me?" He asked softly.
"But I just-"
"I think you missed a bit,"

Twenty three minutes later Will was standing, eyes looking straight ahead, listening to the steady mechanical whirr of the 'lift. In his mind he was going through the hand positions for night bird, recalling drill patterns from the academy, pondering the intricacies of advanced fluid dynamics - trying to think of anything except his wife fidgeting beside him. The relaxed mood of the early morning had vanished the moment she stepped foot outside their quarters, and now she seemed completely incapable of keeping still. It had started with little things, like flexing her fingers, or rolling her shoulders, and the occasional tap of her foot, but things had escalated quickly and by the time she started to pace he found himself wanting to shout at her to stop and order her back to their room. It had to be equally disconcerting for her, she was usually the most collected person he knew and this sudden loss of control must have been frightening. He didn't have time to dwell on that however; she was slowly driving him nuts and it only seemed to be getting worse the closer they got to the bridge.
When the doors finally hissed open the reason for at least part of her agitation became clear. The atmosphere up there was oppressive to day the least: you would have been hard pressed to cut through it with a portable phase rig, let alone a knife! Kuraitis and Tharek were squared off in the command centre, the others watching with a strange mixture of curiosity and trepidation. Their eyes were locked, neither man moved, neither spoke. Nothing had happened yet but the captain could tell that unless he intervened quickly something was going to. He stepped forward, intending to force himself bodily between his two officers, but he never got the chance. Without warning a chilling scream sounded out from somewhere behind him and he turned just in time to see Deanna crumple to the floor clutching her head.
Burning anger ripped through her senses, cruelly searing away her defences, leaving her mind bare and open to attack. Thoughts, feelings, images poured in beyond her ability to decipher them and she fell. She didn't hear them call for help, couldn't see the worried faces that crowded round her, or feel her husband's desperate touch. She was aware of nothing save the unbearable pressure inside her head. It felt like her brain was going to explode and she had just enough of her self left to be scared but nothing more. She couldn't understand what was happening to her as she descended deeper into a world of pain and light. Then, as quickly as she had been overwhelmed it was gone.
Her vision cleared and she stood, but she was no longer on the bridge. She stared instead down an unfamiliar smoke filled corridor. Her ears were assaulted by panicked cries, and she was finding it difficult to breathe, but perhaps strangest of all was that she couldn't 'feel' anything. Red light pulsed over head, and the deck lurched violently beneath her, throwing her into the bulkhead before she started to run blindly into the chaos. She didn't know where she was going, but her feet took her, weaving around twisted metal and columns of electrical fire, over damaged equipment and broken bodies at alarming speed. People called to her from where they lay, and she wanted to stop to help, but her feet wouldn't let her. She just kept going. The corridor forked in front of her, and she caught a flash of something green moving in the gloom up ahead. She slowed, instinctively flattening herself against the cold metal wall and raising the weapon in her large blue hand. Whatever it was moved again, and an orange beam lanced out across the distance between them, impacting only inches above her head. She dropped into a crouch, inching closer to the unknown attacker and managed to get a shot off. It was the worst thing she could have done. They knew she was here now, and they knew exactly where she was. Suddenly the place filled with them. Orions. There was a furious exchange of fire, and some how she nailed a couple as they swarmed towards her, but it was no use, there were simply too many of them. The next blast caught her in the shoulder and she slumped barely conscious to the floor.
She must have been quite heavy because it took two of them to drag her to the holding cell. There were others in there, already waiting for her when they slung her in. Three adults, two women and a man, and five children all with the same blue skin and white hair as she had. A family group. They pulled her to them, helping her sit up as one of the women peeled back her uniform, trying to get a better look at her damaged shoulder. Then the force field crackled and one of their captors stepped inside wearing a stolen phaser rifle on his arm and a nasty sneer on his face.
"I'd like to thank you all for the valuable contribution your cargo has made to our cause," he let out a short bark of laughter and his sneer grew wicked, "But we can't allow you to tell any one about this, and unfortunately we have no room for passengers," he lifted the weapon and everything went mercifully black.

The first thing Deanna recognised as she started to come round was the smell. That sterile vaguely scientific odour that seemed to pervade every hospital room she had ever been in. She was back in sickbay. She struggled to open her eyes and for the second time in only twenty four hours she found her self staring up into the doctor's concerned face. SeCara hovered over her, a tricorder in her hand and a worried frown crinkling the ridges of her nose. Troi was about to ask her about what she'd found when she realised that there was some one else with them. A presence that warmed her soul as surely as it did the hand he clutched to his chest. Will was there. She turned towards his loving bearded face and smiled, satisfied that she was back where she belonged. Lifting her free hand, she studied it for a while, searching the delicate olive skin for any trace of blue before raising it to the shoulder she had thought was injured and finding nothing. Her husband watched her curiously glad she was awake but not sure what to make of her strange behaviour.
"What?" She asked, noticing his scrutiny.
"It doesn't matter," he told her, his voice soft, almost as if he feared louder speech would hurt her "I'm just glad you're all right. What happened?"
"I think Tharek need's counselling," she said,
Will smiled, trying to break the seriousness of the situation, "I know the perfect person for the job,"
"I don't know," she shook her head, not really listening as she sank back into the pillows, "He was so angry. It over powered me for a while and I ended up reliving some of his memories."
"That's not possible, is it?"
"It shouldn't be,"
Riker turned to SeCara, hoping that the Bajoran woman would have some answers "Doctor?" He asked.
"It appears that the tetracortamine did a little more than just wake you up. Today's trauma seems to have reversed it's affects though." She said "You may be a little more sensitive from now on, but I don't anticipate any further problems,"
"What about the baby?" Two concerned parents asked at once.
"Fine, the paracortex is developing a little faster than I would have guessed for a child with so much human DNA, but not enough to cause alarm. I think that this little one is going to be a very talented individual,"
Deanna's worried expression disappeared on hearing the doctor use one of Lwaxana's favourite phrases, replaced by a radiant smile, and Riker leaned over to kiss her, whispering an amazed "We're going to have a baby," into her hair.