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         Deanna rushed as quickly as she could in the direction of Sickbay. She had promised Will that she would be with him when he opened his eyes, and she was going to do whatever was necessary to keep that promise and make it to him in time.

 

         She reached Sickbay in moments, and met Beverly in the doorway of Will's room. Crusher read her face almost instantly. "He's still out, but his readings were hovering in that direction, and I just figured that you wouldn't want to chance it. Besides, I have a sneaking suspicion he's waiting on you." She offered her friend a slightly watery smile. "You know the two of you are really something, you know?"

 

         Deanna smiled slightly. "Yeah, I do."

 

         It didn't take Deanna long after entering Will's room to discover what the Doctor had meant in her assessment of Will's condition. She could feel him hovering at the edge of consciousness. But her sense of him never ventured beyond a certain point. It was as if he were floating there, waiting...

 

         She took her familiar seat by his bed, and reached for his hand. Tears came to her eyes at the warmth she felt there, the first sign of real improvement in his condition. She bushed her lips across his fingers. Her free hand drew gently across his face, brushing that all too familiar lock of hair from his eyes.

 

         "Will, can you hear me? I'm right here with you...it's time to wake up, Imzadi." His lashes fluttered slightly, bringing a smile of satisfaction. "Come on, sleepyhead, I miss you already!"

 

         This time, he opened his eyes, only to slam them shut again with a groan.

 

         Deanna caught it immediately, and ordered the computer to dim the lights in the room. "There," she said softly. "Try again."

 

         Will blinked rapidly, in an attempt to clear the slight burning sensation from his eyes, then opened them. "Dea?"

 

         "Hey, Mister. How are you feeling?"

 

         He considered for a moment. "Better, I think."

 

         "Beverly said you were great in there." She looked down at him, the smile she wore melting away into a look of quiet amazement as she seemed to study his face. "And you look so good..." Emotion strained her voice, but she never looked away until he spoke.

 

         "You know, I had the most amazing dream."

 

         "Really?"

 

         He nodded slightly. "You were there...and the baby. But I couldn't quite decide what she baby looked like...if that makes any sense."

 

         Deanna blinked in surprize. "Yeah, actually I think I do...I had the same dream earlier. I could see what a little girl would be like, or a boy...but my mind couldn't seem to make itself up as to which it would be." She smiled, "Have to say, I loved that dream anyway."

 

         "Me too!" He offered her the best smile that he could muster. "Wonder what the odds of something like this is...what do you think it means?"

 

         "I don't know, but then I have other things on my mind at the moment." She looked down at him, hoping he wouldn't be able to read the confusion and conflict in her expression.

 

         It didn't work.

        

         "Deanna?" He squinted up at her, concern evident in his expression. "You're not telling me something. What's going on? Is something wrong?"

 

         "Will, clam down." She placed a reassuring hand against his cheek. "Everything's fine. I had a conversation with the Capitan and the Admiral earlier, and it gave me some things to think about, that's all. We'll talk about it when you are feeling better, OK? Right now, you should rest."

 

         Will scrunched his face like a little boy protesting his nap. "But, I just woke up!"

 

"Be that as it may," she offered him an indulgent look, "You're exhausted."

 

         "Am not!" He muttered petulantly.

 

         "Will..."

 

         "Well, how would you know, anyway?" He shied away from her expression. "OK, it was just a joke...bad too."

 

         "Why is it Sickbay turns you into a five year old boy?"

 

         He couldn't help but laugh at that. "Let's just hope you have better luck with the other child in this family." Before he could stop it he felt his eyes begin to close. He forced them back open, but not before she noticed.

 

         "Oh, I think I'm doing fine with this one."

 

         With a sigh of submission, Riker felt himself cave in. "All right, so maybe I do feel like I ran a marathon. I guess I could use a nap."

 

         "That's better." She grinned dazzlingly. "I just knew you'd see it my way."

 

         "On one condition." he managed sleepily.

 

         She rolled her eyes. "What now?"

 

         He fingered the ring on her left hand. "You promise me you'll get around to actually marrying me one of these days."

 

         Deanna felt a lump form in her throat as she leaned in closer. "Count on it."

 

         "Knew you'd see it my way..." The kiss she pressed to he forehead was last thing he was aware of before sleep enveloped his world again.