A Double Arts fanfiction by Tobu Ishi

Part 3

The room is a whirl of activity, color and sound. There are women running every which way, the pale habits of Sisters rustling and swishing as they walk, and despite having a very personal, vested interest in everything that's happening, Kiri feels terribly out of place.

Or he would, if he could think about anything or anybody but Elraine.

"Come on, Ellie," Sister Andie is saying, scooted up close on a chair next to them with a pan of cool water in her lap. She's got a towel dipped in it, and as he watches, she wrings it out with a splash and mops at Ellie's brow. "Hang in there, Kiri," she adds, as an afterthought, and Kiri gives her a wry nod of acknowledgment. Good to know somebody thinks he's being useful.

So far, as far as he can tell, everything's going according to plan...

Elraine suddenly clutches both his hands, squeezing her eyes shut, and he can feel it when her muscles clench and spasm. She makes a high, thin noise through her teeth. Kiri was doing all right until now, and so was she, all things considered; but at that sound, his blood runs cold.

"El?" he says, urgently, leaning over her. "Talk to me, El. Are you okay?" This is giving him a terrible sense of deja vu. Heart pounding, he fights the instinctive urge to glance at their joined hands and make sure her fingers are still corporeal. Not an issue, not an issue...

"It hurts," Elraine whispers, faintly. She sounds breathless, but reasonably calm, which is more than Kiri can manage right now.

"I know," he says. Sweat is breaking out on his brow. He's trying his best. His Flare is surging through her, skin to skin, taking away pain, strengthening her exhausted body. "Hang on, El..."

"I am," she says, giving him a tired little smile that twists into a grimace as the next wave hits her. "Nnn...!"

"Come on, Ellie," Andie whispers again. "Kiri, don't let go of her. You're almost there." She's busy with the towel and the bucket again. Somewhere, Kiri can hear Heine shouting at somebody, and he stifles a laugh. Sisters. As if he would do anything else.

Closing his eyes, he wills all the energy he can manage into her, ignoring the dizziness that results and the stars that dance across his blurring vision and just thinking about helping her, healing her, pushing her that last little distance...


He can feel her gripping his hands tightly enough to squeeze the bones together, but he grits his teeth and keeps concentrating as the sound of his name rises into a shriek on Elraine's lips, a last sharp determined scream. Andie gives a cry of delight, and there's a flurry of activity at the foot of the bed, and - Elraine's voice peters out into a sigh, and she collapses back into his arms, limp and exhausted.

A high, thin wailing pierces the room. Kiri looks up from his worrying over Elraine, and his heart turns over.

There's a little red fist waving in the air, above a tangle of blankets. Heine looks up from the baby in her arms with a twinkle in her eyes. "She's a yeller," the former Sister says, and starts to laugh. "Way to go, Kiri! A nice, healthy girl on your first shot!"

"Oh, Ellie!" Andie exclaims, grabbing Elraine's other hand. She's got her breath back, now, and is ignoring the pain and trying to sit up and reach for her daughter. Kiri puts an arm around her shoulders and helps her, as Heine scoots onto the bed and offers the wriggling bundle to them.

Leaning over her shoulder, Kiri looks at the baby and wrinkles his nose. She's a mess, streaked with red and white stuff and scrunched up like a dried apple...but then she opens her eyes. They're beautiful, the same spring green as El's and as bright as the morning star, and Kiri's heart is lost forever, all over again.

Those eyes, he thinks to himself as Elraine makes fond, tired noises at the baby and takes the wet towel from Andie to wipe her little face clean, will never see a world where Troi exists. His daughter will grow up unafraid of contagion, and proud to have a former Sister for a mother, and Sisters for family friends. The Order is already turning around into wandering healers and medics under the capable leadership of Sister Martha and her ilk, ministering to the smaller needs of a world without Troi.

Ellie's dream. It's all worth it, all over again.

His wife looks up, just then, and their gazes catch, and he sees the same realization on her face. The next thing he knows, her free arm is around him, and they're both laughing and weeping at the same time.

There are a few affectionate glances from the Sisters, but...except for Heine, who is happily shouting into the telephone, nobody says a word.