by Kate

DISCLAIMER: Paramount is what its name suggests. No infringement intended or profit gained. TPTB own everything except my imagination.
SETTING: Post-Nemesis

His hand rested protectively over her rounded stomach. A trip-hammering action from within tapped gently against his hand. His crystal-clear blue eyes radiated utter amazement. Her depthless dark eyes sparkled with infinite love as she wrapped her hand over his.

"The little one is active today."

"Mother would smile if she heard you use that phrase."

"Yeah, she would, wouldn't she?"

"This addition will make her very happy. Another "Little One" to dote on, especially now that Barin is no longer so little."

"I don't think she will stop at doting, Deanna." A knowing laugh rumbled out of him.

"No, nor do I really. But she really does mean well, even if she…"

"Comes on like a ton of bricks?"

"Well yes…." His strong, solid arm snaked its way around her slim shoulders and his lips brushed her soft cheek like the fluttering wings of a butterfly.

"But you know that it comes from her heart, Will. It comes from love."

"Yeah, I do. Even if it's a bit…"

"Overwhelming at times?"

"Yes. Your mother is nothing if not overwhelming."

"But I'd rather be overwhelmed by love than the loneliness that comes from being ignored."

"Or held to standards you can't possibly meet."

"Like you were?'

"Yes, like I was…" She raised his large hand to her lips and placed a loving kiss on his fingers. A wave of her compassionate understanding washed through him, bringing an appreciative smile to his face.

"What would have made it different for you, Will?"

"My mother…She was so loving, so nurturing…I have a memory of her shortly before her death. I think I tripped or something. In any event, I scraped my knee and, as youngsters do, I went running to my mother in tears. I remember her gently cleaning and treating my knee. And then she drew me up into her arms and rocked me until I was calm again…My father would have simply told me to be a little man, that men don't cry and I shouldn't either…"

"You miss her, don't you?"

"To this day, even though I was so young when she died…I wish…"

"You wish what, Will?"

"That she hadn't died when she did. My childhood would have been so different if she had been alive. I missed out on so much without the love and compassion of a mother, the gentleness that could smooth anything over…"

"I can understand that, Will. For me, it was the love of a father that I grew up missing."

"You were young when he died, weren't' you?"

"Yes, but I remember him as if he were still alive…He was tall and strong. He protected me from the monsters that I imagined hid in my closet at night. He would pick me up in his arms to hug me, and I felt totally safe and secure and loved…"

"And your mother?"

"She was rather different when he was alive. More tolerant, less judgmental, less flamboyant…"

"Less embarrassing?"

"Well yes, actually. My father had a gentleness in him that smoothed the rough edges in nearly everyone he knew. His death took away that tempering touch from my mother. She was never the same after he died…"

An undulating movement was visible on the surface of her abdomen. Excitement and joy danced on both of their faces.

"So you still think this active one is a girl?"

"Without question."

"Must be that Betazoid sensitivity of yours."

"Yes, it is. One of the benefits of being Betazoid. You know well in advance what color to paint the nursery." A light chuckle spilled out of her mouth.

"Yeah, one less thing to be concerned about."

"What are you concerned about, Will?"

"Nothing more than the usual new parent worries I suppose. Healthy baby, normal childhood. That sort of thing…"

"Me too…"

"I guess that makes us normal parents-to-be, right?"


"No, what I spend more time thinking about is what I want *for* our child."

"What do you wish for the most for our child, Will?"

"More than anything else, I wish her love. The love of two parents. The kind of love I lost so early in my life."

"That's what I wish for her, too, Will. The big heart and strong arms of a loving father. A father like that who is around to watch her grow and who is there to love her and celebrate her, as my father was unable to do."

"But as I plan on being able to do…" His voice was rich with the sound of commitment.

"And me too…A child needs both things…The sheltering, all-accepting nurturance of a mother…The protective yet celebratory love of a father…"

"Is that the Counselor speaking, or the mother of our child?" A soft snicker accompanied his query.

"Neither. It's the view of someone who has learned through loss. Someone who hopes that our daughter will have what neither of us did."

"Well, I only hope that I can measure up to the task."

"Who, you? Will Riker, you have the biggest, softest heart of anyone I've known. I can't imagine you being anything other than the perfect father."

"Even though I never had a good role model?"

"In spite of that, Will. You've grown far beyond the emotionally confining circumstances of your youth. You've learned to love and trust."

"Thanks to you." He placed his hand gently on her cheek and touched his lips lightly to hers. A charge of his love and gratefulness surged across the contact made by their mouths.

"I know our child will have the kind of father she should. The kind I had and that you will be: strong, loving, protective and supportive."

"And I know without a doubt that our child will have the mother I wish I hadn't lost so early: gentle, loving, nurturing, sheltering." Appreciative blue eyes bored into loving dark ones.

"Then our daughter will really have all she needs…" He wrapped her in a tight embrace and partook once again of the pleasures of her soft lips. Breaking the kiss, she added, "Because all the rest is details."

"That's right," he murmured as he leaned down to kiss her abdomen. "If you've got love, all the rest is details."