Across The Void

Across The Void

Status: Finished

Genre: Fan Fiction

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Fan Fiction

Summary

Both disenchanted with their jobs, Picard and Crusher grow apart. Crusher leaves the ship and Picard descends into a deep depression. Finally he goes in seach of her.

Summary

Both disenchanted with their jobs, Picard and Crusher grow apart. Crusher leaves the ship and Picard descends into a deep depression.
Finally he goes in seach of her.

Chapter1 (v.1) - Across The Void

Author Chapter Note

Both disenchanted with their jobs, Picard and Crusher grow apart. Crusher leaves the ship and Picard descends into a deep depression. Finally he goes in seach of her.

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: January 18, 2012

Reads: 555

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: January 18, 2012

A A A

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Across The Void.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard sat in his living area, staring at the passing stars. His dark hazel eyes, unfocussed, reflected the points of elongated light, the fingers of his right hand gently rubbing his lower lip. His mind roiled slowly, the same thoughts turning over and over.

“What am I doing here? A man of my age…still a Captain and rootless, out here in space…no family, no connections…what is there in store for me? I’ve been ruminating about this for months and I’m no closer to an answer.  Why am I here, still doing this? Am I still pursuing the dreams of my youth? So much time has passed and yes…I have achieved a lot, but am I still happy to do this? So much diplomatic busy work…when do we get back to exploration? How many times will I be asked to inveigle a new species to join the Federation simply because we can’t afford to lose their resources?”

The man sighed and crossed his legs. Sipping his tea, he grimaced at the cool liquid and put the cup on the table. He sat back and his eyes looked again at the stars. He lost himself in dark thought.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fifty seven metres away, Beverly Crusher, CMO of the Starship Enterprise, sat in her quarters and like the Captain, she was looking at the stars and, again like him, she saw nothing of the passing vista.

“What a day! God what I wouldn’t give for a small private practice somewhere…somewhere where I can get to know the families, bring them into the world, watch them grow…treat them, laugh with them…grieve with them…Oh how I hate this ship! I would so love to meet someone who stayed and didn’t get transferred. I can’t imagine what it would be like to work in an environment that was safe…and still. I thought this was what I wanted…but it’s not, it’s not at all. It’s been three months now and it’s getting worse all the time!”

The Doctor wrapped her robe around her tighter and sighed. Shaking her head, she allowed her mind to wander further.

“And what about Jean-Luc? Why the hell can’t I simply tell him how I feel? What is so bloody hard about that? After all, he would be over the moon. Of course if I did that I would be expected to stay, maybe move in with him. Can I do that? Am I willing to give up my personal space, my autonomy? At my age it’s no simple matter…I’ve been alone a very long time. Is a relationship with him worth it? Would I be willing to stay indefinitely on this ship?”

She sighed and stood, hugging herself. Shaking her head, she was annoyed to feel tears threaten.

“No dammit, I wouldn’t! I want to be free…rid of regimentation and hierarchy. I want…I want…to be free. He’s stuck in one groove…still upholding the rules, trying to make a difference, but it’s all gone…everything’s changed. The institution we serve is light years away from what it once was and Jean-Luc can’t…or won’t see that. Do I want to keep trying to do my part in something I no longer believe in? Would he understand?”

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc wandered into his bedroom and sat on the edge of his bed. He toed off his boots, pivoted and stretched out atop the covers, his head cradled in his hands.

“I should talk to someone about all this…but who? Deanna would no doubt analyse me and suggest I need a holiday...she must be aware of my emotions anyway. Out of the question of course. And Beverly? No. She’s part of the problem. How can I tell her how I feel? How do you tell a woman, who’s made it quite clear she doesn’t wish to enter into a relationship, that you love her unreservedly and have done for over thirty years? Bloody hell! If she would only…that would solve everything. If she were by my side, sharing my life, everything would make sense. I would have a purpose but she’s been very distant…something’s not right there.”

He sighed and closed his eyes, his mind furnishing images of the woman he loved so deeply.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beverly emerged from the shower and spent some time drying her shoulder length red hair. Satisfied, she donned a nightie and pulled back the covers of her bed. Pouring a small glass of sherry, she sipped and wandered to the bookshelf, her hand automatically going to a volume of poetry she habitually read for comfort. It was only when she was comfortably in bed that she realised the book belonged to Jean-Luc. Slamming it shut, she dropped it on the floor, downed the remainder of the sherry and settled down, determined to put him from her mind. That proved to be very difficult.

“God he’s everywhere…he’s insidious…he’s managed to pervade every facet of my life! To look around my cabin you’d think we were in some sort of a relationship. Anyone can see we spend all our time together…I’m his date in any diplomatic situation…Jesus we might as well be married! I’ve got to do something about this!”

Turning over, she hugged a pillow and ground her teeth.

“Something’s got to give!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning, Jean-Luc was preparing breakfast. His musings of the night before still bubbled under the surface, but he sighed and shook his head.

“Enough. Stop it old man, Beverly will be here shortly and the last thing she wants to hear is your grouching.”

He was at the replicator when she called.

“Crusher to Picard.”
”Picard here. Good morning Beverly.”

There was a brief pause and Jean-Luc frowned.

“Beverly?”

“Sorry. Look I’m a bit tied up this morning…I won’t be able to make it for breakfast.”

“Oh. Well that’s all right…I’ll see you at the briefing.”

“OK, Crusher out.”

Frowning, he sighed and looked at the laden table. He sat dispiritedly and picked up a croissant, staring at it, his mind miles away.

“That does it! What a way to start the day.”

 With a snort he dropped the pastry and rose, disposing of the articles with brusque efficiency. When the table was all but cleared, he gulped down a cup of coffee and tossed the empty cup in the recycler. He was out the door seconds later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Captain was in his customary seat when the senior officers filed into the observation lounge. Their lively chatter muted as they approached the long table, each taking their place and attuning themselves. Deanna Troi, ship’s Counsellor frowned and looked at her Captain, his tension loud and clear to her empathic senses, as it had been for some weeks. She was about to ask him if he was all right when the door sighed open and Beverly came in. Immediately Deanna sensed her wariness and shot her a look. The Doctor ignored her and took her seat. Jean-Luc cleared his throat, bringing the meeting to order.

“As you know, we are assigned to be the diplomatic liaison between the two governments of Dellos and Gelt. Their dispute is an intricate one…one which the Federation wants sorted out, and quickly.”
Beverly muttered under her breath and Jean-Luc frowned, turning a tightly annoyed look in her direction.

“You have something to say Doctor?”

She sighed and shrugged.

“Yet another diplomatic brush fire. If it wasn’t for the dilithium they both have in such abundance no one would give a damn if they simply ceased to exist.”

Jean-Luc’s eyes glittered.

“Be that as it may, our orders are clear. We need to help end the conflict that has arisen and restore normal relations with both planets. Mr.Data what can you tell me about these people?”

The android second officer tilted his head.

“Both species are humanoid, in fact they are related. Their planets are class M, the Dellosians colonised Gelt over two millennia ago. The dispute has arisen over a dowry paid by the Dellosian President’s family to the family of the Gelt Overseer. Apparently a significant heirloom has gone missing and such is their rigid protocols, they are prepared to go to war over it. Captain I do not understand the concept of dowries. Why is it that so many cultures, including some of Earth, require a dowry to be paid? Is not the union of two people based on mutual affection and the urge to breed?”

Sighing, Jean-Luc shook his head.

“It depends on how the society views the status of both participants. If they were equal, a dowry would be unnecessary, however in many cultures one gender is often held to be more important than the other. To make up for this perceived discrepancy, a dowry is paid to bolster the value of the lesser person.”

Data looked confused.

“Is that not sexist Captain?”

“Yes Data it is.”

“Bearing in mind such practices no longer occur on Earth, why is the Federation willing to overlook it in member worlds? Does not the charter of sentient beings forbid such behaviour?”

Jean-Luc pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed.

“Data…”
Beverly’s voice was bitter.

“It’s like this Data. The Federation has been so badly weakened by the Dominion war that they’re willing to get into bed with anybody as long as the resources keep flowing. Turning a blind eye to archaic mating rituals is the last thing they’re worried about.”

Deanna inwardly winced at Beverly’s hard attitude, one that had been increasingly evident in her demeanour over the past few months. She also clearly felt the Captain’s displeasure at her outburst.

“If you’re finished Doctor? Data ignore the circumstances and concentrate on the mission. Number One, ETA at the Harmon system?”

“Four days Captain.”

“Very good. Data download everything you can about these peoples and try to discover what happened to the missing heirloom…what is it by the way?”

Will Riker; the first officer consulted a PADD.

“It’s a bejewelled, crystallised head of a Grek, a native beast of Dellos once hunted by the aristocracy and now extinct.”

Grimacing, Jean-Luc shook his head.

“I see. Well it matters not what it is, we need to help them find it. Is there anything else?”

He received negative responses and curtly nodded his head.

“Very well dismissed. Doctor would you stay please?”

Fisting her hands, Beverly clenched her jaw and lowered her head. Deanna cast her a look, frowned and left with the others. Once the room was empty, Jean-Luc sighed.

“What is it Beverly? Why are you so angry this morning?”

Shooting him a look, Beverly scowled.

“Me? I could ask you the same question.”

Pursing his lips, the Captain frowned and stifled a glare.

“Doctor I’m not accustomed to repeating my enquiries. What is wrong?”

His dark hazel eyes bored into hers and Beverly sighed.

“Oh look…take no notice Jean-Luc. I’ve been feeling a bit off lately…I shouldn’t have said anything, I’m sorry.”

About to remonstrate with her and remind her of the need to maintain protocol, he saw her sadness and relented.

“Is it anything I can help you with? I’ve noticed you’ve been struggling with something for a while now.”

Smiling sadly, Beverly shook her head.

“No…it’s something I have to get through myself…but thank you.”

He nodded and sighed.

“Well we’d better get back to work. Would you care to have dinner with me tonight?”

He was surprised to see his best friend frown and shake her head.

“Ah…no. I’ll be…busy.”

She stood and lowered her eyes, waiting for his dismissal. He was tempted to ask exactly what would keep her from his invitation, but being the gentleman he was, he eschewed.

“Very well Doctor. Dismissed.”

As she approached the door he said softly,

“Beverly…you know you can come to me…with anything?”

She turned and smiled sadly, nodded once and left. Jean-Luc fixed his eyes on the stars and ruminated sourly.

 

 

 

 

 

Ten minutes later, in his Command chair on the Bridge, Jean-Luc became increasingly aware of the gentle scrutiny of his ship’s Counsellor. Deanna sat demurely, seemingly absorbed with the business at hand, but every now and then she cast a meaningful look at her Captain and it was beginning to annoy him. Finally he stood and tugged down on his tunic.

“You have the Bridge Number One, I’ll be in the Ready Room.”

Will smiled at Deanna and nodded.

“Aye Sir.”

Jean-Luc had only been seated a few minutes when the door chimed. He knew who it was and sighed, quelling his rising irritation.

“Come.”

Deanna walked in, her empathic senses taking a buffeting from the tense man. Keeping his eyes trained on the monitor on his desk, Jean-Luc kept his deep voice even.

“Yes Counsellor, how may I help you?”

Deanna stood before the chair in front of the desk and gripped its back.

“What you actually mean is Captain…what do you want?”

His dark eyes lifted and stared without humour. The silence stretched on and Deanna sighed.

“Captain you know you can’t hide, even though you do a damn good job of trying. Please Sir…this has been going on for some time. Why are you so tense?”

Fisting his hands, Jean-Luc straightened in his chair, sat back and crossed his legs.

“I have a lot on my mind…I think under the circumstances it’s perfectly normal to feel a little stress.”

Deanna’s look was frankly incredulous. Pursing her lips, she rounded the chair and sat, pushing her long dark hair back from her face.

“Captain you realise who you’re talking to? I’ve known you for over twelve years and I know this mission couldn’t possibly cause you the amount of stress I’m feeling. Please Captain…”

Shaking his head brusquely, Jean-Luc frowned.

“Look Counsellor I really don’t want to talk about it. It’s personal and something I’d rather see if I can sort out myself.”

Deanna’s obsidian eyes hardened and she set her jaw.

“What about Beverly?”

Jean-Luc’s head snapped up and he glared.

“What about her?”

“Captain you heard her this morning…since when did Beverly ever voice such sarcastic, bitter comments? And it’s been going on for too long! The anger and sadness I felt from her only mirrored what I felt from you. Has something happened between you?”

Taking a deep breath, Jean-Luc clenched his teeth.

“Counsellor my relationship with Doctor Crusher is, frankly, none of your business. Now if you’re finished, I have work to do.”

Deanna remained seated, raising her mental barriers against his anger. He stared at her and saw her equanimity. Closing his eyes, he sighed expansively.

“I spoke to her, she said she was feeling a bit down.”

“I see. Did she elaborate…tell you why?”

He answered the question with a question of his own.

“Have you asked her?”

Shaking her head, the Counsellor frowned.

“No. She ‘s been avoiding me. Now Captain, did she tell you why?”

Jean-Luc picked up a crystal shard and turned it slowly in his fingers.

“No.”

Deanna lowered her head and her voice.

“And it has nothing to do with you? You haven’t had a fight?”

Shaking his head, Jean-Luc concentrated on keeping calm.

“No.”

“Did she have breakfast with you this morning?”

“No.”

His reticence was trying, but Deanna persevered.

“Did she say why?”

Jean-Luc turned his chair and stared out at the elongated prismatic stars as they passed at high warp.

“She said she was busy.”

“You missed her.”

“Yes.”

“Captain…”
Jean-Luc turned the chair back and faced the Counsellor, his face an inscrutable mask.

“You are dismissed.”

Knowing this time he wouldn’t bend, Deanna stood and sighed.

“Very well Captain, but I will be monitoring you both and if I feel the need, I will order you to counselling if necessary.”

He said nothing as she left. Sitting motionlessly, he closed his eyes and sighed.

“Christ now I have Deanna to contend with. Shit!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deanna took her seat to the left of the Command chair and gave Will a meaningful look. To his silent enquiry she muttered,

“Later.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beverly was in her office trying to catch up on the plethora of work that seemed to pile up without her knowing. She held a PADD and sighed, her concentration wandering.

“Maybe I should have dinner with Jean-Luc, hell the distraction would be worth it…but why lead him on? Dammit every time I catch him with that look in his eyes…I’m such a bitch! Why don’t I just tell him? I love you. Why is that so damn impossible to say? It’s true, I do love him…what the hell is wrong with me? He’s a wonderful man, kind, thoughtful and I know he adores me…why can’t I do this?”

With more force than was necessary, Beverly threw down the PADD and buried her head in her hands.

“Jesus this is driving me nuts! The whole thing…Jean-Luc, work, Starfleet…what the hell am I going to do?””

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the next eight days Jean-Luc and Beverly saw little of each other. She consistently refused to share breakfast with him and he eventually gave up on trying to invite her to anything with him The Enterprise had arrived in the Harmon system and were entrenched in the mystery of the missing Grek. Jean-Luc had met with both the President of Dellos and the Overseer of Gelt. The Dellosian President, a male of impressive stature, was bellicose and boring. Jean-Luc had to employ all his diplomatic skill to smooth relations with him and his ruling party. By contrast, the female Overseer of Gelt was articulate, intelligent and beautiful. She ruled with integrity and equity, taking advice from her council and embracing the aid of the Enterprise with graciousness.

In all, it took Data and his team four days to uncover the errant Grek. With admirable determination, the android Second Officer had quietly searched, interviewing and digging until he finally found what he was looking for.

Jean-Luc was on the Bridge when the call came from the planet.

“Data to Enterprise.”

“Picard here Data. What have you to report?”

“Sir we have located the Grek.”

“Excellent Data! Where is it?”

“At present it appears to be wrapped in a blanket and secreted beneath the bed of the Dellosian Under Secretary.”

Jean-Luc stood and frowned.

“Ploth? What is he doing with it?”

There was a momentary hiatus as Data issued orders to his team. His voice soon returned.

“My apologies Captain. The Under Secretary seems to be under the impression that such a valuable heirloom should not be handed over the Geltans. He thinks them unworthy.”

Jean-Luc sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.

“And did it occur to him that his action just might cause a war?”

“I do not claim to understand his motives Sir, however he seems genuine in his beliefs.”

The Captain cast a look at Will and sighed.

“Very well Data. Can you liberate the artefact?”

“We are on our way to his compound now Captain. I will contact you when we have it. Data out.”

Jean-Luc rubbed a hand over his bald head and regained his seat. Lifting his head he said quietly,

“Tactical open a channel with the Gelt administration.”

“Aye Sir. Channel open.”

“On screen.”

The large viewscreen showed a pleasant female face, the smile warm and inviting.

“Yes Captain Picard, how may I be of service?”

Putting on his best diplomatic face, Jean-Luc kept his voice even.

“May I speak to Overseer Hrum please?”

“Of course Captain. Please hold.”

The viewscreen image changed to that of a waterfall and alien music filtered through the speakers. Jean-Luc sighed and waited patiently. Eventually The Overseer appeared.

“Captain Picard, a pleasure as always.”

“Thank you Overseer. I believe we have good news.”

“Oh? And what is this good news?”

Smiling and growing warm towards the gregarious woman, Jean-Luc sighed.

“It would seem my away team has found the Grek.”

The small woman grinned, her sparse pointed teeth gleaming.

“But that’s wonderful! Have you informed President Klatt?”

Looking slightly guilty, Jean-Luc’s smile broadened.

“Well actually no…I thought you might like to hear it first.”

Her chuckle lit up her face, making her orange eyes dance.

“Oh Captain what a mischief maker you are. Tell me, where did your team find it?”

Scratching his ear, Jean-Luc smile was self-depreciating.

“It would seem it lies under the bed of Under Secretary Ploth.”

The Overseer harrumphed and scowled.

“If you ask me that’s a good place for it. Honestly Captain can you think of anything more disgusting than a crystallised, bejewelled Grek head?”

The Captain shook his head and smiled.

“Actually Overseer I’ve never seen one.”

“Well take my word for it, it’s dreadful, smelly and too ostentatious for words.”

His face settling into a calm visage, Jean-Luc became serious.

“How would you like to handle this Overseer?”

Hrum frowned and lowered her head, allowing her long green hair to cascade forward. She rubbed her flat nose and sighed.

“I suppose Klatt will want a ceremony of some sort…I’ve never known him to pass up the opportunity to celebrate.”

“And the Under Secretary?”

“That’s Klatt’s business. He can apportion any punishment he sees fit. Tell me Captain, do you know why he did it?”

Embarrassment coloured the Captain’s face. He winced and Hrum saw his discomfort.

“Now that’s very interesting Picard. A man of your extensive diplomatic skills shouldn’t show such a reaction to so simple a question. Let me guess. He didn’t think we were good enough to take possession of the damn thing did he?”

Lowering his head, Jean-Luc shook it slowly, his voice low.

“No Overseer he didn’t.”

There was a momentary silence and Jean-Luc raised his head to watch the Overseer. The woman scowled, sighed then shrugged.

“So be it! It’s not worth going to war over bruised feelings. My daughter still wants to marry Klatt’s son so I suspect we’ll find a way to get through this…unpleasantness. Please inform me when you have told the President…I’ll open communications with him soon after.”

Jean-Luc bowed and smiled.

“As you wish Overseer. Picard out.”

The Captain sighed and took a moment to centre himself. Will watched his CO and marvelled yet again how well he did his sometimes-tedious job. Jean-Luc requested a channel be opened to the Dellosian government and waited patiently while he was transferred to President Klatt’s office. Once contact was established, he had to parry with three aides before he finally found himself talking to Klatt.

“President Klatt I have news of our mission.”

Sitting back imperiously, Klatt looked down his short flat nose. Raising his bushy green eyebrows, he waited for the Captain to continue.

“My away team has found the Grek.”

Taking what appeared to be a slim nacre pick, Klatt slid it between his sparse teeth and lolled his bright purple tongue.

“And where did you find it?”

“It would seem to be beneath the bed of your Under Secretary.”

Klatt’s small orange eyes widened and he sat up.

“Under Ploth’s bed? Why would it be there?”

Jean-Luc kept his face unreadable.

“I have been informed that the Under Secretary was of the opinion that the Geltans were not worthy to have it.”

Klatt snorted, expelling some blue globular material from his nostrils. Wiping his nose with his fingers, Klatt shrugged.

“Well he’s right of course, but we must make sacrifices. Have you told Hrum?”

“Yes Sir.”

“I suppose she’s overjoyed?”

“She was glad Sir.”

Klatt wiped his hands on his jerkin and sat back, tilting to one side and emitting a loud expulsion of gas. Grunting, he coughed wetly.

“Well then I’d best get to organising a celebration! I take it you will attend Captain?”

Bowing courteously, Jean-Luc raised a smile.

“Of course Mr. President.”

Casting his eyes over his data device, Klatt was dismissive.

“Fine. I’ll have one of my aides contact you. Klatt out.”

Once the screen reverted to its view of the Dellosian planet, Will grunted.

“Charming fellow. I wonder which school of deportment he went to?”

Shaking his head, Jean-Luc sighed.

“Don’t be so quick to judge Number One. We cannot hold our standards of civility to other cultures…you know that.”

Will smirked, but nodded.

“Yes Sir I do…still he could do with some lessons in manners even if only to make things easier for us.”

Jean-Luc snorted and smiled.

“Indeed.”

The Captain contacted the Geltan government and informed Hrum of his conversation with Klatt. The overseer thanked the Captain again and closed the channel. Jean-Luc handed the Bridge to Will, and entered his Ready Room replicating a cup of Earl Grey and sitting quietly behind his desk. He sipped, enjoying a quiet moment before calling Beverly.

“Picard to Crusher.”

“Crusher here.”

“Beverly it would seem there will be a celebration of sorts soon and I have been invited. Will you do me the honour of being my escort?”

“The war’s over?”

“Yes. Data and his team have found the Grek.”

“Oh. Well that’s good news. Look Jean-Luc I’d rather not attend if you don’t mind.”

Jean-Luc sat up, his tea poised half way to his mouth.

“But Beverly we always…”

He plainly heard her anger.

“Well not this time! Ask somebody else. Crusher out.”

Placing his cup on its saucer, he picked up the crystal shard with the intention of using it to calm himself. Instead he threw it across the room with significant force.

“Fuck!”

 

 

 

 

 

Forty-five minutes later the Captain was called out onto the Bridge. Will was standing, talking to Data. He turned to his CO and nodded.

“Sir, Data and his team have the artefact.”

“Good.”

Standing next to his exec, Jean-Luc faced the screen.

“Data contact the President’s office and request instructions. They will tell you what to do.”
”Aye Captain, but I must inform you that Under Secretary Ploth has been very obstructive. I was obliged to put an armed guard on him while we recovered the artefact.”

Jean-Luc frowned.

“That’s unfortunate Data. When you speak with the President’s office, tell them what has occurred and leave it up to them.”

“Aye Captain. Sir do we have authority to guard the artefact?”

“Yes I think so, at least until someone takes custody of it. Follow whatever instructions they give, but only surrender it to someone with the appropriate authority.”

“Understood Captain, Data out.”

Jean-Luc nodded and turned to his exec.

“Number One you have the Bridge, I’m going to Sickbay.”

The big bearded man nodded.

“Aye Captain.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beverly was in her office when she became aware of being watched. Snapping her head up and seeing the Captain, she had to concentrate on not scowling.

“Captain, what can I do for you?”

He frowned and sighed.

“May I come in?”

Summoning a wan smile, she nodded.

“Of course.”

He entered and raised a silent query. Nodding, Beverly gestured to the seat in front of her desk. Once seated, Jean-Luc settled his eyes on his best friend.

“We need to talk.”

Fisting her hands and sighing, Beverly shook her head.

“About what?”

Briefly closing his eyes and deflecting the simmering anger emanating from the Doctor, he clenched his jaw.

“You know full well what I want to talk about…”

Beverly’s voice was harsh.

“Look…if this is about me not being your date for the celebration, we’ve nothing to talk about, my mind’s made up.”

Jean-Luc pinched the bridge of his nose and concentrated on staying calm.

“Why?”

Glaring, her cerulean eyes glittered.

“Why what?”

“Why won’t you go with me? And for that matter, why have you been avoiding me? You’ve cancelled breakfasts, you won’t have dinner with me, you decline to attend recitals with me…what the hell have I done?”

Beverly sat motionless for a few seconds, her eyes staring at he desktop. Abruptly she stood and adopted an attention stance.

“Captain Picard I have a lot of work to do. If you don’t mind, I would appreciate getting back to it.”

Jean-Luc remained seated looking up at his vexed friend. With a casualness he didn’t feel, he crossed his legs and clasped his hands on his lap.

“Request denied. Answer the question.”

Now clearly furious, Beverly glared down at him.

“With all due respect Sir, this is a private matter and not under your purview as Captain.”

“Granted but I’m speaking to you not as your Captain, but as a friend…a close friend, of thirty years standing. What’s wrong Beverly? Is it me…have I done something wrong, something to upset you?”

Fighting back tears of frustration and sadness, Beverly shook her head. Sitting, she relaxed and when she spoke, he had to strain to hear her.

“No Jean-Luc it’s not you.”

He leaned forward and tried to take her hand. Shaking her head, she removed her hands and placed them on her lap. Jean-Luc frowned, his eyes darkening.

“What is it then?”

Sighing Beverly swallowed, her mouth suddenly dry.

“Please Jean-Luc…I don’t want to talk about it. Just give me some time…ok?”

He sat back and regarded the sad woman, confused and angry that he couldn’t find out what was wrong.

“Very well Beverly, but will you do something? If not for me then for yourself?”

Lifting her head, she looked him in the eye.

“What?”

“Talk to somebody. Will, Deanna…even Data would do…don’t let this fester because if it begins to affect your work I’ll have no choice but to order you into counselling.”

Keeping the spike of anger at bay, Beverly nodded tightly. Jean-Luc stood and sighed.

“In the mean time if you decide you want to talk to me, I’ll be there for you…anytime.”

The urge to round her desk and hug the man she loved was almost overpowering. Steeling herself, Beverly remained calm.

“Thank you Jean-Luc.”

He pursed his lips, took one final look, then departed. Beverly sat heavily in her chair and fought the welling tears.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was late and Jean-Luc had changed into his shorts and robe. Seated under the viewports, he was reading and listening to music, a cup of tea nearby when his door chimed. Hoping it was his best friend; he turned his head and called,

“Come.”

The doors whispered open and Deanna strolled in, her hands behind her back.

“You’re up late Captain.”

He smiled and nodded.

“So it would seem, are you.”

Making her way to his seat, she looked down at him and asked,

“May I sit Captain?”

Knowing something was on her mind he nodded. Once she was settled, she wasted no time in coming to the point.

“Captain you’re still very tense.”

Jean-Luc sighed and smirked. Gesturing to the book and his attire, he shook his head.

“I don’t think so Counsellor. Do I look tense?”

With a look of frank disbelief, Deanna scowled.

“You know full well your demeanour has nothing whatsoever do to with your appearance. You’re so tense I can feel you from my quarters! Please Captain…what is it?”

The rising anger was potent and Deanna winced as she raised her mental barriers. With great deliberation, Jean-Luc closed the book and ordered the music off. With his dark eyes glittering dangerously, he said quietly,

“I believe I have already told you it’s personal. I would appreciate you ceasing with these intrusive enquiries, I see no need for your continued interest in this matter.”

Deanna withstood his cold anger and nodded.

“Very well Sir, I will accede to your wishes for now, but you’re not the only one I’m concerned about. You must be aware that Beverly is struggling with something and I can only put two and two together. My assumption is that these difficulties you’ve both been experiencing are connected.”

Still tightly controlled, Jean-Luc’s voice was deep and soft.

“We’ve been over this.”

“Yes Sir we have, but I’m no further informed than before. Captain Beverly is in pain…you both are and I want nothing more than to help.”

Jean-Luc stared hard at the Counsellor before sighing and lowering his head.

“I spoke to her again this afternoon and she was as unresponsive as before. I suggested she talk to someone privately…if not me then perhaps you or Will, and I cautioned her that if her difficulties affected her work, I would order her to undergo counselling.”

Deanna winced and frowned.

“How did she take that?”

“She was understandably angry, but accepted it as well as can be expected.”

There was silence as the two people thought about the issue. Deanna tilted her head and asked,

“Captain given her present mood, how do you think she’d take it if I broached the subject with her?”

Jean-Luc sighed and looked out at the lazily turning planet that filled the viewport.

“To be honest Counsellor I don’t know. You two are close friends…she may accept it, on the other hand she may see you as the Counsellor and reject you out of hand.”

“Well under the circumstances I think I should try. If this goes too far it could affect her more than we know.”

The Captain nodded and took a deep breath.

“Agreed. Is that all Counsellor?”

Deanna swallowed and steeled herself against the imminent anger.

“Not quite Sir. After I have seen Beverly, I will be seeing you again. Yes I know you’re unwilling, but this matter must be resolved.”

He surprised her. Instead of anger, she felt tired resolution. He nodded.

“Very well, I will try and be more forthcoming.”

Smiling and appreciating his effort to be compliant, Deanna stood.

“Thank you Captain. Goodnight Sir.”

His eyes drifted back to the viewport as he listened to her departure. His tea now cold and his mood sour, he grunted and looked at the book.

“It’s going to be a long night I fear.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day Deanna was in her office going over Beverly’s last psyche evaluation. She noted several changes and tried to see if there were any clues that might shed some light on her current difficulties. In frustration, she closed the computer and sat back, deep in thought. After some minutes, she tapped her combadge.

“Troi to Crusher.”

“Crusher here.”

“Hello Beverly. Tell me, can you spare me some time this afternoon? There’re some things I’d like to discuss with you.”

Beverly’s reply clearly showed her wariness.

“What things?”

“Oh you know…things.”

Obviously not fooled, Beverly’s voice hardened.

“I don’t think so Deanna I’m…”

Deanna closed her eyes and crossed her fingers.

“Please Beverly don’t say no this time…it’s important.”

There was a momentary silence followed by a sigh.

“Well ok, but I can’t stay long.”

“Excellent! I see you at say, fourteen thirty in my office?”

“OK, see you then, Crusher out.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the appointed time, Beverly entered Deanna’s office and stood frowning down at the Counsellor. Deanna was sitting cross-legged on the floor, eyes closed.

“Deanna?”

The Counsellor sighed and slowly stood. Opening her eyes, she smiled warmly at her old friend. Beverly smiled back, but continued to frown.

“What were you doing?”

Gesturing to some seats, Deanna went to the replicator, retrieving two hot drinks. Once they were seated, she answered.

“I’ve been doing some research on meditation and decided to try an old Hindu method.”

Looking clearly sceptical, Beverly raised her eyebrows.

“And?”

Sighing, Deanna shrugged.

“Well let’s just say it’ll take some practice.”

They sipped their drinks in silence before Beverly sat up.

“OK, what do you want to discuss?”

Centring herself, Deanna took a large breath.

“Beverly over the past few months I’ve been sensing powerful emotions coming from you…all of them negative. I’ve sensed anger, sadness and despair and you’ve not allowed me to find out why, so now I’m asking you outright. What’s wrong…what’s causing it?”

Displaying admirable control, Beverly schooled her features into an innocent visage.

“Oh nothing you need bother yourself with Dee. I’ve been a little off lately…probably hormonal.”

Not convinced in the least, Deanna held her ground. Shaking her head she sighed.

“Not good enough Beverly, I know that’s a load of cods. Come on…it’s me remember? What is it?”

Beverly allowed precisely thirty seconds to pass before she stood.

“I have to get back to Sickbay.”

She turned and walked towards the door. Deanna’s quiet voice stilled her feet.

“I’ve talked with the Captain. He told me if this interferes with your work, he’ll order you to undergo counselling. Do you want that?”

The Doctor’s shoulders squared and she lowered her head. With determination she didn’t feel, she walked through the open door. With her departure, Deanna sat back and sighed.

“So bloody pig-headed!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two days later Jean-Luc received his official invitation to that evening’s celebration. He got through the day and retired to his cabin to prepare, grumbling with himself as he wrestled the closure at the neck of his dress tunic.

“How the hell does Beverly do this?”

His thick fingers fumbled with the clasp and he grunted when it finally clipped closed. Stretching his neck, he smoothed the material and looked at himself in the mirror.

“Why the hell am I doing this? It’s just one more pointless round of hand-shakes and back-slapping…a glorious feast of self congratulation. What the hell is the point?”

He scowled at himself and turned on his heel. Just shy of the door sensor he paused and sighed.

“This will be the first time in years she’s not by my side at one of these…talk fests. Perhaps she has the right idea. I wonder what would happen if I told them to go to hell and stayed on board?”

Snorting and shaking his head, he proceeded through the door and set course for the Transporter Room. Banishing all negative thought, he entered the room and took his place on the pad. The duty officer nodded his respectful greeting and said,

“Coordinates are set Captain.”

“Energise.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc was greeted by Overseer Hrum. The leader stepped forward and took his arm, leading him into a cavernous room filled with ornately dressed beings of various ages. He began what seemed an endless round of introductions, his hand being squeezed repeatedly. Hrum never left his side. At one stage she wrapped an arm around his waist, guiding him through the crowds. He stepped demurely aside, disengaging her arm and she smiled warmly at him. Eventually they came to a young couple, attired completely in gold and blue robes.

“Captain Picard may I introduce the special couple? This is my daughter Gedra and my soon to be son, Nram.”

Jean-Luc bowed and shook their hands. He noted the easy way the couple stood with each other, their affection clearly evident. Nram looked keenly at the Captain.

“We are honoured by you presence Captain Picard. Your reputation precedes you.”

Jean-Luc smiled and shook his head.

“Thank you but I fear you may be misinformed. I am simply doing my job.”

Gedra chuckled and looked to her intended for permission to speak. He nodded and she said,

“You are too modest Captain. From what we’ve heard you are an accomplished diplomat and a fierce warrior. Your ship is a wonder…nothing like it exists here. Is it true it has the capability of destroying our planet from orbit?”

Jean-Luc frowned and sighed.

“I’m afraid to admit that is true Gedra, however I must stress that would never occur. Our weapons are for defence only. The Federation is not aggressive.”

Nram took up the conversation.

“Is it also true that Starfleet was originally meant for exploration?”

“Yes. Although based militaristically, our charter was for exploration. It is only in recent times we have found it necessary to defend ourselves, the result being that we have devoted more time to defence.”

Hrum gently squeezed his arm.

“And your ships are now ships of war.”

Jean-Luc frowned and lowered his head.

“I’m sorry, but that is also true. We can no longer afford to be unprepared.”

The Overseer bobbed her head to see under his brow.

“This distresses you?”

Jean-Luc sighed and nodded.

“To be honest, yes it does. When I joined Starfleet it was to explore the galaxy. I never thought I’d be in so many battles…loss of any life pains me and to be responsible is a burden I carry heavily.”

Hrum surprised him by trailing her fingers down his face in a remarkably intimate gesture.

“It is only because you are a man of high principle that it burdens you so Captain. A lesser man would not be so affected.”

Jean-Luc smiled and was about to step back when she stopped him with a question.

“You have a given name…a familiar?”

He nodded his voice soft.

“Yes it’s Jean-Luc.”

Hrum smiled and tried the name.

“Jean-Luc? Jean-Luc Picard. I like it…it’s strong, although alien. Does it mean anything?”

“Not specifically. Each name has it’s own meaning but I wasn’t named for any particular reason.”

The Overseer gasped.

“Oh how unfortunate! We are named to a rigid protocol. One can trace their lineage by one’s name.”

“That’s very interesting Overseer. May I ask do you have a familiar?”

Smiling broadly and ignoring the chuckle of her daughter, Hrum nodded.

“Yes. J’Larr-P’henn.”

Jean-Luc smiled and cleared his throat.

“J’Larr-P’henn.”

The Overseer laughed and put her arm around his waist.

“Oh you make it sound so exotic! Tell me Jean-Luc do you have a mate?”

“No Madam I do not.”

With a gleam in her eye, she chuckled.

“Well let’s hope that changes soon.”

Just then there was a loud gonging and Hrum led Jean-Luc through the crowd to a long table situated on a raised stage. She seated him beside her in the middle, Klatt on his other side.

The feast began and Jean-Luc struggled to do justice to the massive meal. Being a light eater, he found the food overly spiced and heavy. Course after course was eaten, then sweets were served. Accompanying the food were alcoholic drinks Jean-Luc found quite potent. With amazement he watched as his hosts scoffed the food and drinks with little effect. Hrum managed to down seven large goblets of liquid and seemed none the worse for wear. It was with great relief the meal finally ended. His stomach straining, Jean-Luc had to concentrate on proceedings. Several dignitaries stood and delivered speeches, the last being Klatt and Hrum. The Overseer had the final speech and Jean-Luc had to resist the urge to yawn.

“Gathered guests I will not repeat the accolades or gratitude we owe the Federation, that I feel has already been adequately done. However I do have an announcement. As you all know, my mate died fifteen turns ago and over the ensuing time I have suffered loneliness and sadness. Tonight it is my pleasure to inform you that has come to an end. I have chosen a new mate. He is Captain Jean-Luc Picard.”

There was a stunned silence quickly followed by tumultuous cheering. Jean-Luc snapped closed his gaping mouth and looked up disbelievingly at the Overseer. The woman was waving and bowing to the applauding crowd. He reached up and tugged on her voluminous sleeve. She bent down to him and he had to raise his voice to be heard.

“Overseer we need to talk!”

Bowing slightly, she gestured to him to stand, evoking louder applause. His face reddening, he followed Hrum from the room, his mind seething. Once in the privacy of an anteroom, Jean-Luc took a large breath.

“Overseer Hrum, while I am very flattered by your…proposal…I cannot accept.”

Smiling benignly, Hrum caressed his scalp.

“My dear Jean-Luc…you cannot refuse! I am the Overseer of Gelt and my position gives me the right to choose any mate I wish. I’m sure the Federation will be more than happy to release you to take your new position as my consort.”

Closing his eyes briefly, Jean-Luc clenched his jaw.

“Overseer Hrum…”
”Oh please Jean-Luc…call me J’Larr-P’henn. Actually, since you are so pleasant to look at, you can call me J’larr.”

Jean-Luc lowered his head and counted to ten. Slowly lifting his head he schooled his features into a stoic visage.

“Overseer Hrum, I am sorry but I must refuse.”

Now becoming irritated, Hrum put her hands on her hips.

“Is there someone else?”

Desperately clinging to the idea, Jean-Luc nodded enthusiastically.

“Yes! Yes there is and I am promised to her.”

Clearly annoyed and exasperated, Hrum snarled,

“But you said you have no mate!”

Casting about Jean-Luc was thinking on the run.

“It’s true…we are not yet joined, but we are promised and I will not give her up. I’m sorry Overseer but I will not cede.”

Hrum walked away from him to the window and stood staring at the night sky. Jean-Luc bided his time, unaware he was holding his breath. Eventually she returned to his side.

“I accept your reasons for refusal, however I cannot afford to be humiliated by admitting you have spurned my proposal. Nevertheless I do have a plan.”

Tension shivered through his frame. The Captain swallowed and asked,

“And that is?”

“We let everyone believe we are betrothed…”

Jean-Luc shook his head brusquely.

“Not acceptable! I…”

“No! Hear me Jean-Luc. I will tell my people that you cannot leave Starfleet yet and that you will be leaving with your ship. When you are gone, and the excitement dies down, I will look for another mate and they will forget you. We will both get what we want and no one will lose face.”

Jean-Luc rubbed his forehead and scowled.

“It’s hardly an equitable solution Overseer.”

Hrum growled.

“Do you have a better idea?”

The Captain’s shoulders dropped.

“Actually no, but I don’t like the idea that so many people will believe we are still betrothed.”

“Well unless you can think of something else I suggest we go through with my plan.”

With reluctance he agreed.

“Very well.”

“Good. Now we will re-enter the great hall. You will place your arm in mine and act as a happy suitor.”

He glared at Hrum as she took his arm and straightened her robe. Lifting her head imperiously, she said,

“Come on Jean-Luc…our public awaits.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Several hours later a very tired and irritated Captain beamed up to his ship. He went straight to the Bridge, Deanna frowning at his mood. He sat and scowled at the readouts on the arms of his chair. His voice was curt.

“Prepare to break orbit Commander.”

Will glanced at Deanna and she shrugged surreptitiously. The First Officer was about to give the necessary orders when Tactical called softly,

“Captain there is an incoming transmission from the Gelt home world.”

Lifting his head, Jean-Luc sighed.

“On screen.”

The view of Dellos changed to that of Overseer Hrum. She beamed at Jean-Luc, her eyes twinkling.

“So you’re about to leave us Captain?”

Jean-Luc, now standing, nodded and raised a tight smile.

“Yes Overseer.”

“I must thank you again for all your help…you may have saved our worlds.”

Bowing slightly, Jean-Luc’s smile grew.

“It was our pleasure madam.”

The woman sighed and stepped closer to the screen.

“Take care in your travels Jean-Luc…I will miss you…beloved.”

Reddening, Jean-Luc’s face registered his disapproval as he nodded.

“Goodbye Overseer.”

The screen reverted to its view of space as Will gave the order to leave orbit. The great ship turned lazily on her axis then jumped effortlessly to warp. In seconds the planets and the system were nothing but points of diminishing light. The Bridge occupants had all heard Hrum’s endearment. With some difficulty, the crew withheld their surprise and mirth, waiting to see what their Captain would do. Tension slowly grew as a protracted silence pervaded the Bridge, and Will became restless. He caught Jean-Luc’s eye and grinned.

Beloved Sir?”

Jean-Luc grunted and scowled, considering ignoring the question. Shaking his head, he sighed.

“I very nearly didn’t make it back from the planet Number One.”

“Oh?”

“The esteemed Overseer of Gelt made a very interesting announcement after dinner. She declared that she had decided to take a new mate…and I was the lucky recipient.”

There were gasps from around the Bridge and Jean-Luc frowned. Will’s grin grew and Deanna sniggered.

“And how did you get out of that Captain?”

Shaking his head, The Captain groaned.

“I explained that I couldn’t accept, but she wouldn’t take no for an answer. I eventually had to tell her I was promised to someone else. She wasn’t very happy, but she acquiesced. To save face she told the gathering that I couldn’t leave Starfleet just yet and that I would be leaving with my ship. She told me that after we’re gone, she’ll search for another mate and I will be forgotten.”

Will chuckled and stroked his beard.

“So the population still thinks you’re her intended?”

Sighing, Jean-Luc scowled.

“For the moment yes.”

Will’s chuckle grew, but he soon silenced after an icy look from his Captain. Jean-Luc checked the chronometer and frowned.
”It’s oh one twenty. What are you two doing on the Bridge at this hour?”

Deanna’s voice was soft.

“We wanted to be here when you returned Captain.”

He smiled, his eyes growing warm.

“Well as you can plainly see, I’m fine and I suggest we all retire for the night. Number One have you gone over the next mission?”

“Aye Sir. We pick up the convoy at Sigma II and relieve the Agamemnon at the same time.”

Nodding, Jean-Luc brushed a speck of lint from his dress trousers.

“Very good. ETA?”

“Seventeen hours Captain.”

Jean-Luc stood and yawned.

“Fine, I’ll see you in the morning. Goodnight.”

Standing, Will and Deanna watched as the weary man left the Bridge. Frowning Will said softly,

“How is he Dee?”

Her eyes on the closed turbolift doors, Deanna responded quietly.

“Although he’s very annoyed by what happened on the planet with the Overseer, there’s still something bothering him…something quite deep.”

Will ran a hand through his hair and sighed.

“Well we’d better get to quarters.”

Nodding, Deanna made her way to the lift and waited as Will called the car. Once in the lift Will asked,

“Do you think you can get him to talk about it?”

Shrugging, Deanna sighed.

“I honestly don’t know. He did say he would talk, but you know our Captain.”

Nodding, Will stretched his arms.

“What about Beverly?”

“No luck there either. She clammed up and left my office when I tried and I haven’t talked to her since, not even socially.”

The lift reached their deck and they walked to their quarters in silence. Will replicated some hot drinks as Deanna changed and once she was seated and brushing her hair he asked,

“Do you think their problems are related?”

Deanna paused and tilted her head, frowning in thought.

“Not directly, but I find it odd that their emotions are so similar. It’s as if they’re troubled by the same thing.”

Will nodded and took a sip of his drink.

“Have you noticed Beverly’s been avoiding the Captain?”

“Uh huh.”

“Have they had a fight?”

Deanna ran the brush methodically through her long dark hair and shook her head.

“The Captain says no. Beverly says nothing.”

“Have they talked? Tried to resolve things?”

Putting the brush down, Deanna picked up her mug.

“The Captain told me he’s talked to Beverly on two occasions to try and find out what’s wrong. Both times she refused to tell him.”

Will grunted and stood, shrugging off his uniform tunic.

“It must be driving him nuts, you know how they’ve always shared everything. Could that be it Dee? Could he simply be obsessing over Beverly…worrying himself sick?”

Deanna watched as he attacked his undershirt, tossing it on the chair.

“Perhaps that’s part of it, but there’s something else, something that’s really eating at him. I’m so used to his almost glacial calm, this turmoil he’s been going through…it’s very unsettling.”

The big man, now naked to the waist, looked down at his lover.

“It’s not affecting his ability to command?”

Shaking her head, Deanna sighed.

“Not yet.”

Will offered his hand and helped Deanna to her feet.

“Well we’ve no option but to leave him to get through it and hope he’ll eventually allow you to help.”

Nodding, Deanna stretched up on tiptoes and kissed Will’s cheek.

“Agreed.”

 


© Copyright 2018 Heather Smyth. All rights reserved.

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