Part 16

Ken Dalby gently rolled Samantha Wildman over on to the other side of the bed. The woman, still asleep, settled against the mattress with a soft sound. Ken sat up slowly, careful not to shake the bed or jostle his companion and wake her up. He observed her face for a moment. She looked very much like her child from this angle, minus the Ktarian spikes and red hair. He knew Naomi was going to be a very beautiful woman when she grew up. Her mother certainly was. Even more so when Samantha was asleep, and her features weren't stretched taut with worry and anxiety, as they had been of late. Like they were when she'd begun screaming at him earlier that evening.

The fight to change the balance of power had almost arrived early, terrifying Samantha. There had been no place for Samantha to take Naomi for safety. Samantha had stayed in her quarters for two hours, the time it took for Captain Janeway to prove to everyone that she was indeed incompetent and still completely oblivious. Samantha hadn't known what was happening, and could only hold her child and pray for their safety.

When Ken had arrived with the message that all was well, atleast for the meantime, Samantha turned her fright into furor. She'd tried to send Naomi to Neelix, so they didn't have a screaming fight in front of her. Neelix had retreated to his quarters, claiming illness. Ken had heard Neelix had been in the Mess Hall when Gerron and Jarvin had misinterpreted Janeway's words. Neelix had witnessed the Maquis' reaction when they thought their plan had been found out. Ken didn't want to think what might be done to keep the man quiet. He already knew what he was doing to keep Tom Paris quiet.

There had been no place to send Naomi, so her mother settled for putting her daughter in the next room. Then, quietly but fiercely she'd turned her anger against him. She'd hissed the fear she'd felt, the helplessness. In a harsh whisper, she'd blamed him. He'd held her-well actually he'd blocked a flailing arm and then he'd held her. He tried to explain the unpredictable situation, which he knew she understood perfectly.

At dinner, the atmosphere was nasty. Intuitive Naomi knew it was not the time to balk at eating her vegetables. And despite the attitude he'd received from Samantha, her reaction passed an unplanned test. She'd thought the real thing had begun, and hadn't suddenly run to the other side. She'd hidden in her quarters-their quarters, practically-and waited for him. Whatever uniform she was going to put on in the morning, she knew who was going to win. Ken knew Chakotay would allow the Wildmans to stay on board, when it was over and done with. He would see her reaction as a demonstration of trustworthiness.

He rose quietly from the bed. He took a PADD off the dresser and called up the Security schedule. His name had been removed from Alpha Shift, replaced with O'Donnell. Somehow, he didn't think that was going to be an obstacle. He'd have to tell Chakotay, in the morning. He would still be going to the Brig for Alpha Shift, he knew a way would be found for O'Donnell to be unavailable. For now, Ken was going to pretend he wasn't going to end a life in a few hours.

He went back to bed. He gently drew Samantha back into his arms. Ken Dalby's last sleepy thought was that he'd like nothing better than to stay in her warm embrace forever.

Part 17 | Index page