Mind Games With Death Pt. 2

Mind Games With Death Pt. 2

Status: Finished

Genre: Fan Fiction

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Fan Fiction

Summary

Same as Pt 1

Summary

Same as Pt 1

Content

Submitted: January 16, 2013

A A A | A A A

Content

Submitted: January 16, 2013

A A A

A A A


Not answering, Beverley gently opened one of Jean-Luc’s eyes. Speaking to her assistants she said,

“I need Tricordrazine, Perilan, two neural stimulators and a stasis support for the cervical region.”

As the med techs swung into action, Beverley looked up at Uff.

“Yes Delegate, I would like to see his medication.”

Zu, who had moved to the doorway to afford everyone more room, now peered over Beverley’s shoulder and cleared his throat.

“I am a healer. How is he? Is there anything I can do?”

Not taking her eyes off the Captain, Beverley brushed some errant strands of hair from her face.

“No, there’s nothing you can do, but thank you for the offer. He is in very bad shape. As soon as he’s stabilised, we will take him to our ship. Adams...his parthenogenic implant is beating irregularly. When we immobilise his head, I will turn him over. I want you to insert a bio-electrical regulator directly into the implant.”

“Understood doctor.”

“Madam here is the medication and applicator the Captain was using.”

Uff stood in the doorway, the loaded hypospray in his hands. Beverley, intently studying the tricorder said,

“Give it to one of the med techs Delegate thank you. I’ve got his head in stasis, the cervical area is isolated. I’m going to turn him over now. I want this to be gentle and one continuous movement. Fledge, make sure the Captain’s hips roll in one motion and keep his legs together. Ready? Go.”

As Beverley requested, the action was smooth and gentle. Beverley took a sharp breath when she saw Jean-Luc’s face. Deathly pale and with dark smudges under his eyes, his weight loss made his patrician features look skeletal. One half of his face was covered in blood, the other half, the left side, sagged with no muscle tone at all. A vivid bruise could be seen on the right side, the eyebrow split open.

  With practised ease, Adams bared Jean-Luc’s chest and inserted the regulator into the artificial heart.

“Doctor I’m having trouble here. The regulator is not overcoming the irregular beat.”

Adjusting the tricorder, Beverley scanned the heart and frowned deeply.

“There’s organic damage around the implant. How the hell has this happened? Fledge draw some blood and get back to the ship. I want to know what’s in his blood. Temapazine wouldn’t do this. Adams we should be ready to transport the Captain in about ten minutes. I want you to beam up and get a surgical team together. Tell Dr. Selar this is a brain injury and ask Alyssa to come in, I will need her in surgery.”

Wasting no time, Fledge dematerialised to do his superior’s bidding. Now there was more room, Uff and Zu moved closer to the Captain.

“Delegates is there anything else you can tell me about the Captain’s condition? What were his symptoms?”

“I saw him this morning doctor. As I said, he was very pale and his body mass was reduced. Towards the end of our meeting, liquid came through his skin and his skin became an odd red colour. I think he was in great pain from his head and he closed his eyes. As our meeting concluded, his legs failed and he collapsed onto the floor. He insisted I was not to summon a healer and entreated me to help him back here. When we got here I found his medication and, as he was unable, I administered four doses.”

Beverley’s head shot up.

“Four doses?!”

“Yes doctor. It seemed to help, but I think some pain and illness remained, as he didn’t recover completely. I told him of this afternoon’s sitting and he said he would rest. I left and didn’t return until I came here with Zu a little while ago, some five hours later. I do think he has been unwell for some time. Do humans often ignore their illnesses?

Beverley slowly shook her head.

“ Only the stubborn ones. Thank you Delegate. I will be transporting to the ship now. I may want to talk with you again. Would that be acceptable?”

“Of course. I hope the Captain recovers.”

Still on her knees beside the Captain, Beverley tenderly stroked his face.

“So do I, Delegate. Enterprise, two to beam directly to sickbay.”

 

 

 

 

“Selar! Set up a full neural scan. I’m going to see how Fledge is doing with the blood sample.”

After seeing the scan begin, Beverley made her way to the analysis module just as Fledge was activating the computer. She placed a hand on his shoulder and peered at the screen.

“What have you got?”

“I’m not certain doctor. There are three components here the computer is having trouble with. Generally, the solution is similar to Temapazine, very close in fact, but these...here, here and here...It’s as if the manufacturer made as close a match as possible and just missed.”

Beverley moved closer and put her finger on the screen.

“Fledge, I want you to take these three mystery bags and open them up. I want to know exactly what they are and what they were doing to the Captain. Priority Fledge.”

She had left before he could reply. Approaching the biobed Beverley looked down at Jean-Luc.

“How is he?”

Dr. Selar replied,

“The Captain’s condition is grave. The scan shows a fracture running transversely over the right side of the cranium, causing haemorrhage through the nasal passage and the right aural canal. There is also paralysis down the left side, indicating an, as yet undisclosed, brain anomaly. Captain Picard’s body temperature is at forty degrees and we are at present cooling and rehydrating him intravenously. He is profoundly unconscious and completely unresponsive to all stimuli.”

Beverley stood, absolutely motionless. She could feel the anguish, the terror, and the despair beginning to creep over her. Her heart began to pound and tears welled in her eyes.

*Oh God...not Jean-Luc...please, please, not my Jean-Luc.*

“Doctor? Doctor Crusher! Are you all right?”

Beverley flinched as if struck and realised how close she had come to losing herself to her despondency.

“Yes Selar, I’m fine. It seems our next task is to find out what caused all this. The Captain has been experiencing pain for approximately sixteen days. From what I can gather, the pain increased rapidly...so much that Temapazine could no longer control it. He has an irregular heartbeat and had vision disturbances, as well as vomiting, and collapsed at least once. I want a 3D image built of his brain. Concentrate on the Cerebellum/Brainstem region.”

“Do you suspect something in particular Doctor Crusher?”

Beverley frowned and softly brushed the back of her hand on Jean-Luc’s cheek.

“Just a hunch.”

“Beverley...”

Looking to the doorway, Beverley spotted Will and Deanna and crossed the room to be with them.

“How is he?”

Leading them away she said over her shoulder,

“You’d better come into my office.”

Once seated Beverley began to brief her fellow officers.

“The Captain is profoundly unconscious and has suffered paralysis. The most likely cause is a brain anomaly of some kind, but we haven’t found it yet. He has also been exposed to at least three unknown chemicals, which I think have damaged his parthenogenic implant and possibly his vision. Will, I need you to find out how he got these chemicals. We think someone tried to produce Temapazine for him, but we don’t know who, or what they did.”

“I’ll get right on it Beverley, but tell me...is he going to make it? Can you cure him?”

A look of deep sadness crossed Beverley’s face.

“I honestly don’t know Will, but by God I’ll try my best.”

~Doctor Crusher, please report to Captain Picard’s room.~

Not bothering to say anything further, Beverley hastened from the office.

“What have you got Selar?”

“A granuloma. One centimetre in diameter, situated in the brainstem, in a canal involved in the fluid suspension. The granuloma has developed around one of two Borg implants deemed too deeply integrated to remove. Is this consistent with your “hunch” doctor?”

“Yes Selar, it is.”

*No Jean-Luc, not this, I can’t fix this.*

“Bridge, this is Doctor Crusher. I want you to contact Starbase 85. Ask their CMO to track down Dr.Arok Xar. Message reads...Contact Beverley Crusher immediately. Most urgent. ASAP, bridge. Crusher out.”

“Selar, what are the pain indicators showing?”

The graceful Vulcan studied the readouts.

“Morbidly high doctor, although I must point out there is a chance he cannot feel anything.”

“Let’s hope so.”

 

 

 

 

 

“Good afternoon Delegate Uff, thank you for seeing me.”

“Not at all, Commander Riker, not at all. Tell me, how is Captain Picard?”

The two men crossed the courtyard and seated themselves under the shade of a large tree.

“Gravely ill Sir. It’s the Captain that brings me here. He had “borrowed” some pain killer medication when he last visited the ship and when that was exhausted, we believe he had some made here. Unfortunately, it wasn’t an exact duplicate and there are some, as yet unidentified, chemicals causing the Captain some harm. We need to know what these chemicals are and to get that information; we need to find those people who aided the Captain. Please be assured, we are not seeking to punish anyone. There has been no wrong doing, from our point of view, but it is essential we find those responsible.”

Uff nodded his large head and moistened his scaly mouth.

“I understand Commander. Actually, it should be fairly straightforward. There is only one clan suitably proficient in medical technology and I am on good terms with their delegate. We can talk to him now if you wish.”

Will stood, nodding his acceptance. The two men went directly to the conference anteroom, where several delegates were milling about, talking. Uff made his way straight to Zu.

“Zu my friend. Could I have a moment of your time...in private?”

In company, the three beings moved to another room nearby.

“This is Commander Riker. He comes to us seeking information. Apparently some medication was ...replicated?, and there is a problem with it. He needs to find who did it. Who is your acromp?”

“That would be Dyy. I will summon him.”

Turning to Will, Uff explained,

“The acromps are a delegate’s right arm. The delegates may be in charge, but it’s the acromps who run the clans...or so they say.”

Will smiled.

“There is a very old Earth saying about sergeants that is remarkably similar. It would seem we have more in common than we thought.”

“Indeed Commander. Ah, here they are.”

Zu introduced the acromp to Will.

“I would like to begin by saying there’s no one at fault here. We are not seeking to punish anyone, understood? Good. Do you know anything about the production of a painkiller for Captain Picard?”

Dyy looked to Zu and received a nod of consent.

“Yes Sir. An aide informed me that the Captain needed some medication replicated. I met with him and after ensuring it did not involve narcotics, I agreed to help him. He gave me a vial containing a small amount of liquid. He told me it was a synthesized painkiller and he required another full vial. I told him it would cost two strips of latinum and we agreed to meet later that night at his quarters.”

“And this took place as planned?”

“Yes Sir. When I arrived at the Captain’s billet he was very sick. His rooms were a shambles and he collapsed as he opened the door. I helped him to a chair and found the instrument that delivers the medication. I had to inject him three times before he got any relief...and even then, I don’t think he recovered all that well. After that I left. Oh...and he paid me three strips...he is a kind man.”

Will smiled and nodded his head.

“Tell me Dyy, do you keep a log...a record of all the replications that take place?”

Dyy nodded eagerly.

“Yes! Each machine has its own trace imprint. I can access a printout for you now, if you like.”

“That would be great Dyy. Thank you.”

As Dyy left, Will turned to the waiting delegates.

“Hopefully we will be able to solve this mystery and help Captain Picard.”

Uff lowered his head and appeared to be deep in thought. Seeing that he was no longer required, Zu left to rejoin his companions.

“He’s a remarkable man, your Captain.”

“Yes, he is.”

“When I first came in contact with humans I was shocked at how...delicate...you looked. Your skin is soft, your bones puny...Picard doesn’t even have a head ruff! But rarely have I met a species so determined and resourceful, resolute. I think your people would make a formidable enemy Commander.”

Will straightened and looked Uff unflinchingly in the eye.

“Hopefully, that will never come to pass, Delegate. How are the talks going?”

“Out of respect for your Captain, the talks are suspended for the time being. Somehow I think more gets done in places like the anteroom than in a formal conference...nothing to prove I suppose, no audience.”

“More similarities, Delegate. Although it was Starfleet that gave the Captain this mission, he thought it very worthwhile. He believed in what he was trying to achieve here.”

Uff turned and looked at a picture on the wall. It had been taken when the delegates first met, eighty years ago.

“I’ve known him only a short while, but I agree with you. Perhaps he should give up being a Captain and become an ambassador.”

“Unlikely Sir, highly unlikely.”

Both men shared a companionable laugh. A soft knock at the door revealed Dyy, returning with the printout from the replicator.

“Here you are Sir.”

“Thank you Dyy. If you gentlemen will excuse me I will return to the ship. Thank you again for your help.”

Will beamed up and Dyy turned pensively to Uff.

“How can a species that wields so much power be so polite?”

Uff just laughed.

 

 

 

 

 

Will had materialised in sickbay. Beverley was waiting for him.

“Well how did you go?”

“I’ve got a printout of the replication. It should give you the information you need.”

Taking the paper, Beverley went to a computer terminal and began tapping out instructions. Seeing he was no longer required, the Commander made his way into the Captain’s room. He stood for sometime watching his commanding officer, feeling the anger of helplessness and the despair of seeing such a loved friend so gravely ill.

*You look so small...they’re right, we do look delicate. Fight Captain, keep fighting and come back soon, we miss you.*

It took eight and a half hours for the computer to finally identify the components of the unknown chemicals. Will had made two further trips planetside to query some healers about the effects and application of some of the chemicals, his answers helping Beverley to unravel the knot.

Once she understood how the drugs affected Jean-Luc, she could counteract their effects.

Within half an hour of the counter measures being administered, Jean-Luc’s heart began beating regularly and his temperature started to return to a more normal reading. The skull fracture had been treated and with the help of an osteo-regenerator was almost fully repaired. Having eliminated some of his problems made Beverley feel much better, however she knew that Jean-Luc was desperately ill. While she had something to do in solving the mystery of the unknown chemicals Beverley could drive her worry to the back of her mind. Now it came surging forward. The Borg implants had been left in the Captain’s brain because they were too deeply integrated into the brain tissue to be removed. They had been carefully monitored over the years and had not caused any trouble...until now.

*How long has this been troubling you Jean-Luc? Is this why you “forgot” you physicals? God, why didn’t I just order you to attend!*

~Beverley, we’ve received a reply from Starbase 85. Dr. Xar is on Premmal Four working on the Premman encephalitis outbreak. He’s not able to contact you personally, but has indicated he is able to leave the planet if we can come for him. We can get there in two days at maximum warp.~

“Do it Will. We need to get the Captain to him. He’s the only one I think can help.”

After contacting Uff and outlining their plans, the Enterprise jumped to full warp on her mission to save her master. The next two days passed slowly for the medical staff, especially Beverley. The Captain was on full life support allowing his body to rest. In effect, machines had largely taken over, making the medical staff mostly redundant. All Beverley could do was be with him. She sat for long hours holding his hand and talking to him. There was of course, no response, not the slightest inkling that Jean-Luc could hear her, but, undaunted she persisted anyway. She loved this man...had done for a long time. Their relationship had only recently deepened...they had shared one beautiful evening making love, the next day bringing the orders for Jean-Luc to attend the conference. Since that time they had spent little time together. Now Beverley worried that they may have run out of time. And she had to admit...she was angry, very angry with him. He had lied to her, hidden his illness and compromised his well being by taking the Temapazine. Dedication to his job was one thing; deceiving the one you love was an entirely different thing. But...first things first. They had to get to Arok Xar. He was, at the present time, the leading neurologist in the Federation. If he couldn’t help Jean-Luc, nobody could. So Beverley, like everyone else, just had to wait, and that was probably the hardest thing of all.

 

 

 

 

 

~Dr. Crusher, we are in orbit around Premmal IV. Dr. Xar is ready for transport.~

“Thank you bridge.”

With haste, Beverley made her way to the transporter room and was on hand to meet Dr. Xar as he came aboard.

“Dr. Xar, welcome to the Enterprise. I am Dr. Beverley Crusher, CMO. I wish this meeting was under better circumstances, I’m afraid I have a difficult case for you.”

Bowing graciously, the Bolian neurologist accepted Beverley’s greeting and the two left for the sickbay.

“I’ve studied the information you sent me. It is a difficult case indeed. For how long were the symptoms present?”

“For the sixteen days the Captain was on the planet he had, at the very least, debilitating headaches leading eventually to his collapse. Other than that, well, let’s just say Captain Picard is not exactly forthcoming where it concerns his health.”

Dr. Xar nodded sagely.

“A common trait amongst Starfleet Captains. They like to think of themselves as indestructible.”

The doctors entered sickbay and went straight to Jean-Luc. Beverley called up onto a large viewscreen the 3D image of the Captain’s brain.

“As you can see Dr. Xar, the granuloma has formed around one of the two Borg implants in the upper brain stem. The suspension fluid is severely impeded in this area and we’ve established the presence of left side paralysis. The implants in this region were the largest that were left in the Captain’s brain. There are microscopic filaments and several areas of nanite infiltration elsewhere but once Captain Picard’s link to the Borg was severed; all the cybernetic technology ceased functioning. Until this incident, the Captain had experienced no ill health that could attributed to them, although during the “First Contact” event, the Captain reported “hearing” the Borg psychologically. We never found out how that occurred.”

Dr. Xar folded his arms and pursed his lips pensively.

“Anti- rejection therapy?”

 “Difficult at best. As you know, Captain Picard has a parthenogenic cardiac implant. It was considered too precarious.”

Turning from the screen Dr. Xar looked down at the oblivious Captain.

“He has been on life support for...two days?”

“Yes doctor.”

“Please, my given name is Arok.”

Beverley flushed slightly and smiled.

“And I’m Beverley. When we got the Captain aboard he was bleeding from the nose and right ear. We discovered a skull fracture, obtained when his head hit the tiled floor as he collapsed. Captain Picard had “appropriated” some Temapazine to treat his headaches and when that ran out, he had the planet’s healer clan replicate some more. Unfortunately, an exact copy wasn’t possible, so the replicator computer produced chemicals as close to the original as it could. The result was chaotic. The Captain’s biochemistry was compromised, resulting in high temperature, vision disturbance and a malfunctioning of his heart. All this has been rectified and since he was put on full life support, he has been stable, but profoundly unconscious.”

Picking up the PADD at the foot of Jean-Luc’s biobed, Dr. Xar scrolled through the last hour’s observations.

“Well Beverley you seem to have done everything possible. I commend you and your staff. I think we should proceed as soon as possible and to that end I would like to go over the data again, then I think I’d better brief you and your surgery staff as to the procedure. Will you assist me?”

“Thank you Arok, I would be honoured.”

Beverley showed the doctor to her office and made available all the data he required. She then announced a meeting with the senior staff to discuss the planned action. It was a very subdued group of officers who sat at the table.

Geordie La Forge frowned, his blue ocular implants managing to convey his concern.

“How good is Dr. Xar?”

Beverley sat back and ran her hands through her hair.

“The best in the Federation Geordie. We’re very lucky to get him. Had a treatment for the encephalitis outbreak not been so promptly devised, he wouldn’t have been able to leave Premmal IV.”

“Beverley...what’s the prognosis? What about the paralysis?”

“Will we won’t know for some time. This situation is beyond my abilities. Since the Captain’s assimilation our knowledge of Borg implants has increased immensely. Each time we encountered the Borg we learned more about them. Dr. Xar devoted himself to the study of Borg implants and, specifically, their removal. What was impossible years ago is now possible. What makes this so tricky is that an organic tumour has grown around the implant. How this affects the treatment is unknown at this time. We will know more once we expose it, until then...I just don’t know, but I can tell you...Captain Picard is in the best hands. If Arok Xar can’t help him, no one can.”

The meeting broke up and the officers drifted back to their stations lost in thought. Beverley went back to sickbay and took her seat next to Jean-Luc. Taking his hand in hers she felt tears pricking her eyes.

“Come back to me Jean-Luc...I love you.”

Fat tears spilled over her lids and coursed slowly down her face.

Sometime later Beverley became aware of someone else in the room. She hurriedly wiped her face and turned to face the visitor.

“Arok...please excuse me.”

“Not at all Beverley.”

The doctors stood silently for a few moments, each lost in their own thoughts.

“You and the Captain...you’re...”

“Yes. We’ve been friends for thirty years or so. It’s only recently that we...well, you know. I try, I want to be detached about all this, but it sneaks up on me. If he...if we can’t...”

Arok placed a gentle hand on her shoulder.

“We’ll do our best Beverley. Have a little faith in him. From what I can gather, he’s a very strong individual. He won’t give up, neither should you.”

Soon after, things became very busy. Jean-Luc was prepared for surgery, the doctors and staff familiarising themselves with the procedure.

It was over five hours later that Beverley again found herself by Jean-Luc’s bed, holding his hand. He looked dreadful. His complexion sallow, he had dark smudges under his eyes, his weight loss giving his usually handsome face a skeletal appearance. About his head glowed the light blue of the regen field, his right forearm connected to an intravenous feeder and his lower regions attached to a bio-waste unit.

The footfalls, though soft, Beverley recognised as Will’s.

“How is he?”

“Remarkably well, considering.”

Will carefully placed his hands on Beverley’s shoulders and began a gentle massage.

“Tell me.”

“Dr. Xar accessed the tumour relatively easily and the granuloma was removed, although it took some of the most delicate work I’ve ever seen. Once the implant was freed he assessed the risk and it was decided to remove both that implant and the one nearby. Two years ago we wouldn’t have even contemplated it. Gods Will, Arok’s good. I learned more today than I could believe possible. There has been some damage to the surrounding brain tissue, however...”

“Beverley, you just said “brain” and “damage” in the same sentence. I don’t like the sound of that.”

Beverley sighed and rolled her head, reaching up to clasp Will’s hands.

“Will he’s not out of the woods yet. We are optimistic that the damage will right itself. You’d be surprised how resilient the brain is. Now that the tumour and the implants have been removed there is every chance that the Captain will make a full recovery...”

Will leaned down to Beverley’s ear and said quietly,

“I hear a “but”.”

“But...it won’t be easy. The paralysis will abate but he will have to work damn hard. There will be therapy... which he’ll hate. There will be post-operative pain...headaches, nausea. There will be loss of sensation in some areas...should I continue?”

Turning Beverley on the chair Will looked at her tired face.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned on this ship it’s that we’re family. I know how difficult he can be and I also know how stubborn we can be when it comes to looking after him. He will hate every moment of his recovery, but we’ll be with him each step of the way. We will be there for him...and you.”

“Beverley, I know it’s none of my business, but are you and the Captain...have you two become...”

“Yes Will. The day before he was ordered to negotiate at the conference.”

Will’s smile was contagious.

“About time! You know, it was excruciating to watch you two all these years. It was so obvious you were meant for each other.”

They both shared a gentle laugh.

“When will he wake?”

Beverley turned and gazed lovingly at Jean-Luc.

“In a few hours.”

“Then why don’t you come to the forward lounge and have dinner with Deanna and me, get a little rest, then come back to be here when he comes to. I’m sure your staff can handle things for a while.”

“I’d really like to argue with you Commander...however...you’re on.”

After checking the read outs yet again, Beverley informed her staff of her plans, then left sickbay. On Will’s suggestion, They dropped by Dr. Xar’s quarters then the three of them met Deanna in the forward lounge and had the promised dinner. Beverley left soon after she had eaten and made her way to her cabin, indulging in a long hot water shower. Sonic showers did a good job of cleaning, but nothing could beat a water shower for relaxation.

 After checking on Jean-Luc’s condition and taking a cup of lemon tea, she settled into her sofa to collect her thoughts.

Will was right, they did belong together. All those years dancing on the head of a pin, denying their true feelings, ignoring the desire and all they accomplished was to waste precious time. Now they had finally tasted each other...so sweetly...the words almost screeched. Why did we wait so long!

And now. What she had long feared...giving herself to this man, admitting she was incomplete without him, dreading the one thing that was so intolerable, that he would be brought into sickbay and she be unable to save him had happened.

And what went before. He had not come to her when he needed to. Did he not trust her? Why would he rather treat himself than disclose his illness? Where was truth? Where was trust? She, more than any other, knew this man. Knew his strengths...and his faults. Knew how single minded, how stubborn, how intractable he could be. But what of all the whispered endearments? The promises. The hopes. Where were all these things when he took the Temapazine? When she saw him on the planet? The hurt went deep inside, in a place she thought she would never allow another to see, and she didn’t know what to do about it. Beverley felt the welling of her eyes and shook her head angrily.

*Not now!*

In quick, agitated movements, she disposed of her cup and left her quarters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first thing Jean-Luc became aware of was the pain in his head. It pounded in a throbbing rhythm in sync with his heart. With each stroke of his pulse nausea increased until he knew with certainty that he was going to vomit. Just as the abdominal spasm started he heard the soft hiss of a hypospray and the pain and nausea receded.

He lay quietly, trying to order his thoughts.

*Where am I? I can’t remember! What happened to me? Where...*

Jean-Luc felt the panic begin to rise and quelled it savagely.

*Think! Where was I? My room! My room on the planet. I ...I...was in bed, the headache, bad...vomiting...hot...my heart! Something was wrong with my heart and I got up and...and... Dammit! What did I do?*

“Then he heard her voice and calmed immediately.

“Jean-Luc? It’s Beverley. I’m holding your right hand. Squeeze my hand to answer. Can you hear me?”

A Squeeze.

“Is the pain gone?”

A squeeze.

“Has the nausea settled?”

A squeeze.

“Good. You’re on the Enterprise and you’ve been very sick, but you’re going to be all right. Rest now, we’ll talk later.”

There was much he needed to ask, to say and as he drifted back to sleep his thoughts focused on Beverley.

*Don’t go Beverley...stay with me...I need you.*

The next time he became aware, it was to hear Alyssa Ogowa say to Dr. Crusher,

“The swelling had decreased 0.5% in the last hour. He’s making good progress.”

“Hmm. Dr. Xar will be here in a few minutes Alyssa. Could you run another Estirac series and compare them to this morning’s? I think Dr. Xar will want a comparison.”

“Yes, Doctor.”

Jean-Luc tried to speak but something was wrong with his face. It felt odd and he couldn’t make any sound. Instead he attempted to move his right hand and felt satisfied when his efforts set of alarms on the bio-panel.

“So...you’re awake. Let’s see if you can open those eyes.”

Jean-Luc felt a soft, wet pad wipe his eyes, making it easier to open them. His right eye opened but his left refused. It didn’t matter though as the first thing he saw was Beverley. Meaning to smile, he failed miserably; only the right side of his face would obey his command turning his smile into a grimace.

He tried to speak again, and again, failed.

Leaving to collect a tumbler of water, Beverley filled it, obtained a straw and returned to the Captain.

“Here, try this.”

Helping him to roll to his right side and holding his shoulder, Beverley placed the straw in the right corner of Jean-Luc’s mouth. He sucked gently and was rewarded with the cool liquid filling his mouth. He sighed with pleasure. Taking a washer, Beverley carefully wiped away the water that had escaped from the left side of his mouth. The effort quickly tired the Captain, Beverley having to ease him back on the bed.

“Better?”

Jean-Luc nodded. With difficulty he said,

“What’s wrong with me?”

Beverley pulled over a chair and sat down. Reaching over to Jean-Luc, she gently stroked his face.

“You’ve been very sick Jean-Luc. You had a tumour around one of the Borg implants in your brain stem. That’s what caused the headaches. We managed to get you to the leading doctor in the neurological field...you were very lucky. He removed the tumour and the Borg implants and you should make a complete recovery, but you have...for the time being...a left side paralysis.”

Seeing the look of alarm on Jean-Luc’s face made Beverley stand and hold his shoulders.

“It’s all right Jean-Luc! It will pass. You will have some physical therapy to do and you will suffer headaches for a while, but we can treat those as they arise. It’s all right...you will recover.”

Jean-Luc sighed and Beverley was shocked to see tears sliding down his face. Sitting on the bed, Beverley gathered him in her arms.

“Shh Jean-Luc. It’s over now. You’ll get better soon, I promise, I promise.”

She held him until he slept.

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc lay on the bed quietly fuming. Oh, how he hated this.

“Now remember Captain, inhale as your knee comes up, and exhale as it goes down. Hold the bed rail with your right hand and I will slip the restraint on your left.”

“Alrighty then! Are we ready?”

The Captain grunted his reply, gritted his teeth and slowly inhaled as his knee rose to touch his chest. He felt the muscles in his jaw creak with strain as he took the weight when his leg was lowered.

“Very Good Captain! Two more and we’ll move on to your arm.”

“For pity’s sake woman, when can I rest? I’ve done twenty five damn lifts and I’m tired!”

The woman sniffed daintily.

“We are a little testy today aren’t we? I see your speech has improved. Let’s see if you can put the same effort into these last two leg lifts.”

Picard glared his best withering look and, as usual, it had absolutely no effect. His tormentor, Nurse Eisenberg, just smiled sweetly, raised her eyebrows and waited.

“When you’re ready Captain.”

Beverley stood in the doorway watching the by-play. She was behind Jean-Luc and she sent a wink to the harried nurse. When the final two lifts were completed, Beverley came into the room.

“Thank you Michele, I’ll help the Captain with the arm lifts. I can see he’s somewhat sour today.”

“Yes doctor. I’ll see you this afternoon Sir.”

Another grunt was her only reply.

“Jean-Luc really. Do you have to take your bad temper out on my staff? Nurse Eisenberg was only doing her job.”

“Harrumph! I didn’t know the works of the Marquis De Sade were required reading for nursing personnel.”

Beverley was incensed.

“Now you look here! Michele Eisenberg is a highly trained, dedicated and motivated nurse who shows patience beyond the norm when dealing with irascible grumps like you! Do you honestly think she enjoys putting you through this discomfort? There are other people in this sickbay needing our...Jean-Luc?”

The Captain looked defeated. His head sank and his hand came up to his temple. In a soft voice he said,

“I’m sorry Beverley. I will apologise to nurse Eisenberg later. It’s just that I get so tired.”

“Your head is hurting isn’t it?”

All he could do is slowly nod. In a whisper he said,

“Yes.”

Beverley left the room and returned a short while later with a hypospray which she pressed to Jean-Luc’s neck. The soft hiss was followed immediately after by relief. Taking a big breath, Jean-Luc faced Beverley.

“Thank you.”

Jean-Luc...why don’t you tell me when you’re in pain? It’s not a contest you know. There’s no prize for the bravest patient. If you don’t tell me, things get out of hand, like what happened with Michele. If you had only come to me when you first started to get the headaches...”

“I did.”

“What? When!”

Jean-Luc took her hands in his.

“I came aboard to see you, but when I got to sick bay you weren’t there.”

“So you took the hypospray and left. You didn’t contact me...ask where I was, you just took matters into your own hands and completely shut me out! Jean-Luc...there is so much wrong with that...I don’t know where to start. Am I your doctor or not? And as for our relationship...what about trust? I though we had started something wonderful, something we could share...apparently not! You would rather go behind my back, steal medical equipment and drugs to treat yourself. You couldn’t come to me? What does that tell you? You hurt me Jean-Luc, you hurt me so deeply I don’t know if it will heal!”

By this time Beverley was standing rigidly beside the bed, her voice raised.

“And if you think you can just gloss over this with protestations of nobly completing the mission, you can forget it! It won’t wash with me!”

With that she stormed out of his room and out of sickbay leaving Jean-Luc stunned, sitting alone on his bed.

 

 

 

 

 

The next five days passed slowly for Jean-Luc. The therapy progressed, three times a day, and the Captain, after a major attitude adjustment, threw himself into his exercises and improved rapidly. He even formed a friendship with Michele...Beverley was right...she was a delightful person, dedicated and compassionate and Jean-Luc came to realise how lucky he was to have use of her expertise. Dr. Xar had been dropped off at Starbase 85, pleased with his patient’s recovery, and the mighty starship was on her way back to the conference. Jean-Luc had been spending a lot of time thinking about Beverley and how to repair the damage he had caused. It worried him that he may not be able to close the breach and he didn’t quite know what to do. After consultation with Will, it was decided that the Captain would resume the talks at the conference. It was a sound decision, given the delegates’ respect for the Captain, and the officers hoped the delegates would agree to meet on the Enterprise. Of course this did not sit well with Beverley, yet another bone of contention. Picard had much to think about as they streaked towards their destination. It had been ten days since his collapse.

 

 

 

 

 

“I don’t agree Captain. It’s too soon...you’re not yet fully recovered, there may be complications.”

“Doctor...Beverley, I’m sure I’ll be all right. We can use the medical conference room and you can check on me as often as you like. I will even allow you to set the time constraints. Please Beverley. This is very important...to them...and to me.”

Beverley looked long and hard at Jean-Luc. She was still angry and hurt, but she realised she couldn’t use her emotions as a reason for not allowing Jean-Luc to continue with the negotiations.

“All right Captain. I will examine you morning, midday and evening. No session is to run for more that two and a half hours and you will stop all together if I say so.”

“But Beverley...”

“Take it or leave it.”

Beverley’s coldness was worrying Jean-Luc. He had not found the time to talk to her privately, a situation not helped by the doctor’s avoidance of him, and he still did not know how he was going to mend the rift. He desperately wanted to assuage the hurt he had caused. He loved Beverley deeply, but found the circumstances almost beyond his power to deal with. It was an irony that one of the Federation’s most distinguished Captains, one of its best diplomats, could be so stumped by matters of the heart.

Just then the doors opened to reveal a grinning Will Riker. Seeing his approach, Beverley returned to the main sickbay.

“We’re on Captain. The delegates have agreed to meet here on the Enterprise.”
“Grand Number One. Will you see to of the arrangements?”

Smiling, Will nodded.

“Of course Sir. Captain there’s one thing...Delegate Uff has requested a private meeting with you before the conference starts. I told him it may not be possible but he was very keen.”

Picard looked pensive.

“I have no objection Will, but it will have to be cleared by Beverley. I’ll ask her now, then you can give Uff his answer.”

The two men found Beverley in the analysis lab, running a scan on a sample of fluid.

“Beverley, the delegates have agreed to meet on board, but Delegate Uff has requested a private meeting with me first. I think it could be important, however, I will abide by your ruling.”

Without looking up Beverley muttered,

“You’re pushing your luck Captain.”

Jean-Luc remained silent. Will stared fixedly at his feet. Turning to the waiting men, Beverley sighed.

“Ok Captain. You keep it short and if you develop so much as a blush, the talks stop immediately.”

Jean-Luc maintained eye contact with Beverley for some seconds then nodded and left abruptly. Will was pained to see his two dear friends so obviously at loggerheads.

“Beverley don’t you think he...”

“Can it Commander! I’m not interested.”

Jean-Luc showered, shaved and donned a fresh uniform. He was waiting in the conference room when Uff was shown in.

 

 

“Delegate Uff, welcome aboard the Enterprise.”

“Thank you Captain. I trust you are recovered?”

Gesturing to some seats, Jean-Luc smiled.

“Yes Delegate. I am well thank you. Tell me, what brings you here?”

Uff adopted a curious pose that Jean-Luc had discovered indicated deep thought.

“I have thought long and hard about what you said Captain Picard, but I before I give you my decision I must ask you...where did you find out about her?”

“I take it you’re referring to your mother?”

Uff raised his chin and gave a curt nod.

“Your mother’s acromp was very devoted to her. It was Naa who helped conceal the pregnancy and aided your mother at your birth and it was Naa who convinced Prou to contact your father. She had chronicled everything and when your mother died she contacted your father and together they seeded the records with all the facts. It was an entry of your father’s that led me to Prou’s history. It’s another facet of your people Uff. They care enough to record each person’s history. An admirable trait.”

Uff pushed his arms upon the polished surface of the table, stretching his three clawed fingers.

“Quite an investigator, aren’t you? I must admit I was incensed when you confronted me with all this. Knowing it and having...if you will excuse the expression...an alien, throw it at my face...I didn’t know quite what to do. It’s a difficult thing, to be reminded how fallible one is, just when one thinks one was top of the heap.”

Jean-Luc smiled sardonically and sat back in his chair.

“There are a few of my officers...trusted friends...who take delight in reminding me constantly.”

Both men shared a companionable chuckle. Uff tilted his head and snorted, a gesture Jean-Luc knew to be positive.

“Well, our frailties aside, I find that I agree with you. It’s time we put the bad times behind us. I will wear my shame as a beacon to my people. I dare say it will be a shock...resilience is also an admirable trait, is it not Captain?

Jean-Luc looked with open admiration upon Uff. Delegate, you are doing a wonderful thing. In time, history will remember your wisdom.”

“I think your obstinacy may be mentioned also Captain. Now! Are you prepared for the squabbling that is sure to commence?”

“I am indeed. With the prize such a rich one...it will be almost a pleasure...almost.”

 

 

 

 

Squabbling was putting it mildly. Once the delegates realised the unification was a certainty, the battle for the allocation of resources and positions were fierce. It took many repetitions of the words...”This is for ALL the people” before in slowly dawned on the delegates that they were negotiating for each and every citizen...as a united people. The corps of delegates became the first Parliament and Jean-Luc breathed a sigh of relief when Delegate Uff became the first Prime Minister.

To her credit, Beverley had been discreet in her management of the Captain’s health. However, on the third day she was convinced to order him to rest. To that end, Jean-Luc and Uff met one final time and it was decided the Captain was no longer required. The delegates had to start out on their own and this was as good a time as any. Jean-Luc had every confidence in them, although he felt a pang of discontent at not seeing the process through to the end. He was assured he would be welcome to return at any time and was content with that.

 

 

 

 

“So Beverley, I take it I’m still off duty?”

Beverley gave him a look of disinterest. Snapping her tricorder closed she moved to the bench.

“I’m surprised you asked. You’re still obviously below par.”

Jean-Luc sighed exasperatedly.

“It was a joke Beverley. You remember how it goes...someone tells a joke...you laugh. We used to share a lot of jokes.”

“Share? Did you say share? I was unaware you knew the meaning of the word.”

“Oh Beverley enough! How long are you going to keep this up? What can I do...what do you *want* me to do? For God’s sake tell me because I’m sure I don’t know!”

Beverley was incensed. Throwing her tricorder across the room she shouted...

“That’s just it isn’t it? You don’t like my behaviour and you want to know how long it will go on for? Is that your only concern? How about...I’m sorry I hurt you so much Beverley. I was wrong Beverley. My actions were reprehensible Beverley.”

Jean-Luc’s hazel eyes glittered dangerously. In a very quiet voice he said,

“I’ve already apologised and I’ve explained my actions to you *and* Starfleet. I’m not ashamed of what I did...it was necessary at the time. If you do not accept my apology...well I don’t see that as my problem.”

Beverley stood, rooted to the spot, her anger making her almost inarticulate.

“You arrogant son-of -a...”

“Doctor Crusher! That is enough!”

Not believing her ears, Beverley straightened to attention.

“Yes Sir!”

She turned on her heel and made toward the door.

“Beverley...”

The doors parted and she left the room without a backwards glance.

 

 


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