Two Is More Than Half Pt 8

Two Is More Than Half Pt 8

Status: Finished

Genre: Fan Fiction

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Fan Fiction

Summary

Same as Pt. 1

Summary

Same as Pt. 1

Chapter1 (v.1) - Two Is More Than Half Pt 8

Author Chapter Note

Same as Pt. 1

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: January 16, 2013

Reads: 267

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: January 16, 2013

A A A

A A A

 

The strange chaos suddenly ceased. Beverly blinked slowly, taking several long seconds to reintegrate into herself. Lowering her head, she saw the twins were still looking at each other, but not with the same blank nothingness, but with awe and…gratitude? Beverly was about to speak, to ask, her hopes rising, if her husband was all right, but she snapped her mouth closed as both men spoke at the same time.

“I’m not you any more, I’m just me.” Jean-Luc said softly, a small smile on his face. At the same time his brother had said with the same softness of voice,

“I have regained myself. We are separate, Jean-Luc.”

“Yes, separate,” there was a gentleness, an intimacy in Jean-Luc’s voice Beverly had only ever heard him use with her and only then in privacy. “…but not.”

“Yes,” agreed the twin with the exact same familiarity that Jean-Luc had used. “We are two separate people, Jean-Luc, yet we share everything. In many ways we are still one.”

His eyes left his brother and settled on his one. “I owe you my apologies my beloved one. I cannot explain why I behaved as I did, but for the sorrow and hurt I caused…I am deeply sorry.”

The female bent slightly and briefly touched her glowing head to his. They sighed and Beverly and Jean-Luc immediately understood this was a very intimate gesture. A few seconds passed before the conscience lifted his head and set his gaze on Beverly. Although she still found it very unsettling to look into those eyes, so identical to her husband’s, especially in the light of what had occurred, he eased her disquiet with his softly spoken words. “And you, Beverly. I also owe you an apology.” He shook his head, both confused and unable to find the right words. It was Jean-Luc who helped him. “Neither of us was functioning as individuals, Beverly. Somehow we became enmeshed in each other’s minds, but where I was incapable of functioning,” he turned and offered his brother a gentle smile of forgiveness. “…my brother was and he simply acted on what we both felt…for you.” He sighed, lowered his head and shook it sadly. “Had I not been incapacitated, I would’ve behaved the same way towards my brother’s one, acting on his feelings…his love and desire for her.” He looked up and gazed at Beverly, his expression stricken. “I felt it, Beverly.” His voice was rough with emotion and tears glistened as yet unshed. “I wanted her with the same depth of love and passion I feel for you. I’m so sorry.”

Stepping closer, Beverly wrapped her arms around her husband and held him as he trembled. She didn’t know if it was through emotion or cold, although she suspected the latter.

As they embraced, Jean-Luc’s head resting on her shoulder, Beverly glanced at his twin to see that he too was being comforted by his one and the thought occurred that the twins may still be connected.

Several quiet moments passed before the growing light in the room announced the approach of at least one healer. Looking over her shoulder, Beverly saw two. One was offering a small screen. She took it in one hand then wrapped the arm back around Jean-Luc, but held the screen so she could see it.

“You are correct, Beverly.”

Frowning, Beverly was about to ask what was being referred to, when more text appeared.

“The conscience is still connected to his twin.”

Fear and dread shot through Beverly’s mind and she took her eyes away from the screen, hugging Jean-Luc tighter and closing her eyes. The words now sounded softly in her mind.

“Yes, Beverly we can hear you, as you can now hear us.” Twisting her head, her eyes wide, Beverly watched as the being ‘spoke’ to her, its hands stayed at its side.

“This….effect…will only last until the chemicals in your brain have been removed. But….the connection…between the conscience and his twin will remain as long as they both live.”

“Will it diminish with distance?” Asked Beverly, her mouth dry.

“No. But with practice, we think both will learn how, with our assistance, to…control the strength of the link, however it will always exist. Now that it has been brought into actuality, it cannot be deactivated.”

Beverly almost sneered. “You make it sound like some kind of computer program.”

“In a way it is. If you consider the human brain, indeed most sentient beings’ brains…are they not remarkably sophisticated organic computers?”

When Beverly said nothing, the being said, “Your accusations are unfounded, Beverly.”

Annoyed at hearing her unspoken thoughts aired, Beverly said quietly, but with anger, “All right, seeing as I don’t have the luxury of privacy, if you didn’t do this to them, then how is it that they’re now joined at the damned hip forever?”

The expression caused both healers to lift their hands and Beverly realised they had the ability to control what she heard from them. It made her irritation grow. Their hands fell to their sides and one of the healers began to glow too brightly. Placing her hand around the back of Jean-Luc’s head, Beverly said quietly, “Keep your head on my shoulder, my love and close your eyes tight.”

She only just heard him as he replied, “I know, my brother has already warned me.”

Casting a quick, squinted look at the conscience, she saw his one holding him in much the same way as she was holding Jean-Luc. With the light now too bright, Beverly squeezed her eyes shut, lowered her head and waited.

The words in her mind helped ease her worry.

“Forgive my colleague. She is expressing both sadness that you think we are responsible and offence for the same reason. The propensity for what the conscience and his brother now share was always there, Beverly. Indeed, after Jean-Luc’s rescue from the Borg and later, when he began to ‘hear’ them, the latent ability to connect with his brother was there as well.

“So the Borg…” Thought Beverly, her stomach souring.

“No. I only use that reference to compare the experience of ‘hearing’ another in the mind. We feel, given the right circumstances some, if not all of the children born as multiple human births have this ability. But for whatever reason, it never reaches its full potential, only exhibiting itself as the ‘twin’ phenomena you and your husband have mentioned.”

All multiple human births?” said Beverly incredulously. “Not just identicals?… any number or gender, mixed or not?”

“Yes. We had not considered what occurs in utero. We have come to the conclusion that in their development, the children of multiple human pregnancies form some kind of subliminal mental connection. Once born, outside, contributing circumstances can either assist in bringing some level of the connection to the surface or without these…stimulators… it remains latent. It was not until you made us aware of the engrams that we discovered this propensity, but as yet, we do not understand it.”

The light had dimmed and Jean-Luc lifted his head. Gently extricating himself from his wife’s embrace he eased her to one side so he could have an unobstructed view of the healers.

“You realise what this means?”

The conscience’s voice in his head made Jean-Luc hold up his hand, but he didn’t look at his brother. “No.” he thought to his twin. “I know the decision is yours to make, but this is a medical matter. I must discuss it with them first.”

The conscience gave a small incline of his head. He would wait…for now. Speaking out loud, Jean-Luc said quietly, but firmly, “Well?”

As the healer began to speak in his mind, Jean-Luc shook his head. “No. I want Beverly to hear too.”

When the healer spoke again, Beverly smiled and nodded, letting Jean-Luc know she could hear as well.

“We understand your inference, but we do not see how this alters anything.”

“Really?” said a coldly angry captain. “Even though you now know that by taking an embryo from a multiple human pregnancy, you are severing and disrupting a natural aspect…an extraordinary bond…that exists, at whatever level between the developing children and may exhibit itself once the children are born? And that by removing one of the embryos, you are destroying this bond?”

By the subtle shifting of their bodies, Jean-Luc correctly indentified embarrassment and dismay.

“It was never our intention to cause that, Jean-Luc. We did not know!”

“But you do now!”

The conscience had heard enough. Out loud he said, “Obviously we have much to think about. My healers will examine this…situation and offer a petition on which I will make a judgment. Until then, perhaps we should concentrate on the removal of the chemicals in your brains and that of Commander Riker? I have it on good authority he is exhibiting…atypical…behaviour.”

Jean-Luc’s head snapped around and he glared at his brother. The conscience tried to raise his hand, but Jean-Luc gripped his wrist. “What do you mean by that? What’s happening on my ship?”

Locking their intense gaze, the conscience said quietly, in the same way Jean-Luc did when angry, “Your ship had been rendered…inoperative.” Before Jean-Luc could voice his protests, either vocally or mentally, his twin looked down at the hand gripping his wrist and didn’t say anything further until Jean-Luc released him. He then said “Your ship and its crew are safe and unharmed. Life-support, gravity, replicators, sick bay, intra-ship communications…they are all functioning normally, but all other systems, including computer access has been…nullified.”

“I see.” Said Jean-Luc tightly. “And Commander Riker?”

It was a healer who answered. “It would seem, having been removed from this environment, the suppressing chemicals in his brain are having an unexpected effect. He is not behaving as he should, however we can assure you he is not a danger to himself, his child, the crew or the ship.”

Beverly’s voice was a tight as her husband’s. “Then get him down here and do whatever it is you need to do to rid all of us of the damned chemicals!”

“That is not possible.”

Jean-Luc and Beverly spoke in unison. “Why?”

The conscience answered. “Because we cannot do it as a group, Jean-Luc. My healers will treat Beverly first, then send her back to your ship where she will be required to…assist in preparing Commander Riker for his arrival so he can then be treated. Once he is free of the chemicals, he will be returned to your ship. Beverly will remain on the Enterprise. Having been cleansed of the chemicals, she, indeed Commander Riker too, cannot return.”

It was Beverly who asked the obvious. “What about Jean-Luc?”

“He must stay.”

Husband and wife looked at each other with alarm and fear. A healer’s voice helped ease their worry. “You need not be alarmed. We only wish to study the…connection…the conscience and his brother now share so that we can hopefully learn how to assist the brothers in developing the necessary knowledge and techniques required to control the intensity of the connection. We acknowledge humans are not accustomed to this…intimacy and that both men occupy positions that preclude the distraction of having a ‘voice’ other than their own in their minds. However, as I have already explained, now that this phenomenon has established itself, it cannot be terminated. Therefore the only option is to find a way to control it and, as I said, that will take time. Time for us to study it and time for the…” it gestured to the brothers. “…twins to master the techniques.”

Again Husband and wife gazed at each other. It was Jean-Luc who said quietly, “It’ll be all right, Beverly. I’m sure I’ll be fine.”

The conscience’s voice sounded softly in their minds. “Jean-Luc is the brother…the twin of the conscience, Beverly; he will be treated according to that status.”

He reached out the short distance between them and offered his hand, Beverly didn’t even think about it. She took it and held his intense gaze steadily. “He is in no danger, Beverly, but I would protect him with my life.”

“As I would you.” Jean-Luc’s declaration was softly spoken but heartfelt nonetheless.

Feeling more confident, Beverly smiled at the conscience and said with a wry smile...“You remember when I told you about having a brother and how I explained about names?”

The twin nodded silently.

“So you remember I told you about how it was a custom, although it’s a personal choice now, for a woman, upon marrying a man, to adopt his family name as her own and that as I have been known by my late husband’s family name for so long I had decided not to take Jean-Luc’s?”

Again, the conscience nodded silently, but Beverly could see the curiosity in his eyes. “Well,” smiled Beverly. “One thing I didn’t tell you is that you and I are now related.”

He tilted his head, a frown developing. “Related? But we are not of the same…blood…the same genetics.”

“No, but again, through custom, the families of the married couple become legally related. You are what is known as my ‘brother-in-law’. And I am your ‘sister-in-law.’” She watched amused as the conscience’s eyes twinkled with delight. It was Jean-Luc who added, “And your one is now ‘sister-in-law’ to both Beverly and me.”


“So…” the conscience looked at his one, then grinned with absolute joy. “You’re laughing!” He exclaimed. “Oh! Such a wonderful sound!” he then abruptly silenced and his eyes misted in tears. When he spoke his voice broke. “And I love you, my beloved one. Oh…how I have longed to hear those words.”

A long poignant moment passed before the conscience composed himself. “So, we…” he gestured to his one and himself, “Are also legally related to both of you the same way. We are brother and sister-in -law to you and Beverly.”

“Uh huh.” grinned Jean-Luc.

Bowing slightly to Beverly, the conscience said solemnly, “Then I afford you, Beverly, as our sister-in-law, my protection and status.”

Before Beverly could offer any thanks, the healer said quietly, “We must commence our treatment. Our studies have shown a procedure we feel will successfully remove the chemicals, but it would be best if we acted sooner rather than later.”

“Jean-Luc isn’t in any increased risk by staying longer is he?” Beverly asked warily.

“No. We can apply an inert organic substance that will breakdown into his natural enzymes. It will halt any further reaction of the chemical, but it is time dependent. It is for that reason that we must insist on haste. Once we have rid you and Commander Riker of the chemical, we will have limited time with which to find, then teach any techniques to the conscience and his brother. Once that is achieved, Jean-Luc will be returned to his ship.”

“And then?” said a disturbed Jean-Luc. The conscience answered the question. “You will be free to leave, Jean-Luc.”

It was the first time, since making their recovery that either man had thought about separating. They looked at each other and it was Jean-Luc who said softly, “That is going to be extraordinarily difficult.”

“I know.”

They continued to hold each other’s gaze until a healer’s voice said softly in their minds, “You will always have the connection. But for now, we must begin.”

Turning away from his twin reluctantly, Jean-Luc took Beverly’s hands. Looking deeply into her eyes he said tenderly, “I don’t know how long it’ll be until I see you again…” he offered a lopsided smile, but his eyes gleamed with unshed tears. “…but when we meet again, I would like very much to make love to you, ma belle, Beverly.”

Her lower lip trembling, Beverly’s voice shook as she replied, “I’ll be waiting, mon coeur.”

The kissed with tenderness and underlying passion.

As the healers led her away, Jean-Luc called out softly, “J?taime, Beverly, J?taime.”

She blew him a kiss and was gone.

 

 

 

Despite Will’s orders to the contrary, Geordi was on duty. He’d been very surprised at the orders for what amounted to a skeleton crew to man the ship, it just didn’t seem to make any sense, so he’d taken it upon himself to be in engineering, still hard at work with what little resources he had available to try and figure a way out of their current situation. So when Will strolled blithely in, dressed in his uniform but with his baby daughter cradled in one arm, Geordi frowned, thinking, “Hey…what’s going on here?”

As the exec moved closer, Geordi noticed, with growing concern that Charlotte’s soft, straight brown hair was now a mop of black curls. Looking into Will’s face, the engineer frowned at seeing his beatific expression.

“Been to see Mr. Mot, Commander?”

Dragging his adoring eyes up from his daughter, Will nodded enthusiastically. “Yes!” then, just as quickly he frowned, his expression darkening. “He wasn’t very…accommodating though. I had to convince him that Charlotte wanted her hair changed and even then he seemed reluctant.” He sighed with irritation. “He may be the best barber in the ‘fleet, Geordi, but I think he’s getting a bit too self-important.”

Moving a little closer, Geordi’s ocular implants rotated, the pupils contracting. He saw, to his horror, the baby had eye makeup on. Keeping his tone friendly, Geordi remarked, “You say Charlotte wanted her hair changed?”

Nodding, Will’s odd grin was back. “Oh, yeah! Deanna said that we should give her the choice…you know…girls and fashion and stuff…”

“So…Charlotte told you she wanted her hair changed after you spoke to the counsellor?”

His gaze was back on his daughter as he said distractedly…“Yeah.”

“Uh huh.” Geordi was now sure. Something very bad was happening. “Ah, commander, could you excuse me for just a moment, sir? I’ve just got to…um…do something.”

“Okay,” said Will not taking his entranced gaze from his baby. “We’re only here to watch the pretty lights.”

Geordi hesitated at that. With the ship virtually closed down, the warp core, along with just about everything else, wasn’t functioning. There were no pretty lights to see, not in engineering or anywhere else on the ship, not even the bridge.

“Right, well you do that and I’ll be back in a minute, sir.”

Will didn’t acknowledge the comment; he’d dismissed Geordi from his mind.

Inside his office Geordi immediately placed a discreet, but urgent call to Counsellor Patrick Adams. Within a few minutes, Geordi was back with his commander. The man was standing with Charlotte in front of the dull, cold warp core. The baby was balanced on the railing that surrounded the normally pulsing, tall, red column, Will’s strong hands supporting her around her waist. He was bent, whispering in the baby’s ear and to Geordi’s utter astonishment, she had her head tilted, as if she was not only listening but understanding whatever it was her father was saying. He half expected her to nod wisely.

Shaking off this disquieting feeling, Geordi sidled up to Will and stood quietly by his side. At first Will didn’t seem to notice his presence or if he did, he chose to ignore it, but after a few minutes, which Geordi spent willing Adams to hurry, Will lifted his gaze from his daughter and stared at the dark core with wonder. “Isn’t it fantastic?” He sighed and shook his head. “Charlotte says it’d be better yellow, though. She doesn’t like red. Her favourite colour is yellow.” He turned and smiled at Geordi, his vacant blue eyes making the engineer stifle a shudder. “Change it, Geordi.”

“Change what, sir?”

Rolling his eyes, Will pointed with a tilt of his head. “The warp core! Change it from red to yellow.” He said as if talking to a backward child. He then grinned and lifted his head. In an impersonation of his captain’s voice and accent he intoned, “Make it so, Mr. LaForge!”

“Ah…right. Red to yellow. Consider it done, Commander.”

Will looked back at the warp core and gasped. “Oh wow! Charlotte…you were so right! That’s much prettier!”

Geordi barely contained his relieved sigh as Patrick Adams’s soft voice said from behind him, “Well now, what have we here?”

Will didn’t take his eyes off whatever it was he was seeing, but disturbingly, Charlotte seemed to be just as entranced as her father, her black eyes fixed on the dark column in front of her.

Coming to stand on the other side of Will, Patrick gave Geordi a meaningful look and the man nodded surreptitiously, taking a closer position on the opposite side of the big man and his little girl.

“Commander?” Adams said gently. Will ignored him. Louder, Adams said “Will!”

That seemed to register, because Will half turned his head, but kept his attention on the warp core. “I have to take a vid of this…it’s so incredible!” He then turned his head the rest of the way until he was facing, but not really seeing Adams. “She was right. Charlotte said it would be prettier yellow.”

Adopting a quiet, soothing voice, Adams said, “Why don’t we go back to your quarters, Will. Surely Charlotte needs changing?”

“Nah,” Will turned back to the warp core. “Can’t do that.”

“Why?”

“Deanna’s asleep. She needs her rest…you know…just having the baby and all…”

Adams and Geordi shared a look before the counsellor asked, “When did she have the baby, Will?”

The big man snorted and gave Adams a quick look of disbelief. “You know damn well.”

“I forgot. Can you remind me?”

Taking a deep breath and rolling his eyes, Will said slowly, separating each word,
“Two  days  ago.”

“Ah, yes…that’s right. Well, little Charlotte must need changing and I bet she’s getting hungry. Newborns need a lot of attention…and sleep.”

Will looked down at the baby and frowned. “She might need a feed…” he gently hoisted her up and cradled her in his arms. “Yeah. Let’s go home and see mommy.”

Adams placed a fraternal hand on Will’s shoulder and made a show of admiring the little girl.

“She sure is pretty, Will…and is that makeup I see?”

“Yeah,” grinned Will. “Mom and daughter stuff…you know…”

 Adams smiled, nodding knowingly. He then said conversationally, “Would you mind if I tagged along? I’d really like to see Deanna…you know…have a chat about the birth…how she feels…”

“Counsellor stuff.” Snorted Will. He then cocked his head. “Yeah, okay. Come on, if she’s awake, I’m sure she’d love to see you.”

As they left, a confused Geordi muttered, “Is he completely out of his mind? How can he recognise Adams as a counsellor and still think Deanna’s alive? Adams was Deanna replacement! And what’s with the hair and makeup on the baby?”

Shrugging but unable to shed the feeling of deep unease, Geordi went back into the main body of engineering and looked down at the central control console. Sighing he placed his hands on the flat surface, bent slightly at the waist and shook his head. “I think I understand that old saying about bashing your head against a brick wall. It must be really nice when you finally stop.”

 

 

 

 

As they entered Will’s quarters, the commander put his finger to his lips in a classic, ‘Shhh’ gesture. He then left the counsellor and went briefly into his bedroom, before reappearing.

Whispering to Adams he said, “Dee’s still asleep. I’ll go change Charlotte. You replicate her bottle; it’s in the files under Deanna, formula A.”

Adams waited a few seconds before walking quietly to the bedroom door. Seeing the room empty and hearing Will talking to Charlotte as he changed her nappy in the nursery, the counsellor went to the replicator, ordered then collected the warm bottle of milk and was sitting on the sofa when Will came back into the room.

Sending a warm smile at the rotund man Will frowned as he watched Adams wipe his hand over his sweaty brow. With his distaste obvious, Will said rudely, “Don’t you go spreading any germs. Newborns are very susceptible. Maybe you should go and wash your face and hands.”

Smiling through both his embarrassment and the insult, Adams stayed seated, which seemed to annoy Will. His eyes glittered and his tone changed. “Do I have to make that an order, Lieutenant?”

Standing, Adams shook his head. “Of course not, Commander. I’ll go and wash right now.”

Will’s soft grunt was his only acknowledgement. By the time Adams came back, Will was settled back in his chair, Charlotte sucking on the bottle’s teat contentedly. The commander’s mood had lightened considerably.

“Isn’t she gorgeous?”

“Yes.” Agreed the counsellor. “And her hair…so like her mother’s.”

“Hmm…” Will hummed happily. Sighing, his smile showed nothing but love and paternal pride. “Her old hair was so…you know…boring. She told me she wanted to change it. Dee was so pleased she chose hair the same as her mom’s.”

“When you say ‘she’, Will, who do you mean?” Adams was sitting on the edge of the sofa and once again sweat was trickling down his face. Indeed sweat stains were visible under his flabby arms and around his collar, the uniform tunic fabric darkening.

Glancing up suspiciously, Will grimaced at seeing the unpleasant sight of the copiously perspiring man. “What’s wrong with you? It’s not hot in here. Dee and I…we’re very careful about the temperature. Newborns need a constant comfortable room temperature.”

“Yes, I know.” Adams said placatingly, acutely aware of his appearance but unable to prevent the cause. “So…can you tell me, Will? Who's ‘she’ when you were talking about Charlotte and changing her hair?”

Giving him a look that clearly said, “Are you nuts?” Will shook his head. Again, enunciating as if Adams was incapable of simple comprehension, Will said slowly, “She  is  Charlotte.”

“Oh, right…” nodded Adams. “So silly of me! So Charlotte told you she wanted to change her hair from…boring…to…?”

“Like Deanna’s! Her mom’s!” Will was becoming agitated so Adams shifted focus.

“I see. I keep forgetting, Will. Where did Deanna give birth?”

Pursing his lips, Will dropped his gaze down at the suckling baby and sighed, his expression melting into obviously happy reminiscence.

“It was in sick bay. Beverly assisted in the delivery, but Dee didn’t need any help. She was wonderful. This little baby was put straight on Dee’s chest and she fed almost immediately. Dee was so happy.” He looked up, his eyes glistening with tears. “Remember the ship-wide announcement the captain made? We were so proud! Dee said she could not only hear the cheering…she could sense it!”

“Hmm, yes.” Adams nodded, a smile gracing his round face. “It was very brave of the Captain to do that, wasn’t it.”

Will looked up and frowned. “What?”

“Well, you know…with him and Doctor Crusher unable to have children…it must’ve been very painful for him…”

Will’s voice dropped to a menacing growl. “Get out!”

“Why, Will? I haven’t seen Deanna yet. I’d really like to talk to her.”

Standing, Will loomed over the still-seated counsellor, his eyes blazing. “I’m going to count to five. If you’re still here by the time I’m finished…”

“You’ll do what, Will? What about Charlotte?”

Suddenly confused, Will looked down at his daughter and Adams stood, reaching behind him to the very tight waist band of his trousers. He was trying to extricate the hidden hypospray of sedative as he said, “May I hold her, Will? I haven’t had a cuddle yet.”

“No…” Will muttered. “You’ve got too many germs.”

Finally the hypo slid free and Adams did his best to hide it as he brought his hand around, but Will saw it and swung the hand that held the now-empty bottle. It caught Adams across the jaw and he staggered sideways, his bulk taking over and causing him to fall.

Will was advancing on him, his grim expression giving Adams no doubt his life was in danger. He was about to call security when the doors to the quarters opened and Beverly Crusher walked in. She summed up the situation very quickly and, as Will hadn’t seemed to notice her entry, manoeuvred her way to the hypospray she could see lying on the floor near the bulkhead, where it had ended up as it flew out of Adams hand as he’d hit the deck. Flicking his eyes at the doctor, Adams gave a nod. It was all Beverly needed to know.

With fluid grace she stepped up behind Will and injected him, deftly wresting Charlotte from his arms as he collapsed.

As soon as she was in Beverly’s arms, the baby began to scream. Over the terrible din, Beverly asked loudly, “Are you all right?”

He was gasping for breath, sweat running down his face and body as he struggled ungainly to his feet, but Adams managed to nod. While he tried to regain his breath, Beverly shouted, “What happened?”

Still out of breath, Adams pointed at Will’s unconscious form and gasped, “….delusional….thought  Troi…still alive….baby newborn…”

Beverly looked down at the screaming baby and saw her hair and makeup. Grimacing, Beverly shouted, “The commander’s going down to the surface! As soon as he’s gone, I want you to accompany me to sick bay! You’re long overdue for a checkup!”

Patrick Adams was not usually a procrastinator, indeed, he’d always felt he should set an example, especially to his patients. He knew his ballooning weight and the ever-present sweating were symptoms of something, but he’d conveniently convinced himself it couldn’t possibly be anything remotely serious and just settled for making half-hearted attempts to increase his exercise and reduce his food intake. The fact that he wasn’t actually eating all that much he ignored. Obesity was rare and he had felt very conspicuous, but he grew accustomed to the stares and put it out of his mind. No longer, it would seem.

Bowing to the inevitable, he nodded and watched with surprise as Beverly said over the racket, “You can take him now.”

To Adam’s utter astonishment, Will simply vanished.

“Come on, Lieutenant, you have an appointment in sick bay!”

Still stunned, the fat man followed Beverly out of Will’s quarters.

 

 

 

Jean-Luc and his brother were in what Jean-Luc had come to think of as his brother’s ‘lounge’. His one had left them alone and the adviser had just left, having informed the conscience that Will had arrived and was undergoing treatment. The conscience didn’t tell his brother of Will’s unconscious state, he knew his healers would care for the first officer.

Now alone again, the men were each enjoying a mug of hot drac. Jean-Luc found he liked the drink and sat back saying idly, “I’d like to introduce you to Earl Grey tea.”

The twin smiled. “Beverly told me about that. Apparently you drink as much…tea…as I drink drac.” His smile grew to a rare full grin, his eye brow arching. “Nous avons chacun nos vices, hein, Jean-Luc.”

Jean-Luc grinned ruefully and inclined his head in acknowledgement. “I wouldn’t call these…” he held up his mug. “…vices…but it is true I do tend to drink mine quite often.”

“Moi aussi.” Both men grinned and drank their beverages. On finishing, the conscience leaned forward in his chair and contemplated the mug he held, wrapped in both his hands.

“Jean-Luc…” he said tentatively. “…I would like a name.”

“A name?”

“Oui.” The twin looked up and offered a shy smile. “I know your…our…family name…Picard, but I would like a familiar name a…given?”  his eyebrows rose and Jean-Luc nodded. “..name? Un nom de mon cru.”

Jean-Luc’s smile was a warm one. “A name of your own?”

“Yes.” The conscience nodded. “Is there a name…a given name that our family has used? One that has some specific meaning?”

Sighing, Jean-Luc scratched above his ear. “Not really. Names…given names, tend to follow trends…fashions…” To his confused brother’s expression, Jean-Luc said hopefully, “Populaire à l?époque.”

The twin frowned, understanding the words but not the intent. “Popular at the time?”


Scratching again, Jean-Luc pulled his lips to one side. “There are only a certain number of given names in each language. Now it’s perfectly acceptable to make up a name, indeed it happens quite often or the spelling of a common name may be changed to make it unique, but generally speaking, names, both male and female wax and wane in popularity. With each generation you will find a certain percentage of those born will share the same given name, based on popular trends.”

“So…our family has no tie, no predespondence to a particular given name?”

Shaking his head, Jean-Luc shrugged. “Not that I’m aware of. Our family has always chosen ordinary French names.”

The conscience considered this, then asked, “What about our family’s origins? The other country you mentioned. Spain?”

“Well,” Jean-Luc shrugged again. “I only found out about that through a rather extraordinary experience, but unless I do some deep research, the only name of any Spanish ancestor of ours that I know is…Javier Maribona-Picard.”

“The given name is Javier?”

“Yes.”

“Do you know what it means?”

“Hmm…” Jean-Luc frowned. “My Spanish is a little patchy…but the Spanish variation of the name, Xavier, means…” he narrowed his eyes in thought. “Um…In the new house…I think.”

He sighed. “I need to talk to my ship’s computer.” He said with a rueful smile.

“Then by all means…do so.”

Jean-Luc blinked with surprise then said tentatively, “Picard to Enterprise?”

“Enterprise here, Captain. Are you all right, sir?”

His expression one of delight, Jean-Luc grinned. “Yes…yes, I’m fine. To whom am I speaking?”

“Oh! My apologies, Captain. Lieutenant Petersen, sir, I’m the officer of the watch.”

“I see.” Jean-Luc was still smiling. “Well, I just want to ask the ship’s computer something, Lieutenant.”

“Ah…fine, Captain. Go right ahead, sir.”

Feeling a little ridiculous, Jean-Luc said, “Computer, I want to know the derivation and meaning of the name, Javier.”

“Javier is of Basque origin. It means ‘New house’.”

Just to make sure he’d been correct, Jean-Luc went on, “And the name, Xavier?”

“Xavier is the Spanish form of Javier. It has a slightly different interpretation. It means ‘Of the new house.’”

“And in Catalan?”

“In Catalan, the name Javier is ‘Xavi’ and means the same as the Spanish version.”

“Picard out.” He smiled sheepishly. “Almost right.”

The twin shrugged. “In…of…” he shrugged again and both men laughed. Jean-Luc’s mirth subsided when his brother asked, “This…Javier Maribona-Picard? What do you know of him?”

Letting out a long breath, Jean-Luc’s face fell. “Unfortunately, he was…” The captain shook his head. “I was about to say he was a bad person, but I think that’s a little unfair. He was a product of his time. I learned from a remarkable people that Javier was a soldier of Spain and he had, along with others of his ilk, taken part in what became known as the ‘Pueblo Revolt’ which was a brutal retribution…a massacre perpetrated against the Pueblo Indians of the Americas.

“I have since done some research on this…if you’re interested?”

The conscience nodded eagerly. “Yes…please.”

“Right. Well, the Spanish had colonised the Americas but as was common way back then, the conquerors quickly did their best to eliminate the native people’s religion and ‘convert’ them to their own, in this case, Catholicism. This was done by brutal suppression. The new farming practices and the removal of a large portion of locally produced food to Spain disrupted the native economy and this, accompanied by a growing dissatisfaction with the ‘new’ religion foisted upon them led to deep resentment towards Spain.

“The people grew more and more discontented and this was met with even more stringent repression by the Catholic Church. This in turn brought about minor, isolated revolts which, in 1675 were crushed by a series of executions. One native leader who escaped this…pogrom, a man who came to be known as Popé, organised a large revolt. It took place on the 10th of August, 1680 and resulted in a massacre. So many people died…on both sides, but the natives were decimated.

“There were further rebellions in later years, but came to nothing. The might of Spain and the church was too great. So our ancestor, Javier, was one of the Spanish soldiers that took part in that sad and sorry part of Earth’s history. Not something to be proud of. At least I don’t think so.”

The conscience nodded thoughtfully. “Sixteen eighty. What is the date now?”

“Stardate…”

The twin shook his head. “No, not the stardate. The…the…” he rolled his hand.

“You mean the date as per the Gregorian calendar…the old Earth calendar?”

“Oui, I think so.”

“Well, I’d have to ask the computer for the entire date…”

“No, just the…année?”

“The year? Oh…2376”

The conscience sighed. “Six hundred and ninety six years. A long time.”

“Yes.” Agreed Jean-Luc.

“The date of your birth. You know it?”

That made Jean-Luc smile. “Yes. It’s known as one’s ‘birthday’. Mine is the 13th of July, 2305.”

 

The conscience thought for a while, his eyes drifting to the clear windows. Bringing his attention back to his brother, his eyes glittered with intelligence and eagerness. “It is fitting though, n?est-ce pas?”

That made Jean-Luc frown in incomprehension. “Fitting?  What’s fitting?”

“The name. Javier. New house. Have I not found a new house, Jean-Luc? La maison des Picard?”

Jean-Luc’s soft chuckle made the twin tilt his head. Where once such a reaction would have irritated or angered him, he now knew to share the amusement. He understood his brother meant no offence and would share the reason for his obvious mirth.

“You remind me of a former crewmember of mine. A Klingon named Worf. He was of the House of Mogh.” Jean-Luc shook his head and chortled again. “I never thought of my…sorry…our family name as a ‘House’, at least not in that context. As vintners, our product  is sometimes referred to as Chateau Picard, which of course means Castle Picard, but that pertains to our wine, not the familial link.”

Smiling at his brother, the conscience said quietly, “So, what do you think? Est-il approprié?”

The captain stood, bringing his brother to his feet also. “I think it’s very appropriate.” He offered his hand and, after a moments’ hesitation, the conscience took it. “Welcome to the Maison de Picard…Javier.”

Their eyes met in a steady gaze as the newly named man said with obvious pride…“Je suis la conscience. I am also Javier Picard.”

“Je suis le Capitaine. I am also Jean-Luc Picard. Nous sommes frères. Les frères jumeaux.”

“Oui. We are brothers. We are twin brothers.”

“Et pour toujours connecté.”

“Yes…forever connected.”

Their smiles grew until they laughed, but neither let go of the other’s hand.

 

 

The journey from Will’s quarters to sick bay was mercifully quick, however, trapped in the confines of the turbolift with the screaming baby made Adams grimace, wishing her could put his hands over his ears. Once back in a corridor, and happily near the end of their peregrinate, Beverly, staring resolutely ahead, Charlotte rigid in her arms as she continued with her hellish noise, yelled loudly, “Do you know if she’s been fed lately?!”

“Yes!” yelled Adams. “She was fed and changed only half an hour ago!”

Nodding grimly, the pair entered sick bay. Stunned staff screwed up their faces, some raising their hands to cover their ears. Pointing with her head, Beverly shouted at Adams… “Biobed!”

He nodded his understanding and went to a biobed, grunting as hoisted his bulk onto it. Meanwhile, Alyssa Ogawa had joined Beverly who had laid Charlotte on the main diagnostic bed. The medical tricorder was offered and Beverly shot a quick, rueful smile of thanks.

Doctor Ogawa gently restrained the baby as Beverly scanned her, the red head’s expression one of worried disbelief. “Neurotransmitter…psilosynine…it’s off the scale!  We need a neuro-sedative! Paediatric dylamadon! Zero-point five mcg, STAT!”

The sudden cessation of sound made everyone take in an involuntary breath. Awed, Alyssa said quietly, although her voice sounded loud in the now almost silent facility, “How could something so little make so much noise?”

Shaking her head, Beverly said worriedly, “Forget about the noise she made! Why is a baby who’s only one quarter Betazoid and only just over three months old…manage to produce these levels of psilosynine? An adult full telepath would have difficulty doing this!” She offered the tricorder to Alyssa who gaped incredulously.

“But, Doctor Crusher, even if we discount these levels, Betazoids, even hybrid Betazoids, don’t develop their abilities until puberty.”

“I know.” Beverly frowned. “How long was she with her father?”

Pulling down the corners of her mouth, Alyssa shook her head. “I’m sorry, Doctor, I don’t know. But…he has no psionic powers…does he?”

“He had some, though very limited, with Counsellor Troi.”

Turning to look over at Patrick Adams, Beverly raised her voice a little. “Counsellor…do you know how long Charlotte has been with Commander Riker?”

He scrunched his mouth, then his cheeks puffed as he blew out a breath. “I can’t be certain, Doctor, but I think, apart from what short visits when he could manage it, it’s only been the last...8…9 hours he was able to stay with her.”

“And this 8 or 9 hours…they were together all the time?”

He nodded, making sweat drip off his chin. “Yes.” He then added, “Commander LaForge told me something odd.” To Beverly’s raised eyebrow he supplied, “He said that at one stage it appeared as if the baby was actually listening and understanding what her father was saying to her.” His expression sobered. “In fact while I was with them in engineering, I witnessed the baby staring intently at the cold warp core, seemingly as enraptured as her father was.”

Enraptured?” Beverly’s eyes narrowed. “By what?”

“It seems Commander Riker had informed Commander LaForge that Charlotte preferred the colour yellow for the pulsing light of the core, rather than the normal red. Riker asked LaForge to change it. He played along and Riker proceeded to behave as if that’s what he could see…and so did the baby.”

“But the core was cold.” Beverly verified carefully.

“Yes.”

Alyssa broke the tension with a softly worded question. “Given the levels of psilosynine…are we dealing with empathy or telepathy?”

“I don’t know.” Beverly was stumped. None of this made any sense. “I know that Commander Riker’s brain chemistry was compromised, it’s why he’s been taken back to the planet, but why...or if…that’s responsible for this…” she gestured to the sleeping baby. “I have no idea.”

Turning to her colleague, Beverly said, “Set up a level four neurological scan. Assuming she has a paracortex, I want to know what it’s doing as well as having a good look at her parietal lobe.” Alyssa turned to set up the necessary equipment when Beverly said as an afterthought, “…and Alyssa…check her engrams.”

“Yes, Doctor.”

Moving to Adams, Beverly began to scan him. “Now then, Counsellor, let’s see what’s troubling you.”

 

 

Will shifted slightly and yawned, thinking it’s been far too long since he’d had such a damned good sleep. In the chill of the dim room, he kept his eyes closed, thinking that he might enjoy going ice-fishing. “Yeah,” he thought. “…a nice northern pike or a big burbot’d be nice.”

He grinned, then his expression turned sour. “Oh, shit. Dad busted the damned net!” He sighed and turned over, thinking he might as well sleep in. His leave was to end soon and he’d not get a chance to luxuriate in bed once back aboard the Potemkin.

He never saw the light that enveloped his head, sending him into a deeper sleep. The cells of his brain enlarged infinitesimally and began to release the chemicals, but they stubbornly refused to exit as they were supposed to. This was the third time the procedure had been initiated. For some reason, Will’s brain was not responding as it should.

The watching healers raised their hands, the chatter brisk.

“Why is this happening? The conscience’s one…Beverly…her brain released the chemicals without difficulty.”

“Yes.” Agreed another. “And she experienced the same dream-like state during rises in the activity of the subconscious. Riker is exhibiting the same progression, yet his brain cells seem to have…incorporated the chemicals.”

“It matters not.” Said a third. “The essence will do its job.”

“Agreed,” the first gestured. “But at what cost? We do not know what this…” She waved her hand at the sleeping man. “…protracted procedure will do to him. Just because Beverly was quickly and successfully treated, does not mean Riker will be, especially given his brain’s anomalous response.”

They fell silent. It was the second speaker, a male who sighed and said, “We can only wait and trust the essence.”

Bowing their heads in unison, they went back to watching the human.

 

 

 

The adviser tilted his head as Javier laughed. Placing a friendly hand on his trusted companion’s shoulder, he said, “You must forgive me, old friend, but hearing your…voice…” he shook his head, doing his best to bring himself back under control. Jean-Luc looked on, a smile on his face.

“It’s not that I can finally hear your thoughts, old friend, it’s just that you all sound the same!”

Javier began to laugh again and Jean-Luc joined him. Confused, the adviser said cautiously, “I do not understand. Why does the fact those of us you have ‘heard’ possess the same sounding ‘voice’ cause you amusement?”

To Jean-Luc’s delight his brother’s laughter increased. The man was now bent, clutching his stomach, tears running down his face. Realising he had to intervene; Jean-Luc went to Javier and took his arm, encouraging him to the windows. Sending an apologetic look at the adviser, Jean-Luc said placatingly, “Just give him a moment.”

Turning the twin so that he faced the windows, Jean-Luc said quietly, “Although I know the delicious feeling of liberation you’re experiencing right now, perhaps it might be…politic…if you regained some semblance of composure? For those of us in a position of authority, there is a time and place for lowering our mantle. I don’t think now is appropriate.”

The laughter quietened to sporadic bursts of chuckles, then trickled into snorts before finally ceasing. Wiping his eyes and face, a now controlled conscience returned to his advisor.

“I believe you have the information I requested?”

If any unease remained, it didn’t show in the being’s ‘voice’. “Yes. Our calculations are complete. By the Earth’s measurement of time, as expressed as days, months and years, you were born on the 13th day in the month of July in the year 2305. The recorded time in increments of the passage of the day, again as measured in human standards, was five hours, eighteen minutes in the morning.”

Nodding, and smiling his thanks, Javier said quietly, “Thank you, you may leave us now.”

As the doors were closing, the twin turned to his brother. “Jean-Luc…do you know the exact time of your birth?”

“Yes.”

To his brother’s raised eyebrow Jean-Luc supplied, “I was born at four fifty-eight am.”

“AM?” The conscience said, his head tilted.

“Antemeridian. Morning. Past midday time as expressed in analogue terms becomes ‘PM’…post meridian. It pertains to the passage of the sun, the meridian being the zenith…midday. Ante…before. Post…after. Words from an ancient Earth language called Latin.”

The smile that crept over the twin’s face was difficult to describe. He moved closer to Jean-Luc and placed a fraternal hand on his shoulder. “I bow to you, Jean-Luc. Older brother.”

“Older? By how many days?”

Shaking his head, the conscience’s enigmatic smile grew. “No, not days, Jean-Luc. Minutes.”

“Minutes?” parroted Jean-Luc incredulously. “Are you saying we not only share the same birth date but are separated by mere minutes? How many?”

“Twenty.”

Now it was Jean-Luc’s turn to smile enigmatically. “I’m twenty minutes older than you?”

“So it would seem.”

Jean-Luc’s dark eyes twinkled, making his twin know he was amused. He didn’t have to wait long to find out why.

“There is a very old saying on Earth, my brother…Javier, mon petit frère. Respect your elders. Respectez vos aînés.”

“By the use of both my languages, le grand frère, I suspect you seek to capitalise on your position of superiority by making it so patently clear who has the haute main.”

Jean-Luc snorted, his eyes still twinkling. “Not the upper hand, exactly, but it is good to be the king!”

They laughed until Javier said, “King?”

“Roi?” Offered Jean-Luc, but Javier shrugged in a very Gallic fashion. “Well,” Jean-Luc said, “…it’s a term used to describe a male leader, often one born into a ‘Royal’ line. Une dynastie. Actually,” said Jean-Luc thoughtfully. “There are many terms for people in the position of ultimate power, male and female. I suppose it’s a reflection of Earth’s history that our ancestors not only accepted these people, although often unwillingly, that such a wealth of words are used to describe them.”

He then gave his brother a measured look and asked, “Has the conscience always been exclusively male?”

“Oui. From what I understand, the ancient ones, those who decided on the concept of the conscience, used their society’s members as a guide. They knew that females, though perfectly capable in every way, were hampered in one important factor. That was, on producing young they devoted themselves wholly to them. The males in my peoples’ society are just as devoted to their offspring but can separate themselves more easily than the females. This phenomenon the females exhibit lasts only until the young are…sevré?”

“Weaned.” Supplied Jean-Luc.

“Ah…oui. The fierce devotion to their young abates once the children become more independent. But the conscience cannot be distracted. At any time the conscience may be called upon to make a judgment for the people and it must be done with nothing else in the mind but the petition.

“After my one and I reproduced, there were times, especially when our children were very young, that I found it difficult to put them out of my mind to perform my task, but I did. My one would not have been able to do that…not when our young were still…gagner leur subsistence de la poitrine.”

“Breast feeding.”

“Yes.” Javier sighed. “So long ago, although it was making a decision without knowing anything about their intended…first consciences…the practice of taking only males has persisted.”

“I see.” Javier’s expression soured as he saw his brother’s face cloud with the same old problem. Before he could say anything, Jean-Luc said, “You can’t leave, can you.”

Sighing, Javier rubbed his brow, reaching behind him to bring his braid around to his front. He focused on it and Jean-Luc recognised the action for the delaying tactic it was. A brittle silence settled as Jean-Luc waited for a reply.

“Je ne peux pas, Jean-Luc. I cannot. Not only can I not abandon my people, but my one, mes enfants…they cannot leave this complex and I cannot leave them.

“I am liée…tied…to both my people and ma famille…just as you, mon frère are liée to Starfleet and your Enterprise.”

His eyes showing his deep distress, Jean-Luc said softly, “I do understand, Javier, but I am torn…conflictuel. I don’t know what to do! My heat tells me to walk away…do nothing and leave your people to live their extraordinary lives in the peace they’ve enjoyed for so very long, but my oath, my years of service to an organisation that I believe in wholeheartedly…my raison d?etre…says I must intervene!”

He walked to the windows and stared upwards his expression stricken. “I cannot find my way! How can I find a resolution to this…this…dilemma affreux!”

Coming to stand with his twin, Javier placed his hand on Jean-Luc’s shoulder. “I know it seems like a hideous dilemma, Jean-Luc, but it need not be. We have some time yet. A solution may still be found.”

Whatever Jean-Luc was going to say was lost as the doors opened and two healers came in. Javier left his brother and met with them briefly. They stayed back as he rejoined Jean-Luc and said quietly, “They have devised a method for us to gain control over our connection, Jean-Luc. We are to begin to learn now.”

Bracing himself, Jean-Luc followed Javier and the healers from the room.

 

 

 

The healers treating Will had come to an impasse. The essence was not able to remove the chemicals. It was able to sustain Will and keep his brain safe from any further damage, but such was the incorporation of the chemicals with his cells, it wasn’t possible to utilise the same inert buffer they’d used on Jean-Luc. They felt the first officer was in no immediate danger, but they knew something had to be done. The question was…what? To keep him stable, the essence required him to stay in a light unconscious state, able to dream and be comfortable, unknowing as to where he was.

A group of four healers puzzled over their instruments and floating consoles. One highlighted an area of Will’s brain and pointed to it. “From what we understand of the human brain, this area, though small, should not be active in this way.”

“I am unable to identify this chemical…” a molecular representation of the substance floated in the air. “We have not seen this in humans before. I am not sure from where it is originating.”

“Is it possible some other organ in his body is its source?”

“No, I do not think so. It is a mystery.”

There was a long silence before one of the four lifted his hands and gestured, “We should consult with Beverly.”

“Agreed, but she cannot be brought to us, nor can we go to her.”

“Then we must ask if our strategists will allow is to interface with her via our link to their ship.”

“Agreed. And of course, we must petition the conscience.”

“That would be problematic. He is at present undergoing intensive education along with his brother. It would be best if he were not disturbed.”

“Then how should we proceed? It is not enough to gain permission from the strategists. Without the sanction from the conscience, we cannot initiate any action.”

One of the females looked at Will, noting his REM. She sighed and tilted her head, her body glowing brightly. “I would like to think we have time…he…” she gestured to Will’s insensate form. “…is in no danger, but the conscience’s brother’s time with


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