Love Through The Angst Pt. 1

Love Through The Angst Pt. 1

Status: Finished

Genre: Fan Fiction

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Fan Fiction

Summary

Having parted acrimoniously, Crusher goes in search of Picard and finds him in a dangerous place. Cardassians abound.

Summary

Having parted acrimoniously, Crusher goes in search of Picard and finds him in a dangerous place. Cardassians abound.

Chapter1 (v.1) - Love Through The Angst Pt. 1

Author Chapter Note

Having parted acrimoniously, Crusher goes in search of Picard and finds him in a dangerous place. Cardassians abound.

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: January 18, 2012

Reads: 581

Comments: 1

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Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: January 18, 2012

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Love Through the Angst.

Beverly Crusher, Chief Medical Officer of the Starship Enterprise was angry. No, actually was furious. For the past month, her best male friend and been making himself scarce.

So, she sat alone in the Happy Bottom Riding Club on her own at the table they’d always shared and glared at her plate, muttering to herself,

“Well  I’ve had it with him and his high-and-mighty attitude. If he can’t afford half-an-hour to spend with me, then sobeit. Damn him anyway, I’ve got better things to do than to be available to his beck-and–call. If he doesn’t want my company, then he can go to hell, I’ve had enough of this.”

She angrily stabbed her fork into some, by now, limp lettuce and chewed as it if was rubber. Seeming to have a malevolent aura surrounding her, the other crew members in the lounge left her exclusively alone, and that suited Beverly just fine.

 

 

 

Jean-Luc Picard, Captain of the ship, sat forlornly in his Ready Room, staring at his sandwich and rapidly cooling Earl Grey tea, hating himself for what he was doing, but seeing no other way to assuage the pain of unrequited love.

He had loved Beverly Howard since the day they first met and continued to love her even though she married his best friend, Jack Crusher. The crushing guilt of that love, compounded by the untimely death of Jack only made Jean-Luc loathe himself more, so he spent only a short time on Earth consoling Beverly before he escaped on the Stargazer into deep space. He didn’t reply to her contacts and slowly he put her in the back of his mind.

Twenty years on, Jean-Luc finds himself about to take the Captaincy of the Enterprise, the Flag Ship of the fleet. To his dismay he finds that Beverly has been assigned as his CMO. He does his best to block the posting, but ultimately he has to admit she is the best candidate for the job.

What starts out as stiff formality soon morphs into a tentative friendship, not the strong connection they shared in the past, but neither of them could deny there was an attraction.

Just as Jean-Luc realises he is falling in love with her again, she abruptly leaves the Enterprise to take up tenure as Chief of Starfleet Medical on Earth. Jean-Luc has his suspicions she is running from him, but the overriding feeling is of relief. He misses her sorely, but knows it’s for the best.

Then, after a year away, she returns, and, as she steps off the shuttle and their eyes meet, Jean-Luc knows he is still in love with her.

Slowly the friendship grows over the ensuing years. They took to sharing breakfast together and, if they could, lunch and dinner was a given if their schedules allowed.

At first, Jean-Luc was happy with this arrangement. It meant he could spend quality time with the only woman he had ever truly loved and she seemed to be comfortable with things as they were. With Beverly, Jean-Luc could be himself, dropping the mantle of Command. It liberated him in ways he found hard to describe, he just knew he liked it and wanted more...so much more.

Then she became his companion in social diplomatic matters. Dinners, receptions, she was always on his arm and he stood proud and tall knowing he was the envy of most men in the room. He loved her beyond reason and he wanted her desperately...but he couldn’t have her.

Once, years ago, they were telepathically linked by an alien race. Beverly discovered Jean-Luc’s love for her and though she tried to hide it, he felt her love for him. Later, when they had been separated, he posed the question.

“Should we explore this?”

To which she replied,

“Perhaps we should be afraid.”

He was devastated and very confused. If they loved each other...as he knew they did...why not see where it took them? But, being the altruistic and patient man he was, he put his feelings aside to preserve their precious friendship.

Eventually, The Enterprise D was destroyed and a new ship took her place...the Enterprise E. Early in her life her crew encountered the dreaded Borg and Jean-Luc almost lost himself to the ravages of revenge for what they had done to him in the past, but as he recovered there was Beverly, his shoulder to cry upon, his rock and anchor...his universe.

But as time travelled inexorably onwards, Jean-Luc’s unreturned love began to cause him significant pain. Too many nights he masturbated, fantasising how it would be to make love to Beverly. What he would do to and for her during foreplay, how she would react to him and finally, how she would look as she came under him. So he slowly began to distance himself from her, making up excuses why he couldn’t meet her for their customary meals and attending the one diplomatic soiree that came up on his own. He knew she was confused and angry, but he could think of nothing else to do, the pain was simply too great. He also knew, but ignored it, that eventually the situation was going to come to a head and, as it would be Beverly who would confront him about it, he simply put it out of his mind. Had he known the storm was about to break over him, perhaps he would have done something to prevent it.

True to form, Beverly had had enough. The mercurial red head fumed through the rest of her day before ending her shift and stalking to her quarters. The more she thought about Jean-Luc’s behaviour, the angrier she became. Ultimately the bubble burst. She stormed out of her quarters and hurried to Jean-Luc’s, not bothering to press the chime, but utilising the entry permission Jean-Luc had given her long ago. She found him in his favourite chair, quiet classical music playing as he read a book. He looked up, startled by Beverly’s abrupt entry. Coming to his feet, all he could think to say was,

“Beverly.”

Striding quickly across the room, she came face to face with her Captain and poked him in the chest.

“I want to know what the hell is going on between you and me!”

Being so blatantly confronted, the first thing Jean-Luc did was adopt an air of authority.

“If you are going to address me in that manner, Doctor, I will put you on report!”

By now seething, Beverly hissed,

“Fuck the report! You’ve been avoiding me for far too long. First it was breakfast, then dinner, now lunch. What the hell did I do?”

She knew him well, in fact she knew him better than anyone else on the ship. Her eyes narrowed and she said with quiet malice,

“Or is it you?”

For one millisecond, Jean-Luc considered telling her the truth, but remembered confrontations stilled his tongue.

Suddenly deflated, Jean-Luc’s head and shoulders slumped. Turning, he sat in his chair and cradled his head in his hands.

Her anger subsiding, a more concerned Beverly went to her friend and knelt before him.

“What is it, Jean-Luc? Tell me.”

He knew this had been coming, but he had no response. All he could do was think of the pain. Abruptly he lifted his head and blurted,

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

A shocked Beverly rocked back on her heels, mouth agape.

You...taking leave? You don’t take leave, besides, where will you go?”

Sighing and striving to keep tears at bay, he summoned a steady voice to say,

“I haven’t decided yet.”

Standing slowly and taking a seat on the sofa, Beverly rubbed her brow.

“Let me get this straight. You’ve been avoiding me for over a month. I confront you about it and you tell me you’re taking an extended leave of absence, but you don’t know where you’re going. Have I got it right?”

All he could do was nod, his eyes downcast, unable to meet her piercing gaze. Beverly snorted and shook her head,

“I don’t understand.”

Finally meeting her eyes, Jean-Luc said quietly,

“You don’t have to.”

Angry again, Beverly spat,

“Listen to who you’re talking to! It’s me, Jean-Luc, Beverly. If you can’t tell me, whom can you tell?”

All anger gone, Beverly lifted her hands, imploring Jean-Luc to open up to her as he’d always done in the past.

“Jean-Luc, tell me! Tell me what’s wrong. Maybe I can fix it. Are you unwell?”

He laughed almost maniacally inside his head, but all that emerged was a sad smile.

“I assure you, Beverly, I’m fine. I just need some time away.”

Thinking on the run, Beverly said the first thing that came to mind. It was the worst thing she could have said.

“I could go with you. Would that help?”

Suddenly angry, Jean-Luc stood and said in clipped tones,

“I’m tired, Doctor and I would appreciate it if you would leave. I intend to go to bed.”

Confused, perplexed and vaguely guilty, Beverly left, knowing by his tone her best friend would not entertain any further discussion on the matter.

She walked slowly back to her quarters and sat on her bed, trying to figure out what was wrong with Jean-Luc. She was a complicated woman, hardened by having to be a single parent to her son. He was now gone, off to explore different planes of existence with an alien guide. His contacts with her were rare and sporadic. She could only hope he was well and happy. In her life there was only Jean-Luc and he too was very complicated. Oh, there had been others, one, Odan, she loved, but that had not worked out for many reasons. But through all her relationships, in the background, there was always Jean-Luc Picard. Solid, dependable...and in love with her. And she loved him, but for reasons she didn’t fully understand, she wouldn’t admit it. Not to herself and not to him, in fact, she refused to think about it, other than the times she caught Jean-Luc looking at her with love in his eyes. She would fleetingly think...”What if?”, Then dismiss it from her mind. No, there could be nothing between them except friendship. Yes, that was safe.

As she sat there, that word kept repeating itself over and over. Safe. She dared to think more.

“Why safe?”

But it was too much. With an irritated shake of her head she rose from the bed and went to the replicator to order her dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In his quarters, Jean-Luc was furious with himself.

“An extended leave of absence! To where? You foolish idiot!”

He paced up and down in front of the view ports, his hands fisted by his sides. Suddenly he punched the clear aluminium, achieving nothing but pain in his hand. But that was preferable to the pain in his artificial heart, which was impossible, but he felt nonetheless. As he massaged his damaged hand he thought savagely,

“Why can’t I just insist she confront her feelings for me? I know she loves me...why can’t she show me?”

Deciding to act immediately, Jean-Luc lifted his head and said firmly,

“Bridge, this is Picard. Contact Admiral Alynna Nechayev and transfer the communiqué to my quarters.”

Admiral Nechayev was a notoriously hard woman. Abrupt, succinct and glacially cold, she was the scourge of fleet Captains, but over the years, despite giving Jean-Luc some very uncomfortable orders, they had developed a good working relationship. So it was to her he turned.

The call came through fairly quickly and Jean-Luc found himself looking at a harried woman.

“This better be good, Picard, I’m busy.”

Smiling lopsidedly, Jean-Luc said sardonically,

“As usual.”

That brought a smile, changing her hard face.

“Okay, what can I do for you?”

His smile faded.

“I want to take an extended leave of absence, effective immediately.”

Nechayev was taken aback. Captain Jean-Luc Picard never took leave, in fact he had over two years of accumulated leave up his sleeve.

“May I ask why?”

Keeping his expression fairly bland, Jean-Luc replied,

“I’m tired.”

Nechayev frowned.

“Of what?”

With a sigh, Jean-Luc said wearily,

“Admiral...”

Nechayev leaned forward and dropped all pretence.

“Jean-Luc, are you going to come back?”

He gazed at her for a few seconds and almost whispered.

“I don’t know.”

The Admiral sat back, staring at Jean-Luc, trying to gauge what was in his mind. Eventually she shook her head and sighed.

“Effective immediately, Commander William Riker is acting Captain of the Enterprise. Let me know when you want to come back, the Enterprise will be waiting.”

Relieved, Jean-Luc sighed.

“Thank you Alynna.”

Just before the communication was ended, Nechayev said quietly,

“I hope you find what you’re looking for, Jean-Luc.”

The screen went blank, but Jean-Luc kept staring at it.

“So do I, Admiral.”

He rose slowly and exited his quarters, arriving at Riker’s. He pressed the chime twice before the door opened and a sleepy, pyjama-clad Will Riker answered.

“Captain? Is there anything wrong, Sir?”

Smiling to ease Will’s apprehension, Jean-Luc said quietly,

“No, not at all. May I come in?”

Gathering his wits about him, Will straightened and gestured with his hand.

“Sorry, Captain, of course.”

Once inside, without prior warning, Jean-Luc lifted his head and said firmly,

“Computer, transfer all command protocols to Commander William T Riker. Authorisation, Picard, delta two eight.”

“Authorisation accepted. The Enterprise is now under the command of Commander William T Riker.”

Will’s mouth was agape. Jean-Luc turned to him and said,

“I am taking an extended leave of absence. There is a remote chance I may not come back. If I don’t I hope you get the Enterprise, Will, no one deserves her more than you.”

All Will could say in his shock and confusion was,

“Captain?”

But Jean-Luc simply said,

“I leave in the yacht in the morning. Goodnight...Captain.”

After he had gone, Deanna Troi, ship’s Counsellor, came out of the bedroom wrapped in a sheet.

“Will, what’s going on?”

Still befuddled, Will said distractedly,

“You heard?”

“Yes.”
Scratching his rumpled hair, Will shook his head.

“What the bloody hell is going on? The Captain taking and extended leave? And he might not come back? Holy shit Dee, I feel like I’ve been punched in the guts.”

Returning to the bedroom, Deanna said over her shoulder,

“I’d best go and talk to him.”

Shaking his head, Will muttered,

“Well someone should.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc was expecting Deanna and had his mental barriers well and truly fortified. Through his mind-meld with the Vulcan, Sarek, he had developed the ability to block Deanna’s half Betazoid empathic abilities. Full Betazoids were telepathic, but Deanna’s father had been Human. Her ability was to sense emotions.

When the door chimed, Jean-Luc said equitably,

“Come.”

Deanna already knew he was blocking her, she sensed it well before she reached his quarters.

After she had entered she smiled and said softly,

“Good evening, Captain.”

With a smile of his own, Jean-Luc returned the greeting.

“Good evening, Counsellor, I hope I didn’t disturb your sleep.”

Keeping her smile in place, Deanna replied,

“Disturbed is an interesting word, Sir. Shocked might be more appropriate.”

His smile stayed and his eyebrows rose.

“Really? Surely I’m entitled to take some leave.”

Deanna rolled her eyes.

“Captain, you never take leave. You have to be dragged kicking and screaming just to go to the Admiral’s annual dinner.”

That brought an unexpected chuckle from the man.

“Counsellor, have you ever attended the Admiral’s annual dinner?”

Bowing her head and clasping her hands behind her back, Deanna shook her head.

“Ah, no, Sir, I haven’t.”

“Then take it from me, think yourself lucky.”

They both chuckled, then Deanna grew serious.

“Captain, why are you taking this leave?”

Equally serious, Jean-Luc replied,

“I don’t see that that is any of your concern, Counsellor. I want some time off and I’m taking it.”

“But, Captain...”

Growing tired of what he felt was becoming an inquisition, Jean-Luc said with authority,

“I have made my decision, Counsellor, you are dismissed.”

With no other option, Deanna said quietly,

“Yes, Sir.” And made for the doors, but as they opened, she turned and said softly,

“Does Beverly know?”

Jean-Luc glared but answered.

“She knows I’m going.”

With remarkable courage, Deanna dared to say,

“Does she know you might not return?”

All Deanna got was a clipped,

“Goodnight, Counsellor.”

Having made his decision, Jean-Luc went to bed.

 

 

 

 

 

Deanna was a consummate professional and her job required she keep patient confidentiality, but there were times when she felt the need, to help her patients, to share some of what she knew. Finding herself outside Beverly’s quarters, she pressed the chime. As with Jean-Luc, she could feel Beverly’s emotions, a melange of anger, concern, confusion and worry.

Annoyed at being disturbed, Beverly said testily,

“Computer, who is at my door?”

“Counsellor Deanna Troi.”

With a resigned sigh, Beverly called out,

“Come in, Deanna.”

As soon as Deanna entered, Beverly said angrily,

“I don’t want to talk about it!”

Deanna smiled to herself. If ever there were the two most private individuals in existence, they were both on this ship. Without being invited, Deanna sat on the sofa and said quietly,

“Have you spoken with him?”

Beverly plopped down on her chair and said with exasperation as she ran her fingers through her hair,

“Yes! He’s taking an extended leave of absence and he doesn’t even know where he’s going for God’s sake.”

This is where it became tricky for Deanna.

“Do you know he might not come back?”

Beverly blanched, her voice a shocked whisper.

“What? Why?”

With a perplexed shrug, Deanna shook her head.

“I’ve no idea, he won’t talk to me either.”

Beverly slammed her fist down on the coffee table.

“Damn him and his fucking moods!”

Deanna frowned deeply.

“I don’t think this is a mood Beverly. Something’s wrong here, very wrong and I think you know the answer. You may not be aware of it, but if there’s one person on this ship who would know, it’s you.”

Anger flashed through Beverly’s eyes.

“Me? Dee, he’s been avoiding me for the past month! I went to him and I asked what was wrong and he refused to tell me...other than informing me he taking a bloody extended leave of absence. And now you’re telling me he might not come back and I’m supposed to know why? Give me a break!”

Deanna was well aware of their feelings for one another, but getting Beverly to admit hers was like pulling teeth. She leaned over the table and took Beverly’s hands.

“Look at me Beverly.”

She did so, but unwillingly.

“Tell me how you feel about him.”

Beverly rolled her eyes and snorted.

“It’s no secret we’re best friends, Dee.”

“Yes you are, but it goes deeper than that doesn’t it. Much deeper.”

Beverly snatched her hands back and glared.

“I don’t want to talk about it. Not with you, not with anybody.”

With a deep sigh, Deanna looked at her friend with pity.

“Well, Beverly, one day you’re going to have to face your feelings about the Captain. I can only hope it’s not too late.”

With that, Deanna stood and left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beverly quickly stood and began to pace.

“Damn him, damn, him, damn him!”

With little thought as to what she was going to say, Beverly left her quarters and sped to Jean-Luc’s, again entering without permission.

The outer areas were dark and vacated, so she made for his bedroom, expecting him to be in the bathroom. The door quietly hissed open and there, illuminated by the streaking stars outside lay a naked Jean-Luc, eyes screwed shut as he masturbated.

Beverly stood transfixed, shocked, but vaguely aroused as she watched him, his fist pumping his penis hard. Suddenly his free hand gripped his testicles and tugged them down as his back arched.  As he came he cried out,

“Beverly!

And opened his eyes.

He saw her almost immediately and choked back a sob of embarrassment and humiliation.

Beverly whispered,

“I’m sorry...”

And fled his quarters.

Jean-Luc rolled onto his side, curled up in the foetal position and sobbed into the pillow.

Later he would shower and changed the bed, but for now his heart was breaking.

“Why?” He thought. “Why did it have to be her to see me like that?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beverly ran back to her quarters, tears streaming down her face. Once inside the safety of her cabin, she stood in the middle of the room, her hands covering her face as she tried unsuccessfully to rid herself of the image of Jean-Luc masturbating. She was filled with guilt and self loathing.

“I drove him to that! To do that alone in his quarters. Poor soul, I wonder how long he’s been doing it?”

But she innately knew and was filled with shame.

“I drove him to that. Me. No wonder he may not come back!”

Not knowing when he was to leave, Beverly came to a decision.

“I’m going to insist on lunch tomorrow and I’m going to tell him how I feel. I’m going to tell him I love him!”

She went to bed filled with resolve, but there would be no sleep for Beverly that night...or Jean-Luc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tired of tossing and turning, Jean-Luc was up at oh four hundred. He showered, shaved and dressed in civilian clothing. He packed a few books, everything else he needed he could get from the yacht’s replicator. He took one final look around his quarters and clenched his jaw before turning on his heel and leaving.

Once in the Captain’s yacht, he contacted the Bridge.

“Picard to Bridge.”

“Bridge here, Captain, Lieutenant Blood.”

“I’m taking an extended leave, Lieutenant, in the Captain’s yacht, departing immediately. Prepare to drop out of warp for launch.”

“Aye, Captain. Ah...Sir...your flight plan doesn’t seem to be in the log.”

Jean-Luc smiled coldly.

“That’s because I haven’t filed one. Follow my orders, Lieutenant.”

The reply was crisp.

“Yes, Sir!”

The great ship came out of warp and the yacht detached itself from under the saucer section of the huge hull.

Jean-Luc inputted a heading and refused to watch as the Enterprise went back to warp. His course lay in the opposite direction. He still didn’t know where he was going; he just knew he wanted to be as far away from his ship as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beverly was up early too, but unlike Jean-Luc, she went to Sick Bay to work, her panacea for all that ailed her. But the events of the previous night kept nagging at her, so she decided to make her confession over breakfast.

At the appointed time she went to Jean-Luc’s cabin and, despite what she had witnessed during the night, walked brazenly inside only to find him absent. Presuming, like her, he had decided to bury himself in work, she tapped her comm. badge.

“Crusher to Picard.”

No reply.

Sighing and knowing he would be extremely embarrassed by what she’d seen, she tried again.

“Crusher to Picard, respond please.”

When she received no reply again, she snorted and lifted her head to say,

“Computer, where is Captain Picard?”

“Captain Picard is not on the Enterprise.”

Shocked, and knowing she was partly to blame for his early departure, Beverly asked,

“When did he leave?”

“Oh four twenty-two hours.”

Thinking quickly, Beverly continued.

“Flight plan?”

“Not logged.”

Now growing frustrated, Beverly snapped,

“Destination?”

“Unknown.”

Panicking, Beverly tapped her comm. badge.

“Crusher to Riker.”
“Riker here.”

“Will, the Captain has gone.”

She could hear the resignation in his voice as he replied,

“Tell me about it! I’m acting Captain and I’ve been told he may not come back. Hell, Beverly, I’ve always wanted the big chair, but not like this.”

Desperation pervaded every fibre of her being.

“Did he tell you where he was going?”

“Nope, he didn’t even log a flight plan.”

Coming to a snap decision, Beverly turned and made for her quarters, saying,

“Will, I’m requesting leave, effective immediately.”

She clearly heard the regret in his voice.

“No can do, Beverly. We’ve just received a distress call from Septimus Prime. Their monsoonal rains have caused massive flooding and mud slides. We’re the nearest ship and we’re travelling at maximum warp; you’re going to be working flat out...we can’t spare you.”

Beverly stopped dead in her tracks.

“Dammit, Will...”

“I hear you, Beverly, but you simply can’t go. I’m sorry.”

The Doctor in her knew he was right, but the woman wanted nothing more than to go after the man she loved, more than her duty as a Starfleet officer. But duty won out. With a resigned sigh she said wearily,

“Understood Will, I’ll set up the cargo bays as triage centres.”

Will’s voice was filled with pathos.

“Thank you, Beverly, Riker out.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc sat in the cockpit of the yacht, staring sightlessly out the viewports as the vessel hurtled through space at warp nine point five, her maximum speed. He knew he should slow the ship, lest he over-tax the engine, but his need to put as much distance between him and the Enterprise overrode his good sense. Eventually though, he came out of his fugue state and mumbled,

“Computer, slow to warp five.”

“Acknowledged. Slowing to warp five.”

Finally thinking about where he should go, Jean-Luc said quietly,

“Computer, which is the furthest Star Base on our current heading.”

“Star Base twenty-three is the most distant Star Base on our current heading.”

“ETA?”

“Fifteen days at our current speed.”

Rubbing his lower lip with his fingers, Jean-Luc muttered,

“Increase to warp seven-point-five. ETA?”

“Eight days.”

Nodding with satisfaction, Jean-Luc mused,

“That should give me just enough time to figure out where to go.”

He left the cockpit and settled in the day area. On the table were several large PADDS, each displaying archaeological digs. Picking one up, he read for a while before casting it aside and picking up another. Before long he had perused all the PADDS without finding what he was looking for. Discontented and frustrated, he sat back and rubbed his face, muttering,

“Surely I can find something.”

He then had a thought. Lifting his head he said,

“Computer, what is the status of the archaeological dig on Delos?”

“The dig was suspended on Delos, stardate 4325.9 due to the annexation of Delos to Cardassia Prime as per the dismantling of the Neutral Zone.”

Jean-Luc frowned.

“I see. Is there any information that may indicate the Cardassians have pursued an interest in the dig?”

“There is no information to that effect.”

Sighing, Jean-Luc rubbed his fingers over his lower lip.

“Computer, have the Cardassians done anything at all with Delos?”

“There is no information to suggest that Cardassia has any plans for Delos. Having suffered considerably during the Dominion war, it is doubtful Cardassia has the infrastructure to do anything but rebuild Cardassia Prime.”

To himself, Jean-Luc muttered,

“Interesting.”

Then he asked,

“Computer, to what level did the dig extend?”

“Level five. The chief archaeological scientist; Doctor Steve Fleming, reported several significant finds, including intact pottery with ancient pictograms, some intact examples of woven art and some complete sets of tools, though their use was not determined at the time the dig was suspended.”

Nodding, Jean-Luc said softly,

“And it was established beyond doubt that the artefacts were from the second Hebician civilisation?”

“Yes.”

Jean-Luc shook his head again.

“That is priceless to Cardassia. I wonder if they will ever investigate the dig themselves.”
“That information is not available.”

Ignoring the computer, Jean-Luc sat in silence for some minutes, thinking hard. A plan was forming, but it was one fraught with danger.

Eventually he came to his decision.

“Computer, set course for Delos, warp eight.”

“Warning. Delos lies out of Federation space. Permission is required from Cardassia Prime to visit Delos.”

“Override.”

“Warning. Likelihood of encountering Cardassian war ships is high.”

“Override warning and proceed on new course. ETA?”

“Six days.”

Leaning forward, Jean-Luc activated the computer terminal in front of him.

“Computer, retrieve all known information on the Delos dig and display it at this terminal.”

The screen came to life and Jean-Luc began to read with renewed enthusiasm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Enterprise arrived during Septimus Prime’s long night. Having found a place near the main settlement to set up an evacuation centre, teams of personnel both beamed down and arrived in shuttles. Beverly and her emergency medical teams beamed down first.

What they found was utter devastation. Those settlers who had survived the floods and mudslides were wandering around dazed and shocked. The meagre disaster response members were doing their best, but were completely overwhelmed.

While Beverly and her teams began to treat the injured, engineers started the unenviable task of locating the dead and making the settlement safe by building levees and stabilising the surrounding hills.

It was three long days and nights before the settlement was safe and all the living were located and the injured treated, either on the planet or on the Enterprise.

It was an exhausted Beverly who reported to an equally spent Will.

“In total we treated seven hundred and eighty-five people. The death toll stands at one hundred and forty-eight and I don’t expect that to rise, although we do have seventeen critical, I have every reason to believe they’ll recover. The cargo bays are now empty; Sick Bay can cope with what is left. The portable hospital on the surface has only five patients and I expect them to be discharged by tomorrow.”

Will nodded slowly, his face haggard.

“And those in Sick Bay?”

Beverly pushed her hair off her shoulders.

“Three days, maybe four for the worst two cases.”

Placing his hand on her shoulder, Will summoned a wan smile.

“You’ve done a great job, Beverly. Time you got some rest.”

She shook her head.

“No I’ll see it through, Will. Those poor devils have been through hell, the least I can do is see them well again.”

He nodded.

“And your teams? How are they holding up?”

“They’re tired, no doubt, but the rotation has been working well. I commandeered everyone who had any medical training to assist. We’re okay. How did the engineering teams cope?”
Gesturing the tired Doctor to a seat, Will sat in the Command Chair.

“It was a big job to contain the river and build the levees, but they worked their usual magic. Geordi and Data came up with an ingenious idea to transport material from the more stable areas of the surrounding hills. It set lit permacrete. Those who were detailed to search for the dead will require counselling, but all in all, it’s mission accomplished.”

“How long will we stay?”

Running his fingers through his beard, Will shrugged.

“About another week, I suppose. There’s a hell of a lot of cleaning up to do before the settlement is running smoothly again.”

He knew by the glint in her eyes, that there was something else on her mind.

“You still want a leave of absence?”

When Beverly said nothing, Will sighed.

“Well I suppose we can spare you now. Do you know where he is?”

Echoing Will’s sigh, Beverly shook her head.

“No idea.”

The big acting Captain gave Beverly a frank look.

“So you don’t know where to go. This could turn out to be a wild goose chase, Beverly...especially if the Captain doesn’t want to be found and you can’t be gone indefinitely...you’ll have to come home some time, we can’t cover for you forever.”

Seeing the determined look on Beverly’s face, Will felt panic.

“Tell me you’re not considering leaving Starfleet!”

All Beverly could do was shrug.

“He might not come back, Will. I have to find him...tell him.”

Will was fully aware of Beverly’s feelings for Jean-Luc; in fact most of the crew knew...everyone it seems except Beverly herself.

“What if you can’t find him?”

Shaking her head, Will saw her determination.

“I’m not going to give up Will, I don’t care how long it takes, I owe him that much. He’s waited long enough for me.”

Will nodded slowly.

“When will you leave?”
“ASAP”

A concerned Will shook his head.

At least get a decent rest.”
Beverly lifted her head and gave Will a frank look.

“I can get as much rest as I need on the shuttle.”

They shared a short silence before Will said softly,

“I can’t talk you out of this, can I? There’s no chance you’d be willing to wait for him to return?”

Again Beverly shook her head, but there was an air of sadness around her.

“I have to go Will, you understand, don’t you?”

He nodded slowly.

“Yes, Beverly, I understand. I hope you find him.”

Beverly stood slowly and offered a lopsided smile. She was exhausted, but there was a twinkle in her eyes.

“Me too.”
She headed toward to aft turbolift and Will called out softly,

“Tell the Captain I’m keeping his seat warm.”

In response Beverly just smiled and nodded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The six days of Jean-Luc’s journey to Delos passed relatively quickly. On the fifth day he passed the warning beacons informing him he was leaving Federation space and he entered the unknown with care, scanning light years ahead for any Cardassian ships. Delos appeared to the naked eye late on the sixth day and Jean-Luc entered orbit in the evening, deciding to wait until dawn to beam down.

Despite being in hostile space, he slept well. It was as if making his decision to leave the Enterprise had lifted a burden from his shoulders. His only concern was that he may not return, but he pushed that to the back of his mind, along with the ever-present thoughts of his beloved Beverly and focussed his formidable intellect on the dig.

After a light breakfast, Jean-Luc spent some time replicating all he would need for an extended stay on the surface.  Two hours later he was standing amid his equipment on Delos.

The Captain’s Yacht, the Calypso, was in orbit over the southern pole, ready to be remotely moved when he wanted her. The increased ionisation at the pole would help shield her presence from any scanning ships.

Jean-Luc was a methodical and patient man. He spent ample time setting up his camp, making sure it was situated to be sheltered from the worst of the weather, but not too far from the dig which was located in an area of eighty-seven square metres of flat ground and extending into some nearby caves. Once he was satisfied all was well, he collected his tools and backpack and made the fifty or so metre journey to the excavations.

The length of day and night not were not so dissimilar than that of Earth, so Jean-Luc found he could work steadily at his own pace, yet still make good progress. As usual, when he was engrossed, eating became a nuisance so he didn’t stop for lunch or dinner. It must have been summer, as it grew hot and stayed warm and light long into the evening. It was his back and knees that eventually told him to stop. He climbed slowly to his feet tired but satisfied. Slapping the dust from his clothing, he looked ruefully and his scuffed and grazed hands. Shaking his head he muttered,

“You’re getting too soft, Picard. Time to toughen up.”

He collected the specimens he had won from the hard dark brown soil and grey rock and made his way back to camp. He would catalogue the artefacts once he had washed and eaten a light meal.

Hours later he was in his cot, barely able to keep his eyes open. Yet his last conscious thought was of Beverly.

 

 

 

 

 

In the shuttle, cruising at warp six, Beverly sat on her bunk and tried to figure out where Jean-Luc had gone. When, after an hour of frustration she was no closer to feeling like she had solved the problem, Beverly stood and began to pace in the confined space available. Aloud she said,

“Okay, stream of consciousness thought didn’t work. Time to get logical. If I was Jean-Luc, where would I go? Right, what are my interests. Music. Poetry. Classic literature. Exploration of space. Archaeology.”

Beverly let out a small gasp.

“Archaeology! Apart from exploration, archaeology is the only thing he can pursue that’s not on the Enterprise and the Calypso isn’t equipped for exploration of space...so...if it’s archaeology, where would he go?”

Punching her thigh, Beverly almost shouted,

“Dammit! I’m back to square one! I don’t know!!”

She took a calming breath and sat down again.

“Okay, Beverly, you know Jean-Luc better than just about anyone. Has he mentioned in the past any digs he was particularly interested in?”

She snapped her fingers.

“Yes! The dig on Berima II. Didn’t he say he was receiving regular reports from...God, what was her name?...Morgan Tyler! Yes, that’s it. Professor Tyler was excavating some ancient ruins on Berima II and Jean-Luc had mentioned he was very interested in her progress.”

Moving quickly into the cockpit, Beverly tapped in some commands then said excitedly,

“Computer, contact Professor Morgan Tyler on Berima II.”

“There will be a delay of three and a half hours.”

“Acknowledged.”
Not wishing to put all her eggs in one basket, Beverly resumed her quest.

“So, what else did he say? Come on, Beverly, think.”

She closed her eyes and concentrated. Suddenly her eyes snapped open.

“Wait! There was that dig on...on...Godammit where was it...Halcyon. Yes! And another on Bajor...and...oh God there must be hundreds of digs on dozens of planets. Which ones were he interested in?”

After another twenty minutes of fruitless thinking, Beverly decided to contact all the leaders of the most important digs. They all knew Jean-Luc, maybe they might know something she didn’t.

The closest dig was two days away by shuttle and the leader responded within fifteen minutes. His name was Brett Lee.

“Hello, Doctor Crusher, how can I help you?”

Smiling, Beverly said carefully,

“I’m a good friend of Captain Jean-Luc Picard. He went on leave recently and I’m trying to track him down. Is he with you?”

The blonde man frowned.

“What was your name again?”

“Crusher. Beverly Crusher.”

Brett smiled and snapped his fingers.

“Ah! Jean-Luc has spoken of you. No, Doctor Crusher, he’s not here, in fact I haven’t heard from him in...oh...three weeks.”

Crestfallen, Beverly tried to hide her disappointment.

“I see. Would you know which dig he would most likely visit?”

Scratching his stubbled chin, the archaeologist frowned.

“Well, let me see. He was interested in several digs, but Morgan Tyler’s on Berima II would be my guess.”

“Thank you Professor, I’ve already contacted Berima II. I’m waiting to hear from them.”

“Very good Doctor, I’m sorry I wasn’t of greater help. Tell Jean-Luc he owes me a visit. Lee out.”

One by one Beverly called the other digs with no luck. In the end, all she could do was wait to hear from Berima II.

 

 

 

 

 

Over the next day, Jean-Luc developed a system, one he had used on many digs. Just after dawn he checked his map and settled into his previous area and worked until late afternoon. He then forced himself to eat some field rations before resuming his painstaking excavations. At about eight thirty in the evening he finished and retired to his camp to wash, eat and catalogue his finds. He had decided to post his findings on the main archaeological computer site so other archaeologists could share in his work, but he did so anonymously, also keeping the location a closely guarded secret as Delos was officially out-of-bounds to Federation scientists. It was still a risk; the authorities could discover his presence through his posts and they would be obliged to alert the Cardassian government necessitating his removal by a hostile force and that could mean incarceration or worse on Cardassia, something Jean-Luc hoped fervently to avoid. However, the scientist in him required he share his work, after all, what was the point of his efforts if not to increase the knowledge of the scientific community? So, just before he retired for the night he sent a report to the site and made a mental note to be as vague as possible about his identity and location.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morgan Tyler was a handsome woman, about Jean-Luc’s age and vibrant, her innate intelligence shining in her green eyes. She too knew of Beverly through Jean-Luc and she smiled widely as soon as she heard Beverly mention her name.

“Well hello there, Doctor, it’s nice to meet you at last. I feel I know you already.”

Beverly smiled too, her natural gregariousness showing through.

“It’s nice to meet you too, Doctor Tyler, but I feel you have me at a disadvantage.”

The archaeologist waved a hand dismissively.

“Morgan, please. Don’t worry about it Doctor, it’s just that Jean-Luc often spoke of you.”

With a small chuckle, Beverly shook her head.

“Please call me Beverly, Morgan. It’s about Jean-Luc that I’ve called you. Is he with you?”

Morgan shook her head, frowning.

“Why no, Beverly. I wasn’t aware he’d left his ship.”

Offering a rueful smile, Beverly nodded.

“He took us all by surprise actually. He left about five days ago, the trouble is, he didn’t say where he was going and I need to find him.”

Morgan was obviously perplexed.

“That doesn’t sound like Jean-Luc. Is he alright?”

Not wishing to reveal all, Beverly hedged.

“Oh he’s fine; I think he just needed some time off the ship. It’s been ages since he’s taken leave.”

Morgan snorted.

“Tell me about it! I’ve been trying for yonks to get him to come to this dig. I know he’s really interested but he wouldn’t leave that blasted ship of his. I’m really surprised he hasn’t showed up here.”

Once again hiding her disappointment, Beverly summoned a genuine smile.

“Oh well, I’m sure he’ll turn up somewhere, I just have to keep looking, but if he does visit your dig, could you let me know please?”

The archaeologist nodded vigorously.

“You can bet on it, Beverly. I’ll give him a piece of my mind too while I’m at it. Disappearing like he has is not what I’d expect from him.”

Beverly had to laugh, she could just imagine how Jean-Luc would react to that.

“Don’t be too harsh, Morgan, even Starfleet Captains need to get away sometimes.”

“I suppose. Nice meeting you, Beverly. Good luck, Tyler out.”

With the channel closed, Beverly had run out of options. She had contacted every dig she could think of and Jean-Luc was nowhere to be found. Out of ideas and depressed, Beverly set course for the nearest Star Base. As the shuttle settled into the new course, Beverly contacted Alynna Nechayev.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc felt a tingle of excitement sweep through his body as he caught the glint of green through the dirt. Quashing the urge to hurry, he patiently used his brush to carefully clear away the dirt that had entombed the artefact for so many centuries. At the brushstroke that finally revealed most of the find he couldn’t contain a gasp of pure joy and excitement. It was an intact knife; its blade made of jevonite, a rare and exquisite gemstone found only on Cardassia. To Jean-Luc’s knowledge it had never been seen anywhere other than Cardassia, making his find extremely significant. With tender care he lifted the knife from its bed and used another, stiffer brush to remove the remaining caked-on dirt. Reverently he turned the knife in his hands, his thumb automatically flicking the sides of the blade to test the sharpness. He was not surprised to find both sides still keen. Even dull with the ravages of time and dust, the jevonite still shone.

He sat on his backside, overcome with awe as the significance of his find hit home. There was only one conclusion he could make. The people who had lived on Delos must have been space faring. How else could the knife with its jevonite blade make it from Cardassia? All his training as an amateur archaeologist told him not to jump to conclusions; to keep digging to build up the evidence, making his suppositions concrete, but this find was hard to deny.

On the spot he decided to keep his find to himself for the time being while he strove to consolidate his conclusion. Only when he was positive beyond all doubt would he let the archaeological community know of his extraordinary discovery. In the back of his mind he also knew he had an ulterior motive. Once news of his find became public his time on Delos would have to come to an end. The Cardassian authorities would be notified and he would be at risk if he stayed. Part of him railed at his selfishness, but he was not yet ready to leave. Besides, the knife was safe. It would just have to wait a little longer to take its place in the limelight. After all, it had lain hidden under the soil of Delos for centuries. What was a few weeks, perhaps a month more?

Deciding to end his work for the day on a high, Jean-Luc went back to his campsite, carrying the knife reverently in his hands.

 

 

Beverly docked the shuttle at Star Base echo four and sat back in her seat still vaguely tired. Whist on her journey to the Star Base the enormity of her task hit home. Space was infinite, even Federation territory was vast. How the hell was she going to find Jean-Luc in all the emptiness? She felt intuitively that he would find somewhere to go, the idea of him just continually travelling didn’t sit right. No, he would find a planet she was sure, but which one? Knowing him as she did she knew he would keep himself busy, he wasn’t one to be idle. So she still felt archaeology would be what he would pursue. There were still plenty of lesser digs she could check, but she felt sure Jean-Luc wasn’t interested in them. If she ran dry in other areas she would eventually contact them, but in the meantime she would concentrate on those digs she knew intrigued him. So far she had drawn a blank, however that didn’t mean he wouldn’t show up at one of them so she had decided to base herself at the Star Base and wait. She would give it three weeks before she took to space again. Meanwhile she would spend her time searching via all Jean-Luc’s friends and acquaintances.

Her call to Admiral Nechayev hadn’t been helpful. Not only was the Admiral annoyed at being contacted over what she felt was a trivial matter, she gave Beverly no good news. Not even Nechayev, whom Beverly knew Jean-Luc would have needed permission from for his leave  knew his whereabouts. Of course the Admiral might be protecting Jean-Luc’s privacy, but Beverly sensed the relationship between Jean-Luc and the Admiral, though healthy, wouldn’t stretch that far.

So Beverly entered the moderately large Star Base at a loose end, no closer to finding the man she loved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc felt renewed. Though the next four days brought only modest success, he knew the enormity of the discovery of the jevonite knife would sustain him for a very long time...perhaps even for the remainder of his life.

At his campsite was a slowly growing collection of artefacts. Since finding the knife, the area he had been working dried up, so he had moved to a new site only a metre of so to the north. Still at level five, he had unearthed several interesting objects. He had discovered a seam that appeared rich in gravel and artefacts, as if a flood had inundated the ruins discovered in the upper levels.

As he doggedly followed the seam, he realised it transected several marked out areas before diving down into a deeper level and meandering towards a cave. Jean-Luc tried to keep his excitement at bay, endeavouring instead to concentrate on being methodical in his excavations lest he overlook something important in haste. But it was indeed tantalising. With each scrape of his trowel or sweep of his brush he seemed to find something. Beside his kneeling form was a growing pile of artefacts he knew he would have intense pleasure cataloguing later that night.

Jean-Luc allowed himself the indulgence of imagining the impact of his report when he finally posted it. Not bad for an amateur. He smiled to himself and shook his head. Hubris wasn’t something he allowed in himself, but just for a moment he basked in scientific glory.

He worked that night until even the light from his lamps wasn’t enough. Tired but euphoric he retired to his tent, the knowledge that new discoveries awaited him the next day making sleep difficult. Even so, as he finally drifted into sleep, he thought of Beverly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beverly was three and a half weeks into her search and still no sign of Jean-Luc. To ward off depression she kept busy during her days, scouring computer records and hunting for any person who may have an inkling as to where Jean-Luc might have gone. But that didn’t completely fill her days. She was acquainted with the station’s Chief Medical Officer so, to keep busy, she volunteered her services as a Doctor to give the CMO some time off. It wasn’t that the station’s Sick Bay was all that busy, it was simply, like Jean-Luc, she couldn’t stand to be idle. Besides she didn’t want time to think, to dwell on the years she had wasted...denied herself and Jean-Luc happiness by refusing to admit her love for him.

She wasn’t as patient as Jean-Luc and she was aware her time at the Star Base was coming to a close. Soon she would leave, to journey without a destination in her search.

Two days before her planned departure, Beverly was in Sick Bay when a call came through.

“Doctor Crusher, this is Lieutenant Panesar in the Command Centre. I have a call for you from a Doctor Morgan Tyler.”

A surge of excitement slithered down Beverly’s spine.

“I’ll take it here, thank you, Lieutenant.”

Sitting quickly and turning the monitor to face her, the pleasant visage of Morgan Tyler soon filled the screen.

“Beverly! Hello.”

Beverly tried to keep the excitement out of her voice, but it leaked through nonetheless.

“Morgan! Any news?”

“As a matter of fact yes, but it may not be as much as you’d like.”

Beverly sat forward to the edge of her seat.

“Go on.”

“Someone has been posting reports from a dig inside what I believe to be Cardassian space and my gut feeling is it’s Jean-Luc.”

Swallowing to wet her suddenly dry mouth, Beverly tried to stay calm.

“What makes you think it’s him?”

Morgan shrugged.

“I don’t know for sure, maybe it’s the way the reports are written...that or the fact that I’m almost certain the dig is in Cardassian territory and I don’t know anyone other than Jean-Luc who would have the balls to venture there just for scientific research.”

Beverly offered a rueful smile.

“He is insatiably curious.”

“That he is.”

Under the table, Beverly crossed her fingers.

“Do you know where the dig is?”

 

“Now I’m not certain, you understand, but the only dig I can think of that would arouse that much interest in Jean-Luc...enough to entice him into forbidden territory is on Delos. When Delos was still in Federation territory our scientists found some very significant ruins and artefacts there. They had only just got to the most important levels when the Neutral Zone was abolished and the planet given over to Cardassia Prime. As far as I know, no further work has taken place there. The Cardassians certainly haven’t taken up the site; they’ve got their hands full rebuilding their home planet.”

Beverly’s tongue slid across her lips in anticipation.

“How successful has he been?”

“Well presuming it is Jean-Luc, quite. There have been some moderately significant finds, but so far whoever it is hedging their bets.”

With a frown, Beverly asked,

“What do you mean?”

Letting out a snort of displeasure, Morgan shook her head.

“I can’t help but feel whoever it is, is holding back. I say that based solely on what our archaeologists found during their exploration. I would have expected more, that’s all.”

“But you still think it may be Jean-Luc.”

“Yes, I do. I have nothing but intuition to base that on, but I’ve read plenty of his dig reports and I’d bet a barrow load of latinum it’s him writing these new ones.”

Beverly sat back and let out a breath she hadn’t realised she’d been holding.

“Thank you, Morgan, that’s great news.”

“I’m glad I could help, but what are you going to do?”

Tilting her head in confusion, Beverly asked,

“What do you mean? I’m going to Delos of course.”

“But you can’t! Beverly it’s in Cardassian territory! If they catch you there, in fact if they catch either of you there you’ll be in deep trouble...trouble that the Federation won’t be able to help you with.”

Beverly sighed, but her mind was made up.
“It doesn’t matter, Morgan, I must go.”

That stumped the archaeologist. She shrugged and thinned her lips.

“Well okay, if you say so, but you’d best take care. Is there anyone you want me to inform of your plans?”

Beverly shook her head.

“No, the fewer who know the better. But


© Copyright 2018 Heather Smyth. All rights reserved.

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