Author's note: Clearly, this story is not canon, there's no way it could be. However, the episode Conundrum has always bothered me. Was there absolutely no fall-out from Will and Ro's tryst? It was never mentioned or even alluded to again, and I thought that it was an area far too ripe for expanding upon that I just had to write something about it. All events from the TV show and the films are still canon for all main characters except for Ro Laren. Nothing of this is mine, it's all Gene's.
Ensign Ro Laren was nervous.
Actually, to say she was nervous was an understatement – she was just about, almost, practically scared. Though she'd never even admit it to herself, she hadn't felt this nervous in a long time, probably not since she ran away from the refugee camp on Bajor in her youth.
She wasn't looking forward to facing Captain Picard, sitting down across from him and telling him that she was leaving. It would be tantamount to throwing back into his face all the support he'd given her, as well as having the trust she had finally built up suddenly and painfully torn away. It had to be done, though; this meeting could not be avoided any longer. She'd made her decision, finally, last night, unable to sleep yet again for what seemed like the hundredth night in a row. Laren had known that there were only two options available to her: stay on the Enterprise and deal with the fallout, or leave the ship, possibly to go back to Bajor (if the rumours of a possible Cardassian withdrawal were true).
As much as she would love to stay on the Enterprise, she knew that she didn't want to deal with the consequences of that decision. Staying would eventually draw stares, comments, and ultimately questions, questions she didn't want to answer, especially coming from one certain Commander. "Have you seen Ensign Ro?", they would whisper, heads bowed over drinks in Ten Forward, "Do you think the rumours are true?" No, she couldn't, and wouldn't, face such gossip and scuttlebutt, and so she had decided that she would leave now, before it became too late.
She knew it was completely and utterly unfair to him that she was leaving without telling him anything. It was morally wrong, and she knew it, but she didn't want to face him and tell him what had happened, what the consequences were of their actions. There was nothing between them, nothing but a few stolen days of misdirected passion, enabled by the loss of their memories, as well as the loss of their inhibitions.
Laren pushed him back against the couch, sliding her body into his lap, all while keeping her lips pressed firmly against his. He answered back just as passionately, meeting her kiss with his open mouth and willing tongue. He stood suddenly, lifting her into his arms, never breaking their oral embrace as he carried her over to the bed, laying her down on the –
Laren buried her head in hands as the memories rushed back to her, unbidden and unwanted. She couldn't deny that she had enjoyed her time with him, but it wasn't real and there were no deeper emotions or meaning behind their actions. It was only lust and the mystery of the unknown that had brought them together, nothing else.
She stood suddenly, feeling the tension of her impending meeting hit her and making her muscles spasm with nervous energy. Yes, she knew she should tell Commander Riker about her "situation". Yes, she knew he was entitled to his say in the matter. And yes, she knew that by leaving without telling him anything she was denying him some of his basic rights, and yet, she still couldn't bring herself to tell him. What if he wanted her to stay? What if he was angry? What if he wanted her to take care of it? She didn't want to know what he would do if she told him, and for that reason, she decided not to tell him at all.
The computer chimed at her, and she nearly jumped out of her skin. 13h00 had rolled around, and it was time for her to meet her fate. Ro Laren took a deep breath before striding over to the door and exiting her cabin, before heading up to the Captain's Ready Room in order to inform her commanding officer of her intention to resign her commission and leave the ship. If he approved her request (which she hoped he eventually would), she would leave on the next shuttle, already scheduled to depart for a routine meeting on Starbase 86 in two days' time. And if all went well, if she didn't make any mistakes or give anything away, she would be able to leave the Enterprise without ever letting anyone know she was pregnant. If everything went according to plan, she would be able to leave and to not have to tell Commander William T. Riker that he was going to be the father of her unborn son.
Captain William T. Riker was tired.
It had been a long four days on Earth, running around across San Francisco, making his way to meetings over at Starfleet Command and presenting guest lectures at the Academy. He'd even found the time, somehow, head over to Europe and pick up some Belgian and Swiss chocolate that Deanna had been asking about. He smiled to himself as he thought of his beautiful wife, patiently awaiting the return of her husband (and his precious chocolate cargo) to the Titan.
He'd finally finished his last lecture for a class of third year cadets over an hour ago, and had only now boarded the shuttle that would take him back up to Utopia Planitia, where the Titan had been undergoing some much needed repairs and upgrades. Ten years out in the expanses of space had taken their toll on his ship, and he had brought her in for some much needed mechanical love and care. His crew too, had been more than happy for a couple days of leave, and he'd let most of them go down, leaving Deanna in charge in his absence.
But four days away, even four days away on Earth, had been enough for him, and he was more than willing to return to his home. It seemed though, that the universe wasn't going to let him go back right away, first throwing a late last-minute conference meeting at him this afternoon, followed by some sort of transport delay, forcing him and his pilot to wait in the Earth's orbit while the base tried to rectify some sort of airlock malfunction that prohibited any incoming transports or shuttles to dock.
Will leaned forward, trying to catch his pilot's attention: "Ensign, have you received any word from the base yet on the ETA of their repairs?"
His pilot turned around in his seat and grimaced. "Yes, sir, I'm sorry to say that'll it'll be about another hour. I can take you back down to Earth if you like."
Will shook his head. "No, that's fine; by the time we got back down and landed, we'd be headed right back up here. Let's just stay put for now." He stood, stretching his arms outward and straightening his back. If he was going to be waiting up here for an hour, he was damn sure he'd make the time pass quickly. Striding to the front of the cabin, Will took the co-pilot's seat, stretching his legs out underneath the console.
"So, Ensign, how long have you been ferrying aging Captains and Admirals such as myself?"
The Ensign laughed and quickly adjusted several of the controls before answering his superior officer. "Not long, sir, I only graduated from the Academy this year. I'm waiting to head out on assignment to the Mandela."
Will nodded, impressed with the young man's future attachment to such a well-respected diplomatic ship. "So you're in the diplomatic corps then? See a future in mediating conflicts, peace-keeping, all that?"
Again, the Ensign chuckled, remarking the Captain's effortless ability to simultaneously participate in a conversion and conduct an interview. "Yes, I'm hoping to eventually get my own command of a diplomatic corps ship one day, it's been my dream since I was a child," he answered, turning from the controls to face his superior. "I've grown up witnessing the many facets of diplomacy, and I've wanted to make my own mark in it ever since I can remember."
Will had a better view of the young man now, and he noticed the faint ridges along the Ensign's nose, horizontal stripes lining the bridge between his eyes. "You're Bajoran," Will acknowledged, gesturing towards the indentations on the young man's face, "you've probably seen it all growing up there."
"Half-Bajoran," the Ensign corrected gently, "and yes, you could definitely say that." The men shared a smile at that. "My mother was very involved in the struggles and challenges that came after the end of the Occupation, so I've seen it all, it seems."
The Ensign readjusted his position in his seat and met the Captain's gaze. "Actually, she served on the Enterprise, before I was born. She resigned her commission before she had me."
"Really? I probably knew her, not like there were many Bajorans in Starfleet back then. What's her name?" Will asked, intrigued.
"Ensign Ro, Ro Laren," the young man replied. "I think she served as a bridge officer? I'm sorry sir, I'm not quite sure, she rarely talked about her days in Starfleet at all; in fact, she wasn't very pleased when I told her that I would be attending the Academy."
Will abruptly found himself tumbling back into memories, memories made almost two decades ago. He pushed her hair behind her ears as his hands gripped her face, bringing his lips down to touch on her mouth, and as he continued to migrate south, her neck, her collarbone, her –
"Captain?" inquired the young Ensign, yanking Will out of his reverie, "are you alright?"
Will cleared his throat, and attempted a smile. "I'm fine, Ensign, just lost in memories. Of course I knew your mother; she was a good pilot and a good officer. I had no idea she'd gotten married and had a family though," he said, frowning as he realized how little he knew after Ro Laren's life after the Enterprise.
"Oh, my mother's not married, sir, it's only ever been me and her. I think she likes it that way," he said, chuckling. "I think she's a little too headstrong to keep anyone around for long enough to get married." A beep sounded from the console, and the Ensign turned to look at the message. "Good news, sir, the airlocks on one side of the base have been repaired; we've been cleared for priority docking, so we should have you aboard within five minutes."
"Good," replied Will absentmindedly. He wasn't listening, not completely anyway, to what the Ensign had been saying. He was still strangely shocked to learn that Ro had a son, let alone a twenty year-old Academy graduate for a son. Even Will's oldest daughter was only nine years old, so it was amazing that Ro had settled down so quickly after leaving the Enterprise. She had been so independent, so autonomous that it seemed surprising that she had had a child so quickly and at such a young age.
Now that he looked at the Ensign, really looked at him, he could see Ro Laren reflected in his features. It was everywhere, from the arch in his eyebrows, the dark hair, the confident twinkle in his blue eyes. He must really be Ro's son, Will concluded, still somewhat taken aback by this sudden turn of events.
The sound of the airlock pressurizing brought his thoughts back to the present, and he hauled himself up to his feet. The Ensign was already moving, verifying airlock controls before authorizing their release and opening up the shuttle to the base beyond.
Will grabbed his bags from the storage compartment, and made his way to the back of the shuttle. Standing next to the Ensign, he realized with a start that they were practically the same height. He met the young man's blue eyes yet again, and smiled at him. "Thanks again for the ride, Ensign. It was nice to have you to talk to. Say hello to your mother for me when you speak to her again."
Will extended his hand to his pilot, and felt the young man meet him with a firm grasp of his own. "My pleasure, Captain Riker, and I'll let her know that you send your greetings."
The captain moved to turn away, but stopped, and looked back at the ensign. There was something about this young man, something that Will couldn't quite put his finger on. "You know son, I realize you've made plans for the Mandela, but if you ever wanted to try your hand at deep space exploration, the Titan could certainly use a man like you aboard."
The ensign grinned, his eyes dancing with gratitude. "Thank you, sir. I'll definitely keep that in mind, I'd love to be able to serve on a ship as fine as the Titan. I hear she has a fine captain and crew," he said, a hint of mirth in his tone.
Will laughed, pointing a finger in mock admonishment as he turned to leave. "The best captain and crew," he corrected, "and don't you forget it!"
Both men turned then, going their separate ways. But as Will Riker walked away from the shuttle, he still couldn't shake the feeling that he was missing something. He looked back over his shoulder, one last time, to the now closed airlock and the young ensign in the shuttle beyond. What was he missing?
He shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts. I'm just tired, that's all, he thought to himself. It was time to get back aboard his ship, say hello to his wife and daughters, and settle down for a nice, long, well-deserved nap.
With that, Captain William T. Riker unwittingly bid goodbye to the son he had never met, and went back to the family he had always known.