Commander William Riker, Lieutenant Commander Deanna Troi, and Lieutenant Commander Geordie LaForge walked through a lush green forest; exotic plants were everywhere hitting their faces as they walked. Trees grew as high as one hundred meters tall, towering menacingly over them, their leaves blocking the blazing sun from their exposed skin.
Their initial scans couldn't get through the interference that surrounded the planet; all they could detect was what appeared to be ruins. But, nevertheless, Data had detected what they supposed could indicate an advanced culture was somewhere on the planet.
Finally, the trio made it to a large clearing. Filling it, were small hut-like homes, clearly made from trunks and leaves of the trees surround them.
Surprisingly enough, smoke emanated from fires in the center of the small village, just as children laughed and played throughout. And, in a matter of moments from their arrival, five of the locals walked up to them.
Riker took in what he saw, noticing easily their dark, black hair and golden bronze skin, made dark from generations in the hot sun. Their clothing was thin and light, but covered their bodies fully- their form of protection from the heat and sun.
But it was their eyes that caught the away team's attention. Though their pupils were normal, surrounded by a blue iris, it was the white of their eyes that stood out- it was practically glowing with a bright blue…
Shuttle Bay, Enterprise
Riker, Troi, and LaForge exited their craft with little effort, merely walking off and into the Bay. Looking up, the group saw their Captain, hearing him say, "Well, Number One, how did it go?"
Riker groan; they were sweating, tired, and hot. "It's a beautiful planet, sir; perfect for shore leave. But nothing was down there. Just a clearing with very old buildings."
"Yes, sir," Riker agreed as he and his away team headed out of the Bay.
Deanna's Quarters, Two Weeks Later
Deanna tossed and turned, kicking off her blanket and punching her pillow. She sighed, starring at her ceiling. She couldn't sleep- not that she had been able to for the past week.
She was exhausted; sleep just wouldn't come to her. She could sense that both Will and Geordie were awake as well, not able to sleep and tiring.
For the past week, she had been having the strangest dreams, things that made her wake from fear in a cold sweat. Somehow she was sure her own insomnia was shared between the three.
She had tried just lying there and clearing her mind, even tried to just let herself toss and turn for a while. Hell, she had tried everything, but nothing worked. Even drinking a hot cup of hot chocolate wouldn't do it.
But she had nothing better to do at that moment. Getting up, Deanna donned on her robe and walked over to her replicator, ordering a hot drink. Seating herself on her sofa, she starred at the warm liquid in her hands.
It did nothing to improve her mood or insomnia. Yet, she drank it slowly, letting it fill her stomach. As she drank, she became more and more nauseous.
"That's what I get from drinking chocolate this early in the morning," she mused, setting down the mug.
She had intended on standing and forcing herself to lie back down, but her legs refused to obey and her body didn't want anything but to sit there. No, she just sat there, her head resting on the cushions, as she slowly felt sicker and sicker.
Suddenly, her legs allowed themselves to carry her off to the bathroom…
He was trapped. Strapped to a small surgical table. He screamed as a large needle grew closer and closer to his stomach with every passing second. He tried to move his stomach away from the needle by sucking it in, but it continued closer. And closer. And closer until it made contact with his bare flesh.
A burning sensation went throughout his abdomen as the needle dug into his stomach. Then it moved into reverse, pulling itself out of his stomach. A healed cut was all it left behind.
Riker bolted up in his bed, gasping for breath as he batted away the sleep from his eyes. The similar, strange nightmare had plagued him for days, waking him up in the middle of the night. But it had never been this one.
He pulled up his shirt, looking down at his stomach. He had done so before as a child when he had been injured in a dream, just to make sure. Never before as a boy had he found anything- always being satisfied that it had been a dream. But, for the first time, Riker found what he had been looking for…
A circular scar about ten millimeters in size, the same size as the needle in his dream, was directly where the needle had cut into his abdomen. He shook off the thought of being tortured, placing it merely as being his subconscious making up the dream by using other events that had happened to him. For Riker had been tortured because of his job, just never like that.
But, the real problem was that Riker didn't remember ever being cut there.
He shook his head; all these nights of insomnia were really getting to him. All he needed was a good night's rest.
"Commander Riker to Dr. Crusher."
"Crusher here. How can I help you, Commander?" Crusher answered over the comm.
"I…I haven't been sleeping very well for the past few days. I was hoping-"
"That I'd have something. No problem, just meet me down here in… a few minutes."
"Ok. Riker out."
Deanna walked through the doors to Sickbay, glancing around quickly to see where Beverly might be, or if she was there. Thankfully as she looked into one of the treatment rooms, she saw Beverly talking to one of her patients.
"Beverly?" She croaked out miserably. Beverly turned to see Deanna, her hand held to her stomach as if it could make her feel better.
"Deanna, are you ok?"
She smiled feebly as Beverly took her arm. "No, not really," she asked just as the doctor led her to one of the biobeds, her tricorder out immediately.
Riker walked through Sickbay's doors, his movements tired but purposeful. Slowly, he made his way over to the biobed Dr. Crusher stood next to. He waited, seeing that she was talking with one of her patients, but paid no attention to who it was.
"Hey, Doc. Um, do you have…" Riker paused when Beverly turned, surprised when he saw Deanna lying on the bed, pale and shaken.
"I'll go get it." Beverly gave Deanna a reassuring smile before she walked toward her office, leaving Deanna and Riker alone.
"What's wrong?" Riker asked.
"Nothing… really," Deanna said firmly, sensing even as she spoke that he didn't believe her.
"You know, Deanna," he said with a smile as he sat down on the biobed, his voice playful and comforting just as it was serious, "You never could lie to me very well."
She smiled slightly, but it didn't reach her eyes. "Will." She closed her eyes and tried to think of how to say this. "Will…I'm pregnant."
"What?" Will's face dropped, turning a deadly shade of white.
She brought her hand to his face, caressing his soft beard. "Will, I don't know how. It shouldn't be impossible, but I am."
Deanna had sensed his jealousy and uncertainty, after the initial shock, when she told him. But those feelings quickly washed away with her words, replaced soon after with his fear, and concern. But, over all those, she could sense his joy for her.
He forced out a weak smile, opening his mouth to say something. But was cut off when Dr. Crusher walked back in, announcing, "Here, Will." He took the alpha-wave emitter she offered, whispering his thanks.
"You're having trouble sleeping?" Deanna asked, even as she knew his answer.
"Yeah, it's no big deal," he responded, his voice betraying the hidden shock he was still in. She nodded, watching him leave, a soft sigh on her lips.
"I can give you the details tomorrow. But you really need some sleep." She paused, seeing that her friend was only half-listening. "You told him, didn't you?"
Deanna just nodded and looking at her friend. "Do you think it was a mistake?"
"Hmm, far from it." Beverly smiled and put her hand on her friend's arm. Then she walked back to office, leaving Deanna where she was.
Riker groaned when he heard the chime sound, having just gotten comfortable in his bed. He was exhausted and finally had the means to sleep. He supposed he could ignore it, but then what if it was important?
Then again, if they had come at the late time, they most likely had good reason to have done so.
The door slid opened, revealing Deanna's face before him. Will smiled and looked at her, surprised and yet grateful for the visit. But he quickly noted her look: she was terrified and looked near tears. He let her in without saying a word, leading her to his couch.
He sat next to her, close enough to be of some comfort yet far enough away to give her space. "So…would you like to talk?"
Deanna nodded but said nothing. Instead, she put her head on his shoulder and leaned into him. She bit her trembling lip to try and stop the tears that threatened to fall. "I'm afraid, Will. I don't want…I don't want what happened to…"
"You're worried the baby will be like Ian Andrew," Riker said, not as a question but a statement. He snaked an arm around her waist, pulling her closer to him.
"I won't let that happen. I promise," Riker swore, kissing her forehead. Deanna whimpered, still holding back her tears. Will just rubbed her back; finally she let herself cry. And she did for some time.
Some time later, Will wasn't sure when, she quieted, falling asleep in his warm embrace. Gently, he picked her up and carried Deanna to his bed. He laid her down carefully, very conscious of not waking her.
He bent over, kissing her lightly on the cheek, before sinking down on the bed next to her. Will shifted onto his side, his cheek resting on his hand, as he watched her sleep.
A soft smile came to his lips as he recalled how it had once been his favorite thing to do. She was like an angel; her curly hair in her face, the tranquil look she had, and the calm, steady movement of her breasts as she breathed.
Then he looked down at her stomach. His fingertips grazed it lightly; his mind marveling over the very idea that there was a new life growing inside her. Deanna shifted slightly at his touch, but she didn't wake.
A thought crossed his mind as he watched her, realizing how you're conceived, born, live and grow, give birth to others, and then you die. It never ends, never stops. Just continues in a large cycle.
Suddenly, the idea of Deanna being pregnant and having a child fully sunk in. She would be a mother and where would that leave him? He wanted to be there for her, to support her and comfort her. He wanted to be the father but he could never tell her that.
For some time, he lay there just watching her. Then, at some point, he drifted off.