By Carol Sandford


Chapter 04


Beverly sat across from the Captain completely engrossed in her meagre meal as the last of her croissant slipped delicately into her mouth, followed by a healthy swig of coffee. Jean-Luc watched her with amusement. He loved these moments. Breakfast with Beverly was the highlight of his day; A time when they caught up, keeping their close comradeship well and truly alive without the encumbrance of having an affair. Not that it wouldn't have been welcome, in his mind, but she was a strong woman, and he was discovering, much to his chagrin, that he was an even stronger man.


Her troubled thoughts broke the tranquil and reflective moment. "Why does this feel like I'm a guest at the last supper?"

Jean-Luc sighed as he threw his napkin down onto the debris of their remains. "I'm sure it won't be, Beverly. You will have more than enough supplies to keep you going, and we will be around as much as we can be. Not all of the time, but a fair amount of your assignment."

Beverly's hands and eyes fell to her lap and her sigh was heartfelt. "I know. I'm being silly."

Jean-Luc reached over and clasped her hand, forcing her to acknowledge him. "You - are - not - being silly, Beverly. What you are doing is very courageous and very noble. You know we could have sent other personnel with medical qualifications. You didn't have to sacrifice yourself for this and I would be right behind you if you changed your mind."

But he already knew her answer even before the vigorous shake of the amber waves began. "No...No, I'll be okay. They're going to need me down there. We don't know what we're looking for, or what we're treating. It's going to need more than someone knowing how to put on a sticky plaster and I'm the logical choice. I am a little worried about leaving Deanna, though."

Picard sat back in his chair as he studied her features wit a heavy frown. "Do you think there is anything to worry about?"

He was slightly taken aback when she nodded, "Yes, something is wrong."

She hastened to add as the implications of her word caused him to take a sharp intake of breath. "Oh, there is nothing wrong with her baby, but I am worried about her mental state. There's something going on inside that pretty head of hers and nobody knows what it is except her. AND on top of that, there is the problem with her reluctance to tell Will. What is going on with her?"

Jean-Luc sat back against his chair as he posed his question already half knowing what she would say in response. "Do you want me to talk to Will; have a man to man chat?"

He was surprised as he watched her actually consider his proposal. "Yes...yes, I think that could be quite a good idea. I know we can't break confidentiality, but it can't hurt asking him a few general questions. It might get him thinking about the possibilities of future children." Beverly visibly brightened as she made her decision, "Yes, Jean-Luc, I think that's a very good idea, but I must have your word that you won't let anything slip."

Picard nodded eagerly, "Of course."

They both rose from the table and normally they would have both headed out the door and parted ways along the corridor, but this morning was different. This morning she was leaving for an indefinite period and they were not going to see each other for quite some time.

They stood hesitantly before each other, both loathe to utter the necessary words and both reluctant to leave without saying those words. In the end they systematically held out their arms and moved into each others embraces. Jean-Luc's low voice caressed her ear as he held her close. "I'm going to miss you, Beverly. Promise me there will be no heroic escapades down there. I don't want you putting your life in danger."

Beverly chuckled as she squeezed him tight. "I promise, Jean-Luc. Just make sure you come and get me when it's all over, okay?"

Jean-Luc spoke with his heart on his sleeve, for once. "You have my solemn promise, ma Cherie."

Beverly's eyes filled with tears as he whispered his vow. Too choked to speak she pulled away from his arms, but he captured her hand within his as she moved away. Beverly wanted nothing more than to stay with him... to love him, but she had a duty to uphold. The loving would have to put on the back burner for another time, again.

Picard watched the closing doors with a heavy heart mentally chiding himself for not saying what he really wanted to say. To tell her how he really felt. But the love he felt for Beverly Crusher would stay within his heart until she was ready to accept him. Taking it further was for her to decide.

But he sometimes wished it was his.

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