By Carol Sandford


Chapter 02


Picard fell back into his chair. Both hands swept over his head and settled back on his lap before he looked at Will again. There was so much he wanted to ask him, but if he began firing questions, Will would run. The only way he would answer any questions was with a 'yes' or 'no'...If he was lucky. Usually he either nodded or shook his head.

Sighing loudly, he shifted in his seat as he thought about his first question, even though it was a simple one.

"Are you sure that's what you want to do, Will?" Will nodded slowly.

"Have you discussed this with anyone else?" as expected, he shook his head.

"Are you going to discuss this decision with anyone else?" once more Will sadly and slowly shook it.

"Not even Deanna, Will?" Picard was incredulous when he got a negative response to that too.

Picard paused as he tried a different tact. "Will, has Beverly released you from her care?"

It was the wrong thing to say.

Dismayed, Picard watched as the giant bounded from his seat and flew from the room as if the very devil himself was on his tail. Picard got up to follow, but stopped short of the closing door realizing that going after Will would only agitate him more. He stood and stared solemnly at the steel hulk before him and quietly cursed.

"Damn, damn, DAMN!!!"

Making his way back to the desk he violently poked the com panel before him. "Picard to Doctor Crusher."

Moments later her voice echoed around him, "Crusher here."

Picard sighed heavily again, "I'm sorry, Beverly, Will has just run out on me again in a highly agitated state."

A pregnant silence followed before she replied clearly saddened by the news. "What caused it this time, Jean-Luc?"

Picard cleared his throat once more, but failed to hide the choke in his voice, "He ... he came to inform me that he wants to go home to Alaska."

She was more curious when she spoke back to him, "Does Deanna know this?"

Picard shook his head to himself as he replied "No... no, I don't think she does. I asked him, and he said no."

More puzzled, Beverly wondered what set him off; she asked him outright, "What did you say to him, Jean-Luc?"

Picard noisily cleared his throat again, uncomfortable with having to own up his confession, "I...er...I asked him if you had released him from your care."

Picard cringed as Beverly's voice boomed around him, he was thankful that he was on his own in the ready room as she ripped into him, "Damn you, Jean-Luc, what a totally stupid thing to say to someone who is clearly, clinically depressed. He obviously hasn't been released, and he knows that I would not release him, I had only just begun to get through to him and Deanna's working around the clock to help. That was a really stupid thing to say."

Shamed into silence, Picard could only sit and take the barrage, his heart getting heavier and heavier with each scathing word. By the time she had finished, there were tears in his eyes and he never thought he would smile again. Misery surrounded him like a shroud.

Beverly's miserable voice once more spoke to the silence, effectively cutting him off with the same effect of a knife being plunged into his heart.

"Okay, I'll go and find him. He's probably where he usually is, cowering in the corner, like he usually is."

"Damn you, Jean-Luc."

The connection was severed abruptly, and at that moment Picard felt the first stirring of helpless anger. His eyes glistened with angry, helpless tears. His mind grieving for the nearest thing to a son that he would ever have. But right at this moment the Captain of the Enterprise wished that his first officer had died along with all the others that he had been too late to rescue on that damned planet a month ago. Because all that was left now was a walking, breathing corpse.

The members of the bridge crew jumped as they heard the crash that emanated from the ready room and the haunting wail that followed it.

Worf stepped towards the door, but Data's voice stopped him in his tracks.

"That is not advisable, Mr. Worf, I suggest we give Captain Picard a few moments privacy."

Worf silently eyed the android as he contemplated on ignoring his request, but as he beseechingly looked to the other bridge members and saw the pitying looks; he thought better of it and took his place back at his station once more.

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