Kailyn's Choice

Disclaimer: Do I have to? :)

Author: Tracy


"Daddy, they got mad at me at school today," the little girl said, crawling up into the large man's lap.

His blue eyes widened and he caressed her jet colored curls. "They did? What happened honey?"

"They said that I was 'weird' because I could read their thoughts. But all I did was tell the truth! I heard one of them thinking that maybe I was Romulan because I was different from them, and all I said was, 'No I'm not, I'm part Betazoid'."

The man grinned. "And I can imagine what happened then!"

"Yeah. They got mad. They said I was scary and that I shouldn't go around reading people's thoughts. They said I was...evil."

William Riker pulled his six year old daughter close to his chest and held her tightly, kissing her pale rose cheek. "I'm sorry sweetheart. Sometimes humanoids aren't exactly nice to each other are they?"

She shook her little head and then lay it on his shoulder. Then her tiny shoulders moved and she began to cry. "No body likes me! I don't know why. I like them, Daddy. I really do!"

"Shh...I know baby. You're a wonderful little girl and anyone would be crazy not to like you. It's just that...well, sometimes people are afraid of things they can't understand. None of your school friends can read minds and so to them, that's scary."

"But, why can't they?"

He looked down at her and she tilted her face to stare up at him in return. For a moment he looked into the tilted, almost-Asian cast of her eyes, took in the dark black curly lashes and the twinkle of purple amid the baby blue orbs and wished for the hundredth time that Deanna could see how gorgeous their baby girl was.

Finally, he pulled his thoughts back to the present. "Not everyone is as lucky as you, honey. You have your grandmother Lwaxana's talent and that's something very special."

"So, humans don't have it, only Betazoids?"

"That's right. Or, part-Betazoids like you who got lucky. It's nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, I always wished I'd had that talent. Only when I was with your Mother could I send and receive thoughts and to me, it was magical."

"Daddy, when is Mommy coming back?"

A pang struck Will's heart and he held little Kailyn Riker even tighter to his chest. "I don't know, angel. I just don't know."

Darkness fell over the Alaskan mountains and Will found himself sitting on the porch in his bathrobe, unable to sleep, staring at the soaring black skies. Kailyn was getting old enough to ask questions and today was the first time she'd asked about Deanna in months. What was he going to tell her? He couldn't tell a tiny little girl that her Mother was in a coma. That she would probably never wake up again. And he most certainly couldn't tell her that it was her birth that caused her Mother’s condition. She’d feel guilty for the rest of her life and he was not willing to put her through that. The time would eventually come when she would find out what happened…he just hoped it would be far, far in the future when she was old enough to understand.

Of course, what he really hoped for in his heart of hearts was that Deanna would wake up and come home to them someday. His beautiful eyes burned with tears thinking of his wife lying lifeless in a bed at Starfleet medical. When it first happened he’d visited her every day, unwilling to leave her alone for more than a moment. Lwaxana was happy to babysit Kailyn and stayed on Earth for over a year to help him with her after her birth.

But the days and nights of holding Deanna’s pale, limp hand, of trying in desperate fury to mentally reach her, of avoiding sleep because of the piercing pain of the dreams he had, well, it had taken its toll. Nothing was ever going to change, he knew that now. And for the very first time in his life, William Riker admitted defeat, gave up. It was the hardest thing he’d ever had to do, and the most painful. But his daughter needed a real, functioning father, not a man who haunted the house like a sad ghost.

Sighing, he lifted himself off the wooden chair and breathed deeply of the mountain air, then turned to go inside. As a last gesture, he looked up at the moon and allowed himself just one moment of indulgence in the past. He pictured her face and sent, “I miss you, Imzadi. I will always, always miss you.”

He never would have imagined that across town his words, on some fathomless level, were heard and received.


Chapter 2

He didn't know she was standing there. Leaning against the large bay
window Will was staring fixedly at the mountains, trying not to
think about his lost wife. Most of the time he could put thoughts
of her into a precious, secret box inside his heart and keep them
there, telling himself he would pull them out and look at them
later, like much-loved pieces of antique clothing from an attic
chest. But today was different. Today was Deanna's birthday and it
was nearly impossible to push away the thoughts, memories and
feelings. Clenching his eyelids tightly shut, he refused to cry,
but the ache that spread through his chest was just as painful
without the accompanying tears. On this day more than any other,
the fact that Deanna was never coming back to him was highlighted in
glowing neon. He was alone and was going to be for the rest of his

"Daddy?" came a tiny voice from behind him.
He turned to see Kailyn standing there, looking adorable in her blue
dress and matching shoes. "Hiya Punkin. How are you? Did you just
get home from school?"
"Mmm hmmm. Tommy's Mother brought me home because we were playing
at his house today."
"I'm glad you've made a friend, sweetheart. It's nice to hear some
good news today..."

Although very young and very small, even Will's daughter could feel
the tension and pain in her father's body and mind. Too young to
know what to do to help, she simply went to him and raised her arms,
and held him tightly when he swept her into his waiting arms.
"Daddy...are you sad?"
"Yes I am, honey."
"Is it because of Mommy?"
"You're very good at this aren't you?" he teased, then kissed her on
the nose.
She giggled softly and patted his face, then kissed him on his nose
in return. "Yeah. I guess it's because of my Beta--Beta...what was
that word?"
"Betazoid. Yes, I'm sure that's why you're so good at this, my love."
She stared at him for a minute and then without knowing why she did
so, closed her eyes and placed her hands on either side of his head.
Surprised, his eyes widened, but he silently let her do what she was
doing, unsure of the results but unwilling to block her from
learning about her talents.

In his mind he could suddenly feel her and it stunned him. He hadn't
had a connection like this since Deanna was well and he had no idea
how much he had missed it.
*Daddy, can you hear me?*
*Oh Pumpkin. I sure can*
*You ARE sad. I can feel it. Daddy why are you so sad? What happened
to my Mommy?*
Before he could stop them, images of Deanna in the hospital came
flooding through his brain. Images of his wife in the throes of a
difficult birth, then the darling baby that survived the entire
thing, then the still, small figure that would never, ever move
*Kailyn...I never wanted you to see, to know...I'm sorry sweetheart*
*It was me? Mommy is sick because of me!*

Immediately she pulled her mind from his and severed the connection,
then thrust little body out of his arms and flew to the stairs
crying as though her heart would break.

Will fell into a chair by the fireplace and hung his head, holding
it in his hands. "Oh baby. I'm so sorry..." he murmured and then his
own tears began to flow.


Chapter 3

It was days before Will could reach her. The little girl was plainly
devastated, it showed in shadows beneath her small blue eyes and in
the way she wandered aimlessly about the house with her head hung
low. He could feel her pain and tried to comfort her, but she would
only push him away and run for the solace of her room. Today he
decided to try and reach her a different way, a way that was going
to be tenuous at best given what had happened the last time they
made this special connection. Still, he had to try. Already he had
lost one special love of his life, he refused to lose Kailyn as

Picking her up firmly, he sat down on the couch and wrapped a large
blue blanket around the two of them. Then he lay her head against
his shoulder and caressed her curls, gently stroking the baby fine
hair over and over again. It was nearly bedtime and so she was
pliable. This was the perfect time to try and reach her, and he just
hoped that she would respond.

*Baby, Daddy needs to talk to you*
*Don't want to!*
*I know you don't. But we have to, okay?*
*Because. I love you and I don't want to lose you. Now listen to me,
honey...it was not your fault that Mommy got sick. Having a baby is
natural, it happens all the time. Mommy wanted you so much, all she
ever talked about was how she couldn't wait until you were born and
she could hold you in her arms.*
*Then why did she leave? Why did she get sick? It was because I
came, I know it was*
*Oh sweetheart, no. It's true that Mommy got sick after you were
born, but you aren't to blame. The truth is, as much as Mommy and I
wanted a baby, the doctors told Mommy that it might be hard to have
a baby at her age. Sometimes it's easier for Mommies to be younger
when they have their little ones, there are less problems.*
*But what happened to her, Daddy? I don't understand*
He sighed loudly and closed his eyes, breathing in the soft scent of
Kailyn's freshly washed hair, delaying a moment as he tried to think
of a way to explain something that he didn't even understand
himself. Finally, he began again.

*Your Mommy was doing okay for most of your birth but she lost alot
of blood. When that happened it was hard for her to breathe, to
stay awake, and soon she fell into a sleep that she could not wake
up from. It was no one's fault honey, it just happened. It has
happened to other women too. Whatever it was it was a problem with
your Mommy's body, it was not because of you in particular, okay?*
It was way over her head but she nodded anyway, trying to
*So, even though she wanted me, her body wasn't happy about her
having a baby?*
*Exactly, punkin.*

She curled in closer to him and he could feel her little mind
thinking, trying to accept what he had told her. Finally, she pulled
her thoughts from his and sighed. "Do you think that even though she
can't wake up that she still loves me, Daddy?"
"Of course she does. She spent ten long, wonderful months thinking
of you and dreaming of you, sweetheart. She loved you from the
moment we first learned that you were coming."
She smiled against his chest and the weight of her guilt was gone.
Thank God.
"I love her too Daddy. And you know what?"
"What love?"
"I bet that I can make her better."
"What...what do you mean?"
"I want to go see her in the hospital. I don't remember her. I can't
see her in my mind very good. I want to look at her, Daddy and
touch her. Will you take me?"
He hadn't ever taken Kailyn to see her Mother. Not once. Mostly
because he thought it wouldn't be fair to show Kailyn the woman
who'd loved her and given birth knowing that she could never come
home and be a real Mother to her. But now...would it really hurt
anything at this point?

He hesitated, not sure of his answer. And then his conscience nudged
him. "You're only hesitating because you're afraid," his mind tossed
out. "You're afraid of seeing her again. Afraid of the feelings it
will bring up."
Will knew the voice was right. He was terrified at the idea of
seeing his wife again. After doing his best to let her go, he knew
that if he were to see her lying there before him, he would be
filled with a futile, desperate urge to do everything he could to
bring her back to life. And he was afraid that in doing so, he would
lose his own tenuous connection to sanity and therefore leave Kailyn
without any parents at all.

As if understanding perfectly, his daughter nestled closer and
touched his beard with her hand. "It's okay Daddy. It will only hurt
for a minute and then you will be happy again. I really want to go
see her. Can we?"
Looking down at her plaintive little face he could not say no. "Of
course we can. Tomorrow. Aunt Beverly will be there and we can visit
her as well as...your Mommy."

That satisfied her and soon she was drifting into the best sleep
she'd had in days. Will on the other hand was suddenly, rigidly
awake. He hadn't seen Deanna in nearly five years. How the hell was
he going to handle this?


Chapter 4

He wasn't sure later on how long he stood at Deanna's hospital room
door. Just stood there, looking through the glass, seeing her long,
dark hair lying against the virgin-white pillow. She looked the
same as she did the day he last said goodbye to her here...the day
he'd given up and left her behind to raise their daughter alone.

His chest ached and a sob threatened to fill his throat as his hands
tightened knuckle-white on the door. Could he do this? After so
long could he allow his heart to be ripped open again when it had
only barely healed? Looking down at the tiny, dark sprite beside
him, he knew he had no choice. He had to. "Come on,
Kai....let's...let's go see your Mommy."
She grinned up at him and they moved through the door. It was easier
than he thought what with his daughter pulling him into the room.

When they got to the bed, Kailyn murmured, "She's so pretty!" And
then she climbed up into the bed, lay down beside the still woman
who had birthed her, and wrapped tiny, tanned arms around the
woman's body. "Mommy." It was a statement. One that said, "I've
missed you", "Where have you been?", and "I'm here now". Will felt
the tears fill his eyes and didn't bother to reach to wipe them.
He'd never seen his little girl with Deanna before, and it was such
a beautiful sight it took his breath away. It also caused more pain
and it was everything he could do to force himself to stand there,
ram-rod straight, trying to stay on even footing even as his large
body wanted to topple and fall to the floor.

Before he realized what he was doing, he moved closer. Inch by inch,
closer, until his hand was above Deanna's pale cheek. Then, he
touched her, and it was his complete undoing. Unable to consider
Kailyn or anything else, he fell to his knees beside the bio-bed and
sobbed onto Deanna's unresponsive chest. Five years. Five years of
raising a child alone. Five years of never having his best friend
and Imzadi to talk to. Five years of a cold bed and an even colder
heart. He was so damned lonely it was killing him. He couldn't take
it any more. He needed her back. He had to have her back. Fuck
giving up. He was going to do whatever it took to bring her back to
consciousness, to life. To her daughter.

Finally he pulled himself into the chair beside the bed, grabbed a
box of tissues and wiped his face, exhausted. Kailyn watched him
with crystal blue eyes and then climbed down off the bed and sat in
his lap, patting his face with her hands. "Shhh...Daddy...it's
okay. I love you. It's okay."
"I'm sorry, baby. I didn't want you to ever see me that way. I'm
just...very, very sad about your Mommy."
"I know. I am too. She's so pretty. I wish she would wake up,
Oh God. "Me too, honey. Me too."
For awhile they just sat there, holding one another, thinking their
own thoughts, staring at the woman in the bed. And then...
"What is it honey?"
"Can I try now?"

His heart leapt painfully. Try? "Try what?" he said, knowing full
well what she was referring to.
She sighed as if to say, "Get with it!" and then answered.
"Can I try to reach Mommy? You know inside her mind?"
Her tiny face was a replica of Deanna's, so small and perfect and
precious. He was crazy about her. How could he possibly say no?
"All right. Go ahead. I'll be right here."
She smiled at him and then went to the bed again, curling back into
her Mother's side.

Will closed his eyes and tried to relax and open his own mind, not
wanting to evesdrop, but to be there in case...just in case...Deanna

*Mommy? It's me. You never met me because you got sick when I was
born, but I'm the baby that you had in your tummy. Daddy is here
with me and we love you. We want you to wake up so you can come home
with us.*
There was a silence so deep it was almost painful. And then Will
felt something. A stirring. A spark. A feeling. Kailyn felt it too
for she turned her head in his direction and smiled.
*Mommy. I love you. I love you so much. Daddy shows me holos of you
all of the time. He told me about how you got married and how you
loved each other for all those years and years but were just
friends. I think that's silly. You should've been with him since
A voice came then. *Betazed.*

Will flew out of his chair and rushed to the other side of the bed,
sitting down, taking Deanna's hand into his own.
*Deanna? Imzadi can you hear me? It's Will. I'm here sweetheart.
Can you hear me? Oh God tell me I wasn't imagining that!*
Silence. Then the soft tickle of her much-missed voice inside of
his head.
*Yes! Yes, honey I'm here! Oh my God!*
*Where am I? What...happened?*
*You're in the hospital. You've been in a coma.*
*We'll talk about it later, honey. Just come around now. Wake up for
me. Open those beautiful eyes and tell me that you're all right.*

Meanwhile, Kailyn jumped in, trying her best to help Deanna get
*Mommy? I'm still here. I'm waiting for you. I'm waiting Mommy and I
can't wait until you open your eyes. Daddy says that you loved me
very much when I lived in your tummy. Is that true?*
*Kailyn? My...our...baby?*
*Yes, Mommy, it's me.*

Will interupted. *Not such a little baby anymore. She's a big girl
now, Deanna. Six years old!*
*Six...years. Oh Gods. I've been here for six years?*
*Yes, sweetheart. But it's all right now. We've waited for you. We
love you. We only want you back with us and we will wait forever if
we have to. Open your eyes, Deanna. Please. Come back to us. Come
see your daughter.*

The woman on the bed lay still as ever, her eyes shadowed with rings
of darkness, her mouth slack from years without use. For a moment,
it flashed through his mind that she looked...dead. But he quickly
rid himself of that thought, not wanting either of them to pick up
on it. Outloud he said, "I'm here, Imzadi. I'm waiting for you. Can
you hear me this way? Can you open your eyes?"
A flutter of long, black lashes came. And then Will saw the most
beautiful eyes he'd ever seen in his life for the first time in
years. They looked directly at him, and then fastened onto the tiny
girl laying beside her. Deanna's eyes filled with tears and she
began to sob. "Oh Gods, look at her, Will! She's beautiful!"
"Mommy! You're awake!"
Deanna was weak and so Kailyn wrapped her arms around her for a
huge, long-overdue hug.
"Will. All this time. And you're here..."
He tried for his trademark, sexy grin but the tears falling down his
cheeks sort of ruined the effect. "Where else would I be?"

They locked eyes and all of the emotion that had built up over the
years came spilling out again. He leaned towards her, gently placed
his head on her shoulder, and kissed her cheek. And then they cried
together for all of the years they had lost.

When Dr. Crusher came in a half hour later to check on her patient,
she was stunned to discover Deanna surrounded by her family, awake
and aware, and asking, for all things, for a bowl of chocolate ice
cream. "Oh God! Dee!!!! I knew it! I knew you'd make it,
sweetheart!" Bev flew to her side and hugged her, both women crying
together, and then she forced herself to do a medical check on her
best friend. Many tests and scans later proved that there was no
logical, medical explanation for why she came out of the coma.

"Will, what was happening when she came to?"
"Your god daughter was holding her and sending her thoughts, talking
to her in her mind."
"Kailyn..." She looked at the little girl, so content in her
Mother's arms and realized that there could be only one
explanation. One that had no name, no literal diagnosis. One that
could only be described by one simple word...love.

It was a miracle.

Deanna looked at her friend intently and tried to smile. "Am I going
to make it?"
Bev laughed, stifling a sob as she did so. "I think you are, my
friend. But I'll be damned if I know how this happened."
Looking at her husband and her daughter, Deanna murmured, "Oh, I
think I know." The two women nodded at each other, a nod that
said, "I'll see you later. We have much to talk about." And then Bev
left the room so that the family could be alone together.

"Mommy, I missed you. Did you miss me?"
Thinking of the dark years lingering in that other-worldly place
with nothing and no one, with darkness and shadow, with fear and
exhaustion, she looked into the face of her new-found daughter and
said just one simple word. "Yes."