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         Deanna sat in the waiting area of sickbay, trying to avoid wringing he hands anymore that she already had. Will had been in surgery for more than three hours now. She fought down her fears, not allowing them to surface for fear that Will would somehow discover them on some level. Instead she tried to focus on the future, trying to make his survival a foregone conclusion in her mind. It was the only way that she could hold it together.


         Beyond her control, however, every now and then her mind would drift back to the moments before Will had been taken into surgery. Simply moving him from their quarters to Sickbay had taken nearly an hour, while safety measures were put into place for the move. Once they had arrived, Beverly gave him a final checkup and gave the final okay for the procedure. But it was the time that fell between then and the moment he was wheeled into the operating room that Deanna kept in the forefront of her mind.


         She stood beside his bed, trying to keep he thoughts focused. Her fingers smoothed his hair over and over, a gesture meant to soothe herself as much as it did him. His blue eyes looked up at her, already slightly clouded by medication. "It'll get better after this, Imzadi." His hopeful promise had startled her, whether it should have or not. Even in a moment such as this, his instinct was to think of her. The thought caused tears to film her eyes. That was his way, to shove down all that he felt for her sake. It was a wonderful and disturbing quality in him, one that she both cherished and worried over. But there would be time enough to deal with all that. For now, they had a hurdle to overcome.


         "Yes, it will, and better and better still, I know it." She concluded her promise with a gentle kiss, as he struggled to fight the pull of drug induced sleep. Beverly and her team were waiting just a few feet away, and she know it was time. Without acknowledging the others presence, she leaded closer to her Imzadi, focusing only on him for those final precious moments. Her eyes never left his as she whispered a gentle command. "Close your eyes, love. I'll be right here when you wake up. I love you."


As he surrendered to the veil of sleep, Deanna heard in her mind the words she was sure were the most precious she would ever know: ~ I love you too, Imzadi... ~


         Now, hours gone by, she wonder if those would be the last words that she might ever hear from him. Again, she buried the though almost before it had appeared. Of course he would be fine. He had to be. She needed him, and their baby needed him.


         Their baby. It was a thought that was still wonderfully new to her, sending a marvelous warm thrill trough her. Somehow she knew that that little unexpected bit of news would be the turning point that would right their lives again. Beverly was right of course, it would make life more difficult in a practical sense. It would be hard to work out the care necessary for a child and the same time they dealt with Will's recovery. Still, she couldn't help but feel that this sudden little bit of sunshine in their lives would be the added strength that they needed.


         It was a pleasant thought in the midst of turmoil and chaos, so she found herself dwelling there. Just who would this new little person in their lives turn out to be? Would there be a little boy like his Daddy, with that smile and the ability to charm anyone he chose? A little girl, with her natural curls and his blue eyes? Oh, now there was a thought! She could just see that tiny little girl wrapping her Daddy firmly and helplessly around her little finger.


         She never knew just when these thoughts and images took hold of her, but once they had, they did so firmly. Somewhere in the midst of these waking dreams, she slipped off to the first true undisturbed sleep she had known since the accident. It was in this state that Beverly Crusher found her when she emerged exhausted from the operating room hours later.


         "Deanna...Deanna," The sound of her name drew her from her sleep, but it was the sight of her best friends face that sent her bolt upright in her seat. She studied the doctors face for a moment, trying to determine the news before it was spoken. There was exhaustion, coupled oddly with focused drive that only a doctor seemed to possess. And something else in her eyes...In the flash of an instant, Deanna tried to decipher the emotions behind it all...but her own were too strong.


         The whole thing lasted only an instant before she found her voice. "Beverly?" The question was laced with more hope and pain that Crusher had ever heard. She smiled weakly and took Deanna by the hand.


         "He did great. We had a few close calls, but he wasn't about to give in on us. We have the transplant well in hand. We also went in and tried to regenerate some of the lung tissue. That was less than impressive, but it should improve his breathing somewhat. He's got a long way to go, but it looks real good. " Beverly's eyes danced as she spoke.


         Deanna didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Her tears, however, seemed to have a mind of their own. "Oh, God...Beverly! You did it! Thank you...oh...I need to see him."


         Beverly hesitated. "Deanna, he's still very weak. He won't be conscious for some time."


         "Beverly, please. I know he needs to rest...I just, need to be with him, please." Her dark eyes pleaded as they met Crusher's blue ones. That, coupled with the sense that Crusher had that whatever connection they had was the best medicine Will Riker could ask for led her to relent.


         "All right. You can stay with him,  but only as long as you BOTH get some rest. You need to take care of yourself and the baby, remember. When was the last time you ate?"


         Deanna thought for a moment. "Last night, I guess. I had some juice earlier, but things were hectic this morning. I was worried about Will. Never had time to really eat."


         "Let's get you something to eat first. Then you can go in. And no arguments, this is important." Crusher's eyes locked with her friend's as if daring her do disagree with her indirect order. She didn't dare to try.


         A half an hour later, Deanna finally found herself seated in Will's room in the intensive care unit of the Enterprise's Sickbay. To her, he looked better than he had in weeks. His skin held more color than it had since the accident, and his breathing seemed more regular. She ran her hand across his cheek and smiled. "You did it, Will. I'm so proud of you. I love you so much..." She pressed a kiss to his fingers and smiled, content just to be with him.