By Carol Sandford


Chapter 05


Life had it's funny quirks on board a ship as large as the USS Enterprise. Highlighted by their plight to discreetly avoid each other, Will and Beverly found totally the opposite constantly happened.

At every turn something seemed to push them together, even if it was just accidentally bumping into each other in a corridor. They're eyes would lock and a tell-tale blush would make itself known.

But meetings were the hardest. Having to sit opposite one another and pretend to the universe that nothing was amiss was sheer torture for them both.

Will watched the red-headed beauty across from him as she battled with the conflict that battered her from every side. Her tell-tale posture betrayed her emotional turmoil and he could do nothing to comfort her.

Beverly's surprised eyes flew to his when she felt Will's foot lightly stroke hers. Will was staring at her intently asking her with his intense blue gaze if she was alright.

His tender concern touched her and she found herself struggling to hold back her tears, but she managed to smile tentatively to assure him that she was. All she needed was to get out of there.

Captain Picard noticed the gesture and frowned. It was not the first time that he had observed that something was not quite right between his first officer and the doctor and as he dismissed the crew, he gestured for Will and Beverly to remain behind.

The air was tense as they waited for the doors to close behind Geordi and then all eyes turned to each other and waited.

Had he guessed?

"Is everything alright Number One, Doctor?" He began.

Will glanced at Beverly before clearing his throat and addressing his Commanding Officer. "Er...yes, sir, we're just looking forward to the counselor's return tomorrow."

The Captain smiled warmly recalling the tiny brunette's vitality whenever she was around. He had missed her, but obviously not as much as his first officer."Ah, yes, 2100 hours isn't it?" He asked. "I'm sure she's looking forward to getting back on board with us." Seemingly content with their excuse, Picard dismissed them both. "Very well, Will, Beverly, that will be all, thank you."

Both Will and Beverly stood to leave, but no-one could miss the charged atmosphere that increased tenfold at the mention of the counselor's return. Something was not right.

As soon as the door closed behind them and he considered that he had allowed enough time for Beverly to leave the bridge, Picard summonsed Will back to the ready room.

Squaring his shoulders and yanking his tunic jacket down, Picard waited for Will to step in.

He watched the tall man come to a stand before him with a puzzled frown upon his handsome face. But over the years, Picard had learned to recognise a guilty look, and Will looked guilty.

Both men silently faced each other before Picard broke the uneasy moment."Commander, I want to know what is going on between you and Doctor Crusher."

Will expelled the breath that he had been holding. Not wanting to lie to him, but not wanting to reveal something that could be nothing either, Will hedged around the answer. Not quite a lie, but not quite the whole truth either.

"Well, sir, you know that Beverly was particularly upset when Odan, 'left'?" He waited for the nod before continuing. "Well, she's been having some difficulty dealing with his loss, and as you know, I stepped in for him temporarily so I understand some of that loss. It seemed sensible for me to help until the counselor comes back and can give her the proper counselling that she obviously needs."

Will trailed off as he let the Captain digest the conversation. He watched him nod quietly, and then just as quietly, he spoke, "Why didn't she come to me, Will? We are close friends, I could have helped. I know he meant a great deal to her but I thought we were close enough to have shared her loss together."

Will felt awful for him. Picard was far closer to Beverly than he ever had been up until Odan's departure, but it was not just a listening ear that she needed.

She had needed a physical touch.

She had needed Odan's touch and Will was the nearest thing to him.

"Perhaps, sir," Will added, "this was just a little too embarrassing for Beverly. Like I said, I was him for a while so I've known what to say to her when she's been upset."

Picard nodded, "Yes, you're probably right, Number One. Thank you, that will be all."

Will left him sitting there lost in his thoughts. He didn't want to walk away, but staying meant revealing more than necessary, and right then, Will had other things on his mind.

Deanna was coming home tomorrow. Tomorrow everything could change. Tomorrow he could lose his Imzadi, forever.

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