Across The Void Pt.5

Across The Void Pt.5

Status: Finished

Genre: Fan Fiction

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Fan Fiction

Summary

Same as Pt.1

Summary

Same as Pt.1

Chapter1 (v.1) - Across The Void Pt.5

Author Chapter Note

Same as Pt.1

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: January 16, 2013

Reads: 216

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: January 16, 2013

A A A

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Starbase 352 was one of the smaller bases, something, for which the Captain was grateful. Still it took three hours to obtain clearance visit to the devastated planet.

Back in the runabout, he set the coordinates and piloted the little craft through the orbiting ships. Once clear, he made the jump to warp, then asked the computer to supply all the information it had on the planet.

As he read, he frowned at seeing how close to the border of Federation space the planet was. The reports of the war weren’t very extensive, but he knew Beverly would have gone wherever she felt needed. Having absorbed all the information he could, Jean-Luc went aft and stripped down to his briefs. Taking a weight off its stand, he spent the next hour exercising heavily trying to achieve two things…a high level of fitness and exhaustion. With four day’s travel ahead, he knew sleep would be difficult.

As he had experienced before, he found he could keep himself occupied enough to not think of what lay ahead during the waking hours, but during the sleep cycle he was plagued by disturbing dreams that left him tired and depressed.

He was dozing with a book on his lap when the computer woke him. He made his way to the cockpit and smiled mirthlessly at the planet coming into view.

“Well Beverly…I wouldn’t mind guessing you’ll be surprised to see me.”

His smile grew as his words rattled around the little ship. He hailed the planet and, after considerable conversations with several people, he was finally put through to the Chief Doctor at the main hospital. The dusky green man scratched his spiked head for a moment then lifted his head, a wide smile in place.

“Yes! I remember Beverly…she’s a very good Doctor, we were sad to lose her.”

Jean-Luc frowned, his sharp intake of breath not noticed by the alien.

“You lost her Doctor? Is she all right…or has she left?”

“Oh she’s all right Captain, although I’ve no idea where she is. She left some months ago now.”

With great effort, Jean-Luc kept his emotions in check.

“Can you tell me where she went?”

The green Doctor sighed and rubbed a hand over his head.

“Well…wait a minute…she didn’t say but…there was an Andorian ship in orbit at the time, I only remember it because it brought some medicine we were in critical need of. She must have left on it…there were no other ships.”

Leaning forward, Jean-Luc said quietly,

“Do you know the Captain…or the ship’s name?”

“No…but I think the ship’s next stop was Starbase Papa Echo.”

Mentally calculating his journey, Jean-Luc thanked the Doctor and severed communication. With quick movements he inputted the relevant coordinates and the runabout turned and made the transition to warp effortlessly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The landlady was right; the view from the little balcony was delightful. Beverly lifted her head and allowed the sea breeze to stir her hair. She took a large breath and leaned forward as her hands gripped the railing. Behind her she heard a knock at the door. Over her shoulder she called,

“Come in.”

The owner appeared with a tray and Beverly smiled with anticipation.

“Ah…breakfast! Thank you Della.”

Carefully siting the tray, Della held the curtains aside as Beverly limped to the table.

With help, Beverly sat and sniffed in appreciation.

“Mmm it smells wonderful. What is it?”

Taking a serviette and placing it on Beverly’s lap, Della took off the covering lids with a flourish.

“We have heated native bread, grilled fish, poached gennan eggs and hurrennin juice.”

Beverly grinned and lightly tapped a metal pot.

“And this?”

Smiling with conspiratorial glee, Della bowed.

“That is genuine Earth coffee.”

The delighted Doctor picked up the pot, lifted the lid and drew in a large breath.

“Oh God…you’ve no idea just how good that smells!”

Pleased with her guest’s reaction, the host unwrapped the cutlery and watched as Beverly began to eat. Between bites Beverly said,

“Where did you get the coffee?”

An embarrassed flush covered her blue skin.

“I ah…have an acquaintance…a gentleman friend…who’s used to bringing me all sorts of things…from some very exotic places.”

The Doctor tore some bread and dipped it in the dark red egg yolk.

“These eggs are delicious.”

The host smiled and went to close the balcony doors.

“There’s a wind getting up…it’ll rain before long. If you want to walk out in the garden you’d better do it this morning. I’ll help you if you want.”

Smiling up at her new friend, Beverly nodded.

“I’d like that.”

Della picked up Beverly’s cane and admired the highly lacquered native wood.

“Your cast has been off for some days now. How is the leg?”

Beverly straightened the leg under the table and winced.

“It’s still mighty sore, but it’ll be ok with time.”

Her eyes still on the cane, Della asked quietly,

“Is there anything that would heal it quicker?”

Sighing wistfully, the Doctor nodded.

“Yes. An osteo regenerator would do the trick.”

“An osteo regenerator? Are they easy to come by?”

Beverly shrugged.

“Not on their own, but Starfleet med kits contain them and I’ve seen plenty of those lately. Obviously the black market has no trouble obtaining them.”

Della nodded thoughtfully and stood.

“Well, you enjoy your coffee and I’ll take the tray back downstairs. Let me know when you want to go outside.”

Beverly sat back and smiled as the woman removed the tray. She turned in her seat and looked out over the sea as she sipped, feeling full and calm. As long as she kept her thoughts from the Enterprise…or Jean-Luc…she was all right. The second her mind wandered the restlessness and grief welled up causing bouts of depression and sleeplessness. Her coffee growing cold, she downed the remains then rose and hopped over to her desk, activating the computer.

Her request for connection to Caldos was met with the same result as she’d encountered every other time she’d tried.

“Unable to comply. System down.”

She knew the war she’d only just escaped from had caused massive disruptions in communications in this region of space and, although well out of the area of conflict, she was still a long way from Federation space and had to rely on unknown government agencies to rectify the problem.

Slapping the computer off, she hobbled to her bed and took several minutes to don her boots. Picking up the cane, she grabbed the empty coffee cup and exited her room, negotiating the stairs very carefully and finding Della in the large kitchen.

“Oh you made it on your own! Well done. Would you like to go outside now?”

Nodding, Beverly took the time to smell some cut flowers sitting in a vase on the bench. Noting her obvious appreciation, Della asked,

“How about we tour the beds today? There have been more blooms opening since you last came down.”

Smiling and nodding, Beverly waited patiently as Della dried her hands then came over to take her elbow.

“Slowly now Beverly, there’s no rush.”

Together the two women left the lodge and stepped out into the bright light of day. They stopped momentarily to allow the Doctor to lift her head and bask, her eyes closed. When she was ready, the walked into the gardens and made their way to the extensive flowerbeds.

Della had learned not to ask Beverly about her life. To do so made the Doctor react badly, becoming morose and uncommunicative. However, the landlady knew Beverly was a Doctor and her curiosity got the better of her.

“So tell me…how long have you been a Doctor?”

Her gaze settled on an exquisite flower, Beverly’s attention was elsewhere.

“Oh years…too many to recall.”

“And you’ve always worked in space?”

“Uh huh.”

Della smiled at Beverly’s inattention.

“We rarely see Humans out here. How did you find out about the war?”

Beverly suddenly frowned and lifted her head sharply.

“What?”

Seeing the disquiet, Della shrugged.

“I said…how did you find out about the war? You’re a long way from Federation space”

“Oh…I…word gets around…you know.”

Della nodded and helped Beverly to sit in a garden chair. In silence, they sat and enjoyed the garden.

Half an hour later, Beverly was again seated, this time back in the kitchen. The first fat raindrops splattered against the windows and the gathering wind moaned around the eaves. Della lifted the curtains, squinting out at the coming storm, grunting.

“This could last a while.”

Beverly sipped her drink and shrugged.

“I’m not going anywhere.”

The host busied herself with her tasks, chatting amiably with the Doctor. After a while, Beverly asked,

“Your male…acquaintance…do you see him often?”

Della stood and rubbed her lower back.

“Not as often as I’d like. He’s bonded with another…some female on Niam…we have this…arrangement. No questions asked and no answers given.”

Beverly sighed.

“That must be hard. How long have you…known him?”

“Fifteen turns. We met when he came here to recuperate, like you. He’d been in some skirmish somewhere and got himself very badly injured. Surgeons repaired him, but he needed somewhere to go to rest and heal.”

Silence settled until Della said softly,

“And what about you Beverly? I can see how you’d be held in high regard…do you have a mate?”

Idly running her fingers around the lip of her cup, Beverly replied,

“A very long time ago, but he died.”

“Oh…that is unfortunate. So there’s no one else?”

Unexpectedly, tears welled in Beverly’s eyes and she abruptly stood.

“I’m going back to my room.”

Della turned to offer help, but Beverly waved her away. The host watched her limp out and sighed.

“I’ll bring up you lunch.”

The voice that replied was broken.

“Don’t bother, I’m not hungry.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc felt the gentle bump as the umbilical connection was made. With the blessing of the station Commander, he exited his craft and quickly ascertained his whereabouts. Seven minutes later he was standing before the Commander’s desk.

“Well Captain Picard, I must say this is an unexpected honour.”

Smiling, Jean-Luc sat.

“For me as well Commander Duggan. I have long been grateful for the service space stations provide.”

Clasping his dark hands on the desk, the Commander tilted his head.

“Tell me Captain…are you here in an official capacity?”

Jean-Luc lowered his head, a rueful smile on his face.

“As a matter of fact…no. I am pursuing a private matter and I require your assistance.”

Duggan sat back and crossed his long legs.

“I see. And just what kind of assistance are we talking about?”

The Captain placed a PADD on the desk and pointed at it.

“On the star date I mention, an Andorian ship deposited a friend of mine at this station. I need to know where she went and how she got there.”

“I see. And am I to assume this is all above board? Nothing…nefarious? You’re not, for instance, an aggrieved husband looking for trouble?”

Smiling warmly with as much confidence as he could muster, Jean-Luc shook his head.

“Not at all. This is a private matter between both of us, however it is very important.”

Duggan picked up the PADD and scrolled through the information.

“May I ask the identity of this woman?”

Gritting his teeth, Jean-Luc replied quietly,

“Doctor Beverly Crusher.”

The Commander’s eyebrows rose and he whistled softly. Then he frowned.

“But isn’t she your CMO? I’m sure she was on the Enterprise.”

“That is correct, however she has taken an…extended leave.”

Duggan nodded thoughtfully, his eyes boring into the Captain’s.

“And you Captain…are you on leave too?”

“Yes.”

The Commander sat back further in his chair and swung it gradually from side to side, his fingers steepling under his chin. Jean-Luc withstood his scrutiny, keeping his face neutral. Eventually Duggan sighed.

“Very well, but I must tell you…if it were anyone but you Captain…”

Jean-Luc smiled and sighed.

“Thank you.”

Activating his terminal, the Commander inputted some commands and turned it so Jean-Luc could see.

“Here Captain, I think this is what you want to know.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc was back on the runabout in under half an hour. Having gained permission, he severed the connection and took the little ship out of range before inputting new coordinates. As the craft jumped to warp, the Captain called up everything there was to know about Devarun IV.

 

 

 

Three weeks became four and Beverly found herself lulled into the rhythm of the days. Keeping mostly to herself, she saw Della at mealtimes but the woman sensed the Doctor’s need for solitude and left her alone.

One blustery afternoon, Della knocked softly at Beverly’s door.

“Beverly? May I come in?”

Dragging her eyes away from her contemplation of the churning sea, the Doctor turned and hobbled to the table, taking a seat.

“Come in Della.”

Entering cautiously, the host had her hands behind her back.

“How are you today?”

Dredging up a smile that didn’t reach her eyes, Beverly nodded.

“Oh I’m fine thank you.”

Della stood uncertainly in the centre of the room, obviously waiting for the right opportunity to say something. Her patience thin, Beverly sighed and said,

“What can I do for you?”

The opening made, Della grinned broadly and bowed her head, making her bright yellow hair cascade forward.

“Actually it’s what I can do for you.”

Keeping her irritation under wraps, Beverly sighed.

“I beg your pardon?”

In silence, Della brought her hands into view. In them was a Starfleet med kit.

Beverly gasped, her eyes wide.

“You have a med kit!”

“Uh huh. My…friend…got it for me.”

Coming forward, Della offered the kit and Beverly took it with almost reverential awe. Holding her breath, she opened it and silently checked the contents. Della watched, a smile on her face.

“Is it all there?”

“Yes, thank God!”

“And the osteo regenerator?”

Beverly held up the instrument, a delighted grin in place.

“Want to help?”

Della nodded and helped Beverly to the bed where the Doctor removed her trousers. Lifting the injured leg onto the bed, Beverly activated the device and spent ten minutes treating the fractures. With a satisfied sigh, she turned it off and slowly came to her feet Della hovered, ready to help if needed.

“Well?”

Beverly’s heartfelt sigh and wide smile told the host all she needed to know.

“Will you still need the cane?”

“Maybe for a day or two, but for the most part, the bones are now completely fused. There will only be superficial residual pain which I can now adequately treat.”

Folding her arms, Della watched as Beverly put her trousers back on and walk slowly to the table. Once seated, the Doctor said softly.

“You must thank your…friend…for me…and I know I owe you a debt of deep gratitude. You have done a wonderful thing Della, thank you.”

Her blue skin flushing darker, the host smiled tenderly.

“I hated seeing you in pain Beverly. I decided there was something I could do about the physical pain…as for your heartache”, the woman shrugged, “All I can do is offer you my support.”

Sadness clouded Beverly’s face and she sighed.

“Is it that obvious?”

Coming closer, Della sat opposite and gently took Beverly’s hand.

“Whoever he is he has your heart whether you admit it or not.”

Beverly’s eyes fell to the tabletop as her mind drifted to Jean-Luc. The resulting stab of pain made her screw her eyes shut, a grimace appearing. Della squeezed her hand.

“Why does it hurt you so?”

Shaking her head, Beverly brushed away her falling tears.

“Della…thank you again for what you did for me…but I don’t want to talk about it.”

Della stood and sighed.

“Very well, I will respect your wishes.”

She walked to the door but Beverly’s soft voice stopped her.

“Della…when will the next interstellar ship arrive?”

“There are no interstellar ships scheduled for the next month. The war has curtailed all travel outside our system. Only domestic supply ships are coming for the foreseeable future.”

Beverly nodded and turned in her seat, her gaze once again on the sea. Della left silently.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc’s long-range communiqué to Devarun was bearing fruit. He learned of Beverly’s departure, but then had a stroke of immense luck. In orbit was the Cardassian ship that had ferried her away. With the help of the Devarun authorities, he was put in touch with the Cardassian Commander.

The tall grey alien looked disdainfully at the Human Captain.

“I am not accustomed to dealing with Humans. What do you want?”

Smiling, Jean-Luc tried to ease the tension.

“I believe you gave passage to a Human female recently.”

The alien shrugged.

“What of it?”

“I am looking for her, it’s very important I find her. Can you tell me where you took her?”

Turning his back, the Cardassian slowly took a seat then stared contemplatively at the Captain.

“What’s in it for me?”

Jean-Luc sat back and held up his hands.

“I don’t have much…but isn’t it unusual for a Cardassian to bargain? That’s something I would expect from a Ferengi.”

The smile that emerged was predatory.

“Don’t underestimate the value of our avaricious little friends. A lot can be learned from the Ferengi.”

His eyebrows raised, Jean-Luc pursed his lips.

“So you’re a trader then?”

“I am many things Human, including purveyor of information. Now…what will you give me in return for what I know?”

Jean-Luc folded his arms and tilted his head.

“What do you want?”

The Cardassian’s eyes travelled over Jean-Luc, measuring and calculating. Suddenly he sat up.

“Your ship…my long range scans show it to be Starfleet. Are you Starfleet?”

“I might be.”

Stroking his chin, the alien Commander nodded slowly.

“All right…I think we can make a satisfactory deal. Do you have Starfleet charts of this area…this system?”

“Yes.”

“Good. Then I will trade you my information for a copy of those charts.”

It took only seconds to come to his decision.

“Done, but tell me…surely Cardassian charts are as comprehensive as Starfleet’s? Why do you require mine?”

The alien sighed then scowled.

“It may surprise you to know, Human, the Cardassian Union is sometimes lax where it comes to areas they don’t frequent. This system is one of those areas…and one of my richest sources of income. New charts will help me immensely.”

As the Cardassian spoke, Jean-Luc called up the relevant information on his computer and cued it for transmission. He lifted a hand and hovered his finger over the send key.

“I’m waiting.”

“I took her to the Farren Expanse.”

Sighing with irritation, Jean-Luc asked testily,

Where in the Farren Expanse?”

The alien grinned.

“There is only one habitable planet Human…you find it.”

Knowing the repartee had come to an end. Jean-Luc nodded and sent the charts.

“Thank you.”

The screen went blank and Jean-Luc accessed the information on the Expanse. As he moved further from Federation space, the data on his destinations became more and more sparse. With only coordinates to go on, he altered course and sat back in his seat.

“Why have you run so far? What is driving you? What are you running from? Me? Or the memory of what we had”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting to the Expanse was easy, the runabout capable of warp eight, much faster than the labouring supply ships. Finding the elusive planet however was proving to be tediously difficult, the Expanse hindering sensors and shields severely.

Jean-Luc programmed a search pattern based on the position of life-sustaining stars, and settled down to allow the computer to pilot the craft. Curbing his growing impatience, he found it stultifyingly boring with little to do but work out, eat, read and sleep.

Late in the third day, as he was doing some warm down stretches, a gentle alarm sounded from the cockpit. Dressed in his black briefs, he went forward quickly, slipping into the pilot’s seat and stabbing off the alarm. On the screen before him sat a small planet. Setting the appropriate course, he re-engaged the autopilot and went aft to dress. By the time he was ready, the computer informed him that they were within hailing distance. Once again in the front seat, Jean-Luc was about to instigate contact when he was hailed.

“Approaching ship…identify yourself.”

“This is Captain Jean-Luc Picard in the runabout Monash. May I have permission to enter orbit?”

“Come to a full stop and allow us to scan you.”

“As you wish.”

The Captain brought the craft to a halt and sat quietly, his stomach clenching. Several minutes passed before he heard,

“You are cleared to enter orbit. What is the nature of your visit?”

“I come in search of a colleague of mine. Perhaps you could connect me with your medical fraternity? My friend is a medical Doctor.”

“Establish your orbit and call us when you are ready. We will keep this channel open.”

Nodding curtly, Jean-Luc complied and spent the next fifteen minutes concentrating on his tasks.

“This is Captain Picard.”

His monitor flickered, the surrounding atmospheric distortion making the screen hazy.

“Captain Picard I am Doctor Nezzin. You say you are looking for a colleague?”

Smiling, Jean-Luc nodded.

“Yes Doctor. Her name is Beverly Crusher, a Human female.”

The alien’s face brightened and he smiled broadly.

“Yes Beverly was here.”

“Was?”

“Yes Captain. She left some time ago.”

Closing his eyes in frustrated disappointment, Jean-Luc sighed.

“Doctor…can you tell me where she went?”

The bushy eyebrows on the Doctor knitted over his heavy brow.

“Not exactly…although she did leave on a Federal cruiser, that would suggest she was going to Jurrenzen…but Captain there has been a terrible war waged there for some time. If she were there…”

Savagely suppressing his dread, Jean-Luc maintained his smile with difficulty.

“If it’s not an imposition Doctor, could you arrange to have the coordinates for Jurrenzen sent to me? I am a very long way from Federation space and I’m afraid my information on this region of space is sadly lacking.”

Somewhat flustered, the Doctor’s large hands fluttered.

“Oh! Ah…yes…I…please wait Captain and I will transfer you to flight control.”

Before Jean-Luc could offer his thanks, the screen went blank momentarily and then suddenly he was faced with another alien.

“How can I help you?”

The Captain explained his request and the bright orange woman smiled.

“That should be no problem Captain. Please have your computer contact ours and I will upload the relevant information. I must warn you however travel to Jurrenzen is prohibited. The area has been quarantined.”

Frowning deeply, Jean-Luc clenched his jaw.

“Thank you for the warning, I will observe caution.”

Nodding, the attendant watched as the computers made the connection and the information was sent.

“Is that all Captain Picard? Can I help you with anything else?”

Smiling, Jean-Luc shook his head.

“No thank you, you have been more than kind. Picard out.”

With quick fingers, he inputted the coordinates then broke orbit.

“Now this may prove to be quite interesting.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He was dozing and the emptiness of his stomach told his it was morning. Knowing the alarm would soon sound, he was about to rise when the computer chimed.

“Captain Picard…incoming message.”

He rose, went to the toilet then dressed. Taking a ration bar, he went forward and took his seat in the cockpit.

“Computer play message.”

The computer chimed then advised,

“The current message is an automated response to the Monash’s proximity to a prohibited area.”

“Understood. Play message.”

“Unidentified ship your present course will take you into quarantined space. Alter course immediately or suffer sanctions.”

“Computer clarify ‘sanctions’.”

“Unknown.”

Jean-Luc devoted some minutes to deep thought then brought the runabout out of warp and reduced to impulse power. He scanned the area and noted two ships some distance away. One, a large cruiser suddenly moved, its course on an intercept with his position.

He brought the Monash to a stop and waited.

It took twenty-seven minutes for the cruiser to reach him. The huge ship, its vast bulk making the runabout insignificant took position four hundred kilometres from the Monash. Taking a passive scan, the Captain noted the formidable weaponry and high quality sensors. He sat patiently while his craft was scanned then opened a channel.

“This is the runabout Monash. Why have you stopped me?”

The voice that came over the speakers was mildly amused.

“Well I can tell you it isn’t because we consider you a threat.”

Jean-Luc smiled and shook his head.

“Granted, however I wish to proceed on my journey.”

“That is not permissible.”

“I see. I have the capability to transmit visual signals. Would you be willing to do the same?”

As Jean-Luc’s eyes drifted to his monitor, it suddenly activated and a face appeared.

“I am Captain Roth of the Blade.”

Bowing his head slightly, Jean-Luc replied,

“And I am Captain Jean-Luc Picard.”

The alien’s bright pink eyes studied the Captain, a small smile on his face.

“Tell me Captain Picard…just where exactly are you going?”

“My destination is Jurrenzen.”

The alien nodded slowly.

“And did you receive the automated warning?”

“Yes.”

“And?”

Jean-Luc sighed.

“I came out of warp and when I detected your approach, I came to a stop.”

“A very wise decision Captain.”

Jean-Luc sat back and folded his arms.

“Am I to presume you are going to prevent me from reaching Jurrenzen?”

“Yes Captain.”

Scratching his cheek, Jean-Luc pursed his lower lip.

“And I cannot change your mind? My business there is very important.”

“I regret Captain…your business is of no relevance. No one may travel to Jurrenzen.”

“I see. Tell me Captain…just as a matter of curiosity you understand…what would happen if I were to ignore you and attempt to get past you?”

The smile was shocking as it exposed row upon row of sharp pointed teeth.

“I find it hard to believe such an enquiry is serious, however…I would disable your vessel and tow you out of this region.”

Tugging gently on his lower lip, Jean-Luc nodded.

“Oh.”

The alien Captain sat back and tilted his maned head.

“Tell me Captain…to satisfy my curiosity…what is so important that you would contemplate risking your safety to reach Jurrenzen?”

The Captain sighed and shook his head.

“I am searching for someone…someone very dear to me. Her last known destination was Jurrenzen.”

“I see. Is she an alien like you?”

“Yes. We are Humans.”

“Why would this person go to a planet at war? It seems an odd decision.”

Jean-Luc smiled and shrugged.

“She is a medical Doctor. She would go anywhere she thought her skills were needed.”

“Indeed? That is very interesting. Would you allow me a moment? I wish to make some enquiries.”

“Of course.”

Jean-Luc sighed and rubbed his face. Feeling the need for a calming drink, he vacated his seat and went to the replicator, retrieving a cup of Earl Grey tea. He was sipping slowly when the screen activated.

“Captain Picard I may have something for you.”

Sitting up straight, Jean-Luc settled the cup on the deck.

“We have been informed that all non-combatant off worlders were evacuated from the southern capital before it fell. As there were no other aliens stationed anywhere else it is quite possible she was repatriated to another planet, well away from the ongoing conflict.”

Jean-Luc frowned and asked,

“Is there any way to find out where that might be?”

The alien Captain tapped his taloned fingers on the arm of his chair.

“Not really Captain…there are many possibilities, but I am in the process of contacting the largest planet that received displaced beings. They might know something, please hold this position until I contact you again.”

“Understood, thank you Captain Roth. Picard out.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was over five hours until the hail came through. Once again seated in the cockpit, Jean-Luc greeted his counterpart. The alien was smiling.

“Captain Picard I believe we may have some useful information for you. Please wait while we transfer you to Hanun.”

Jean-Luc nodded and suppressed a surprised gasp as a Vulcan appeared on the screen.

“This is Doctor K’Tul. How may I be of assistance?”

Gathering his composure, Jean-Luc sat on the edge of his seat.

“Doctor I am Captain Jean-Luc Picard. I have been searching for a colleague of mine…Doctor Beverly Crusher, a Human like me. Do you know of her?”

“Yes Captain Picard, I am acquainted with Doctor Crusher. We worked together on Jurrenzen until we were evacuated.”

Suppressing his surge of hope with difficulty, Jean-Luc swallowed and asked,

“Doctor…do you know where she is?”

“Indeed Captain. She was dropped off at Set’frul to recuperate from injuries sustained during the evacuation.”

“She was injured? Badly?”

“No Captain. She sustained a head wound and multiple fractures to one leg, although the treatment available was insufficient for a Human. I expect it would take considerable time for the leg to heal without the intervention of orthodox medicine.”

Jean-Luc nodded, his heart beating rapidly.

“Doctor K’Tul, can you be more specific as to where exactly on Set’frul she is? It would make my search a lot easier if I knew where to look.”

“Of course Captain. Apparently the Captain of the vessel we were on had a relative on the northern tip of the central archipelago. Doctor Crusher was transported to a guesthouse, the only one in the surrounding islands.”

“Thank you Doctor K’Tul, you have been very informative. Picard out.”

Several seconds passed before Captain Roth appeared.

“Well Captain Picard? Did you find what you wanted?”

Smiling broadly, Jean-Luc nodded.

“Yes Captain I did. Could you tell me please…would I be violating the quarantine if I wanted to go to Set’frul?”

The alien Captain frowned.

“If you went directly from here you would encroach into the prohibited area, however you could avoid the no-go zone without too much trouble. Do you have up to date charts of this system?”

Jean-Luc shook his head.

“Sadly no Captain. In effect I am flying blind.”

“Well that won’t do. I will send you a chart with the most advantageous course plotted. You shouldn’t encounter any problems.”

Smiling warmly, Jean-Luc bowed his head.

“You have been most helpful and generous Captain. It has indeed been a pleasure to meet you.”

Returning the smile, Captain Roth bowed.

“And you also. Safe travels Captain Picard.”

Waiting only long enough to download the chart and transfer the course, Jean-Luc watched as his little craft left the enormous Blade and cleaved her way into the darkness of space.

“I’m getting closer Beverly…just stay still long enough for me to find you…please?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beverly had taken to leaving the guesthouse straight after breakfast and, weather permitting, stayed out hours, only returning in early afternoon. She wandered the accessible areas of the island and soon found a favourite spot on a low bluff overlooking the sea. Her skin had tanned and her vibrant red hair had taken on highlights under the influence of the sun and sea air.

On this particular afternoon she sat on her vantage point and watched some sea birds diving for their food off shore.

“I have to get off this planet! Dammit, even the news is scarce. I need to find something to do, anything…this enforced idleness is driving me insane!”

She contemplated her bare feet and wriggled her toes, the coarse sand glittering on her skin.

“Maybe if I asked Della…her friend might be able to get me out of this system. God I’d give anything for a shuttle.”

Thinking about shuttles made her mind recall the Enterprise. She smiled sadly as images of her friends, Deanna, Will, Data and Geordi drifted through her thoughts.

“What are you all doing now? Still banging your heads against a brick wall? Is Starfleet still begging and cajoling, forcing you to eat humble pie so they can rebuild?”

She absently scooped up a hand full of sand and inspected it, the minute shells and crystals intriguing her. When thoughts of Jean-Luc surfaced, she closed her eyes and fisted her hand.

“Oh God Jean-Luc…where are you too? Are you still angry…still fighting your demons? How much longer are you going to accept what Starfleet has become? A man like you can’t survive under a stifling cloud of diplomatic bullshit. You need to soar…soar among the stars, free to explore and do what you do so very well. Oh Jean-Luc…I’m so sorry I never told you. I know now…I’ve known for some time…I do love you, but if all I can do is cause you pain then it’s better I never see you again. Wherever you are my love…my heart will always be yours.”

The ever-increasing wind heralded another approaching squall. As Beverly looked out to sea, she could see the stain of rain on its surface. Sighing, she rose and made her way back to the guesthouse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three days later Della was loading the dishwasher when there was a knocking at the door. Frowning, she wiped her hands and went to the heavy wooden doors and opened them.

“May I help you?”

A bald-headed Human male with piercing dark hazel eyes smiled and bowed his head slightly.

“I am looking for a friend of mine…I believe she’s staying here.”

Della’s frown stayed as she looked this man over. Wishing to protect Beverly, she asked,

“Who is this friend and what is your business with her?”

Keeping his patience, Jean-Luc bolstered his smile.

“Her name is Beverly Crusher and we are old friends. My business with her is personal.”

His calm yet commanding presence settled the suspicions Della felt. Nodding she smiled.

“Fair enough. Well she’s staying here but she’s not in at the moment. Would you like to come in and wait? She should be back in about an hour.”

Jean-Luc nodded and followed the woman into the kitchen. She chuckled as he looked around, picking up a large kettle and filling it with water.

“I usually entertain in the lounge, but I have to prepare dinner and you look like you could do with a hot drink. Now let me see…you’re Human aren’t you?”

Jean-Luc nodded.

“Well I have some authentic Earth coffee and just five days ago I received some…what’s it called…”

She rummaged on the cluttered shelves and grunted when she lifted a canister. Taking off the lid, she sniffed and scowled.

“I forget what it’s called, maybe you know?”

She offered the canister to the Captain who took one look and smiled.

“It’s called tea.”

“Ah! Tea. Well they’re both from Earth, are you?”

Jean-Luc’s eyebrows shot up.

“From Earth? Yes I am.”

“You’ve come a long way.”

“Hmm.”

“Oh I’m Della, Della Grn-Non-Kil.”

Smiling, Jean-Luc held out his hand.

“Jean-Luc Picard.”

The blue skin darkened.

“Well which is it…coffee or tea?”

“I’ll take the coffee please, but I would like a cup of tea later.”

Smiling, Della went to a cupboard and took out a convoluted device. She measured out some ground coffee, placing it inside a compartment and when the kettle boiled, poured the water into the device and set the lid firmly, clamping it down. Intrigued, Jean-Luc watched the contraption as it started to percolate.

As he watched, Della set out two cups and something that resembled milk. The smell that pervaded the kitchen was comforting and Jean-Luc sighed when she finally poured the dark brew. Holding up a little jug, Della smiled.

“This is called Dremm. We extract it from a nut that grows here on the island. Beverly tells me it’s like your…cream?”

Throwing caution to the wind, Jean-Luc nodded.

“I would like to try that, thank you.”

Della poured a modest amount into his cup and he lifted it to his lips and sipped. It was surprisingly good. He took a deeper drink and briefly closed his eyes. Della’s soft voice brought him back.

“I must say your appearance startled me. Have you a ship in orbit, or were you dropped off?”

Jean-Luc placed his cup on the table and gently ran his fingers around the rim.

“I have a runabout in orbit.”

“I usually get some warning that someone is transporting down.”

The Captain frowned.

“I did try to contact you…I can assure you I did not wish to arrive unannounced.”

Della sat up straight and frowned.

“You did? Oh.”

She stood and went to a door. Opening it, Jean-Luc could see a communication set up.

“Oh praise the Gods…I forgot to turn it on again!”
The Captain listened while the unit powered up and watched as Della adjusted some settings. She soon rejoined him at the table.

“Sorry. I got so tired of all the dismal news; I started to turn it off during the day. I know I shouldn’t but…”

Holding up his hand, Jean-Luc smiled warmly.

“Think nothing of it. Believe me I wish I could cut myself off once in a while.”

They sat in silence until Jean-Luc finished his coffee. He then asked softly,

“Tell me Della…Beverly’s injuries, are they healed?”

Frowning, the host tilted her head.

“You know about that?”

Jean-Luc nodded.

About to ask how, the Captain held up his hand.

“Please Della, how is she?”

Sighing in defeat, Della clasped her hands.

“Her leg is fine now. I managed to get her a Starfleet med kit. Once she treated the fractures properly, there was no holding her back.  Physically there’s no problems but…”

She looked deeply into Jean-Luc eyes, debating the wisdom of being completely honest. His gentle steady gaze made up her mind.

“She’s deeply troubled by something. There’s an overwhelming sorrow, a pain she won’t touch. She is suffering heartache Jean-Luc. Are you the cause?”

Gently pinching his lower lip, Jean-Luc remained silent. Della’s confidence grew.

“You’ve come a long way…from Earth?”

The Captain shook his head.

“No, not from Earth, but you’re correct I have come a long way.”

“Can you take away her pain? Can you bring the happiness she deserves?”

Jean-Luc stood and walked to the window, his hands pushed deep into his pockets. His voice was so low Della had to strain to hear him.

“I don’t know.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beverly ambled up the path carrying her jumper in which lay several shells. The sun was low and her skin tingled with a light burn, courtesy of her nude sunbaking. Looking forward to her evening meal, she sighed with frustration at her enforced idleness.

“This is what laziness gets you Beverly. Sunburn! All over your damn body. If Deanna knew she’d…”

Suddenly overwhelmed with despondency, Beverly ruthlessly quashed her thoughts and concentrated on how to ask Della to find a way off the planet.

She reached the courtyard and opened the front door, calling out,

“I’m back Della. Call me when dinner’s ready please.”

Before she reached the foot of the stairs, Della came out of the kitchen a look of deep concern on her face.

“Oh Beverly…I…um…there’s someone here to see you.”

Frowning, Beverly took two steps then stopped.

“What?”

She saw a shadow then Jean-Luc stepped from behind the host. They stared at each other for several seconds before Jean-Luc spoke. His voice was deep and soft.

“Hello Beverly.”

Shocked to her core, the Doctor’s heart accelerated and her stomach clenched. In silence she continued to stare, her mouth slightly agape.

Taking a few steps toward her, Jean-Luc smiled tenderly.

“You were very hard to find.”

He approached her very slowly, as one would approach a frightened animal. When he was close enough he raised his hand and gently trailed his finger down her cheek.

The contact was electric. Beverly gasped and took a step back. Snapped out of her shock, she swallowed and frowned.

“How did you get here? Is the Enterprise in orbit?”

Saddened by her skittish behaviour, Jean-Luc shook his head.

“No I have a runabout.”

Beverly’s hand came to her mouth as she lowered her head.

“A runabout? Can you take me away from this planet?”

The Captain nodded.

“I can, but where would you go? Haven’t you run enough?”

Her head snapped up and she glared at her friend.

“Who said I was running? And anyway, what the hell are you doing here?”

Jean-Luc looked pointedly at Della and sighed.

“I will answer all your questions Beverly, however I would appreciate some privacy.”

Scowling, Beverly jerked her head over her shoulder.

“Follow me.”

They climbed the stairs together and soon found themselves seated at the table in Beverly’s room.

Beverly sat back in her chair, arms folded across her chest, her attitude defensive. By contrast, Jean-Luc sat forward his hands resting on the tabletop.

“To answer your question, I came in search of you.”

“Without the Enterprise?”

“I’m on an extended leave of absence.”

Beverly’s eyebrows rose in surprise.

“Really? I find that hard to believe. You never take leave.”

Jean-Luc smiled and sighed.

“I thought the motivation was strong enough.”

Beverly reddened and snorted.

“So how long…how much leave can you play with?”

“Over three hundred days.”

“Oh.”

Jean-Luc clasped his hands and stared at his fingers.

“The truth is Beverly…I might not go back. I’ve finally had enough and without you there with me it became unbearable.”

Beverly’s heart missed a few beats and she quickly rose and went to the window. Knowing better than to crowd her, Jean-Luc remained seated. His deep voice softly continued.

“The missions never varied, always some diplomatic quagmire I was expected to work miracles with in order to strengthen an organization that has lost its way. Then there were the assaults. To be honest, I’m fed up with being hurt, having to reassemble myself to serve something in which I no longer believe. And Beverly…I’m tired…so very tired.”

He sighed and bowed his head his usually straight shoulders slumped.

Beverly turned from the window, tears welling at his defeated posture. She moved to the table and sat, taking his hands in hers.

“You were hurt? How?”

He shrugged and sighed.

“It doesn’t matter, it’s just a symptom of what’s wrong.”
He looked deeply into her eyes, his own filling, his voice a whisper.

“Oh God I missed you Beverly…I can’t function without you.”

Overwhelmed by his honesty, Beverly rose and went back to the window. Tears coursed down her cheeks and she trembled violently. Two large warm hands gently grabbed her shoulders, turning her. Looking into Jean-Luc’s eyes made Beverly gasp. His cheeks wet with his tears, his eyes swirled with love and fear. His voice breaking, he said,

“If you tell me to leave I will…but know this Beverly. I love you…and I will never give up on the thought that one day we will be together.”

Lifting a shaking hand, Beverly touched her fingers to his lips. Her one whispered word made his heart swell.

“Stay.”

He bowed his head and sighed expansively. Beverly lifted her arms and embraced him tentatively, her own sigh escaping when his strong arms surrounded her. She rested her head on his shoulder and for many minutes they stood in silence, wrapped in a cloak of mutual need.

Eventually Beverly spoke.

“How long have you been looking for me?”

His smile a rueful one, Jean-Luc held her hands.

“Oh weeks. I managed to visit all the places you went, except Jurrenzen. The quarantine prevented me from approaching it, in fact an enormous vessel captained by a very reasonable alien stopped me and told me quite pleasantly he’d disable my runabout and tow me from the system if I attempted to reach the planet.”

Beverly chuckled softly.

“And how did my proud intrepid Captain take that?”

Jean-Luc smiled wryly.

“I heeded his warning and ceased being obstreperous. However he was very helpful. After ascertaining my reason for going to the planet, he made some enquiries that eventually had me talking to a Doctor K’Tul. It was through him I found where you were.”

Beverly raised her eyebrows, an incredulous look on her face.
”K’Tul is in this system? When I was dropped off he was going back to Federation space. I wonder what he’s doing back here?”

Jean-Luc’s quiet chuckle made Beverly grin.

“What?”

“You know damn well what he was doing! The same thing you’ve been doing all these months…offering his services as a Doctor wherever he thought he could help.”

The Doctor flushed and took her hands from his. Going back to the window, she hugged herself. Jean-Luc went to her and gently laid his hands on her hips.

“Tell me.”

Her big sigh made her shoulders rise and fall.

“When I left Caldos I didn’t really know where I wanted to go…I just knew I couldn’t stay, but no matter where I went the restlessness wouldn’t leave me. Several times I was begged to stay, but I couldn’t, I simply had to move on.”

She turned to face him, sadness marring her beautiful face.

“If you hadn’t arrived, I would’ve asked Della to find a way for me to get off this planet. My stay here has been nice, but the enforced idleness has been driving me nuts.”

Jean-Luc nodded his eyes unreadable.

“Della says you’ve been sad…you were sad on the Enterprise too. What is it Beverly?”

Bowing her head, Beverly went and sat at the table.

“Like you I have been increasingly disillusioned with Starfleet and their policies. I began to be discontented with my work and my position on the Enterprise. Some part of me wanted more, more than I was getting, both professionally and privately. After that night in your quarters…when you said we should spend some time apart and you told me what I was doing to you, everything snowballed and I panicked. I thought that if the only thing I could make you feel was pain, then you would be better off without me in your life.”

Jean-Luc joined her at the table and sat, wanting to hold her hands, but concerned she might resent the contact.

“So you ran.”

“Uh huh.”

“But your commission Beverly…your career? Surely you could’ve taken leave, sought counselling…did you have to resign?”

Her frank look made him flush.

“Are you listening to yourself? I’m as fed up with my job as you are…and you’re a fine one to talk about counselling! Did you ever let Deanna help you with this?”

Bowing his head, Jean-Luc shook his head and sighed, his voice a whisper.

“No.”

They sat in silence for several seconds before Beverly’s soft voice made Jean-Luc lift his head.

“There’s something else Jean-Luc…something I should’ve told you a very long time ago and something that’s been at the root of my sadness.”

He tilted his head, his eyes questioning silently.

“I love you. I have done for so long…well let’s just say loving you has become so familiar to me it has become part of who I am. You said you couldn’t function without me…well it seems neither can I function without you. These past long months have been hell…I kept waiting for my heart to cease beating and when it didn’t I was disappointed, because I knew I would have to live another day in pain. If you still want me my love, I’m yours.”

Jean-Luc was stunned. He sat with his mouth ajar, his heart beating so rapidly he was light headed. They both jumped when there was a quiet knock at the door.

“Beverly? Dinner’s ready.”

Finding her voice, Beverly said absently,

“We’ll be right down Della, thank you.”

When Jean-Luc still hadn’t said anything after some minutes, Beverly reached out and took his hands.

“Jean-Luc? Are you all right?”

He closed his mouth and eyes and bowed his head, still silent. Worried, Beverly stood and went to him, kneeling at his side.

“Hey…talk to me.”

He turned his head and opened his eyes. Tears rolled unnoticed down his cheeks and his gaze was filled with wonder. In a reverent whisper he said,

“You love me.”

Taking his hands, Beverly drew him to his feet. Winding her arms around him, she nuzzled his neck.

“Not only do I love you, I desire you.”

He lifted his head sharply and stared deeply into her eyes. Seeing the truth of her words, he slowly lowered his head until their lips met in the barest of caresses. Beverly’s eyes closed and he repeated the ethereal touch and when he kissed her ardently and slipped his questing tongue into her mouth, she swooned. He deepened the kiss and held her tightly to his body, pouring into her all his love and pent up need.

They parted breathless and flushed. Beverly could feel his erection pressed against her and she smiled tenderly. Kissing him softly, she sighed.

“We should be getting down to dinner.”

“Hmm.”

The next kiss was languid and protracted.

“No really my love…Della has been very good to me and I don’t want to put her out. If she’s prepared dinner for us both, then we should…”

He silenced her with another passionate kiss.

“Hush Beverly.”

“But…”

He nibbled her ear and neck, his hand drifting up to caress her breast, that was until her stomach rumbled.

Jean-Luc stopped what he was doing and chuckled. Lifting his head, he saw a deep blush colouring Beverly’s face.

“Sorry. I didn’t have lunch.”

Tenderly taking her shoulders, he gently pushed her back a step.

“Very well…give me a minute.”

He closed his eyes and took several deep breaths. Beverly’s eyes settled on his bulging pants and noted no change.

“Jean-Luc…”

His eyes snapped open and he grimaced.

“I think it best if you go down first. I’ll join you when I’m…in control.”

Beverly’s tender look almost made him kiss her again.

“Are you sure?”

“Oh most certainly. I’m never going to get anywhere with you in close proximity.”

Beverly half turned then hesitated. Turning back, she kissed him while running a finger along his length. He growled into her mouth and gripped her mischievous hand.

“Behave yourself Beverly or we’ll never get down to dinner.”

With a knowing look, Beverly kissed the tip of his nose.

“OK, I’ll see you downstairs.”

Jean-Luc watched as she left then sighed deeply.

“Warp field mechanics…that ought to do it.”

He joined Beverly ten minutes later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Della immediately saw the change in Beverly. The Doctor wasn’t only smiling radiantly, she was glowing. Casting a long glance at Jean-Luc, she saw little that was different; he was as reserved as she first found him, but his eyes were warm, and she couldn’t help but see the love in them whenever he looked at Beverly.

Conversation was sporadic as they ate, Della making most of the effort. Over dessert, Beverly suddenly asked,

“Della do you have a room with a big bed?”

Jean-Luc choked on his sweet, a light flush creeping over his face. Keeping her glee under control, Della remained calm.

“Yes Beverly. Just down the hall from your room is my main suite. It has a larger bathroom, with a spa, a larger balcony and yes, a larger bed.”

Not daring to look at her embarrassed Captain, Beverly smiled sweetly.

“Oh good. Would it be all right if we used it?”

Della shrugged.

“It’s the end of the season…the place is empty as you well know. You can have your pick of any suite you want.”

Nothing more was said. Over tea, Della left the room momentarily and returned with a chip, giving it to Jean-Luc.

“Here you go. Suite eight.”

Smiling his thanks, Jean-Luc took the chip and then said,

“Della would it be possible for me to send a sub-space message from your equipment?”

The host frowned.

“Sub-space? I don’t think so, but perhaps you should check as I’m not too sure.”

Nodding, Jean-Luc left the table and went into the small room housing the array. It took only moments to find what he sought. Returning to the table, he sighed.

“I’m afraid your equipment is insufficient for my needs. If you ladies will excuse me, I’ll beam up to the runabout.”

He stood and handed Beverly the chip. Beverly grinned up at him.

“Going to report in?”

Jean-Luc smiled and


© Copyright 2017 Heather Smyth. All rights reserved.

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