Summary: Will Rikers been in this situation before. This time, though, its different.
Set post-Nemesis; reference to TNG Episode 127 "The Child"
Last time hed been shocked to the core. Jealousy had turned to fear in the space of a two-minute briefing. Jealous that shed made such a commitment. That he hadnt known she might. Then the explanations a presence, the rapid growth a possible threat. Fear had gripped him fear that this might mean she was lost to him forever.
Last time the fear was tempered by awe. Awe of her courage in the face of the unknown. Awe of her beauty as her body had rapidly changed.
Last time hed been young- too young to understand that happiness couldnt just be found in the centre seat of a starship bridge. That courage wasnt measured in fleet records alone. Last time he hadnt the sense to realise that he had been running away from the one thing he truly couldnt escape.
Last time hed stood at the door, watching Data play the role that should have been his that, in the depths of him, he knew could have been his if only hed chosen differently. Wanting so badly to be involved yet too focussed on his career to acknowledge that want.
This time was the fulfilment of the commitment theyd made. Fear had turned to joy in the space of a two-minute scan. Fear that possibly, at their age (for neither was as young as they might have been) all might not be right. Joy that they would be taking this journey into the unknown together.
This time he was beyond awe. Her body changing, the life they had made vibrant against his hand. Her good humour (mostly!) at her discomforts keeping his fears at bay.
This time he knew happiness didnt come from any chair. It came from her warm, loving presence the joy of living for each other. Watching her, knowing that this time the future was theirs to seize together.
This time hed been at her side, where she had truly needed him. Unlike last time the birth had been difficult, despite the wonders of modern technology. This time there was no hanging back, his place was with her.
This time the beautiful baby was theirs. An adorable girl who wailed until she suckled at her mothers breast. Her big brown eyes capturing his heart in a way for which hed been utterly unprepared.
As he sat by the chair in Maternity, one arm possessively around them both, Will Riker knew that this time he held his future in his arms.