Love In The Abstract.

The USS Enterprise D eased her way into the remote star system. On the Bridge, the crew worked with their usual calm efficiency, but throughout the ship there was a subtle tension, an almost surety that they would soon be in battle.
For over four months a group of well equipped mercenaries had been raiding ships, their methods were business-like and systematic, but what had spread horror through the crew of the mighty Starship was what the mercenaries had done to their unfortunate victims.
They were not just merciless, but deliberately cruel…sadistic even. There were never any survivors.
Ships had been found adrift, picked clean of any and every piece of salvageable equipment, but it was the mutilated bodies that sent such a shiver down the spines of the rescue teams. It was patently obvious that the mercenaries took pleasure in their atrocities, making some kind of statement in their brutality.
It was only two hours previous that the Enterprise had left yet another lifeless hulk of a ship adrift in space as she followed a quickly attenuating ion trail, the first of which had been thus found. It seems they had arrived only an hour or two since the pirates had left.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard was seated in the Command Chair, legs crossed and seemingly relaxed. To his right sat Commander William Riker, the ship's First Officer. At Ops, the only android to serve in Starfleet, Lieutenant Commander Data, turned his head and said quietly,
"We are approaching a star system, Captain. The ion trail seems to be leading us to the third planet, an M class similar in size to Earth."
In his deep baritone, Jean-Luc said softly,
"Helm, drop to one quarter impulse."
Behind the Captain, at Tactical, stood the imposing figure of Lieutenant Commander Worf. A Klingon, he was tense, his warrior's instincts finely tuned. His basso rumble only served to heighten the already tense atmosphere.
"Captain, I advise you to raise shields."
Jean-Luc gave the suggestion a moment's thought, then nodded.
"Agreed, Mr. Worf. Raise shields and go to yellow alert."
Will Riker leaned to his left, saying sotto voce,
"Weapons?"
The Captain shook his head.
"Not yet, Number One. If this indeed is their lair, I would like to try and end this with as little violence as possible."
Will didn't agree with his CO, but would not argue with the man, at least not in front of the crew. Instead he sat back in his chair, the hairs on the back of his neck raised.
Still showing a relaxed posture and emanating calm, Jean-Luc said quietly,
"Are we picking up anything other than the ion trial?"
Data's fingers danced over his console, then he tilted his head, a sure sign he was processing information. His voice showed his concern.
"I am picking up a faint energy signature, Captain, but I cannot isolate it, nor can I tell you what is causing it."
Uncrossing his legs, Jean-Luc inched forward on his chair.
"Can you give us an approximation of its origin? Is it in space, or on the planet's surface?"
The android frowned and checked his readings.
"It is emanating from the planet, Sir. I will try to narrow the location."
Lifting his head slightly, Jean-Luc called,
"Picard to LaForge."
The reply was instant.
"LaForge here, Captain."
"Geordi we need more power to our sensors and scanners."
"I'm on it, Captain; you should have at least twenty percent more for both about now."
Jean-Luc smiled, replying,
"Thank you, Mr. LaForge. Picard out."
Will smirked and ran his hand through his beard as he muttered,
"You're not going to ask him where he stole the power from?"
Jean-Luc's expression was unreadable, but his eyes twinkled.
"I have learned it's better not to ask."
The big First Officer was still grinning as Data said succinctly,
"I have a target, Captain. It is in the southern hemisphere, on a large island."
He hesitated, then said softly,
"I believe we are receiving two sets of readings."
Jean-Luc moved to the edge of his seat.
"Two bases?"
Data shook his head, frowning deeply.
"No, Sir. One is, I believe, their base and I think it is underground. The other may be their ship."
That brought Jean-Luc to his feet.
"Helm, put us in a geosynchronous orbit over the coordinates."
"Aye, Sir."
"Data, put the area on the viewscreen."
A distant image of lush vegetation and mountains emerged on the screen. With his hands akimbo, Jean-Luc said softly,
"Enhance and magnify."
On closer inspection, a large clearing became evident and near it the mouth of a cave.
Almost thinking aloud, Jean-Luc muttered,
"I see no ship."
Data shook his head.
"It may be cloaked, Captain, but I am definitely getting neutrino emissions."
The Captain turned to face his Tactical Officer.
"Worf. Can we disable their ship from here?"
The burly Klingon tapped a few commands into his console and then looked at his Captain with satisfaction.
"Yes, Sir, I believe we can."
Jean-Luc turned back to the viewscreen.
"Do it."
From behind him he heard Worf say brusquely,
"Firing phasers."
As they watched, a ship suddenly appeared. Smoke billowed from one of its nacelles, but it returned fire. The green bolt of energy arced up from the planet, striking the Enterprise's shields, rocking the great ship. Jean-Luc kept his balance with feline grace and said firmly,
"Target their weapons and propulsion. Fire when ready."
"Aye, Sir."
More deadly phaser fire speared down from the Enterprise. The strikes were surgically accurate. The ship collapsed to starboard and figures were seen exiting and running into the cave entrance. Jean-Luc sensed Will standing by his side. He said to Data,
"Can you tell how many people are down there?"
Data shook his head.
"No, Sir, the geology of the area contains magnamite. It is interfering with our sensors."
Jean-Luc sighed, knowing his next order may well cause the deaths of some of his crew.
"Number One, take five away teams of six per team and make sure they're well armed."
Will gave a curt nod and was about to issue his orders when he hesitated.
"Shall I take Doctor Crusher?"
When Jean-Luc looked at Will his face was inscrutable, but Will saw the distress in his eyes.
"Yes."
As he moved to the aft turbolift, Will called,
"Security teams one through five, report to transporters rooms one, two and three. Doctor Crusher, report to transporter Room One."
The lift doors closed on Will as the recipients called in their replies. Jean-Luc turned to the viewscreen and stared at the image, his expression stoic, but inside his artificial heart went into overdrive with worry.
Beverly Crusher, the only woman he had ever truly loved had only recently let him know that she too loved him. They had become intimate merely a week ago and, at the time, Jean-Luc had thought nothing could have made him happier. Now he was paying for his joy. Beverly was the Chief Medical Officer aboard his ship and he was her Commanding Officer. Over the many years they had served together he had always felt trepidation when she was sent on away missions, but now, now that they had finally put behind the baggage of years of stormy history to finally become lovers, sending her into danger was almost more than he could bear. But bear it he must. If they were to ever work out the dynamics of their relationship, it had to include the possibility that he might one day send her to her death. He could only pray that was not going to be today.
He stood motionless and, in a way, impotent as he listened to his crewmembers being transported down to the surface. He waited until they were assembled outside the cave before he tapped his comm. badge,
"Picard to Riker."
"Riker here, Sir."
"Keep your comm. badges open. We might be able to keep you in contact with the ship."
"Aye, Captain."
Tense moments passed before a relieved Captain heard,
"Riker to Picard."
"Picard here, Will."
"We have contact, but I don't know if it will continue the deeper we get in these caves."
Jean-Luc sighed.
"Just do the best you can, Number One. Picard out."
Over the next twenty minutes the tension on the ship slowly grew as nothing but silence was heard from the away teams. Jean-Luc was well aware of their need for silence, but he fretted, nonetheless. Then came the static filled call from Will.
"We've engaged them, Captain!"
Staccato bursts of phaser and disruptor fire filled the speakers with the occasional yell of pain. It seemed to go on forever; until Jean-Luc heard the words he'd been dreading for years. An unknown voice, obviously stressed, called,
"Doctor Crusher is down!"
Jean-Luc reacted immediately.
"Transporter Room one, beam up the wounded!"
The Transporter Chief's reply was laced with desperation.
"I can't Captain! We cannot transport through the rock."
His gut twisting, Jean-Luc turned to the aft turbolift.
"Data, you're with me. Lieutenant Westacott, you have the Bridge."
The young woman stood, her mouth agape, but she knew enough to gently protest.
"Captain, your place is here, Sir."
His icy glare silenced the trembling woman. With deceptive softness, Jean-Luc said,
"As you were, Lieutenant."
Knowing further words were useless; Westacott straightened her spine and gave a curt nod,
"Aye, Captain."
Data entered the empty lift, but Jean-Luc hesitated. He speared Westacott with an intense look and said with clipped efficiency,
"Keep an eye out on the surrounding space. We don't know how many ships the mercenaries have and I don't want us caught with our pants down. Go to red alert if you feel it necessary."
Swallowing to wet her suddenly dry mouth, Westacott nodded.
"Yes, Sir."

 

 

 

Jean-Luc and Data rematerialised outside the caves. Drawing their phasers, the Captain led his Second Officer inside, their palm beacons lighting their way.
It took a long time to make the descent to the fighting, they had been hearing it as they got closer and closer, but it was a disruptor blast hitting the tunnel wall mere centimetres from Jean-Luc's head that let them know they had reached the perimeter of the conflict.
Data and his Captain dived to each side of the tunnel and returned fire, There seemed to be many pockets of resistance, each having to be dealt with separately. In a lull, Jean-Luc tapped his comm. badge.
"Picard to Riker."
Over the sound of a fire fight, the close proximity made communications easier. A harassed Riker responded,
"What are you doing down here, Captain?"
Jean-Luc scowled.
"Never mind that, where's Beverly?"
A loud blast temporarily overwhelmed the comm. system. When it cleared, Jean-Luc heard Will shout,
"Last I knew she was with team two. They're to the east, approximately fifty metres."
Jean-Luc cast Data a look to see him consulting a tricorder. The android nodded and Jean-Luc said loudly,
"Understood, Commander. I'm on my way there now."
"Acknowledged, Captain…keep your head down. Riker out."
With a nod to his companion, Jean-Luc and Data broke cover and ran, zigzagging down the tunnel and firing at anything that moved. Green disruptor fire dogged them, but they made it past the mercenaries and into a tunnel Data indicated they needed to traverse. Still running, they found a lull, no one defending or firing until they blundered into a small cavern. A cross fire of orange and green blasts made the two officers dive headlong, before rolling and trying to find which way to go for cover.
Seeing where the orange fire was coming from, Jean-Luc yelled,
"Data! Over here!"
They scrabbled sideways, firing as they went. Finding cover with team two, Jean-Luc found the team leader, a young man, his face grimy with sweat and dust. Yelling to be heard over the blasts, Jean-Luc shouted,
"Where is Doctor Crusher?"
The Lieutenant jerked a thumb over his shoulder.
"Back there! We've been trying to spare some crew to get her out to beam up!"
The Captain looked over his shoulder but saw nothing but darkness. He dodged another disruptor blast, returned fire and grunted as a mercenary fell forward from his hiding place. In the ensuing lull, Jean-Luc said loudly,
"Mr. Data and I will take Doctor Crusher to the surface."
The Lieutenant nodded.
"Understood, Sir, good luck."
Gesturing to Data, the two retreated, flashing their lamps to and fro, trying to find Beverly. It was Data whose enhanced night vision picked up her prone form. With a curt,
"Captain!"
Jean-Luc swung his light, suppressing a gasp of anguish as he saw the halo of blood around her head. Kneeling beside her, Jean-Luc waited impatiently as Data scanned her with his tricorder. Snapping the device closed, Data reported to his Captain.
"Doctor Crusher has a severe concussion, a deep scalp laceration, two broken ribs and a contused liver. We will have to be very careful in how we carry her; in fact, I suggest you allow me to carry her as I can compensate for any jolting that may occur."
Jean-Luc nodded.

"Agreed. Give me the tricorder, I'll lead, you follow."
Data nodded as Jean-Luc plotted their way out of the maze of caves and tunnels.
It was harrowing. With constant disruptor fire and the vagaries of the tunnels, it was over forty-five minutes until they broke free of the caves. Jean-Luc grabbed Data's shoulder and looked into his golden eyes.
"I want you to stay with her, Data."
The Second Officer frowned.
"But, Captain, what about you?"
Jean-Luc looked back into the black maw of the cave.
"I'm going back."
"But…"
The Captain squeezed Data's shoulder.
"I trust you; Data…stay with her until I return."
Before Data could voice any more protests, Jean-Luc tapped his comm. badge and said firmly,
"Enterprise, two to beam directly to Sick Bay."
His last sight of the woman he loved was that of her being cradled in his Second Officer's arms as they dissolved in a sparkle of blue light. Not taking any time to reflect on his feelings, Jean-Luc turned and ran back into the cave.

 

 

 

The battle raged for over an hour, but slowly the Enterprise personnel began to get the upper hand. Jean-Luc had taken command of team two as their leader had been killed. During a particularly intense fire fight he had become separated from his team, chasing a mercenary through a downward sloping tunnel. Coming to a bend, a tiring Jean-Luc didn't exercise enough caution and was struck in the shoulder by a disruptor beam. His phaser flew from his hand as his entire arm went numb. The stench of his burnt flesh pervaded the tunnel. From the darkness he heard a derisive voice.
"Come on, you Starfleet scum, I'm waiting."
Squinting his eyes, Jean-Luc saw his phaser, but to get it he would have to expose himself. Determined to take this enemy, Jean-Luc threw caution to the winds and dived forward, rolling end over end. Just as he was about to pick up his weapon, a well-aimed blast disintegrated it. Caught in the open, Jean-Luc squinted in the dim light, seeing for the first time that he had reached some kind of command centre. A tall, haggard-looking Cardassian stood, feet braced and a disruptor in his hand, but Jean-Luc could easily see the warning light of a depleted battery glowing on the weapon.
Trusting his luck, Jean-Luc scrabbled to his feet and launched himself at his larger opponent. He heard the click of a non-functioning weapon just as his injured shoulder crashed into the Cardassian's chest. Driven backwards by the impact, both men fell to the ground. Jean-Luc was smaller and lighter and had a useless arm, but he was well versed in both martial arts and wrestling. He twisted in the Cardassian's grasp and wrapped his legs around his adversary's neck. He squeezed as hard as he could, but it wasn't enough. The Cardassian got his hands between Jean-Luc's legs and drove upwards, hitting the Captain in the testicles. Agony lanced through Jean-Luc's body and his grip failed. Immediately the Cardassian rolled to his left, trying to regain his feet. Jean-Luc summoned all his strength and swept his legs, tripping the alien up. Once again on his side, the Cardassian punched Jean-Luc flush on his nose, breaking it. The next blow was a full bodied punch to his stomach. Jean-Luc curled up on his side, barely able to breathe. The Cardassian was quickly on his feet, repeatedly kicking his foe.
Knowing he was losing and not far from being killed, in desperation Jean-Luc grabbed the foot next time the Cardassian tried to kick him and twisted violently sideways. The Cardassian lost his balance and fell. Jean-Luc fell on him, driving him to the rock floor. With one hand on his chin and the other gripping his hair, Jean-Luc wrenched the Cardassian's head around, snapping the man's neck. The Cardassian's body shivered briefly then laid still, his cruel eyes staring into nothingness.
Jean-Luc slowly got to his feet, his own body a cacophony of pain. He gave the Cardassian's body one last look and was about to leave when he heard a small sound. Immediately on his guard again, Jean-Luc grew still, listening carefully. He was rewarded when he heard the small noise again. It was a quiet clinking sound and it came from the deepest recesses of the small cavern.
Taking the fact that no one was shooting at him, Jean-Luc picked up a small light from the wall and crept cautiously forward, holding the light up. Behind some debris he discovered the source of the sounds and what he found almost made him weep.
Chained to the wall was a little alien. It was cowering, shivering in terror and almost trying to meld into the rock wall itself. By his feeble light, Jean-Luc could see it had many wounds on its body, some new, some healing and some old. Its matted, filthy fur was missing in places and its large, oval, violet eyes had vertical pupils and nictitating membranes. It was bipedal and appeared to have six fingers and toes on each hand and foot, each digit terminating in a soft, round pad. There was no nose as such, just two small holes and a small mouth, framed by plump, purple lips.
Around one ankle was a cruel manacle which, over time, had resulted in an ulcerating, suppurating wound. The manacle was attached to a short heavy chain which in turn was connected to an eyebolt in the cave wall.
Appalled by what he saw, Jean-Luc went down on one knee and held out his hand, saying softly and gently,
"It's all right; I'm here to help you. I won't hurt you, I promise."
It was clear the little alien was quite young. It looked up at Jean-Luc with limpid eyes and his heart squeezed in sympathy. He slowly stood, saying softly,
"Let me see if I can find something to set you free."
Hating leaving the little creature in the dark, Jean-Luc set the light down near it and made his way back to the other wall where there was another light.
Strewn all over the floor were articles of contraband. After rummaging around for several minutes, Jean-Luc found a Starfleet issue phaser. It had little power left in its battery, but Jean-Luc thought there might be just enough.
He made his way back to the little alien and it cowered again, but when Jean-Luc knelt beside it, it seemed to calm. In his gentlest voice he softly said,
"I am going to cut the manacle off your leg. It will get a little hot, but it won't burn you."
It was the work of mere seconds to cut the fetter off. The little alien didn't move, and its eyes never left Jean-Luc. Very slowly the Captain lifted his hand and gently stroked its head, saying quietly,
"Whatever you have endured, it's over now, you're safe."
Just then he heard his First Officer call.
"Captain Picard? Are you there?"
Jean-Luc stood and stepped away from the little alien. He called out,
"In here, Will."
He had taken only a few steps when the alien suddenly moved and with remarkable speed. Just as Will and three security staff entered the cavern, the alien wrapped its arms and legs around Jean-Luc's left leg and hugged tightly. Will, on seeing Jean-Luc's predicament, stifled a chuckle. Jean-Luc looked down at the little alien to see it staring intently up at him. He bent, trying to ease its grip of his leg, but the little alien refused to let go.
Rather than force the issue, Jean-Luc chose to momentarily ignore it. Straightening his aching back, he faced his First Officer with as much dignity and authority as he could muster under the circumstances and said,
"Report."
Will let out a long breath.
"It's over, Captain, we have control."
"Casualties?"
With a scowl to mask his sorrow, Will ground out,
"Four dead, seven wounded."
Jean-Luc remained stoic.
"And the mercenaries?"
Will shook his head in bewilderment.
"They committed suicide rather than be taken prisoner, Sir."
Jean-Luc sighed.
"Very well. Contact the ship and have help sent down to get our wounded back to the ship. Then collect all the bodies and contraband."
The big, bearded man nodded.
"Aye, Captain."
As Will was sending his orders, a security staff member appeared at Jean-Luc's side.
"Sir? You are in need of medical assistance. Will you come with me please, Captain?"
Jean-Luc again looked down into the almost liquid gaze of the little alien. He bent and tried again to gently prise the creature from his leg, but unless he used considerable force, it wasn't going to let him go. Jean-Luc sighed in frustration and embarrassment as he had to walk all the way to the surface with the little alien attached to his leg.

 

 

 

Data was waiting for him as he rematerialised in Sick Bay. About to report, Data's eyes fell to the little alien, still clinging to Jean-Luc's leg, but now with its face pressed against his thigh. The android opened his mouth to ask the obvious question, but Jean-Luc's no-nonsense tone cut him off.
"How is Doctor Crusher?"
With his attention once again on his duty, Data managed a small smile of encouragement.
"She has been treated and is well, Captain, in fact she is in her office, preparing to receive the casualties."
Casting a quick look at the alien, Jean-Luc stifled a sigh and said softly,
"Would you go and get her please, Data…and do so quietly."
The android nodded.
"Yes, Captain."
He was gone only a minute or two and soon returned with Beverly. She saw the alien, but before she could say anything about it, Jean-Luc looked deeply into her eyes, silently sending her his love. She returned his gaze in kind and in the space of a few seconds they had re-established their equilibrium. Feeling immensely relieved that she was all right, Jean-Luc asked softly,
"How do you feel?"
He was well aware that, although she had been healed, there would be lingering aches and pains for days to come. Beverly smiled bravely and shrugged.
"I'm okay."
Jean-Luc was about to ask more, but Beverly suddenly went down on one knee and studied the little alien. Without looking up at her lover she asked,
"What do we have here?"
Jean-Luc sighed.
"I rescued it from a Cardassian who I think was the leader. It was chained to a wall and once I freed it, it quickly reached me and has been clinging to my leg ever since."
Beverly reached into her coat pocket and took out a medical tricorder. She did a perfunctory scan, then, as she slowly stood, she read the information. Her frown was a deep one.
"Well you both look like you've been doing one of Worf's calisthenics programs and you, Jean-Luc need medical assistance, but this little one is a bit of a mystery. I can see it's injured, but I'll need to do some more scans before I can help it."
She looked up from her tricorder to ask,
"Can you get it off your leg?"
Jean-Luc shook his head.
"No, not yet and I don't want to use force. It's been abused enough; I don't want to make matters worse."
Going down on one knee again, Beverly said quietly,
"I'll give it a try."
She gently placed her hands under the alien's armpits and tried to ease it away from Jean-Luc's leg, but all that did was make it grip tighter and look up into Jean-Luc's eyes. The expression of panic and the silent plea to be left alone was enough for Jean-Luc to say quietly,
"Stop, Beverly."
The Doctor stood and said softly,
"I'll get a sedative."
As she turned, Jean-Luc whispered,
"Make it something gentle."
With a knowing smile, Beverly nodded and walked away. She was back in seconds with a hypospray in her hand. She knelt at Jean-Luc's feet, talking softly to the little alien and, as she applied to nozzle to the alien's arm, Jean-Luc gently stroked its head. There was a hiss of the hypospray and the alien opened its mouth in a silent scream before it went completely limp and slid down Jean-Luc's leg and into Beverly's hands. At a quiet call, help was summoned to take the alien to a biobed. Beverly stood, taking Jean-Luc's elbow.
"Now you, come and lie down."
Jean-Luc stood his ground and shook his head, surprising Beverly. She immediately thought he was going to refuse treatment and return to the Bridge. About to protest, Jean-Luc realised what she was thinking and raised a placating hand.
"It's not what you think, Beverly. I'm only too happy to be treated, but I want you to treat the alien. I can be treated by Selar."
He saw disappointment and confusion in her eyes. Wishing he could take her hands, he instead tried to explain.
"Beverly, that little alien has been through a horrible experience…who knows how long it has been imprisoned? I think it's quite young and I can think of no one better qualified to deal with a young, traumatised little alien than you. You are kind and compassionate and I know you will do your best to heal it. Yes, I would prefer you treat me, but in this one instance, I think that little waif deserves your help more than me."
Overcome with love for the man, Beverly smiled with suspiciously moist eyes and gave a silent nod. Jean-Luc was led away to a biobed by a nurse and treated by Selar, the Vulcan Second in Command of Sick Bay.

 

 

 

His injuries were many, but none life threatening. Having been healed he was placed under regeneration beams and surprised himself by dozing off. In fact he was well asleep when Beverly appeared at his bedside. She was loath to wake him, but she desperately needed to talk to him. With a gentle shake of his shoulder he was immediately awake and alert. He began to sit up, saying brusquely,
"What is it?"
But Beverly gently pushed him back down. He looked up at her and immediately saw anger and sadness in her eyes. In a gentler voice he asked,
"Beverly, what is it?"
She sighed and hitched her backside on the edge of his bed.
"It's the little alien, Jean-Luc. You were right she is very young, my bone scans put her age at between four and five."
She sighed again,
"And the oldest injury I can find is about four years old. Jean-Luc…I think she's been held captive for most of her short life."
The Captain briefly closed his eyes, sympathy and anger permeating his being.
Beverly rubbed her eyes, saying with a voice laced with anger,
"She has been systematically abused, Jean-Luc. I found most of her bones have been broken more than once. She has soft tissue injuries…God, those bastards even forcibly removed most of her damn teeth!"
She held up her hand,
"Don't worry, I've replaced them, but they're deciduous anyway. In a couple of years she'll grow new ones. But, Jean-Luc, there's more, much worse."
Knowing they were alone, Jean-Luc took Beverly's hand in his and squeezed it.
"Tell me."
With tears in her eyes, Beverly's voice trembled.
"She has suffered terrible sexual abuse. Her genitalia and internal reproductive organs were horribly damaged, even her anus and rectum were brutally damaged and my scans showed some of the damage was years old! That poor little one has suffered for most of her life, Jean-Luc."
Anger, sympathy and outrage swirled inside Jean-Luc, then the memory of the Cardassian's neck breaking surfaced in his mind and he said grimly,
"Well at least her tormentor won't hurt anyone ever again."
Beverly sniffed softly, saying quietly,
"He's dead?"
Jean-Luc nodded.
"Yes, I killed him."
They were silent for a few minutes before Jean-Luc asked,
"Do you know what species she is?"
Beverly shook her head.
"I haven't a clue and there's nothing on record even remotely like her. She's basically humanoid, there's not too much difference internally, but her brain is like nothing I've ever seen before. I can tell you there are high levels of psilosynine in what I think is the hippocampus, leading me to hypothesise she may be telepathic."
Jean-Luc gently rubbed his fingers over his lower lip.
"Hmm. So far I've not heard her make a sound."
Beverly nodded.
"That would be consistent with what I've seen. She has no larynx."
Jean-Luc sighed deeply.
"So what do we do with her?"
Beverly shrugged.
"To be honest, I don't know. I have repaired all her physical damage, but she has been so traumatised…I'm not sure she will ever make a full psychological recovery and the thought of handing her off to someone else makes by blood run cold. Maybe she should stay here with us while we try and find where she comes from. Who knows, perhaps there's some parents out there somewhere who are searching for their missing daughter?"
Jean-Luc gave that some thought, then nodded.

"I agree with you. If she is ever to learn to trust again it could be here on the Enterprise."
He attempted to sit up again, but Beverly placed her hand on his chest and shook her head.
"Uh uh, not for another twenty minutes, and you'll be having an analgesic shot before you're discharged."
He hid is irritation well, he knew what arguing with Beverly about medical matters would get him…nothing but grief. He smiled and said hopefully,
"So I can return to duty then?"
With a kind smile to ease his disappointment, Beverly shook her head.
"No, you're in for three days rest in your quarters."
That did not go down well.
"Beverly, that's ludicrous! You were more badly injured than me and you're on duty!"
Sighing at the inevitability of these arguments, Beverly adopted a more Doctor-like tone.
"For your information, I'm on restricted duty. I intended to spend most of my time off with you."
Jean-Luc's ears reddened as he lowered his eyes and said softly,
"Oh."
Then Beverly bent to whisper in his ear,
"And believe me, when that hypo wears off, your balls are going to ache. You're going to want me and my med kit around."
The flush of red on his ears spread to his face. He cleared his throat and tried to gather his dignity around him.
"I see. Well in that case it would seem I have no choice."
Beverly straightened and smiled widely.
"No, you don't. Now I'll be back in about twenty minutes, you just lie here and relax."
She was gone before he could formulate a retort.

 

 

 

 

As promised, Jean-Luc was discharged after he'd had his pain killing hypo. As usual, with time on his hands he soon found himself bored. He'd spoken to Will and knew that the mission was well in hand and so far no other ships had been detected. So, two and a half hours after he'd entered his quarters, he had little to do other than select a book and settle down to read. He'd only read the first two paragraphs when a call came from Beverly. Her voice was urgent.
"Crusher to Picard!"
On his feet immediately, the book forgotten, Jean-Luc replied,
"Picard here, go ahead."
"Captain, I need you in Sick Bay immediately!"
He was striding to the door as he said curtly,
"I'm on my way, Picard out."
On first entering Sick Bay, Jean-Luc saw straight away that a group of the staff had gathered at one of the laboratory's open doors. He marched over, saying brusquely,
"Make a hole!"
Hearing their Captain's voice brought an immediate response. The small crowd cleared and Jean-Luc entered to see Beverly and her head nurse, Alyssa Ogawa kneeling near a table. Jean-Luc bent and saw the little alien cowering under the table in a corner. He said quietly,
"Doctor?"
Turning her head, Jean-Luc saw distress in Beverly's eyes.
"As soon as she regained consciousness she bolted in here. We can't get her to come out."
Jean-Luc moved closer and said softly,
"Perhaps you and the Lieutenant could move back."
They did so and Jean-Luc sat down, just at the edge of the table. He held out his hand, saying softly,
"It's all right, no one will hurt you."
In his mind he distinctly heard his name. He frowned and turned to Beverly.
"Did you hear that?"
Beverly shook her head in confusion.
"Hear what?"
"My name. She said my name."
Again Beverly shook her head.
"I didn't hear anything."
She turned to her nurse.
"Did you, Alyssa?"
The small Asian woman shook her head.
"No, Doctor, I heard nothing."
Jean-Luc turned his attention back to the little alien, again holding out his hand.
"Come to me, it's all right."
Like a whisper in his mind he heard,
"Jean-Luc, help me."
He knew instinctively that no one else had heard what she'd said. Instead of talking out loud, he thought,
"I will help you. Come to me."
Slowly the little alien moved out of her hiding place and settled on Jean-Luc's lap, her arms and legs encircling him and her head nestled in the crook of his neck. With his usual grace, despite his burden, Jean-Luc rose to his feet. The little alien hugged him tightly, her emaciated body trembling. He turned to the two waiting women and said quietly,
"She has spoken to me telepathically. She asked me to help her."
Beverly turned to her nurse and smiled as she said,
"That will be all, thank you, Alyssa."
Once she had gone, Beverly asked,
"What are you going to do?"
With a sigh, Jean-Luc shrugged.

"That depends. Do you need her to stay in Sick Bay?"
Beverly shook her head.
"No."
As he gently stroked the matted hair on the alien's back, Jean-Luc sighed again.
"Then I might as well take her back to my quarters. What are her medial requirements?"
Beverly retrieved a PADD from her pocket and inputted some information.
"This should tell you all you need to know. She should be hungry, but it's possible she's been starved so long she may need to be coaxed into eating. Start with something light, chicken soup and some soft bread and a glass of warm milk. Offer food as often as she'll take it, she's grossly underweight for her height. And she needs sleep, but you'll probably have to stay with her in case she has nightmares. Other than that, just be with her; offer her affection and gentle care."
Wrinkling his nose, Jean-Luc asked,
"Can I wash her?"
Beverly offered a rueful smile.
"If she'll let you. You might find she won't allow you to do much with her. Keep in mind the abuse she's suffered. In all probability the only physical contact she's had has been abusive, either sexual or physical."
Jean-Luc nodded, his face grim. Still gently stroking the fur on the alien's back, he slowly walked out of the lab and ignored the curious looks of the staff as he left Sick Bay.
As he walked through the corridors on his way to his quarters he also studiously ignored the gapes of surprise from the crewmembers he passed. It was with some heartfelt relief that he finally entered his quarters.
Still holding the PADD, he had both arms around the alien and she had kept her face buried in the crook of his neck, but she sensed his relaxing as the doors to his quarters closed and she slowly lifted her head and warily looked around.
Jean-Luc watched her carefully before saying softly,
"This is my home."
Words whispered in his mind.
"You live here?"
He nodded.
"Yes."
Taking a little more interest in her surroundings, she silently asked,
"Have you always lived here?"
With a smile, Jean-Luc shook his head.
"No. I was born on a planet called Earth and I grew up there, but I have spent many, many years in space and I have come to think of the ships I have lived on as home."
Craning her neck to look over her shoulder, she said warily,
"Where is the chain?"
Dismayed, Jean-Luc hugged her a little tighter.
"There are no chains, little one. No one will ever chain you again. No one will ever hurt you again."
She looked into his eyes, silently asking,
"How can you know that? There are others on this ship."
Jean-Luc briefly closed his eyes, trying to keep his sorrow at bay.
"I am the Captain, the leader of all the people on this ship and they must obey me. I can order them to not hurt you, but I can tell you such behaviour is not our way. We are explorers, we seek only peace. No one on this ship will hurt you, I promise."
Still staring into his eyes with an expression of utter guileless innocence, the little alien said silently,
"And you will not hurt me."
He had to blink away tears as he said quietly,
"No, I will never hurt you."
They remained silent for a while before Jean-Luc said softly,
"Would you like to hop down and look around?"
Her response was to snuggle further into his embrace. Despite his sadness, Jean-Luc had to smile. He settled her light weight into his arms and asked,
"Would you like something to eat?"
She lifted her head, her eyes showing confusion.
"Something to eat?"
Jean-Luc nodded.
"Yes. Although Doctor Crusher has given me only a small list of foods you can eat now, once you are stronger you will be able to eat anything you want."
"Why would I eat anything I want?"
Jean-Luc remembered Beverly's warnings about the alien being starved.
"Because we eat when we're hungry, we need food to survive, but even so, eating food can be a very nice experience."
The little alien seemed to be confused, so Jean-Luc moved to the replicator, saying quietly,
"I will get us some food and we can eat it together. How about that?"
The alien stayed silent so Jean-Luc went ahead with his idea. He replicated the chicken soup, bread and warm milk for the alien and a light chicken salad for himself. It was a little difficult getting the dishes to the table with only one hand available, but soon enough he sat with the food in front of them. Picking up his fork, Jean-Luc speared some salad and meat and proceeded to eat it. When the alien had made no attempt to eat, Jean-Luc put down his fork and picked up the soup spoon. He filled it and lifted it to the alien's mouth. She looked at the contents of the spoon, then at Jean-Luc. He demonstrated by opening his mouth. She copied him and he spoon fed her.
Her all ready large, oval eyes widened as she tasted the soup for the first time. She swallowed and Jean-Luc asked,
"Do you like it?"
Her reaction both surprised and saddened him.
"It is not cold!"
The Captain summoned a smile.
"No. Although some soups are served cold, most are eaten hot. Here, try this."
He tore off some of the soft bread and dipped it in the soup. The alien took it into her mouth and frowned. Jean-Luc recalled that until recently she's had no teeth, so he pantomimed chewing. She copied him and again her eyes widened in surprise. Jean-Luc put the spoon in her hand and said,
"Would you like to try?"
Instead of answering him, she let go of him and turned on his lap, straddling his thigh. Jean-Luc kept one arm around her as she took her first attempts at feeding herself with a spoon. It took her a while and it made a mess, but she finished all the soup and bread. Next, Jean-Luc wrapped her hands around the glass and helped her guide it to her mouth. Again, it caused a mess, but most of the milk went down. Jean-Luc finished his salad, ignoring the fact that his left thigh was wet with soup and milk as was her fur.
Since he had first found her, Jean-Luc had been aware of her frightful odour. He'd assumed Beverly would clean her in Sick Bay, but obviously she had intended to do it when she regained consciousness. That, of course, proved impossible. Her dull brown fur was matted and soiled with faecal matter and urine.
Jean-Luc stood and went into the bathroom. The alien immediately turned in his grasp, wrapping herself around him again. He smiled and gently stroked her back.
"It's all right, I just thought you might enjoy being clean."
She lifted her head from his shoulder, again confused.
"Clean?"
Jean-Luc smiled warmly.
"Part of keeping our bodies healthy is to keep it clean. To do that, we wash. Also, it stops us from developing what we call, body odour."
With her large limpid eyes, she looked up into his eyes.
"Body odour."
Jean-Luc nodded.
"Yes. Smell me."
The little alien moved her head closer to Jean-Luc and delicately sniffed. Jean-Luc then said, now smell you."
She lowered her head and sniffed her chest. Looking back at Jean-Luc he could see she didn't understand. With a sigh he realised he was going to have to shower with her. He reasoned a bath was out of the question…she would never let him go of him to do it.
It took some doing, but Jean-Luc managed to undress with her still clinging to him. Once he was naked she began to tremble and tears formed in her eyes, but Jean-Luc calmed her, saying softly,
"It's all right, I won't hurt you. Nothing bad is going to happen, I promise."
She was startled when he turned on the shower, but as he stepped under the spray her nictitating membranes opened and closed rapidly as the water cascaded over both of them. Once they were both thoroughly wet, Jean-Luc told her,
"Hold on to me, I need both hands free."
She tightened her hold and Jean-Luc reached for the soap. As he began to wash her fur, the water turned a muddy brown as it went down the drain.
Once her back and legs were clean, Jean-Luc considered how he was going to wash her front. In the end he sat down and turned her around so that she sat on his legs, leaving him free to wash her thoroughly.
Finally clean all over, Jean-Luc said to her,
"I am going to stand and wash myself now. You can hold onto my leg if you like."
This she did and Jean-Luc made quick work of his ablutions. When he was finished he turned off the shower and opened the stall door. With the alien still attached to his leg, he exited the shower and picked up a super absorbent towel.
Utilising the same strategy as in the shower, he dried her head, back, arms and legs before turning her so that she was braced against his legs, allowing him to dry her front. She only just tolerated this and as soon as he was finished she turned to cling to his leg again.
Jean-Luc quickly dried himself and put on his robe. Hampered somewhat by the alien on his leg, Jean-Luc made it into his bedroom and managed to dress himself in clean clothes. He then picked up the little female and went to the replicator, ordering a soft brush.
He went to his favourite chair and sat, explaining quietly,
"I am going to brush your fur. I will be very gentle, I promise."
Her day had been too long and much too much had happened to her. With her stomach full and sleepy from the warmth of the shower, as Jean-Luc gently brushed her, her eyes began to droop. Seeing that she was falling asleep, Jean-Luc stopped brushing and wrapped her in his arms.
She snuggled into his embrace and sighed. The Captain gently stroked her back and was pleasantly surprised when he heard a soft purr. It was lulling and soon after the alien had fallen asleep, Jean-Luc dozed off himself. And that's where Beverly found them two hours later.
On entering Jean-Luc's quarters, the first thing she noticed was the colour of the alien's fur. No longer a dull brown, now it was a pleasant tan, each hair tipped in gold, making it shimmer in the light. Making her way quietly across the room, Beverly sat on the low table and gently touched Jean-Luc's knee. His eyes opened and he immediately looked down at the little alien. Finding her still asleep, he smiled at Beverly, his love for her clear in his dark hazel eyes.
Whispering, Beverly asked,
"Did she eat anything?"
Jean-Luc nodded, whispering,
"Yes, a whole bowl of chicken soup, two slices of soft bread and most of a glass of warm milk."
Beverly smiled widely, obviously pleased. She leaned forward and sniffed, her eyebrows raised.
"You gave her a bath."
Still whispering, Jean-Luc shook his head slightly.
"No, a shower, actually. I doubted she'd let me go to have a bath and I wasn't prepared to get in with her, so I thought a shower would be better and quicker."
The urge to stroke the fine, shining fur was hard to suppress. Beverly marvelled at the change.
"My God, Jean-Luc, she looks gorgeous…and she smells nice."
He smiled.
"I know. I was brushing her fur when she fell asleep; it was as if I couldn't stop touching her. It feels as soft as it looks."
Just then the little alien stirred and opened her eyes. She looked up at Jean-Luc, then turned and gazed solemnly at Beverly. The Doctor smiled, saying softly,
"Hello. How do you feel?"
In Jean-Luc's mind her gentle voice appeared.
"Why does she ask that?"
For Beverly's benefit, Jean-Luc spoke out loud.
"This is my best friend, Doctor Beverly Crusher. She is the one who made you well again."
The little female kept staring at Beverly.
"What is a Doctor?"
"A Doctor is a person who heals the sick and injured."
The alien turned and looked at Jean-Luc, her large clear eyes almost glowing.
"She asked me how I felt."
Jean-Luc nodded.
"Yes, she is concerned for you. She wants to know how you feel so if you're not feeling well, she can make you better. How do you feel?"
The alien seemed to frown.
"I no longer hurt and inside I feel…different."
Jean-Luc gently stroked her back.
"Different good, or different bad?"
The alien had to think about that. Eventually she said silently,
"Different good."
With a smile, Jean-Luc said softly,
"That's probably because of two things. One is that Beverly has healed the damage you had inside your body and the other is that you have eaten a good meal. Would you like some more to eat?"
The little alien nodded, but before Jean-Luc could stand, she gripped his neck and silently said,
"Why are you called Jean-Luc?"
"It is my name."
"What is a name?"
Jean-Luc frowned.
"It is the way by which we are known. Each person has their own name. Do you know your name?"
She thought about that for a minute or two, then said silently,
"Filthy little whore."
Anger and sadness surged through Jean-Luc. He repeated what she had said to Beverly and watched as tears welled in her eyes. Suppressing his emotions, Jean-Luc looked into the alien's eyes and said firmly,
"That is not your name."
She appeared confused.
"It is the only thing I was called."
Jean-Luc hugged her to him, struggling to keep his tears at bay.
"That is a bad thing, little one, and undeserved. Why don't we give you a new name?"
She frowned.
"A new name?"
Jean-Luc summoned a smile.
"Yes, a brand new name, any name you want."
She seemed to think about that, then looked at him guilelessly.
"If I can choose any name I want, I want to be called Jean-Luc."
Jean-Luc stifled his surprise and amusement to say gently,
"Jean-Luc is a masculine name, a name given to a male. You are a female, you need a female name."
The little alien frowned and looked at Beverly.
"Beverly is female?"
Jean-Luc nodded.
"Yes."
"Then I will be called Beverly."
Frowning, Jean-Luc explained to Beverly what she had said, then looked to Beverly for help. She smiled and said softly,
"Don't you think it might be a little bit confusing if both of us are known by the same name?"
The alien just stared silently. Jean-Luc suddenly realised the alien knew no names. He looked at Beverly, saying,
"Why don't we choose for her?"
Beverly shrugged diffidently, but there was doubt in her eyes.
"Well I suppose, but wouldn't it be better if we gave her a few alternatives and let her choose?"
The Captain gave a thoughtful nod.
"That's a good idea."
Turning his attention back to the alien, Jean-Luc said,
"Would you like that? If we offered you some names and you chose the one you wanted?"
She sighed and rested her head on Jean-Luc's shoulder. After a few seconds she said silently,
"Yes."
Several names were mentioned, but the alien didn't seem overly impressed. She interrupted to ask Jean-Luc,
"What female name do you like most of all?"
Jean-Luc sighed, saying quietly,
"This is to be your choice, not mine."
She looked into his eyes and his heart melted.
"Please tell me, Jean-Luc."
He looked pleadingly at Beverly, but she hadn't heard what the alien had said. Jean-Luc closed his eyes, his only option but to tell the truth.
"Yvette."
"And why do you like that name the most of all?"
He sighed.
"It was my mother's name."
Confusion clouded her perfectly clear eyes.
"What is a mother?"
When Jean-Luc covered his eyes with his hand, Beverly asked gently,
"What is it, Jean-Luc? What did she say?"
He explained and Beverly lowered her head, saying softly,
"Dear God…"
The little alien saw the reaction her words had made, but unknown to Jean-Luc and Beverly, she also sensed their emotions. She began to tremble and when her voice subtly appeared in Jean-Luc's mind, she was frightened.
"I have done something wrong."
Jean-Luc immediately hugged her, saying softly,
"No, no you haven't."
"Then why are you sad?"
Jean-Luc closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He looked into the alien's eyes and asked gently,
"How long were you imprisoned? How long were you kept?"
Confusion again clouded her eyes.
"I have always been the property of my master."
Jean-Luc's eyes hardened.
"The Cardassian?"
The alien shrugged.
"The large one, the one you killed."
Struggling to keep his anger at bay, Jean-Luc said evenly,
"And you always belonged to him."
The alien nodded.
"Yes, but sometimes, if one of the others pleased him, he would give me to them. They kept me for a day or sometimes a day and a night. They hurt me."
Jean-Luc told Beverly what the alien had said and she too struggled with her emotions. The little female's trembling worsened.
"Why are you so sad and angry? What have I done?"
Jean-Luc gently stroked her head, saying softly,
"You have done nothing wrong. We are sad because of what you have suffered. You asked me what a mother is. Most species are born with two parents, the people who created their offspring. The female parent is called a mother and the male a father. You don't remember your mother and father?"
The alien shook her head.
"No."
Beverly sat forward, making the alien shrink back from her. Jean-Luc reassured her by stroking her back.
"May I ask how it is you speak Standard?"
Looking at Jean-Luc, the alien asked,
"The words we use?"
Jean-Luc nodded,
"Yes. It's known as Federation Standard, but long ago it was called English."
"Oh. I know four different ways of talking. There were many in my master's group, from many worlds. Standard was used often, but I mostly thought in my master's tongue."
Jean-Luc told Beverly what had been said. Beverly nodded, keeping a smile on her face.
"I see. And did you ever talk with your master?"
The alien shook her head, saying to Jean-Luc,
"No, not like we are talking, he forbade it. The only times I spoke to him was to beg him to stop what he was doing to me, but that made him beat me, so I learned to stay silent."
After taking a moment to compose himself, Jean-Luc told Beverly what he'd heard. Beverly fisted her hands, muttering darkly,
"Death was too good for that bastard."
Calming a little, the alien asked Jean-Luc,
"Why does what happened to me make you sad?"
Jean-Luc sighed. How do you explain compassion to someone who's never experienced it?
"What happened to you was very, very wrong. No one should ever have been treated like you have been, especially one so young. We feel sad because we wish it had never happened and that we could have prevented it somehow."
The little alien lowered her head onto Jean-Luc's shoulder and sighed.
"You said no one will hurt me now. That makes me feel…different. Like I have never felt before."
Before Jean-Luc could ask, she said solemnly,
"Good different."
They sat in silence for a few minutes before Jean-Luc said softly,
"Come on, let's get something to eat."
He rose with the alien wrapped around his chest and waist. Beverly waved him to a seat, saying lightly,
"I'll replicate, what would you like?"
He wasn't really hungry, but he knew the little female wouldn't eat unless he did, so he thought briefly and said,
"Beef vegetable soup, please…and a cup of Earl Grey."
Beverly gave the order, then, after a moment's thought turned and asked the alien,
"Would you like to try the same soup as Jean-Luc?"
She looked up at Jean-Luc and nodded. Beverly smiled, saying,
"And some soft bread too, I bet."
She placed the order, then, having placed the bowls, plates and cups on the table, replicated herself a bowl of pasta. As Beverly ate, she quietly observed Jean-Luc encouraging the alien to eat with a spoon. She did better than before and this time Jean-Luc put a napkin on his leg, so when she was finished, there wasn't too much mess. He wiped the few drips off the fur of her front and smiled.
"You did well. Now, would you like me to help you with the milk?"
The alien stared at the cup but seemed to work out how to hold the handle. Using two hands, she carefully picked it up and drank without spilling any. Jean-Luc stroked her head, making her purr again. Beverly raised her eyebrows in surprise.
"How long has she been doing that?"
Jean-Luc smiled down at the little female and sighed.
"She's only done it once before. I'd like to think it means she feels contented."
Noting the drooping eyes, Beverly said quietly,
"I think she needs to sleep."
Jean-Luc nodded and rose, going to his chair. As soon as he'd sat, the alien snuggled into his embrace and quickly dozed off. Beverly took a seat opposite and said softly,
"You've taken quiet a shine to her, haven't you. I know how you feel about children, Jean-Luc. Why is this one so different?"
Jean-Luc looked down at the helpless little alien and sighed, gently stroking her head,
"I don't know."
He sighed again.
"As soon as I saw her there was this…connection, this…I don't know…this bond. It was instantaneous and quite potent."
Beverly nodded thoughtfully.
"Well she's telepathic, perhaps she just sensed your good intentions…your compassion?"
Jean-Luc nodded, then said reflectively,
"I think she's empathic too. Didn't you notice her picking up on our feelings?"
With a soft gasp, Beverly's face showed her outrage.
"Jean-Luc, do you realise what that means?"
The Captain sighed heavily and briefly closed his eyes.
"That she was aware of not only what her tormentors were thinking while they were abusing her, but feeling? Yes, I realise."
Rubbing her brow, Beverly said quietly,
"She really needs to see Deanna."
Jean-Luc grimaced.
"I agree, but at the moment she doesn't seem to want to communicate with anyone but me. Perhaps in a few days, when she's not so frightened?"
With a shrug, Beverly sighed.
"Well I suppose you have a point, but it wouldn't hurt to at least introduce Deanna. Start the ball rolling, so to speak."
Jean-Luc felt a surge of protectiveness and had to struggle to think clearly. He took a deep breath and nodded.
"You're right, of course."
He sighed again, his face showing his distress.
"You have to forgive me, Beverly; I'm in uncharted waters here. I'm feeling things for this poor little waif that I never expected to feel for anyone but you."
Beverly smiled sympathetically.
"It's all right, Jean-Luc. I kinda like the thought that you can feel that way for her. It's a side of you I never thought I'd see."
Jean-Luc smiled ruefully,
"Me neither."
Beverly rose, kissed Jean-Luc's cheek and went into his bedroom, quickly re-emerging with a med kit. Whispering, she said cheekily,
"How's you balls?"
Sighing with exasperation, Jean-Luc glowered.
"You know very well they're aching."
As she took a hypo out of her kit, Beverly sighed and rolled her eyes.
"And you weren't going to say anything, were you."
Jean-Luc huffed quietly.
"What's the point? You knew, didn't you?"
Beverly injected the man, saying quietly, but with heat,
"Gods, Jean-Luc, there are times when I could throttle you!"
Suddenly Jean-Luc's face showed surprise, followed by disgust. Confused, Beverly said urgently,
"What?"
Instead of saying anything, Jean-Luc looked down to see a spreading stain on his trousers. Beverly chuckled quietly, whispering,
"Well it seems she's not toilet trained."
With a sigh of resignation, Jean-Luc gently got to his feet and started to walk to the bathroom. The alien woke and sensed his discomfort.
"What is it, Jean-Luc?"
The Captain remained silent until they reached the bathroom. There he sat on a seat.
"You have soiled yourself. We need to clean you and I need to wash and change my trousers."
The alien seemed upset.
"I do not understand."
This was not a conversation Jean-Luc was happy to have, but he needed to explain.
"Do you remember how I told you our bodies need food and drink to survive?"
That brought a silent nod.
"Well, once our bodies process the food and drink, it creates waste products, the material the body doesn't need. Those waste products are excreted in the form of urine, which is liquid and faeces, which are solid."
The alien nodded, saying,
"I know that. If I soiled my master while he was hurting me, he beat me."
Jean-Luc stroked her head.
"Well that won't happen anymore, but we don't just allow our bodies to excrete our waste any time we want and when we do, it is in an appropriate place, called a toilet."
Those limpid eyes looked into his as she tried to understand.
"A toilet?"
Jean-Luc nodded.
"Yes. Most toilets are located in bathrooms, like this one, but sometimes they are on their own. Would you like me to show you the toilet?"
She nodded, so Jean-Luc stood and went to the toilet. He lifted the lid, saying,
"You sit on it and void your waste, then clean yourself with the paper. When you are finished, you press this button and the waste is taken away. Then you wash your hands and dry them."
"Why?"
Stifling a sigh, Jean-Luc explained,
"Because bodily waste contains things that can make you sick. Washing your hands not only protects you, but others too."
The alien stared down at the toilet, obviously thinking about what she'd been told. She looked into Jean-Luc's eyes and said silently,
"You wish me to control the waste that comes from my body and do it in the toilet."
Jean-Luc nodded.
"Yes I do, but I will understand if you make some mistakes. You will not be punished, do you understand?"
Nodding, the alien pointed to the shower.
"Will we go in there again?"
Jean-Luc shook his head,
"No, I think we can get cleaned up with just a small wash."
She looked down at the stain on Jean-Luc's trousers and looked sad.
"But you will have to get different coverings?"
He nodded, smiling.
"Yes, but that's all right, I have more and it is easy to clean these."
Fortunately the alien hadn't soiled too much of her fur and Jean-Luc coaxed her into sitting at his feet to let him take his trousers off, but to move back into the bedroom she immediately clung to his leg. However, he did manage to get her to sit on his bed while he put on a clean pair of pants.
Feeling like he'd had a minor victory, they made their way back into the living area to find Beverly with a picture book she'd replicated. Knowing the alien wouldn't take it from her, she gave it to Jean-Luc, saying,
"You might find this useful."
He took his seat and opened the book, immediately smiling. It had all sorts of pictures of various species of children doing many seemingly mundane, but important things. Jean-Luc offered the book to the alien, saying softly,
"This is for you."
She was instantly confused.
"For me?"
Seeing her dilemma, Jean-Luc nodded.
"Yes, it is called a book and it is a gift from Beverly to you."
"A gift?"
Jean-Luc told Beverly what had been said and the Doctor smiled.
"A gift is something we give to someone we like. I thought you might find that book helpful. It is yours now."
Tears formed in the alien's eyes.
"Mine?"
Gently stroking her head, Jean-Luc said,
"Yes, yours…Yvette."
She took the book and hugged it to her with one arm. The other she clung to Jean-Luc's neck. In his mind he heard,
"I have a name…and a book."
When Jean-Luc told Beverly what she'd said, they both quietly wept.

 

 

 

As the late afternoon drew towards evening, Beverly, who had been reading, rose from her seat and went into Jean-Luc's bedroom. She tapped her comm. badge, softly calling,
"Crusher to Troi."
Deanna's cheerful voice answered.
"Troi here, Beverly, what can I do for you?"
Knowing Jean-Luc may not be happy with her request, Beverly pressed on nonetheless.
"Could you drop by the Captain's quarters after dinner? Say…twenty hundred?"
"Certainly. Is there a problem?"
Beverly winced and pinched the bridge of her nose.
"No. Yes. Look, it's complicated. Just come, okay?"
Beverly heard curiosity and concern in Deanna's voice as she replied,
"All right, see you then."
Taking a deep breath, Beverly went back into the living area to see Jean-Luc and the alien looking at the book as the Captain explained the pictures. They had done this several times, but the little female couldn't seem to get enough of it.
Beverly sat down on the sofa, picked up a PADD and said nonchalantly,
"Deanna's coming by at twenty hundred."
Jean-Luc froze, causing the Yvette to look up at him, worry clouding her eyes.
"What is it, Jean-Luc?"
The Captain sighed and tried to not feel angry towards Beverly. He smiled down at Yvette and said kindly,
"Later tonight, after our evening meal, someone special is going to come to meet you. She is a very good friend of mine called Deanna and if you allow her, she will be able to help you feel better."
Confusion made Yvette's brow furrow.
"But you make me feel better, Jean-Luc, I need no other."
After telling Beverly what Yvette had said, Beverly said softly,
"Yvette, do you remember how Jean-Luc told you I heal people?"
She nodded silently.
"Well, I heal people's bodies. Deanna heals people's minds. You have suffered a great deal and your mind has been damaged. Deanna can help to heal your mind, just as I healed your body."
Yvette looked up into Jean-Luc's mind, tears in her huge eyes.
"What would I have to do?"
Jean-Luc gently stroked her head, saying gently,
"Just talk to her, that's all."
Shaking her head, Yvette said in Jean-Luc's mind,
"I don't want to talk to anyone but you."
With a sigh, Jean-Luc tightened his grip on the little alien and said,
"Yvette, for many years of my life I was lonely, then I developed my friendship with Beverly. That friendship has grown to love and now we share our lives. That has made me very happy and I find comfort in being able to talk to Beverly about things that worry me. But sometimes I have had experiences that have made me very upset and I found I needed to talk to Deanna. She is very good at what she does. She is gentle and kind and I promise she won't hurt you. If I am with you, will you try to talk to Deanna?"
Instead of answering him, Yvette asked guilelessly,
"What is love?"
With a frustrated sigh, Jean-Luc rubbed his brow. Beverly asked quietly,
"What did she say?"
Jean-Luc told her and Beverly sat back, running her fingers through her hair.
"Oh, that's a beaut. How the hell does one explain that?"
Jean-Luc offered a wry smile and said impishly,
"Care to help?"
Holding up her hands, Beverly shook her head.
"Oh no, this one is yours alone!"
Yvette had been watching the byplay and frowned, but she seemed to understand that both Jean-Luc and Beverly were having difficulty answering her question. With wisdom beyond her years, she said silently,
"Is love something you feel?"
Somewhat startled, Jean-Luc looked down and nodded.
"Yes."
Yvette looked at Beverly, then back at Jean-Luc.
"Then all you need to do is feel love and I will understand."
Jean-Luc smiled and told Beverly what they had to do. It was so easy. All they had to do was look in each other's eyes and the love flowed between them. Yvette's eyes widened and for the first time since Jean-Luc had found her, she smiled.
"That feels so…good. I never knew anyone could feel like that."
Jean-Luc hugged her to him, saying with deep emotion,
"Love is the defining condition of the human species. When you find love, you are complete."
Yvette looked up into Jean-Luc's eyes and said with heartfelt intensity,
"I love you, Jean-Luc."
He was shocked and worried at the same time. Gently he put his fingers under Yvette's chin, looking into her eyes and saying,
"Yvette, you have suffered for most of your short life and I was the one who rescued you. It is only natural that you should feel something for me, but it can't be love."
The little female shrugged.
"I know what I feel, Jean-Luc. Do you not love me?"
He didn't know what to say. He was loath to hurt her feelings, but he needed to tell the truth. In the end he settled on a compromise.
"I care deeply for you, Yvette."
She looked up at him and said cryptically,
"That will change."
Deciding to move the conversation back to its origins, Jean-Luc said gently,
"Will you talk to Deanna?"
After a moment of two, Yvette nodded.
"Yes, as long as you are with me."
A thought occurred to Jean-Luc and he voiced it.
"And would you consider talking to Beverly?"
Yvette looked at Beverly sombrely before nodding.
"Yes."
Jean-Luc told Beverly the answer and the Doctor was delighted. Eagerly she sat forward, saying excitedly,
"There is something I want to try, Yvette. Would you close your eyes for me? I won't do anything bad, I promise."
Having received encouragement from Jean-Luc, Yvette closed her eyes but it was dubiously. Beverly lifted her hand so Jean-Luc could see what she was doing and gently pinched the back of her hand. She then said to Yvette,
"Open your eyes and tell me what I just did."
Yvette frowned and held up her hand.
"You caused a little pain on the back of your hand."
Sitting back, Beverly found it hard to contain her excitement.
"So you not only feel other's emotions, you can feel their physical sensations too?"
Yvette merely nodded. Jean-Luc was flabbergasted.
"Is it everybody, or only those you concentrate on?"
Yvette was becoming uncomfortable with the emotions she was feeling from the couple, but answered anyway.
"I can feel everybody, but I have learned how to block those I don't want to feel. I never wanted to feel what the ones who hurt me felt."
That statement quickly quashed the excitement Jean-Luc and Beverly had felt. Beverly sat forward and reached out to gently stroke Yvette's side. She tolerated it, but only just.
"You are a very remarkable person, Yvette."
She looked up at Jean-Luc.
"That is good? I have pleased you?"
The Captain hugged her and stroked her head.
"Yes, Yvette, that is good, but you don't have to please me. I am content with you just as you are."
Once again Yvette smiled, making Jean-Luc and Beverly grin. The Captain got to his feet saying firmly,
"I think dinner is in order."
Beverly stood and followed her lover to the replicator.
"I'll give you a hand."

 

 

 

Having tolerated her first two meals with no ill effects, Beverly decided she could do with something a little more substantial. When the bowl of penne pasta and cheese was placed in front of her, Yvette sniffed it and smiled.
"It smells good"
With a quiet chuckle, Jean-Luc said lightly,
"And I think you'll find it tastes even better, but you're going to need two hands to eat it. Now remember the pictures in your book? The ones of the children eating? They were seated in their own chairs, weren't they."
Seeing where this was going, Yvette looked up into Jean-Luc's eyes, panic evident. He saw it and hugged her to reassure her.
"It's all right, little one. Look at Beverly and me. We're sitting on our own chairs aren't we?"
She nodded silently.
"Well, if I put this chair right next to mine, you'll still be close to me."
Yvette considered the situation and reluctantly climbed off Jean-Luc's lap to sit on her own chair. Only her head and shoulders were above the table, so Jean-Luc got up and retrieved a cushion. While he was gone, Yvette closed her eyes and fisted her hands, being parted from Jean-Luc causing great fear. He knew she was frightened and made sure he stroked her head when he returned. She was trembling, so he said,
"You are very brave, Yvette, I am proud of you."
A small smile appeared and Yvette straightened on her cushion. Jean-Luc had to help her, but she negotiated the pasta with a spoon pretty well. Beverly had put some chocolate flavouring in her milk and it was obviously well received.
With a full stomach, Yvette climbed back onto Jean-Luc's lap as he and Beverly sipped their just opened wine. Beverly hummed in appreciation.
"Mmm, Jean-Luc, this is delicious."
He smiled, but it was tinged with sadness.
"Yes, it's the '47."
Beverly's smile faded and she bowed her head.
"Sorry, my love."
Yvette looked up at Jean-Luc, asking softly,
"Why are you sad?"
Staring into his glass, the Captain said absently,
"This wine was made by my brother, but he died."
Yvette frowned,
"What is a brother?"
With a sigh, Jean-Luc explained,
"Mothers and fathers can have male and female children. If they have more than one child of a different gender, then those children become brothers and sisters. The male children are called brothers and the female, sisters. My parents had two male children, so I had a brother called Robert."
Yvette digested that, then said solemnly,
"And that makes you sad."
With a frown, Jean-Luc looked down at the little alien, then said softly,
"Not because he was my brother, but because he died."
Yvette shrugged.
"People die all the time. My master died and I do not feel sad."
With a deep sigh, Jean-Luc gently stroked Yvette's back.
"I loved my brother, Yvette."
Tears formed in her eyes and she sighed.
"I am sorry, Jean-Luc, I did not know."
He smiled down at her, giving her a light hug.
"Death is a part of life, but death of a loved one is very painful and that pain resonates for many years, but with time it becomes easier to bear."
With a frown, Yvette asked,
"Then wouldn't it be better not to love and spare the pain?"
Shaking his head, Jean-Luc offered a kind smile.
"You have felt love. Would you forego that experience just to insulate yourself against the pain of losing a loved one?"
She thought about that for a minute or two, then shook her head.
"No, Jean-Luc, I would not."
He smiled sadly.
"Then you understand."
"Yes."
Unlike the other conversations Yvette had had with Jean-Luc, Beverly heard every word of this one. Knowing her lover was feeling melancholy, she said softly,
"Let's get the table cleared and maybe I can find another book in the replicator files."
Yvette's eyes actually shone with anticipation.
"Another book? For me?"
Beverly chuckled,
"Uh huh, but you have to earn it."
Immediately suspicious, Yvette said cautiously,
"What do I have to do?"
Moving to kneel beside the alien, Beverly said gently,
"While Jean-Luc and I clear the table, I want you to go and sit in his chair…by yourself."
She looked fearfully across the room, then looked into Jean-Luc's eyes.
"You wish it, Jean-Luc?"
He nodded, but said,
"I do, but you must be ready to do it. If you really don't think you can, then that's all right."
She turned to Beverly.
"I will still get my book?"
Beverly considered for a second or two, then nodded.
"Yes."
Yvette again looked over at Jean-Luc's chair. It seemed so far away, but ever so slowly she slid off her chair and inched across the room until she was curled up in Jean-Luc's chair.
Having watched such a demonstration of bravery, Jean-Luc and Beverly cleared the table as quickly as they could. Jean-Luc took the open bottle of wine and the two glasses with him as he went to Yvette, waiting as she moved to the arm of the chair to allow him to sit. Before she reclaimed his lap, he put the bottle and glasses on the low table.
Beverly soon joined them, a book in one hand, but her other hand was behind her back. She gave the book to Yvette, smiling at her enthusiasm to see inside it, but what she gave her next made the little alien gasp.
"I thought you might like this."
It was a teddy bear, almost, but not quite, the same colour as Yvette's fur. With the book firmly clasped in one hand, she took the teddy and hugged it, purring loudly. She said nothing; words at that stage were superfluous.

 

 

Deanna was prompt, arriving at precisely twenty hundred hours. When the door chimed, Yvette curled into Jean-Luc's body, shivering slightly. He gave her a one-armed hug and called quietly,
"Come."
The Counsellor came in slowly, knowing she was being watched carefully. At a gesture from Beverly, she sat on the sofa, smiling at Yvette who was peeking out from behind her own arm.
"Hello there."
When Yvette remained silent, Jean-Luc looked down at her and said softly,
"This is Counsellor Deanna Troi, the person I told you about."
Gently opening her mind, Deanna attempted to sense the alien's emotions, but as soon as she tried, Yvette closed herself off. With surprise registering on her face, Deanna said quietly,
"There is no need to hide, I won't hurt you. I am empathic, that means I can feel what others are feeling emotionally."
Yvette looked up at Jean-Luc and said angrily,
"I don't want her to feel what I feel!"
With a sigh, Jean-Luc said as gently as he could,
"But, Yvette, Deanna is here to help you. She needs to feel your emotions."
The little female looked up at Jean-Luc, her face a study in apprehension.
"You wish it?"
He sighed and briefly closed his eyes.
"It's not a matter of what I wish, Yvette, it's what's best for you. Like when Beverly asked you to go to my chair by yourself. You did that, didn't you? Nothing bad happened?"
She seemed to give that some thought, then looked into Deanna's mind. To her credit, Deanna kept her immense surprise to herself. She remained calm and made sure her thoughts were friendly. Yvette lowered her arm and sat up on Jean-Luc's lap. He kept one arm around her waist as she leaned forward and thought,
"Jean-Luc says you won't hurt me."
Deciding to speak out loud for the benefit of the others, Deanna nodded, saying softly,
"That is correct. I will not hurt you."
"And Jean-Luc says you have to do what he tells you."
Again, Deanna nodded.
"Yes...to a point. Beverly and I are the only crew members who have the right to make decisions against his orders, but that is only because we are medical personnel. However I would never make a decision concerning you that would hurt you or without asking him first."
Yvette's huge limpid eyes scrutinised Deanna as she tried to make up her mind. Jean-Luc bent his head, saying softly,
"Do you trust me, Yvette?"
She looked up at him and nodded saying solemnly,
"Yes."
He smiled.
"Then trust me when I tell you that you need to let Deanna help you."
The little alien turned to look at Deanna and opened her mind. Again, Deanna remained calm as a gamut of emotions flowed through her. Uppermost was fear and remembered pain.
Gently, and with great compassion, Deanna said softly,
"You have suffered a great deal."
Yvette shrugged.
"I did not know I was suffering."
With a frown, Deanna asked,
"Can you explain that?"
Sighing, Yvette looked up at Jean-Luc, but he have her a gentle squeeze of encouragement and she decided to answer.
"I did not know what suffering was. I simply accepted how I was treated, I knew nothing else."
Struggling to keep her own emotions under control, Deanna asked,
"You have no memories of home...your parents?"
Yvette sighed expansively.
"Jean-Luc has asked me the same thing. No, I have always been the property of my master, but now he is dead, I don't know who I belong to."
She looked up at the Captain.
"Jean-Luc, I suppose."
Before Jean-Luc could say anything, Deanna shook her head.
"You belong to no one but yourself, Yvette. To us, the idea of owning a sentient being is abhorrent. It is also against Federation law."
Yvette gave that some thought, then asked,
"But am I a Federation citizen?"
Deanna looked at the others and sighed.
"We don't know...in fact we don't think so, but as long as you stay with us, you are under the protection of Federation law."
Yvette seemed to give that some thought and the impression Deanna got was one of satisfaction. The Counsellor sat forward and concentrated carefully before gently asking,
"Can you let me know what was done to you while you were in captivity?"
Immediately on her guard, Yvette asked suspiciously,
"Why?"
Taking the time to order her thoughts, Deanna said quietly,
"If I am to help you, I must know what it is you suffered."
The little alien looked up at Jean-Luc and ne nodded. She turned her attention to Deanna and sighed.
"I was regularly beaten and they put their...their...things in me over and over. My master pulled out my teeth so I would not damage his...thing when he put it in my mouth. When they put their things in me it hurt very much...more than the beatings. But that is what I was for, so I did not complain. I did not eat food like I have had here. Every two or three days I was given a bowl of some cold, rancid scraps and another bowl of dirty water. I wasn't allowed to use my hands to eat, or pick up the bowl to drink. I had to use only my mouth. It was my master who used me the most, but if one of the others pleased him, he would give me to him for the day and sometimes a day and a night. When that happened I was always hurt very much...again and again."
Deanna clasped her hands and asked,
"Do you know what it was they were doing when they hurt you?"
Yvette sighed.
"When I was very young I did not have the ability to block out other's thoughts or feelings, so when they hurt me, I knew they were deriving pleasure. This I did not understand and I was very relieved when I gained the ability to block them out. To feel their pleasure as they hurt me was very bad."
Deanna nodded her agreement, sensing Beverly and Jean-Luc's anguish at the periphery of her mind.
Deciding to ask a contentious question, Deanna said softly,
"Do you know what sex is?"
Yvette shook her head.
"No."
Deanna looked up at her Captain, addressing him.
"Perhaps you could sit with Yvette and go over the computer's sexuality program?"
Surprise showed on the man's face.
"But, Counsellor, Yvette is only four or five years old."
Deanna smiled and shook her head.
"That may be her physical age, Captain, but mentally she is much, much older. It may be that her species either matures mentally much faster than humans, or they may be shorter lived and mature much quicker, thus their mental capabilities are far beyond what could be expected of a human child of the same age. Have you not noticed her perspicacity?"
Jean-Luc looked down at Yvette and frowned.
"I have noticed she has a good grasp of language and has excellent reasoning skills, but I am ashamed to say I didn't put it down to intelligence. I thought perhaps she was somehow mimicking Beverly and me."
With a shake of her head, Deanna sighed.
"No, Sir, she is old beyond her years, and that makes what she suffered that much worse."
Beverly rubbed her brow and shook her head.
"I honestly don't know how she survived, either mentally or physically. I take it you read my medical report?"
Deanna nodded.
"Yes, her internal damage was severe, but that has been healed. It is her mental health that concerns me now."
With a nod, Jean-Luc said softly,
"So what can you do?"
Deanna frowned, opening her hands to give her words form.
"Captain, I don't know if you're aware of it, but she has imprinted on you."
He frowned deeply, shaking his head in confusion.
"Imprinted on me?"
The Counsellor nodded.
"Yes. In the animal kingdom, it is quite common for some species to imprint at birth, that way they know their parent...or parents. Humans have exploited this trait for centuries when domesticating animals. If you think about it, human babies imprint over a fairly short time on their parents."
Jean-Luc looked down at Yvette, still confused.
"But what does it mean?"
Deanna shrugged.
"I'm not completely sure yet, but as it seems you are the first sentient being who has shown her kindness and compassion, she has imprinted on you as if she were a new born.
I would postulate that it is the norm for her species."
With realisation dawning, Jean-Luc said softly,
"She thinks of me as her parent?"
Deanna nodded, doing here best not to smile at her Captain's discomfit.
"She will look to you for everything, Captain, from toilet training to reading...everything. You have become the centre of her universe."
Jean-Luc shook his head, trying to dismiss the idea.
"This is unacceptable, Counsellor. I don't have the time..."
Deanna held up her hand.
"You don't have a say in this, Captain...it is done. Even with her level of intelligence and mental maturity, she is, in many ways because of her circumstances, an infant. She trusts you implicitly and Captain, that is no small thing."
Jean-Luc was about to say more when Yvette suddenly sat up and looked at Jean-Luc, letting go of her books to squeeze his hand. In his mind he heard,
"Jean-Luc, I need to...I need the toilet."
Jean-Luc looked up and could tell by his companion's expressions that they hadn't heard what Yvette had said. He nodded to the little alien and she gripped his body as he rose from his chair. Rather than carry her to the bathroom, Jean-Luc said softly,
"Hop down and walk, I'll hold your hand."
Yvette looked into Jean-Luc's eyes, silently trying to get him to change his mind, but the Captain was gentle yet firm. He eased her down to the floor and she took his hand, the other hugging the teddy to her chest. Standing to her full height, her head came to Jean-Luc's hip. He put the books on the arm of his chair and said to his companions,
"We'll be back in a minute or two."
Once they had left the room, Beverly said very quietly,
"How is he going to take this?"
Deanna shrugged.
"It doesn't matter, he has no choice, but I know him well enough to know that he won't abandon the alien. In fact, there seems to have been some kind of reciprocation in the imprinting. He feels far more for her than he's letting on."
Beverly smiled and looked over her shoulder at the closed bedroom door.
"She's named after his mother."
Deanna's eyebrows rose.
"He named her?"
With a shake of her head, Beverly explained.
"Not exactly. We were giving Yvette alternatives, you know, nice female names to choose from when she asked Jean-Luc what his favourite female name was. He told her it was his mother's name and, after explaining what a mother was, she immediately accepted the name."
With a quiet chuckle, Beverly confided,
"Her first choice for a name was Jean-Luc."
Deanna smiled, but it was with deep sadness.
"She is so innocent, yet so damaged. Imagine it, Beverly. As far as she can remember, her only interaction with any other sentient beings has been abuse. Is it any wonder she has bonded so thoroughly with someone as...noble...as the Captain?"
Beverly looked over her shoulder again and sighed. She could only shake her head.

 

 

 

Jean-Luc had led Yvette to the toilet, but she insisted on holding both his hand and the teddy as she went about her business. This proved a problem when she finished. She looked up at the somewhat embarrassed Captain, but said nothing. He sighed and said gently,
"Let go of my hand and use the paper to clean yourself."
She shook her head silently, increasing her grip of his hand. Going down on one knee, Jean-Luc stroked her head, saying softly,
"Yvette, using the toilet is usually a very private affair, something one does alone. Now I will stay with you, but you should clean yourself."
Giving his words some thought, Yvette suddenly thrust her teddy into his free hand. Now that she had one hand free, but still had hold of Jean-Luc's other hand, she took some of the paper and cleaned herself. Looking up at him triumphantly, Jean-Luc stifled a sigh of exasperation and led her to the basin. She could see that for him to pick her up so she could reach she would have to release his hand. She did so reluctantly and made quick work of washing her hands. As soon as her feet hit the deck, she reclaimed his hand.
Beverly and Deanna were still talking quietly as Jean-Luc and his little charge rejoined them. The second Jean-Luc was settled in his chair, Yvette was on his lap. She snuggled into him and sighed happily.
Deanna sent her a smile and asked softly,
"Are you comfortable now?"
Yvette merely nodded. The Counsellor turned her attention to her Captain and sobered.
"Sir, what I told you about the imprinting has an implication for Yvette's counselling."
Frowning slightly, Jean-Luc asked,
"How?"
Deanna sighed and struggled to find the right words.
"Her dependency on you will make it difficult for me to help her...and, Captain, I must inform you that she has utilised some sort of mental connection to make you imprint on her. You are almost as dependent on her as she is of you."
Jean-Luc sat up, alarmed. Yvette looked up at him, trembling.
"I have done something wrong?"
Giving her a one-armed hug, Jean-Luc absently shook his head, saying distractedly,
"No."
To Deanna he said,
"What does this mean for both of us?"
Deanna could only shrug.
"To be absolutely honest, I don't know, but what I do know is that I will not be able to counsel Yvette without your help. Think of it this way. As far as Yvette is concerned, you two are now one person. Now I know you don't feel like that, but can you deny you have very strong feelings for her?"
Jean-Luc looked down into those limpid violet eyes and sighed, shaking his head.
"No, I cannot. I feel very protective towards her and I must admit in a very short period of time she has elicited paternal feelings in me I didn't know I possessed."
With a decisive nod, Deanna said firmly,
"That is due to the mental connection."
Concerned, Jean-Luc's face showed his consternation.
"But how do we sever it? I cannot afford the time to sit here in my quarters with Yvette on my lap, Counsellor. I have a ship to command."
Holding up her hands in defeat, Deanna shook her head.
"I can't help you, Captain; I don't know how she's doing it. If we could encourage her to imprint on someone else that would solve the problem, but I doubt she would do it. Perhaps you should concentrate on teaching her to be more independent. Remember, she has been a prisoner for most of her life; she has never had the opportunity to act as an individual. Independent thoughts and actions are unknown to her."
Rubbing his lower lip pensively, Jean-Luc gave the suggestion appropriate thought, then he sighed with resignation.
"Be a parent, you mean."
Hiding a smile, Deanna gave a short nod.
"Yes, Sir."
Beverly smiled tenderly at her lover, saying softly,
"I can help, Jean-Luc...and there're your memories of Kataan"
Jean-Luc tried to smile at Beverly, but it made it no further than a rather wan twitch of his lips. He sighed heavily and shook his head, muttering,
"This is intolerable."
Deanna gave her Captain a sympathetic smile.
"You can do it, Sir; the feelings are there, inside you. Just bow to common sense and let Beverly help."
Offering a soft grunt, Jean-Luc grimaced.
"It's not as if I have a choice, Counsellor."
Deanna bowed her head.
"Perhaps not, Captain, but this may not be the disaster you think it is. I think you just might find it a very rewarding experience."
Yvette, who had been following the conversation both audibly and mentally, looked up at Jean-Luc saying timorously,
"You are not angry with me?"
He smiled down at her, saying softly,
"Can you feel any anger in me?"
She shook her head, but he could see she was unconvinced. Giving her a hug, Jean-Luc stroked the top of her head.
"I am not angry with you, Yvette; you have done nothing to make me feel anything but affection and sympathy for you. It is my feelings I have to come to terms with."
Yvette seemed to understand, but her eyes showed her fear when she said softly,
"You said you didn't have time for me."
Bowing his head, Jean-Luc rested his cheek atop Yvette's head. He sighed, picking his words carefully so as to not frighten his little charge.
"Do you remember when I told you I was the Captain...the leader of all the people on this ship?"
Yvette nodded solemnly.
"Well, that means I have a lot of work to do and that doesn't take place here in my quarters, it takes place on other parts of the ship, places you really can't go."
Tears welled in Yvette's eyes.
"But I want to stay with you."
He hugged her, not realising that the hug was done without thought. It was a natural gesture, just as his now natural habit of keeping one arm around her whenever she was on his lap. Before he could say anything further, Deanna said softly,
"Surely Yvette could stay in your Ready Room while you were on the Bridge, Captain?"
Shaking his head brusquely, Jean-Luc grumbled,
"And go against my own standing order of no children on the Bridge?"
Beverly sat forward, eager to have her say.
"She wouldn't be on the Bridge, Jean-Luc; she'd be in the Ready Room. I'm sure, with a little encouragement she would happily play if it meant she could be near you."
Deanna nodded enthusiastically.
"Yes! You could teach her to play. There's drawing, colouring, puzzles...all sorts of stimulating things and I could send a teacher up to help her learn to read. It's doable, Captain...with your cooperation."
Tears were slowly trickling down the fine fur on Yvette's face as Jean-Luc looked into her pleading eyes. He capitulated. There was no way he could deny her. Wiping gently at her tears, he said softly,
"You will have to do everything I say."
She nodded enthusiastically.
"There will be times when you will be on your own."
Fear flashed across her face as she immediately thought,
"But you will be near."
He nodded, sending soothing emotions.
"Yes, I will be near."
Yvette hugged Jean-Luc, thinking softly,
"I will be brave for you."
Jean-Luc returned the hug and surprised his onlookers by kissing the top of her head.
"You will be brave, my sweet, but not for me, for you."
Yvette did something completely unexpected. She sat up, lifting her hands to cradle Jean-Luc's face. She stared into his eyes, her own gaze as intense as he'd ever seen. In his mind he heard,
"I know about bravery, Jean-Luc, I learned it from you. It is in you, in your mind and your memories. I know about duty too. I don't understand it yet, but I will, won't I."
Shocked, Jean-Luc uttered,
"You have my memories? All of them?"
She nodded, seemingly surprised that he didn't know.
"Yes. You had one of these when you were young."
She held up the teddy and Jean-Luc nodded, his mouth agape. Absently he whispered,
"He was called Claude."
Yvette offered a small smile.
"I know. That is what mine is called."
She sighed.
"You have suffered too, Jean-Luc."
The Captain looked over at his colleagues, but it was obvious they weren't cognizant of what she'd said. Shaken, he lifted his head, making a concerted effort to not think of all the times he had suffered in his life. Yvette frowned and wrapped her arms around him.
"Don't try to hide, Jean-Luc, it's all right. I know you have recovered and that makes me feel brave."
Filled with awe and not a little love, Jean-Luc hugged the little alien and tried to keep the tears from his eyes. He looked up at Deanna, saying softly,
"We'll start tomorrow."
The Counsellor stood, a wide smile on her face.
"I will meet you in your Ready Room tomorrow morning, if that's all right with you, Captain. Perhaps tonight you might like to prepare Yvette for the experience of meeting some new people in the near future?"
Jean-Luc nodded, saying softly,
"I will, thank you, Deanna."
After the petite Betazoid had left, Beverly also stood.
"I should be going."
Gently easing Yvette off his lap and asking her to wait in his chair, Jean-Luc went to Beverly and took her in his arms. They embraced, then kissed tenderly. Jean-Luc whispered in her ear,
"I'll miss you tonight."
With a saucy smile, Beverly whispered back,
"As I will miss you."
She left and Jean-Luc retook his seat. Immediately Yvette made herself comfortable on his lap. They sat in companionable silence for a while before Yvette thought softly,
"You love Beverly...and she loves you."
With a wistful sigh, Jean-Luc nodded.
"Yes."
"She wanted to stay with you tonight."
Again, all Jean-Luc said was,
"Yes."
"And you wanted her to stay."
Jean-Luc closed his eyes briefly and sighed. He looked down into Yvette's upturned face and smiled.
"You are going to have to get used to Beverly spending a lot of her time here with me. We are in love and we want to be with each other as much as possible."
Yvette was going to say more, but Jean-Luc shook his head.
"No, no more tonight. It's past your bed time."
The little female looked confused.
"Bed time?"
Jean-Luc explained.
"The time we go to bed to sleep."
"Bed?"
With a sigh, Jean-Luc rose, easing Yvette off his lap until she stood beside him. He took her hand and led her into his bedroom. Pointing at it, Jean-Luc said,
"That is a bed. We sleep in it."
He went to the bed and pulled down the covers.
"Come on, hop in."
Cautiously, Yvette climbed onto the bed and Jean-Luc encouraged her to let go of his hand.
"Now lie down and put your head on this, it's called a pillow."
She did as he requested and he pulled the covers over her. But as he went to move away, her hand shot out and grabbed his. He stopped and looked down, saying softly,
"I'll just be in the next room, Yvette. There's no need for you to worry."
He could see she was getting upset. In his mind he heard,
"But I want to be with you, Jean-Luc."
Inspiration suddenly struck. Jean-Luc went to the recycler and retrieved a T shirt that had yet to be laundered. He knelt beside the bed and gave it to Yvette. She lifted it to her face and inhaled deeply through her nostrils. That brought a shy smile.
"I can smell you."
Jean-Luc grinned, pleased with himself.
"You can hold it with your teddy, or you can put it on."
It took only seconds to decide.
"I will put it on."
Within a minute or two, Yvette was snuggled in bed, hugging her teddy and wearing Jean-Luc's shirt. The Captain stood, saying softly,
"Now if you need me, just call, but if you're just lonely, sniff the shirt. Later I will be coming to bed, you won't have to wait long, but if you go to sleep, you won't have to wait at all."
Yvette looked up at Jean-Luc, her face serious.
"I will wait for you."
Jean-Luc stood, saying with a smile,
"Very well."
He went back into the living area and tiredly sat in his chair, his mind going over and over what Deanna had said. Ten minutes later he went and checked on Yvette...she was sound asleep. He lowered the lights and went to watch the stars.

 

 

 

 

As usual, Jean-Luc woke before his alarm, but rather than immediately leave his bed, he allowed himself to be lulled by the soft purring that was coming from his bed companion. The previous night he had considered sleeping on the sofa, but realised the futility of that gesture. Yvette, had she woken during the night, would have been frightened to find herself alone. So, slightly uncomfortable with the whole idea, Jean-Luc had changed into his shorts in the bathroom and then eased into his bed, hoping he wouldn't disturb his little charge. He needn't have worried. Yvette was out like a light.
Sometime during the night, she had cuddled into his body and twice Jean-Luc had stirred, each time, in a daze of sleepiness, thought that Beverly was with him, but as soon as he touched Yvette's fur covered body, he quickly realised his mistake and turned over, going back to sleep.
And now it was morning and he found himself almost dozing with contentment as the near subliminal calming sensation of the purr washed over him. Just as he was about to fall asleep, he took a deep breath and shook his head, muttering,
"Oh no you don't, Picard. Get up."
His baritone grumble was heard by Yvette and she opened her lovely eyes and yawned expansively. She looked up at Jean-Luc who by this time was sitting up in the bed. He looked down at her and smiled.
"Good morning."
She frowned, then smiled as she realised it was a greeting.
"Good morning, Jean-Luc, I want to use the toilet."
Knowing that under the covers he had an erection, Jean-Luc was loath to get out of bed. Instead he said,
"Then go, you know where it is."
Yvette sat up and took hold of his hand.
"But..."
Jean-Luc shook his head.
"No, little one. Today you begin a new chapter in your life. You will be meeting new people and doing new things. Now is a good time to start. You know what to do, just call me when you're finished and I'll help you to wash your hands."
Unconvinced, but unwilling to defy him, Yvette slowly got out of the bed and went into the bathroom. Once she was out of the bedroom, Jean-Luc got out of bed and put on his robe, so he was ready when she called for him.
Having washed her hands, Jean-Luc went down on one knee and said kindly,
"Once we're out of bed and comfortable, we wash our bodies. I like to shower, like we did yesterday, but if you like, you can have a bath, but either way, you do it on your own."
Trying to be brave, Yvette looked into Jean-Luc's eyes and said quietly,
"What is a bath?"
His own need to empty his bladder was becoming urgent, so Jean-Luc ushered Yvette back into the bedroom, saying,
"Stay here a minute, I'll be right back."
Confused that he hadn't answered her question, after waiting only a few seconds, Yvette went back into the bathroom to see Jean-Luc urinating into the toilet.

He had no idea she was there until she appeared at his side. He was so shocked his stream stopped and he barked,
"What are you doing here?"
Yvette immediately shrank away from him, cowering beside the toilet. Jean-Luc looked up at the ceiling, took a deep breath and tried to relax. He eventually finished what he was doing, washed his hands, then went to Yvette, taking her in his arms and lifting her up to hug her. She clung to him, her body trembling. Talking very gently, he said,
"I'm sorry I frightened you, I thought you were in the bedroom. Remember when I told you that going to the toilet is a private thing to do?"
She nodded.
"Well, I'm not accustomed to anyone watching while I use the toilet and I overreacted. I'm sorry, Yvette, I really am."
She lifted her head from the crook of his neck and he saw sadness in her eyes.
"What you were doing...my master and the others used to do that on me...and the other...the brown smelly stuff; they did that on me too."
Hugging her tighter, Jean-Luc said quietly, but fiercely,
"No one will ever do that to you again, Yvette, I promise."
She nodded solemnly, then offered a small smile.
"What is a bath?"
Finding a smile of his own, Jean-Luc led her to the bath and explained what was involved. The little alien frowned.
"You sit in the water?"
Jean-Luc nodded, slightly bemused.
"Yes."
Yvette shook her head.
"No, I like the water falling on me."
"Like rain."
She seemed to think about that, then her eyes shone.
"One time, when we moved from one place to another, I was taken outside without the hood. I think I saw and felt rain. Is it like the shower, but cold and falling from the sky?"
With a nod, Jean-Luc said,
"Yes. But rain can be warm, it depends on the weather. Tell me, Yvette, did they always put a hood on you when you were taken outside?"
She nodded.
"Yes, but every once in a while they forgot and I saw things like in the books. Sky, rain, trees, not that much, but enough to make me feel happy for a little while."
Hugging her again, Jean-Luc whispered,
"You poor little soul."
Yvette hugged him back, saying,
"Don't be sad, Jean-Luc, I am with you now."
Struggling to get his emotions under control, Jean-Luc said softly,
"Well, what is it to be? A bath or a shower?"
She looked into his eyes and in his mind she whispered,

"A shower...with you."
Jean-Luc shook his head.
"No, Yvette..."
She hugged him tightly, saying desperately,
"Please, Jean-Luc. If I am to experience so many new things today, let me start by having this shower with you."
How could he refuse her? With a nod and a sigh, he eased her to the deck and took off his robe and shorts. As they entered the shower he wagged a finger at her, but there was the ghost of a smile on his face when he said,
"This is the last time. Tomorrow you shower by yourself."
She looked up and nodded solemnly.
"Yes, Jean-Luc."
But somehow he knew she would get her way again.
Having showered, Yvette sat on the vanity, watching fascinated as Jean-Luc shaved. She had felt his stubble and smiled, thinking he was growing fur, but he soon explained that human males grew hair on their faces and that later that day she would meet some people who had facial hair. He then had to answer the obvious question. Why did he shave his off? He explained it was a personal choice and Yvette was content with that.
So, both showered, Jean-Luc shaved and in a clean uniform, they went into the living area as Jean-Luc began to prepare breakfast. As he worked he remarked,
"Beverly will be here soon."
Intrigued by his actions, Yvette ignored his comment and asked,
"What are you doing?"
With a smile, Jean-Luc replied,
"Setting up for breakfast."
"Breakfast?"
Jean-Luc nodded.
"Yes, that is what we call the first meal of the day. There is an old Earth saying. Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. It means that you eat a substantial meal in the morning, the next meal, lunch, is smaller and the evening meal, dinner, is light, so nothing else is eaten while we sleep. When we don't eat it is called a fast, hence break the fast of sleep, which became breakfast, the first meal of the day."
Yvette gaped, saying,
"How is it you know so much?"
With a chuckle, Jean-Luc answered,
"Partly it's because of my age. The older you get, the more you learn and experience, but I read a lot and I try to keep up with the latest technologies."
The little alien sighed and looked sad.
"I will never know as much as you."
Jean-Luc stopped what he was doing and went to kneel by Yvette's side. He stroked her head, saying softly,
"I'm sure you will learn all you need to, little one."
Just as he was rising to his feet, the doors to his quarters opened and Beverly walked in.

Yvette watched as the couple embraced and kissed, their happiness at seeing each other obvious. Having greeted each other, Beverly made a point of going to Yvette, who was seated at the dining table, to stroke her head and place a soft kiss atop her head.
Yvette, who had felt the stirrings of jealousy as she saw how happy the couple were together, calmed as Beverly kissed her, sensing the warm feelings coming from the Doctor.
Together, Jean-Luc and Beverly put their usual breakfast on the table...coffee and croissants, but for Yvette, she was given a bowl of cereal and fruit with some yoghurt and a glass of orange juice. As they began their meal, Yvette asked,
"Why do I not eat the same food as you do?"
It was Beverly who answered.
"You are younger than us; we are adults, which means we are fully grown. While young bodies are growing their nutritional needs are different to adults. Also, you have been without proper food for a very long time and we need to ease you back into normal food to give your body time to adjust."
The little female thought about that, then said,
"So even if I was normal, I would still eat different food from you and Jean-Luc?"
Beverly shook her head.
"Not entirely. There are many foods we can share, but not quite yet. Let your body get used to what you're eating first before you try something very different."
Seemingly satisfied with that, Yvette concentrated on her meal, taking no part in the conversation between Jean-Luc and Beverly.
With breakfast over and the table cleared, it was time for the couple to begin their shifts.
Holding out his hand, Jean-Luc said softly,
"Yvette, it's time we left for the Bridge. Hold my hand and don't be frightened, nothing bad will happen, I promise."
With some trepidation, Yvette took Jean-Luc's hand, then watched as Beverly went to her lover and kissed him.
"See you at lunch?"
Jean-Luc smiled and gently ran his fingers down Beverly's cheek.
"Ten forward and twelve thirty hours."
Beverly grinned happily, saying,
"See you there."
She then bent down to Yvette and cradled her face.
"I will probably see you in the Ready Room and again at lunch. Have a good time and don't worry, no one on the ship will hurt you."
Yvette seemed confident enough, but as they approached the door, her grip of Jean-Luc's hand tightened. He looked down and smiled, subliminally sending her encouragement, but, as they began to walk the corridors, Yvette became very scared. Luckily the turbolift they took was empty and the little alien relaxed a little. She suddenly looked up at Jean-Luc and asked,
"Why do you and Beverly touch each other's mouths?"
With a small sigh, Jean-Luc replied,
"It's called kissing. It is a gesture of affection."

Yvette considered that, then said,
"You kiss my head. Why don't you kiss my mouth?"
Wishing the lift would hurry up, Jean-Luc looked down at Yvette and sighed.
"There are many different ways of kissing. The way I kiss Beverly is always going to be different to the way I kiss you. Kissing on the mouth is intimate in its own way and is not something friends do."
That seemed to confuse Yvette.
"So I am your friend?"
Jean-Luc gave a thoughtful nod.
"Yes."
"You do not love me?"
He sighed.
"I didn't say that. You can love a friend; it's just not the same as you love your...partner."
The little female sighed.
"And Beverly is your partner."
With a decisive nod, Jean-Luc hoped to bring the conversation to an end.
"Yes."
"And I won't be your partner?"
Stifling a sigh, Jean-Luc said succinctly,
"No."
Looking up with her large limpid eyes, Yvette invoked deep feelings in Jean-Luc, and when she said softly in his mind,
"But you love me."
He nodded, smiling and gently saying,
"Yes."
Yvette smiled and hugged his leg.
"I'm happy you love me, Jean-Luc, I hoped you would. I love you."
Jean-Luc was going to explain again how she might be mistaken, but he could feel her emotions and the love he felt emanating from her was genuine. Smiling tenderly, he stroked her head just as the turbolift doors opened.
Yvette was still hugging Jean-Luc's leg, but as the Bridge was revealed, fear replaced her warm feelings and she clung to Jean-Luc, trembling. He managed to take one of her hands, but she wouldn't let go of his leg. Fortunately Deanna was on the Bridge and she slowly came to the lift, saying softly,
"Good morning, Yvette."
Hearing something so gentle and sensing the warm feelings coming from the Counsellor, Yvette looked up from where her head had been pressed against Jean-Luc's thigh and peeked at Deanna. Jean-Luc said gently,
"Say good morning to Deanna, Yvette."
In Deanna's mind came the timorous words,
"Good morning, Deanna."
Relaxing slightly, Yvette allowed Jean-Luc to ease her off his leg to stand beside him, holding his hand. Deanna held out her hand, but Yvette was reluctant to take it. Jean-Luc bent down to her, saying softly,
"It's all right, Yvette, Deanna is a friend."
Trembling and frightened, Yvette took Deanna's hand and together the three left the lift. Will Riker stood from the Command Chair and weighed up the situation very quickly. Deanna had already told him about Yvette, but until he saw her and how scared she was, he hadn't fully realised her predicament.
As Jean-Luc, Yvette and Deanna slowly approached him, Will smiled, his blue eyes twinkling kindly in his genial face. Instinctively knowing his imposing height might frighten the little alien further, Will went down on one knee and said softly,
"Hello there, my name is Will."
Yvette shrank back to Jean-Luc's leg, pulling her hand free of Deanna's The Captain bent to her, saying gently,
"Will is my friend too, Yvette, he is very important to me and the running of my ship." Looking down at Will, Jean-Luc said,
"Will, this is Yvette, my special guest on the Bridge. She will be spending her time in the Ready Room"
Will stuck out his right hand, saying with a grin,
"Hello, Yvette, it's nice to meet you."
Silently Jean-Luc thought,
"Shake his hand, Yvette, is it a gesture of both greeting and friendliness."
Yvette was unwilling to let go of Jean-Luc's hand, but with his gentle encouragement, she let go of his hand and shook Will's, saying silently,
"Hello, Will."
The big man's eyebrows rose in astonishment as the words appeared in his mind. He looked up at his Captain to hear Jean-Luc say,
"She's telepathic, Will, although how it is we can communicate with her in that way is a mystery to us. It shouldn't be possible, as you know."
Will stood, causing Yvette to cling to Jean-Luc's leg. Will smiled down at the little alien and reached down to gently stroke her head.
"Don't be frightened, Yvette, you are safe here on the Enterprise."
Yvette looked up at Jean-Luc, a frown on her face.
"The Enterprise?"
Giving her a smile, Jean-Luc explained,
"That is the name of the ship."
Taking her hand, Jean-Luc coaxed Yvette to follow him into his Ready Room. Over his shoulder he said,
"You have the Bridge, Will, I will return shortly."
As the Ready Room doors sighed open, Jean-Luc heard Will say,
"Aye, Sir."
Deanna followed Jean-Luc and Yvette and sat quietly on the sofa, saying nothing as Jean-Luc showed Yvette around his office. In the bathroom, she used the toilet and washed her hands and emerged, much more relaxed but still holding Jean-Luc's hand.
They joined Deanna on the sofa and the Counsellor smiled warmly.
"What do you think, Yvette?"
She shrugged.
"It does not matter what I think."
Deanna frowned.
"Why do you say that?"
Those huge violet eyes showed sadness.
"It has never mattered what I thought about anything. My thoughts…my existence were of no consequence."
Jean-Luc put his arm around Yvette and hugged her.
"That is no longer the case, Yvette. Everything about you matters. Your thoughts, your feelings, your opinions, they all matter. You are an individual, Yvette, with rights and the expectations of safety and comfort."
The little female thought about that, but seemed confused.
"So if I said I didn't like something…I wouldn't be punished?"
Jean-Luc smiled.
"No, you have a right to express your opinions. The only thing I must ask of you is obedience, but only because I am the Captain of this ship and I require obedience for the safe running of my ship. However I would never ask or expect you to do anything you felt uncomfortable with. Do you understand?"
She nodded.
"Yes, my master insisted on absolute obedience from everybody, especially me, but I trust you Jean-Luc and I know you would not ask me to do anything I couldn't do."
Jean-Luc hugged her again.
"That's right."
He stood and looked down at Yvette, sending her warmth and affection.
"Now I have to go to the Bridge for a while. Will you stay here with Deanna and do as she asks?"
Yvette nodded, but he could see she was apprehensive. Jean-Luc smiled and said softly,
"It's all right, Yvette, Deanna will look after you and I won't be far away."
Deanna took Yvette's hand, saying with a smile,
"I am going to teach you how to play."
Before she could ask, Jean-Luc said,
"That's a good thing, Yvette, you'll like it, I promise."
Yvette cast a sideways look at Deanna then gazed up at Jean-Luc.
"I will wait for you to return."
Bending down, Jean-Luc kissed the top of Yvette's head.
"I won't be long."
He turned and left.

 

 

 

Will stood again, his face serious.
"How do you think she'll go?"
Jean-Luc sighed, running one hand over his bald head.
"I'm not sure, but if anyone can help her, it's Deanna."
The big First Officer nodded.
"Yes, she has a way with kids."
Jean-Luc glanced at the Ready Room doors and sighed again.
"She'll need all her skills, Will. That little alien has suffered horrendous abuse for most of her life; in fact she remembers nothing else. The Counsellor tells me she is mentally quite mature, but in reality she is so young…some of the things she has told me about that happened to her…it's unspeakable, Will."
The Captain sat in the Command Chair and tried to focus on his job. After receiving a status report, he directed his attention to Yvette only to find her completely absorbed. Turning to Will, Jean-Luc said quietly,
"You have the Bridge, Number One, I'll be in Engineering.

 

 

 

 

Geordi LaForge was a brilliant engineer, one Jean-Luc was grateful to have on his ship as Chief Engineer. Time and time again the dark, unassuming man had done the impossible, protecting not only the ship, but all those aboard. Usually Jean-Luc's visits to engineering were due to some kind of emergency or mystery, but today he just wanted a quiet word with Geordi. He found him in his office.
"I hope I'm not disturbing you, Mr. LaForge."
Geordi looked up from the PADD he was studying, came to his feet and smiled.
"Not at all, Captain. What can I do for you, Sir?"
Moving closer, Jean-Luc said softly,
"I need some structural modifications to my quarters…as soon as possible."
Geordi folded his arms, considering the request.
"What did you have in mind, Sir?"
Jean-Luc offered a rueful smile.
"I take it you've heard about our new guest?"
Scuttlebutt travelled fast on any ship and the Enterprise was no different. Geordi nodded, trying not to grin.
"Ah yes, your protégé."
That brought a mild glare, but Jean-Luc had to admit, Geordi had a point. Waving away the comment, Jean-Luc returned to his original thoughts.
"I need a new bedroom with an ensuite."
Geordi, knowing better than to continue to attempt to tease his Captain, gave a nod.
"That shouldn't be a problem, Sir; I'll get right on it."
Smiling for the first time, Jean-Luc asked,
"How long?"
Geordi stroked his chin, making some calculations in his head.
"Well, we're not too busy down here at the moment, so I can spare a team of five…so maybe three days?"
"Better than I thought.", Mused Jean-Luc.
"That will be fine Mr. LaForge. I take it you can begin immediately?"
The engineer nodded.
"Yes, Captain, I'll get the team together right now."
Giving a nod of satisfaction, Jean-Luc smiled at his Chief.
"Thank you, Geordi."
As he was leaving engineering, words filtered into his mind and he noted the glare of panic inherent in them.
"Jean-Luc, where are you?"
He quickened his step, thinking,
"I'm just leaving engineering, Yvette, I'm not far away. Are you all right?"
"No, I am frightened and you are not near."
Having reached the lift, Jean-Luc said absently,
"Bridge."
He then thought,
"I will be with you momentarily, Yvette, stay calm."
"All right, but please hurry, Jean-Luc."
As the lift doors opened onto the Bridge, Will began to rise from the Command chair when Jean-Luc waved him back.
"I'll be in my Ready Room, Number One."
Before Will had a chance to respond, Jean-Luc was entering his office. He was confronted by the sight of Yvette hiding under his desk, while Deanna and another woman knelt nearby, trying to coax her out. Jean-Luc didn't have to say anything; Yvette bolted out and wrapped herself around his leg, burying her face in his thigh. The Captain bent and picked her up. She clung to him, trembling. It was then he noticed the toys, paper and coloured crayons on the floor. Deanna and the other woman stood, each with faces showing worry. Jean-Luc gently stroked Yvette's back while he asked softly,
"What happened?"
It was Deanna who answered.
"Captain, this is Lieutenant Rosemary Wing. She is a teacher and I asked her to come up to begin Yvette's reading lessons. Unfortunately Yvette became frightened and took refuge under your desk."
In a gentle voice, Jean-Luc said to Yvette,
"What made you frightened? I told you no one on this ship will hurt you."
Yvette lifted her head from Jean-Luc's shoulder and looked into his eyes.
"It wasn't the woman, it was the words."
With a frown, Jean-Luc shook his head.
"I don't understand."
It was obvious Yvette found it difficult to explain.
"The words…the letters…they say things…too many things. They are dangerous."
With a sigh, Jean-Luc sat on the sofa and encouraged Yvette to sit on his lap. Deanna gave her the teddy. Still gently stroking her back, he looked into her eyes and offered a small smile.
"Yvette, words are very powerful and it is true they can be dangerous, but they can also be very beautiful. With words we can describe our feelings so as others who do not know us can share with us how we feel. Words can be used to tell stories…funny ones, sad ones, even scary ones. Once you learn to read, you can decide what kind of words you choose to read. One of my greatest joys is reading a book I love."
He pointed across the room.
"See that very big book there?"
Yvette nodded silently.
"That is one of my favourites. The words in that book were written many, many centuries ago by a man named William Shakespeare. I find great pleasure in reading his words and I hope one day you might too."
Yvette stared at the tome, trying to make sense of what Jean-Luc had said. She hugged the teddy with one arm, sighed and turned worried eyes on Jean-Luc.
"But what if the words hurt me?"
Giving her a one-armed hug, Jean-Luc smiled warmly.
"They won't, Yvette. Once you learn to read, you will understand that the power of words is what you make of them in your mind. If you don't like what you're reading, simply stop."
Deanna had picked up some of the paper from the floor and offered them to her CO.
"Captain, look at these."
Taking the squares of paper, Jean-Luc was amazed to see very detailed pictures, drawn with obvious talent, but what they depicted was very disturbing. He looked up at Deanna and she nodded.
"Yvette drew them. I asked her to draw things she remembered of her captivity."
One picture in particular drew Jean-Luc's attention. It was the face of the Cardassian he had killed. His face was caught in a rictus of release, his mouth wide open. Jean-Luc knew what he was seeing…the face of a rapist at the point of orgasm from the perspective of the victim.
Shocked, disgusted and dismayed, Jean-Luc whispered,
"Why didn't you close your eyes, Yvette?"
She looked up at Jean-Luc and sighed.
"I wasn't allowed to. He liked my eyes; he often said they were the only attractive thing about me."
Deanna said quietly,
"Look at this one, Captain."
Jean-Luc took the piece of paper and briefly closed his eyes. Drawn with intricate detail was the manacle that had once been around Yvette's ankle. Angered by what he had seen, Jean-Luc stared up at Deanna, asking brusquely,
"Is this really necessary, Counsellor?"
She nodded.
"Yes, Captain, it is. By expressing herself in this way, I can help her purge the memories, or at the very least, help remove the fear associated with them."
Jean-Luc stared again at the pictures and sighed. Deanna gave him another one, this one made him smile. It was a picture of the teddy.
"So they're not all like those?"
He pointed to the ugly images on the sofa. Deanna smiled sadly and shook her head.
"No, Captain. Yvette has begun to think about her new life, although I believe she still harbours fears that her new life could be taken away from her at any time. The only thing keeping her grounded is her trust in you."
Deanna returned to the pictures on the floor and shuffled through them until she found what she was looking for. She silently handed it to Jean-Luc and he briefly closed his eyes. On the paper was an image of himself, smiling tenderly. Around his head was bright light and his eyes were larger than they really were and, as he looked carefully, he noticed Yvette had drawn his face with a covering of almost undiscernible fur. The Captain looked up at Deanna, a frown on his face. The Counsellor sat on the sofa and joined him in studying the picture. She sighed, gently running her fingers over the image.
"I take it you notice she has added elements of herself in your portrait,"
Jean-Luc nodded.
"It may be a repressed memory of a parent, or she might be trying to be more like you by making you more like her. After all, we must appear very strange to her."
Jean-Luc remained silent for a few moments, then said worriedly,'
"The light around my head…it gives the impression of saintliness."
Deanna smiled ruefully.
"She may be deifying you, Sir, but can you blame her? You liberated her from a life of pain and misery; you brought her to the ship and offered affection and safety. Even though it was Beverly who healed her, Yvette knows Beverly works under your command. You represent everything that's good about her new life…is it any wonder she imprinted on you and that she draws you as a God-like figure?"
This made Jean-Luc very uncomfortable, causing Yvette to hug him.
"I am sorry, Jean-Luc."
The Captain quashed his discomfort and returned the hug.
"You have nothing to apologise for, Yvette, you have done nothing wrong."
She looked into his eyes and asked,
"Then why do you feel…bad?"
He sighed.
"I don't feel bad, Yvette, I just felt a little embarrassed by how you see me. Yvette, I am just a man, I am not anything special. I have flaws and I make mistakes, just like everyone else. I am no better or worse than anyone else on this ship."
Yvette sat up, her mouth agape.
"But you are the Captain! You can do anything."
With a quiet chuckle, Jean-Luc shook his head.
"It may seem that way, Yvette, but although I am the Captain of this ship, I have to answer to higher authorities. If I am given an order by a superior, I must obey it. The organisation we serve is called Starfleet and it works by what is called a chain of command. When I first joined I had no authority, but as the years passed and I climbed the ladder of command, I gained that authority. It is not given lightly, Yvette it must be earned."
Yvette digested that, then shook her head.
"But you are the Captain of Starfleet's ship."
With a tender smile, Jean-Luc said softly,
"Starfleet has hundreds of ships, Yvette and each ship has a Captain, I am only one of many."
She was obviously shocked. She hugged her teddy, absently sucking on one of its ears.
"Hundreds of ships?"
With a nod, Jean-Luc smiled.
"Yes. There is a great organisation called the United Federation of Planets. Hundreds of worlds belong to it and Starfleet and all its ships not only help to protect them, but explore space too. I have dreamed of being in Starfleet since I was very young. I am very proud to serve."
Yvette thought about that, but seemed disturbed.
"Beverly said she didn't know what I was."
Jean-Luc sighed.
"That is true. Federation space has boundaries. We know some of the species that live beyond our boundaries, but there are many we have yet to encounter. Your species is one of those."
Tears welled in Yvette's eyes.
"So I will never see another of my kind?"
Gently wiping at the soft fur on her face, Jean-Luc said softly,
"We are going to do everything we can to find your people, Yvette, but it will take some time. We can't just simply go searching, we have work we must do for Starfleet, like finding the bad people who held you captive. But even though we will be doing other things, we will still be looking, asking, searching for your people. The Federation has vast resources, Yvette and we will use them in our search."
The little alien sighed and rubbed her eyes.
"So I might be with you a long time."
Jean-Luc nodded.
"Yes."
A small smile appeared.
"I am glad, Jean-Luc. I want to stay with you."
Not quite knowing what to say to that, Jean-Luc noticed that Yvette was showing signs of tiredness. Deanna saw it too and quietly said,
"Perhaps Yvette might like to take a nap?"
Immediately suspicious, Yvette looked to Jean-Luc for an explanation. He smiled, saying softly,
"A nap is a little sleep. You can sleep here, on the sofa."
"Where will you be?"
He pointed to his desk.
"I will be working here, unless I am called to the Bridge."
She gave a reluctant nod, but yawned expansively. While Deanna and the Lieutenant cleaned up the assortment of items on the floor, Jean-Luc replicated a pillow and a blanket, having convinced Yvette to wait on the sofa. He eased her into a prone position and tucked the blanket around her. She hugged her teddy as Jean-Luc bent and kissed her brow.
"Sweet dreams mon petit fille."
Confused, Yvette looked up at Jean-Luc, saying worriedly,
"I have a new name?"
With a wry chuckle, Jean-Luc shook his head.
"No, I just spoke to you in my native tongue. I called you…'my little girl.'"
Yvette smiled.
"Mon petit fille. My little girl. Thank you, Jean-Luc, you make me happy."
With his heart feeling full, Jean-Luc softly cleared his throat and turned to his staff.
"I will let you know when she wakes."
Lieutenant Wing was clearly intimidated by her Captain and said nothing, but Deanna smiled, saying softly,
"Thank you, Captain. Before she became so frightened, she was showing good progress with her reading lesson."
Feeling pride he couldn't quite quell, Jean-Luc nodded.
"Yes, she is very intelligent. Well, thank you both, dismissed."

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc had been working quietly for just on two hours when the silence of his office was shattered by Yvette suddenly calling out in distress.
"No stop…please stop…it hurts, it hurts!"
Jean-Luc bolted out of his chair and was with Yvette in seconds. He scooped her up into his arms, saying firmly,
"Wake up, Yvette; it's a dream, just a bad dream."
She was clutching her teddy so hard her knuckles could be seen white through her fur. Rocking her gently, Jean-Luc stroked her back, crooning softly. She came awake sluggishly, looking around in confusion. In a small, frightened voice she said,
"Where is he? He wants me again; he is going to hurt me."
Speaking very softly, Jean-Luc said,
"He is gone, Yvette, he will never hurt you again. You are safe now, here with me on the Enterprise."
Coming fully awake, Yvette wrapped her arms around Jean-Luc and hugged him. They stayed like that for some time before Yvette whispered,
"You killed him."
Jean-Luc nodded.
"Yes, I did."
She sighed and rested her head on his shoulder.
"Thank you, Jean-Luc."
He gave her a final hug and eased her away from him.
"It's almost time we met Beverly for lunch. Do you feel hungry?"
She thought about that for a second or two and then nodded.
"Yes, I think I do."
Jean-Luc stood, smiling down at the little female.
"Good. Go to the toilet, and wash your hands."
While she was gone, Jean-Luc contacted Deanna.
"Counsellor, Yvette is awake, but we are going to have lunch now. I will contact you when we return to the Ready Room."
"Very well, Captain, Troi out."
Yvette appeared at his side and pleased him by taking his hand instead of wanting to be picked up. They left, Jean-Luc informing Will as to their plans.

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc spotted Beverly at their usual table, under the viewport on the starboard side of the lounge. He spent an errant second or two just admiring her, love permeating every fibre of his being. Yvette looked up at him and smiled to herself, happy that he was happy.
Beverly raised her head as they approached, her smile a wide one. As Jean-Luc settled Yvette into a seat, the Doctor said happily,
"Hello, you two."
Wishing her could kiss her, but bound by his natural reticence to show affection to her whilst in public and on duty, Jean-Luc smiled back, saying with great satisfaction,
"Yvette told me she felt hungry."
Beverly looked at Yvette and grinned.
"Well that's good news! How does your tummy feel?"
Yvette frowned.
"Tummy?"
Jean-Luc pointed to her midriff.
"Your stomach, where the food goes when you swallow it."
Yvette shrugged.
"It feels…all right."
Beverly sat forward, asking,
"No pain?"
With a shake of her head, Beverly gave a happy nod.
"And you are going to the toilet okay?"
Becoming increasingly confused, Yvette nodded.
"Yes. Jean-Luc taught me. It is a private thing to do so I go by myself now."
With a soft chuckle, Beverly shook her head.
"That's not quite what I meant. Are you passing your bodily waste without any difficulty?"
Realisation dawned and Yvette smiled.
"Yes, but the brown stuff was not runny anymore."
Beverly smiled.
"That's the way it's supposed to be. There is no pain?"
Yvette shook her head and Jean-Luc muttered,
"This is not exactly a lunchtime conversation."
Casting her lover an exasperated look, Beverly huffed.
"Oh don't be so squeamish, Jean-Luc. These are things I need to know."
With a sigh, Jean-Luc kept his voice low as he replied,
"Of that I have no doubt, I'm just pointing out that we are about to eat. I, for one, really don't want to discuss Yvette's toilet routine just as I'm going to have my lunch."
They locked eyes and Beverly gave in.
"Oh, all right, you win. I will confine my medical questions to a more appropriate locale."
With a gracious bow of his head, Jean-Luc said quietly,
"Thank you."
He shook out his serviette and turned his attention to Yvette.
"If we give you some pictures of food you can eat, would you like to choose your own?"
That made Yvette smile.
"Yes!"
Summoning one of the lounge attendants, Jean-Luc explained what he wanted, then ordered lunch for himself and Beverly. Within a few minutes Yvette was given a menu of appropriate dishes and she picked a small serve of fish with seasonal vegetables.
While they ate, Beverly said quietly,
"I've spoken to Deanna. Did you keep the pictures?"
Jean-Luc nodded, saying softly,
"Yes, they're in the Ready Room."
"I'd like to see them."
Pausing with his fork half way to his mouth, Jean-Luc murmured,
"They make disturbing viewing."
Seeing that Yvette had finished her meal, Jean-Luc caught her attention as she was staring out the viewport.
"Yvette, why don't you go to the other viewports? The stars change slightly depending on the angle you see them."
She looked doubtful until Jean-Luc said with a smile,
"Beverly and I will stay here; you will be able to see us at all times."
With a nod, Yvette slid out of her seat and went to the next viewport. Once she was occupied, Jean-Luc said sotto voce,
"The pictures are very confronting. She is quite a talented artist has been able to depict scenes of her captivity with unerring accuracy."
Surreptitiously holding Jean-Luc's hand under the table, Beverly looked into Jean-Luc's eyes and said tenderly,
"Dee told me about the one she drew of you."
He flushed slightly and sighed.
"She holds me in far too much esteem, Beverly. I don't deserve such devotion."
From anyone else what he said may have sounded false, but from Jean-Luc it was genuine. Beverly gave his hand a squeeze and smiled.
"She has a lot to thank you for, my love, but give it time. As she learns more her confidence will grow and she won't be so dependent on you."
Jean-Luc sighed and his eyes wandered over to watch as Yvette touched the clear aluminium that separated her from the cold, black void of space.
"This is going to sound utterly ridiculous, but I'm not exactly looking forward to that day."
Surprised, Beverly tilted her head, saying softly,
"Jean-Luc?"
He sighed, trying to find the words that would adequately express his feelings.
"Although I'm not comfortable with how dependent she is on me, she is so innocent, Beverly, so…somehow unsullied, despite what happened to her. I have never met anyone so…"
He sighed again.
"There's no agenda, Beverly, no ulterior motives. She needs me in a way I've never experienced before. It's different to my experience on Kataan. Not only was that parenting in its simplest form, I had a wife to help and guide me. This is so different. Yvette has been through a horrendous experience, one that would have broken an adult, never mind an infant, yet she shows courage beyond anything I've ever witnessed. She is intelligent and discerning, yet she looks to me for solace and guidance. She is quite unlike anyone I have ever met before and the knowledge that she is under my care is humbling…and daunting.
"On the one hand I want her to grow, to learn and become independent, but on the other hand I want the sweet innocent she is now to remain. It's selfish, I know, but that's the way I feel."
With suspicious moisture in her eyes, Beverly sorely wished she could hug her lover and kiss him with as much tenderness and love as she possessed. Swallowing the lump in her throat, Beverly said quietly,
"You are a good man, Jean-Luc Picard and it's not selfish to feel as you do. The love you and I share is strong…yes?"
He nodded silently, squeezing her hand.
"What you're feeling for Yvette is a different kind of love. Just as potent, but different. Don't shy away from it, don't fret over it, just embrace it because it will enrich you, my love, just as our love has enriched us."
Jean-Luc gazed deeply into Beverly's lovely blue eyes and said softly,
"I love you, mon coeur."
Smiling with joy, Beverly whispered,
"And I love you, my heart."
They lingered over their coffee until Yvette came back to the table, announcing,
"I'm not scared of words anymore."
Jean-Luc wiped his mouth with his serviette and stood, holding out his hand.
"Then let's go back to the Ready Room and I'll call Lieutenant Wing."
Yvette looked up at Jean-Luc and smiled.
"I want to read your big book."
Beverly frowned, one eyebrow raised in query. Jean-Luc looked slightly embarrassed.
"My Shakespeare volume."
Stifling a laugh, Beverly said with obvious mirth,
"I think it would be best if you started with the primers."
Yvette looked puzzled and Jean-Luc huffed.
"Take no notice of her Yvette. You read Shakespeare if you want."
With a delighted chuckle, Beverly said quietly,
"I'll see you later."
Again wishing he could kiss her, Jean-Luc said,
"I'll replicate."
As she walked away, Beverly said over her shoulder,
"I loved a trained man."
Muttering,
"Wench"
Under his breath, Jean-Luc led Yvette out of Ten Forward.

 

 

 

The afternoon went better than the morning. Yvette was calmer and more relaxed. Jean-Luc spent most of his time on the Bridge, but would pop in to the Ready Room occasionally to see how she was going.
Late in his shift, only an hour before he was to end it, Worf, at Tactical said tightly,
"We have a ship on long range sensors, Captain. Configuration...unknown."
Turning his head, Jean-Luc said mildly,
"Can we put it on the screen?"
Data, sitting at Ops, said softly,
"Yes, Sir."
A dot appeared amongst the stars. In his unruffled baritone, Jean-Luc ordered,
"Magnify."
A ship emerged, making Jean-Luc come to his feet. With his eyes glued to the screen, Jean-Luc asked,
"Can we scan them at this range?"
Worf nodded.
"Aye, Captain. They are on an intercept course, closing at warp eight."
The Enterprise was still in orbit around the planet, so Jean-Luc said softly,
"Hail them, Mr. Worf."
Will stood, coming to stand beside his Captain. Quietly he asked,
"Shields?"
With a nod, Jean-Luc said firmly,
"Yes, Number One, shields and red alert."
Worf, on hearing his Captain's instructions was ready when Will turned to him and gave a nod. The red alert klaxon sounded and the shields went up. Taking one more look at the approaching ship, Jean-Luc turned to Worf and said quietly,
"Arm phasers and photon torpedoes, Mr. Worf."
The big, burly Klingon nodded curtly.
"Aye, Captain."
Will gave a look at the nearing ship and said softly,
"Time to intercept?"
Worf only had to glance at his console.
"Five minutes."
Jean-Luc gave Will a look and moved to the Ready Room, saying,
"You have the Bridge Number one, I'll be back in a minute."
Upon entering his office, he found Yvette sitting on the sofa with Lieutenant Wing and Deanna. Having heard the red alert sirens, the women were prepared when Jean-Luc said,
"I think it would be best if you all went back to my quarters."
Deanna and the Lieutenant came to their feet, but Yvette hurried to Jean-Luc, hugging his leg. In his mind he heard,
"I'm frightened...what is happening?"
He picked her up and stroked her back, calming her.
"There is a ship approaching, little one; we may go into battle with it. It would be safer for you in my quarters."
She shook her head.
"No, I want to stay with you."
Knowing he was running out of time, Jean-Luc said firmly,
"Yvette, as Captain of this ship, my place is on the Bridge. I need you to go to my quarters, right now."
She not only heard the words, but felt the emotion behind them. Reluctantly she let go of his leg and allowed Deanna to take her hand. Jean-Luc followed them out to hear Will say,
"No answer to our hails, Captain."
Jean-Luc looked only long enough to see the party enter the lift before he turned his attention back to Will.
"I want a bit more room to manoeuvre, Will. Put us into a higher orbit."
"Aye, Sir."
Worf reported,
"They will be within weapons range in seventeen seconds."
Jean-Luc gave a curt nod and said quietly,
"Get a target lock, Mr. Worf, but hold your fire until my command."
"Aye, Sir."
The seconds ticked by slowly, but the blast of energy that struck their shields gave the Enterprise crew no doubt as to the other ship's intentions.
In his usual calm manner. Jean-Luc ordered,
"Evasive manoeuvres, helm. Mr. Worf, return fire, phasers only."
Both officers replied,
"Aye, Captain."
The strikes from the Enterprise were surgical in their precision. Although the other ship kept firing, it was no match for the huge Galaxy class ship, but just as Jean-Luc was about to order the other ship to surrender it did something unexpected. Throughout the battle, it had been firing phaser-like weapons only, but, just as it seemed they would have to surrender, they let loose with a torpedo. It struck the Enterprise's port shields at close range, making the great ship roll sideways. The inertial dampeners failed momentarily, causing the crew to be thrown around like rag dolls.
The lights dimmed and sparks and smoke billowed from consoles that overloaded under the impact.
Will picked himself up, waving a hand in front of his face to try and clear the smoke. He heard Data saying,
"Environmental systems coming back on line now. Life support at seventy percent of normal."
As the smoke was drawn away into the vents, Will spotted his Captain, lying prone up against the starboard wall. The big man rushed to his CO, gently easing him onto his back and wincing at the gash on his head. He tapped his comm. badge immediately.
"Medical emergency on the Bridge! The Captain has been injured."
In Sick Bay, Beverly's stomach soured. As she made for the doors, picking up at med kit as she went, she lifted her head, saying,
"Crusher here, I'm on my way."
As she ran down the corridor, she heard Will say urgently,
"Hurry Beverly, he's out cold. Riker out."

 

 

 

 

In Jean-Luc's quarters, as soon as the battle had commenced, a terrified Yvette ran into Jean-Luc's bedroom and hid in his closet. Nothing Deanna could say could coax her out, but the instant Jean-Luc was injured, she bolted from her hiding place and ran pell mell to the doors. They obediently opened and a shocked Deanna ran to try and catch the fleeing little alien. It wasn't until Yvette had reached and entered a turbolift that Deanna caught her. Frantic, Yvette grabbed Deanna's hand, shouting in her mind,
"Jean-Luc has been hurt! I must go to him!"
Trying to calm the alien, Deanna went down on one knee and said quietly,
"We cannot go to the Bridge, Yvette. Captain Picard ordered us to wait in his quarters."
Pulling at her hand, Yvette pleaded,
"But he is hurt!"
Gathering the little body close to hers, Deanna concentrated on sending calmness into Yvette. She stroked her back, as she had seen her Captain do and said softly,
"Beverly will look after the Captain, Yvette, that's her job."
Tears welled and spilled down the soft fur of Yvette's face. Deanna hugged her tightly, then stood, taking her back to Jean-Luc's quarters. Yvette wasn't going to let go of Deanna, so the Counsellor sat in Jean-Luc's favourite chair and waited.
Deanna was well aware her Captain was unconscious. Ten minutes passed, then fifteen and the whole time, Yvette clung to Deanna, quietly crying. Eventually Deanna could stand it no longer. She lifted her head, calling,
"Troi to Crusher."
She immediately knew Beverly was worried and harried.
"Crusher here."
Not bothering with a preamble, Deanna simply asked,
"How is he?"
Deanna knew by her tone of voice that her Captain was going to be all right. There was more anger than anguish.
"He's got two broken ribs, a fractured right wrist and a very nasty concussion from a blow to the head that's left him with a gaping laceration. All in all, not too bad, but he's going to be like a bear with a sore tooth when he wakes up. Yvette had stopped crying and was staring intently into Deanna's eyes. Knowing exactly what she wanted, Deanna asked,
"Can we come down? Yvette really needs to see him."
There was a momentary silence before Beverly huffed, saying,
"As long as she stays out of the way. I've got a lot of casualties down here."
Deanna smiled at Yvette and said,
"Will do, we're on our way. Troi out."

 

 

 

 

On the Bridge, Will coughed in the clearing air, the tang of burnt wiring making his throat raw. Calm as ever, Data reported,
"Life support back to normal, Commander."
Before Will could acknowledge the comment, Worf barked,
"The alien vessel is trying to leave!"
Growling softly, Will shook his head.
"Oh no they don't! Follow them, Worf and fire phasers. Target weapons and propulsion."
He half turned, then refocused his attention on Worf.
"And I want to know what is what they hit us with. That was no ordinary torpedo."
As Worf barked,
"Aye, Sir."
The Enterprise swung around in a graceful arc in pursuit of her quarry. The alien ship was damaged and unable to go to warp. It was the matter of only a minute or two before the great ship fired.
The umbrage in Worf's voice made Will smile grimly
"Their shields are holding!"
With a scowl, Will said brusquely,
"Keep firing…use a volley of torpedoes if you have to."
Worf grunted his compliance and sure enough, he had to fire three photon torpedoes to finally render the alien vessel dead in the water. With a cold smile, Will said succinctly,
"Hail them, Mr. Worf."
Everyone on the Bridge waited with baited breath until Worf announced,
"Receiving a reply, Commander, audio only."
Giving a nod of satisfaction, Will ordered,
"Let's hear it."
Worf opened the channel.
"Federation ship, we will not be taken prisoner. Either destroy us now, or we will initiate self destruct."
Shocked and surprised, Will shook his head.
"Neither is necessary. Who are you and why did you attack us?"
"That is not your concern! We have scanned the surface. Our sister ship is destroyed and the crew dead. Your doing?"
Will's face hardened.
"Yes. We believe they were part of a mercenary group who have been engaging in piracy. We disabled their ship, but they fought back. Once the ship was rendered inoperable, we sent away teams down to the surface. A battle ensued and your compatriots chose to kill themselves rather than be taken prisoner."
The voice they were listening to was cold.
"Then we will do the same."
Will held up his hands, even though he could not be seen.
"No! There is no need for any further loss of life. Just prepare to receive my security teams and we…"
The blinding flash of the alien ship detonating made most of the Bridge crew hold their hands to their eyes. At such close proximity the ensuing shock wave buffeted the Enterprise badly; making most of the crew lose their footing. As Will climbed to his feet, he barked worriedly,
"Damage report!"
Worf scrambled to his feet and scanned his console.
"Shields down to fifty two percent, starboard nacelle coupling severed. Warp power not available. Casualty reports coming in…nothing serious."
Will tapped his comm. badge.
"Bridge to Engineering."
Geordi answered and Will could hear he was harried.
"LaForge here, Commander."
"How long until we have full shields and warp power?"
There was a moment's hiatus until Geordi said cautiously,
"An hour, perhaps two."
Worried about any further attacks, Will sighed and rubbed his brow.
"As soon as you can, Geordi."
"Aye, Sir. LaForge out."
Just as Will was about to take his seat in the Command chair, Worf reported,
"Commander, I have analysed the torpedo they used on us. It was a multi phased tetryon charge, jacketed in a nutating harmonic shield scrambler."
Running his hand through his hair, Will scowled.
"Where the hell would they get their hands on technology like that?"
Data swivelled in his seat to face his CO.
"It is possible they built it from scavenged parts from the ships they pirated, however, the Jem'Hadar has been known to use such weapons."
Will almost gaped.
"I can't believe they were capable of overcoming a Jem'Hadar ship, Mr. Data."
Data nodded.
"I agree, Commander, but that leaves one very worrying scenario."
The Exec nodded, his face grim.
"That the pirates are in cahoots with the Jem'Hadar?"
Data gave a curt nod.
"Yes, Sir."
Worf interjected.
"That would be consistent with the pirate's willingness to commit suicide rather than be taken captive. The Jem'Hadar has the same philosophy."
Will idly scratched his beard, then said softly,
"Just how thoroughly did we search the caves, Worf?"
The big Klingon glowered; offended at the insinuation he may not have done his job properly.
"Sir?"
Will suddenly became very animated.
"Helm, put us back into a low geosynchronous orbit over the cave site. Worf, when Geordi is finished with his repairs, I want you to lead an away team with him."
"Looking for what, Sir?"
Will smiled coldly.
"Something hidden, Worf, a place where they could manufacture ketracel white."
Data tilted his head.
"You think they were trading ketracel white for weapons?"
Will shrugged.

"Why not? The Jem'Hadar can't function without it and the pirates can't get superior weapons without an edge. Our efforts to destroy the ketracel white manufacturing plants in Federation space has severely disrupted the Jem'Hadar efficiency in this quadrant. What better way to exploit that?"
Data nodded.
"Indeed."
Will grunted and turned to Worf.
"Be thorough, Worf. Utilise Geordie's enhanced vision, find what we seek."
The big Klingon nodded.
"Aye, Sir."
Will sat down ruminating sourly. He said almost distractedly to Ops,
"Keep an eye out for more hostile ships."
Data nodded, turning back to his console.
"Yes, Commander."

Deanna was holding Yvette's hand when Jean-Luc woke, but the Counsellor knew both she and Yvette were aware the Captain was regaining consciousness. Deanna winced as from both her CO and the little alien she felt pain. Before she could say anything, Beverly appeared at the bedside and injected Jean-Luc with an analgesic. Both he and Yvette sighed with relief.
Jean-Luc opened his eyes and smiled at seeing Yvette there. Deanna smiled too, saying softly,
"Hello, Captain, how do you feel?"
He mustered a confident smile.
"Remarkably well, thank you, Counsellor."
He looked up at Beverly and she frowned.
"I know, you want to return to the Bridge. Okay, but you're going to be sore and sorry in a couple of hours."
With a wry smile, Jean-Luc quipped,
"Nothing I've not felt before, Doctor."
Beverly glared, then sighed.
"I'm pretty busy here at the moment, but I can come up to the Bridge later to give you another pain killer."
Swinging his legs around and sitting up, Jean-Luc tugged his uniform tunic into place and gathered his mantle of command around him.
"Only if you have the time, Doctor. I'm sure there are others who need your expertise far more than me."
He stood and smiled down at Yvette.
"You should be in my quarters, little one."
She looked up at him with her huge eyes and said in his mind,
"You were hurt."
Jean-Luc nodded.
"Yes I was, but now I'm better, so you can go now."
Yvette was unwilling to leave and Deanna had concerns of her own. She gently took her Captain's arm, saying softly,
"Sir, are you aware she can feel your pain?"
Shock registered on his face.
"She can feel my pain? She felt it when I was injured?"
Deanna nodded.
"Yes, Captain. I was with her when it happened. She knew instantly."
Jean-Luc looked down at Yvette, saying incredulously,
"Is that true?"
She nodded, somewhat frightened. Going down on one knee, Jean-Luc rested his hands on her shoulders.
"Can you control it, Yvette, can you block it out?"

She nodded slowly, but said silently,
"Yes, but I don't want to. If I cannot be with you, then I want to feel you. That way I can tell if you are all right or not."
His expression was stern, but his eyes were warm.
"I want you to block me out, Yvette. If I am to do my job properly I need to know you are all right and I can't do that if I know you are feeling everything I experience."
Tears welled in her eyes.
"But, Jean-Luc..."
He shook his head.
"No, I really must insist. When I'm on duty you must block me out."
With a lowered head, Yvette gave a slow nod.
"It will be as you wish."
Jean-Luc smiled.
"Good. Now I have to get back to the Bridge, I want you to go to my quarters with Deanna."
With a solemn nod, Yvette allowed Deanna to take her hand and lead her from Sick Bay. Just as Jean-Luc was leaving, Beverly said from across the room,
"Don't be a bloody minded hero, Captain. If you feel pain, call me."
Sending her an admonishing look, Jean-Luc gave a curt nod and left.

 

 

 

 

Will rose from the Command chair as his Captain strode onto the Bridge. In his usual calm manner, Jean-Luc said mildly,
"Report, Number One."
Will's face gave away his worry.
"We've only got fifty percent shields and no warp power, but Geordi says we should be up and running in about an hour."
With a nod, Jean-Luc asked,
"That other ship?"
"Completely destroyed, Sir, but we have come up with a theory."
Folding his arms, Jean-Luc said softly,
"I'm listening."
"We've analysed the torpedo they used on us. It was a multi phased tetryon charge, jacketed in a nutating harmonic shield scrambler. Now we know it would be near impossible for the pirates to build something like that, so we gave it some thought and Data came up with a rather unpleasant thought."

Rubbing his fingers over his lower lip, Jean-Luc said quietly,
"The Jem'Hadar."
Will nodded.
"Yes, Sir. We think the pirates have been making ketracel white and doing some trading on the side with the Jem'Hadar."
Jean-Luc turned and looked down at the planet.
"And you think they were doing it here?"
The big man nodded.
"Yes, Sir. As soon as Geordi has finished his repairs, we're sending down another away team, with Geordi this time to see if we missed anything. Like a lab."
Jean-Luc nodded.
"Good thinking, Number One."
Assuming his seat in the Command chair, Jean-Luc couldn't help but notice his Exec casting surreptitious glances in his direction. With a deep sigh, Jean-Luc, keeping his own eyes directed on the planet below, said sotto voce,
"I'm quite all right, Number One."
Caught being a mother hen, Will straightened in his seat at his Captain's right and tucked in his chin.
"Sorry, Sir."
They settled in to wait.

In Jean-Luc's quarters, Deanna was once again sitting in her Captain's favourite chair, Yvette on her lap. They had been sitting in silence, both verbal and mental, until Deanna asked,
"Yvette, when the Captain was injured, what did you feel?"
The little female looked up at Deanna and sighed.
"The first thing he hurt was his chest, followed by his wrist. He felt both of those, but the blow to his head he didn't feel."
Deanna sighed.
"You felt it though?"
Yvette nodded silently. The Counsellor gave her a gentle hug and asked,
"You can feel everybody, can't you."
Yvette nodded again, but then said in Deanna's mind.
"Yes, but I learned long ago to block out what I don't wish to feel."
Giving the little alien a hug, Deanna asked gently,
"Do you hate them, Yvette...those who hurt you?"
Yvette looked up guilelessly, her huge limpid eyes confused.
"Hate?"
With a sigh, Deanna sought the words to describe one of mankind's worst emotions.
"Do you wish them harm for what they did to you? Do you feel like you want them...dead?"
Still confused, Yvette shrugged.
"Why would I want them dead? They derived pleasure from what they did to me. That was my purpose. Jean-Luc killed my master and that was good because it means I found Jean-Luc, but I wished my master no harm."
Deanna frowned deeply.
"But after what they did to you...all you suffered..."
Yvette sat up and shrugged again.
"Deanna, I didn't know I was suffering. My life as it was, was the only life I knew. It wasn't a matter of acceptance; it was simply the way things were. It wasn't until Jean-Luc freed me that I had my first experience of kindness and compassion. Since I've been aboard the Enterprise I have found more kindness. It is wonderful...I never knew such things existed."
Deanna nodded thoughtfully.
"I understand, Yvette, but now that you have experienced kindness and compassion, doesn't that make you angry at those who mistreated you for so long?"
Yvette sighed and laid her head on Deanna's shoulder.
"Now that I have something to compare with, all I can say is that I am glad to be here and not with my master any more. This is much better."
Sensing her little charge was drifting off to sleep, Deanna thought softly,
"I think we could all learn a lesson from you, Yvette, one of forgiveness."

 

 

Geordi was tired when he met with Worf and the other three crewmembers in the Transporter Room. The Enterprise had full shields and warp power once again, but it had taken a concerted effort by Geordi and his staff to get the work done on time. Now he knew his VISOR was going to be put to use and the headache he had was going to get much worse.
Worf gave him a curt nod as he took his place on the transporter pad. The Klingon said gruffly,
"We will be searching for a hidden laboratory. Are you prepared, Commander?"
With a sigh, Geordi nodded.
"Yeah, Worf, I'm as ready as I'll ever be."
Worf barked a single command.
"Energise."
They rematerialised not far from where Jean-Luc had liberated Yvette. Deploying their tricorders, Worf grumped,
"We have already done this."
Absently rubbing his temples, Geordi sighed.
"Yeah, well not with my special talents. Give me some room; I want to scan the walls."
Of course it was too much to expect any secret laboratory would be easy to find. In fact the away team had been scouring the caves for over four hours and Geordi was nearing the end of his tether when he suddenly stopped dead in his tracks and backed up. Going to a section of cave wall in a deep offshoot from the main passage way, the engineer put his hands against the rock and whistled softly. Tapping his comm. badge he called Worf.
"LaForge to Worf."
"Worf here, go ahead, Commander."
"I think I've found something, Worf."
"On my way. Worf out."
By the time Worf and the other three members of the team had arrived, a rejuvenated Geordi had found what he was looking for. With a flourish, he pressed a hidden mechanism and the section of rock wall silently slid to one side. With weapons drawn, the team entered, the lights coming on automatically.
It was a laboratory, deserted and set up to produce ketracel white. In fact there were several large containers of the narcotic standing against the far wall.
Worf tapped his comm. badge.
"Worf to Enterprise."
There was no reply, just static. Geordi sighed.
"We're too deep underground, Worf. You'll have to get closer to the surface to report."
Worf gave a guttural grunt. Geordi smiled tiredly.
"You go and get our orders, the team and I will document everything here while we wait for you to get back."
With a nod and a curt,
"Aye, Commander."
Worf left. Geordi deployed his team and was soon absorbed in his work. He had instructed his team to be very careful and to be aware of booby traps, but the youngest of the team, an Ensign, was not as diligent as he should have been. Not paying due heed to Geordi's warning, the young man pulled at a barrel to see what was behind it. The resulting explosion killed him instantly and seriously wounded Geordi and the other two crewmembers. The lab was destroyed, along with the ketracel white.
Nearer the surface, Worf heard the blast just as Jean-Luc was saying,
"Bring it all up here, Worf. We..."
On the Bridge, the officer at Tactical almost shouted,
"Captain! There has been an explosion in the caves!"
Spinning around, Jean-Luc barked tersely,
"Life signs?"
The officer frantically manipulated his console.
"It's too deep inside, Captain, we can't get a reading."
Jean-Luc and Will exchanged worried glances before the Captain said brusquely,
"Worf, get down there and assess the situation. We'll send down more help."
"Aye, Captain."

 

Acrid smoke was billowing through the cave tunnels as Worf made his way back down into the labyrinth. His palm beacon barely penetrated the gloom and Worf had taken his tunic off to wrap around his mouth and nose to help him to breathe.
By memory alone, Worf navigated his way back to the secret laboratory and, upon entering, tripped over what little remained of the Ensign who had set off the booby trap. Worf's nostrils picked up the smell of gore and ruptured entrails even through the thick smoke. Fearing the worst, he lowered his tunic to call loudly,
"Geordi!"
There was a groan and Worf's keen hearing led him to the prone figure of his friend. Through the beam of the palm beacon, Worf could see that Geordi was badly hurt. Blood covered his chest and torso and his left arm was almost completely severed at the elbow, but somehow the Chief engineer opened one blind eye and summoned his voice.
"Get the others out, Worf."
The big Klingon grunted and hefted Geordie's broken body with remarkable gentleness. As he dragged Geordi out of the chamber, Worf said through gritted teeth,
"I will get the others once I have you safe."
He laid Geordi on the far side of the passageway and pressed two fingers against his throat. The engineer's pulse was weak and thready, but Worf had no other option but to leave him and go back into the hell of the lab.
He found the two other crewmembers, both as badly injured as Geordi. Just as he was laying out the last survivor, help arrived. In quick succession, each casualty was loaded onto a stretcher and taken out of the smoke where medical personnel were able to stabilise them for transport to the ship.
Covered on black soot, a singed Worf took several deep breaths in the clear air outside the caves before he tapped his comm. badge.
"Worf to Enterprise."
It was Jean-Luc who answered.
"This is the Captain, Worf, report."
"We sustained heavy casualties and one death, Captain. All survivors have been evacuated. The lab has been completely destroyed along with the store of ketracel white."
There was a momentary silence before Jean-Luc said with an edge to his voice,
"How sure can we be that that was the only lab?"
Worf's face screwed up into a silent snarl.
"We cannot be sure, Captain. Until Commander LaForge is well again, we can't continue our search."
Worf heard his Captain sigh.
"What are your thoughts, Worf? Do you think there could be more labs?"
With a grunt, Worf glared back at the cave entrance.
"It is possible, Captain. The one Geordi found was extremely well hidden. If the mercenaries went to that extent to hide it, it stands to reason they probably did the same for other facilities."
Will added his agreement.
"And if they were trading ketracel white with the Jem'Hadar, who knows what else, apart from weapons they acquired? Hell, they may have even got their hands on some ships if they produced enough."
Worf heard his Captain's voice again.
"Well we don't have the luxury of time. I'm going to order the entire cave complex destroyed from orbit. Your thoughts, Mr. Worf?"
The burly Security Chief nodded, a grim smile on his face.
"A wise choice, Captain. A few well-placed photon torpedoes should do the job quite nicely."
"Then beam up immediately, Worf. Picard out."
Worf wasted no time in carrying out his orders.
Knowing his Captain would expect him to report for duty clean and well-presented; Worf took ten minutes to go to his quarters for a quick shower and a change of uniform. When he eventually entered the Bridge, he caught his Captain's appraising eye as he took his station at Tactical. Jean-Luc gave an imperceptible nod and faced forward, saying just loud enough for Worf to hear,
"At your discretion, Mr. Worf. Photon torpedoes, full spread...fire when ready."
Nodding, Worf replied,
"Aye, Captain."
The familiar sound of the torpedoes' launch caused all on the Bridge to watch as the orange dots flew away from the ship on course to their target. Being so relatively close, it was mere seconds until they impacted on the surface. Through magnification on the viewscreen, the Bridge crew witnessed the annihilation of the cave complex.
As the plume of destruction grew, Jean-Luc spared a thought that he had just destroyed Yvette's place of torture. It gave him a grim sense of satisfaction.
Turning to his Exec, Jean-Luc issued his new orders.
"I want a full scan of this sector. If there are any other ships out there, I want to know about it."
Before Will could implement his order, Jean-Luc added,
"And I want to leave orbit. Take us back to the last known attack."
Will gave a nod, but said softly,
"Are we going hunting?"
With a soft grunt, Jean-Luc glared at the quickly receding planet.
"Something like that. These pirates have had us running in circles far too long. I want to give them a dose of their own medicine."
Knowing his Captain had a plan, Will asked,
"Using what as bait?"
Jean-Luc's expression was unreadable as he faced his Exec and said quietly,
"The Enterprise."

 

It was two long hours before the ship arrived at the last known position of the pirates. So far, scanners had shown nothing in the immediate area, but Jean-Luc wasn't fooled. Somewhere out in space more pirates lurked. The trick was how to lure them closer. He called a conference in the forward observation lounge.
Once everyone was seated, the Captain turned his attention to Beverly.
"How are our casualties, Doctor?"
Beverly offered a tired smile.
"Doing well, Captain. Geordi is going to require extensive rehabilitation, but he will make a full recovery. The other two have been operated on and are progressing well."
Jean-Luc gave a nod and Beverly saw the relief in his eyes He shook off the concerns about his injured crewmembers and straightened in his chair.
"We need to find a way to lure the pirates to us. My first thought was to shut everything down, to make us appear severely damaged and to issue a distress call. Your thoughts?"
Will ran his fingers through his beard.
"How do we let Starfleet know it's a bogus call?"
Jean-Luc offered a sly smile.
"We send an encrypted subspace message informing them of our plans."
The big First Officer nodded thoughtfully.
"Okay, that would work, but how do we make it so we can take the pirates on if we're shut down?"
Jean-Luc's smile widened.
"We can make it like a manual light switch. I am going to ask Engineering to place everything on standby...idling, if you will. We turn off all our lights, release the inertial dampeners and dampen the nacelles, but keep the warp core online. The instant we need to, my order will reinstate all systems."
Worf's face showed his distaste for the plan. His scowl brought a comment from his Captain.
"You don't agree, Worf"
The big Klingon shook his head.
"No, Sir, I do not. We should be armed and ready when we encounter the pirates. To be otherwise puts the Enterprise in unnecessary danger."
Will gave a thoughtful nod.
"Worf's right, Captain, we should be loaded for bear."
Taking his officer's comments under consideration, Jean-Luc nodded.
"I understand your concerns, gentlemen, but I still think my plan is the one to go with. I am aware their scanners and sensors would show if our weapons or shields were active, but I have complete confidence in the capabilities of my crew."
He faced his Security Chief.
"You, Worf, how quickly could you raise shields and arm weapons?"
His eyes gimlet-like, Worf tried to not be offended by the question.
"Within seconds, Captain."
Jean-Luc raised his hands.
"My point exactly. Look, the pirates aren't going to attack if they think we're dead in the water. They prefer soft targets and I believe they won't be able to resist a disabled Federation Starship, especially a Galaxy class one. We only have to lure them within range."
Will folded his hands on the tabletop.
"And then what? Our experience so far shows they will self-destruct rather than be taken prisoner."
Jean-Luc's face grew cold.
"That's where I'm counting on Mr. Worf's expertise with the phasers. Worf, do you think you can locate and destroy their self destruct mechanism?"
The burly Klingon shrugged.
"I doubt it would be a sophisticated system...probably something as simple as detonating their warp core. Depending on the type of ship, the relay conduits may be external. If so, I can sever them."
Quietly thumping his fist on the table, Jean-Luc nodded curtly.
"Good! It is imperative we prevent their destruction."
He then focused on Beverly.
"Doctor, if we do take prisoners, what drugs can be used in their interrogation?"
Shocked, Beverly shook her head.
"Captain, the use of drugs to interrogate is illegal under Federation law."
His face unreadable, Jean-Luc's voice was soft, but cold.
"I am aware of that, Doctor, but I can guarantee these pirates will not cooperate. They would rather die than give up any information...and considering how many lives they have already taken; don't you think we should use any methods available to us?"
Without Deanna there to back her up, Beverly was forced to concede to Jean-Luc's logic. Her eyes hardened as she said in a brittle voice,
"There are several coercive drugs that can be used, Captain, but I must lodge a formal protest at this suggested course of action."
Jean-Luc gave a curt nod, saying in a perfunctory manner,
"So noted."
He then turned to Data.
"Mr. Data, with Mr. LaForge out of action, I want you to coordinate with engineering to implement the plan. Tie in what you need to the Ops console and be ready on my command to carry out my orders."
The android nodded.
"Aye, Captain, but we will need to shield the warp core in some way; otherwise the pirate's sensors will detect it, as it will still be active."
Mulling over the conundrum, Jean-Luc ran his fingers over his lower lip."
"Suggestions, Data?"
Cocking his head in a curiously cat-like gesture, Data said quietly,
"A level four force field, scrambled by a rotating neuron grid would suffice, Captain."
With a cold smile, Jean-Luc said,
"Make it so."
Placing his hands palm down on the table, Jean-Luc said quietly,
"Dismissed."
As the others filed out, Beverly lingered. Jean-Luc stood and faced her, but she said nothing until they were alone. His dark hazel eyes bored into hers, his expression closed. Beverly had hoped he would say something, but it was obvious he would not. She took a deep breath and concentrated on staying calm.
"Are you positive you want to do this, Jean-Luc?"
His demeanour didn't change.
"I take it you are referring to the use of coercive drugs?"
Sighing, Beverly briefly closed her eyes and clenched her teeth.
"Yes, I am. Jean-Luc what's gotten into you? You've never even hinted that you'd be willing to do such a thing before. What's different about this...why now?"
Maintaining his rigidity, Jean-Luc's expression was hard.
"I deem it necessary."
Exasperated, Beverly almost shouted.
"You deem it necessary? I don't believe you!"
Then she had an epiphany. Snapping her fingers, she stabbed her forefinger at her lover, her eyes narrowed.
"This is about Yvette. The pirates abused her and you want revenge."
His eyes darkened and his voice grew deceptively soft.
"You are overstepping your bounds, Doctor."
Defiant and unbowed, Beverly shook her head.
"No I'm not! The Jean-Luc Picard I know wouldn't do what you propose. It's the mental bond, isn't it. You share everything with her, her pain, her fear...you have become consumed by what she went through. Jean-Luc, you have to separate yourself from her, she's impeding your judgement."
His guard lowered for the first time. His straight shoulders sagged and he lowered his head, sighing.
"I can't."
Going to her lover, Beverly gently wrapped her hands around his neck, encouraging him to look into her eyes.
"You have to, my love. Think about it. Would you have even thought of using drugs for interrogation before you became involved with Yvette?"
He shook his head, saying softly,
"No."
"Then can't you see what's happened? Jean-Luc, I understand your bond with her and I applaud your commitment to her, but you have to gain some perspective here."
He sat heavily in his seat, elbows propped on the tabletop, his head cradled in his hands. Softly he said,
"I can't block her out. Everything she allows me to feel...sense, remember...Beverly what she endured..."
Sitting beside him, Beverly put a comforting arm around his shoulders.
"I repaired the damage, Jean-Luc; I have some idea of what she went through."
He looked up, tears in his eyes.
"But when she was taken she was just a baby, Beverly. How could they have done those things to one so young? Cruel doesn't describe it, barbaric doesn't describe it...how can sentient beings do that to another?"
Beverly eased his head onto her shoulder and stroked his back.
"I can't explain it any more than you can, my love. Just take comfort in the fact you saved her. She's safe now, that's all that matters."
He gave a shuddering sigh and nodded. Lifting his head, he wiped his eyes and offered a watery smile.
"I'll ask her if she can teach me how to block her."
Smiling with love and tenderness, Beverly kissed his temple.
"I'm sure, once you explain what it's doing to you, she will do everything she can to help you."
His smile was warmer as he came to his feet, tugging down his tunic. They kissed and Beverly whispered,
"No drugs?"
His smile faded, but his eyes were kind. His voice was soft with tenderness as he said quietly,
"No drugs."
They kissed again and Beverly wrapped her arms around him, hugging him tightly. Into his ear she whispered,
"I love you."
He took her by the shoulders and eased her away from him so he could study her face. After a moment or two, he said with sincerity,
"And I love you, mon coeur."
Beverly left then, leaving Jean-Luc to contemplate what he had been willing to do. He shook his head and left the lounge, saying to Will,
"You have the Bridge, Number One, I will be in my quarters, but I won't be long."
The big man nodded.
"Aye, Captain."

 

Jean-Luc found Yvette and Deanna seated in his favourite chair. Yvette was hugging her teddy in one arm, the other she had loosely draped around the Counsellor. A picture book was open on her lap. Deanna looked up and smiled, but Yvette kept her eyes on the book, however in Jean-Luc's mind he heard,
"You are angry with me."
He smiled and shook his head, saying out loud,
"Not with you, Yvette, I am angry with myself. I allowed what I feel and sense from you to colour my judgement. I cannot let that happen, little one, so I must ask you; can you teach me how to block you out?"
Her head snapped up, anguish making her limpid eyes water.
"I don't want you to block me out, Jean-Luc! If I can't sense you I will be all alone."
He came and sat on the arm of the chair, gently stroking her head.
"Yvette, humans are not supposed to be able to communicate the way you and I do. I don't know how it's possible that we do, but it has to stop, at least while I'm on duty. I have to be able to function as I always have; the lives of the crew depend on me being myself, not influenced by you or anybody else."
The little alien looked up into Jean-Luc's eyes and quietly sniffed.
"So just while you are on duty?"
He nodded.
"Yes. When I return here, to my quarters, we can share each other's thoughts and feelings again."
Yvette closed her eyes and frowned. There was a soft gasp from Jean-Luc as a wall appeared in his mind. Yvette opened her eyes and sighed.
"I will be behind that wall, Jean-Luc. As long as you keep it in your thoughts, I cannot breach it."
He bent and kissed the soft top of her furry head.
"Thank you, Yvette."
He rose and made for the door. Deanna called softly,
"Take care, Captain."
He turned and smiled.
"I will, thank you, Counsellor."
Then he was gone. Deanna hugged Yvette, saying softly,
"That was very brave of you."
The little alien shrugged.
"I had no choice; I must do as Jean-Luc says."
That concerned Deanna.
"He is not your master, Yvette. He has explained you are an individual, free to make your own choices."
Yvette nodded, but a cheeky smile lurked.
"Yes, but I am a member of his crew and he is my Captain. Like everyone else, I follow his orders."
Not quite knowing if she was serious or not, Deanna chose to let it go, at least for the present. In the now, they returned to the book.

 

Will knew the moment he saw his Captain re-enter the Bridge that there had been some kind of change. Gone was the anger...the almost unquenchable thirst for revenge. In its place was his usual calm demeanour. Will rose from the Command chair, curious to know what was on his Captain's mind.
Jean-Luc looked into his First Officers eyes and said softly,
"There will be no use of coercive drugs, Will."
Relieved beyond measure, Will offered a small smile.
"I'm glad, Sir. It wasn't like you to go down that particular road."
With a nod, Jean-Luc took his seat, gesturing for Will to take his. The Captain sighed and bowed his head in shame.
"I am not proud of that incident, Will. I don't want to go into what precipitated it, but I want you to know I have taken measures to see that...and any other errant behaviours on my part don't occur again."
Satisfied, Will gave his Captain and friend a smile.
"Good enough for me, Sir. Now, we're just about ready to implement the plan."
He turned to Data.
"Mr. Data, are you tied in with engineering?"
The android turned in his chair and nodded.
"Yes, Commander."
Will looked at Jean-Luc and the Captain said softly,
"Make it so."
The Enterprise's lights and nacelles went out and, as the inertial dampeners were released, she listed to port and began to drift. From any approaching ship, she seemed to be a derelict.
On the dim Bridge, lit only by emergency lighting, Jean-Luc said quietly,
"Have we sent the subspace message to Command?"
Will nodded.
"Yes, Sir."
"Then send the distress call."

 

Despite Geordi being injured, his team had completed the work in Jean-Luc's quarters. A new bedroom and ensuite was ready for Yvette and Deanna was standing on the threshold, tightly holding Yvette's hand. In the little alien's other arm, were the books and her teddy. She leaned forward slightly, peering suspiciously into the room. Deanna took a step inside and said gently,
"This is your bedroom, Yvette."
Yvette looked up at Deanna and shook her head.
"I don't want to sleep in here; I want to sleep with Jean-Luc in his bedroom."
Going down on one knee, Deanna said softly,
"You know that Jean-Luc loves Beverly."
Yvette nodded silently.
"Well, there are times when Beverly will be sleeping with Jean-Luc in his bed. Don't you think it would be best to let them have their privacy?"
Yvette frowned.
"But why would they want privacy? There is room for me and Beverly to share with Jean-Luc."
Slightly embarrassed, Deanna sighed and gave Yvette a hug.
"Yvette, Jean-Luc and Beverly would like to make love. That is not something they would share with you, or anyone else."
The little female shook her head.
"I don't understand."
Deanna sighed.
"Captain Picard told you about sexuality, didn't he?"
Yvette looked confused.
"He told me that people who care for each other do some of the things together that were done to me, but I don't understand why that is so. He said it was pleasurable and I know from what I felt of my master and the others that they derived pleasure from the things they did to me, but all I ever felt was pain."
Holding Yvette's hand, Deanna struggled to help her to understand.
"That's because you were far too young. One day, Yvette, when you are much older, you may meet someone who you will fall in love with and together you will discover what joy physical love can bring."
Yvette looked guilelessly up into Deanna's eyes and said softly,
"I love Jean-Luc and I know he loves me. Why can't I make love with him?"
With a sad smile, Deanna squeezed Yvette's hand.
"Little one, you are still too young and Jean-Luc doesn't love you in that way. Love can take many forms. He does love you, that is true, but as a parent loves a child, not as a lover."
Yvette frowned.
"Parents do not have sex with their children?"
Deanna shook her head vehemently.
"No, they do not. But that doesn't mean they love their children any less. It's just a different kind of love, perhaps the strongest love of all."
They remained in silence for a few moments before Yvette stepped reluctantly into her new room. Deanna showed her where to put her books, showed her the bathroom and got her to test the bed. It was while she was lying down that she was taken by a large yawn. Deanna smiled, saying gently,
"Are you tired?"
Yvette merely nodded, so Deanna pulled the covers over her and sat on the bed.
"I'll stay with you until you fall asleep."
Ever so softly, like the ethereal brush of a feather across her mind, Deanna heard,
"Thank you."

 

Hours passed as the Enterprise drifted in space. Utilising passive sensors, the crew tried to keep their focus in the dim emergency lighting throughout the ship. On the Bridge, what had been a tense atmosphere had gradually become subdued to almost lethargy as the hours passed. There had been two shift changes, but Jean-Luc and Will had opted to stay on duty.
Beverly, her shift over, was asleep in her quarters when her lover's voice came over the comm.
"Attention all hands. There is a vessel approaching, prepare for battle stations."
Suddenly, previously torpid crewmembers came alive. There was no klaxon, no red alert lights, just the calm and reassuring voice of their Captain warning them of the coming danger.
Beverly was in Sick Bay, tending to her patients in under ten minutes. She was well occupied, but part of her mind and heart were with her lover on the Bridge.
Jean-Luc sat in a relaxed posture in the Command Chair, legs crossed, one elbow on the arm rest as the stream of quiet reports came in.
"Vessel now at two hundred and fifty thousand kilometres and closing. They're scanning us, Captain."
"Steady as she goes, Lieutenant. Maintain current condition."
"Aye, Sir."
Will shifted his position yet again, garnering an amused glint in Jean-Luc's eyes.
"Patience, Number One."
Will softly grunted.
"That's what I find the hardest, Captain...the waiting."
Casting a sidelong look at his Exec, Jean-Luc commented wryly,
"You like fishing, don't you?"
Nonplussed by the non sequitur, Will nodded with uncertainty.
"Ah...yes, Sir."
A ghost of a smile appeared on Jean-Luc's face.
"And does that not require a lot of waiting?"
Shaking his head in good humour, Will softly chuckled.
"Yes, Captain, yes it does."
"Then think of this as a fishing expedition. We have set the bait and our quarry is sniffing around. It's only a matter of time before the hook is in their mouth."
Will's expression sobered.
"You do know, Sir...some fish fight like hell."
Jean-Luc nodded wisely.
"Oh yes, I'm aware of that, but I believe we possess superior equipment and personnel. We will prevail, Will, have no fear of that."
With the viewscreen darkened, Will felt blind. He sighed and rubbed at his gritty eyes.
"And be patient."
Jean-Luc nodded once.
"Yes, be patient.

 

As Jean-Luc had predicted, the alien ship slowly moved in, its posture unaggressive, although it did have its weapons armed. The Bridge crew watched its approach, tension slowly taking hold. Jean-Luc uncrossed his legs and sat slightly forward in his chair. With quiet authority he said,
"Steady now. When they're at five hundred kilometres, be ready to reactivate the ship."
There was a soft chorus of, "Aye, Sir."
Suddenly a call came from within the ship.
"Intruder alert! We are being boarded!"
Immediately swinging into action, Jean-Luc barked,
"Red alert! Shields and weapons, now!"
The great ship woke from her slumber and came alive. From the tactical station, Worf not only armed and aimed the weapons, but directed security teams to the decks infiltrated by the boarders. Jean-Luc stood, saying firmly,
"Viewscreen on."
Finally, the crew got a look at their adversary. It was a sleekly beautiful ship, not as large as the Enterprise, but elegant in its own way. It was a silvery green colour and was shaped as an elongated ellipse.
Worf's terse,
"They're targeting us, Captain."
Made Jean-Luc say brusquely,
"Take out their weapons, Worf."
Almost muttering his reply, Jean-Luc ignored it as bright orange beams lanced out from the Enterprise to splash against the other ship's shields. Data reported matter-of-factly,
"Minimal damage, Captain. They are returning fire."
Jean-Luc retreated to his seat just as the first barrage hit the Enterprise's shields. The great ship shuddered, but was undamaged. Hearing Worf's report, Jean-Luc turned his head to ask,
"What are their capabilities, Worf?"
The big Klingon looked down at his console and grunted.
"We outmatch them, Captain, but they are capable of putting up quite a fight."
Giving the situation only a moment's thought, Jean-Luc said,
"Have they got the external conduits we were looking for?"
Worf nodded.
"Yes, Sir."
Turning to the viewscreen once again, Jean-Luc uttered quietly,
"Take them out, Mr. Worf."
With great satisfaction, Worf's deep voice rumbled as he replied,
"With pleasure, Captain."
Again the brilliant orange beams lanced out from the Enterprise, impacting in a concentrated burst on one area of the alien ship. It attempted to out manoeuvre the attack, but the combination of Worf's skill and the ship's targeting computer made it impossible to escape. The sustained blast of pure energy quickly broke through the other ship's shields, resulting in an explosion on her hull. With some reluctance, Worf ceased firing.

"Conduits destroyed, Captain."
Jean-Luc smiled grimly.
"Well done, Lieutenant. What is the status of the boarders?"
Checking his console again, Worf scowled.
"Eight managed to beam aboard, Captain. All but three are accounted for."
Jean-Luc turned in his seat to look up at Worf.
"Dead or alive?"
Standing up straight, Worf announced,
"Except the three who are evading us, all dead, Sir."
With a scowl of his own, Jean-Luc shook his head.
"By their own hands, or ours?"
"Theirs, Captain."
Jean-Luc faced forwards again just as a call for help came from Sick Bay.
"Intruder alert...Sick Bay..."
Immediately on his feet, Jean-Luc swung around to Worf.
"How is that possible?"
The Security Officer glowered at his screen.
"I do not know, Captain! Permission to leave the Bridge?"
Giving a curt nod, Jean-Luc said succinctly,
"Get them, Worf."
He then lifted his head to call,
"Sick Bay, this is the Bridge, report."
There was a momentary hiatus, then Beverly's hushed voice was heard.
"Bridge this is Crusher. We have three, repeat three intruders in Sick Bay. They got in through the Jefferies tubes. They have taken hostages."
Tension permeated every pore of Jean-Luc's body, but outwardly he remained calm.
"Doctor, what is your position?"
"Me and four staff members are hiding in the analysis lab. I don't think they know we're..."
There was a sharp report, then a guttural voice saying over the comm.,
"Who is in charge here?"
Before anyone could answer, Jean-Luc said,
"This is the Captain. There is no need for further violence. Release your hostages and we will come to an arrangement."
Jean-Luc wanted to grimace when he heard the cruel laughter.
"Captain, all you have to do is drop your shields."
With a frown, Jean-Luc shook his head.
"You know I cannot allow that."
"Then we will kill one person every five minutes until you change your mind, starting with the woman with the red hair."
He shouted before he even knew he had.
"NO!"
Before he could say anything else, Beverly said firmly,
"Don't give in, Jean-Luc!"
The sound of a slap, loud and sharp was heard, then the rough voice again.
"You have five minutes before I begin the slaughter, Captain."
Tapping his comm. badge, Jean-Luc said urgently,
"Picard to Worf."
Worf's hushed voice responded,
"Worf here, Captain. I'm inside the Jefferies tube. I have a team outside the Sick Bay doors."
Wishing he could do more than merely stand by helplessly and listen, Jean-Luc fisted his hands. He was about to issue his orders when the comm. system came alive with the sounds of screaming. Suddenly Beverly shouted,
"What's happening to them?"
Jean-Luc's face paled as he called,
"Doctor Crusher, report!"
There seemed to be chaos in Sick Bay. More shouting and screaming was heard then an eerie silence.
Before the Captain could say anything, Beverly said quietly,
"They're all dead."

 

In Jean-Luc's quarters, a concerned Deanna listened to the comm. system, her fears growing as the situation escalated. She was in the living area when Yvette came out of her room, her large violet eyes wide.
"Something bad is happening"
Deanna looked up and tried to smile.
"Everything is all right, Yvette."
She shook her head.
"No it's not! Jean-Luc is frightened and angry."
Knowing she couldn't lie to Yvette, Deanna held her hand out and encouraged the little alien onto her lap.
"There are some bad men on the ship, but we will catch them."
An alarmed Yvette looked into Deanna's obsidian eyes and asked silently,
"Is Jean-Luc safe?"
Deanna hugged Yvette, saying softly,
"I'm sure he's safe."
Just then Yvette stiffened and began to shake. Deanna hugged her again, saying with concern,
"What is it?"
Yvette's shaking got worse.
"Beverly is hurt! The bad men are going to hurt her again!"
As Deanna watched, Yvette closed her eyes and frowned. The Counsellor felt a sudden build up of pressure in her head but before she could ask what it was, it abruptly stopped. Yvette sighed and relaxed, suddenly sleepy. As her eyes closed again she whispered in Deanna's mind,
"The bad men are all gone now."
Now sound asleep, Yvette slumped in Deanna's arms. The stunned Counsellor looked down at her and swallowed to wet her suddenly dry mouth.
"What did you just do?"

 

Worf and his team burst out of the Jefferies tube to find Beverly and her staff bending over three alien bodies. It was a ghastly sight. From the eyes and ears of all three bodies, blood and brain matter oozed, pooling in a gory puddle on the floor. Over the comm., Jean-Luc's voice could be heard, urgently calling,
"Sick Bay...Doctor Crusher, report!"
In a daze, Beverly tapped her comm. badge and said absently,
"They're all dead, Captain."
Perplexed by her incomplete report, Jean-Luc allowed some frustration to show in his tone.
"How did they die? Did Worf..."
Shaking her head, Beverly glanced up at Worf as she said,
"No, it wasn't Worf or anyone else. They just grabbed their heads and started to scream, then they dropped dead on the floor."
His anxiety made his next words curt.
"I'm on my way."
To Will, Jean-Luc said,
"I want that ship and its crew. Make it so."
The big First Officer gave a nod, but his reply was lost as the Captain strode to the turbo lift and left the Bridge.

 

 

Beverly had instructed her staff to leave the bodies where they were. Worf had secured the area and dismissed the team outside Sick Bay by the time Jean-Luc arrived at the facility.
He tried not to rush as he entered Sick Bay but his need to take an obviously shocked Beverly into his arms was almost overwhelming. However, many years of ingrained discipline stood him in good stead. He cast a quick glance at the bodies, lying in contorted grotesqueness on the floor, then lifted his eyes to his lover. Placing a gentle hand on her shoulder, he broke her staring at the bodies. She shuddered momentarily and looked at him. In a soft voice he said,
"What happened?"
She shook her head.
"I don't know."
She pointed down at one of the bodies.
"He had me by my hair. I was on my knees and he had a disruptor aimed at my head. Then all of a sudden he and the other two started to scream and grab at their heads. They dropped to their knees, then toppled over, dead."
Going down on his haunches, Jean-Luc studied the nearest corpse. Sighing, he looked up at Beverly.
"Any idea as to the cause of death?"
With a shrug, Beverly said coldly,
"That's brain tissue on the floor, Jean-Luc. Without opening the skulls I can't be certain, but on first scrutiny, I'd say their brains exploded."
Just then the Sick Bay doors opened and Deanna came in with Yvette. Deanna was holding her hand. Jean-Luc stood and held up his hand.
"No, Deanna, take her away, she doesn't want to see this."
Deanna stopped but didn't retreat.
"Captain, I think Yvette may be responsible for what happened."
Jean-Luc and Beverly cast each other a wary look before Jean-Luc went to Yvette. He went down on one knee, saying softly,
"Yvette, what do you know about this?"
He waved a hand towards the bodies, but Yvette refused to look at them. Instead she let go of Deanna's hand and wrapped her arms around Jean-Luc's chest. He hugged her, waiting for her reply. Eventually she sighed and rested her head on his shoulder.
"I sensed the bad men were going to hurt Beverly so I made them go away."
Alarmed, Jean-Luc had to concentrate to keep his voice even.
"What did you do?"
"I turned the inside of their heads into mush."
"How?"
Yvette lifted her head and looked into Jean-Luc's eyes.
"I don't know really. I just thought about it and it happened."
Jean-Luc bowed his head, his mind racing. He looked at Yvette again and asked,
"Have you ever done this before?"
She nodded, tears welling in her eyes.
"Only once. One of my master's men hurt me very much again and again throughout the night and in the morning he was going to hurt me again. I couldn't allow it any more so I thought about him dying and he did. My master beat me so badly I never did it again until today. "
She lowered her head and softly sniffed.
"Are you angry with me, Jean-Luc? I'm sorry, I won't do it again."
Slowly, Jean-Luc took her into his arms and hugged her.
"No, Yvette, I'm not angry, in fact you saved Beverly's life. We will need to talk about this some more, but for now I want you to go back to my quarters. One of Beverly's staff will take you; I need to talk to Deanna."
Beverly had overheard the conversation and had a nurse ready to escort Yvette when Jean-Luc turned to catch her eye. Once she was gone, Jean-Luc faced Deanna, concern on his face.
"Counsellor?"
Deanna shrugged.
"I knew little about it, Captain. One minute she was asleep, then she came into the room, alarmed for your safety. I tried to downplay the situation, but she wasn't to be swayed. She was certain you were in danger, then she suddenly said that Beverly was being hurt by bad men. She closed her eyes, went rigid and I felt a tremendous pressure building in my head, but before it became painful, it stopped. Yvette immediately became overwhelmed with sleepiness and went to sleep in my arms, but it only lasted ten minutes. When she woke she insisted on seeing you."
Rubbing his lower lip with his fingers, Jean-Luc said incredulously,
"To kill with a mere thought. Incredible."
Beverly grimaced.
"And bloody dangerous. Jean-Luc, I know you don't want to hear this, but Yvette is a danger to you, this ship and her crew."
Jean-Luc tried to stifle the surge of anger that washed over him.
"You don't really believe she's a danger do you, Beverly?"
Waving her hand at the gruesome corpses on the floor, Beverly said acerbically,
"You tell me? What if someone offends her...or she gets it into her head that one of us is a danger to you? I don't know about you, Jean-Luc, but I don't want to end up like that."
Trying to keep his anger at bay and only just succeeding, Jean-Luc took a calming breath and settled himself.
"Beverly, you must know that Yvette would never harm me, you or anyone else on this ship. She just saved your life."
Pinching the bridge of her nose, Beverly sighed.
"I am aware of that, Jean-Luc, but you can't tell me that having a being on board who can kill with a thought isn't a security risk."
Worf, who had been standing silently nearby, stepped closer and voiced his opinion.
"Doctor Crusher has a point, Captain. How do we protect ourselves from this kind of attack?"
It wasn't until he snapped at Worf that Jean-Luc realised his mental wall was missing.
"It isn't an attack, dammit!"
He then calmed himself and held up a placating hand.
"Look, I will talk to Yvette...find out more if I can and get a promise from her that she will never use her ability on me or the crew. All right?"
Worf looked at Beverly and they both nodded. It was Beverly who spoke.
"I know this must be hard for you, Jean-Luc, but you have to ensure the safety of the ship and her crew."
The Captain bowed his head, the anger back and just under the surface.
"I know, Doctor. Now if you will excuse me, I need to get back to the Bridge."
He turned and left without waiting for a reply.

 

 

Will grinned wolfishly and said with cold humour,
"One more Mr. Lavelle."
The Lieutenant at Tactical gave a nod.
"Aye, Commander."
Another concentrated burst of phaser fire impacted on the alien ship. It was listing heavily to starboard and was venting drive plasma. There was an explosion and the lights on the other ship went dark.
Will sat forward in the Command chair.
"Life signs?"
Data looked down at his console and answered,
"One hundred and fourteen, Commander."
Will lifted his head and called.
"Riker to Worf."
"Worf here, Commander."
"I want three security details in cargo bays one, two and three. We're going to beam over the crew from the alien ship. You'll have one hundred and fourteen to deal with. We'll deactivate all energy weapons in transport, but you'll have to physically search them for knives and projectile weapons."
"Aye, Sir. Worf out."
As Will was about to give the order, Jean-Luc arrived on the Bridge. Having given his Captain a brief report, Jean-Luc nodded his approval.
"Yes, bring them aboard and put a tractor beam on their ship. I want a technical team sent over to go over everything. If they're in cahoots with the Jem'Hadar, I want to know."
Will nodded, saying quietly,
"Yes, Sir."
He then began to issue his orders.
Jean-Luc tapped his comm. badge.
"Picard to Troi."
"Troi here, Captain."
"Counsellor, would you bring Yvette to my Ready Room please?"
"Yes, Sir, we're on our way."
Before they could arrive, there was a report of multiple explosions coming from the cargo bays. Jean-Luc spun around, barking to his Tactical Officer,
"Report!"
"The prisoners have committed suicide, Captain. Apparently they had personal subdural detonators. All but five have died."
Jean-Luc gaped momentarily.
"Five out of one hundred and fourteen?"
The young Lieutenant nodded, his pale face accentuating his puce acne scars.
"Yes, Captain."
Jean-Luc lifted his head, calling,
"Picard to Worf."
The Klingon sounded angry and harried.
"Worf here, Captain."
"What the hell happened, Worf?"
Jean-Luc heard Worf grunt.
"As soon as our shields were lowered and the transports began, the prisoners began to self destruct. Only five were saved. We stunned them before they were able to activate their detonators. Doctor Crusher has them in Sick Bay now, removing the explosives."
Saying brusquely,
"Picard out."
Jean-Luc opened a new channel.
"Picard to Crusher."
He could tell by her tone she didn't wish to be interrupted.
"Crusher here."
"Doctor, how is your work progressing?"
"It would go a lot faster if I didn't have to answer your questions, Captain."
Deciding to ignore her insubordination, Jean-Luc said evenly.
"I want the prisoners placed in restraining fields and guards posted in and outside of Sick Bay."
He expected her to protest, but instead she just sounded resigned.
"Understood, Captain. Crusher out."
"Picard to Worf."
"Worf here, Captain."
"I have just spoken to Doctor Crusher. She has agreed to place the prisoners under restraining fields. I want security teams inside Sick Bay and outside guarding the entrances. Tell your teams they are to set their phasers to heavy stun."
"Aye, Captain."
"Picard out."
While Jean-Luc had been talking, Deanna and Yvette had arrived on the Bridge. He saw them as they quietly entered his Ready Room. With a meaningful look at his Exec, Jean-Luc followed them.
Jean-Luc had rebuilt his mental wall, but he knew the instant he set eyes on Yvette that she was aware of his emotional mood. He made a concerted effort to calm himself as he sat behind his desk, deliberately putting some distance between himself and Yvette. Confused by his actions, and wishing to be in physical contact with him, Yvette struggled to extricate her hand from Deanna's, but the Counsellor held tight, saying gently,
"No, Yvette, Jean-Luc is the Captain now. You must respect that and behave."
Her struggles subsided and she allowed Deanna to pick her up and place her on her lap. She hugged her teddy.
Jean-Luc rested his hands on the desktop and interlaced his fingers. Looking into Yvette's eyes he said softly,
"I need to know how you killed those men."
His tone was flat, his expression unreadable. Yvette began to tremble, making Deanna tighten her grip of her. In Jean-Luc's mine he heard.
"I didn't mean to kill them. They were going to hurt Beverly and if they got free, they were going to hurt you. I couldn't allow that."
Jean-Luc sat back and allowed his expression to soften.
"So you didn't intend to kill them."
Yvette shook her head. Running a hand over his bald head, Jean-Luc asked,
"How did you do it?"
Yvette tilted her head as she tried to articulate what was in her mind.
"Their thoughts were bad, so I concentrated on where the thoughts were coming from."
Jean-Luc sighed and briefly closed his eyes.
"Their brains."
Yvette shrugged.
"I suppose so."
His eyes darkened as he asked,
"Did you know what would happen?"
That made Yvette lower her head and begin to quietly cry. When she had said nothing for a moment or two, Jean-Luc prompted her gently.
"Yvette?"
She looked up, her fur wet with tears.
"Yes, I knew, but I really didn't mean to kill them."
Deanna said quietly,
"She's done it before."
His eyes sharpening, Jean-Luc asked curtly,
"When?"
Gently stroking Yvette's back, Deanna replied,
"At one time one of her master's men abused her all night. When it became obvious the abuse was going to continue in the morning, Yvette knew she couldn't endure any more. She concentrated in some way and managed to kill her abuser. Her master was incensed and beat her so badly she decided never to do it again."
Anger and sorrow blazed in Jean-Luc's eyes. He sat forward and held out his hand.
"Come here, little one."
Released from Deanna's hold, Yvette slid off her lap and went straight to Jean-Luc, climbing onto his knee and hugging him tightly. He hugged her back, kissing the top of her head.
"I'm so sorry, Yvette."
Her trembling began to ease as she lifted her head and looked into Jean-Luc's eyes.
"You are not angry with me?"
He shook his head, fighting his own emotions.
"No, little one, I'm not angry with you, but I don't want you to use that ability anymore. I have a responsibility to the ship and her crew and I have to know that you won't harm anybody."
Yvette already large eyes grew.
"I would never harm anyone of your crew, Jean-Luc. That would make you sad and angry and I would do anything to avoid that."
With a nod of acceptance, Jean-Luc hugged her again.
"Thank you, Yvette."
He looked into her eyes and spoke softly.
"I want you to work with Deanna to find out exactly what it was you did. Would that be all right?"
Yvette nodded silently. Jean-Luc picked her up and set her on her feet beside him. He smiled to ease her worry.
"Now I have work to do. I'll see you later, in my quarters."
Deanna stood and held out her hand.
"Come on, Yvette, we can do some more reading too."
As they left, Yvette looked over her shoulder and said,
"Those men had bad thoughts, Jean-Luc. I don't like bad thoughts."
Jean-Luc nodded solemnly.
"I know, Yvette, I know."

 

 

When Jean-Luc set foot in cargo bay one, it was like entering a charnel house. The bloody remains of thirty men lay splattered over the deck, walls and ceiling. Standing in the middle of the bay, Worf seemed to be at a loss as to how to clean it up.
Jean-Luc approached him, saying quietly,
"Clear the bay of all personnel, then have the computer beam off the ship any biological matter."
Relieved, Work offered a slight bow of his head.
"Thank you, Captain."
With a sigh, Jean-Luc tried to ignore the gore.
"I suppose it will be the same in the other two cargo bays and their ship. Brief the away team, Mr. Worf, let them know what to expect."
"Aye, Sir."
"There are times", Jean-Luc thought, "When no amount of words can adequately prepare you for some situations."
He left the Cargo Bay, on his way to Sick Bay.

 

He knew as soon as he saw her again that Beverly was both angry and exhausted. The tension of the last few hours, coupled with her work load had begun to manifest itself in stiffened body posture, a haggard cast to her face and eyes that told everyone that she was best left alone. But Jean-Luc wasn't just anybody. Noting that Beverly was giving instructions to her assistant, he correctly surmised the surgeries had concluded. He stood quietly to one side, allowing his lover to carry out her duties, but once he saw her glance his way, he went to her and gently took her elbow and began to guide her to her office. She offered a token resistance, but after a second or two of impasse, capitulated and allowed her Captain to usher her into her inner sanctum. With a soft command, Jean-Luc locked the doors and opaqued the windows. Beverly sat behind her desk, watching silently as her lover perched on the edge of the desk. He took her hand, cradling it between his.
"You're tired."
With a derisive snort, Beverly stared down at the desk top.
"I'm not tired, Jean-Luc, I'm fed up. One hundred and nine people committed suicide today and for what? Loyalty? Fear? Fanaticism?"
Gently squeezing her hand, Jean-Luc sighed.
"We may never know, Beverly, but you need to remind yourself it wasn't anything to do with you. It wasn't your fault, my love."
She sighed, her usually warm blue eyes bleak.
"I know, Jean-Luc, but one hundred and nine people..."
The Captain lowered his eyes and shook his head.
"If our suspicions are correct and these pirates are indeed working with the Jem'Hadar, then the order to take their own lives rather than be taken captive may have come from the Founders themselves."
Anger blazed in Beverly's eyes as she raised her voice.
"So? Surely the influence of the Founders isn't so great that those men and women didn't even consider disobeying them?"
With a grim smile, Jean-Luc said softly,
"The Founder's every edict is implemented and backed by the Jem'Hadar. Once you ally yourself with them, you do so for life and you disobey them at your peril."
Beverly grunted softly.
"But Jean-Luc, we're in Federation territory, surely they would've been out of their reach?"
Offering a small smile of comfort, Jean-Luc reminded Beverly,
"The Founders infiltrated Command just before and during the war, Beverly. Somehow I don't think they have boundaries as such and with the Jem'Hadar to act as enforcers...well would you disobey?"
With a heavy sigh, Beverly conceded his point.
"Okay, I can see that, but that leave us with a problem."
Looking into her eyes, Jean-Luc said softly,
"Our 'guests'."
With a curt nod, Beverly deflected Jean-Luc's attempt at humour.
"Yes, our bloody guests. Just what do you expect of them, Jean-Luc? Or us, for that matter? This isn't a jail and I'm not prepared to be a warder."
Letting go of Beverly's hand, Jean-Luc's demeanour changed. His eyes still held love, but he spoke as a Captain, not as a lover.
"What is their medical status?"
Mirroring his professional approach, Beverly straightened in her seat and adopted her Doctor's persona.
"I have removed their explosive detonators and at present they are sedated and under restraining fields."
Giving a curt nod, Jean-Luc stood, tugging the hem of his tunic.
"So there is no medical imperative for them to stay in Sick Bay?"
Shaking her head, Beverly replied,
"None at all."
"Very well, I will have them beamed to the brig. How long with they remain unconscious?"
Relief made Beverly offer a small smile.
"Two, maybe three hours, but I can bring them around sooner if you wish."
Finding a smile of his own, Jean-Luc shook his head.
"No, I don't think that will be necessary, besides, we need time to plan our interrogation strategies."
Noting the look of distaste that crossed Beverly's face, Jean-Luc placed a gentle hand on her shoulder.
"Fear not, my love, I won't ask or expect you to compromise your ethics again."
Beverly smiled tenderly at her lover and nodded.
"I know you won't, Jean-Luc."
She then grew serious.
"What will you do?"
Jean-Luc sat on the edge of the desk and folded his arms. His deep sigh showed his concern.
"I'm not sure. These people have obviously been indoctrinated somehow. We have to find out what ties them to their masters...and find a way to beak it."
Suddenly excited, Beverly snapped her fingers, saying with fervour,
"Yvette!"
With a frown, Jean-Luc said questioningly,
"Yvette?"
Nodding vigorously, Beverly almost shouted,
"Yes! Jean-Luc, she has spent most of her life with them. She may have been a toy of her master, but who's to say what she knows about them? Think about it, Jean-Luc. She has multi lingual abilities, she lived amongst the cell...and to her master and his cohorts she was nothing but a sex toy...and a young one at that. I bet they never gave a thought to her actually listening to their conversations."
Coming to his feet, Jean-Luc's eyes darkened. He stood motionless for a few seconds, rubbing his fingers over his lower lip. When he looked at Beverly she could see his reluctance in his eyes.
"But she's been through so much, Beverly. I'm loathe to ask her about anything she experienced during her captivity."
With a shrug, Beverly made an effort to keep her tone gentle.
"She's your only resource, Jean-Luc. Those men aren't going to crack unless you can either get inside their heads, or you can offer them something to make them change their minds."
Sighing again, Jean-Luc rubbed his face in defeat.
"You're right, of course, but I really don't want to do this."
Beverly stood and came around her desk, taking his hands and looking into his dark hazel eyes.
"Deanna will be with you."
He nodded, then after a moment's hesitation, asked,
"Will you be there too? Yvette likes you, Beverly...she saved your life."
Placing a gentle kiss on his lips, an emotional Beverly nodded.
"Yes, my love, I'll be there."
They hugged, Jean-Luc whispering huskily,
"I love you."
Taking him by the shoulders, Beverly put a little distance between them and looked deeply into his eyes.
"And I love you, but we haven't much time."
He sighed and nodded.
"Agreed. I think it would be best if we did this in my quarters. Can you leave Sick Bay now?"
With a nod, Beverly said,
"Yes, but you'd best give Deanna some warning."
In response, Jean-Luc tapped his comm. badge.
"Picard to Troi."
"Troi here, captain."
"Counsellor, Doctor Crusher and I are on our way to my quarters. When we arrive I will explain to you what it is we wish to do."
He could hear the hesitancy in her voice when she said,
"Does it concern Yvette?"
Jean-Luc's eyes locked with Beverly's.
"Yes."
"Very well, Captain, I'll see you when you arrive. Troi out."
The Doctor and the Captain spent a few more second's staring into each other's eyes before they left.

 

Yvette was sound asleep when Jean-Luc and Beverly entered the quarters. Deanna eased the little alien off her lap, smiling as she tightened her grip on her teddy. At a gesture from her CO, Deanna went to him and listened in silence as Jean-Luc quietly explained what they needed to do. The Counsellor sighed, worriedly rubbing her forehead. Jean-Luc asked softly,
"You have reservations?"
Deanna looked up into his eyes and nodded.
"Yes, Sir, I do."
Before Jean-Luc could respond, Beverly said softly,
"You agree that she may hold information we need?"
Deanna gave a grudging nod.
"Yes."
Pressing home her advantage, Beverly continued.
"And you agree that it's imperative that we get some kind of leverage over the prisoners?"
Her obsidian eyes glittering with suppressed anger, Deanna said curtly,
"Yes."
"Then you must see we have no other choice."
With a deep sigh, Deanna briefly closed her eyes.
"I see that, but what about Yvette? Have you given any thought as to what this might do to her? I mean really, hasn't she been through enough already?"
Jean-Luc placed a gentle hand on Deanna's shoulder and looked into her fathomless eyes.

"I think you know how I feel about Yvette, Counsellor. Do you honestly think I would allow anything bad to happen to her?"
Frustrated, Deanna sighed and shook her head.
"Of course not, Captain...but..."
He shook his head.
"Trust me, Deanna. I will ask the questions and I will keep in mind Yvette's fragile state, but we must do this. Many, many lives are at stake."
Knowing he was right didn't make it any easier for Deanna. She held his gaze for a few seconds, then sighed.
"Very well, Captain."
He gestured to the sofa.
"You two sit there, I'll wake Yvette and keep her on my lap."
While the women made themselves comfortable, Jean-Luc went to his favourite chair and gently picked the sleeping Yvette up. Somehow, most probably either by scent or by his close proximity, Yvette woke and smiled sleepily up at Jean-Luc, but her smile quickly disappeared. Coming wide awake she sat up on his lap as he settled in his chair. Hugging her teddy, she said warily,
"What is it?"
Jean-Luc wrapped one arm around her and said softly,
"Yvette, you know we have some of the bad men aboard?"
She nodded silently.
"Well, we need to ask them some questions...very important questions and it's absolutely vital we get the answers we need. Now these men are not going to want to answer our questions, but if we had information about them, it might make them be more cooperative."
Yvette stared up into Jean-Luc's eyes, but said nothing. Feeling somewhat uncomfortable, Jean-Luc continued.
"Yvette, you lived with a group of the pirates for most of your life. I know they did bad things to you, I know they hurt you, but I want to ask you about what you might know about them. Would that be all right? Can I ask you my questions about your time with the pirates?"
She stayed silent, just staring into his eyes. Jean-Luc was about to abort the whole exercise when she quietly spoke in his mind.
"Just questions, Jean-Luc?"
He nodded.
"Yes, just questions and if you find it too hard to answer, that will be all right."
She nodded silently and Jean-Luc rewarded her with a tender smile.
"Well then, let's begin."
Yvette watched as Jean-Luc readied himself. She was calmer than he thought she'd be and he smiled at her, earning a smile in return, but Deanna picked up on Yvette's fear. The Betazoid said quietly,
"It's all right, Yvette."
The little alien didn't look at Deanna, but the Counsellor immediately felt her connection cease. With a sigh that made Beverly cast her a look, Deanna said softly,
"Yvette..."
Jean-Luc looked down at her and noted that she kept her gaze fixed on him, ignoring the other two women. He said gently,
"Have you blocked Deanna?"
Yvette nodded solemnly, making Jean-Luc sigh. He cast a look over at Beverly and Deanna and then looked down at Yvette.
"I think it would be far better if you allowed both Deanna and Beverly to hear what you have to say."
Yvette refused to look anywhere but into Jean-Luc's eyes.
"Why"
The Captain suppressed his irritation to offer a small smile.
"Because I think it would be best. Both Deanna and Beverly are trained in medical matters. They will be able to help you in ways I cannot."
For the first time, Yvette turned her head to look searchingly at Beverly and Deanna. Both women remained calm, offering encouraging smiles. Beverly said gently,
"It's all right, Yvette. We only want to help."
She turned back to Jean-Luc and sighed. He only knew Yvette had lowered her barriers when he saw Deanna's relieved smile. Wishing to get the ball rolling, Jean-Luc looked down at his little charge and said softly,
"Yvette, while you lived with the pirates, did you ever hear them mention the Founders?"
Yvette frowned as she tried to remember. She sighed and shrugged.
"The men didn't say too much, but my master often complained about the shape shifters. Once I overheard him say that a Founder had sent the grey men to take something from him. It made him very angry. Are the shape shifters the Founders?"
Jean-Luc nodded eagerly.
"Yes, they are. You mention the 'grey men'. Did you ever see them?"
Fear widened Yvette's eyes.
"Many times...they made me very frightened. They were tall and there were sharp things sticking out of their heads. A tube stuck in their necks was filled with a white liquid. One time my master offered me to one of the grey men, but he didn't want me. I was glad."
Jean-Luc tightened his arm around her.
"Did your master ever say anything about a Weyoun?"
Yvette shook her head.
"No."
"I see. All right, can you tell me anything else about the grey men? How often did they come? What did they take from your master?"
Frowning, Yvette's eyes grew cloudy.
"I don't know how often they came, sometimes it seemed it was frequently, but in my dark place time was difficult to gauge."
Jean-Luc nodded sympathetically.
"All right then, in all the time you were held captive, how many times do you think you saw the grey men?"
Yvette gently took Jean-Luc's hands and held them up. She gazed at his fingers and sighed.
"Maybe four times as many fingers as you have. But that was only the times I saw them. There were times they came but I didn't see them. I would hear them talking to my master, but I was in my dark place."
Quelling his excitement, Jean-Luc asked softly,
"Can you tell me what they talked about?"
Yvette nodded.
"Shipments."
Jean-Luc frowned.
"Shipments? What kind of shipments?"
Yvette shrugged.
"My master wanted weapons. The grey men wanted whatever my master had taken from other ships and something called 'white'."
Beverly muttered,
"Ketracel white."
Yvette looked at her and frowned.
"What is it? What is Ketracel white?"
Jean-Luc answered for Beverly.
"The grey men are born addicted to a powerful drug called Ketracel white; it is the liquid you saw in the tubes. Your master and his men were making the drug and exchanging it and other contraband for weapons. Do you know where your master got the recipe for the drugs?"
Yvette shook her head.
"No, they were making it as long as I can remember, but I do recall one time when a strange man came with a group of the grey men. He must have been very powerful because the grey men obeyed his every word. He gave my master something he said would triple production."
Jean-Luc grunted softly, saying with distaste,
"A Weyoun."
Before Yvette could ask, Jean-Luc explained,
"A Weyoun is an agent of the Founders. The grey men, called the Jem'Hadar, recognise the absolute power of the founders through the Weyouns and the Weyouns owe complete allegiance to the Founders. The Founders give their orders to the Weyouns and they pass them on to their soldiers, the Jem'Hadar, and anyone else they are dealing with, like your master."
Yvette's eyes widened.
"My master followed orders from someone else?"
Jean-Luc nodded.
"Yes. Can you tell me if you ever saw him or heard him talking about his association with either the Jem'Hadar or the Weyoun?"
Yvette frowned and then looked up, her violet eyes glistening.
"I think so. One of his men...a big man who smelled very bad, used to spend a lot of time with my master. I was often given to this man. One night I heard him say to my master that they were going to be rich if they kept going. My master said if the cells worked together and watched their backs, they could retire in two more years. What did he mean, Jean-Luc?"
With a sigh, Jean-Luc explained.
"They were talking about their piracy. Apparently they thought they could make enough latinum to stop what they were doing in two more years. Unfortunately for them, what they didn't realise is that once you do business with the Founders, you are stuck with them for life."
He sighed.
"So they were trading goods and ketracel for weapons. Did your master ever say anything about what he intended to do with all his weaponry once he retired?"
Yvette gave a cautious nod.
"I think so. Do you know what a 'Ferengi' is?"
Jean-Luc nodded, his eyes glittering.
"Yes, Yvette, I know what a Ferengi is."
"Oh, good, because a Ferengi by the name of Grul is going to buy everything and sell it to the highest bidder."
Sitting up straight, Yvette frowned as Jean-Luc couldn't contain his excitement.
"Yvette, do you remember if he meant just his own group, or all the cells?"
She shrugged.
"I don't know. Each cell has its own leader."
"Do you know how many cells there are?"
She held up three fingers.
"That many I think. The leaders met, but not often. I only ever saw that many."
Jean-Luc said absently,
"So there is one more cell."
He then said to Yvette,
"Do you think you could identify the other leaders?"
She shook her head.
"No, my master never let me out of the dark place. I only know they were the other leaders by the way they spoke to my master. They all seemed to be...equals."
"But they all had the same deal going with Grul?"
Yvette nodded.
"Yes, I think so."
The Captain looked over to Beverly and Deanna. The Counsellor mouthed,
"Enough."
Jean-Luc nodded and gave Yvette a hug.
"You have been a great help, Yvette. I'm very proud of you."
Smiling radiantly, Yvette returned the hug, but frowned as Jean-Luc said,
"Beverly and I have to go now. We'll see you later."
As he stood, instead of sliding off his lap, Yvette clung to him, wrapping arms and legs around his torso. He was about to ask her to let go, when Deanna caught his eye. She pointed to Beverly and herself, then at the door. She then held up one hand, fingers splayed. Jean-Luc understood. He was to give his undivided attention to Yvette, alone for five minutes. Stifling the urge to leave and get on with his job, Jean-Luc gave a surreptitious nod and, as he sat back down, Deanna and Beverly left. He hugged Yvette, saying softly,
"You're frightened."
She nodded, tears welling.
"I don't like remembering those things."
He sighed, kissing her brow.
"I know, little one, but the things you told us were very important. I think you were very brave and I'm very proud of you."
Yvette looked up into Jean-Luc's eyes and smiled. As she snuggled into his embrace, she started to purr. Finding it soothing, Jean-Luc closed his eyes and lowered his mental wall, allowing Yvette to feel his love for her. The five minutes passed too quickly. Beverly came back in, causing Jean-Luc to open his eyes and say softly,
"I have to go now, Yvette."
She nodded and released him, allowing him to stand. He reached down and stroked her head, saying,
"I will see you later tonight, I promise."
She hugged her teddy and nodded, but said nothing. As Jean-Luc and Beverly left, Deanna came back in.

 

Will stood as his Captain entered the Bridge. Striding purposefully down to the Command well, Jean-Luc tugged his uniform tunic down and gave his Exec a look of satisfied determination. The First Officer smiled, pleased to see his CO back to his usual self.
"You met with success, Captain?"
Jean-Luc offered a curt nod.
"That I have, Number One, Yvette was very helpful. There's another cell of pirates and we have to find a Ferengi named Grul."
Will's eyebrows rose.
"There's a Ferengi involved?"
Showing his distaste for the species, Jean-Luc scowled.
"Indeed, but can you honestly say you're surprised?"
The big man smirked.
"No, Sir, I can't. So...how do we find the other cell?"
Folding his arms, Jean-Luc's eyes grew steely.
"For that we will have to talk to our 'guests'."
Will's expression sobered.
"Do you want me to accompany you, Sir?"
Rubbing his fingers over his lower lip, Jean-Luc gave the question some thought. He sighed and ran a hand over his bald head.
"Yes I do, Number One. I also want Counsellor Troi."
Will frowned.
"Yvette isn't going to be happy about that."
With a sigh, Jean-Luc shook his head.
"No, she isn't."
Resigning himself to the inevitable, Jean-Luc tapped his comm. badge.
"Picard to Troi."
"Troi here, Captain."
"I need you in the detention cells, Counsellor. Could you find someone to be with Yvette please?"
"Yes, Captain, I'll see to it immediately. Troi out."
Jean-Luc stood still, thinking deeply before refocusing on the task at hand. With a mental shake, he looked at Will and said,
"Shall we, Number One?"
The big man grinned.
"Right with you, Captain."
Minutes later the three officers were standing outside the detention cells. Jean-Luc looked at will and Deanna, saying softly,

"Are you ready?"
Both officers nodded.
"Yes, Sir."
Jean-Luc turned to the doors and stepped forward, triggering the opening mechanism. The officer on duty inside immediately came to his feet. Jean-Luc nodded his acknowledgement and quietly said,
"You may wait outside."
With a relieved,
"Aye, Captain."
The young man left. Jean-Luc and his entourage approached the force fields of the five cells and stood so he could see in all of them, his hands clasped behind his back. The occupants stared balefully back at him.
Allowing a long silence to unsettle his prisoners, Jean-Luc eventually said quietly,
"I want information and you are going to give it to me."
There was a momentary silence before the man in the far left cell spat on the floor and uttered an obscenity.
"You will rot before we talk."
Jean-Luc's smile was cold, his voice soft.
"I think not. We know about the other cell and we know about Grul."
Before he could stop it, surprise and dismay flashed across the pirate's face. Making use of his advantage, Jean-Luc said forcefully,
"Tell us where the other cell is and how to find Grul."
With a sneer, the alien snarled,
"Go fuck yourself."
Unfazed, Jean-Luc stepped closer to the cell. Keeping his voice soft and almost conversational, he said,
"Do you fully realise the situation you're in?"
Showing more bravado than he felt, the alien placed his fists on his hips and lifted his chin pugnaciously.
"And what situation is that?"
With a cold smile, Jean-Luc stared intently at the pirate.
"When we discover the other cell...and we will find them...we will be sure to tell them how helpful you've been."
The alien was outraged.
"But we will tell you nothing!"
With a shrug, Jean-Luc spread his hands.
"They won't know that...will they."
The glare the alien sent at Jean-Luc would have cowed a lesser man, but Jean-Luc simply ignored it. He looked down at his feet, seeming to study his boots.
"Of course if you were to help us, I could put in a good word with the authorities and your compatriots need never know."
The alien spat,
"That's blackmail!"
Raising his eyebrows, Jean-Luc feigned innocence.
"Is it?"
He scratched the side of his head, near his ear.
"Well I don't know what to say, but I would have thought such behaviour was common to you."
Ignoring the glower sent his way; Jean-Luc dropped all pretences.
"I don't have time for games. You will answer my questions or, once I apprehend your colleagues, I will tell them you helped us...then I will place them in your cell."
Desperate now, the pirate yelled,
"You won't catch any of them! They will die first!"
Again clasping his hands behind his back, Jean-Luc stared into the alien's eyes and said softly,
"We caught you, didn't we."
Furious, the alien shouted,
"Fuck you!"
Jean-Luc bided his time for a few moments, then calmly tilted his head and said quietly,
"Well?"
Defeated, the pirate glared at Jean-Luc, hatred seeping from every pore, but he grudgingly said,
"All right, you bastard. What is it you want to know?"
Suddenly from the adjoining cells came calls of protests.
"Don't say anything!"
The alien who seemed to be in charge yelled back,
"What would you prefer? Tell them what they want to know and get a reduced sentence, or have some of the crew of the "Plunderer" spend time with you once they tell them we helped them?"
There was an uncomfortable silence until the leader, said with resignation,
"I thought so."
He looked back at Jean-Luc and sighed, lowering his head.
"All right, what do you want to know?"
Keeping his face neutral and hiding his elation, Jean-Luc said quietly,
"Where can we find the Plunderer?"
"The Kelson nebula."
Giving a nod, Jean-Luc was about to ask another question when Deanna said softly,
"Captain, he's lying."
Jean-Luc turned, gave Deanna a look of appreciation, then turned back to the alien.
"Well?"
The pirate glared at Deanna and shook his head.
"No I'm not!"
Looking down at his boots again, Jean-Luc said mildly,

"I think I should tell you my ship's Counsellor is a Betazoid."
That wasn't entirely true, but the pirate didn't know that. He glared at Deanna and then looked at Will.
"And I suppose he's a Vulcan?"
Jean-Luc offered a small smile and shook his head.
"Not unless he's had some cosmetic surgery done on his ears. No, he is as I am...human. But as you know, Betazoids can read minds, so it would be in your best interests to tell me the truth."
The alien flushed dark blue with anger, but acceded.
"Very well. The Plunderer is meeting us here tomorrow at oh ten hundred hours."
With a nod, Jean-Luc offered a small smile.
"And Grul? Where would we find him?"
It was like pulling teeth. The pirate actually grimaced as he said,
"He'll be on the Plunderer."
Jean-Luc nodded.
"And I take it he's expecting some...goods."
The prisoner sneered.
"What do you think? That little weasel would sell his own children if he thought he could make a profit."
With a soft grunt, Jean-Luc acceded.
"Typical of a Ferengi. Do you have an overall leader, or is each cell autonomous?"
The alien sat heavily on his bunk.
"Each cell has a leader, but there is someone I've heard rumours about...a Cardassian Gul who is pilfering from their military as well as coordinating our operations."
At the mention of the Cardassians, Jean-Luc stiffened.
"Name?"
The alien shrugged.
"I don't know, but I think Grul does."
Jean-Luc considered this and, while he was thinking, Will asked,
"Tell us about the Plunderer. What's her armament? Shields?"
The prisoner paled.
"She's formidable, armed with the latest Jem'Hadar weapons. You'd be well advised to leave her alone. You're no match for the likes of that ship."
Will was unfazed.
"Do you know the shield harmonics?"
"I do, but it won't help you."
The big man bridled.
"You let us worry about that. I'm going to send our science officer down to see you. Tell him everything you know about the Plunderer."
Jean-Luc turned to his officers and raised an eyebrow.
"Have we enough?"
Will nodded, but Deanna hesitated.
"I would like to stay and talk with the others please, Captain."
Jean-Luc nodded.
"Granted, Counsellor. I will see you on the Bridge when you have concluded your...interviews."
She smiled.
"Thank you, Captain."

 

 

Will and Jean-Luc went to the Bridge and took their respective seats. Jean-Luc said quietly to Data,
"Mr. Data, I want you to go down to the detention cells and get the shield harmonics for another ship from the prisoner in cell four."
The android rose from his seat, giving his Captain a nod.
"Aye, Sir."
Turning to his Exec, and pointing to the ship on the viewscreen, Jean-Luc said,
"We have to hide that ship...and ourselves."
The big man nodded.
"Agreed, but where?"
Giving the question some thought, Jean-Luc asked the young officer behind him,
"Tactical, is there a nebula nearby, or some sort of stellar phenomenon we can hide two ships in?"
The young man tapped a few commands into his console and gave a cautious reply.
"There is, Captain, a class two nebula, but it's seven hours away at warp three."
Will scowled, running his fingers through his dark beard.
"We can't tow over three quarters impulse and even then, that's pushing the envelope."
Pursing his lips, Jean-Luc asked pensively,
"Who's in charge on the other ship?"
Will answered without hesitation.
"Geordi."
Jean-Luc's eyes lit up. He tapped his comm. badge.
"Picard to LaForge."
"LaForge here, Captain, go ahead."
"Mr. LaForge, what are the chances of getting that ship warp capable in two hours?"
There was a momentary silence before a cautious Geordi replied,
"I can try, Captain, but I'm going to have to jury rig several systems. I can't guarantee they'll hold. How long do you want warp speed for and how fast?"
Jean-Luc kept his voice even.
"Warp three for seven hours."
Again there was a momentary silence.
"I think we can do it, Captain, but it'll be touch and go."
With a grim smile of satisfaction, Jean-Luc gave a curt nod.
"Understood, Geordi, do what you can. Picard out."
Turning to his First Officer, Jean-Luc said quietly,
"You have the Bridge, Number One; I'll be in my quarters. Let me know when we're ready to depart."
As Jean-Luc stood, Will said,
"Aye, Captain."

 

Deanna took a few minutes to study the five prisoners. Although her Captain had lied about her abilities, her empathic senses were telling her a great deal about the aliens in the cells. They were a mixed group, none of which Deanna was familiar with, but, as she concentrated on their emotions, it became obvious that the alien in cell one was the most disturbed about his situation. She focused on him and stepped closer, offering a sympathetic smile.
"What is your name?"
The prisoner snarled and spat at the force field.
"Fuck off!"
It was bravado and Deanna knew it.
"I'm not going anywhere. I would like to talk to you and I think you would like to talk to me."
She could tell he was young for his species; his emotions were immature and disordered. He glared at the Counsellor and made an obscene gesture.
"I said, fuck off!"
The Counsellor merely smiled.
"My name is Deanna. Surely it would do no harm to tell me your name?"
The leader of the prisoners shouted,
"Don't tell her anything!"
The young alien looked fearfully in the direction from which the angry voice had come, then looked back at Deanna. She said softly,
"Do you always do what he tells you?"
Worry skittered across the youngster's face.
"Yes, that's my place."
Seeing cracks for the first time, Deanna said quietly, so the others couldn't hear,
"And you have to do everything they say, even things you don't want to do."
He nodded, tears forming in his bright pink eyes. Stepping close enough to make the force field hum softly, Deanna said with quiet compassion,
"It doesn't have to be that way. Do you know about the Federation?"
He nodded and Deanna continued.
"We don't treat people unkindly, we have rights. If you were to testify against your group, you could be rehabilitated and become a Federation citizen. Would you like that?"
He gave that some thought and, looking fearfully to his left, towards the other cells, he whispered,
"I wouldn't have to...service anyone?"
Deanna shook her head.
"No. Sexual abuse is outlawed in the Federation."
Tears began to flow.
"And I wouldn't have to kill and steal?"
Deanna shook her head again.
"No. You could be trained to do anything you wanted. Would you like to be an artist, or a builder? Anything is possible."
He wiped at his tears and sighed.
"My name is Favan."
Deanna smiled, then asked,
"How did you come to be a pirate?"
Favan's face fell.
"I was taken from my parents when I was very young and sold by Orions. I have been with the pirates since I was ten."
Sympathy permeated every pore of Deanna's being.
"And how old are you now?"
"Fifteen."
"What species are you?"
That brought a watery smile.
"I'm a Surrit."
Deanna sighed.
"I'm not familiar with your people, but perhaps we can find a way to take you home."
His eyes shone.
"Really?"
With a vigorous nod, Deanna grinned.
"Yes. And if we can't, you can become a Federation citizen, with all the rights and privileges that entails.
The youngster again became fearful.
"But what about all the things I've done? Won't I go to an internment camp?"
Deanna smiled with encouragement.
"Given your circumstances, I'm sure you will be given dispensation."
Frowning, the young man said uncertainly,
"What does that mean?"
"It means that the courts will take into account the circumstances in which you joined the group and your age at the time. It could be said you were not responsible for your actions."
Tears again welled in his eyes.
"But I was responsible! I killed...I stole..."
Deanna held up her hand.
"Did you have a choice? What would have happened if you refused?"
Sniffing and wiping the end of his tubular nose, the youngster whispered,
"They would have killed me."
Deanna sighed.
"That's called coercion and it is a legally defensible situation. Believe me; you will be dealt with mercifully by the courts. In fact, there is a chance you will never face court, especially if you help us."
Again looking to his left, towards the other cells containing his fellow prisoners he couldn't see, Favan whispered,
"I'll help you."
Deanna smiled warmly and gave an encouraging nod.
"I will tell my Captain, he will be very pleased, Favan."
Just then, Data entered, making Deanna step away from the force field and adopt a more professional demeanour. She shook her head to settle her curly hair and said loudly,
"Well, if you won't help me, there's nothing I can do."
Her wink made Favan smile.

 

 

When Jean-Luc entered his quarters he knew Yvette was crying. Not seeing anyone in the main living area, he went to her bedroom to find her cowering in a corner, hugging her teddy while a female Ensign trying to coax her out. On hearing her Captain, the junior officer immediately sprang to her feet.
"Captain!"
Jean-Luc sighed inwardly.
"As you were, Ensign. What is going on here?"
Exasperated, and yet intimidated by her CO, the Ensign sighed.
"She's been like this since I arrived, Sir. Nothing I do or say seems to help."
Jean-Luc went down on one knee, saying gently.
"It's all right, Yvette, I'm here."
She scooted out of the corner and flung herself around his torso so fast he nearly lost his balance. He stroked her back and kissed the top of her head, saying quietly,
"Thank you Ensign, dismissed."
Jean-Luc waited until the ensign left then stood and carried Yvette out into the living area. He lowered himself into his favourite chair and hugged the little alien as she silently sobbed. After a few minutes, Jean-Luc said softly,
"Why are you so upset?"
Yvette lifted her head and looked up at Jean-Luc with watery eyes.
"I didn't like that person."
Concerned, Jean-Luc asked,
"What did she do that made you dislike her?"
Yvette shrugged.
"Nothing"
Exasperated, Jean-Luc asked,
"Then why did you dislike her?"
More tears flowed.
"Because she wasn't you."
With a sigh, Jean-Luc said softly,
"But you don't mind Beverly or Deanna."
Yvette nodded.
"Yes, but they are close to you. Being with them is almost as good as being with you."

Closing his eyes briefly, Jean-Luc asked,
"What about Lieutenant Wing? You like her. She's teaching you to read."
Yvette nodded.
"Yes, but she's nearly always with Deanna and besides, she's teaching me something you want me to learn."
Now bordering on irritation, Jean-Luc muttered,
"Yvette, I have told you no one on this ship will hurt you. Don't you believe me?"
She nodded.
"Yes, I believe you."
"Then you must allow other crew members to look after you. Do you think Deanna or I would send anyone to look after you who would hurt you?"
She shook her head.
"No."
Then next time someone you don't know comes to look after you, I want you to remain calm. You don't have to talk to them if you don't want to, but I expect you to do as they say. All right?"
The overhead speakers came to life.
"Troi to Picard."
"Picard here, go ahead."
"Captain I have managed to form a connection with one of the prisoners. He's quiet young, but has agreed to help us."
Jean-Luc smiled.
"That's good news, Counsellor. Can you come to my quarters please?"
"Aye, Captain, I'm on my way."
Yvette smiled up at Jean-Luc.
"You're happy."
He looked down at her and kissed her brow.
"I am. Deanna will be here soon and we have to talk. Will you play with your books while we chat?"
Yvette smiled and began to purr. Jean-Luc took that as a yes.

 

 

The first thing Deanna did was to request her new ally to be released from custody and into her care. Jean-Luc bowed his head in thought. He wasn't keen, but he trusted his Counsellor. With a sigh, he looked up and into Deanna's intense gaze.
"Are you sure, Counsellor?"
She nodded enthusiastically.
"Yes, Captain. I have forged a bond with this young man; I sense his trust in me."
They were standing near the door and Jean-Luc cast a long look at Yvette, playing peacefully on the floor in front of his chair. Deanna was well aware of his misgivings.
"He's not a threat, Captain."
Jean-Luc's gaze snapped back to Deanna and she could see mild anger in his eyes.
"Not a threat? I don't need to remind you of what those pirates have done, do I, Counsellor? You've read the reports; my God...you saw some of their handiwork. Are you telling me your new friend is innocent of any crimes? That he didn't rape, mutilate, murder and steal?"
Knowing his anger was justified made Deanna take a deep breath to calm herself. She spent a few seconds plexing, then lifted her eyes to her Captain's.
"You are right, of course, Captain. Favan is guilty of the crimes you mention, but his case is worthy of further study."
Jean-Luc offered a sceptical look, but was prepared to listen.
"Go on."
Deanna briefly closed her eyes and sighed.
"Favan has been the victim of sustained sexual abuse since he was taken from his parents and sold by an Orion to the pirates. Yes, he committed some, if not all of the crimes you mention, but he acted under threat of losing his life if he didn't cooperate. That, coupled with the sexual abuse mitigates his culpability...and we have to take into account his age. He is young, Captain, barely fifteen years old, certainly not old enough to be judged by the actions of his masters."
Again, Jean-Luc looked over to Yvette. This time when their eyes met, Deanna saw deep sadness.
"How old was he when he was taken?"
"About ten."
Pain flashed across Jean-Luc's face.
"Does he know where he's from...can we find his people?"
Deanna shrugged.
"We haven't discussed that yet, Captain. So far I have gained his trust, but he's terrified of the other prisoners. I feel if we can remove him from their influence he may prove to be very helpful."
Rubbing his fingers over his lower lip, Jean-Luc sighed.
"His name is Favan?"
Deanna nodded.
"Yes, Sir."
Summoning a small smile, Jean-Luc said softly,
"Then we'd best find quarters for him."
He held up his forefinger.
"But...there will be a guard at his door at all times and he will not go anywhere on the ship without an armed escort."
Deanna accepted the conditions with good grace.
"Thank you, Captain."
She watched as her Captain again cast a look at Yvette. She sensed his anguish and wasn't surprised when he muttered,
"How many more children, Counsellor? How many more young lives will be ruined by these...monsters?"
Gently placing a hand on his shoulder, Deanna said quietly,
"At least we've rescued two."
Yvette looked up from her book and locked eyes with Jean-Luc. Clutching her teddy in one arm, she rose to her feet and crossed the room. Once she was close enough, she hugged Jean-Luc's leg. Deanna was amazed at how natural his next action was. He reached down and picked Yvette up, nestling her in his embrace. Although the little alien had chosen to be closed to Deanna, one didn't need to be an empath to see the deep connection between the two.
Deanna said quietly,
"I'll go and organise quarters."
All Jean-Luc could do was nod, momentarily too overcome with emotion to trust his voice.
Once Deanna had left, Jean-Luc allowed his feelings to come to the surface. He lowered his head and rested his cheek atop Yvette's head as his eyes filled with tears. Yvette hugged him tightly, saying softly in his mind,
"It is all right, Jean-Luc."
He took a few deep breaths to regain control, then lifted his head and blinked away his tears.
"No, Yvette, it's not all right...not at all. We have found another young person whose life has been ruined by cruel and heartless beings who should have known better."
Yvette looked up and sighed sadly.
"And this makes you angry."
"Yes it does, and rightly so!"
The little female nodded.
"And you want to take revenge."
To that remark, Jean-Luc remained silent. Yvette leaned back so she could see his face clearly.
"But if you did take revenge...wouldn't that make you as bad as those you seek to punish?"
Jean-Luc briefly closed his eyes and sighed, muttering,
"Yes, yes it would."
Not fully understanding the weight of her words, Yvette innocently said,
"Then what are you to do?"
He sighed again.
"What indeed."
Looking down at Yvette, Jean-Luc found a wan smile.
"As long as you and Beverly are safe, I will do my job to the best of my abilities. However...woe betides anyone who seeks to hurt either of you."
His emotions made Yvette shiver. She looked into his eyes and stared intently.
"I have seen you kill, Jean-Luc. I don't ever want to see that again."
Tears welled in his eyes again.
"You have seen far too much, little one. From now on, I want you to think only about your new life with me. Don't dwell on the past, think of the future."
Resting her head on his shoulder, Yvette hugged Jean-Luc tightly and he returned the embrace just as fiercely.
"I love you, Jean-Luc."
He whispered back,
"And I love you, my little Yvette."
Yvette looked up, a brilliant smile on her face.
"I am yours?"
Realising his mistake, Jean-Luc smiled to take the sting out of his words.
"I was speaking metaphorically. When I said you were my Yvette, I meant in my heart, not in actuality."
Disappointment made Yvette lower her eyes and sigh.
"Oh."
Jean-Luc felt terrible. He tried to make amends.
"Yvette, you don't really want me to...own you...do you? I have told you that we are all independent individuals and that ownership of sentient beings is abhorrent. You can't think that I would want to own you...do you?"
Yvette tried to give the question a proper amount of thought, but she was in a quandary. She believed everything Jean-Luc had told her, but try as she might...she wanted him to own her. Knowing this would make him angry; Yvette instead found the words he wanted to hear.
"No, Jean-Luc, I don't want to be owned by you."
Deep inside the Captain he knew she was lying, but he allowed it anyway, he had too much on his mind to go into it with her right then. Instead, he changed the subject.
"Do you like your room?"
A little confused, Yvette looked up and nodded.
"Yes."
"And do you feel you can sleep in there at night on your own?"
More for his benefit than anything else, Yvette silently nodded.
He knew she didn't want to sleep on her own, but Jean-Luc had other concerns on his mind.
"Good, because I'm going to ask Beverly to stay tonight and she will be sleeping in my bed with me."
Yvette nodded again and Jean-Luc began to feel uncomfortable. Rather than stay and talk it through with her, Jean-Luc walked to his favourite chair and put her in it. He stood up and tugged at his uniform hem.
"I have to go back to work now. I will see if Lieutenant Wing can come to be with you."
Yvette hugged her teddy, her huge violet eyes staring up at Jean-Luc with a faintly accusatory hint. His discomfort growing, Jean-Luc beat a hasty exit, saying over his shoulder,
"I'll see you later tonight."
Once the doors sighed closed, two large tears trickled down Yvette's furry face.

 

 

Upon contacting Deanna, Jean-Luc made his way to deck fourteen and rounded the corner in the corridor to see an armed guard standing outside a small set of quarters. He smiled inwardly. Deanna had chosen very modest quarters, not the sumptuous guest quarters usually given.
The guard snapped to attention, eliciting a nod from Jean-Luc. His entry into the quarters was automatic, not needing to press the chime. Deanna was sitting on the sofa with Favan and the young man leaped to his feet as Jean-Luc approached. Recalling Deanna's assessment of the boy, Jean-Luc smiled and waved him to his seat.
Favan sat, but perched nervously on the edge of his seat. Deanna watched as Jean-Luc sat and smiled at her Captain.
"Captain, this is Favan. Favan, this is Captain Jean-Luc Picard."
She looked with encouragement at the young man.
"Favan was just telling me how the cells meet."
With raised eyebrows, Jean-Luc showed his interest.
"Really? Would you tell me please, Favan?"
Nodding cautiously, Favan said softly,
"It was always organised by Grul."
Jean-Luc nodded.
"And how was this done?"
Favan had to think hard.
"I'm not sure, but I think it was dependent on the white. If all the cells had enough, Grul would set up a meeting, then he would take the white and any stolen goods he wanted and leave. Then, a week or so later, we would meet again and he would hand over weapons."
Jean-Luc crossed his legs and settled his clasped hands in his lap.
"Tell me, Favan, did the cells have a leader...other than Grul?"
The young man nodded.
"Yes. Yrannis. He is the leader and the Captain of the Plunderer."
"And what species is he?"
Sorrow crossed Favan's face.
"He's a Surrit, like me."
The Captain's face showed sadness.
"And he never tried to take you home?"
Favan shook his head.
"No."
"I see. Well, do you know how to contact Yrannis?"
Favan shook his head.
"No, that was up to our Captain."
Jean-Luc frowned.
"And he's dead?"
"Yes, he took his own life...as I should have."
Deanna placed a gentle hand on his knee.
"Don't think like that, Favan. I want you to think about now and the future as your new life."
He bowed his head and sighed.
"I suppose so."
Jean-Luc stood, smiling down at the lad.
"Well, Favan, you've been very helpful. I have given permission for you to visit certain areas of the ship with Counsellor Troi, but I hope you understand there will be an armed guard accompanying you at all times."
Nodding, Favan stood and bowed his head.
"Thank you, Captain."

 

Geordi had wrought his magic and both ships were travelling at warp three towards the nearby nebula. With everything under control and his shift nearing its end, Jean-Luc left the Bridge and made his way to Sick Bay. He found Beverly in her office. She was engrossed in her work and was unaware of his presence until he softly said,
"Hello, my love."
She looked up, her smile radiant.
"Hello, Jean-Luc. You look tired."
He sighed, but his smile didn't fade.
"I am, a little, but I have a solution to that."
Intrigued, Beverly leaned forward and rested her chin on her hand.
"And what would that be?"
He came around the desk to stand behind her. Moving her lustrous red hair to one side, he gently kissed her neck, murmuring,
"I thought a nice dinner, followed by a long hot bath...then..."
She grinned and tiled her head to give him access to her throat.
"Then?"
He nuzzled her neck and gently bit her earlobe.
"Then, I want to make long, sweet love to you."
Sighing with happiness, Beverly suddenly frowned.
"What about Yvette?"
Lifting his head, Jean-Luc nibbled on her ear.
"I have already told her you will be staying with me tonight. She's all right with that."
Beverly still smiled, but there was a gentle edge to her voice when she said,
"That was a little presumptuous, wasn't it?"
He lifted his head, his smile sensuous.
"You don't want to come?"
Her voice carried the hint of arousal.
"Oh I want to come, but I don't recall being invited to your quarters."
He came around the desk and hitched his backside on its edge.
"Beverly, would you do me the honour of joining me for dinner in my quarters tonight?"
She grinned up impishly.
"And afterwards?"
He grinned wolfishly.
"That is entirely up to you...but I have some ideas."
She sat back, a saucy look on her face.
"Then I accept. What time?"
"As soon as you can make it. I'm going off shift right now."
Beverly glanced at her computer, scowled and sighed.
"Give me an hour."
He nodded and was about to leave when he turned, saying,
"What do you want for dinner?"
She grinned.
"Surprise me."
He nodded and left, a definite spring in his step.

 


Yvette was overjoyed when Jean-Luc entered his quarters. Lieutenant Wing stood immediately and Jean-Luc could see she was excited. Before he could say anything, the young woman blurted,
"Captain, watch this!"
She went to sit beside Yvette and said enthusiastically,
"Go on, Yvette, read for the Captain."
Smiling at Jean-Luc, Yvette bent her head and concentrated while she silently read out a short passage. Jean-Luc was delighted. He went to Yvette, picking her up and hugging her, said,
"I'm so proud of you, little one!"
To the Lieutenant he said,
"Well done Lieutenant. You have achieved great success."
Blushing, the young woman bowed her head, saying softly,
"It was nothing, Captain...really. Yvette is like blotting paper. She absorbs everything."
Nodding, Jean-Luc smiled at the Lieutenant, making her blush a deeper red.
"Well I am still impressed. Thank you, Lieutenant, dismissed."

As the young woman left, Yvette squirmed in Jean-Luc's arms. He set her on her feet and she rushed to get her teddy. He smiled as she hugged it, saying,
"Claude is very happy with you too."
She grinned up at her Captain.
"I know! But it is you I am most proud of pleasing. Do you think I am clever, Jean-Luc?"
"Yes, I do and I'm very happy that you've decided to talk to Lieutenant Wing."
Yvette frowned.
"Her name is Rosemary."
With a gentle smile, Jean-Luc said softly,
"I know."
The frowned remained.
"Then why do you call her Lieutenant Wing all the time?"
Sighing, Jean-Luc went to Yvette and sat on the floor with her.
"Lieutenant Wing is a junior officer and I am her Captain. A certain protocol must be observed."
The look Yvette gave Jean-Luc was dubious, but she seemed to accept his explanation. Jean-Luc picked her up and gave her a hug.
"Now you remember that Beverly is coming for dinner and staying the night with me?"
Yvette nodded solemnly.
"Then how about I give you your dinner now, then you can have a shower and read for a while in your room before you go to bed?"
Yvette stared into Jean-Luc's eyes, her expression hurt. Feeling vaguely guilty, Jean-Luc said,
"You'd rather something else?"
She nodded.
"Can I not have dinner with you and Beverly?"
Jean-Luc sighed.
"Our dinner will be a little late."
"But I could have my shower first, read my books, then have dinner with you and Beverly, then go to bed."
Jean-Luc couldn't help but smile.
"I'll ask Beverly. If she says yes, then it's all right with me."
Yvette's grin was infectious. Jean-Luc hugged her again and kissed her cheek.
"You are a rascal."
She frowned.
"Is that good?"
He grinned.
'Yes, it is."

 

Yvette was showered by the time Beverly arrived. Jean-Luc tried to be patient, but his need to be with Beverly was becoming overwhelming. He knew she felt the same way by the look in her eyes and the way her kiss lingered as he welcomed her inside his quarters.
His mental wall was up, but precarious. Yvette picked up on the undercurrent of sexual desire and became very quiet. Jean-Luc realised what was happening and went to her, gently stroking her fur and trying to ease her worry. Beverly quickly saw what was going on and made a deliberate effort to put aside her desire for the time being. Yvette seemed to appreciate that and smiled up at Jean-Luc and began to purr. Happier that she seemed calm, Jean-Luc stood and said to Beverly,
"Would you like to read to Yvette while I replicate dinner?"
Flashing a brilliant smile, Beverly went to Yvette, saying warmly to her lover,
"That would be lovely."
To Yvette she said,
"Have you a favourite book?"
Instead of answering, Yvette slid from the chair and disappeared into her room. Beverly had not long to wait as she reappeared with a book in hand. Without waiting to be invited, Yvette made herself comfortable on Beverly's lap and purred very softly as Beverly stroked her head.
As Jean-Luc went about the tasks of setting the table and ordering their meals, he listened to the soft sound of Beverly's voice as she read to Yvette. Unbidden feelings of peace and calm washed over him and, for the first time in his life, he realised what it was like to have a family. Although he had experienced fatherhood vicariously through an alien probe and the memories were very powerful, it hadn't actually happened, although he lived many years in that induced experience, he was always able to tell himself that it never really existed. But here, in the now, the feeling of domesticity was very potent and he had to remind himself that, not only was Yvette not his child, his lover had never made it clear about what shape their future would take.
And yet he couldn't shake the warm fuzzy sensation he was getting...and in truth he didn't want to. So it was a very relaxed and mellow Captain that gently called to his companions that dinner was ready.
Yvette basked in Jean-Luc's paternal glow and Beverly was maintaining her calmness, so dinner was a leisurely affair. Both Jean-Luc and Beverly were aware their sexual tension was slowly rising, but they didn't dwell on it, or do anything to exacerbate it. In fact they both recognised the value in waiting, in drawing out their desire, so Yvette wasn't alarmed when the lovers shared a lingering look, or the undercurrent of desire ebbed and flowed around them.
With dessert eaten, Jean-Luc opened a bottle of his family's red to let it breathe for a few minutes. Beverly had volunteered to help Yvette prepare for bed, so Jean-Luc cleared the table, then took the wine and two glasses to the low table in front of the sofa. He smiled as he heard in his mind,
"Are you going to come and tuck me in?"
Instead of replying, Jean-Luc went to Yvette's room, to find her sitting up in bed with Beverly perched beside her. Jean-Luc stood in the doorway and folded his arms, a ghost of a smile on his lips.
"Ah, my two ladies."
They grinned up at him as he approached the bed. Beverly quickly kissed Yvette's cheek and rose from the bed. As she passed Jean-Luc she whispered,
"I'll see you in a minute."
Their fingers touched and they both shivered slightly at the fission of desire that coursed through them at the ethereal contact. Beverly's desire spiked, but Jean-Luc managed to keep his under control. Even so, Yvette looked up at Jean-Luc, her eyes wide. He sat beside her and put one arm around her shoulders. He said softly,
"Don't be frightened, little one."
Her eyes were suspiciously moist when she replied,
"But you feel like..."
He shook his head.
"No, it's very different. My desire for Beverly...and hers for me, is based on love and respect, not lust."
Yvette looked confused,
"But I feel the lust."
Sighing, Jean-Luc tried to explain.
"Yes, there is lust, but not like you've experienced before. We won't hurt each other...I suppose all I can say is that lust is a part of desire, but not the most important part."
Wanting to believe him, Yvette sighed.
"Then what is the most important part?"
Jean-Luc's knowing smile was warm.
"That's easy. Love. Love is the most important part of any relationship. Without it, the relationship is empty."
She smiled tentatively.
"You love me."
He smiled again.
"Yes."
Obviously still confused, Yvette looked down at her hands and sighed.
"But you won't have sex with me."
"No. That would be...inappropriate."
She looked up suddenly and speared Jean-Luc with an intense stare.
"But I want to do it with you."
Shocked, but trying to stay calm, Jean-Luc shook his head.
"It would be wrong, Yvette. You are far too young and I don't think I could see you as a sexual partner. Besides, my relationship with Beverly is monogamous and, before you ask, it means we don't have any sort of sexual contact with any other people. And that includes you."
Angry and frustrated, Yvette glared.
"I don't like Beverly anymore!"
With a sigh, Jean-Luc bowed his head and lowered his voice.
"That's jealously talking, Yvette. You're better than that."
Sensing that he was preparing to leave, Yvette tried one last time.
"But..."
Jean-Luc shook his head.
"No, little one. Not only is it wrong for an adult to have sex with a child, I just can't think of you like that. I think of you as a parent thinks of their child. I love you, Yvette, and I wish to protect you. From everything."
Finally defeated, Yvette slowly nodded. She looked up at Jean-Luc and offered a wan smile.
"I love you too, Jean-Luc."
He kissed her cheek and stood.
"Goodnight, little one."
"Goodnight, Jean-Luc."
He turned off the lights with a soft command and left the room. As the door sighed closed behind him, his eyes adjusted to the dimmer lighting in the living area. In the soft light, augmented by the elongated, prismatic streaks flashing by outside, sat Beverly, dressed in nothing but a short, silk, peach coloured chemise. Her long dancer's legs were folded under her and in her hands were two glasses of wine.
Jean-Luc felt his heat accelerate as she said sultrily,
"Thirsty?"
Nodding silently, he went to stand in front of her, but before he could take the glass from her hand, she surprised him by putting the glasses on the low table and coming to her feet. His eyes darkened as they travelled over her body. She was so beautiful.
Her moist breath dampened his ear as she whispered,
"You have too much clothing on."
He stood silent and still as she eased his jacket off him, followed by his grey and black shirt. She then gracefully sank to her knees and slid his feet from his boots and socks. She looked up at him as she rose on her knees, running her fingers up the insides of his thighs. Seeing the noticeable bulge in his trousers, she took the opportunity to nuzzle his growing erection with her face. He moaned softly and sensuously as his hands tangled in her hair, pulling her to him as he gently thrust against her.
She pulled back and he let her go, staring down at her with eyes so dark, they appeared black. With their gaze locked, she undid his pants and released him from the confines of his briefs.
"There," she whispered huskily, "That's better."
He gently took her by the arms and encouraged her to stand. They kissed, languidly at first, but with rapidly rising desire. It was Beverly who pulled back, panting and licking her swollen lips.
"God, I love it when you kiss me, Jean-Luc."
He smiled and picked up the wine glasses. With her eyes fixed on him, he dipped his finger into the liquid and rubbed it on her lower lip. Then he licked and kissed it off. Not to be outdone, Beverly took her glass and sank back to her knees. He watched with hawk-like intensity as she dribbled some wine over his throbbing penis.
Looking up at him, she teased by taking the wine with just the tip of her tongue. He closed his eyes and tried to control the shudder that passed through his body as her tongue made contact with the head of his penis. With his eyes still closed, he felt her wrap one hand around his shaft and, as her mouth covered him, he groaned with carnal delight. He was dimly aware that she'd put her glass down when her other hand reached inside his briefs to cup his testicles. Then she did something that never failed to make him gasp. She managed to take his entire length into her mouth and throat. He was well endowed and, throughout his life, had never had a lover who could do what Beverly did. Perhaps it was her medical training, or maybe some kind of physical attribute...he didn't care. His fingers tangled in her hair as he rose up on the balls of his feet and thrust involuntarily.
Somehow Beverly resisted the urge to gag and took him as far into her mouth as she could. She knew from past lovers that she was accomplished at fellatio, but she'd never had a lover with a penis as big as Jean-Luc's. It was yet another surprising aspect to an already astonishing man.
Jean-Luc's head lolled back on his neck as he savoured the sensations of being sucked and licked just the way he wanted. He was aware that he could stave off his release, but Beverly was so good at what she was doing, he was in danger of losing himself in the moment, so he opened his eyes and looked down, saying softly,
"Come here, my love."
She let him slip from her mouth as she climbed to her feet. He took her in his muscular arms and kissed her with all the passion he felt. She returned the kiss in kind and they somehow transcended the instant and existed for a few precious moments in pure love.
Eventually it had to end and both of them sighed as the kiss waned. Taking the bottle and both glasses, Jean-Luc said huskily,
"Let's take this to the bedroom."
As they walked across the room, Beverly ran her fingernail up his spine, from his buttocks to the nape of his neck. His skin shivered slightly under her fingers and she chuckled, knowing she was slowly driving him insane.
But, yet again, he surprised her. She thought he would throw her to the bed and ravish her, but instead he lay on the bed and invited her to join him. She did so, of course and they lay together, sipping their wine. After a moment or two, Jean-Luc said softly,
"Can you feel it, Beverly?"
At first confused, Beverly looked at her lover, only to find him with his eyes closed. She mirrored him and concentrated. A smile grew on her face as the feeling of absolute serenity washed over her.
"Yes, Jean-Luc, I can feel it. Does it have a name?"
She felt the tips of his fingers trace ethereal patterns on her face.
"It's our love."
They finished their wine and Beverly helped Jean-Luc out of his trousers and briefs. He then spent several slow minutes taking her chemise from her body. He used his fingers, his teeth and his tongue and by the time she was naked, Beverly was almost overwhelmed with desire. She stretched out on the bed, arms above her head as Jean-Luc nibbled and licked her erogenous zones. She sighed, saying almost as an afterthought,
"It's such a pity it has to end."
He lifted his eyes, but didn't cease his caresses.
"What has to end?"
She lifted one hand, then gasped as he slid his tongue inside her. Somehow she managed to answer him.
"This...after we come it'll be over."
He lifted his head and she was taken aback by the look of pure sensuousness on his face.
"Then we'll just have to make it last, won't we."
As his fingers explored her sex, all she could do was mew in delight. Their foreplay was prolonged, each giving and receiving pleasure as the tension mounted. Eventually it was Beverly, who whispered,
"Now, Jean-Luc."
He covered her with his lean body and entered her in one slow stroke.

 

Yvette was awake. She had been since Jean-Luc and Beverly had begun their erotic play in the living area. At first she blocked Beverly out and concentrated on her Jean-Luc, but as time went on and his arousal grew, she became curious as to how Beverly was feeling. Although she knew intrinsically that Jean-Luc would never hurt Beverly, she wasn't able to see how the Doctor could possibly enjoy what she knew would eventually happen, so, with some trepidation, she opened her mind to include both participants.
What she felt shocked her deeply. To her utter astonishment, Beverly was feeling the same...if not more...desire as Jean-Luc. Her own body began to respond in a way she had never felt before and it frightened her. She closed her eyes and began to block them out, but once again, curiosity got the better of her. Taking a deep breath, she concentrated on relaxing, much as she had after her master had abused her and found she could experience what Jean-Luc and Beverly were feeling without any distress.
When Jean-Luc penetrated Beverly, the emotional and physical high made her light headed. Then, as Jean-Luc began a slow stroking, she felt Beverly match his need with powerful thrusts of her own. She felt Jean-Luc concentrating on his control and sensed Beverly's all-encompassing need. It seemed to be a mismatch, but Yvette quickly realised it was what they wanted. Jean-Luc needed to be in control, to deny himself his release until he was sure Beverly was satisfied, but Yvette didn't understand what that satisfaction would feel like, she could only feel the delicious sensations and the overwhelming need.
It soon became almost too much for her and again she contemplated blocking Beverly out, but suddenly she felt the onrush of something powerful. Beverly's orgasm took her by complete surprise. She cried out softly, the pupils of her eyes dilating and her fur standing on end. But it wasn't over. On the coattails of the first climax came another...then another and all the while Jean-Luc somehow held back, pacing himself and waiting for his release.
Yvette felt Beverly's body begin to tense again and she sensed it was for the last time. In her mind she heard the Doctor plead,
"Now...oh God, please...now, Jean-Luc!"
It seemed to trigger something inside him. He let go of his control and increased both his speed and depth of his thrusts. Lost in ecstasy, his orgasm rushed at him, flooding both his mind and body in euphoria. On its own, it would have been enough for Yvette to cope with, but Beverly's orgasm at the precise same time was too much for her. Her body arched up off the bed and her eyes rolled back in her head. She stiffened and trembled for several seconds before suddenly losing consciousness.
In Jean-Luc's bedroom, they clung to each other, their hearts racing, sweat coating their bodies and their lungs straining for air.
Jean-Luc managed to kiss Beverly's brow before he lowered his head to the crook of her neck. As his body became boneless and his eyes began to droop, Beverly whispered tiredly,
"My God, Jean-Luc...if I had known you were this good in bed, I would have seduced you years ago."
With his eyes now closed, he smiled and nuzzled her neck.
"And if I had known just how satisfying and sensuous you were, I would have gone blind satisfying my fantasies."
She chuckled wearily, but was curious enough to ask,
"Did you, Jean-Luc?"
His voice was just audible.
"Did I what?"
She sighed.
"You know...did you think of me when you masturbated."
He smiled again.
"You know I did."
She gently pushed at him, making him roll onto his back. They settled together, Beverly's head nestled on Jean-Luc's shoulder and their legs entwined. His eyes were closed but he was just awake.
"Did you?"
She grinned.
"Think of you when I did it? Yes."
He sighed happily.
"I'm glad, but you know what?"
"What?"
"All those lonely years of mind fuck were nothing...nothing compared to the reality of you. I love you with every fibre of my being, mon coeur."
Nestling closer to him, tears formed in Beverly's eyes and the lump in her throat prevented her from speaking out loud, so she whispered,
"And I love you...with all my heart."
They drifted off to sleep, utterly contented and at peace.

 

At just after oh five hundred hours Beverly awakened to feel Jean-Luc's erect penis pressed against her back. It wasn't his usual morning erection; he was hard as a rock. He had one arm over her, pulling her firmly against him. She smiled to herself and said softly,
"Why didn't you wake me?"
She could hear the arousal in his voice as he said,
"I think I just did."
She went to turn to face him, but his arm tightened and he said quietly,
"No, stay where you are."
He let her go and she felt him roll away from her momentarily. In the darkness of his bedroom, she heard the cap of a tube being opened. A shiver of anticipation swept over her. His mouth suddenly appeared at her ear.
"I'll take it slowly, but I need to know if you're all right with this."
All she could do was nod, the desire quickly rising. He eased an arm under her so his free hand could play with her nipples, but when his fingers, coated in lubricant, slid over and around her anus, Beverly couldn't stifle a moan. Pushing gently, he slid first one, then two fingers inside her, waiting as she adjusted to them. When he felt her relax, he pushed in a third, then a fourth finger. Once again she relaxed and pushed back onto his fingers. He withdrew them slowly and replaced them with his slippery penis. He pushed gently and the head slipped inside, making Beverly cry out softly. His now free hand went to her sex, unerringly finding her swollen clit. He whispered huskily,
"Are you all right?"
Breathless, she panted,
"Yes...go on, I want more."
Gently rubbing her clit, Jean-Luc began to slowly slide into her. It burned and Beverly winced, but the overwhelming sensation was of being filled in this most intimate of actions.
Just when she thought she could take no more of him, she felt the coarse pubic hair of his lower belly rub against her buttocks. He was all the way inside her. He gave her a moment or two to adjust, then slowly withdrew only to slide into her again. She moaned, the feeling of being so thoroughly filled and his stimulation of her clit was almost too much for her to bear. She pushed back onto him, saying breathlessly,
"Faster."
He complied with both his penis and fingers. Beverly suddenly writhed through her first orgasm, but Jean-Luc didn't stop. Indeed, he slid his thumb into her vagina and increased the pressure of his fingers.
Beverly grabbed the pillow and pulled it to her face as she screamed in ecstasy. It was too much for Jean-Luc, in an abrupt series of hard thrusts he came in a prolonged, heady rush. Beverly's second orgasm left her weak and trembling. As Jean-Luc's penis wilted, he gently eased himself out of her and hugged her to him. She gripped his arms and closed her eyes, feeling satisfied and fulfilled. Jean-Luc gently bit her shoulder, whispering,
"You are magnificent."
She smiled sleepily.
"I know."

 

 

Jean-Luc's and Beverly's morning lovemaking had wakened Yvette. When she realised what Jean-Luc intended she was sure Beverly would feel nothing but the agony she still remembered. But when it became obvious that it wasn't only wanted, but sought, Yvette once again experienced their ecstasy vicariously. This time she remained awake and marvelled at not only the shared orgasms, but the afterglow of love, fulfilment and contentment. This was something she wanted to know more about, so she went back to sleep, thinking of how she would ask Jean-Luc to explain it.
As it turned out, Yvette was still asleep when Jean-Luc rose at oh six hundred. He left Beverly sleeping as he quietly showered, shaved and dressed. They were near the nebula and he was due on the Bridge. It was past seven when Beverly woke. She was accustomed to waking by herself, but the feeling of abandonment lingered, even though she knew it was unwarranted. She had showered and dressed before Yvette made an appearance. Knuckling her eyes, she yawned and went to the table, already aware of where Jean-Luc was. Beverly smiled kindly at her, asking softly,
"What would you like for breakfast?"
Yawning again, Yvette didn't hesitate.
"Coffee and croissants."
With a chuckle, Beverly shook her head.
"I don't think so. How about some cereal and juice?"
Yvette shook her head.
"No."
After her night of erotic delight, Beverly felt too contented to argue, so she compromised.
"Okay, how about toast and hot chocolate?"
Yvette sensed Beverly's mood and decided to acquiesce. She nodded and Beverly beamed.
"Right, toast and hot chocolate it is."
They ate in companionable silence for a while before the peace was shattered by Yvette asking,
"How did you learn to like sex so much?"
Choking on her coffee, Beverly went red and spluttered,
"I beg your pardon?"
Yvette sighed.
"You and Jean-Luc had sex twice last night. I know men enjoy sex, but how did you learn to like it so much...and how did you learn the end part?"
Nonplussed, Beverly floundered for words.
"Ah...I...that is we...it's ..."
She sighed.
"When you grow up, you will learn for yourself."

Yvette shook her head.
"But sex hurts. I want to know how to learn to feel what you did. It was really good."
With a sigh, Beverly pinched the bridge of her nose.
"Sex isn't supposed to hurt, Yvette. What happened to you was wrong; you were way too young to have those experiences. Believe me, when you grow up and meet someone you care for, sex will be as good for you as it is for me."
The little female looked dubious.
"Even the way you did it this morning? That was always the worst."
Beverly reddened again.
"Yes. Now I have a favour to ask of you, something really important."
Yvette sat up straight and nodded.
"I want you to promise me you'll block us out when we have sex."
"Why?"
With a sigh, Beverly explained.
"Because sex is a very private thing and if Jean-Luc found out you'd shared the experience, he wouldn't be very happy."
That confused Yvette, but she sensed the truth in Beverly's words. She nodded again.
"All right."
"You promise?"
Yvette nodded vigorously.
"Yes."
Placing her serviette by her plate, Beverly still felt flustered. She tapped her comm. badge.
"Crusher to Troi."
"Troi here, good morning Beverly."
"'Morning, Dee. I'm about to go on duty, can you come and sit Yvette?"
"No I can't, but I think Rosemary Wing is free. I'll call her."
Beverly smiled at seeing Yvette nod.
"Okay, Crusher out."
Beverly stood and pushed her chair in.
"I'm just going to get my lab coat. Why don't you think of what you want to read with Lieutenant Wing?"
Yvette nodded again...she knew just what she wanted to read.

 

With a skeleton crew of technicians left aboard to analyse the Jem'Hadar weaponry, the pirate ship was left in the nebula. The Enterprise set course back to their original position as the senior staff made preparations for their confrontation with the Plunderer.
It was Worf who stated the obvious.
"Their sensors will detect weapons fire."
Jean-Luc sighed.
"I know, and the absence of debris is going to further raise suspicions. All right, what do we do? Would our previous ploy work?"
Will shook his head.
"I don't think so, Captain. Once they detect the weapons fire and fail to locate their other ship, I don't think they'll hesitate to engage us immediately. We won't have the luxury of surprise."
Jean-Luc shrugged.
"In all probability they have been trying to contact the other ship already. They're going to be suspicious anyway...that's if they come at all."
Geordi sat forward, his brow wrinkled.
"You think they'll give the other ship up as lost?"
Jean-Luc nodded.
"Yes. They know the crew would rather commit suicide than be taken prisoner. Once they realise they can't contact the other ship, what would be the point of making the rendezvous?"
Will grunted softly,
"Then we have to sweeten the bait."
Turning his attention to his Exec, Jean-Luc raised one eyebrow in silence. Will smiled.
"How about we broadcast a message that we are the pirates who have taken the Enterprise at the expense of our old ship?"
Sitting back in his chair, Jean-Luc ran his fingers over his lower lip as he gave the suggestion adequate thought.
"Hmm. Interesting, Number One. And why can't we contact them directly?"
Will shrugged.
"Incompatibility with our systems? Battle damage? Who cares, as long as the Plunderer falls for it."
Worf glowered as his warrior's brain wrestled with the logistics.
"And the absence of debris?"
Jean-Luc smiled coldly.
"Vaporisation...a catastrophic event."
Geordi shook his head.
"They would still be able to pick up microscopic debris."
The Captain nodded.
"Yes, but they would have to get close...and we wouldn't give them the chance. Gentlemen, I think we have a plan. Data, I want you to work with Tactical to make our broadcast seem authentic. Is there anything else?"
When nobody responded, Jean-Luc gave a curt nod.
"Very well, dismissed."
As the staff stood, Jean-Luc said quietly,
"You have the Bridge, Number One. I'll be with the Counsellor's new friend."
The big man nodded.
"Aye, Captain."

 

The second the doors opened, Favan was on his feet, nervously wringing his hands, prompting Deanna to say softly,
"It's all right, Favan, it's Captain Picard."
As Jean-Luc walked slowly into the room, Favan backtracked. The Captain came to a halt and raised one hand.
"Calm yourself, young man, I intend no harm."
With a visible effort, Favan tried to relax. Deanna patted the sofa, saying kindly,
"Come and sit down, Favan. Let's hear what the Captain has to say."
Jean-Luc waited until the teenager had perched on the edge of the sofa before he took a seat opposite. With a small smile and a gentle voice, Jean-Luc said,
"I hope you slept well."
The young man shrugged.
"Well enough, I suppose."
With a nod, Jean-Luc kept his smile in place.
"Favan, I need your help."
Sneering slightly, Favan's young face transformed into an expression of suspicion and fear.
"What do you want?"
Again holding up a placating hand, Jean-Luc kept his voice soft.
"The Plunderer will be in sensor range soon. We hope to convince Yrannis that we are the crew of your ship who have taken the Enterprise at the expense of your ship."
The fear in the lad intensified.
"You're taking one hell of a risk. The first thing they're going to want is the password."
Jean-Luc's eyebrow rose.
"Password?"
The youngster nodded.
"Yes. It changes every day and only the Captains know it."
With a deep sigh, Jean-Luc ran a frustrated hand over his head.
"I see. What if we convinced them we couldn't talk with them directly...that there were compatibility problems, or battle damage?"
With a shrug, Favan turned down the corners of his mouth.
"It might work, I don't know. But what are you going to do if they want to beam aboard?"
The smile was back.
"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Can you tell me anything about the Plunderer?"
Again, Favan shrugged.
"Not much more than I've already told you. She is by far the most powerful ship we have. I think Grul has made her his command ship, but that would mean he's made some sort of deal with Yrannis. What that could be, I don't know."
Sitting forward in his chair, Jean-Luc said with intensity,
"Do you think they may have betrayed the Cardassian?"
Favan visibly paled.
"If they have, it would be at the cost of their lives if he found out. From what I've heard of him...he's utterly ruthless. He raped me once...took me two months to heal."
Shocked, sickened but intrigued, Jean-Luc asked urgently,
"You've met him?"
Favan shook his head.
"NO! He was on the plunderer once and asked my Captain for some fresh meat. I was sent. As soon as I materialised on the Plunderer, I was stripped naked and a hood was put over my head. I was led through the ship and put in a room, told to leave the hood on and to wait. I waited ages, then he came in, beat me and raped me. I only knew it was the Cardassian because he told me how lucky I was to be used by the most important person in the whole group. He told me I was privileged."
The youngster sneered again.
"At the time, I didn't think so. The only good thing that came from it was that my Captain told the others on my ship to leave me alone until I healed. It was the best two months of my time on that ship."
Jean-Luc's expression was one of sympathy.
"I'm sorry about all that has happened to you Favan, I can only reassure you that nothing like that will happen to you here."
Casting a sideways glance at Deanna, Favan gave a curt nod.
"I think I'm beginning to believe you, Captain."
Jean-Luc smiled warmly.
"That's good. Now in our present dilemma, I would like to ask if we can call on you for assistance."
Suspicious, but less frightened, Favan asked,
"What kind of assistance?"
Jean-Luc clasped his hands and looked into Favan's eyes.
"I'm not sure, but there may come a time when we might need to bring you to the Bridge to be the face they need to see."
Immediately alarmed, Favan shook his head vehemently.
"But I'm a nobody, just everyone's sex toy. Yrannis isn't going to listen to me!"
Holding up his hand again, Jean-Luc kept his voice soft.
"He doesn't have to. We just need a little time...a few seconds. If we can confuse him for just those vital few seconds, it could mean the difference between winning and losing."
Exasperated, yet somehow emboldened by Jean-Luc's words and his obvious trust in him, Favan nodded.
"All right...if you need me, I'll be there."
Leaning forward, Jean-Luc patted the lad's knee.
"Good man. Now I have to go to the Bridge. If we need you, I will contact Counsellor Troi."
Favan stood as Jean-Luc came to his feet. The young man straightened and lifted his chin.
"Aye, Captain."
Jean-Luc left knowing he had a new crewmember.

 

 

As the minutes ticked by the tension slowly rose on the Bridge. Jean-Luc sat calmly in the Command Chair, but beside him, Will fidgeted. The Captain was about to quietly suggest his Exec still himself when a curt report came from tactical.
"I have a contact, Captain. It's a ship of unknown origin, at the very edge of our sensor range approaching at high warp."
Keeping his voice and demeanour calm, Jean-Luc asked,
"ETA?"
"At current speed, two point one hours, Captain."
Nodding his acceptance of the report, Jean-Luc said quietly,
"Keep broadcasting, Mr. Data, all frequencies, all channels."
"All frequencies, all channels. Aye, Sir."
Just then a call came from engineering.
"LaForge to Picard."
"Picard here, go ahead."
"Captain, I have an idea that may buy us a little more time."
Intrigued, Jean-Luc looked at Will, then said,
"And that is?"
"I think we can blow out some microscopic debris through the bussard collectors. I've destroyed some replicated duranium...not a lot mind you, but enough to catch their attention."
Jean-Luc smile was genuine.
"Well done Geordi, proceed with due haste."
"I'm on it, Captain, LaForge out."
As the channel closed, Will leaned closer to his Captain and said quietly,
"Another string for our bow?"
With a shrug, Jean-Luc gave a deadpan look.
"I'll take anything I can get, Number One."
The officer at Tactical suddenly said,
"They're hailing us, Captain, asking for a password."
In his usually calm voice, Jean-Luc replied,
"Ignore the hail, Lieutenant. Keep broadcasting, Mr. Data."
"Aye, Sir."
Under his breath Will muttered,
"Come on, little fish, just a bit closer. Take the bait."
Jean-Luc couldn't suppress a smirk.
"They might take the bait, Number One, but can we set the hook? And what of the fight? I can't imagine they'll give up without one hell of a struggle...and we still don't know what we're dealing with."
The big First Officer sat back and raked his fingers through his dark beard.
"Ah yes, Captain, but they're just as much in the dark as we are...and we have their shield harmonics. We just need to get them close enough."
With a quiet chuckle, Jean-Luc muttered,
"Ever the optimist."
Will laughed softly, but sobered when the young Lieutenant at Tactical tersely reported,
"They're arming weapons, Captain."
Will's eyebrows lifted.
"Shields?"
Jean-Luc shook his head.
"No, Number One. We're on their side, remember. Friends don't take provocative actions."
Will bridled.
"But, Captain..."
Jean-Luc shook his head.
"No, Will. If we raise shields we show our hand. We wait."
The big man nodded, barely keeping his frustration from showing.
"Yes, Captain."
The tension continued to mount as the ship approached. The Lieutenant at Tactical quietly reported,
"We're being scanned, Captain."
With a short nod, Jean-Luc said equally quietly,
"Thank you, Lieutenant, take no offensive action."
"Aye, Captain."
Jean-Luc leaned forward slightly and said,
"Data, I want to know the absolute second we can broadcast their shield harmonics."
The android nodded.
"Aye, Captain."
The CO then raised his head.
"Picard to Crusher."
"Crusher here, Captain."
"Doctor, if we can dismantle the enemy ship's shields, can you deactivate the subdural detonators?"
There was a momentary hiatus before Beverly replied,
"Yes I think so, Captain. If we transmit a kedyon pulse it should do the trick."
Jean-Luc nodded again.
"Thank you, Doctor. Please be ready for my order."
"Yes, Captain, Crusher out."
Tapping his comm. badge, Jean-Luc called Worf.
"Lieutenant Worf, are you ready?"
The burly Klingon's response was terse.
"Aye, Captain. I have security teams armed and ready throughout the ship."
"And the rest of the crew?"
"Armed and on alert, Captain."
With a self satisfied smile, Jean-Luc sat up straight.
"Well done Worf. Once their shields fall they should start to beam aboard."
"We'll be ready for them, Captain. Worf out."
Casting a look at his Exec, Jean-Luc said firmly,
"Bridge crew, arm yourselves and prepare for hostile boarders."
Will stared at the image of the fast approaching ship and sighed.
"How many do you think they'll get aboard?"
Jean-Luc shrugged.
"Unknown. Theoretically they shouldn't be able to transport through our shields, but with Jem'Hadar technology, anything is possible."
With a soft grunt, Will shook his head.
"We're going to have to hit them hard."
Jean-Luc nodded his agreement, saying to Tactical,
"Target their weapons and propulsion. I want them dead in the water ASAP."
The young man nodded.
"Aye, Captain."
The same Lieutenant said quietly,
"We're being targeted, Captain."
Crossing his legs, Jean-Luc lifted his head and said calmly,
"Picard to Troi."
"Troi here, Captain.
"Counsellor, please bring Favan to the Bridge."
He heard the hesitancy in her voice as she replied,
"Yes, Captain, we're on our way."
Will leaned on one elbow, saying sardonically,
"Upping the ante?"
Jean-Luc merely offered a small smile.
"Sweetening the bait."
Will sat back and grimaced.
"Here's hoping they have a sweet tooth."
Jean-Luc's face became stony.
"From what I've learned, their Captain has a penchant for our guest. Perhaps seeing him will be enough to give us our edge."
Will held up his crossed fingers. Jean-Luc smiled.
"The Gods are kind to ships called Enterprise."
With a chuckle, Will shook his head.
"And devil-may-care Captains?"
Feigning offence, Jean-Luc frowned.
"Oh no, Number One. I'm not devil-may-care. I plan meticulously."
He then leaned closer to Will and said sotto voce,
"And I keep my fingers crossed."
Will's chuckle was cut short by the Lieutenant at Tactical.
"They are almost within range, Captain."
Uncrossing his legs, Jean-Luc said softly,
"Red alert."

As the siren sounded and the red alert lights came on, Jean-Luc said quietly,
"Keep the shields lowered until my command to raise them."
The Lieutenant nodded, uttering a quiet,
"Yes, Captain."
Data turned his head and said softly,
"They are within range, Captain."
Jean-Luc nodded his acceptance of the information just as Deanna and Favan entered the Bridge. Jean-Luc looked up at him and smiled.
"Favan, it's time for you to help us."
The young man nervously wrung his hands, his eyes darting to the image of the approaching ship, but he lifted his chin to say bravely,
"Yes, Captain."
Jean-Luc said quietly,
"Mr. Data, please take Favan to the comm. port and allow him to send a transmission. Favan, I want you to identify yourself and tell Yrannis that your crew has taken control of the Enterprise."
Data stood and ushered a pale and sweating Favan to the rear of the Bridge. There, at the comm. panel, Data initiated contact with the Plunderer. Silently, Data pointed to Favan and mouthed,
"Start."
Swallowing to wet his suddenly dry mouth, Favan uttered,
"Plunderer?"
A guttural voice replied,
"Who is that?"
Gaining a modicum of confidence, Favan said in a stronger voice,
"It's me...Favan. Is that Captain Yrannis?"
"It is. Transmit visually!"
Panicked, Favan turned to Jean-Luc. He made a cutting motion across his throat and Data put the channel on hold.
"Tell them you can't transmit visually. Make it appear you are unfamiliar with our technology."
The lad nodded and turned back to Data. The android opened the channel.
"Captain Yrannis? I don't know how to operate their equipment."
The guttural voice gained volume.
"Let me speak to your Captain!"
Extemporising, Favan blurted,
"He's dead! There was a huge battle and our ship was destroyed, but we took the Enterprise. Most of the officers are dead. I'm on the Bridge helping out."
The Plunderer, which had slowed its approach, began to accelerate. Jean-Luc stood, again making the cutting action across his throat.
"Range, Mr. Data?"
"Eight thousand kilometres, Captain."
Raising his right hand, Jean-Luc quietly said,
"Raise shields and fire."
Bright orange energy arced out from the Enterprise again and again, followed by a volley of photon torpedoes. The Plunderer staggered to a halt, smoke and plasma venting from several rents in her hull. The comm. system crackled into life.
"Favan! What is the meaning of this! Are you mad?"
Jean-Luc motioned the lad to silence as he faced the viewscreen.
"Captain Yrannis, this is Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Your ship has been disabled and by now we have rendered your subdural detonators inactive. Surrender your ship, Captain, stand down and allow us to board you."
There was an ominous silence before Yrannis barked,
"We will never surrender! And, Captain, we are not as helpless as you seem to think. Fire!"
Bright blue bolts of energy raced towards the Enterprise. Jean-Luc had enough time to call loudly,
"Brace for impact!" Before the ship bucked under the barrage.
Knocked off his feet, Jean-Luc waved Will away as he quickly stood, barking,
"Return fire! Fire at will!"
For just over ten minutes the ships traded blow for blow. The Enterprise had the advantage of being able to move, darting in and out of range as she unleashed her weapons. But the Plunderer had weapons the Enterprise crew had not encountered before. With her shields failing, Jean-Luc said tersely,
"We have to take out their weapons!"
Data frowned over his console, analysing the incoming information.
"The power distribution generators for their weapons are particularly well shielded, Captain. It will require a volley of torpedoes at three separate targets to render them inoperative."
His knuckles showing white as he held on during another barrage that rocked the ship, Jean-Luc said quietly,
"Can you do it, Data?"
The android frowned, checked his console, then nodded.
"Yes, Captain, I believe I can."
Jean-Luc stared at the other ship and said stoically,
"Make it so."
Coming around in a graceful arc, the Enterprise suddenly dived to make a rivet straining turn to approach the plunderer from underneath. Having made his calculations, Data fed his information to Tactical. The Lieutenant inputted the information and pressed the console pad. Nine photon torpedoes raced away from the enterprise, impacting on key targets on the Plunderer. Several explosions erupted but just as Jean-Luc was about to order away teams to board the ship, Worf's terse voice rumbled over the comm.
"Intruder alert! We are being boarded."
On his feet in mere seconds, Jean-Luc barked,
"Security teams prepare to engage hostile boarders. All civilian members confine yourselves to your quarters immediately!"
He turned his attention to Data.
"Keep the comm. system open, Data!"
The android nodded, his demeanour tense.
"Aye, Captain."
Over the loud speakers the unmistakeable sound of phaser fire could be heard, but what chilled Jean-Luc's blood were the also unmistakable sounds of Jem'Hadar weapons. He knew how devastating they were. Unlike Starfleet weapons, theirs had no other setting but kill.
He was about to order more security teams into action when four figures materialised on the Bridge. Everyone dived for cover, weapons drawn. Jean-Luc altered his phaser to level sixteen, the kill setting. Hiding behind one of the forward consoles, he got off a shot and was lucky enough to kill one of the intruders. He was lining up a second, but Will beat him to it. Unlike his Captain, Will's phaser was set on heavy stun. The alien dropped to his knees, but returned fire, obliterating the console Will had taken refuge behind. In an act of selfless bravery, the Lieutenant from Tactical ran from cover to shield his Exec. He fired, hitting the pirate, but not before the marauder fired again. The young man vaporised.
Enraged, Will set his phaser on kill. The remaining two pirates had split up, one going aft, one forward. Will saw the one who had worked his way behind his Captain and was taking aim. Throwing caution to the winds, Will stood and fired. He made a large target. The pirate at the aft section stood and took aim at Will, but before he could fire, Data felled him with a shot right between his eyes. His head vaporised. Jean-Luc cast a quick look behind him at the charred body and sent Will a look of gratitude. Will nodded and stood to his full height. Jean-Luc joined him, saying,
"Are we secured?"
Data answered.
"I believe so, Captain."
"Casualties?"
Will looked down at the grotesque corpse of the Lieutenant.
"Only one, Captain...and he died saving my life."
With a sigh, Jean-Luc said quietly,
"I will enter his actions in the log and recommend him for a posthumous medal for valour."
Will grunted, wiping the sweat from his brow.
"Small comfort for his family."
In a soft voice, Jean-Luc replied,
"I know, Number One, I have to write to them."
Immediately sorry for his outburst, Will couldn't think of anything to say. Instead he called out,
"Favan?"
From behind the Tactical console, Favan stood, shaking uncontrollably. In a shuddering voice he asked tremulously,
"Is it over?"
Jean-Luc nodded.
"Yes, at least up here."
He then lifted his head.
"Worf, can you report?"
The big Klingon sounded barely in control.
"We are winning, Captain, but they are worthy adversaries. They tried to take Engineering, but we fought them off. We have driven them to deck eighteen. I believe they are making a final stand there."
Nodding with satisfaction, Jean-Luc asked quietly,
"Casualties?"
"Several dead and some critically wounded. We are getting them to Sick Bay as soon as possible."
"Understood, Mr. Worf. Keep me informed of your progress. Away teams nine through fifteen."
A female voice responded.
"Lieutenant Selwood here, Captain, team leader."
"Lieutenant, report to transporter room three and prepare to beam over to the Plunderer. Expect a very hostile reaction to your arrival."
"Understood, Captain. We have specialised weapons. We are confident of success."
"Acknowledged, Lieutenant. Godspeed. Picard out."
Will stood beside his Captain, fully aware of how much Jean-Luc hated sending his crew into battles, especially ones where the chances of death were high. He lowered his head to say softly,
"Worf has trained them well, Captain."
With a soft grunt, Jean-Luc wiped some of the sweat from his brow.
"They're going to need it, Number One."
Overhead, the speakers came to life.
"Worf to Picard!"
Jean-Luc looked up, his eyes narrowing.
"Picard here."
"We have them contained but two of them escaped through a Jefferies Tube."
Jean-Luc grimaced.
"Understood, Mr. Worf. Any idea where they might be headed?"
"They will be wanting to get off the ship, Captain. Perhaps we should concentrate on the Transporter Rooms?"
With a nod, Jean-Luc glanced at Will to see him begin to send teams to the transporter rooms. The Captain could still hear the occasional phaser blast.
"How are you coping, Worf?"
Jean-Luc clearly heard the umbrage in the Klingon's voice as he replied,
"We are coping well, Captain. In fact..."
There was the sound of two more phaser shots...
"We have them."
"So, apart from the two who escaped, all the intruders are accounted for?"
"Yes, Captain."
Jean-Luc nodded, rubbing his fingers over his lower lip.
"Very good, Worf. Now I want you to..."
He was cut off by a guttural voice.
"I want to speak to the Captain of this ship!"
Will bristled, but Jean-Luc held up a calming hand.
"This is Captain Jean-Luc Picard. To whom am I speaking?"
"My name is of no concern to you; all you need to know is that I have a knife at the throat of one of your medics."
His stomach soured and his mouth went suddenly dry.
"What do you want?"
"Safe passage back to our ship."
Jean-Luc's eyes hardened.
"I can't do that."
"Do it, or this red headed bitch dies."
So his worst fears were realised. It was Beverly. Jean-Luc steeled himself and straightened his spine.
"I will not negotiate with terrorists."
"Then this woman will die!"
Giving Will a silent look, Jean-Luc went aft to the turbolift. He kept talking as he went.
"There is no need for further violence. We have taken the rest of your party and soon we will have your ship. Give up."
"Never! I will kill this woman and anyone else I can get my hands on!"
With the lift almost at the correct deck, Jean-Luc's hand fell to his phaser, holstered at his hip.
"To what end? You must know we will apprehend you sooner rather than later."
Jean-Luc could hear the fatalistic glee in the pirate's voice as he replied,
"Oh yes, you'll get me, but not before I take as many of your crew as I can. I hate Starfleet, Picard. Killing your crew will give me great pleasure."
Now at Sick Bay's doors, Jean-Luc stepped forward, triggering the opening mechanism. He immediately saw chaos. Beverly's staff were huddled in a group to the right. Lying on the floor was a wounded pirate and standing nearby was the marauder, gripping Beverly by the hair and with a deadly-looking knife at her throat. The pirate saw Jean-Luc and shouted,
"Stop where you are and throw your weapon on the deck! Who the hell are you?"
Slowly taking the phaser from its holster and lowering it to the deck, Jean-Luc kept eye contact as he said calmly,
"I am Captain Picard and I want you to know one thing. If you harm that woman in any way, I will kill you myself."
It was said so calmly, so matter-of-factly, that it threw the pirate off guard. He lowered the knife and used it to point at Jean-Luc.
"You don't tell me what to do, I..."
He got no further. Beverly lifted an arm and drove her elbow into his solar plexus as hard as she could. He coughed raggedly, dropped the knife and staggered backwards. Beverly dived to one side, yelling,
"Now, Jean-Luc!"
In one graceful, fluid motion, Jean-Luc bent and scooped up the phaser. In three long strides he was standing over the gasping pirate, his finger hovering over the trigger. It wasn't until Beverly's hand gently rested on his forearm that he began to relax. She smiled and said softly,
"It's all right, Jean-Luc, I'm okay."
As Jean-Luc reached down to grab the pirate's collar, Beverly turned to her staff, saying firmly,
"We have work to do, people."
Her voice and the way she spoke shook them out of their stupor. Beverly directed two nurses to tend to the wounded pirate while she refocused on her lover. His grip on the phaser was still tight, but the look of murderous intent was gone from his eyes. Two security officers had arrived and were relieving the Captain of his captive. Beverly said quietly,
"We have a wounded pirate here. He'll need to be guarded until I can transfer him to the brig."
Jean-Luc looked up to see the Lieutenant in charge nodding and saying quietly,
"Aye, Sir."
Seeing that things were under control and she wasn't needed at that time, Beverly gently took Jean-Luc's hand and led him to her office. She locked the door and opaqued the windows.
Jean-Luc stood with his head bowed. Beverly came to stand before him, saying softly,
"Would you have done it?"
He lifted his head to stare at her forlornly, but said nothing. She repeated her question.
"Would you have done it, Jean-Luc...would you have killed him?"
His reply was monosyllabic, but there was a terrible weight to that one word.
"Yes."
Beverly stepped back, shocked and disheartened.
"You're no killer Jean-Luc. Why? Why would you have resorted to such barbarity?"

He looked into her eyes, at once defiant and scared at the same time.
"Beverly...I have never in my life loved someone as I love you. If he had harmed you..."
She stepped to him, taking his hands.
"Oh, Jean-Luc, my love..."
They embraced and she could feel him trembling. Whispering softly, she said,
"In a way it's very flattering."
Jean-Luc softly snorted.
"Flattering? God, Beverly, I'm appalled."
With a soft chuckle, Beverly tenderly kissed him. He was about to deepen the kiss when a call came through from the Bridge.
"Riker to Picard."
Reluctantly, Jean-Luc lifted his head and sighed.
"Picard here."
"We have the other ship, Captain."
Jean-Luc grew sombre.
"Casualties?"
He heard the regret and anger in Will's voice.
"Heavy, Sir. Five dead and four critically wounded."
"Out of a compliment of eighteen." Jean-Luc shook his head sadly. He sighed again.
"And Yrannis and Grul?"
The tone of satisfaction made Jean-Luc smile coldly.
"Grul is in custody, Yrannis has been severely wounded. He's being prepared to transport now."
"Very well, Number One, please convey my appreciation of a job well done to the security teams, both here and on the Plunderer."
"Aye, Captain, Riker out."
Jean-Luc half turned, hesitated then turned back to face Beverly. He took her face in her hands and kissed her with tender passion. When the kiss ended he said softly,
"If we manage to get some sleep tonight, will you join me?"
She smiled and kissed the tip of his nose.
"You know I will."
He smiled in return and made for the door, but her soft words made him pause.
"And we need to talk."
He didn't outwardly acknowledge her words, but he knew she was right. He had been on the brink of killing a man because he threatened Beverly. Yes, they needed to talk.

 

Back on the Bridge, Jean-Luc was going over the damage reports when Will entered from the forward turbolift. He strode to his Captain, causing Jean-Luc to look up and say,
"Report."
"Grul is in the Brig, Yrannis is in Sick Bay."
Giving a thoughtful nod, Jean-Luc asked,
"Prognosis?"
Will smiled coldly.
"Beverly says he'll pull through. Personally I'd prefer if he died a slow, painful death. He was responsible for two deaths and two stabbings. He's an animal, Captain."
With a soft grunt, Jean-Luc replied,
"He's a pirate, Will and a very successful one. You don't get to be in his position by being kind and compassionate."
The big man snorted
"Still..."
With a firm hand on Will's shoulder, Jean-Luc changed the subject.
"Care to join me for a little chat with Grul?"
Will's eyes twinkled with cold delight.
"Oh yes, Captain, I would."
As they left the Bridge, Jean-Luc said over his shoulder,
"Mr. Data, you have the Bridge."
The android's reply was lost as the lift doors closed.

 

Grul was like most Ferengi, avaricious and full of bluster. As soon as Jean-Luc and Will strode into the detention room, the little man was on his feet, shouting with impressive outrage,
"What is the meaning of this? How dare you confine me! I am a member of the Ferengi Executive Council and I demand..."
Jean-Luc's face was cold as he interrupted the tirade.
"You will demand nothing! You are a pirate, Grul, responsible for the deaths of too many to calculate."
Seeing that his captor was completely unimpressed by his bluster, Grul resorted to wheedling. Holding up both hands he whined,
"It wasn't me, it was Yrannis! He forced me! I was a captive on his ship."
Clasping his hands behind his back, Jean-Luc lowered his head, smiled coldly and shook his head.
"As I understand it, Grul, you were the intermediary between the pirates and the Weyoun. How else can you explain why you had a Jem'Hadar ship, equipped with their weapons?"
Shaking his head hard enough to make his ears flap, Grul pleaded with the Captain.
"No! It was Yrannis! He was the intermediary!"
With a deep sigh, Jean-Luc gave the Ferengi a look of feigned sympathy.
"Now really. You don't honestly expect me to believe that a man like Yrannis...a cold-blooded killer, a man of limited scope and intelligence could possibly be the mastermind of such a complex and ingenious operation?"
Jean-Luc and Will could almost see Grul swell with self-important pride. Spreading his hands wide, the grotesque alien smiled with snaggle-toothed imperiousness.
"Well of course I thought of it...in fact I facilitated it, but it was Yrannis who implemented it. I was the brain, he, the brawn and as such, I am innocent of any violence."
Nodding thoughtfully, Jean-Luc allowed the Ferengi to believe he was being sympathetic.
"I see, well that changes everything."
Grul rubbed his hands with glee.
"So you will see to it that I am protected from severe punishment?"
Jean-Luc smiled and allowed a few seconds to pass before he shook his head.
"Unfortunately, no."
Grul's confident smugness fled. The whine returned.
"Why?"
With his expression becoming cold, Jean-Luc's voice grew soft and bereft of warmth.
"Because unless you give us the Weyoun, his connections to the Jem'Hadar and possibly the Founders, you will be facing charges of piracy, murder, sexual assault, collusion and conspiracy."
The Ferengi paled as the ramifications of his situation became obvious. He stammered softly,
"But they'll kill me."
With a non-committal shrug, Jean-Luc pursed his lips.
"So may the authorities."
Grul's head snapped up, aggression making him spit his words out.
"The Federation doesn't believe in capital punishment. It was outlawed centuries ago!"
Jean-Luc stepped closer to the forcefield and said quietly, but with deadly intent,
"That's if I give you to Federation authorities. You and your cohorts have kidnapped, killed and abused citizens of many non-aligned worlds. I'm sure some of them still have capital punishment on their books...or worse."
Grul swallowed loudly, scrambling to find a way to keep himself alive. Unfortunately he settled on bravado.
"You wouldn't dare!"
Jean-Luc smiled coldly and raised one eyebrow.
"Wouldn't I?"
Will saw his chance to assist his Captain. He stepped forward, giving Jean-Luc a look of both fear and respect.
"He once gave an Andorian smuggler to the Klingons. They used him for Bat'leth practice."
Grul stumbled backwards, looking at Jean-Luc with terror.
"But you're a Starfleet Captain! That's illegal!"
Jean-Luc shrugged.
"What can I say? He was the wrong shade of blue. You must understand...my superiors only know what I tell them. What I choose to do with the likes of you is my business."
He turned and gave Will a speculative look.
"Do you want him?"
Will made a show of giving the little Ferengi and thorough perusal. Eventually he sighed and shook his head.
"No, he looks too old and tough. Too much of him would get caught between my teeth."
Jean-Luc nodded thoughtfully, then snapped his fingers.
"His ears would make a fine trophy though. I could mount them in pale green poly plastic. It would make a good desk ornament, a real talking piece."
Grul had heard enough. He fell to his knees, his hands clasped in front of him.
"I'll do it! I'll tell you everything! As long as I'm given to the Federation!"
Jean-Luc made a show of rubbing his chin, making sure Grul saw him eyeing off his ears.
With a disappointed sigh, the Captain gave a curt nod.
"Oh, very well, out with it, I haven't got all day!"

 

Half an hour later, Jean-Luc, Will and the rest of the senior staff were seated
around the long table in the forward observation lounge. Jean-Luc was tired, but encouraged.
"From what we've learned, it seems Grul will be meeting the Weyoun in two days to make the exchange. He will be taking an interceptor from the Plunderer, meeting with the Weyoun, who will be in his own ship, then Grul will lead him back to the Plunderer where the exchange will take place. From what I can gather, there is latinum involved, but it seems the main aim of the pirates, and by extension, Grul, is the acquisition of Jem'Hadar technology and weapons. Apparently Grul is amassing the goods to sell to the highest bidder. The piracy was just an end to a means. They knew they couldn't be resisted, so they preyed on unsuspecting victims to feather their nests."
Data Frowned.
"But what, if anything, do the Jem'Hadar or the Founders get out of it? None of the ships they raided had anything they wanted."
Will sat forward and clasped his hands.
"You're forgetting their intel. Up to date intelligence about the Federation, or Starfleet would be very interesting, don't you think? And as the piracy increased, so did our presence and our contact with ships in remote areas and by extension, those ships were aware of our movements."
Jean-Luc gave a soft grunt.
"The Jem'Hadar probably knew more about our assignments than we did."
Geordi scowled and his blue ocular implants dilated.
"So what do we do? We can't follow an interceptor; the Enterprise can be seen light years away."
Jean-Luc nodded.
"Agreed. That's why Commander Riker is going to accompany Grul to his rendezvous. With any luck, he can be there when Grul makes contact and leads the Weyoun back here."
Data sat forward, a frown furrowing his smooth brow.
"But, Captain, what of the Enterprise? The Plunderer is obviously damaged, the Weyoun will know long before he arrives that something is wrong. And what if he has a complement of Jem'Hadar with him? How do we nullify that?"
With a soft sigh and a rueful smile, Jean-Luc placed his hands on the tabletop.
"The short answer is we make ourselves invisible. As for the Jem'Hadar...they obey the
Weyoun without question. If we can capture the Weyoun, we capture the Jem'Hadar."
Data nodded his understanding, but tilted his head, asking,
"Make ourselves invisible?"
Jean-Luc gestured to Will, who grinned.
"The Plunderer has a state-of-the-art cloaking device. Geordi?"
The dark engineer sat back, a sly smile on his face.
"I've seen it...it's a thing of beauty."
Data turned to his friend and asked softly,
"Is it compatible with our systems?"
Geordi nodded.
"More than compatible, Data. In fact, it's all ready fitted. When the Weyoun arrives he will
have no idea there's a Sovereign Class Starship sitting here, with weapons targeted and
ready."
Data stared at his best friend, then said rhetorically,
"We can fire while cloaked?"
Geordi nodded, clasping his hands across his chest.
"Yep."
Jean-Luc gently tapped his forefinger on the table. All eyes went to him.
"We have set the stage, engaged the orchestra, now we have to see if they can dance. Two
days, gentlemen, two days."

As Jean-Luc approached his quarters he lowered his mental barriers and sought out Yvette. Immediately she pervaded his mind, filling it with a mixture of concern and excitement. He calmed himself and smiled as she reciprocated. In his mind he heard,
"Hello, Jean-Luc, I have missed you."
He smiled and thought back,
"And I have missed you."
By this time he was entering quarters. Before Lieutenant Wing could stop her, Yvette rose
up from her seat in one fluid motion and ran across the room to fling herself into Jean-Luc's
arms. He scooped her up and hugged her. She hugged him back, burying her head in the crook of his neck.
After kissing her temple, Jean-Luc asked,
"What have you been doing all day?"
Before she could answer, Lieutenant Wing came over to her Captain, her face stained red with embarrassment. Knowing she had something to say about Yvette, he put the little alien down and pointed to the sofa.
"You go and play, little one, I have to talk to the Lieutenant."
Reluctantly, and with a venomous look at her sitter, Yvette did as she was told. Jean-Luc lowered his voice to ask,
"You have something to say, Lieutenant?"
Still blushing, Rosemary Wing nodded.
"Yes, Captain."
Jean-Luc had to encourage her to speak.
"Go on."
Casting a look over her shoulder, Rosemary sighed.
"Captain, all Yvette wanted to learn about today was human sexuality, in particular foreplay and sex...in all its forms."
Jean-Luc rarely blushed. In his position it wasn't something he could afford to do, but he couldn't stop the tips of his ears tuning red.
"What did you do?"
Rosemary shrugged.
"Captain, I had little choice in the matter. She can read quite well now, it was either comply, or sit in silence all day. She refused to play, draw, in fact she refused to do anything but study sexuality. In the end I thought it was easier to give in than fight it. She was very worried about you, Sir; I thought any distraction was better than none."
With a sigh, Jean-Luc nodded.
"I see. Well, thank you Lieutenant, I appreciate your assistance. You are dismissed."
Once the Lieutenant had gone, Jean-Luc went to sit with Yvette. They sat in silence for a minute or two, until Yvette said silently,
"You are angry with me."
Jean-Luc shook his head and sighed, saying out loud,
"No, not angry. Confused perhaps, but not angry."
Yvette looked up at him; her huge violate eyes showing her concern.
"You are confused?"
Jean-Luc smiled.
"Well yes. Yvette, why do you want to know so much about human sexuality?"
Remembering what Bevery had said, Yvette hedged, but Jean-Luc sensed her reluctance to be truthful.
"I don't know what you mean."
Taking a no-nonsense approach, Jean-Luc frowned.
"Yes you do, don't lie to me, Yvette."
She knew it was useless. With a deep sigh, she snuggled into Jean-Luc's side and said quietly,
"I experienced everything you and Bevery did last night and this morning."
Closing his eyes and lowering his head, Jean-Luc tried to stay calm, but Yvette sensed his embarrassment and anger. All she could do was whisper,
"I'm sorry, Jean-Luc."
Taking a deep breath, Jean-Luc composed himself.
"No, you don't have to apologise, Yvette, I should have realised. It is I who should apologise."
They sat in silence for a minute or two before Yvette said softly,
"I never knew it could be so...wonderful. There was no pain...except this morning when you..."
Jean-Luc gritted his teeth, but Yvette went on.
"But even then, Beverly seemed to gain pleasure from it. I didn't understand at first, but now I do. I understand about foreplay, arousal and the pleasure of sex. I want to experience that, Jean-Luc. So many years of pain could be erased by one experience of pleasure. Would you do that for me, Jean-Luc?"
Hugging the little alien, Jean-Luc felt tears prick his eyes.
"I can't do that, Yvette and I have already explained why."
She pulled out of his embrace.
"But it should be you, Jean-Luc! I love you and you love me!"
Gripping her shoulders, Jean-Luc looked into her eyes with intensity.
"You are too young and I don't feel that way about you. Please, Yvette, don't ask me again."
She could feel how upset he was, so she acquiesced, but before she could change the subject, Jean-Luc said firmly,
"What Bevery and I do in the privacy of my bedroom is no one's business but ours. I want you to give us our privacy, Yvette. I want you to block us out, no matter how curious you are. Do you understand?"
She nodded, but Jean-Luc could see her confusion.
"What?"
She sighed and told him,
"You wake me up. I can't help it."
Shoving his embarrassment aside, Jean-Luc said firmly,
"Then I want you to block us out and go back to sleep."
Yvette was torn. She was both enthralled and fascinated by what she had experienced and learned, but she had agreed to obey Jean-Luc. Reluctantly she nodded.
"All right."
Relieved beyond measure, Jean-Luc smiled.
"Good, thank you. Now Bevery may be coming to spend the night with me. She will be tired, so how about we program the replicator with a nice meal for all of us?"
Yvette nodded and summoned a smile, but deep inside she wasn't sure she could honour her promise.

 

As Jean-Luc suspected, Beverly was tired when she finally made it to his quarters.
Yvette had eaten her dinner and gone to bed, well asleep by the time Beverly arrived, but Jean-Luc had waited, wishing to share the evening meal with her. He was sitting on the sofa, reading when Beverly entered. She went straight to him, sitting close to him as he closed the book and laid it beside him. Resting her head on his shoulder, Beverly sighed and said softly,
"What a day."
Not wishing to talk shop, but needing to know, Jean-Luc asked,
"How is the pirate Captain?"
With a frustrated snort, Beverly lifted her head and ran her fingers through her hair.
"He's not doing very well, I'm afraid."
Jean-Luc frowned.
"But I thought his prognosis was good."
Sighing, Beverly leaned back, resting her head on the backrest.
"So did I, but his physiology is so different. My drugs don't work; my surgery was like working in the dark...honestly, I don't know whether or not he's going to make it. I think I've stabilised him, but I can't be sure. Doctor Harrison is watching him now; we've got him on round the clock observation in intensive care."
Knowing how much Beverly hated to lose patients...even ones as reprehensible as Yrannis...Jean-Luc put his arm around his lover and kissed her temple, saying quietly,
"Why don't you go and have a shower while I replicate dinner?"
With a soft chuckle, Beverly kissed Jean-Luc, saying tenderly,
"I knew there was a reason I fell for you."
With his heart swelling with love, Jean-Luc watched as Beverly slowly rose and made her way to his bedroom. Jean-Luc went to the replicator and retrieved the necessary crockery and flatware and, as an afterthought, replicated a small bouquet of flowers as a centrepiece. He then went to Yvette's room, checking to see she was asleep. She was, so he gave her a soft kiss to her head, gently pulled up the covers and left, feeling confident that if he and Beverly did make love, Yvette would sleep through it.
By the time he was back in the dining area, Beverly was seated at the table, clad in nothing but two fluffy white towels, one around her body, the other wound around her wet hair. To his appreciatively raised eyebrow, Beverly winked and smiled saucily.
"I didn't see the point in dressing; you're only going to take it off anyway."
"Well," he thought to himself. "That answers that question."
They ate in companionable silence, each taking the opportunity to send the other lingering looks. At meal's end it was all Jean-Luc could do to not take her there and then on the dining table.
To up the ante, as Beverly rose from the table, she took the towel off her head, shook out her now damp hair, then, after making direct eye contact with her lover, slowly undid the towel around her body and let it drop to the floor. In silence she sauntered to the bedroom door before turning and crooking her finger.
"Coming?"
On his feet in an instant, Jean-Luc joined her at the door and took her into his arms, crushing her body against his and kissing her with unbridled passion. Panting with desire, Beverly fisted her hands in his uniform tunic, saying huskily,
"Get your clothes off, Jean-Luc. I want you now!"
She pulled back from him and went to the bed, laying across it and wantonly spreading her legs. Jean-Luc tore off his clothing, the relief at freeing his almost painful erection making him growl. Again Beverly crooked her finger at him, licking her lips as she admired his trim, muscular form.
"No foreplay, no delays...just fill me, Jean-Luc, fuck me senseless."
He went quickly to the bed and covered her with his body, but lifted his hips, giving Bevery the opportunity to grasp his penis and guide it to her entrance. With their eyes locked she said urgently,
"Now!"
He plunged into her, making them both cry out. Bevery reached down and gripped his buttocks, lifting her hips to meet his powerful thrusts as she pulled him to her.
At this intensity it wasn't going to last long for either of them. Jean-Luc tried to exert his formidable control, but the sensation of Beverly bucking under him as she strove for her release was too much. He called out,
"Oh God, I'm going to come!"
Beverly slid her hand between them and roughly rubbed her clit. As Jean-Luc went rigid and buried himself deep inside her as he came, Beverly arched up from the bed, her legs wrapped around his waist as her orgasm surged through her.
They lay together, gasping and moaning each other's name. In the other bedroom, Yvette lay sweating and aroused. Her fingers began to explore her body, moving downwards to her genitals. Just as she found her clitoris, Beverly whispered in Jean-Luc's ear,
"I want more."
He lifted his head, a frown evident.
"Beverly...I need time, I can't right now."
She grinned mischievously and wriggled out from under him. He rolled onto his side and watched bemused as she went to her lab coat. She reached into one of the pockets and produced a hypospray.
"I have just the thing."
She had his complete attention as his voice rumbled in the otherwise silent room.
"A sexual stimulant?"
"Uh huh."
She knelt on the bed and bent low to kiss him as she placed the nozzle against the skin of his neck. He heard the hiss of the hypo and immediately he felt his skin getting warm. Beverly tossed the hypo over the side of the bed and moved down his body to run her tongue over his flaccid penis. Both of them grinned as he began to quickly harden.
He sat up and pulled her to him, biting her earlobe and whispering,

"Want to play a game?"
Knowing his games always left her in boneless satiety she nodded vigorously. She watched as he left her and opened his side table drawer. From it he took a large dildo and a tube of lubricant. He looked at her with smoky dark eyes, one eyebrow raised.
Although she was still a little sore from their last experience with anal sex, she knew this game and wanted it so badly it made her ache. Without a word she took a pillow and lay on it face down, presenting her delectable arse to her lover. Again he covered her with his body and she mewed at feeling his huge erection pinned between them. He moved her hair aside and kissed her neck, before kissing his way down her back and over her buttocks.
Kneeling between her open legs, he spread some lubricant over her anus, his fingers, his
penis and the dildo. Very gently he inserted one finger inside her anus and she groaned,
knowing what was going to happen. As she relaxed he pushed another finger inside her and
just as she was getting used to having two fingers in her, he slid the dildo into her vagina
and activated it. The sensations of his fingers and the vibrating, writhing dildo made Beverly
lift her head and cry out in mindless desire. Jean-Luc slid a third, then a fourth finger into
her. Now that she was fully dilated, he used his free hand to push the dildo deeper inside
her.
"Oh my God!" she cried.
Jean-Luc eased his fingers out of her and placed the head of his penis at her anus. Pushing his hips forward, he insinuated himself into her, centimetre by centimetre until his entire length was buried in her. To offset the pain he knew she was experiencing, Jean-Luc used his knee to push the dildo even deeper inside her. The sensation of being so stretched and filled made Beverly moan loudly and uncontrollably. Jean-Luc began to gently thrust, pulling almost all of the way out, before sliding back into her.
He leaned forward, biting her shoulder gently and saying softly,
"Oh God, Beverly, you're so tight and hot."
Fisting her hands into her pillow, Beverly moaned,
"Yes, yes, yes...do it Jean-Luc, do it to me!"
He growled his pleasure and said huskily,
"I'm going to make you scream."
Rising up on his knees, he gripped her hip with one hand as the other snaked around her to unerringly find her clit. He then began to thrust hard and fast. Beverly pushed up on her hands until she was on all fours, shaking her head from side to side as she tried to cope with what was happening to her. A cataclysmic orgasm was approaching, but she was incoherent. Jean-Luc knew her well and could easily read her body. He increased the power and frequency of his thrusts while making harder contact with her clit. Suddenly Beverly began to spasm, her body flexing and shuddering. Keeping his pressure on her clit, Jean-Luc pulled the dildo from her and eased his penis from her anus. He then pushed himself into her vagina and let go of his control.
He pounded in and out of her and Beverly experienced the most powerful orgasm of her life. He was right, she screamed, then promptly lost consciousness. Jean-Luc came with a force that made him see stars and lose his hearing. He collapsed on Beverly, utterly spent and trembling.
Yvette's explorations had led to her first climax, which had coincided with the couple in the master bedroom. She lay in a shocked stupor, her fur damp with sweat and bodily secretions. Tears welled in her eyes as she thought,
"Thank you, Jean-Luc, you helped me after all."
As did Jean-Luc and Beverly did, she drifted off to sleep, completely content.

 

Beverly woke a little after oh four hundred hours. She spent several minutes thinking about what they'd done and she began to become aroused again. Slipping gently out of bed, she padded naked to the toilet, then went into the living area and replicated two items before quietly moving back to the dark bedroom and easing back into the bed. Jean-Luc stirred, idly scratched his groin, but didn't waken. Beverly lay beside him, her arousal growing. Somehow, either by being disturbed by Beverly getting back into bed, or by some more ethereal way, Jean-Luc's eyes suddenly cracked open. In the dim light provided by the starlight outside, Beverly could just make out his face. Lifting her head she said quietly,
"Computer, lights, ten percent."
Jean-Luc could just see the dusky glow her skin always took on when she was sexually aroused. He rose up on one elbow just as her pheromones hit him. Before he could say anything she kissed him passionately. He reciprocated, but her fervour surprised him. Suddenly Beverly sat up, saying quietly,
"Want to play a game?"
Intrigued, he nodded and watched with hooded eyes as Beverly turned and took two items from atop her bedside table. She held them up and Jean-Luc frowned. In one hand was a tube of lubricant, that he didn't worry about, it was what was in the other hand that caused him concern. It was a medium sized dildo with two open rings attached. The dildo wasn't modelled on a penis; it was smooth and cylindrical, tapering to a rounded end. He pointed to it, saying softly,
"And just where does that go?"
Beverly gave a saucy grin.
"Where do you think?"
Now worried, Jean-Luc sat up, saying warily,
"Beverly..."
She looked him in the eye and said with quiet firmness,
"Do you trust me?"
His face lost its worried expression and became open. His one word reply made Beverly want to kiss him again.
"Implicitly."
"Then lie down and relax."
He did so, taking a deep breath and concentrating on letting go his concerns. When Beverly took his penis into her mouth he gasped softly and closed his eyes. It took little time to get him hard, Beverly was very good at fellatio, but when he was fully erect she couldn't take him completely, he was just too big. But she was determined and when his fingers tangled in her hair and he began to thrust she knew he was getting close to his climax. She stilled and waited patiently until he let go of her head and relaxed. She let him slip from her mouth before sitting up. Very quietly she said,
"I want you to do two things. I want you to raise your hands and grip your pillow and not let go and I want you to spread your legs. He obeyed her and she moved to kneel between his thighs. Picking up the lubricant, she put some on his anus, making him shift away and flinch, but he soon settled again. Next, she put lubricant on the dildo and gently rubbed the tip over his anus. Again he flinched, but Beverly distracted him by once again taking his penis into her mouth. He had waned a little, but he soon returned to full hardness. She used all her considerable skill to take him to the edge, and when she tasted his precome she suddenly eased the dildo inside him. His entire body tensed and when she looked at him, his eyes were screwed shut, his face grimacing and his teeth clenched. Giving him no time to become accustomed to the invasion, she quickly fastened the two rings. One around the top of his scrotum, compressing his testicles and keeping them low in their sac, the other tight around the base of his penis. He cried out, but before he could do anything, Beverly straddled him, lifted his penis and impaled herself on him.
He let out a sharp,
"Ah!"
Then Beverly began to ride him hard, deep and fast. She reached forward and pinched his nipples in time with her tempo, making Jean-Luc moan loudly. Her first orgasm was on her with insidious speed. Letting go of one of his nipples, she found her clit and rubbed it roughly. She threw her head back as her body shuddered through the climax. Jean-Luc pushed up, straining for more.
Beverly caught her breath and leaned forward to bite his earlobe hard before saying huskily,
"I'm going to make you scream."
Sitting back up, she began to ride him again. Jean-Luc growled, the pain in his anus beginning to be mirrored by the pain in his testicles and penis and, he desperately wanted to touch Beverly, but he had told her he trusted her, so he resisted the urge.
A second orgasm ripped through Beverly and Jean-Luc cried out in sheer frustration as his throbbing penis was squeezed rhythmically by her inner contractions. He had always possessed extraordinary control, but he was nearing his limits. He knew he had never been so hard, in fact it felt like his penis was going to split. He cried out,
"Beverly..."
She had always been a kind and compassionate person, but wielding this power over her lover made her heady with desire. Her one word reply made his eyes snap open and his teeth to clench.
"Beg."
He gritted his teeth, trying to stop the words from getting out, but his need was too great. He suddenly blurted out,
"Please, please Beverly, I beg you...let me come...please let me come!"
Both of them were drenched in sweat and Beverly was beyond anything she had ever experienced before. She had always enjoyed pain while having sex, a secret she had kept for most of her life, but Jean-Luc knew. His already large penis was now so engorged it was hitting her cervix. It hurt and she loved it. She rode him again, momentarily ignoring his pleas, but as another orgasm began its approach, she looked down and gasped,
"Hold my hips and fuck me, Jean-Luc, fuck me hard!"
He moved so fast he caught her off guard, but it was his powerful upward thrust that made her cry out. He rammed up into her and she took him, pushing down to meet him. After five gruelling, tortuous minutes, Jean-Luc cried out,

"Mon Dieu, what have you done? I can't come!"
His every sense was on a razor edge.
On the brink of her final orgasm, Beverly reached behind her and pressed a small switch on the side of the device. Both rings released and Jean-Luc threw his head back and called out incoherently. He gripped her hips so hard bruises formed and he shoved himself so deeply inside her, Beverly felt something tear, but she was still aware and just as Jean-Luc was about to come, she pressed button at the base of the dildo. It dilated and elongated, the tip pressing against his prostate.
She was right, he screamed. With a mixture of pain, ecstasy and relief his orgasm seemed to go on forever as he ejaculated again and again. Above him, Beverly writhed through her own protracted orgasm, the feeling of him pulsing, filling her with his hot semen as his entire body flexed, each muscle standing out in corded contrast.
As his orgasm finally began to wane, Beverly used her last bit of strength to remove the device from his body. She then collapsed on his chest. They were both weeping.
Beverly quickly succumbed to sleep, but on the fringes of Jean-Luc's ever diminishing awareness was the knowledge that Yvette had shared their orgasms...and they had shared hers.
His last coherent thought was...
"Merde."

 

It was Jean-Luc who woke first. He cast an eye at the antique ship's clock on his bedside table and saw it was still early, He stretched and grimaced at the soreness inside him. Beverly stirred and opened her eyes, saying softly,
"Are you all right?"
He smiled down at her, giving a nod.
"Yes, I'm fine, but I do want to talk. Are you willing to stay awake?"
Lifting her head and propping in on her hand, she smiled.
"Uh huh."
Jean-Luc settled down and put his hands behind his head. Keeping his eyes on the ceiling, he sighed softly.
"I was surprised to learn that you enjoyed pain when we made love. Just how long have you been like that?"
Beverly laid her hand flat on his chest and sighed.
"It started when I was quite young, about eight or nine. I was riding a horse bare back and it bucked, throwing me forward to land heavily on its withers. It really hurt my pussy, but at the same time I got this really huge surge of pleasure. Later, when I was inspecting the bruise I found that if I squeezed the bruised area and rubbed my clit at the same time, something wonderful happened."
Turning his head to face her, Jean-Luc rumbled incredulously,
"Your first orgasm?"
Beverly nodded.
"Yes. Then when I was about fourteen I began to feel like there was something missing, that I wasn't getting enough satisfaction when I masturbated, so I got a dildo and took my own virginity with it. It hurt like blazes, but the orgasm that accompanied that pain was like nothing I'd experienced before."
They were quiet for a few moments before Beverly remarked,
"But you've had your own problems being so well endowed."
He nodded.
"That's true. On first seeing me erect, some women have refused to have sex with me, while some would, but not letting me put all of my cock in them. But one thing was common; I always had to be gentle. You are the first woman who has asked me to be rough, to go hard and fast and I must thank you for that, it was very liberating."
With a soft chuckle, Beverly said quietly,
"When I first saw you hard I thought all my prayers had been answered."
Jean-Luc rolled onto his side and asked gently,
"What did Jack think about your...tastes?"
With a scowl, Beverly snorted.
"He was mortified. The first time I asked him to hurt me...just a little...he lost his erection. In hindsight I don't think he was big enough to do what I wanted, but he was so appalled...well, let's just say we never mentioned it again."
With a snort of his own, Jean-Luc reddened.
"My nickname in school was 'Le cheval'."
To Beverly's raised eyebrow, Jean-Luc interpreted,
"The horse. I hated the communal showers after gym class."
Idly plucking at his chest hair, Beverly asked,
"So how do you feel about what we did?"
He gave it some thought and sighed.
"I was surprised. I'd never considered that pain could bring pleasure and to be honest I'd never thought I'd take an active part in something like that...but..."
Beverly stilled her hand, hoping for a positive reaction.
"I think I liked it. I do have to say, however, that I wouldn't have been able to do it with anyone but you."
Beverly frowned.
"Only me? Why?"
He raised his hand and with exquisite gentleness, caressed her face.
"Because I not only love you beyond reason, you're the only one I could trust enough to be so vulnerable with."
They kissed with remarkable tenderness before Beverly said softly,
"Jean-Luc, when two people love each other as we do, vulnerability becomes part of the package. When we make love, we're at our most vulnerable, both physically and emotionally. I shared my deepest secret with you and you not only accepted it, you helped me, even when it went against your nature. I know you don't like to hurt me, but you love me enough to help me."
Jean-Luc sighed deeply.
"It's true, I don't like hurting you, but what we did tonight has helped me to understand, at least a little, of what you need."
Still a little apprehensive, Beverly said tentatively,
"So?"
He kissed her and then nodded.
"Yes we can do it again. I don't want to do it often, but yes, I want it in our lives."
They hugged and kissed, then Jean-Luc whispered,
"Do you have any of the drug left?"
Nodding, Beverly said softly,
"You want to make love?"
"Yes, but slowly...gently."
Beverly frowned.
"But..."
Gently squeezing her shoulder, Jean-Luc reassured her.
"Don't worry; I will do whatever you need."
As she reached over the side of the bed, her hand searching for the hypo, Beverly grinned.
"I love you, Jean-Luc."
He softly caressed her bare arse.
"And I love you."
She injected him and they lay, side by side, taking time to caress each other. When she was ready, Beverly hitched one leg over Jean-Luc's hip, saying softly,
"Now?"
He kissed her as he slid within her. Beverly winced as his penis touched the damaged area inside her and Jean-Luc hesitated, but Beverly urged him on.
"No, it's all right, more...give me more."
He closed his eyes and began to thrust gently, in and out slowly and deliberately. Beverly gasped each time he reached deep within her and Jean-Luc could plainly see just how aroused she was. As she approached her orgasm, Jean-Luc stopped all movement. Beverly gasped loudly, her eyes snapping open.
"Don't stop!"
He kissed her rumbling,
"Patience, my love."
When he felt her relax, he began again. This time it was he who had to hold back his release. He stopped again, gritting his teeth and waiting until the urge passed. Panting, Beverly managed,
"What are you doing?"
He began to move again.
"Making it last."
"But..."
He somehow managed to chuckle.
"Don't worry. Do you trust me?"
She gripped his shoulders as she felt her climax rushing at her. She shouted,
"You know I do!"
He stopped again and Beverly howled,
"Goddammit, Jean-Luc!"
He didn't get the chance to say anything further. Beverly rolled, trying to pin him, but he used his superior strength to push her back.
"Oh no you don't!"
Snarling as he started the slow thrusts again, Beverly ground out,
"Let me come!"
Jean-Luc closed his eyes and took her by the hips.
"Very well."
He drove into her and she revelled in it.
"Yes!"
He listened to her, begging for more and his composure unravelled. Feeling her contracting around him, he shoved himself in and out of her with singular intent. He came just before Beverly. Crying out, he felt Beverly's finger nails rake across his back, the pain making him gasp. Beverly was in rapture, still bucking, but slowly stopping. Her soft gasps made Jean-Luc pant,
"Are you all right?"
Licking her lips to wet them, Beverly nodded.
"Yes."
With his body beginning to relax and his eyes drooping, Jean-Luc smiled.
"Good."
Beverly hummed...
"Hmm...yes, good."
In her bed, Yvette began to relax, another orgasm over.

 

Later, just before the alarm was about to sound, Yvette padded into Jean-Luc's bedroom and climbed up onto the bed. She was snuggling between he and Beverly when he woke, knuckling one eye.
"Yvette?"
She rested her head on his shoulder, saying softly and silently,
"Good morning, Jean-Luc."
He smiled, but it faded as he recalled what he had sensed through the night.
He thought back,
"Good morning, Yvette. We have to talk."
She sighed, and closed her eyes.
"Does it have to be now?"
Speaking out loud, Jean-Luc muttered,
"No, but soon. What happened last night wasn't right, little one."
Yvette frowned, but kept her eyes closed.
"But why? You and Beverly were making love, I just joined you."
With a deep sigh, Jean-Luc lifted her chin and asked her to open her eyes.
"What did I ask you to do?"
Yvette lowered her head, her silent voice small.
"Block you out."
"And you obviously didn't."
She looked up at him with her extraordinary large violet eyes and sighed.
"I couldn't help it, Jean-Luc; the sensations were just too strong. I had to find a way to join you, so I explored my body until I found what I needed to do what you were doing."
Exasperated, Jean-Luc's voice rose.
"But you are too young!"
Becoming irritated, Yvette snapped,
"How do you know? You know nothing about my species!"
Beverly woke and stretched, wincing as she did so. She gently stroked Yvette's fur, before asking,
"What's the problem?"
Jean-Luc sighed and briefly closed his eyes.
"Yvette not only shared our experiences of last night and this morning, she has managed to find a way to bring about orgasms for herself. She felt us...and we felt her...at least I did."
Beverly reddened and shook her head.
"But isn't she too young?"
Jean-Luc nodded
"That's what I said, but she just remained me that we don't know much about her species...and she's right. She's advanced mentally, who's to say she's not physically advanced too? It may be perfectly natural for one of her age to be sexually aware."
With a shrug, Beverly pursed her lips.
"You're right, of course. Damn, this is a can of worms. I really don't want to share our experiences."
Jean-Luc snorted.
"Neither do I, but she says we're so intense she can't block us out."
Beverly lay back, staring at the ceiling just as the alarm sounded.
"So what do we do?"
"I don't know."
Yvette joined in, making it so Beverly could hear her too.
"Can't we all share?"
Jean-Luc shook his head.
"Remember what I told you about privacy?"
Yvette frowned.
"But I'm not going to share it with anyone else. And I'm not in the same room and I 'm not asking you to do it for me."
Beverly softly grunted.
"She has a point, Jean-Luc."
He threw the covers back, about to say they should continue the discussion over breakfast when he saw blood on the sheets, between Beverly's legs and on his penis.
"Oh God, Beverly, are you all right?"
She smiled her confidence.
"Yes, my love, I'm fine. It's just a tear; I'll have it fixed in no time."
Yvette looked at the blood and said matter-of-factly,
"I used to bleed all the time."
Beverly tried to lighten the mood.

"Come on, why don't we all have a shower?"
Jean-Luc wasn't too keen, but he acquiesced. Soon they were all seated at the dining table eating breakfast.
It was Yvette who broached the subject of their previous conversation. Quietly placing her spoon on the tabletop, she concentrated on both Jean-Luc and Beverly and, finding them calm and relaxed, said softly,
"I want to talk about last night."
Jean-Luc immediately become acutely uncomfortable, but Beverly remained calm. The red head turned to Yvette and smiled, saying gently,
"What is it you want to say?"
With a heavy sigh, the little female kept her attention on the Captain.
"Last night I discovered things about myself...wonderful things and I want to share those discoveries with you."
Jean-Luc grouched,
"You already have...without our consent I should add."
Beverly was about to remonstrate with her lover, but Yvette beat her to it.
"I can't help that, Jean-Luc."
The Captain scowled.
"Yes you can! You could have, in fact you should have blocked what you experienced. I know you can do it."
Yvette's eyes welled with unshed tears.
"I do have the ability to block you, that is true, but what I experienced last night was so wonderful and powerful. Not only did I want to share it with you, I don't think I could have blocked it. It's still new to me, Jean-Luc; you are going to have to give me time to get used to it."
Throwing his serviette down on the table, the obviously angry Captain growled,
"So am I to understand that every time Beverly and I make love, we have to share it vicariously with you?"
Yvette shrugged.
"So it would seem, but if I may, can you at least consider that it might just be natural for me to do this?"
Before he could respond, Beverly said quietly,
"She has a point, Jean-Luc. Who's to say her species don't have communal sex, either physically or mentally."
He shook his head.
"But her age..."
Beverly snorted softly.
"Is irrelevant. Jean-Luc we simply don't know what is normal for her and we can't impose our values on her, you know that."
Fisting his hands and gritting his teeth, Jean-Luc momentarily bowed his head, took a deep breath and tried to calm himself.
"All right, I concede we know little about Yvette or her species, but I'll be damned if I'm going to share our lovemaking with her."
Offering a non-committal shrug, Beverly ate the last piece of her croissant.
"I don't see that you have any choice, my love, at least not until Yvette herself gains enough control to block us out. And just for your information, celibacy isn't an option."
Yvette frowned, asking disingenuously,
"What is celibacy?"
As Jean-Luc sighed, Beverly grinned devilishly at his discomfort.
"It means going without sex."
Yvette gaped.
"Why would anybody want to do that? Sex is wonderful."
Jean-Luc sent her a stern look.
"You only know about what Beverly and I experience and what you have been able to achieve on your own. Yvette, it is very important that you keep in mind that sex for your species may be entirely different."
The little alien nodded thoughtfully, then turned to Beverly, a look of curiosity on her face.
"Why do you like pain when you have sex?"
Beverly reddened, but answered honestly.
"It is just the way I am. Everyone is different, Yvette and their tastes vary."
Yvette nodded again.
"Yes, I know from my studies of human sexuality that there is a wide variety in how people express their tastes, but Jean-Luc doesn't like to hurt you, nor did he really like the pain you caused him. Why do you make him do things he doesn't want to do?"
Jean-Luc lowered his eyes, but Beverly just shrugged.
"You understand the concept of love?"
Yvette nodded.
"Yes, I love Jean-Luc, I know he loves me and he loves you."
With a tender smile, Beverly reached across the table to take one of her lover's hands. He looked up and couldn't stop the smile that appeared. As they held each other's gaze, Beverly said softly,
"It is because he loves me that he is willing, Yvette. He understands I need to feel pain to achieve the maximum amount of pleasure and he loves me...and trusts me...enough to allow me to introduce him to my tastes. He may not have liked it, at least not as I do, but he has consented to including in our sex life."
Yvette sighed heavily, making Jean-Luc ask quietly,
"Are you all right, little one?"
Shaking her head, Yvette shuddered.
"All that time I felt nothing but pain...pain and utter misery. And now I know that pain can also bring immense pleasure. It is difficult to understand."
Concerned, Jean-Luc took Yvette's hand in his, asking gently,
"You didn't cause yourself pain did you?"
She shook her head.
"No, but I felt everything you and Beverly did and it was while I was experiencing that, that I found my own way to pleasure."
Jean-Luc let go of her hand and pinched the bridge of his nose.
"Yvette, you mustn't think that all sexual gratification requires pain, it doesn't."
She tried to assuage him with a gentle smile.
"I know that, Jean-Luc. You and Beverly aren't the only ones I sense having sex, but you two are the only ones who matter to me. The others are just a curiosity."
Beverly gently tapped Yvette's hand and, having gained her attention, said quietly,
"Just as long as you know not everybody feels the same way. We're all different, Yvette, each with our own needs and desires."
The little alien smiled.
"I understand, Beverly."
Jean-Luc stood and gripped the back of his seat.
"Well, Beverly and I must report for duty now. Shall I summon Lieutenant Wing?"
Yvette shook her head.
"No thank you, Jean-Luc. I shall be fine reading and drawing."
With a smile, Jean-Luc went and gently kissed the top of Yvette's head. He then held his hand out to Beverly and when she took it, he drew her to him and kissed her tenderly.
Once they were out in the corridor, Beverly leaned close and whispered,
"Meet me for lunch?"
Perplexed, as they almost always met for lunch, Jean-Luc raised one enquiring eyebrow.
Chuckling, Beverly said sotto voce,
"Holodeck three."
His other eyebrow rose.
"Ah. You have something in mind."
Beverly nodded.
"Uh huh, but nothing sexual. I just want to talk and I want some privacy."
He pecked her on the cheek.
"Twelve thirty?"
She squeezed his hand.
"See you there."
As she walked away, exhibiting that subtle swish of her hips Jean-Luc so admired, he sighed and shook his head.
"You're a lucky old dog, Picard."
His step onto the Bridge was light.

 

As arranged, the couple met at Holodeck three at twelve thirty. Beverly had a picnic basket and a blanket over her arm. They entered holding hands and Jean-Luc smiled at the seascape displayed before them. They spread the blanket out and spent fifteen minutes eating in relative silence. As they sipped the wine Beverly had supplied, she took Jean-Luc's hand and looked into his eyes. He knew this talk was a going to be a serious one.
"Jean-Luc, you recently told me that being able to let yourself go...to lose your control to the point where you hurt me was liberating. Yet from the beginning of our relationship, until you learned about my needs, you were always very gentle and I must admit, it was what I expected of you. But there's more, isn't there? It wasn't always like that, was it."
He sighed and looked at his hands.
"There are two reasons why I have always been gentle with my lovers. The second is that I have the greatest amount of control that way."
He then fell silent, prompting Beverly to ask gently,
"And the first reason?"
Lowering his head, his eyes misted with tears.
"It was a long time ago. I was fifteen and desperately in love with a girl called Bijou. She seemed to feel the same way about me. One day I took her to my special place...the place I always escaped to, to avoid Robert's bullying or Father's nagging. It was in a wood, very secluded and we began to kiss. Well, one thing led to another and we found ourselves naked and about to lose our virginity. I could see that she was very nervous. She kept looking at my erection, but I was so aroused I didn't give it much thought...nor did I properly arouse her."
He lapsed into silence again and Beverly squeezed his hand.
"What happened?"
He wiped at his eyes.
"It was an unmitigated disaster. I hurt her, Beverly. She cried out again and again and in my male ego driven hubris I thought she was expressing pleasure. I was out of control, rutting like some damned animal and she was begging me to stop, but I was too far gone. Being my first time, fortunately it was over relatively quickly, but when I regained my senses I was appalled at her condition. There was blood, she was sobbing, and I was so confused. As I tried to apologise she dressed and fled. It wasn't until later that I realised I'd raped her. She said to stop, and I didn't."
"Did she go to the authorities?"
He shook his head.
"No, but she never spoke to me again. Then, about three months later and only two weeks before my first attempt to gain entry into the Academy, one of Bijou's close friends came to the chateau and made it clear to me that she wanted to have sex with me. I was confused again. Surely Bijou must have told Claudine about what had happened, and everyone knew my nickname, but Claudine had somewhat of a reputation with the lads and I wanted to have sex again, if only to get it right, so I eagerly agreed. We went to her farm, to the barn and..."
Again he fell silent. Beverly looked under his lowered brow and said gently,
"Jean-Luc?"
He sighed deeply.
"Well, it wasn't rape this time, but it was still another disaster. She ended in tears and said something to me I remember to this day, in fact it set the way I treated all my lovers for the rest of my life."
Saying very softly, Beverly touched Jean-Luc's face.
"What did she say?"
He looked up for the first time and sniffed.
"With a cock like yours the only way you'll ever get to use it is with a prostitute. They're used to horses."
"It was so demoralising, Beverly. I had read sonnets, poems and stories about romantic love...how fulfilling and wonderful physical love could...and should be...but at the tender age of fifteen I was sure I was doomed to never experience that for myself."
Beverly frowned.
"But, Jean-Luc, I heard years ago you were a consummate lover. Jack told me about all your conquests and how former lovers eagerly sought you out."
He nodded, a wry smile evident.
"Oh yes, I learned. I studied hard, Beverly. I researched foreplay and female anatomy, I taught myself to be patient and, on most occasions, to not utilise my entire length. But most of all, I was determined to be gentle. And it worked. I had to make some sacrifices. Not many women, for instance, would fellate me, but I became an expert at cunnilingus and so my reputation grew."
He took her other hand and stared into her eyes.
"But it wasn't until you that I finally was able to let go of all my self-imposed constraints. Thank you, my love, you have indeed liberated me."
Tears misted Beverly's eyes and she took Jean-Luc's face in her hands.
"Have you ever told anyone this before?"
He shook his head.
"No, I was always too ashamed."
"Then thank you, my love, thank you for the love and trust."
They both smiled and kissed. She sighed and her eyes twinkled.
"Want to know a secret?"
He chuckled.
"Another one?"
She playfully slapped his shoulder.
"You are the first lover I've ever had that has completely satisfied me."
She could see his male ego colour his skin, but he was too refined to admit to it. Instead he kissed her again.
"I'm so happy, mon coeur."
"Me too."
They sat in companionable silence for a few minutes before Beverly said quietly,
"You have to lighten up about Yvette."
He sighed and rubbed his forehead.
"I know, but it's hard, Beverly. We are both very private people and sharing something as intimate as our lovemaking..."
She squeezed his hand.
"I know, but she can't help it."
Jean-Luc shook his head in frustration.
"And to make matters worse...we share her experiences! It's intolerable."
Offering a sardonic smile, Bevery shrugged.
"Well, there's not much we can do about it until she gains the necessary control to block us out."
He grumped,
"I'm aware of that."
With a small smile to ease her words, Beverly said softly,
"Then don't you think it's time you gave up your resistance? After all, there's nothing we can do about it and like I said, celibacy simply isn't an option."
Sighing deeply, Jean-Luc looked up at the holographically produced sky. He seemed to calm himself and his shoulders lost some of their tension.
"Very well, Beverly, but I draw the line at allowing her to join us."
Beaming, Beverly nodded.
"Agreed."
She kissed him, this time with some passion. Breathlessly, moistening his ear, she whispered,
"You know how I said this lunch wouldn't be sexual?"
He nodded.
"I lied."
She pushed him back down and attacked his clothing, quickly undoing his trousers and pulling both them and his briefs down his thighs. She abruptly stood and stripped with amazing speed while Jean-Luc watched, spellbound. When she straddled him and took him in hand, Jean-Luc reached up and grabbed her shoulders.
"You can't be ready, Beverly. We need some lubricant."
Shaking her head and making her lustrous red hair dance, Beverly panted,
"No! I want you...all of you, now!"
She was gripping him, guiding him to her entrance, but he grabbed her hand and shook his head.
"No, Beverly...please...it will be better for both of us..."
She uttered a particularly vulgar Klingon curse, but lifted her head to shout,
"Computer, one tube of sexual lubricant!"
It appeared on the sand beside them. Beverly snatched it up and tore off the cap before slathering it all over Jean-Luc's penis. He groaned at the sensation, his erection growing to full hardness, but he was unprepared for Beverly's sudden impaling of herself.
Jean-Luc cried out and instinctively gripped Beverly's hips, driving upwards. A scream was ripped from Beverly's throat as she leaned forward to grasp Jean-Luc's upper arms. She rode him hard and fast, driving down as he thrust upwards.
It was too much for Jean-Luc. He could feel the head of his penis ramming against Beverly's cervix, at times forcing through into her uterus. He knew he was hurting her, but he had rarely ever been so deep inside any woman...only his beloved Beverly. His testicles tightened and lifted and he shouted,
"I'm going to come!"
Lost in her own pleasure/pain, Beverly dimly heard her lover and reached down to pinch her clit between her fingernails. As Jean-Luc exploded inside her, Beverly was consumed by her own orgasm. She screamed again, her throat made raw by the force of her expression.
She collapsed on Jean-Luc, sobbing and hiccupping, trying desperately to catch her breath. Jean-Luc's eyes were screwed tightly shut as the aftershocks of his orgasm swept through him. Even as his penis began to soften, he could feel his entire length buried inside Beverly.
He almost groaned in pain as Beverly panted in his ear,
"I can replicate some of that drug."
He swallowed to wet his dry throat to mutter,
"Are you trying to kill me?"
She chuckled tiredly.
"Are you complaining?"
He sighed.
"You know I'm not, but I have to prepare for the next phase of our mission and I can't do that if I'm asleep in the Command Chair."
Beverly sat up and gently rotated herself on him. He groaned and shook his head.
"Oh God, Beverly...stop...please."
Sighing, Beverly gave a half nod.
"Oh very well."
She lifted herself off him slowly, wincing as she did so. Before Jean-Luc could say anything, she held up her hand, saying with a smile,
"I'm okay, just bruised."
Beverly stood and began to dress. Jean-Luc lifted his hips and hitched up his clothing in a somewhat inelegant gesture, making Beverly giggle. Jean-Luc scowled at her, muttering darkly,
"You're not the only one who's bruised. I'm going to be sore."
Beverly's eyes shone.
"Oh, goodie!"
To which he replied as he stood,
"Wench!"
She watched appreciatively as he tucked himself in and arranged his penis, but when he looked up he was surprised to see her scowling.
"What?"
"I hate your underwear."
He sighed.
"I've told you why I wear them."
She flapped her hand.
"Yeah, I know...the panel at the front hides what you've got, but I want everyone to know what I'm getting!"
Jean-Luc was scandalised.
"Beverly!"
Hands on her hips, Beverly was unmoved.
"Oh come on, Jean-Luc. Most of the women and half of the men on this ship want you, but you're mine and I want them all to see what they're missing."
Taking a calming breath, Jean-Luc went to Beverly and laid his hands on her shoulders. He looked into her eyes and tried to be serious.
"Beverly, I am the Captain of this ship...her most senior officer. Just how do you think I can maintain discipline if the crew keep staring at my crotch?"
Although his tone was level and his face serious, his eyes twinkled. Beverly threw her arms around him and hugged him tightly.
"I love you, Jean-Luc Picard."
He chuckled.
"And I love you, Beverly Crusher. Now we both have to return to duty."
She stepped back and straightened his tunic, saying cheekily,
"Aye, Captain."
But as they approached the Holodeck doors she said quietly,
"We both smell of sex."
She was gone before he could think of anything to say.

 

Will Riker was a very astute man and one thing he knew very well was what a person acted like after just having good sex. It wasn't just the smell; it was many more subtle changes that he had learned to pick up on. Now his Captain was a very private man, a man who was also very adept at putting forth an aura of calm, steady authority. It was one of the facets of his character that made him such an outstanding commanding officer. But even so, Will could tell his Captain had just had sex. He schooled his features into professional mode, vacated the Command Chair and stood in front of his Captain, ready for anything the CO wanted, but he couldn't keep the lecherous twinkle out of his eyes. He almost ached to ask, but not of his Captain. Oh no, that would bring severe censure, no, he would have to wait until he could get Beverly alone...Beverly or Deanna. Yes, that was it. He'd find out all he wanted later.
Jean-Luc looked up into his Exec's eyes and inwardly groaned.
"Oh fuck, he knows!"
Keeping his cool demeanour, Jean-Luc asked in a calm voice,
"Are you ready, Commander?"
The big man nodded.
"Aye, Captain, and we have some insurance."
Jean-Luc's eyebrows rose.
"Indeed."
"Yes, Sir. Beverly has implanted a device in Grul that will render him instantly unconscious if he gives me any cause for concern. I have the control embedded in my right hand."
Jean-Luc gave a nod of impressive satisfaction.
"What a good idea. So that means you'll only have the Weyoun...and perhaps some Jem'Hadar to deal with."
Will grinned.
"Not too bad, eh?"
Jean-Luc grunted.
"Bad enough, Number One."
He placed a paternal hand on the bigger man's shoulder.
"Just make sure you come home in one piece."
Will's grin widened.
"I intend to Sir."
"Well, Godspeed, Commander."
With a bow of his head, Will said softly,
"Thank you, Captain."
Once Will had left the Bridge, Jean-Luc said to Data,
"You have the Bridge, Mr. Data; I'll be in the Ready Room."
Data stood, saying briskly,
"Aye, Captain",
But Jean-Luc was more intent on getting into the shower in his Ready Room.

Unlike his First Officer, Jean-Luc showed no outward signs of impatience as the hours ticked by. Having showered, he'd taken the time to sit quietly in his Ready Room for almost an hour, preparing himself for the protracted wait. By the time he took his place on the Bridge, he was the calm, unruffled commanding officer his crew had come to expect.
As requested, the officer at Tactical gave hourly reports in a quiet tone, making Jean-Luc nod his acceptance. After four hours had passed, the officer said softly,
"The interceptor is out of range, Captain."
Turning his head slightly, Jean-Luc gave a nod.
"Understood, Lieutenant. Keep scanning, but I doubt you'll see anything for some time to come. You may report every three hours now."
After the Lieutenant had responded with an, "Aye, Captain.", Jean-Luc lifted his head to make a call.
"Picard to LaForge."
"LaForge here, Captain."
"Geordi, how is the cloak behaving?"
Jean-Luc heard a sigh.
"So far so good, Captain, but it is taking its toll. Power is being consumed at a fairly high rate."
With a frown, Jean-Luc rubbed his fingers over his lower lip.
"Can we maintain it?"
There was caution in Geordi's voice.
"I think so, but I may have to divert power from some lesser systems."
It was Jean-Luc's turn to sigh.
"Well, do what you have to, Mr. LaForge, but if it comes to taking power from more important systems, we might have to reassess our options."
"Understood, Sir. LaForge out."

 

Beverly had been working for an hour or two, trying to keep her mind on her job, but in the back of her mind, two things niggled. One was the memories of her lovemaking with Jean-Luc. That was something she was used to. Being in an almost constant state of arousal was nothing new to Beverly. Having finally found a lover who not only accepted her needs but provided for them and that man being none other than Jean-Luc Picard, someone she had loved for years, despite hiding that love, was a wonderful bonus. But that wasn't what vexed her the most. It was Yvette. There was something about her that worried Beverly and the longer she thought about it, the worse it became.
Beverly was in her office, trying to get on top of the never ending paper work, when she abruptly stabbed the computer off. Having always been forthright, Beverly didn't hesitate as she strode towards the doors, flinging over her shoulder,

"You have command, Selar; I'll be in the Captain's quarters."
She was out the doors before her second in command could respond.
Yvette was sitting at the computer when the door opened. She already knew who it was, so she didn't turn around, merely saying cheerfully,
"Hello, Beverly."
The Doctor went to Yvette and placed a hand on her thin shoulder.
"Hello, Yvette."
The little alien turned her head and smiled.
"You're worried about me."
Dragging a chair closer with her foot, Beverly sat and sighed.
"Yes, I am."
Correctly reading Beverly's mind, Yvette said softly,
"I am not your rival, Beverly. Jean-Luc loves you with all that he is."
Pinching the bridge of her nose, Beverly sighed to rein in her temper.
"I know, Yvette, but you want to have sex with him, don't you."
The furred female shrugged.
"Yes."
"Even though Jean-Luc has told you numerous times he doesn't want to."
Again, Yvette shrugged.
"I cannot help the way I feel, Beverly. My need to have sex with Jean-Luc is deep within me. I can't explain it; I just know I desire it. But you needn't be jealous, Beverly."
Angered, Beverly strove for control.
"I'm not jealous, Yvette, but you must admit how disconcerting it is to know that an alien who Jean-Luc thinks of as a daughter wants to have sex with him. That and we share our sexual experiences."
Yvette chuckled, her wide violet eyes dancing with delight.
"You say you're not jealous, yet you are. What do you think I'm going to do? Seduce him?"
Suddenly on her feet, the mercurial red head struggled to keep her voice down.
"How the hell do I know what you're going to do? I've been your advocate, dammit! It's been me who's reminded Jean-Luc that we mustn't impose our societal strictures on you. Yet you admit you want him! You're a child, Yvette!"
Yvette stood and looked up at Beverly, staying remarkably calm.
"I cannot help being what I am, Beverly, nor do I know. Can you tell me my behaviour is not normal for me?"
Taking a calming breath, Beverly shook her head.
"No, I can't and that's part of the problem. Let me ask you something. Isn't it just possible, given your history of abuse, that you transferred all your newly found feelings upon the person who not only rescued you, but killed your tormentor?"
Yvette smiled with smugness.
"Transference, Beverly?"
The Doctor couldn't help but gape.
"You know about that?"
Yvette laughed loudly in Beverly's mind.
"Oh yes! Your computers contain all sorts of information."
She then sobered.
"Beverly, I am aware of my debt to Jean-Luc, but my feelings for him are something completely different. Maybe it is just that way I am...or more to the point, the way my species is."
With a sigh, Beverly nodded.
"It's true, Yvette...we know so little about you. One thing is certain though; you are intelligent, far beyond what could be expected for your chronological age."
Yvette shrugged diffidently.
"Then you must accept me as I am."
Beverly tried not to stare with too hard a look.
"I'm trying Yvette, really I am."
"But you don't trust me."
Exasperated, Beverly threw her hands in the air.
"I don't know you! I don't know what you're capable of!"
Her own anger rising, Yvette fisted her hands.
"What do you want me to say? I will suppress my feelings? I will somehow develop a way to block you out while I'm still learning about my own sexuality?"
She stepped closer to Beverly, saying softly,
"Or do you want me to tell Jean-Luc I no longer love him?"
Beverly snorted.
"You know as well as I do that wouldn't work. He reads you almost as well as you read him. He'd know instantly you were lying."
Yvette shrugged again.
"Then just what do you want me to do?"
Defeated, Beverly offered a small smile.
"Stop growing up?"
With a snort, Yvette sat down and toyed with the computer console.
"Beverly, what would you say if I told you I was jealous of you?"
Somewhat taken aback, Beverly perched on the desktop and said,
"That would depend on what you were jealous of."
There were a few uncomfortable moments before Yvette said softly,
"Your sex life with Jean-Luc. It is true...I want him and you have him. There are times, when you two are making love, when I truly hate you."
Shocked, Beverly said quietly,
"Do you fully understand the meaning of the word?"
Yvette smiled sadly.
"Hate? Oh yes, I understand it. I lived it."
Beverly frowned.
"But I thought you accepted your captivity...that because you knew no different it was considered normal for you."
Yvette nodded thoughtfully.
"That is quite true, but I know differently now, don't I. I know now what I was feeling, there are descriptions...words I have learned...I can now adequately express how I felt. Yes, there was acceptance, but not without anger and resentment. I hated, Beverly and I learned to like it. In some way, I think it helped to preserve my sanity."
Beverly gave a wary look.
"And now you hate me."
Yvette smiled coldly.
"Only because you have such free access to that which I am denied. It's not you personally, Beverly. I know you are a kind and compassionate person, you healed me, you gave back to me what I had lost. It's what you share with Jean-Luc. I cannot describe to you how badly I want what you have...and for that, I hate you."
Aghast, Beverly laid a hand on Yvette's shoulder.
"But what are we to do? We both love the same man and he wants both of us in his life. How are we to resolve this? I don't want to enter his quarters knowing you hate me, Yvette."
Covering her face with her hands, Yvette sighed.
"Beverly I don't know what to say. I don't want to hate you, truly I don't, but unless you share Jean-Luc with me I can't stop it."
Beverly's voice was deadly quiet.
"You mean sexually."
Yvette merely nodded.
Beverly stood and folded her arms defiantly.
"That's not going to happen...and you know what? This is beginning to sound like blackmail."
Yvette shrugged, looking at Bevery with a slightly amused expression.
"Call it what you will, Beverly. My position is clear."
Now clearly angry, Beverly unfolded her arms and pointed at Yvette.
"It won't work, Yvette."
The little alien shrugged.
"We shall see, Beverly, we shall see."
Beverly turned on her heel and stalked out of Jean-Luc's quarters. Once in the turbolift she barked,
"Bridge!"

 

 

Since the interceptor had travelled beyond sensor range, the tension on the Bridge had eased a little. Jean-Luc had remained in the Command Chair, firmly believing his continued presence was a calming influence on his crew. If he showed he wasn't worried, they would be a more efficient group of people. He led by example, not by micro-managing his crew. When the aft turbolift door hissed open, Jean-Luc turned his head, curious as to who had come up to the Bridge. One look at Beverly's face had the Captain out of his chair, saying quietly,
"You have the Bridge, Commander Data."
Beverly didn't even acknowledge her lover. She marched to the Ready Room, pausing only long enough to wait until Jean-Luc joined her. She barely waited for the doors to sigh close before she spat,
"Yvette is blackmailing me!"
Confused, Jean-Luc took Beverly by the elbow and led her to the sofa. Once she was seated, he went to the replicator, ordering an Earl Grey for himself and a camomile tea for Beverly. Having given her the tea, he sat beside her and took a deep breath.
"Explain."
Beverly had known her lover for many, many years and she recognised his delaying tactics as those designed to give her time to calm herself. One part of her appreciated his gesture, but a greater part wanted to slap him. However, she was a Starfleet officer and as such, utilised her training. She took a deep breath and stifled her formidable temper.
"I have just come from your quarters. I went there because I was worried about Yvette. We talked and she ended up by telling me she hated me because I wouldn't share you."
Now completely confused, Jean-Luc frowned and shook his head.
"Share me? But Beverly, I love her...I love you...she lives in my quarters...aren't I already sharing?"
Beverly stared into her teacup, then levelled an uncompromising gaze at her lover.
"Sexually."
Jean-Luc gaped, his tea forgotten. When he found his voice he was outraged.
"You cannot be serious!"
Beverly's smile was cold.
"Oh, but I am! She told me unless I shared you sexually with her, she would continue to hate me."
On his feet, Jean-Luc put his cup on his desk. He ran his hand over his bald head, trying to make sense of what he'd just been told.
"But, Beverly...I've told her! I've explained that I don't feel that way about her...how inappropriate it would be..."
Beverly sipped her tea, the relief of offloading her burden making her calmer.
"Irrelevant, I'm afraid. She wants you, Jean-Luc and she intends to have you."
Anger beginning to rise, Jean-Luc's face darkened.
"That's utterly preposterous! What does she think she can do? Rape me?"
Finishing her tea, Beverly got to her feet and joined Jean-Luc at the desk.
"Don't underestimate her, Jean-Luc. We know next to nothing about her species...anything is possible."
Jean-Luc glowered.
"She can't make me, Beverly."
"Not yet, maybe, but she's highly intelligent and is learning all the time. Who knows what she may be capable of in the near future?"
The Captain lost some of his anger, wariness taking its place.
"You think she's a real threat?"
Beverly shrugged.
"To be absolutely honest, I don't know. Perhaps, but she's been through so much and she's so young. Maybe her judgement is affected by her immaturity? I mean look at what she's had to deal with since being rescued."
With a soft grunt, Jean-Luc rubbed his brow.
"Well I can talk to her; perhaps I can get her to see reason."
Beverly frowned with worry.
"I would be very careful, my love. With her mental abilities she may be able to manipulate you."
Jean-Luc tapped his right temple, offering a sly smile.
"I learned a thing or two from Sarek. I think I can counter anything she may like to try."
Beverly grimaced.
"Blocking out Troi and protecting yourself from a telepathic species are two entirely different things, Jean-Luc."
He placed his hands on her shoulders.
"I know, but this has to stop, right here, right now."
Beverly looked into his dark hazel eyes.
"So you're going to do it now?"
He nodded.
"Yes."
She kissed him, holding his face in her hands.
"Good luck."
He returned the kiss, saying softly,
"I hope I won't need it."
They left the Ready Room together, Jean-Luc saying to the standing Data,
"As you were, Commander, I will return shortly."
The closing lift doors shut off Data's reply.

 

 

Yvette was well aware of Jean-Luc's approach. She had moved from the computer and was seated on the sofa. She'd showered, brushed her fur until it shone and put on some of Beverly's perfume. Jean-Luc entered his quarters and immediately noted the dim lighting. As he strode over to the sofa he barked,
"Lights, on full!"
Yvette blinked owlishly, but smiled up at the Captain, saying sultrily,
"Hello, Jean-Luc. Care to join me?"
She gestured to the low table and Jean-Luc's eyes hardened at seeing an open bottle of wine, some cheeses and crusty bread. Hands on hips, he remained standing.
"You've done your research."
Offering a one shoulder shrug, Yvette tilted her head and pursed her lips.
"It seemed appropriate."
Jean-Luc sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.
"It is certainly not appropriate, Yvette. This behaviour must cease."
Anger flashed in Yvette's eyes, but she hid it well. Instead of a confrontation, she opted for more seduction.
"Would you prefer I put on some...what is it called...lingerie?"
Jean-Luc's voice took on a hard edge.
"What I would prefer is that you abandoned this entire act! It's pointless, Yvette, I am not going to have sex with you. Not now, not ever."
Seemingly crestfallen, Yvette bowed her head and softly sniffed.
"Won't you at least sit with me?"
The pathos with which she spoke touched Jean-Luc's heart. In his mind he felt her sadness and hurt. Appalled that he had caused such pain, he immediately went and sat with her. She smiled sadly.
"Thank you."
Not really knowing what to say, Jean-Luc muttered,
"I don't want to hurt you, Yvette."
She moved closer, until their thighs were touching. Taking one of his large hands, she looked into his eyes and sighed.
"You could never hurt me, Jean-Luc. You love me...and I love you. What I ask is that you show me how much you love me. Is that too much to expect? You show Beverly."
Jean-Luc was beginning to feel warm and relaxed. The perfume was subtle, one of his favourites and deliberately chosen by Yvette for just that reason. He leaned against the backrest and sighed.
"It's just not possible."
A fog was developing in Jean-Luc's mind and he began to feel the start of arousal. Yvette's words floated in his mind, only adding to his desire.
"I could make it so good for you, Jean-Luc. My throat is different...I could fellate you like no other has ever done. We could make love in a way that you would never forget. I could take all of you, Jean-Luc, all of you and more, again and again."
She took her hand from his and ran it up his thigh to gently grip his growing erection. The head of his penis was almost at his hip. She leaned forward, opened her mouth wide and gently bit him, releasing a hot breath. He gasped and closed his eyes, but when she cupped his testicles he fought back. With a concerted effort he concentrated with all his formidable strength and forced the miasma from his mind.
Gripping Yvette's wrist, he pulled her hand away and forced her upright. Angrily staring into her limpid, hooded eyes he said succinctly,
"No!"
Furious, Yvette left the sofa and prowled around the low table.
"Why not! I want you...I need you! How can you deny me?!"
Embarrassed by the fact that his erection hadn't waned, Jean-Luc remained seated. He did, however, stay calm.
"Yvette, we have had this conversation already. I don't think of you like that. Yes, it's true I love you, but as a parent loves a child, not as a lover."
Yvette jabbed her finger at him.
"Your cock seems to disagree!"
He sighed.
"There is no need for crudity. Yvette, I cannot do what you want. You have to come to terms with that."
She stared intently at him and he felt the arousal heighten, but he shook his head.
"I won't do it, Yvette, not willingly. Are you prepared to rape me? Because that's the only way you'll succeed."
Defeated but still defiant, Yvette spat,
"No I won't, but I'll leave you like that...hard and filled with need and want, just as I feel!"
Jean-Luc stood and stared down at Yvette.
"Very well, but this ends here, Yvette. No more. Understand?"
She bowed her head and nodded sullenly. Jean-Luc turned for the door, but stopped and turned back.
"And you will cease your manipulations of Beverly. She has shown you nothing but kindness and compassion. You owe her respect and at least a modicum of grace."
Again the sullen nod. As Jean-Luc approached the doors, he slipped off his jacket and held it in front of him to hide his raging erection. He found it difficult to walk with his usual confident stride, so he slowed, but he lifted his head to call,
"Picard to Crusher."
"Crusher here."
He was finding it hard to maintain his composure.
"Meet me in your quarters immediately, Doctor. Picard out."
When he had not waited for her reply, Beverly knew something was amiss. She hurried from Sickbay, wondering what was going on.

 

Jean-Luc was frantically pacing. He had undone his trousers, freed his enormous erection and was stroking himself with both hands. He was so hard he felt lightheaded. When Beverly rushed into her quarters, he suddenly turned to her, his face and voice distressed.
"Oh God, Beverly...I need you...now!"
As she went to him, she began to quickly unfasten her uniform. He reached for her, tearing the articles of clothing from her body. He pushed her against the wall, kissing her savagely as he sought to bury himself inside her. She helped him, lifting her leg as he reached for her thighs to lift her. He wanted to wait, wait until Beverly was ready for him, but he couldn't. His need was too great. Shoving himself inside her, he sobbed,
"I'm sorry, my love."
Beverly cried out as something within her tore, but she held on to Jean-Luc, biting his neck hard enough to draw blood. Jean-Luc wasn't able to exert any control. He slammed in and out of Beverly so hard they cracked the wall behind them. Sobbing incoherently, Jean-Luc came hard, but his erection stayed rock solid. Beverly cried out again as he renewed his thrusts. Semen and blood dripped off her thighs as Jean-Luc screwed his eyes shut, trying to assuage his raging need. He came again and Beverly was with him, crying out his name, but still he remained hard. He knew something was very wrong and fought with all his will to conquer whatever it was that held him in its grip.
It was Yvette. As he had orgasmed, so had she, but unlike Jean-Luc, her climax held no release, so she had kept him hard, forcing him to become a slave to his false desire.
He kept his eyes closed and gritted his teeth as he struggled to find the coherence to fight her.
"Stop it!"
He could hear the desperate need in her voice when she replied,
"Why should I? I want what you have!"
Panting and still thrusting, Jean-Luc managed,
"It's not supposed to be like this, Yvette. Please...let me go."
Coldness crept into her voice.
"But you and Beverly find release and euphoria. I am missing something and I don't know what it is!"
"You said it was me!"
"And I still think it is, but that is a psychological need. This is physical."
Jean-Luc came again, but this time there was no more semen to ejaculate. He remained hard, but managed to stop thrusting.

"Please, Yvette...no more."
She sighed.
"Very well."
His erection quickly softened and it was then that Jean-Luc realised Beverly was weeping. Overcome with remorse, he held her to him, saying over and over,
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry."
When she had recovered somewhat, Beverly looked into Jean-Luc's eyes with hurt.
"It was as if I wasn't there, that all you needed was a receptacle."
Tears welled in Jean-Luc's eyes.
"Please forgive me, my love, it was Yvette's doing. Something is wrong with her sexually. She's frustrated and she took that frustration out on me...on us."
Breathing a sigh of relief, Beverly tenderly kissed her lover.
"I knew there had to be a plausible explanation. Are you all right?"
He sighed.
"I'll be very sore, but more to the point, how are you?"
She smiled crookedly.
"Nothing a tissue regenerator can't fix. Can't say the same for the wall though."
Jean-Luc looked over his shoulder and winced.
"Damn. Just how am I going to explain that to engineering?"
Beverly kissed the tip of his nose.
"You don't have to explain anything. You're the Captain, remember."
His eyebrows rose and his eyes twinkled.
"Ah yes, it's good to be the king."
Beverly chuckled, then grimaced.
"And now...your Majesty, I think I would like to shower and repair the damage...to both of us."
Jean-Luc put tentative fingers to the bite on his neck and nodded.
"Agreed."
He eased out of her and gently set her on her feet. He tried to ignore the mess of blood and semen. As they both limped towards the bathroom, Beverly said wryly,
"Besides, we can't have you returning to the Bridge smelling of sex again."
He sighed in exasperation.
"You really are a wench, you know."
Beverly giggled.
"And you love it."
He nodded.
"Indeed I do."

 

 

Will Riker had moved his seat back a little so he could keep an eye on Grul as well as the controls. The thumb of his right hand moved gently across the almost imperceptible lump in the top half of his palm that was the activator for the implant Beverly had so deviously supplied. In the back of Grul's skull, hidden behind the brightly coloured veil he wore behind his bulbous head was the micro mechanism that would render him unconscious the instant Will pressed his activator. He knew they were out of sensor range of the Enterprise, so if Grul was going to try anything, it might be soon.
For a Ferengi in his situation, Grul was unusually subdued. He had been compliant, although he loudly protested the device being implanted in his head, but a hypospray of sedative quickly shut him up. No, Will sensed something was brewing. Ferengi in general were, by their very nature, driven to negotiate, mostly in their favour. But Grul was under duress. His very life depended on his actions and Will was sure he was going to try something, something that would not only save his life, but preserve his profits. And that meant involving the Weyoun, the Jem'Hadar and possibly even the Founders.
In the little four seater craft, Will breathed a sigh of relief, knowing he could cloak himself, but getting the Weyoun aboard on his own...now that was going to take some planning.
Will leaned forward and tapped Grul on the shoulder, making the grotesque little alien jump.
"What do you want?", he whined.
Will stifled a grin.
"I have a plan."
"So?"
Will gripped Grul's shoulder hard enough to make him wince.
"So you listen and do as I say."
Sneering, Grul gave a curt nod. Will sat forward and used his hands to form his words.
"When we make the rendezvous, I want you to tell the Weyoun you have something aboard he must come and see."
Grul shook his head.
"The Weyoun will simply tell me to beam it over to the ship."
Will grinned coldly.
"You're going to tell him that it's Federation technology you think the Founders will be interested in and you don't won't anyone else to see it."
Grul laughed cruelly.
"You don't think the Jem'Hadar aren't absolutely loyal?"
Will echoed Grul's laugh.
"With a Ferengi involved? They know what you're like, Grul. Profit, first and foremost...that's right, isn't it?"
The malevolent growl exposed his snaggle-toothed mouth.
"You offend me, human."
Will shrugged.
"Perhaps, but I don't really give a damn. You're going to do what you're told, or I'll phaser you."
Grul paled.
"Phaser me?"
He lifted a hand to the back of his head.
"What about this?"
Will shrugged again.
"Phasering is more...satisfying. Besides, it can produce some lovely...and very painful...burns."
Grul sneered again.
"You are Federation; you would not deliberately hurt me."
Will leaned forward, his usually genial face devoid of any warmth.
"Are you willing to put that to the test?"
The Ferengi looked into Will's cold eyes and subsided. He shook his head, defeated.
"I will do as you say, human."
Will sat back and crossed his legs.
"That's better. Now, how long until the rendezvous?"
"At this speed, eight point two hours."
Running his fingers through his beard, Will gave that some thought.
"Can we increase speed?"
Grul nodded, but displayed no enthusiasm.
"Yes, however it isn't just the coordinates we must meet, but a time. If we arrive early, the Weyoun will know something is wrong."
Will smiled coldly.
"Even though he's dealing with an avaricious Ferengi?"
Grul let the insult pass unopposed.
"Even then. We have been doing this for some time. The Weyoun dictates the terms, I follow them."
Will's eyebrows rose.
"You allow someone else to set the price? I find that hard to believe. How did that come about?"
Grul growled softly.
"At the business end of a Jem'Hadar disruptor. My choice was simple. Agree or die. But the reality is this...arrangement has been very profitable. In fact, I have been able to buy a position in the Ferengi Commerce Authority."
He had puffed himself up, obviously proud of his accomplishment. Will scowled in disgust.
"And just how many people have died for you to achieve that?"
Grul shrugged.
"I have killed no one."
Will shook his head.
"Not personally, no, but your organisation has killed many...men, women and children. How do you live with that?"
Grul turned in his seat and smiled.
"I think of the profit. You have no idea how liberating that is."
Will stood to his full intimidating height, making Grul cringe.
"I think you're scum."
Deciding to not incite the human any further, Grul turned his attention back to the console and sat in silence.

 

 

After Jean-Luc had returned to the Bridge, Beverly had sat in her quarters for a little while, thinking about what her lover had told her. Having come to a decision, she rose and went to his quarters. She found Yvette lying sweaty and weeping quietly in her room. Beverly sat on the edge of the bed, saying softly,
"Talk to me...tell me what it is that vexes you."
Slowly sitting up, Yvette wiped at her eyes and sniffed loudly.
"There is something missing."
"Sexually?"
"Yes."
Beverly moved closer and gently stroked Yvette's damp fur.
"And it's more than just Jean-Luc?"
Yvette nodded morosely. Beverly took her hand and made her look into her eyes.
"When you masturbate, you feel like there is something missing."
Yvette nodded again.
"Can I suggest something? Something new?"
Yvette's eyes cleared, interest making her tears stop. Beverly kept her voice soft.
"Now you're not looking for pain, are you?"
Yvette shook her head. Beverly smiled.
"I'm glad, that can cause problems. Okay, here's what I learned. Masturbation by itself is a purely physical release, but it can be made better with the judicious use of some...equipment."
The little alien frowned.
"Equipment?"
Beverly nodded, smiling warmly.
"Uh huh. Now I know you have two vaginas. One leads to your reproductive organs, the other leads to a second, interior clitoris. I suggest you use a dildo when you masturbate. Your fingers can stimulate your exterior clitoris, and the dildo can stimulate the interior one."
"A dildo?"
"Yes. It's a device most often shaped like a human penis."
Yvette's eyes slid to one side and she gave the suggestion thought.
"How will that help?"
Holding up one hand, Beverly counted on her fingers.
"One: it should give you a more intense orgasm, and two: the sensation of being filled is very satisfying."
Yvette frowned in confusion.
"Filled?"
Beverly sighed as she sought the words to explain.
"Yvette, the act of sex between two people takes into account several factors. Even if the people involved aren't in love, the act is very physically satisfying and as a female, I can tell you that some of that satisfaction comes from the sensation of the penis being inside you."
Yvette nodded enthusiastically.
"Jean-Luc loves his penis being inside you! He has rarely had a partner that he can put all of it inside."
Reddening a little, Beverly nodded.
"Yes, I know. But you can see how the act of penetration is satisfying for both partners. Your anatomy seems to suggest you have the capacity to have sex purely for pleasure. Why don't you experiment? The replicators can supply a wide range of dildos, but I suggest you don't replicate anything too big. Start with something small and if that doesn't give enough sensation, then move up to something bigger."
Yvette nodded thoughtfully, then asked,
"May I have something modelled on Jean-Luc?"
Quelling her anger and exasperation, Beverly shook her head.
"No. Not only is he too big, but there is nothing like him in the replicator files."
With a knowing look, Yvette smiled slyly.
"He is not too big, not for me. I can expand internally. I could accommodate him with no trouble."
Beverly kept calm.
"Perhaps you can, but there is nothing in the replicator files like him. Some crew members have made casts of themselves for pattern replication, but I can assure you, Jean-Luc has not."
Yvette sighed heavily.
"And you will not share him."
With a firm shake of her head, Beverly said succinctly,
"No, I will not."
They stared at each other for a few moments, until Yvette lowered her eyes.
"Jean-Luc asked me to stop harassing him and I will, but can you help me to choose a dildo?"
Beverly stood and held out her hand.
"Come on, let's go and look at the replicator files."
They left the room together.

Geordi LaForge looked at his console again, just to be sure before tapping his comm. Badge.
"LaForge to Captain Picard."
Jean-Luc had been sitting in the Command Chair, ruminating sourly on what had transpired in Beverly's quarters. He loved her beyond reason and what had happened had upset him deeply. Hurting Beverly physically was one thing, hurting her psychologically was quite another. Geordi's call brought him out of his ruminations.
"Picard here, go ahead."
"Captain, the cloak is beginning to drain more power than I'm happy with."
"I take it you have taken power from non-essential systems?"
Jean-Luc could hear the tiredness in Geordi's voice as he replied,
"Yes, Sir."
Thoughtfully rubbing his fingers over his lower lip, Jean-Luc sighed.
"Well, start taking power from more essential systems, Mr. LaForge; we have to keep the cloak running. We can evacuate decks and divert life support if need be."
Geordi sighed.
"Can you give me a time, Captain?"
"At least another eighteen hours."
"Aye, Captain, I'll see what I can do."
Jean-Luc's face was stern.
"Keep me appraised, Geordi."
"Yes, Sir. LaForge out."
Turning his head slightly, Jean-Luc said to the officer at Tactical,
"No matter what happens, Lieutenant, I want weapons and shields."
"Aye, Captain."
Jean-Luc gazed stoically out at the stars on the viewscreen, wondering how his First Officer was doing. If Will failed, everything they had achieved thus far would be lost. He sighed softly and gently ran his fingers over his lower lip.
"Get the job done, Will and return home."
It was a tired Jean-Luc who entered his quarters at shift's end. To his surprise, Beverly was sitting with Yvette at the computer terminal in the living room. He noted they cleared the screen as he walked across the room. Beverly turned to him and smiled radiantly. He smiled back, raising one eyebrow and sending a questioning look in Yvette's direction. Beverly gave a surreptitious nod, letting him know all was well. Bending slightly, Jean-Luc lifted Yvette from her chair, turned her in his arms and hugged her. She snuggled into his embrace, resting her head on his broad shoulder. Looking again at Beverly, a happy Jean-Luc said softly,
"And how are my two ladies this evening?"
Yvette giggled and kissed his neck.
"We're fine, Jean-Luc."
Beverly had heard in her mind what Yvette had said and stood, going to her lover and stroking Yvette's fur.
"We've been having a very interesting time on the computer."
Jean-Luc's eyebrows rose.
"Doing what?"
Yvette was about to tell him, when Beverly gently placed a hand on her shoulder.
"I'll tell you later. Now, why don't you go and shower while I replicate?"
Jean-Luc gently lowered Yvette to the deck before leaning in and kissing Beverly. He whispered in her ear,
"Are you staying tonight?"
She smiled with a conspirator's glee and whispered back,
"Just try and make me leave."
Sighing deeply with contentment, Jean-Luc's tiredness fled. Just as he was about to make his way to the bathroom, Yvette snagged his hand. Looking up with her large, limpid eyes she said softly,
"Jean-Luc, I need to shower too. May I shower with you?"
He was about to refuse when she held up one hand.
"I won't be a problem, I promise."
Looking up at Beverly, he noted she gave no indication of being concerned. He looked down at Yvette and slowly nodded.
"Very well."
Dinner was a happy affair. Jean-Luc couldn't help but notice an undercurrent of conspiracy between Beverly and Yvette, but as they both seemed relaxed and content with each other, he chose to simply accept it.
After they had eaten and cleared the table, Jean-Luc and Yvette read together for a while, the Captain very impressed by how proficient she had become in such a short time.
Soon enough it was Yvette's bedtime. Once Jean-Luc had tucked her in and ordered the lights in her room off, he made his way to the sofa where Beverly was sat with an open bottle of wine and two full glasses. Jean-Luc eased himself into his seat beside his lover. Beverly moved closer, handing him his glass. They sipped in contemplative silence for a while before Beverly slowly twirled her near empty glass and sighed.
"We're going to make love tonight."
Jean-Luc grinned rakishly.
"Now that's a stimulating thought."
With a soft chuckle, Beverly gently punched his shoulder.
"Idiot. No, there's more to it than that."
Jean-Luc refilled their glasses and took a sip. He turned to face Beverly, his expression a mix of mild amusement and curiosity.
"I've been sensing an underlying tension. Nothing serious, mind, but you have something you want to say, haven't you."
Beverly nodded, running her index fingers down his face to dally in his endearingly dimpled chin.
"I had a long talk with Yvette this afternoon."
Jean-Luc's eyes darkened.
"And?"
"I think I've found what her problem was."
Jean-Luc frowned.
"I thought it was me."
Beverly smiled sadly.
"It was, in part, but that was purely psychological. She had some physical issues too."
"Ah. The lack of complete satisfaction."
Beverly nodded.
"Yes. Did I tell you she has two vaginas and three clitorises?"
Surprise registered on Jean-Luc's face.
"No, you didn't."
"Well she does. One vagina, the one with the single clitoris is for reproduction. The other, with the inner and outer clitoris seems to be purely for pleasure."
Jean-Luc took another sip, seemingly intrigued.
"Really."
Beverly nodded.
"Uh huh and I figured out what she was missing was the feeling of being penetrated...of being filled."
Pursing his lips, Jean-Luc nodded thoughtfully.
"Makes sense. What did you do about it?"
Beverly's smile was devious.
"We chose a range of dildos."
Jean-Luc swallowed too quickly and coughed violently, sending a spray of red wine over the low table. While Beverly replicated some towelling, Jean-Luc recovered enough to sputter,
"Dildos?"
Beverly nodded.
"Yep. Now when she masturbates, not only will she achieve a more fulfilling orgasm, she should feel greater satisfaction from the whole experience."
Jean-Luc closed his eyes briefly and sighed.
"You realise of course, that we will experience it with her, at least until she gains enough control to block us out."
Beverly snuggled up to her lover and cupped his genitals.
"That's what I'm hoping for."
Jean-Luc suddenly became aware of the potency of Beverly's statement.
"That's why you're staying tonight."
He was slowly growing hard and Beverly's nibbling of his earlobe was only accelerating his arousal.
"Imagine it, Jean-Luc. You and I have mind-blowing sex as it is, imagine an orgasm initiated with two clits."
They kissed deeply, then Jean-Luc rumbled,
"And we're still sore."
"Still sore and I didn't completely repair my damage."
They kissed again and Jean-Luc pinched one of Beverly's nipples hard. She winced and softly mewed.
"We're going to bed now, aren't we."
Beverly stood and dragged Jean-Luc to his feet.
"Yes, and I don't want to wait for anything except your huge cock shoving inside me."
His hand went to her sex and he gripped her hard, making her moan.
"No lubricant?"
She shook her head, saying breathlessly,
"No."
They were moving to the bedroom, both stripping off their clothing.
"It's going to hurt, Beverly."
"Oh God...I know! Quickly, Jean-Luc...quickly!"
Now both naked, Beverly's eyes were riveted on Jean-Luc enormous erection. She fell onto the bed, her legs spread wide.
"Do it! Do it now and bite my nipple hard as it goes in!"
He couldn't refuse her. Covering her body with his, he took her swollen nipple between his teeth and bit down on it as he shoved all of himself inside her. She was wet, but not wet enough. She cried out, her head arching back, exposing the column of her neck. As he began to thrust, Jean-Luc started to bite and suck at the soft skin, marking her vividly.
Her nails raked his back, making him wince. His already sore penis was battering her and she took him to the hilt, rising to meet his thrusts. Within minutes of them starting, they both became aware of Yvette. She was masturbating and they both felt it when she inserted a dildo inside her. As it stimulated her inner clit, her fingers danced over the exterior one. Both Jean-Luc and Beverly gasped at the sensation, the experience heightening what they were doing.
It seemed to affect Beverly more. She arched under Jean-Luc, begging,
"Harder...faster..."
Lost in his own sensations, Jean-Luc complied and felt his orgasm gathering. He again bit Beverly's nipple hard enough to draw blood before he ground out,
"Hurry, Beverly...I'm going to come!"
Just then Yvette came. The extraordinarily strong orgasm washed over the sweating couple, smashing through their own heady sensations. Jean-Luc abruptly yelled as he came hard. He pushed himself into Beverly as far as he could go, feeling her contract around him as her climax took her. He didn't hear her scream; he was in sensory overload, as was she.
It was almost fifteen minutes before either of them could speak.
"Mon Dieu...that was...that was..."
Beverly closed her eyes and winced as he moved inside her.
"Yes, it was wasn't it. Jean-Luc?"
He opened his eyes, one eyebrow raised.
"Yes?"
Sleepily, Beverly asked,
"Does Yvette really have to block us out?"
He rested his head on Beverly's forehead and smiled.
"I'll think about it."
He knew she wanted him to stay inside her as she slept, so he gently rolled them onto their sides and made himself comfortable. He kissed her cheek and whispered,
"J'taime, mon coeur."
She mumbled something unintelligible and he smiled.
"Bon nuit."
He found sleep soon after.

 

Now that Deanna was spending less time with Yvette, she could devote more of herself to Favan. Over a couple of days she had learned just how horrific his time with the

pirates had been. Slowly he had grown more confident, even becoming excited about his impending status as a Federation citizen. Deanna counselled him as best she could, but she knew it would be a long time before his demons were laid to rest. To add to her worry was her absent lover. Will had been gone almost a day and Deanna felt his absence keenly. Used to sensing him constantly, his non-existence on the ship left a void in her soul. Cognizant of his mission, Deanna also worried about his physical well-being. Dealing with an avaricious and dangerous Ferengi was one thing, dealing with a Weyoun and possibly the Jem'Hadar was quite another. She fretted internally, but only those who knew her well would have known. Beverly was one of those people and Deanna decided she needed to talk to her best friend. She finished her session with Favan and left his quarters, tapping her comm. badge.
"Troi to Crusher."
It was a sleepy Beverly who answered.
"Crusher here, go ahead, Deanna."
Surprised at finding her friend still in bed, Deanna said cautiously,
"I'm not interrupting anything, am I?"
Beverly chuckled.
"No, I have the day off. I'm alone...well, with Yvette here. I just decided to sleep in."
Deanna grinned knowingly.
"I see. Want a visitor?"
"Sure, come on by. I'll get up and shower."
"Okay, be there in five minutes."
"Right, Crusher out."
As promised, Beverly emerged from the bedroom, freshly showered and dressed to find Deanna colouring with Yvette. Replicating drinks, Beverly joined the pair on the sofa.
One look at Deanna's eyes made Beverly say gently,
"Yvette, Deanna and I want to talk in private. Would you go and play in your room, please?"
Knowing that Beverly was also implying she block them out, Yvette stood and smiled.
"Of course."
Once they were alone, Beverly took Deanna's hands and looked into her obsidian eyes.
"It's Will, isn't it."
The Counsellor sighed.
"Yes, I'm worried sick."
Beverly sighed, then summoned a long-suffering smile.
"You know he's well- trained and competent. Jean-Luc wouldn't have sent him if he didn't have the upmost confidence in his abilities."
Deanna nodded, but her face was grim.
"I know, Beverly, but he's dealing with that devious Grul, not to mention a Weyoun and maybe the Jem'Hadar."
Placing a comforting arm around Deanna's shoulders, Beverly gave her a squeeze.
"Apart from Jean-Luc, Will is the most competent man I know. I'm sure he'll be fine and I bet he has a plan."
Offering a lop-sided smile, Deanna snorted.
"That's what's got me worried. He's so damned gung ho. He's liable to try anything."
Beverly chuckled, knowing her friend was right, but she had some advice to offer.
"Don't forget he's been under Jean-Luc's wing for years now. Some of his wisdom must have rubbed off."
Heaving a sigh, Deanna nodded slowly.
"That's true, I suppose. Still, when the time comes he's going to rely on his instincts. I can only hope he can temper his natural tendency to be proactive. He lacks the Captain's patience."
It was Beverly's turn to sigh.
"Well, he'll be Johnny-on-the-spot. No one but he will be able to make the needed assessment. But have faith in him, Dee. He's an outstanding officer. I know Jean-Luc has complete faith in him."
Deanna sniffed softly, and nodded. She then looked into Beverly's eyes and frowned.
"You're in pain."
Reddening, Beverly flapped a hand.
"Oh, it's nothing."
Taking Beverly's arm from her shoulder, Deanna concentrated and winced.
"God, Beverly, what have you done? The pain is quite intense...and in an intimate area."
Growing slightly angry at the intrusion, Beverly said sharply,
"Deanna!"
But the Counsellor wouldn't be put off.
"No, Beverly. This isn't the first time I've sensed physical pain in you and it's almost always intimate. If I wasn't so fixated on Will, I bet I'd have felt it more often. What's going on?"
Deanna easily sensed Beverly's anger and dismay, but theirs was a long and endearing friendship. Beverly knew she would have to be honest. She took a deep breath and looked at her hands as she said quietly,
"I like pain during sex."
Shocked, Deanna gaped before saying,
"I can't believe the Captain would deliberately hurt you. It goes against every principle he holds dear."
With tears brimming, Bevery looked at her friend and said softly,
"He loves me with everything he is. If I asked him to cut off his right hand, he'd do it."
Still not convinced, Deanna said incredulously,
"But your injuries are internal. How did he...what did he use?"
That brought a delighted chuckle from Beverly. Deanna frowned, not understanding.
"He's very, very well endowed, Deanna. When erect he's enormous. Of all the lovers he's ever had, I'm the first to be able to accommodate all of him...and sometimes I don't wait until I'm...ready. He tears me, Deanna...and I love it."
Shaking her head, Deanna's face showed her consternation.
"But the Captain can't be happy with this situation, Beverly. I know him...he can't like hurting you."
With a heavy sigh, Beverly bowed her head.
"You're right, of course, but he understands how much I need it. Like I said, Dee, he loves me enough to hurt me. He's even allowed me to hurt him a little."
Aghast, Deanna asked breathlessly,
"How did he take it?"
Beverly shrugged.
"He told me he sort of enjoyed it, but Yvette tells me he didn't, so the jury's still out. He did say, however, we can explore it some more."
Shaking her head again, Deanna said softly,
"I can't believe you kept this from me for so long!"
Beverly sighed.
"It wasn't until Jean-Luc and I became lovers that it came to the fore. Once I saw how big he was...well the rest is history."
Deanna looked into her best friend's eyes.
"I thought I knew you."
Beverly smiled and took one of Deanna's hands.
"You do, my friend, just not as well as you thought you did. But you can't blame me for hiding this from you, can you? I mean, we're all allowed our little secrets, aren't we?"
Deanna sighed, still rattled.
"I suppose."
She then offered a small smile.
"Is there anything else I should know?"
Beverly laughed.
"No, all my skeletons are out of the closet now."
Deanna joined her in laughter.
"I'm glad, I don't think I could stand any more shocks."
They finished their drinks and Deanna left. Beverly felt like a weight had been lifted from her shoulders.

 

Will Riker was a very astute man. He watched implacably from his seat as the unconscious form of Grul slumped in his chair, encased in a force field. Will was taking no chances. After rendering the Ferengi unconscious, he lowered the force field around the chair, not trusting Grul even in his senseless state. They were six hours from their rendezvous and Will needed some sleep. Beverly had told him the device, once activated, would hold Grul unconscious for three hours. That was precisely what Will needed. He reclined his seat and folded his hands on his broad chest, closed his eyes and thought of Deanna. He was asleep in moments.
It was the outraged cries of Grul that woke Will.
"Human! Wake up, I want to relieve myself!"
Will opened his eyes and yawned, stretching his large frame. He unholstered his phaser and lowered the force field. Pressing the weapon to the skin behind the Ferengi's huge ears, Will said conversationally,
"I will accompany you, Grul. One false move and I will remove your ears. No more umox."
Snarling, the little man sneered,
"If you derive pleasure watching me relieve myself, who am I to argue? I always knew you humans were deviates."
Ignoring the jibe, Will escorted Grul aft to the small toilet. Fortunately Grul was quick and both males were soon back in the cockpit. Still with the phaser pressed against Grul's head, Will said quietly,
"We should be only three hours away. I want you to activate long range sensors."
With the ever present threat of the phaser, Grul didn't dare try anything devious. He did as requested and Will smiled coldly as the Weyoun's vessel appeared on the screen. Will increased the pressure of the phaser and said menacingly,
"Hail them...and no tricks, Grul."
Will watched closely as the channel was opened.
"Grul to Weyoun."
"This is the Weyoun. Why are you contacting me now?"
Grul looked up at Will, his grin predatory. The big First Officer tabbed the channel closed.
"Tell him you're excited about what you've got to show him."
Grul reopened the channel and passed on the message. The Weyoun grunted theatrically.
"Well don't tell me over sub space you fool! You never know who is listening. Contact me again when you are an hour away, I might be persuaded to alter course to meet you."
Grul put just enough subservience in his voice as he replied,
"As you wish, Weyoun. Grul out."
Will thought for a moment, then asked quietly,
"Can this ship perform a passive scan of the Weyoun's ship?"
Grul nodded reluctantly. Will pressed the phaser even harder against the Ferengi's skull.
"And they won't know?"
Holding up his hands in supplication, Grul whined,
"No!"
Will grinned coldly.
"Do it!"
The scan was done and Will grunted.
"The Weyoun travels with only two Jem'Hadar. That makes things interesting."
Grul looked up at Will and sneered,
"You must be mad, human. Do you realise what the Jem'Hadar will do to you when they take you?"
Will sat down with the phaser trained on his prisoner.
"I don't intend to be taken, Grul."
In his irritating whine, Grul asked,
"And just how do you hope to avoid that?"
Will grinned again.
"You'll just have to wait and see."
Grul grunted.
"Just my luck...to be in the clutches of a mad human!"
Will simply chuckled.

 

With twelve hours to go, Jean-Luc went to his quarters, half hoping sex wasn't on the menu. His penis was very sore and, truth be told, he got no pleasure from hurting Beverly, no matter how much she needed it. And as for experiencing pain himself, he had only been half truthful. The explorer in him was intrigued, but he didn't really enjoy it, but it seemed important to Beverly, so he lied. And that made him feel bad.
It was with this tumultuous thought pattern that he entered his quarters. Yvette immediately came to his side, looking up and saying softly,
"You are sad."
He shook his head.
"Not sad, little one, just...conflicted."
"Can I help?"
Jean-Luc smiled.
"Yes. You can give me a hug."
He scooped her up and they hugged tightly. The Captain immediately felt Yvette's arousal, so he put her down quickly. She looked up at him sadly.
"Must I hide myself from you?"
Jean-Luc rubbed a hand over his face, saying with exasperation,
"Yvette..."
She took his hand and said softly,
"I told you I would not harass you anymore and I won't, but there is something you can do for me that would be a tremendous help."
Curious, but wary, Jean-Luc asked,
"And what is that?"
Squeezing his hand, Yvette looked pleadingly.
"Be with me when I masturbate."
He shook his head.
"Yvette..."
She tugged him down to one knee.
"Beverly is in surgery and I won't ask you to take part, just be with me."
Cupping her face in his large hands, Jean-Luc said gently,
"Yvette, sex, even masturbation, is a very private thing. I don't want to intrude."
Her eyes showed her earnestness.
"You won't be intruding! I want you with me! Please, Jean-Luc...just this once. If I can't have you, let me at least fantasise about you."
Her growing arousal began to erode his objections. Feeling vaguely like he was being unfaithful to Beverly, Jean-Luc reluctantly agreed.
"Just this once."
Yvette beamed.
"Just this once!"
He stood and allowed her to lead him to her bedroom. Without preamble she lay on her bed and turned her head so she could watch him. He stood uncomfortably by her bed. Yvette said quietly,
"Please sit beside me."
Reluctantly he sat on the edge of the bed and watched as Yvette's hands began to wander over her body. When she started to stimulate her sex, Jean-Luc looked away, but Yvette's urgent plea made him drag his eyes back.
"No! Watch me...please, Jean-Luc...watch me!"
He did and cursed his growing erection. Yvette began to pant, then she reached beside the bed and retrieved her dildo. As she inserted it, her hips rose off the bed and she called out silently,
"Oh...Jean-Luc!"
His mind was flooded with her ecstasy and his erection became painfully trapped in his trousers. He ached to take it out and stroke it, but by some Herculean effort, he resisted. Yvette too wanted him to take an active part in her pleasuring of herself, but even in her ecstasy, she honoured her promise. He was about to get up and leave when Yvette's orgasm took her. The effect on him was insidious. Overcome with the power of her release, Jean-Luc's knees buckled and he sat heavily on the bed, his panting mirroring Yvette's. It was only then he realised he'd come in his pants.
Yvette opened her eyes and Jean-Luc had never seen such gratitude.
"Oh...thank you, Jean-Luc...thank you!"
He got up awkwardly and nodded, trying to find a genuine smile. He held up one finger.
"Never again, ma petite. This must be the only time. I must shower now. You get some sleep."
She nodded sleepily.
"I will, thank you."
As he stripped off in the bathroom, Jean-Luc thought morosely,
"And just how am I going to explain this to Beverly?"
He exited the shower with a towel wrapped around his slim waist. Lying on the bed, he dozed fitfully, never hearing Bevery as she joined him. Fortunately, she was too tired for sex.
He woke first, his legs tangled in the towel. He tried to extricate himself without waking his lover, But Beverly stirred and opened her eyes.
"What the hell are you doing?"
With a hard tug, Jean-Luc pulled the towel free and threw it somewhere near the recycler. Guilt nibbled at the fringes of his thoughts and he sighed.
"We have to talk."
Knowing him as well as she did, Beverly propped herself up on one elbow and gave him her complete attention.
"Tell me."
He haltingly described what had taken place between he and Yvette the previous night, then waited for Beverly's hurt admonishment, but she surprised him. Instead of castigating him, she lowered her head and kissed him, saying softly,
"I understand, my love."
He rolled onto his side, staring into her eyes.
"You do?"
She nodded.
"Uh huh, in fact I know something else you've not told me."
He frowned.
"Through Yvette?"
"Yep."
He waited silently, but inside he believed he knew what it was. Beverly gently caressed his face and said gently,
"You don't really enjoy the pain."
With a deep sigh, Jean-Luc shook his head.
"No, I don't."
Sighing herself, Beverly flopped onto her back and stared at the ceiling.
"Is it just mine, or yours."
Jean-Luc swallowed, took a deep breath and tenderly placed his hand on Beverly's face to turn it towards him.
"Both really. I didn't enjoy you inflicting pain on me and you know I don't like hurting you."
Before Beverly could say anything, he held up his hand.
"BUT...I know pain during sex is something you need and I love you too much to deny you, so that won't change."
Relaxing somewhat, Beverly asked softly,
"Why did you tell me you liked what I did to you?"
He shrugged.
"I suppose there was a modicum of curiosity...and a need to know what my limits are."
"Have you found them?"
He nodded.
"I think so."
Rolling onto her side, they kissed before Beverly whispered,
"But a cock ring would be okay?"
He thought about it for a moment, then cautiously nodded.
"Yes, but you release it when I ask you to."
Grinning, Beverly nodded once.
"Done."
They kissed again, then Jean-Luc threw back the covers.
"We have to get up."
With her lips in a moue, Beverly said sultrily,
"Can't we have a little fun now?"
His penis stirred but he ignored it. Wagging a finger at his minx of a lover, he tried to sound stern.
"No!"
She sat up and bared her breasts. Jean-Luc growled and shook his head.
"NO!"
Upping the ante, Beverly pushed the covers all the way down the bed and slid her fingers through her sex. By now mostly erect, Jean-Luc shook his head, briefly closed his eyes and ground out,
"You'll have to pleasure yourself, Beverly. I have to shower, shave and dress. We're in the middle of a very tense mission."
As he walked past the bed on his way to the bathroom, Beverly moaned and muttered,
"All the more reason for a little tension reliever."
By the time he was in the shower, he could hear Beverly masturbating. He soaped up his hands and did the same. He noted his hands weren't quite steady as he shaved.

 

Having arrived at the rendezvous, Will cloaked himself, after giving Grul very clear instructions as to what he was supposed to do. Knowing Will could fire through the cloak, Grul was only too willing to oblige. The Ferengi opened a channel.
"Grul, to Weyoun."
"This is the Weyoun. Why haven't you transported aboard?"
With well rehearsed glibness, Grul used his most disarming tone.
"What I have can't be transported, Weyoun. It's the pinnacle of Federation technology."
The Weyoun didn't bother to hide his impatience.
"What is it?"
Grul sighed.
"I'm not certain, but seven Starfleet officers died badly trying to protect it."
There was a momentary silence before the Weyoun said tiredly,
"Very well, I will transport over with my guards."
Hurriedly, Grul said,
"Just one guard if you don't mind. This thing is large and I have little room."
Anger permeated the Weyoun's voice.
"You know it is customary for me to be with two guards at all time!"
Now wheedling, Grul whined,
"But Weyoun, I went to so much trouble! Why don't you leave one guard on your ship and wait here while I show you the item, then take you to the ship I got it from? I mean...you know me...and I'm not going to bother a Jem'Hadar."
Again there was a silence, before the Weyoun sighed.
"You try my patience, Ferengi. Very well, prepare to receive me and my guard."
From inside his cloak, Will said quietly,
"Now."
Grul cut off all communications with the Jem'Hadar ship, then whined angrily as the force field came down around him. There was an orange sparkle of light and two figures emerged. It took the Weyoun a second or two to see that Grul was immobilised, but the Jem'Hadar guard reacted immediately. He went into a crouch, pulling the Weyoun down with him. Before Will could fire, the soldier blasted the internal cloak emitter. Will appeared, but got off a shot, wounding the guard. His weapon dropped from his hand, but he raised the other hand and depressed a button on his palm. There was a pneumatic hiss and a long, wicked, barbed dart flew through the air, hitting Will in the chest. He responded quickly, altering the setting on his phaser and firing again. The Jem'Hadar was obliterated. The Weyoun had produced a small weapon, but Will trained his phaser on the cloned being and said quietly,
"Drop it."
Reluctantly, the Weyoun dropped the weapon, then slowly stood.
"What do you hope to gain from this?"
Despite his pain, Will smiled.
"An end to the murder and piracy."
The Weyoun shrugged.
"You can kill me, human, there are many to take my place."
Will shrugged.
"Perhaps, but I'm willing to bet you have enough self-preservation to want to stay alive, especially when I tell you how civilised Federation law is. Now I want you to send a message to your ship."
Still defiant, the Weyoun lifted his chin.
"And if I don't?"
Will smiled coldly.
"Then I will kill you."
Having given some thought to his situation and seeing the determination on Will's face, the Weyoun bowed his head.
"As you wish, human."
Moving slowly, and in great pain, Will went to the Weyoun and placed the phaser against his temple.
"Tell the other Jem'Hadar to stay here with his ship while you travel with Grul back to Grul's ship under cloak. And tell him you want to maintain communication silence."
Even with the phaser pressed against his head, the Weyoun kept his composure.
"That is unacceptable. My guard will be expecting regular contact."
Giving quick thought to the problem, Will came to his decision.
"Very well, tell him you will give regular reports, but he is not to contact you."
Having grudgingly accepted Will's proposal, the Weyoun opened a channel and passed on the instructions. His remaining guard, bred from birth to be obedient, received the orders without question. After all, he believed the other guard would protect his master. Will signalled the channel closed, then directed the Weyoun to an aft seat, where a force field kept him out of mischief. He then sat down beside a maliciously grinning Grul and inspected the dart in his chest. It was on the left side, just below his heart, but he could already hear the rattle of blood filling his lung. Ignoring his predicament for the moment, he set course for the Enterprise and engaged the external cloak before jumping to maximum warp.

 

Deanna hadn't been able to think of much else except Beverly's confession. She felt a melange of emotions, including hurt. She and Beverly had been best friends for years, how hadn't she known this about her? She was an empath for God's sake, she sensed emotions! Why, why hadn't she known? Gradually Deanna became consumed by her emotions and angrily tapped her comm. badge.
"Troi to Crusher!"
Beverly was fusing a broken ulna but clearly heard the anger in Deanna's voice. So she answered cautiously.
"Crusher here."
"Beverly, we need to talk!"
With a long-suffering sigh, Beverly smiled at her patient and replied,
"Lunch?"
Finally realising Beverly must be with a patient, Deanna modified her tone.
"Yes, that'll be fine, but somewhere private. My quarters?"
Still with the smile plastered on her face, Beverly said with false brightness,
"Okay, see you then."
What Beverly didn't know was that as soon as the channel was closed, Deanna left her quarters, heading for the Bridge.
Jean-Luc was seated in the Command chair, waiting patiently for his Tactical officer to tell him when the interceptor once again appeared on their long-range sensors. Deanna exited the aft turbolift and strode down the ramp with short, determined steps. Jean-Luc looked up, his smile dying on his lips when he saw Deanna's expression. Without preamble, Deanna said,
"Captain, may I see you privately please?"
She didn't wait for his answer, but turned at went to the Ready Room doors. Jean-Luc rose slowly, saying to Data,
"You have the Bridge, Mr. Data."
He walked past Deanna and she followed him into his inner sanctum. As Deanna waited impatiently before his desk, Jean-Luc went to the replicator to order an Earl Grey. Once seated at his desk, he looked up at his Counsellor and motioned for her to sit. She did, but didn't wait for her Captain to ask her to speak.
"Sir, I know about Beverly's...predilections."
Reddening slightly, Jean-Luc felt extreme discomfort, not lost on Deanna. She pressed on.
"Captain, I thought I knew both of you. How could you have kept this from me?"
Warring with himself over his innate need for privacy and his obligation to be honest with his Counsellor, Jean-Luc opted for obliqueness.
"I'm not sure I know what you mean."
Adopting a no-nonsense look, Deanna leaned forward confrontationally and said succinctly,
"Beverly enjoys pain during sex and you're providing it, against your better judgement."
Suddenly angry, Jean-Luc barked,
"That is none of your business!"
Keeping calm, but still determined, Deanna said quietly,
"Isn't it? I know you, Captain...at least I thought I did. I can't believe you like what's happening, in fact I know you don't."
Fisting his hands on the desktop, Jean-Luc's voice dropped to a deceptively soft tone, a sure sign of towering anger.
"I fail to see how this impacts on my ability to command, Counsellor."
In exasperation, Deanna slapped her hands on the desktop.
"It doesn't! I'm talking about your relationship with Beverly! Did you know?"
Shaking his head brusquely, Jean-Luc said curtly,
"No."
"And you think this is a healthy basis for a relationship? Secrets?"
Trying to calm himself, Jean-Luc sighed.
"It isn't a secret anymore."
Still exasperated, Deanna said incredulously,
"And that makes it right?"
Jean-Luc was fast growing tired of being interrogated.
"Counsellor, you know as well as I, people have very varied needs where it comes to sex. Why is this any different?"
Closing her eyes briefly, Deanna plexed.
"Because, Captain, Beverly kept this from you for all the years you knew her! I thought you two knew all there was to know about each other, but she kept that from you. Doesn't that tell you something?"
He sighed again.
"It tells me she simply wanted to keep it private, something I understand."
"But, Captain..."
He held up his hand.
"Counsellor...Deanna...when the time came she told me. Isn't that the most important thing?"
With a sigh of her own, Deanna lowered her head.
"All right, I concede that, but what of you? I know you don't like causing her pain. How do you reconcile that with your personal beliefs?"
Holding up both hands, Jean-Luc said simply,
"I love her. I would do anything for her."
Finally defeated, Deanna slumped in her chair.
"I have to say, Sir, I don't understand."
"You don't have to, Deanna, it works for us, that's all you need to know."
Deanna rose and tried to smile, but it didn't reach her eyes.
"I see. Well, thank you, Captain."
He nodded, silently dismissing her.

 

Beverly found it difficult to keep focused on her work as her lunch break approached. She almost contacted Deanna to cancel their appointment, but she knew that would only make Deanna even more determined to see her. So she bit the bullet and, at the appropriate time, left Sick Bay and made her way to Deanna's quarters.
She was pleasantly surprised to find Deanna sitting on her sofa, two plates of chicken salad and camomile tea steaming in clear cups waiting on the low table.
Deanna looked up as Beverly entered, gesturing with a friendly smile.
"Come in, Beverly."
Still on her guard, Beverly went over to Deanna and sat on the edge of the seat. As adept as she was at hiding her emotions from the empath, Beverly couldn't quash them completely. The Counsellor sensed Beverly's disquiet and tried to put her at ease.
"This isn't going to be an interrogation, Beverly."
Picking up her fork, Beverly pushed the salad around the plate, saying warily,
"What is it then? When you called me you were angry."
With a sigh, Deanna's face showed her contrition.
"I know and I apologise, but I've been to see the Captain and..."
Beverly sprang to her feet.
"You what!?"
Gently waving her hand, Deanna encouraged Beverly to sit down.
"It's all right, Beverly, he took it relatively well."
Clearly angry, Beverly seethed,
"What right did you have to take something so personal to him? I told you in confidence! Besides, it had absolutely nothing to do with his ability to command, which, I might remind you, is your main concern when it comes to him!"
Holding up her hand, Deanna said quietly,
"I was concerned about your relationship."
Approaching furious, Beverly fisted her hands.
"What the hell has that got to do with you!?"
Deanna looked up at her incensed friend and sighed.
"It's about honesty, Beverly. Can you tell me you've been absolutely honest with the Captain?"
The wind suddenly went out of Beverly's sails. Her face fell and she sighed while lowering her head.
"I suppose not, but I told him when it counted."
Nodding slowly, Deanna said softly,
"But after how many years? Imagine how shocked he must have been...how hurt?"
Slumping onto the sofa, Beverly covered her face with her hands.
"It was my deepest, darkest secret, Dee. It's not that I have specific tastes when it comes to sex...God knows, that's common enough, it's just that I don't think anyone would've guessed it of me."
Deanna chuckled tiredly.
"You're right there...you caught me completely off guard. Did Jack know?"
With a grimace, Beverly nodded.
"Yep and he was appalled. I had to get by using my own initiatives. He never knew what I did to satisfy myself."
Deanna nodded thoughtfully.
"And the Captain?"
Beverly offered a wry smile.
"What do you want me to say? You know him just about as well as I do."
With a frown, Deanna sighed.
"He couldn't have been happy."
Beverly shrugged.
"I don't suppose he was, but as I am one of the few lovers he's ever had that can take all of him, there was a part of him that was relieved. Over the years he'd developed phenomenal control, needed because of his circumstances, but with me, he can forget that control and really let himself go. He told me it's very liberating."
Deanna nodded her understanding, but her face was serious.
"But inflicting pain?"
Beverly sat back, rested her head on the backrest and stared at the ceiling.
"I don't think you really appreciate what this means to both of us, Dee. Yes it's true, he doesn't actually like inflicting pain, but not only does he know I need it, but in doing so he finally found complete satisfaction, something he had convinced himself he would never have. As for me, he is the only man who has ever truly satisfied me. It might not be an ideal situation, but it works for us."
Taking a sip of her tea, Deanna set her cup down and sat back.
"So tell me, how did you find this in yourself? Was it a physical experience, or a psychological one?"
Beverly chuckled, the memories flooding back.
"I was very young...and quite precocious. It was a physical experience, but not a sexual one...although the sensation was sexual and the consequences were sexual."
Knowing innately Beverly was going to be reluctant to elaborate, Deanna accepted her words for what they were. The truth.
"How old were you?"
"About seven or eight. I know I had my first orgasm around the same time. I count discovering my clit amongst my grandest triumphs."
She giggled, causing Deanna to chuckle.
"I didn't really explore mine until I was about sixteen and my dear mother caught me. She was blasé about it, but I was mortified."
Beverly hooted with laughter.
"Did it put you off more exploration?"
Deanna shook her head, her eyes tearing with laughter.
"Oh God no! In fact I nearly wore it out!"
Their laughter died down and Beverly asked softly,
"What about your virginity?"
Deanna sighed wistfully.
"A boy I was fond of. We were both seventeen and it was a total non-event. I didn't really have satisfying sex until Will, some years later. You?"
With an inexplicable glint in her eye, Beverly said quietly,
"Eight and a half. I did it myself with a dildo."
With a gasp, Deanna covered her mouth.
"My God! Why so young?"
The Doctor smiled grimly.
"Because I wasn't getting what I wanted with what I was doing. I needed more, I needed penetration and the pain of breaking my hymen only added to my pleasure."
Deanna sighed deeply.
"And apart from Jack and before the Captain, no one knew?"
With a shake of her head, Beverly said quietly,
"No and until Jean-Luc I never knew just how good sex could be."
They sat in silence for a few moments, each lost in their memories. It was Deanna who said quietly,
"I think I understand now, Beverly."
The red head smiled with genuine warmth and gestured to their salads.
"Shall we?"
Deanna smiled and picked up her fork. They ate for a minute or two before Deanna said softly,
"Will you apologise to the Captain for me please?"
Waving her fork, Beverly shook her head.
"There's no need, Dee. He understands your primary concern is his well being."
Sighing, the Counsellor's face showed her contrition.
"True, but I was pretty adversarial. I will make my own apologies, but I want you to let him know that I know just how out-of-line I was."
Beverly's eyes twinkled.
"Consider it done."
Within half an hour they were both back on duty.

 

As the hours crept by, Will knew he was in desperate trouble. He had begun to cough up blood and the pain was eroding his stamina. With both the Weyoun and Grul constrained within force fields, Will made his way slowly to the cockpit and studied the controls. He had to be very careful, he knew the remaining Jem'Hadar soldier would be monitoring their progress. His solution was an elegant one, he could only hope it worked.
On the Bridge of the Enterprise, the officer at Tactical frowned over her console.
"Captain, we're receiving a jacketed subspace stream. I'm not sure what it is."
Jean-Luc rose from his seat and went aft to join the Ensign. After trying to identify the phenomenon without success, he called his Second Officer.
"Data, will you come and have a look at this?"
The android joined them in seconds. His fingers danced over the console and he tilted his head in confusion.
"It seems to be mechanical in origin...and somehow cloaked."
Jean-Luc frowned.
"Not naturally occurring then."
"No, Sir and what is more, I believe there is a message piggy-backed within the stream."
Immediately concerned, Jean-Luc said firmly,
"Can you decipher it?"
Data frowned.
"I am attempting to do so now, Captain."
Tense minutes ticked by until Data faced his Captain, saying,
"It has deteriorated somewhat, but it is from Commander Riker. He is in need of medical assistance, Captain. He is requesting contact with Doctor Crusher."
His stomach souring, Jean-Luc asked tersely,
"Can we reply in the same manner?"
Data nodded.
"Yes, Captain."
With a tap to his comm. badge, Jean-Luc summoned Beverly to the Bridge. He then said to Data,
"Tell him she's on her way."
In the interceptor, Will received the message and lifted his head, saying softly,
"Thank you."

 

Beverly felt the tension the moment she set foot on the Bridge. Moving quickly to the cluster of officers surrounding the Tactical console, she smiled her thanks as Jean-Luc said tersely,
"Make way!"
He quickly briefed her then stood back, allowing Beverly to talk to Data.
"Ask him what is wrong."
The answer came rapidly, making Beverly gasp.
Jean-Luc grimaced, telling Data to ask Will if he needed them to come to him.
In the interceptor, Will closed his eyes, wishing he could say yes, but knowing the other Jem'Hadar would probably have the technology to see the Enterprise coming, even though she was cloaked. He opened his eyes and stiffened his spine.
"No, Enterprise, stay where you are. I just need medical advice."
Beverly pinched the bridge of her nose and got Data to send,
"Will, whatever you do, DO NOT remove the dart. If it's barbed as you say, it will cause more damage on the way out than it did going in. You say you are coughing up blood. Has your breathing been affected?"
The transmission came through.
"Yes, I am very short of breath."
"I am going to have to talk you through a pneumothorax. Is there a substantial med kit aboard?"
There was a tense wait as Will searched.
"I've found one, but I don't recognise the instruments or the drugs."
Beverly grunted.
"It wouldn't be for the Jem'Hadar. Probably it's for a Weyoun...or the Ferengi. Do you trust them enough to ask?"
Will looked at his captives, noting their malevolent glares.
"No."
Taking a deep breath, Beverly hands gripped the timber railing.
"Okay. Will, without an anaesthetic, this is going to hurt."
The big man tried to sound blasé
"I figured as much."
The Doctor tried to put aside her feelings for Will.
"You're going to need a scalpel, a length of tubing, about one centimetre in diameter and a bottle with a lid...capacity approximately one litre."
"Hold on, while I look."
In the oppressive silence, Jean-Luc said softly,
"Do you think he can do it?"
Beverly sighed and rubbed her forehead.
"I think so...the consequences if he doesn't are dire. The lung is filling with blood and expanding. Not only will the reduced chest cavity compromise his remaining lung, it will put pressure on his heart. He has to drain the lung."
Jean-Luc's eyes darkened.
"What about blood loss?"
Beverly shrugged in exasperation.
"I can't do anything about that, I don't know what he has available for fluid replacement."
"Would water do?"
With a shake of her head, Beverly's face showed her frustration.
"No. If he were dehydrated, yes it would do, but replacing blood is something else entirely."
Will's next transmission came through.
"I have all I need."
Beverly went into Doctor mode.
"Right. Make a hole just big enough for the tube in the lid of the bottle and force the tubing through...about two and a half centimetres."
"Done."
"Now this is the difficult part. Using your fingers, find the gap between your third and fourth lower ribs and cut a small hole, through the skin and the intercostal muscle and into the lung. And Will...you have to keep a steady hand."
Over the link, they hear him take as deep a breath as he could.
"Doing it now."
Having lifted his tunic and T shirt up and out of the way and concentrating on keeping his hand from shaking, Will twisted awkwardly in his seat and found the site Beverly had told him about. He briefly closed his eyes and placed the blade against his skin before pressing down firmly. The blade was very sharp and he didn't feel the initial cut, but as he pressed down, he gasped, blinking away tears as the blade bit into his muscles. He wanted to stop, but gathered his courage to go on, pressing the blade down until he got through the muscle and punctured his lung. Biting his lip to stifle a cry of agony, he withdrew the blade and waited a few moments before contacting the Enterprise.
Tense minutes followed before they received a gasping voice.
"I've done it...there's a lot of blood."
Quickly Beverly said
"Push the free end of the tube into the wound."
In the next transmission, they heard Will groan.
"The bottle is filling with blood."
Beverly gripped the railing tighter.
"Can you breathe easier?"
"Yes."
Beverly lowered her head and took a relieving breath. Jean-Luc put a gentle hand on her shoulder. She smiled wanly at him and said,
"The bleeding should slow now, Will, but you may need to empty the bottle. Keep an eye on it."
His voice sounded tired and strained.
"Will do. Thanks, Beverly. Riker out."

 

On the interceptor a light began to flash on the cockpit console. Will gathered up his paraphernalia and slowly moved to see what it meant. It was a message from the other Jem'Hadar. Toggling the switch, Will heard the transmission.
"I am detecting cloaked communications from your ship. Is everything all right?"
Unholstering his phaser, Will went to the Weyoun and released the force field. With the phaser pressed against the being's head, Will said roughly,
"Tell him you've been in covert contact with Grul's ship and that everything's just fine."
Silently, the Weyoun went with Will to the cockpit and did exactly as he was told. Moments later he was back in his seat, force field in place.
Will went to his seat, reclined it and lay down, putting the bottle on the floor beside him. Exhausted, he closed his eyes and tried to ignore his pain.

 

On the Enterprise, Jean-Luc allowed a few moments of silence before he said quietly,
"Do you think he'll be all right?"
Beverly shrugged in frustration.
"I don't know. It depends on how much blood he's already lost. The bleeding should ease now, but it won't stop all together. Every time he takes a breath it will bleed."
She looked beseechingly at Jean-Luc.
"Can't we move both ships to intercept him?"
The Captain shook his head.
"No, we're almost certain the Jem'Hadar ship would detect our movement as soon as we neared Will's vessel."
Beverly slammed her clenched fist against the rail, muttering darkly,
"Dammit!"
Jean-Luc sympathised, but there was little he could do. He knew Will had two prisoners on his hands, he could only guess at how he was coping. Wishing to console his lover, Jean-Luc placed both his hands on her shoulders and gently squeezed.
"We'll keep in contact as much as we dare, as will Will. We'll just have to hope for the best."
Beverly nodded, then turned half way before hesitating. Jean-Luc said softly,
"Stay on the Bridge, Doctor. Your assistance may well be required again."
Nodding morosely, Beverly walked down to the Command Well and sat in Deanna's seat.

 

Yvette put her book down and frowned. Her link with Jean-Luc had alerted her to his growing sense of worry. She was aware of what was wrong, having heard both Jean-Luc's and Beverly's thoughts, but she wanted to do something to help. Closing her eyes, she concentrated on Jean-Luc and sent subliminally,
"Will is a strong man, Jean-Luc. You have to believe he will return to you."
On the Bridge, the Captain stiffened, his eyes growing distant.
"Yvette, I need to devote all of my energies to my command. Please don't interfere."
Irritation showed in Yvette's next words.
"I'm not interfering, Jean-Luc...I want to help."
His own patience wearing thin, Jean-Luc said tersely,
"Fine, but I would prefer it if you stayed out of my mind when I'm on duty."
With a sigh, Yvette informed him,
"I can't stay out of your mind, Jean-Luc, our link is permanent, but I can tell you how you might be able to help Will."
That caught Jean-Luc's attention. He looked up to see Beverly staring at him. He offered a rueful smile and muttered...
"Yvette."
Giving an understanding nod, Beverly was about to direct her attention to the forward viewscreen when Jean-Luc sat beside her and gently gripped her elbow.
"I think you're going to want to hear this."
He then closed his eyes.
"Yvette?"
"I am here, Jean-Luc."
"Whatever you tell me, would you let Beverly hear too?"
"Yes."
The Doctor gave Jean-Luc a look of confusion when he opened his eyes, making him smile.
"Yvette thinks she may know a way to help Will."
Suddenly becoming serious, Beverly gave a curt nod.
"By all means."
Closing his eyes again, Jean-Luc said gently,
"Go ahead, Yvette."
Having spent so much time learning how normal life should be, Yvette had found her memories of her past increasingly distressing, so she had to make a concerted effort to stay calm as she said,
"I often bled badly after my master or his men had finished with me. There is a substance in the interceptor's med kit that coagulates blood escaping from wounds."
Ever cautious and curious, Jean-Luc asked,
"Why would it be in an interceptor's med kit?"
"Because my master used to take me in interceptors to Grul's ship sometimes for Grul to...play...with me. My master always complained about me bleeding on the way back, so he habitually kept the substance in all the interceptor's med kits."
Struggling to keep his anger at bay, Jean-Luc asked quietly,
"Do you know what it is called?"
"No, but it is bright blue and is in a tube with a nozzle attached."
Beverly stared down at the floor as she thought,
"Do you know if it is effective on Humans?"
"I'm not absolutely sure, as we had few Human crew members, but I remember, a long time ago, a young man I think was Human was badly wounded. Normally he would have been left to die, but he was a favourite of the second, so my master allowed the second to treat him. He used the blue gel and the young man recovered."
Jean-Luc opened his eyes and looked at Beverly.
"What do you think?"
He could see her struggling between her need to help Will and the danger of administering an unknown substance. Eventually her desperate need to help Will overrode her caution. She gave a curt nod.
"Let's do it."
Jean-Luc turned and looked up at the officer at tactical.
"Re-establish the covert link with the interceptor."
"Aye, Sir."
He then stared into nothingness.
"Thank you, Yvette, you may well have saved Will's life."
"I just wanted to help."
"And you did. Yvette, I apologise for asking you to keep out of my mind."
There was gentle humour in her voice as it appeared in his thoughts.
"I've already told you, Jean-Luc, I cannot stay out of your mind...even if I wanted to. I am bonded with you on a level I don't think you understand."
Her words worried him, but before Jean-Luc could respond, Tactical reported,
"Link established, Captain."
Jean-Luc deferred to Beverly.
"It's your call."
Beverly stood and began to pace.
"Will?"
There were a few moments before the transmission was received.
"Yes?"
"I want you to look in your med kit for a tube of bright blue gel. It should have a nozzle attached to it."
Again they had to wait, the tension palpable.
"I see it."
Beverly had to swallow twice to wet her dry mouth.
"I want you to pull the tube out of your chest, push the nozzle in and squeeze in some of the gel."
They clearly heard the reluctance in his voice as he said,
"Are you sure?"
Beverly pinched the bridge of her nose.
"To be absolutely honest, no, but I have strong evidence that the gel is a coagulant that should work."
"Okay, doing it now."
Will looked down at the tube protruding from his chest, noting the surrounding skin was red. Giving himself no time to think about it, he gripped the tube and pulled. He couldn't stifle the groan of agony as the tube slipped out. Again, before he lost his resolve, he pushed the nozzle into the hole and squeezed the tube. It burned so badly he cried out, stiffening in his chair. With his head thrown back and his mouth wide open, he endured the unendurable.
Slowly, slowly the agony abated. He blinked away his tears and pulled out the nozzle. No blood appeared. Still breathless with the after effects of his pain, he contacted the Enterprise.
"Beverly?"
"Yes?"
"I think it worked. I've pulled the nozzle out and there's no blood."
A very relieved Beverly punched the air.
"Well done, Will. How does the wound look?"
Will looked down and frowned.
"The skin around the wound is red."
Beverly's celebration stopped immediately.
"Is it hot to touch?"
Will laid his hand over the site and grunted.
"Yeah."
Running her fingers through her hair, Beverly uttered a particularly vulgar Klingon curse.
"It sounds like it's infected, Will. Hold on a minute."
Beverly looked into Jean-Luc's eyes.
"I need you to talk to Yvette."
He nodded and closed his eyes.
"Yvette?"
"Yes?"
"Do you know of anything that can treat infections?"
"No, Jean-Luc, I don't get infections and crew members that did get bad ones, usually died."
With a sigh, Jean-Luc lifted his head.
"All right, thank you."
Beverly fisted her hands.
"Will, are you still there?"
Tense moments passed before they deciphered,
"Yes."
"I want you to watch it very carefully. If red streaks appear, contact me straight away."
"Will do, but I'd better cut this transmission, we're being monitored by the Jem'Hadar on the Weyoun's ship."
"Understood, Enterprise out."
On the interceptor, Will looked down at the med kit and contemplated the scalpel. Having thought it over, he painfully leaned over and picked it up before cutting the material around the dart. He put the scalpel back, then carefully ripped the fabric some more, until he could clearly see where the dart had entered his chest. He uttered a rough curse as he saw the insidious redness of infection surrounding the wound.
"Oh, fuck."
He briefly considered contacting the Enterprise, but realised they couldn't help him. He lay back on his seat and stared up at the ceiling, muttering,
"You're on your own, Willie boy. Make the best of it."
From beside him, Grul chuckled.
"You realise you're going to die, human."
Will turned his head and grinned coldly.
"If I do, so do you."
Grul quickly lost his sense of glee and glared.
"The Jem'Hadar tip their darts in poison. That way, if their target survives the initial injury, the poison slowly kills them."
Will glared back.
"Well I'll just have to hold on until we get to the Enterprise, won't I. And you will just have to stay behind the forcefield."
Grul's face showed his outrage.
"But what if I need to relieve myself?"
Will gave a one sided shrug.
"Wet yourself, I don't care. I'm not lowering the forcefield."
Grul shook his head, his face changing from anger to pleading.
"I'm not talking about wetting myself human! I need to pass solid waste."
Shaking his head, Will was implacable.
"I don't care."
The Ferengi spat at the forcefield, making it sizzle.
"You are INhuman!"
Will smiled coldly.
"Suit yourself, but I always thought you Ferengi were full of shit."
From behind Will the Weyoun said quietly,
"Shut up, Grul, you're only giving him ammunition with which to humiliate you."
Grul sneered.
"And you don't think soiling your pants is humiliating?"
The Weyoun shrugged.
"It is not something that affects me."
Grul sneered.
"Then it is you who should shut up! What would you know about humiliation? You're a fucking clone!"
Before the Weyoun could respond, Will snarled,
"Both of you shut up! If I hear one more word, I'll stun you both!"
The effort of raising his voice had caused his pain to spike, so Will laid back and tried to regulate his breathing. He closed his eyes and thought of Deanna.
"I'm coming, my love, be there for me."

 

 

AS both Jean-Luc and Beverly were going to spend the night on the Bridge, the Captain contacted Yvette.
"Yvette?"
"Yes, Jean-Luc."
"Beverly and I have to stay on the Bridge all night. Do you want me to get Lieutenant Wing to stay with you?"
He heard gentle amusement in her voice.
"No, Jean-Luc, I will be fine. Please try to get some sleep."
He smiled.
"I will. Goodnight, Yvette, sleep well."
"I will try, Jean-Luc, but I will miss you."
"And I you."
Having seen Jean-Luc's blank stare, Beverly knew he was talking to Yvette. When his eyes cleared she smiled and said quietly,
"Everything all right?"
He nodded, a half smile evident.
"Yes. She's spending the night alone. She said she's going to miss me."
In an even softer voice, Beverly leaned closer and said,
"And I think you are going to miss her too."
His rueful smile was his only response.

 

Late in the night found Jean-Luc and Beverly spooned on the sofa in the Ready Room, fast asleep. The call from the Bridge woke them both.
"Captain Picard, please report to the Bridge."
As he sat up, his sleep affected voice was rough.
"On my way."
Beverly rose too and followed her lover onto the Bridge. A transmission was coming from the interceptor. It was quickly deciphered.
"Beverly, are you there?"
She answered immediately.
"Yes, Will, I'm here."
Will's shortness of breath was obvious.
"Beverly, apparently the dart was tipped in poison. Both wounds are infected. I'm really hot and I'm finding it harder and harder to breathe."
Jean-Luc barked at tactical,
"ETA to rendezvous?"
"Ten point two hours, Captain."
Beverly was thinking hard.
"Will, without knowing what you've been exposed to, I can't offer any medical solutions other than to suggest you get some oxygen. Is there a cylinder and mask in the med kit?"
There was an agonising wait as Will looked. His reply made Beverly quietly curse.
"No."
Jean-Luc gripped her arm, gaining her attention.
"Evac suits?"
Snapping her fingers and sending her lover a smile of thanks, Beverly sent Will,
"How about evac suits? They have oxygen supplies."
Will grimaced, knowing he was going to have to get up to search. He sent,
"Wait while I look."
In the ensuing silence, Jean-Luc said softly,
"He sounds really bad."
Beverly nodded, her concern plain on her face.
"He's got two punctures of a lung and an unknown poison running rampant through his body. Dammit, Jean-Luc...he may not have ten hours!"
The Captain gently squeezed her shoulder, sending her his love and strength.
"We can only wait, Beverly. Wait and hope."
On the interceptor, Will was making slow progress. He had found three evac suits and was trying to free them from their locker when he was overcome with the urge to urinate. He made his way aft to the head, but as he began to relieve himself, agony assailed his kidneys and his urine turned red as blood left his body. By the time his bladder was empty he was covered in sweat and panting rapidly. He leaned against the wall, trying to stay conscious.
It was Beverly's near frantic call that got him going again. He made it back to the locker and somehow dragged the suits clear and back to his seat. He had to wait until he'd caught his breath before he could answer Beverly's call.
"I'm back, Beverly."
He clearly heard the relief in her voice.
"Thank goodness! How are you? Did you find any evac suits?"
He smiled despite his pain.
"I found three, but I think I have a bigger problem."
"And that is?"
"I'm passing blood."
Beverly winced, her brow furrowing.
"From where?"
"My bladder and there was excruciating pain from my kidneys as I peed."
Beverly fisted her hands and lowered her head.
"Will, it seems the poison is attacking your other organs. Try to keep still and use the oxygen in the suits."
"Will do, but I'm going to try to get more speed out of this crate first."
Knowing he was right didn't stop Beverly from protesting.
"No! Stay lying down."
Will's innate humour seeped through his pain.
"I will, Doctor, but not until I push this ship to the limit. You know how I like to speed."
Exasperated, Beverly acquiesced grudgingly.
"Oh very well! But you do as I say."
"I will, I promise. Riker out."
Having rallied his waning strength, Will got up and made his way to the cockpit. After studying the controls for as while, he inputted some instructions and was immensely gratified when the little ship accelerated. The immediate call from the other Jem'Hadar was very unwelcome.

"Master, you have increased speed to maximum. Is everything all right?"
Rather than free the Weyoun and risk being overpowered in his weakened state, Will chose to send a text message.
"All is well. Rendezvous brought forward. Do not contact me again. Weyoun out."
By the time he made it back to his seat, Will was exhausted. He had to take almost fifteen minutes to recover before he could begin to use the oxygen from the first suit. He could only hope he was buying enough time.

 

 

Becoming agitated, Beverly turned for the lift, saying,
"I'll be in Sick Bay."
Jean-Luc made her slow as he asked,
"Why?"
She turned back to him, her face a study of concentration.
"I want to check the data banks for Jem'Hadar poisons. This won't be the first time they've used one."
Jean-Luc sighed.
"Do you think they use many?"
With a shrug, Beverly resumed her move to the lift.
"I don't know, but I intend to find out."
Jean-Luc watched in silence as Beverly entered the lift and the doors closed. The officer at Tactical said quietly,
"Captain?"
Jean-Luc turned his head, saying quietly,
"Yes?"
"We have an updated ETA, Sir."
"Go ahead."
"Five point three hours, Sir."
Jean-Luc gave a curt nod and tapped his comm. badge.
"Picard to Crusher."
"Crusher here."
"We have a revised ETA, Doctor. Five point three hours."
He could hear the relief in Beverly's voice as she said,
"Thank the Gods."
Then she sobered.
"Captain, what's the average length of time an evac oxygen tank lasts?"
"One and a half hours."
Beverly sighed deeply.
"Well let's hope the alien ones give a little more, otherwise Will's not going to make it in time."
"Understood, Doctor. Picard out."
The Captain went to his seat and eased himself down, his thoughts on his First Officer...and friend.

 

Two hours after beginning to use the oxygen in the suit, it finally expired. Suddenly gasping for breath, Will groped for the next suit and activated the hood mechanism, closing his eyes in heartfelt relief as the life-giving oxygen began to flow. Despite his pain, he laid back and tried to relax, but the abrupt pain in his lower belly made him aware that he was about to lose control of his bowels. In a wet, slippery rush he soiled himself. He looked down to see his black trousers stained with faeces and blood. Grul laughed cruelly, making Will close his eyes and wish he could get up and pulverise the obnoxious little being.
"Not so high and mighty now Commander?"
Will ignored the jibe, but when Grul laughed again, Will fumbled for and found his phaser. He made the effort to point it at the Ferengi and he was forced into a sullen silence.
Lowering the weapon, Will once again tried to relax, but realised his heart was racing. With Beverly's warning about the poison attacking his body's organs, Will gritted his teeth and made a determined effort to last, last long enough to see the Enterprise again. See his lover, his family...his home.

 

With an irritated flick of her head, Beverly shifted the lock of hair that had insinuated itself onto her face. Since the Dominion war, the data banks had swelled with information about the Dominion. The Founders, the Weyouns and the Jem'Hadar were all well represented. Focusing on the Jem'Hadar, Beverly said to the computer,
"Access all known information about known Jem'Hadar poisons."
"Accessing."
"The Jem'Hadar use three known poisons, all lethal. Two are neurotoxins and death is almost instantaneous due to cardio-pulmonary failure, the third is a slow acting substance of unknown origin. It attacks the victim's organs until a complete cellular failure occurs."
Beverly paled, but kept at her task.
"Is there a cure for the third poison?"
"Yes. The patient must be totally transfused and the toxin removed from the blood. Intensive regeneration therapy is required to repair damage to affected organs. However, if said patient isn't treated before cellular cohesion is lost, treatment is not possible."
Flicking her head again, then losing patience with her hair and savagely pulling it back off her shoulders, Beverly took a deep breath and asked,
"How long from administration of the poison until irretrievable cellular cohesion?"
"Approximately seven hours."
Chewing on her lower lip, Beverly said softly to herself,
"How long was it until you told me, Will?"
She then tapped her comm. badge.
Crusher to Picard."
She could hear the dread in his voice when he responded.
"Picard here, Doctor, go ahead."
"Guarded good news, Captain. We might have a treatment for Will, but it's time dependent."
"How much time?"
Taking a deep breath, Beverly delivered the news.
"It depends on when he was first exposed. As far as the computer is concerned, we have seven hours before he becomes untreatable, but I'm not certain how much time passed before he told us he'd been wounded."
There was a momentary silence before Jean-Luc asked,
"And if the seven hours is exceeded?"
Beverly tried to keep her voice steady, but it shook anyway.
"He dies."
Frustration coloured Jean-Luc's voice.
"Merde."
Beverly heard Jean-Luc's regathering of his composure.
"Is the treatment difficult?"
She smiled.
"No, not really. It's pretty straightforward. We just have to get him here in time. As it turns out, he was lucky in a way."
"How so?"
"Of the three poisons we know about, the first two are quickly lethal. The one Will has, and I can only hope I'm right, is slow acting. Lethal in its own right, but slow."
Jean-Luc's voice held a sardonic note.
"Not like the Jem'Hadar to be so inefficient."
With a shrug, Beverly sighed.
"Maybe this individual was particularly cruel. A slow agonising death in payment for killing a Jem'Hadar. Seems logical."
She could see Jean-Luc shaking his head in her mind's eye.
"Not if there's a cure. They're utterly ruthless, Beverly. An enemy that can live to fight again is an anathema to them. No, this doesn't make any sense with what we know of the Jem'Hadar."
The Doctor shrugged again.
"Well I'm not concerned with all that. All I know is that if Will makes it here in time, I can save him."
"If it's the right poison."
"Yes."
"Well let's hope it is. Picard out."
Now filled with a nagging doubt, Beverly looked at the computer and said,
"Show me a molecular representation of the poison."
She studied the revolving schematic before suddenly muttering,
"Fuck!"
She barked at the computer,
"Show me the optic nerve pathway of a human."
Again she cursed, then said,
"Computer, what would the effect of the poison be on the eyes of a human?"
"It would produce total lack of sight."
"Why didn't you tell me that in my last enquiry?"
"You did not specify after effects, only whether or not the patient could be treated. A patient treated successfully would live."
Beverly fisted her hands and contemplated hurling the monitor across the room. Instead she controlled her temper and asked,
"Can the blindness be treated?"
"Yes. New optic nerves must be sourced."
"Cloned?"
"That would be sufficient."
Crossing her fingers, Beverly asked softly,
"Are there any other after effects I should know about."
"No."
"Do we have any cells of Commander William Riker's eyes on file?"
"Yes."
Standing so quickly her seat scooted across the room, Beverly almost ran into the main body of Sick Bay.
"Alyssa!"
Beverly's head nurse, Lieutenant Alyssa Ogawa came at the run, concern on her Asian face.
"Yes, Doctor, what is it?"
Beverly placed her hands on Alyssa's shoulders and looked into her eyes.
"We have work to do!"

 

Growing progressively weaker, Will could no longer muster the energy required to menace Grul with his phaser. Blood was trickling from his nose and ears and he could feel it slowly leaking from his anus and penis. He had to endure Grul's taunts silently.
"You know you're going to die a slow, horrible death, human?"
When Will refused to react, Grul's eyes narrowed.
"If you let me out, I will take us back to my ship..."
The Weyoun said dryly,
"My ship."
Grul ignored him.
"...where I can order your treatment. That dart, though lethal, wasn't meant to kill. All Jem'Hadar have them, they're meant to remind the soldiers what happens if they falter in their duty. There is a treatment, human...provided there's time enough to administer it."
Will spat some blood on the floor and turned his head to study the Ferengi. Summoning his waning strength, he muttered,
"I would rather die than do anything you say, Grul...and keep in mind, if I die, so do you."
The Weyoun offered a soft chuckle.
"He's right Grul. This ship will continue on course whether he's dead or alive and we are trapped. You will die of thirst. I will lose my mental capacities and become insane. Even if this ship is eventually found, I will be irretrievably mad. I suggest you keep quiet and allow our human captor to contemplate his death."
Grul glared at the Weyoun and shook his head.
"If you think I'm just going to sit here in silence while this human kills me you are already mad! I am Grul! I will NOT be treated like this!"
The Weyoun shrugged.
"I don't care who you are and I don't think it matters. We are at his mercy and he doesn't seem disposed to help us...and to be frank, I can't blame him. Think about it, Grul. Think about what we have done to his people over the months of our joint venture. Your mercenaries have been merciless. If you were in his shoes, would you show compassion?"
Grul sneered.
"The Jem'Hadar aren't exactly known for their mercy, Weyoun. You have no right to criticise my methods. You were always happy enough with the latinum."
With a shrug, the Weyoun inspected his finger nails.
"Latinum has its uses in this quadrant and let's face it, you made a fortune selling the technology you stole."
Grul glanced at Will and barked,
"Shut up! He doesn't have to know everything!"
The Weyoun shrugged.
"I doubt he'll live to tell, Grul."
That made Grul grin evilly.
"I hope that's true, Weyoun."
"Even if it means our deaths?"
Grul nodded slowly.
"Yes! If I am to die an ignominious death, then let it be at the cost of the person who caused it! And may he suffer long and hard!"
Both prisoners lapsed into a sullen silence. Will closed his eyes and thought of the satisfaction he'd gain if he survived.
"Oh you bastards! How I'd love to see your faces."

 

Jean-Luc was a very patient man and his Captaincy had only reinforced that trait, but after sitting in the Command chair for hours, he finally chose to retire to his Ready Room to see if he could doze on the sofa. He was moderately successful, but his fitful sleep was troubled by unpleasant dreams. One dream in particular woke him in a panic and it took a few seconds for him to realise where he was.
He wiped the sweat from his brow and sat up, leaning forward to cradle his head in his hands. He sighed, muttering softly,
"Come on, Number One, come home in one piece."
He knew Will Riker had become like a son to him...not that he'd admit it, but the thought of losing him made the Captain distraught. That, added to the fact it was his order that sent Will on this mission caused Jean-Luc much anguish. He remembered Will's amiable face, his cheeky grin and his laughing blue eyes. He remembered his unstinting loyalty, not only to Jean-Luc himself, but to the ship. Something had to be done.
Striding purposefully out onto the Bridge, Jean-Luc went to Data and said,
"Mr. Data, I want a shuttle launched."
The android turned in his seat and gave his Captain a confused look.
"But, Captain, launching a shuttle while cloaked with make the craft look as if it has appeared from nowhere."
Jean-Luc's already stoic face hardened.
"I'm aware of that, Data, but we must do something to help Commander Riker. Prepare to launch a shuttle...and Mr. Data, I'll pilot it myself."
That brought Data to his feet.
"Captain, I must remind you, as Second officer, it is my duty to see you are protected at all times. It is my job to pilot the shuttle, Sir."
Jean-Luc shook his head and laid a hand on Data's shoulder.
"Not this time, my friend. Consider it Captain's prerogative."
"But, Sir..."
With a stern look, Jean-Luc said firmly,
"You have your orders, Mr. Data."
Data subsided, albeit with deep reservations.
"As you wish, Captain."
As he strode to the aft turbolift, Jean-Luc said,
"Have the shuttle prepared, I'm going to stop by Sick Bay on my way to the Shuttle Bay."

 

Beverly was in the cloning lab when Jean-Luc found her. He stood in the doorway for a few moments, imprinting her image in his mind. She became aware of his presence and turned, immediately seeing the resolute determination on his face. She stood motionless, the space between them crackling with unsaid emotion.
"What are you about to do?"
He remained in the doorway, afraid if he went to her he would lose his resolve.
"I'm taking a shuttle to get Will."
Beverly's soft gasp was loud in the otherwise silent room. She took one step towards her lover but was halted by his upturned hand.
"No, my love, stay where you are. I'm leaving now and there's but one thing I need you to know."
She nodded silently.
"I love you with all my heart and soul. I am incomplete without you and you have given me more joy and contentment than I have ever known. I will love you for all eternity."
Tears welled in Beverly's eyes and her voice broke as she said,
"I feel the same way. Come back to me, Jean-Luc."
He nodded and summoned a lopsided smile.
"That is my intention."
Beverly lifted her hand and said softly,
"Adieu. J'Taime."
He had to struggle to keep his voice even.
"J'Taime, mon coeur."
Beverly blinked and he was gone.

 

The Jem'Hadar soldier on the Weyoun's ship spotted the shuttle the instant it was free of the cloak. He immediately went to the communications console, but hesitated. Having been told the communications between the Weyoun and the Ferengi were covert, he couldn't be certain the shuttle wasn't part of their plan, so he did something out of the ordinary. He did nothing, accepting it must be part of the Weyoun's business and none of his. That inaction saved the Enterprise, Jean-Luc and Will.
Having set up a link, using the Enterprise's communications array, Jean-Luc contacted Will's ship.
"Picard to Riker."
Will sluggishly opened his eyes and stared blearily to the cockpit, knowing he was incapable of movement. He was on his last evac oxygen cylinder and knew he had lost a significant amount of blood. Jean-Luc repeated his call.
"Picard to Riker."
Guessing correctly that Will was too ill to get to the communications console, Jean-Luc sent,
"I'm coming Will, hang on."
The shuttle was only capable of warp five and Jean-Luc pushed it to its limits. His actions brought the two ships within contact in under two hours. As the gentle noise of the transporter effect was heard, the Weyoun said quietly,
"Well, Grul, it seems the Commander has won."
The little Ferengi sneered,
"He hasn't much time left. We will survive, the Federation doesn't condone capital punishment, but he may still die."
Jean-Luc rematerialised on the interceptor and immediately went to the cockpit, brought the ship to a halt and then went to Will.
"Come on, Number One, we're going home."
Typically, it was Grul who shouted,
"What about me!"
Without looking at the prisoners, Jean-Luc said matter-of-factly,
"We'll be back for you. I'm sure you won't mind waiting."
Grul shouted,
"How dare you! Release me this instant!"
Jean-Luc, of course, ignored him, but he heard the Weyoun say quietly,
"Shut up, Grul. He will be back, they can't afford to let us slip through their hands after going to such lengths to capture us."
Jean-Luc, with immense gentleness, cradled Will in his arms as he tapped his comm. badge.
"Computer, two to beam back to the shuttle."
"Energising."
Once on board, Jean-Luc contacted the Enterprise.
"Picard to Crusher."
"Crusher here."
Wasting no time, Jean-Luc reported,
"Beverly, I have Will. He's in a bad way...he's bleeding from every orifice."
"Is he still on oxygen?"
"Yes."
"Then use the coagulant in the on-board med kit then get him to me ASAP!"
As Jean-Luc was injecting Will he suddenly realised the limitations of the shuttle. With a top speed of only warp five, he knew they had to go back to the interceptor. He quickly programmed the shuttle to return to the Enterprise under auto pilot, then beamed both he and Will back to the other ship. Grul all but crowed.
"I knew it! Release me!"
Having gently laid the semi-conscious Will on the reclining seat, Jean-Luc picked up the phaser from the deck and pointed it at the quarrelsome Ferengi.
"One more word from you and I will stun you on a heavy setting."
Shocked, Grul held up his hands and sat down, finally silent. Jean-Luc went to the cockpit and, after familiarising himself with the controls, sent the interceptor racing towards the Enterprise at warp eight.
One thing Geordi always prided himself on, was the ability to think laterally. With a sudden burst of inspiration, he raced for the lift and made his way to the Bridge, meaning to speak with his Captain. He was shocked to find him gone and Data in command.
"Hello, Geordi, what can I do for you?"
"Where's Captain Picard?"
Data sighed.
"He is not at present on the ship. He took a shuttle to intercept Commander Riker's ship."
Geordi snapped his fingers.
"That's exactly why I'm here, Data. I have an idea I think will work."
Data's eyebrows rose.
"By all means, tell me."
"We lock on a tractor beam to the Plunderer, extend the cloak to envelop both ships, then move towards the Commander's ship at full impulse."
Data cocked his head, thinking about the idea.
"Is it not possible to move at warp?"
Geordi shook his head.
"No, the tractor beam would never hold, in fact I'm going to have to take power from even more systems to maintain full impulse. Theoretically it can't be done, but I think I can do it."
Data's golden eyes dilated.
"Geordi, can we take power from the Plunderer?"
The dark Engineer's face showed his excitement.
"My God, Data, you're right! We can use the Plunderer's engines too! Permission to leave the Bridge? I have work to do!"
As he was all ready moving to the lift, Data's,
"Permission granted." Was redundant.

 

With power augmented from the Plunderer's engines and the cloak extended to envelop both ships, Data quietly said to the officer at Tactical,
"Time to intercept, Lieutenant?"
"Fifty-three minutes, Commander."
Tapping his comm. badge, Data called Sick Bay.
"Data to Doctor Crusher."
A harried Beverly answered.
"Crusher here."
"Doctor, we have found a way to decrease intercept time. Please be prepared to receive your patient in fifty-one minutes."
Joy permeated every pore of Beverly's being.
"Thank you, Data, I'll be ready. Crusher out."
It was a busy fifty –one minutes. Geordi, ever brilliant, had found a way of taking power from the Plunderer, thereby restoring those systems sacrificed to maintain the cloak. The two ships moved a sub-light speed as the interceptor raced towards them. Data opened a channel to his Captain.
"Data to Picard."
It took Jean-Luc a few minutes to figure out how to answer covertly, but eventually he was successful.
"Picard here, go ahead."
"Captain, we are moving towards you at full impulse. ETA, twenty-seven minutes."
Alarm made Jean-Luc bark,
"Data! What about the cloak?"
"Do not worry, Captain. Geordi is using the Plunderer's engines to augment our tractor beam and we have managed to extend the cloak to surround both ships."
"And you are certain the other Jem'Hadar ship can't see you?"
Data hesitated before he answered.
"I am afraid I cannot give that any certainty, Captain, however, we show nothing on our long-range sensors."
An angry Captain ran his hand over his bald head.
"Well you'd better hope that stays as it is, Commander. Picard out."
Data sat for a few seconds trying to figure out how, what he thought was good news, had ended up in his Captain giving him a mild rebuke. Eventually he decided to store the memory for later dissection.

 

On the interceptor, Will had lapsed into full unconsciousness. Jean-Luc had taken the foresight to bring another oxygen cylinder and mask, but Will's breathing was shallow and sporadic. Jean-Luc wiped away the blood that gently trickled from Will's mouth and nose, noting it had slowed significantly since he had administered the coagulant. Slowed, but not stopped. He briefly considered calling Beverly, but they were so close now it was pointless. He just had to wait. The Weyoun's gentle voice interrupted his thoughts.
"If he dies, will you take retributive action?"
Said in such a respectful tone, Jean-Luc decided to answer.
"I am a Starfleet Captain. I took an oath to uphold all laws and precepts of Starfleet. I do not indulge, or condone revenge."
"I'm glad to hear it. We will cooperate in every way."
Grul all but yelled,
"You would give me up to save yourself?"
The Weyoun sighed.
"Grul, you fool, it is over. Once word gets back, the Founders will not try this again, it would be pointless. The Federation is not made up of fools. Do you honestly think we could get away with it again, knowing that they have one of our ships to take apart?"
"But...but..."
The Weyoun grinned.
"Yes, Grul, you will have to pay for what you have done. All I did was receive latinum to grease a few wheels and report to my masters. You recruited the worst mercenaries you could find, told them to murder without compunction, then sold all you took."
Grul stood and spat at the Weyoun, making the force field sizzle.
"I sold what I got...after... you had your pick!"
With a shrug, the Weyoun smiled.
"It was rarely anything we didn't already know about."
Grul looked perplexed.
"Then why bother?"
The Weyoun's smile widened into a grin.
"To maintain a foot hold in this quadrant."
Jean-Luc shook his head.
"You lost the war, but wanted to keep an eye on us?"
Shrugging, the Weyoun tilted his head.
"Would you do any less, given the circumstances?"
Anger welled in the Captain.
"I would not rape, torture, murder and pillage!"
The grin stayed.
"I didn't do that."
He pointed to Grul.
"He did."
Grul covered his huge ears and howled his outrage. Jean-Luc had to shout to be heard.
"Shut up, both of you! You will both be formally interrogated on the Enterprise. Until then, I don't want to hear another word!"
Both aliens looked at the Captain, the Weyoun with a small smile, Grul with a sneer, but they stayed silent. The proximity alert sounded, bringing Jean-Luc to the cockpit. Seeing they were approaching the Enterprise, he dropped out of warp and hailed his ship.
"Picard to Data."
"Data here, Captain."
"We will be docking in Bay two. Have a medical team standing by."
"Understood, Captain. Data out."


Having seen Will taken to Sick Bay and the prisoners in custody, Jean-Luc went to his quarters to shower and change his uniform as Will's blood had soiled both him and the fabric. Yvette said nothing until Jean-Luc emerged from the bathroom.
"Can you stay?"
He frowned, shaking his head.
"You know I can't."
"Will you be back tonight?"
That brought a sigh.
"I don't know...perhaps."
She smiled.
"Then I hope to see you later."
Jean-Luc smiled, but it was with caution.
"If I do make it back here, it will probably be quite late. Don't wait up for me, Yvette, go to bed at your usual time please."
Yvette's smile faded and she sighed, bowing her head.
"Very well, Jean-Luc."
The Captain left and was in Sick Bay within minutes. Beverly looked up and, by her guarded smile, Jean-Luc knew Will was going to be all right. He went to the bio bed, grimacing at the cannula protruding from the brachial artery in Will's left arm.
"How is he?"

With a sigh, Beverly's face showed her tiredness.
"Another half an hour and we'd have lost him."
Jean-Luc looked down at Will and shook his head.
"I felt so damned helpless."
Beverly smiled.
"You did everything you could, my love. He's going to be fine."
"No after effects?"
Beverly's face fell.
"He's going to be blind for a couple of days, but his prognosis is excellent."
Alarm showed on Jean-Luc's face.
"Blind?"
With a nod, Beverly directed Jean-Luc to the bio screen.
"See these molecules?"
The Captain nodded mutely.
"They attack the optic nerve, along with just about everything else in his body. The main treatment is to transfuse him, eliminating the toxin from his blood, then subject him to intensive regen therapy, but the optic nerves won't respond to either of those methods. The only way to treat the damage is to clone new nerves."
Gently rubbing his fingers over his lower lip, Jean-Luc mused,
"And you have his tissue of file?"
Beverly grinned.
"Yes! Do you remember when there was that accident in the shuttle and he was exposed to space for a few seconds and his eyes were damaged?"
Jean-Luc nodded silently.
"Well I had to clone new eyes for him, including the optic nerves. The nerves should be ready in two days, then I'll implant them. Give him another day or two and he should be fine."
They walked back to the unconscious patient and Jean-Luc gently touched Will's right hand, comforted by its warmth. His eyes lifted to gaze into Beverly's. He said softly,
"Will you come to my quarters tonight?"
She looked down at Will, then smiled.
"It'll be late, but yes, I'd like to."
He smiled and gave a nod.
"I'm glad."
He then tugged at his uniform top, once more adopting his Captain's persona.
"Well, I'll be on the Bridge. I have a lot to do."
As he turned to leave, Beverly said sotto voce,
"I'll be bringing a toy tonight."
His step faltered only slightly as he made his way to the doors.

What Jean-Luc had said was an understatement. His first order was to reverse course, taking both ships back to Federation space whilst still maintaining the cloak. In his absence, Deanna and her staff had been interrogating the Plunderer's crew, gaining some useful information once it had been made clear they were in a no-win situation. Jean-Luc's next task was to contact his superiors.
"Data, open a secure and encrypted channel to Command. I want to speak with Admiral Alynna Nechayev. I'll take it in the Ready Room."
"Aye, Sir."
There was a delay of twenty-five minutes, so Jean-Luc spent the time going over what they had learned about the Plunderer. He was engrossed when the call came from the Bridge.
"Data to Picard."
"Picard, go ahead."
"I have the Admiral for you, Captain. Re-routing it now."
"Thank you, Mr. Data."
Jean-Luc cleared the screen on his monitor and said quietly,
"Picard, Jean-Luc. Captain, USS Enterprise. Epsilon, Delta Daystar two eight. Enable."
The pixelated screen cleared to reveal the stern features of Admiral Nechayev.
"Captain Picard, why are you using a secure, encrypted channel?"
The tired man leaned forward, stubble showing on his face.
"Because, Admiral, I believe we are being monitored by a Jem'Hadar ship in this sector and we can only travel at full impulse. It's going to be some time before we are out of range."
Her face showed her understanding.
"I see. And your report?"
He sighed with tired satisfaction.
"I believe we have stopped the piracy. We have in custody a Ferengi named Grul and his master, a Weyoun."
Nechayev sat bolt upright, shock on her face.
"A Ferengi named Grul, you say?"
Perplexed by her reaction, Jean-Luc nodded.
"Yes, Sir."
Urgency crept into Nechayev's voice.
"Captain, a Ferengi named Grul was killed three days ago trying to smuggle bio mimetic gel from Star Base seven three zero. You may have a Founder on your hands."
Startled, Jean-Luc sat upright.
"A shape shifter?"
"Yes! Can your CMO do the required blood analysis to determine its origin?"
Holding up one hand, Jean-Luc said worriedly,
"Please hold, Admiral."
He tapped his comm. badge.
"Picard to Crusher."
"Crusher here, Captain."
"Beverly, can you do the blood analysis to detect a shape shifter?"
Confused, Beverly's voice was wary.
"Yes."
"Go to the detention cells with whatever equipment you need, I'll meet you there."
Facing the Admiral again, he saw her nod.
"I heard, Picard. Report as soon as you know. Nechayev out."
Despite his tiredness, Jean-Luc almost ran out of his office. Striding quickly to the aft turbo lift, he called out,
"You have the Bridge, Data, I'll be at the Brig."
The android didn't have time to acknowledge his Captain's words, the man was gone.

 

Beverly had a small apparatus in her hand when Jean-Luc strode through the doors. He surprised her by going to the weapons locker and taking out a phaser. He then motioned her to stand back and for the guard to stand by his side as he approached Grul's cell.
"Lower the force field, Ensign."
As Grul came to his feet, Jean-Luc shot him, the phaser set on heavy stun. The Ferengi crumpled to the floor, deeply unconscious.
Jean-Luc gestured to Beverly, saying with quiet urgency,
"Quickly, Doctor. Do your tests."
It was a simple matter of drawing some blood and putting the sample through a portable analyser. Jean-Luc knew by Beverly's stunned expression that they had a Founder aboard.
"Everybody out! Force field back on."
As they stood watching, the Founder regained consciousness and slowly stood. Jean-Luc's stony face told the being all it needed to know.
"I take it you have analysed my blood?"
The Captain nodded.
"Yes, we know you're a shape shifter."
Before their startled eyes, the being morphed into the more familiar shape of a Founder.
"In a way I'm glad. I detest Ferengis. Such avaricious, amoral beings."
Jean-Luc smiled, saying sarcastically,
"While you, of course, are benevolent and ethical."
The being shrugged.
"We are what we are. I make no apologies for that. We have existed long before your species evolved from the primordial soup of your world."
Stepping closer to the force field, Jean-Luc said softly,
"That is beside the point, don't you think? You are my prisoner and I intend to hand you over to my superiors. I'm sure they will be delighted."
Again the being shrugged.
"It matters not, Captain. I am but one of millions. I will not be missed."
"Perhaps not, but a Founder with a Weyoun is a bonus, isn't it."
That brought an angry glitter to the shape shifter's eyes.
"You are sly, Captain. Yes, you have an advantage...for now."
"Meaning?"
The Founder turned and sat on the narrow bunk.
"We shall see."
Jean-Luc tapped his comm. badge.
"Mr. Worf, report to detention cell five with a full security detail immediately."
"Aye, Captain, on my way."
Jean-Luc then turned to Beverly, pointing at her hypo.
"Put that in a secure holding place. Under no circumstances is anyone but you allowed access to it. Is that understood?"
She nodded vigorously.
"Yes, Captain."
The doors trundled open and Worf, accompanied by six burly security personnel, entered the room. Jean-Luc pointed at the Founder.
"I want guards posted inside and out. It is to be watched at all times and it is to have absolutely no contact with the Weyoun. Is that clear?"
Worf nodded curtly.
"Clear, Sir."
Jean-Luc turned to leave, but hesitated and turned back.
"And neither you nor your staff are to engage in any form of conversation with either the Founder or the Weyoun."
"Aye, Captain."
As he turned to leave, Jean-Luc said curtly,
"Doctor, you're with me."
Once out of the Brig, Jean-Luc tried to relax. He said quietly,
"I'm sorry, Beverly, but having a Founder and a Weyoun together on board complicates matters."
She smiled.
"I understand. Are we still on for tonight?"
Jean-Luc rubbed his hand over his whiskery cheek.
"Oh, I think so...once I've completed my report to Nechayev."
With a soft chuckle, Beverly said,
"Good luck."
Jean-Luc returned the chuckle with one of his own.
"I'll need it!"

 

It was oh one thirty when Beverly finally felt Will was stable enough to leave. She entered Jean-Luc's quarters quietly, hoping to keep from disturbing either Jean-Luc or Yvette, but on further inspection she found only Yvette in her bedroom, sound asleep.
She briefly considered contacting her lover, but thought better of it, knowing he must still be working and could probably do without the distraction. So she quickly showered and slipped into his bed naked, but not before she replicated a specific toy, one she had to override the safety protocols inherent in the system.
At two fifty an exhausted Jean-Luc entered his quarters and, after checking on Yvette, went to his bedroom, smiling at the sight of Beverly asleep in his bed. He stripped off his uniform, briefly considered donning shorts, then shrugged, getting into bed naked. Beverly stirred, half awake to say,
"Are you all right?"
He turned onto his side and spooned her, mumbling,
"Yes, just tired."
She sighed, gripping his hand.
"Then sleep, my love."
As his eyes closed he muttered,
"I have tomorrow morning off."
Beverly said nothing, merely smiling and snuggling backwards into his body.

Jean-Luc nearly always woke before the alarm, but on this morning the insistent voice of the computer compelled Jean-Luc to say grouchily,
"Off!"
Beverly chuckled and turned over, realising they had not moved during the night. His grumpy countenance quickly faded as Beverly ran her fingers down his face and kissed the tip of his nose. Huskily she said softly,
"I want to play."
That brought a lascivious smile.
"You always want to play."
Beverly tried to appear contrite, but failed miserably.
"Dammit, Jean-Luc, it's been days! Don't you want to have sex with me?"
Dead-pan and with his face completely unreadable, Jean-Luc said succinctly,
"No."
Shocked and not a little hurt, Beverly sat up, staring down at her lover saying incredulously,
"What?"
Adopting nonchalance, Jean-Luc rolled onto his back and put his hands behind his head.
"I said I don't want to have sex with you."
Confused and near panic, Beverly spluttered,
"But, Jean-Luc...you always want to..."
He sat up and took her hands in his, gazing deeply into her eyes.
"I don't want to have sex with you, Beverly. I want to make love to you."
Her face cleared and she smiled radiantly.
"Oh...that's different. Okay, but can I still use my toy? I made it specially."
He sighed and tried to hide his disappointment.
"Of course."
With her eyes dancing with carnal anticipation, Beverly gently pushed Jean-Luc down onto the bed. She pulled the covers off and bent down to kiss him with unbridled passion, making it patently clear she was already aroused. While she kissed him, she ran her fingernails over his penis, making him semi hard, but before he could harden any further she sat up and grinned wickedly.
"Hold that thought, lover."
Turning slightly, Beverly picked up an object from her nightstand. She held it up for Jean-Luc to see. He reached up and took it in his hand, frowning as he did so. Beverly said quietly,
"You know what it is."
He nodded saying softly,
"It's a cock ring...but what's this?"
He was gently rubbing his forefinger over the largish inverted tear shaped attachment at the top of the ring. As was the ring, it was made of metal and covered with one centimetre long steel spikes. Beverly's eyes shone with deep desire.
"That's for me."
Jean-Luc frowned, concern on his face.
"But, Beverly, shouldn't the spikes be made of some form of synthetic material?"
She shook her head.
"No, they bend too easily. I want metal."
Jean-Luc's concern deepened.
"But they will tear you."
With a shrug, Beverly took the ring back.
"Nothing that can't be easily fixed with a tissue regenerator."
Seeing his doubt, she relented and bent forward to kiss him again, whispering in his ear,
"Please, Jean-Luc, I need it!"
By this time he was flaccid again. Beverly took him in hand, gently squeezing and licking him until he was once again semi hard. She then slipped the ring onto his penis, pushing it down to the base of his shaft. She then made him groan by doing something he'd rarely ever found a woman could do. She took all of him into her mouth and down her throat. It had taken Beverly some time to learn to control her gag reflex to do this but the results were worth it. Jean-Luc stiffened quickly as his fingers tangled in her hair.
With the cock ring in place he grew and grew until his erection was huge and throbbing. Beverly quickly straddled him and guided him to her entrance. Jean-Luc opened his eyes and watched and she pushed down, impaling herself on him. He couldn't stop himself pushing up into her and when the spikes ground themselves against Beverly's clit she cried out, flinging her head back and gripping Jean-Luc's shoulders until her fingernails drew blood.
With her breasts exposed and tantalisingly close, Jean-Luc reached up and pinched her nipples, but not hard enough. Beverly gasped and looked down at her lover, her face almost angry.
"Harder! Hurt me!"
It went against everything he was, but he complied, helpless but to do anything she needed.
Six, seven, eight times Beverly lifted herself and plunged back down, each time crying out with desire and passion, but she quickly felt it wasn't enough. She laid herself over Jean-Luc's body and encouraged him to roll. Once under him she gasped,
"Fuck me, fuck me hard and fast!"
Unable to do anything but what she wanted, Jean-Luc closed his eyes and thrust as hard, fast and deep as he could. He felt something give way inside her, but he gritted his teeth and continued, trying to not think of the damage he was inflicting. Suddenly Beverly stiffened under him and he felt her beginning to contract. She raked his back with her nails as she came, screaming his name. With the cock ring constricting him, he was painfully unable to climax. Knowing this, when Beverly had regained her breath, she reached down and pressed the release button. Abruptly Jean-Luc felt his orgasm rushing at him. Helpless, he pounded in and out of Beverly, his coarse pubic hair on her lacerated clit causing Beverly to have another, less intense orgasm as Jean-Luc came hard. He cried out, tears coursing down his face. Mistaking his tears for those of passion, Beverly hugged him to her, saying breathlessly,
"I know, I know...it was so fucking fantastic!"
But his were tears of sorrow and regret.

 

 

In her bed, Yvette lay, panting and with tears streaming down the fur on her face. Beverly's first orgasm had been so overwhelming, Yvette had almost lost consciousness, but the pain she experienced was so distressing she had nearly gone into Jean-Luc's bedroom to beg them to stop. She had been woken by Beverly's pain/pleasure and had tried to block out the pain element in Beverly's passion, trying to concentrate on Jean-Luc, but he was troubled. That and the frustrated inability for him to come made it impossible for Yvette to use him for her own needs, so she was forced to allow Beverly to carry her to her own orgasm. Such was the depths of Beverly's desire, Yvette had little to do but slightly touch her clit. She had no time to use her dildo, in any case, her reaction to Beverly's pain made her helpless anyway. Then, after Beverly's devastatingly powerful orgasm, Yvette felt Jean-Luc's reaction to being released. His passion filled her mind, but so did the remorse and guilt. His orgasm, when it came was strong, yet tainted with regret and sorrow.
She knew why, in fact she knew him as well as he knew himself. He hated inflicting pain on the woman he loved, even though he understood her need for it. The truth of the matter was simple. His love was so all-encompassing, he would do anything to please her, even if it meant torturing himself in the process.
Yvette had experienced two powerful orgasms, coinciding with Jean-Luc and Beverly, but instead of feeling fulfilled and content, she was left feeling only Jean-Luc's deep sorrow. She would have to talk to him about it...but not now. As she concentrated on him, she felt him stifle his sorrow and assist Beverly by getting the tissue regenerator.
Yvette turned onto her side and closed her eyes, knowing she could block the couple out so she could sleep.
In the master bedroom, Jean-Luc was kneeling between Beverly's legs, gently cleaning away the blood from around her lacerated clitoris. Each time he inadvertently touched her clit with the damp towel, Beverly flinched, but her softly spoken words calmed him.
"It's okay, my love, just clean it up then I'll show you how to use the regenerator."
Jean-Luc nodded and smiled, but it didn't quite reach his eyes.
"How does it feel?"
Lifting her head from the pillow, Beverly sighed.
"I find the residual pain quite...stimulating."
Jean-Luc looked into her eyes, his own showing his worry. Beverly smiled reassurance.
"Don't worry, my love. I feel satiated."
Jean-Luc wanted to understand all he could. He nodded and said thoughtfully,
"What would it take for you to become aroused again?"
Beverly laid her head back on the pillow and stared up at the ceiling for a few moments before smiling.
"If you were to rub my clit roughly with the towel, I would come again."
Jean-Luc looked down at the mangled mess of her clit and shook his head.
"And so it's simply pain that does it for you."
Concerned, Beverly propped herself up on her elbows and looked into Jean-Luc's eyes.
"No, definitely not. It's you as well."
Confused, Jean-Luc shook his head.
"I don't understand."
Beverly offered a tender smile.
"Do you honestly think I could trust anyone else with this...predilection...of mine? The last person I told was Jack, and he lost his erection the minute he understood what I was talking about. I love you, Jean-Luc and I know you love me. In my entire life, you are the only one who has allowed me to be myself...and to grant me sexual satisfaction I never thought I'd get."
She lifted a hand and Jean-Luc took it.
"Thank you, Jean-Luc. Thank you for your love and trust."
He had finished cleaning her, so he smiled and said quietly,
"You too have liberated me. Thank you, Beverly for your love and acceptance."
He lowered his eyes and Beverly never saw the sorrow in them. He reached for the regenerator and hefted it in his hands.
"I suppose you could say we are playing doctors?"
Beverly's smile was wicked.
"Don't tempt me, Jean-Luc! Just switch on the device and pass it over my clit, up and down about one centimetre above."
He did as instructed and was amazed to see the damage disappear before his eyes. Within moments, the clit was healed. He looked down and frowned.
"You are still bleeding vaginally."
With a sigh, Beverly sat up.
"I know. I think I'd best do this one."
She gently took the regenerator from Jean-Luc and slowly inserted it into her body. He watched as she rotated it, grimacing every now and then. It took a little longer then he thought it would, but eventually Beverly removed it and smiled.
"All done."
He smiled.
"You are healed?"
With a nod, Beverly leaned forward and kissed her lover.
"Yep. Now how about we shower? I want breakfast, I'm starving!"
Shaking his head in amusement, Jean-Luc followed Beverly into the bathroom.

 

They were at the table when Yvette came into the room. Ignoring the morning greetings from the couple, she went to the replicator and retrieved her breakfast. Once at the table and eating, Jean-Luc cast Beverly a look of concern and asked,
"Is everything all right, Yvette?"
She munched on her toast a moment before spearing Jean-Luc with an uncompromising stare.
"You tell me."
Frowning, Jean-Luc shook his head.
"I don't understand."
Beverly, ever attuned, said quietly,
"We disturbed you this morning."
Yvette shook her head.
"No, I am aware of your needs, Beverly, unusual as they are. No, it was Jean-Luc who upset me."
Growing increasingly uneasy, Jean-Luc tried unsuccessfully to deflect the conversation.
"What are you going to do today, Yvette. More reading?"
Her gaze was intense.
"If my reading includes a study on human men who subsume their own feelings to satisfy their partners, then yes, I may do some reading."
The Captain reddened as Beverly said quietly,
"Jean-Luc? What does she mean?"
He wiped his mouth with his serviette and took a sip of coffee while he scrambled for an answer Beverly would accept.
"Ah, I was a little...uncomfortable this morning."
Casting a sidelong look at Yvette, Beverly said softly,
"The cock ring? Was it too tight?"
Before Jean-Luc could answer, Yvette blurted,
"No! He hates causing you pain, it's slowly destroying him! Can't you see it?"
Beverly remained silent for a few moments while Jean-Luc subliminally admonished Yvette.
"That is enough! What happens between Beverly and me is none of your business."
Yvette retaliated.
"Not my business? I love you Jean-Luc and I will not sit idly by while you agonise over what Beverly is forcing you to do!"
"She is not forcing me, dammit! Yvette, please, just leave it alone."
Yvette would have said more, but Beverly interrupted. She gained Jean-Luc's attention and said softly,
"You said you didn't mind, that you were happy to help me."
He reached over and took her hand.
"And I am."
Beverly sat back, pulling her hand free.
"I don't believe you. I thought you could handle it, but you can't, can you."
Knowing it was time to tell the truth, Jean-Luc put his elbow on the table and rested his brow on his fingers, sighing deeply.
"Beverly, my love, I find it very difficult to cause you pain. It goes against everything I am."
Folding her arms across her body defensively, Beverly asked,
"Then why did you consent?"
Again, Jean-Luc sighed and looked up to face her.
"Because I love you with all that I am."
He sat forward, his gaze intense.
"Beverly, I know what it's like to be sexually frustrated, I've had a lifetime of it, so when you told me about your...needs...I was determined to assist you in any way I could, just as long as you were satisfied and when you told me I was the only man who had ever properly satisfied you...well, I was exalted, because you satisfied me too."
Anger was building in Beverly's eyes.
"So it was a trade off. You suppress your natural abhorrence of inflicting pain in return for a partner who can accommodate all of your huge cock. We both get our rocks off and everyone's happy. Is that it?"
Growing angry himself, Jean-Luc threw his serviette on the table.
"No it isn't! Do you remember what I said this morning? I wanted to make love to you, not rut like some kind of animal! I love you!"
Yvette took the opportunity to say quietly,
"You both need to speak with Deanna."
Beverly stood, her face furious.
"Well I'm willing, but I'd bet it would be a cold day in hell before Captain Perfect would consent."
She tossed her serviette onto the table and stalked out of the cabin. Yvette said softly,
"If you don't consent, this will eventually drive you two apart."
Jean-Luc, his face unreadable, rose from the table, tugged down his uniform top and left his quarters in silence.

 

Beverly was still fuming as she sat at her desk in her office. Mercurial at best, Beverly couldn't believe what Jean-Luc had said. Standing so abruptly her chair scooted across the room, Beverly exited her office, tossing over her shoulder,
"Selar, you have command. I'll be back sometime soon."
The Vulcan second in command looked up to acknowledge her superior, but all she saw was Beverly's blue coat, flapping as the doors closed.
As Beverly marched through the corridors, she raised her head to ask,
"Computer, location of Counsellor Troi."
"Counsellor Troi is in her office."
Beverly scowled.
"Is she in session?"
"No. Her next appointment is at oh ten thirty."
With a grim nod, Beverly muttered,
"Right."
She was at Deanna's office door, pressing the annunciator mere minutes later. Somewhat irritated at being disturbed, Deanna called out,
"Come in."
Beverly stalked into the room, her blue eyes blazing. Such was her anger that Deanna had to hastily erect her mental barriers to protect her delicate psyche. Before Deanna could utter a word, Beverly blurted,
"He's been lying to me, the bastard, lying all along!"
Deanna took a calming breath and gave Beverly an uncompromising look.
"Sit down, Beverly."
The Doctor did so with great reluctance, her natural urge was to pace.
"Who has been lying to you?"
Beverly spat,
"Jean-Luc bloody Picard, that's who!"
Deanna sighed and said softly,
"Beverly, I want you to calm down. We can't achieve anything while you're so angry. Take a few deep breaths and try to calm yourself."
Beverly didn't want to calm down, she wanted to hold on to her anger, using it as a shield against the hurt she was feeling, but she trusted Deanna and understood her very presence in her office was proof enough she wanted to resolve her problems. So she sat back in the seat, placing her head on the backrest and took several deep breaths. Deanna cautiously lowered her mental shields to feel her friend's anger slowly dissipate. When she thought Beverly was ready, she said softly,
"We both know the Captain and I doubt he'd lie to you."
Beverly opened her eyes and lifted her head, the anger momentarily spiking.
"He did!"
Calmly and with great patience, Deanna said gently,
"Was he lying, or did you choose not to listen to him when he spoke."
Beverly flapped a hand, sniffing disdainfully.
"Semantics."
Deanna smiled, knowing her friend's hardest hurdle was to admit she may be wrong.
"Beverly, what are we talking about here? What is it you think he has lied about?"
Some of the fight went out of Beverly and she became defensive.
"I'm not sure you'd understand."
That was all Deanna needed to hear. She got up from her seat and went to sit with Beverly on the sofa.
"It's about your need for pain during sex, isn't it."
Turning her face away from Deanna so she wouldn't see her tears, Beverly nodded mutely. Concerned, Deanna said quietly,
"But, Beverly, we've talked about this and I told you I not only understood, but that I accepted it. Why are you being so evasive now?"
When Beverly refused to answer, Deanna said softly,
"It's because you know what it's doing to the Captain."
Beverly slowly turned to look at her friend and Deanna was shocked at how stricken she appeared. Trying to keep from breaking down, Beverly's lower lip trembled as she said brokenly,
"He told me he didn't mind, that he was only too happy to do anything I needed."
Deanna nodded thoughtfully.
"But it is troubling him."
Beverly nodded, wiping at an errant tear.
"On one level I know it's a departure from what he sees as normal behaviour, but after what he's experienced through his life, I thought he'd be more accepting."
With a frown, Deanna shook her head.
"I'm not sure what you mean. What has he experienced?"
Reddening, Beverly briefly covered her face with her hands.
"Deanna, Jean-Luc is very, very well endowed. He has a huge penis, one so large he has rarely ever had a woman who can take him in his entirety. I can. It hurts, it causes internal damage, but I can give him something he has craved for most of his life. It's a two way street. He has found someone who can finally give him complete sexual satisfaction...and so have I. Why can't he accept that? He should be happy."
Deanna thought for a few moments, then tilted her head to express herself.
"Tell me, Beverly, throughout the Captain's life...his sexual life...was he ever able to be himself? To enjoy the sex he was getting?"
Shaking her head, Beverly accepted the offered tissue and dabbed at her eyes.
"No. Since he rarely found a woman who would accept him, he taught himself to forgo his own needs for those of his partner...and he's so damned good his past lovers still, to this very day, seek him out. He is the ultimate altruist. He had to make do with partial penetration, or a hand job. I don't think he ever attained real satisfaction."
With a smile, Deanna said with warmth,
"Until you."
Smiling lopsidedly, Beverly nodded.
"Until me."
"And then he found your penchant for pain. Did you tell him, or let him find out for himself?"
Lowering her head, Beverly said with shame,
"I let him find out for himself, but I did tell him straight afterwards."
Deanna sighed with sorrow and frustration.
"He must have been devastated to think he'd hurt you."
More tears formed in Beverly's eyes.
"He was. He went from euphoria at finding a woman who could take all of him, to the depths of despair once he realised he'd hurt me. Even after I'd...confessed...he was upset. But, Deanna, he told me he loved me enough to give me what I wanted, what I needed. Surely, after all his years of sexual frustration he must understand how liberating it is to finally achieve sexual gratification?"
Deanna sighed again, wondering how someone so intelligent, someone who loved her partner as Beverly loved Jean-Luc could be so obtuse. She took Beverly's hand and made her look into her obsidian eyes.
"How well do you know the Captain?"
Beverly frowned.
"How well do I know Jean-Luc? I know him as well as I know myself. My God, Dee, he's like a second skin to me."
"Then how can you not know how distressing it must be to him to hurt you?"
Snatching her hand back, Beverly hissed,
"Then why did he lie to me? He told me it was all right...he even let me play with him! He said it wasn't too bad and that we could incorporate it into our sex lives!"
Placing her hands in her lap, Deanna strived for calm.
"Beverly, do you have any idea just how long the Captain has been in love with you?"
She nodded, her face sad.
"Yes, a very long time."
"And do you fully realise the depths of that love?"
In a small voice, Beverly replied,
"I think I do."
"Then why can't you understand that, although he is willing to assist you, he is torn by his innately gentle nature. He doesn't want to hurt you, it goes against everything he is, but he also knows how very important sexual gratification is. And having it be with the woman he loves beyond measure...well, what did you expect?"
Tears began to flow freely.
"Then what do we do? It's tearing both of us apart."
Deanna retook Beverly's hand and summoned a smile.
"We talk. I will get the Captain in to see me and we'll talk. Then I will want to see you both, together."
Sniffing, Beverly grimaced.
"Do you think he'll talk to you about it? Even getting him to talk to me about it was like pulling teeth."
Deanna smiled knowingly.
"He's a highly intelligent man, Beverly and he knows how very important his relationship with you is. He'll talk, I just have to find the right trigger."
Beverly sighed deeply.
"And do you think we can resolve this?"
Deanna's face sobered.
"That I can't tell you, but bringing it out in the open will be like lancing a boil. It should help at least."
Beverly wiped her eyes and sighed.
"Getting him to accept it physically is one thing, getting him to accept it intellectually is another."
Deanna smiled ruefully.
"True, and he can't change the man he is, but he can be steered in such a way so that he is more accepting by understanding your needs more...and what drives them."
Beverly blanched.
"I'm not sure I know that myself."
Deanna smiled.
"Then it will be a voyage of discovery for both of you."
Standing, Beverly's face showed her worry, saying sarcastically,
"I can't wait."
Joining her, Deanna put an arm around her best friend's shoulders.
"It won't be so bad, Beverly...I'll be gentle."
Taking it as the joke it was, Beverly stuck her tongue out, making Deanna chuckle.
"Oh, so very mature."
At the doors, Beverly turned and smiled with genuine warmth.
"Thanks, Dee."
The diminutive Counsellor smiled back with equal warmth.
"My pleasure."

 

After Beverly had gone, Deanna sat in quiet contemplation for some minutes. The rest of her morning was busy, but she knew she had the time that afternoon. She tapped her communicator.
"Troi to Picard."
Although he answered with his usual dispatch, Deanna could hear the wariness in his voice.
"Picard, go ahead, Counsellor."
"Captain, I was wondering if you had the time to see me this afternoon?"
She could almost see his face harden.
"I'm afraid I'm rather busy, Counsellor. Some other time perhaps."
Knowing him as well as she did and also knowing the longer his anguish went on, the worse it would get, Deanna showed boldness few would have known she possessed.
"I'm afraid that won't do, Sir. We both know you need to talk to me and there's no time like the present."
An icy silence ensued before Jean-Luc said quietly,
"Doctor Crusher has been to see you."
"Yes, Captain and it is with that in mind that I must insist on seeing you at your earliest convenience."
"And that is this afternoon."
A smile crept onto Deanna's face, knowing she had won this round.
"Yes, Sir."
She heard him sigh.
"Very well, Counsellor. Come to my Ready Room at..."
"Captain, if I may, it would be best if you met with me here, in my office."
Jean-Luc was always at his most formidable when he was in his own domain. Deanna needed to have an edge. She clearly heard his irritation.
"Very well. Time?"
"Fourteen thirty would be fine, Captain."
"As you wish, Counsellor. Until then. Picard out."

 

Yvette was painting as she monitored the conversation between Jean-Luc and Deanna. She smiled as she applied some red to her work.
To herself she mused,
"You can do it, Jean-Luc...but you're going to have to be brutally honest and it's going to be very uncomfortable."
The smile remained as she went back to her painting.

 

The morning and early afternoon had passed quickly for Deanna, but for Jean-Luc, time had dragged. Not usually a man who vacillated, try as he might to bury himself in his work, his mind kept going back to that morning, how he had wept with remorse after he and Beverly had made love. He snorted, his face contorting into a mask of anger and disgust.
"Making love? That wasn't making love, it was...it was...making pain!"
He savagely quelled the thought and reread the same paragraph he'd been trying to digest for the past fifteen minutes, but into his mind flashed the image of him kneeling between Beverly legs, staring down at her mutilated clit. Her words rang in his mind.
"If you rub it roughly with the towel I'll come."
He covered his face with his hands and tried to swallow the lump in his throat. He didn't want to see Deanna, it was the last thing he wanted to do. An intensely private individual, the thought of having to talk about his sex life was almost more than he could bear. It was only the years of trust and loyalty he had developed with Deanna that made him resist the strong urge to cancel their appointment. He sat back in his chair, tabbing off the monitor. He took a few minutes to compose himself before asking,
"Computer, what is the time?"
"The time is thirteen forty-two."
He stood, tugged down his uniform top and took a deep breath, holding it for some seconds before letting it out slowly. Once centred, he left the Ready Room, bringing Will to his feet. Jean-Luc paused on his way to the lift, saying quietly,
"You have the Bridge, Commander, I'll be with Counsellor Troi."
The big man nodded.
"Aye, Captain."
Although he had calmed himself and raised his mental barriers, Deanna was still aware of his impending arrival before he pressed the annunciator. She had set the controls to her office carefully; the lighting not so bright and the furniture placed so her Captain would feel comfortable. On the low table were a mug of hot chocolate and a steaming cup of Earl Grey tea.
At the sound of her door chime she called out softly,
"Come in."
As he walked into the room, she studied him carefully. Being an expert in body language she had to commend him. To all intents and purposes he looked as if he were dropping by to have a friendly chat with an old acquaintance, which, in essence he was, it was just the subject matter that was going to cause concern.
He smiled at Deanna, then spotted the drinks. As he sat he said with genuine warmth,
"How thoughtful. Thank you, Counsellor."
Deanna settled herself in her chair, took a sip of her drink and looked into her Captain's eyes.
"This need not be adversarial, Captain. I want you to be relaxed."
His smile was a little forced.
"I can assure you, Counsellor, I am relaxed."
Deanna smiled, knowing that was not quite true, but she let it pass. He was obviously trying his best to be compliant. Deanna had told Beverly that to get the Captain to open up required the right trigger. Knowing him as she did, she knew his Achilles heel. Beverly. So her opening gambit was succinct and to the point.
"You are aware that I spoke with Beverly this morning."
He nodded silently, wrapping both hands around his cup.
"She was very upset. Would you care to tell me why?"
With his expression unreadable and his voice soft, Jean-Luc said quietly,
"Don't be disingenuous, Counsellor, you know why."
Smiling with gentle admonishment, Deanna said softly,
"Perhaps, Captain, but I want to hear what you have to say about the matter."
He sighed, then took another sip of his tea.
"I gather she was angry with me for not being totally...candid with her."
Nodding thoughtfully, Deanna said softly,
"About what?"
He put his cup down on the table with more care than was strictly necessary and sighed.
"Her need for pain during sex."
Again, Deanna nodded.
"Or to be more precise, your part in inflicting that pain."
She had to admire him, his expression barely altered.
"Captain, we have a good working relationship, have we not?"
He nodded silently, his gaze hawk-like.
"And you might say we were friends."
Again, the silent nod.
"Sir, do you trust me?"
His eyes darkened and he nodded, saying softly,
"Yes, Counsellor, I do."
His use of her title instead of her name concerned Deanna. He was still hiding behind his mental barriers. She sat back and sipped her cooling drink.
"Captain, I believe I know you quite well. Would you agree?"
With a small sigh, Jean-Luc nodded.
"Yes, Counsellor, you know me quite well."
"Then you accept that I understand how distressing it is for you to cause Beverly pain, especially during the most intimate of acts."
He shifted slightly in his chair, his first outward sign of discomfort.
"Yes, I accept that."
Suddenly sitting forward, Deanna stared challengingly at her Captain.
"Then tell me how you feel!"
Jean-Luc sat back, crossed his legs and put an elbow on the cushion beside him, resting his brow on his outstretched fingers. He was silent so long, Deanna thought he was going to refuse to respond. Eventually he sighed and said softly,
"I hate it, but Beverly has told me she needs it...so..."
"So you do it."
He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. His next comment surprised the Counsellor.
"Simply making love to her hurts her."
"Because of your...physical attributes?"
He reacted as if she'd slapped him across the face. Deanna hastily clarified,
"Beverly told me, Captain."
He uncrossed his legs and sat forward, placing his elbows on his knees and cradling his head in his hands. In a quiet voice he said,
"I have wanted a woman like Beverly for most of my life and to find her, the only woman I have ever truly loved to be the one, was so...liberating, so satisfying and such a damned relief, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I should have known there would be a price to pay."
Deanna frowned.
"Self pity, Captain? That's not like you."
He snorted.
"Not like me? Neither is to inflict pain upon the woman I love during what should be so much more, so much more than a pain filled exercise in nothing but gratification. Not only do I not want to inflict pain, I don't want to have sex. I want to make love, but Beverly can't get satisfaction like that, so by default, neither can I."
Deanna clasped her hands on her lap.
"So you feel trapped as well."
He nodded.
"I am held hostage by my need and my love for Beverly. I would...will...do anything for her, but I don't have to like it."
Deanna gave that some thought, then said quietly,
"Do you fully understand her need?"
He shrugged.
"I only know she cannot reach any sort of satisfaction without pain during sex."
"Do you know why?"
He shook his head.
"Have you ever asked her?"
He sighed and looked up at the ceiling.
"We've talked about it a little. While I told her that she is the only woman who has afforded me complete satisfaction, she has told me something very similar. Apparently when she told Jack about her needs he became sexually inadequate until she stopped asking him. I suppose it's fair to say we fulfil a need we both have."
Deanna gave that some thought.
"Captain, could you make love to Beverly in the conventional way without hurting her?"
He rubbed his fingers over his lower lip before answering.
"I think so, yes. If she was highly aroused and we used plenty of lubricant and I was very gentle, then yes, I think we could, but what would be the point? Beverly would get no pleasure from that and if I know she's not enjoying it, then neither am I. It would be meaningless. I might as well masturbate."
With a frown, Deanna quietly plexed.
"What if you took it in turns? You make love your way and the next time the way Beverly wants?"
He shook his head.
"No, Deanna, that would never do. I want to share the experience with Beverly, be with her body and soul."
Deanna's face showed her sorrow.
"Then you are going to have to come to terms with the fact that to share your sex life with Beverly, you are going to have to learn to accept the giving of pain."
He nodded slowly, but sighed.
"I understand that, but will I ever be free of the guilt and remorse?"
Deanna offered a small smile.
"To answer that, I think I need to speak to both of you together, the sooner the better."
Jean-Luc stood and gave a nod.
"Agreed, Counsellor. Would you care to join us for dinner tonight? Say, nineteen thirty?"
Deanna smiled her agreement.
"I'd be happy to, Captain, thank you."
As Jean-Luc left, Deanna sat and thought for some time before tapping her comm. badge.
"Troi to Crusher."
"Crusher here."
"I'm to be your dinner guest tonight. Are you ready to talk with the Captain and me?"
Beverly sighed and Deanna could hear the reluctance in her voice.
"If you think it's right."
"I do."
"Then I'll see you tonight. Crusher out."
The fact the Beverly had not asked how the session went with her lover spoke volumes. Deanna knew it was going to be a very interesting night.

 

Jean-Luc had explained to Yvette they were having Deanna come to share dinner, and that she would like to talk privately with both Jean-Luc and Beverly after dinner. Jean-Luc sat Yvette on his lap and kissed the top of her furry head.
"Deanna is trying to help us, Yvette. I would appreciate it if you would block us out while we talk."
The little alien nodded.
"I can do that, Jean-Luc. I will do it for you."
He gave her a hug and another kiss.
"Thank you. Now, would you like to show me your paintings?"
They spent ten minutes talking about Yvette's artwork before Beverly arrived. Jean-Luc could tell but the tense set of her shoulders she was on edge. He rose from his seat and went to her, taking her in his arms and whispering.
"I love you."
She rested her head on his broad shoulder and he felt some of the tension leave her body. She nuzzled his neck and murmured,
"And I love you."
Whispering close to her hear he said huskily,
"We can get through this, my love."
She nodded, struggling to keep from crying. Taking a deep breath, she regained her composure. She lifted her head and smiled.
"So, how has your day been?"
He smiled ruefully.
"Do you want me to be honest?"
She nodded, her smile fading.
"It was hell, but now that I'm here with you, it doesn't matter."
Her smile returned.
"I'm glad. I'm sorry about this morning, Jean-Luc."
With a deep sigh, Jean-Luc hugged her.
"I'm sorry too."
He then stepped back, grasping Beverly's shoulders.
"Come and see what Yvette has been doing."
They chatted together amicably until Deanna arrived. Upon asking what she would like for dinner, Jean-Luc replicated a Betazoid meal, while Beverly and Yvette set the table.
The meal was a little tense, the conversation a tad forced. After the meal, all four retired to the living area, Yvette showing Deanna her artwork. The Counsellor was impressed.
"This is very good, Yvette. I think we should show them to the teacher."
The little alien frowned.
"Teacher?"
Deanna nodded.
"Yes. I've been thinking about it and I believe you would do well in school."
Jean-Luc sat next to Yvette and put an arm around her shoulders.
"You will have other children to play with."
She thought about that for a few minutes before asking,
"How will I communicate with them?"
With a smile, Jean-Luc stroked her head.
"The same way you communicate with us. I think you'll be surprised to find how adaptable children are."
Yvette sighed, then shrugged.
"If you wish it, Jean-Luc, I will go."
Deanna sat forward, pre-empting her Captain.
"You should go because you want to, Yvette, not because the Captain wants you to."
Looking up at Jean-Luc, Yvette saw him nod.
"It's true, little one."
The little being looked at Deanna.
"What would I do at school?"
With a wide smile, Deanna moved closer and took Yvette's hand.
"Lots of things. Reading, writing, counting, painting, making things from all sorts of materials...it will stimulate you in ways you will find very satisfying. And the company of the other children will give you the opportunity to play."
Yvette thought about it for a bit, but then frowned.
"But I am...different."
It was Jean-Luc who answered that concern.
"Yvette, there are many different species on board. You may be the only one of your species, but I can assure you, no one will discriminate against you."
She smiled, for the first time.
"Then I will go."
Jean-Luc gave her a hug and Beverly a wink. The Captain bent to her ear and said softly,
"We would like to talk now. Perhaps you would like to play in your room, until bed time?"
The little being slid off her seat and gave Jean-Luc a hug.
"Okay, Jean-Luc. Good night."
He kissed her cheek, saying,
"I'll come in to tuck you in."
Having said good night to Beverly and Deanna, Yvette retired for the night, leaving two uncomfortable adults with Deanna. The Counsellor looked at her Captain, saying softly,
"You love her."
Jean-Luc looked up from his study of his hands and sighed.
"Yes, I do. It feels like it did with Meribor and Batai...I feel like a father again."
Deanna smiled sadly.
"You are aware you will, in all probability, have to give her up."
He sighed deeply.
"Yes, I know. Somewhere out there,"
He gestured to the stars,
"Are your parents. I can't imagine what they're going through...searching in vain."
Beverly, playing the devil's advocate, said gently,
"They may have been killed when Yvette was abducted."
Jean-Luc nodded slowly.
"That's true, but something within me, gleaned from Yvette herself perhaps, tells me otherwise."
He sighed again.
"In any event, I must be prepared for the eventuality of finding her parents. It's not something I look forward to on a personal basis."
Deanna nodded thoughtfully.
"Because of the pain it will cause you."
Jean-Luc nodded silently. Deanna smiled sadly.
"Pain and regret. A theme perhaps?"
That brought a sour look from Jean-Luc and a snort from Beverly. It was the latter who said,
"An impasse, more likely."
With her eyebrows raised, Deanna gazed at her Captain and asked,
"An impasse. Is that how you see it, Sir?"
Wishing he could stand and pace, Jean-Luc instead chose to tightly clasp his hands.
"No, Counsellor, that's not how I see it. An impasse means a lack of progress. That is not what we experience."
Deanna sat forward in her chair.
"Then what would you call it?"
Anger flashed in his eyes briefly before his shoulders slumped.
"An imbalance between two sets of needs."
"And you seek balance."
"I do."
Turning her attention to Beverly, Deanna said quietly,
"How do you perceive your problems, Beverly?"
The Doctor tucked an errant lock of hair behind her ear and tried to find the words to express herself that wouldn't hurt her lover.
"I know what I need, I've known for most of my life and Jean-Luc is capable of providing for those needs, but he has to find the courage to do it without the remorse he feels."
Deanna said softly,
"Captain?"
Jean-Luc put his elbows on his knees and cradled his brow on his finger tips.
"Intellectually I understand Beverly's needs and she is quite right, I am physically able to cater to those needs, but I am finding it increasingly difficult to comply. I simply don't want to inflict pain. Not on the woman I love, not on Yvette, not on anyone or anything. It is just not in my nature and the longer this situation continues, the worse I feel."
Beverly had an epiphany.
"This morning...yours weren't tears of euphoria, they were tears of remorse."
Jean-Luc lifted his head and slowly nodded.
"I hated what you had me do, Beverly. It ate at my very soul."
Deanna could see anger and shock building in Beverly. To defuse it, she said to Jean-Luc,
"Captain, how do you respond when you are the recipient of sexual pain?"
He reddened slightly, but answered honestly.
"From what I have experienced so far, I can tolerate it, but I don't enjoy it."
"Your orgasm wasn't...stronger, having been delayed?"
His replies were becoming clipped.
"No. In fact it was more of a mental relief than a physical or spiritual one."
Beverly sighed, her anger having subsided.
"What do we do, Deanna? It would seem we're sexually incompatible."
The petite Counsellor shook her head.
"No, I don't think so. This is a psychological issue, not a physical one."
Jean-Luc was about to protest, but Deanna held up one hand, forestalling him.
"Captain, isn't it true that with your...physical attributes...you would normally damage any woman you had sex with unless you were extraordinarily gentle? In fact, you've rarely been able to have conventional sex, have you."
"That is true."
"So you are capable of inflicting pain, even though you strove to avoid it."
"Yes."
Deanna smiled carefully.
"And isn't it also true that you have wanted a woman like Beverly, a woman who could...accommodate all of you?"
"Yes."
"So what you have to overcome is the fact that Beverly enjoys any pain you inflict upon her. In fact, she encourages it."
Jean-Luc sat back and rubbed his face with his hands.
"Yes."
Beverly took up the conversation.
"Can't you see, Jean-Luc? This is our way out. If you can just accept the pain you inflict as a gift, a gift from you to me, then we can move on and enjoy what we do...sharing...making love like you always wanted to...just a little differently than you thought. I accept you. Can you accept me? Can you accept my needs as I accept yours?"
Jean-Luc frowned and opened his hands in supplication.
"Beverly, I love you. You know I would do anything you wanted me to."
Before Deanna could say anything, Beverly shook her head and said vehemently,
"This is not about love, Jean-Luc, I know you love me, as I love you. This is about you making a paradigm shift in your thinking, your nature. Can you accept causing me pain for my satisfaction, while knowing it will bring you that same satisfaction? Not just physically, but psychologically?"
He was silent so long, Beverly thought he was going to reject her proposal, but a small smile appeared.
"Sharing."
The Doctor beamed.
"Yes! Sharing, Jean-Luc. You give me what I need and in return I give you what you've always wanted, what you've always needed but were never able to have."
Jean-Luc looked at Deanna, his eyes dark.
"It will take time, but I think I can do it."
Deanna smiled tenderly and nodded.
"I believe you will, Captain."
She then turned her attention to Beverly.
"You have told me about how this predilection of yours started, but I wonder if it has roots that go back further than that?"
Immediately defensive, Beverly folded her arms across her chest.
"I'm not sure what you mean."
Deanna kept her voice soft.
"While it isn't unusual to find people like you who enjoy pain during sex, to have it manifest at such an early age is, in itself, strange. Have you any other needs you've not told us about? Needs that involve pain?"
"Not that I'm aware of, no."
Ever insightful, Deanna asked very gently,
"How do you feel about patients who are in pain?"
Beverly was on her feet in a flash.
"How dare you!"
Jean-Luc stood and took her hand, saying softly,
"Beverly, calm yourself and sit down."
She did so reluctantly and Deanna smiled her thanks.
"I'm not impugning your abilities, or your compassion as a Doctor, Beverly, but can you answer the question?"
Feeling trapped, Beverly shrank back into the corner of the sofa. In a small voice she murmured,
"I envy them."
Intense, Deanna asked,
"You envy the patient, or their pain?"
Near tears, Beverly said brokenly,
"Their pain."
"Can you tell me why?"
Tears began to flow, bringing Jean-Luc out of his chair to sit by Beverly, his arm across her shoulders.
"It was Arveda III. After the catastrophe, my grandmother did all she could for those who were left. It was the ones in the most pain who received the most of her time."
"While you had to cope alone."
Beverly nodded.
"Yes. I had lost both of my parents and I was injured, but not badly."
Deanna moved closer and rested her hand on Beverly's thigh.
"You needed your Grandmother and she didn't have time for you. What did you do?"
In a small voice, much like a child's. Beverly said quietly,
"I took a shard of metal and made my wounds worse."
"Thereby gaining more of your grandmother's time."
"Yes."
Jean-Luc lifted his hand and used it to guide Beverly's head to his shoulder.
"It's no wonder you equate pain with pleasure, my love."
He then turned to Deanna.
"Can you rid her of it?"
Deanna shook her head.
"I doubt it, Captain. Needs such as Beverly's are so ingrained in her psyche...they are part of who and what she is."
Beverly lifted her head and looked into Jean-Luc's eyes.
"Can you forgive me, my love?"
He kissed her tenderly and said,
"There is nothing to forgive, Beverly. No one is perfect."
Deanna gently squeezed Beverly's thigh.
"It's no wonder you are the way you are, Beverly. I admire you for accepting what you are with such an open mind."
Beverly snorted.
"Open mind? I kept it a secret for most of my life."
With a nod, Deanna agreed.
"Yes, but you told the men you loved the most."
Giving Jean-Luc a watery smile, Beverly said sadly,
"And Jack rejected me, and Jean-Luc was almost destroyed by it. So much for honesty."
Deanna sighed deeply.
"Do you honestly think you could have kept it from either of them? Live your life being sexually frustrated?"
Beverly shook her head.
"Oh God no. Like Jean-Luc, I have a very high libido. To go through my life with the man I love and not be sexually satisfied would be...God, I don't want to think about it."
Deanna turned her attention to Jean-Luc.
"And you, Captain, could you have continued to put the needs of your loved one ahead of your own?"
Jean-Luc shrugged.
"I have done so for most of my life, Counsellor, but I admit it was very frustrating. Apart from my difficulty in inflicting pain upon Beverly, I found our love making the most satisfying in my life."
Deanna smiled gently.
"So we seek balance. I suggest you take things slowly, especially you, Beverly. Give the Captain time to adjust, time to come to terms with this shift in his psyche."
Deanna caught a look of fear in Jean-Luc's eyes. Quick to capitalise, she said quietly,
"Captain?"
He sighed, not really willing to admit his fear.
"What if I change, Deanna?"
She frowned.
"Change, Captain? In what way?"
He looked at his clenched fists and tried to relax.
"In my life I have had some profound experiences, some good, some terrible and I have been changed by those experiences, for good and bad. Do you remember my reaction to my assimilation?"
Holding up her hand, Deanna sought to interrupt.
"But, Captain..."
He shook his head.
"No, Counsellor, I changed. At the time, I would have annihilated the entire collective in one fell swoop. I contemplated it with Hugh, remember."
The Betazoid sighed.
"But you didn't do it, Captain. The real you...the compassionate man we all know came to the fore. You're no more a genocidal maniac than I am."
He sighed.
"Perhaps not, Deanna, but what if inflicting pain on the woman I love hardens me, makes me inured to other's suffering? My experiences at the hands of the Borg will resonate within me for the rest of my life."
Deanna shook her head.
"Perhaps, but I doubt it will affect you adversely, Captain. The very fact that you're having so much trouble coping with this shows me that the fundamental you won't change. You just have to make allowances for Beverly and I believe you can do that, eventually without remorse."
Beverly squeezed Jean-Luc's hand and whispered,
"Together, my love, together."
They both nodded, then Jean-Luc lifted one hand.
"There is one more thing, Deanna."
The use of her given name signalled her Captain's acceptance of her advice.
"Yes, Captain?"
He sighed.
"Yvette cannot block out our lovemaking. At first she was confused by Beverly's need for pain, but having experienced nothing but pain herself in sexual matters, she accepted it. I have explained the many variations of how sexuality can be expressed, and she does understand, but we experience her reactions as she experiences ours. It's like having a voyeur watching us."
With a frown, Deanna said,
"But I thought she could block out anything she chose."
"Normally she can, but such is the intensity of our emotions and physical reactions, she finds it too overwhelming to block out. She has told me that with time she may be able to do it, but in the mean time, we are, in some ways, a ménage a trios."
A worried Counsellor rubbed her brow.
"I am concerned, Captain. Yvette shouldn't be exposed to any of your intimate actions."
Sighing, Jean-Luc briefly closed his eyes.
"Oh, believe me, Counsellor, I agree, but what can we do? Until such time as she gains enough power to block us out, I see no way to stop it."
Deanna sat forward, putting a little distance between her and the couple.
"What have you discussed with her about your emotions? She must be confused."
Jean-Luc nodded.
"At first she was...very. She had to deal with feeling Beverly's pain and my remorse. I have, as I said, explained the wide variations in sexuality and I have done my best to make her understand my reluctance to inflict pain and she proved to be very wise. Her reaction was to advise me to talk to you."
His smile was a wry one.
"Not bad for one so young."
Deanna shook her head.
"Don't be fooled, Captain. I sense great knowledge in her. Chronologically she may be young, but mentally she is wise beyond her years."
Jean-Luc gave a knowing nod.
"Oh, I know, Deanna, I know. Dealing with her is becoming increasingly interesting."
Beverly snorted.
"Interesting? I'd say difficult. She knows what we're going to say before we say it, she feels whatever we feel...we have little privacy. And I think she resents me, or at least my relationship with Jean-Luc."
Jean-Luc shook his head.
"No, Beverly, she doesn't resent you, she just doesn't have such an...intimate relationship with you as she has with me."
Anger flashed in Beverly's eyes.
"And you don't think I resent that? She shares our lovemaking dammit! Isn't that intimate enough?"
Deanna said gently,
"Whose resentment are we talking about here, Beverly? Yours or hers?"
Throwing her hands up in exasperation, Beverly almost shouted.
"All right! Mine! I know Jean-Luc waited a hell of a long time for me to come to my senses and accept his love and for me to admit my own for him and I don't want to share it!"
Deanna kept her voice low as she noticed Jean-Luc bow his head.
"You know the Captain loves Yvette."
With a plosive snort, Beverly said succinctly,
"As a daughter. Not as a partner and certainly not as a lover."
She then said sarcastically,
"Not that Yvette is happy with that. She'd take him as a lover if she got the chance."
Keeping eye contact, Deanna said quietly,
"So you're jealous."
"No! Yes! Oh God, I don't know, I just know I don't want to share Jean-Luc! Not with Yvette, not with anybody. He's waited too long and so have I. We cherish what we have. Isn't it normal for me to want that to be private between us?"
Deanna nodded.
"Of course it is, Beverly, but Yvette can't help being what she is, and to be brutally honest, we have no idea what that is."
Deflated, Beverly buried her face in her hands. Jean-Luc eased her head against his chest and kissed the top of her head.
"You must realise, Deanna, how difficult this has been for Beverly. She has been very supportive towards Yvette, suppressing her fears and resentment to help Yvette understand her needs."
With a sympathetic nod, Deanna agreed.
"Needs that Yvette must have found very confusing."
Beverly sighed and wiped at her eyes.
"Actually, at first she thought it was normal, given her history. It was her sensing Jean-Luc's remorse that piqued her curiosity."
Deanna sighed.
"It must have come as a surprise to find out sex wasn't supposed to hurt."
Beverly snorted.
"That's putting it mildly. And then we had to explain the pleasure. Can you imagine what it was like explaining an orgasm to a youngster...even one as savvy as Yvette?"
Jean-Luc reddened as he said,
"Of course she experienced it with us, but she didn't know what it was and once she'd felt it, she wanted more, pain or no pain."
Deanna nodded again.
"So she learned to masturbate?"
Jean-Luc nodded.
"Yes. When I refused her repeated requests for sex, she had little choice, being privy to our lovemaking. However, Beverly helped her to achieve a higher degree of pleasure by suggesting she utilise a dildo."
Deanna's eyebrows rose.
"Really?"
Beverly nodded.
"Yes. She is quite different from us physically, in fact, she's built for pleasure."
Deanna frowned.
"How so?"
Beverly explained.
"She has two vaginas. One leads to her reproductive organs and has one clitoris. The other vagina leads to a blind end, but has two clitorises. I can only surmise that is for pleasure."
Surprise registered on Deanna's face.
"How interesting. Have either of you heard of the Bonobo chimpanzees?"
Both Jean-Luc and Beverly shook their heads. Deanna went on.
"They are extremely sexual. They have no aggression, they resolve everything with sex. Heterosexual sex, homosexual sex, sex between siblings, any kind of sex all the time. I wonder if Yvette's species maybe the same?"
Jean-Luc shrugged.
"Who knows? The fact is, she is a very sexual being and her appetite is prodigious."
Deanna looked up at Jean-Luc thoughtfully.
"Captain, I have an idea."
Wary, but willing to listen, Jean-Luc said,
"And that is?"
Deanna used her hands to illustrate her words.
"What if you enlisted Yvette's help in helping you in your reluctance to assist Beverly with her needs?"
Anger flared in the man.
"You want me to get her to help me to act as those...animals who abused her? Counsellor I find that repugnant!"
Holding up a placating hand, Deanna sought to calm the outraged Captain.
"No, Sir. What I thought is that Yvette may be able to help you learn to cope. She was the recipient, that is true, but she coped. Her mental connection to you and the love you share may be the catalyst in allowing her to teach you a way to overcome your remorse."
Jean-Luc made a concerted effort to calm himself as Beverly gently squeezed his hand.
"You think it may be possible?"
Deanna shrugged.
"Anything is possible, Sir."
Beverly looked up at her lover, saying softly,
"It's worth a try."
Jean-Luc gave the suggestion some thought and sighed.
"I'll think about it, but I'm wary of stirring up unpleasant memories in her."
Deanna lifted her chin and smiled.
"Don't underestimate her, Captain. She's a lot stronger than she looks."
Jean-Luc offered a wan smile and nodded.
"Very well, Counsellor, I'll talk to her about it."
Deanna came to her feet.
"Well, I think that's enough for tonight. I'll be available any time if you feel the need to talk to me again."
Jean-Luc escorted her to the door and said softly,
"Thank you, Deanna."
She smiled warmly.
"My pleasure, Captain."
Jean-Luc went in to tuck Yvette in, only to find her asleep. He gently kissed her brow and pulled the covers up. On re entering the living area, he found Beverly at the viewport, hugging herself. He went to her and wrapped his arms around her waist.
"Penny?"
She sighed deeply.
"I've never told anyone about what I did on Arveda III."
Jean-Luc kissed her neck and nuzzled her under her ear.
"Your trust is not lost on me, my love."
Becoming aroused, Beverly purred,
"Let's go to bed."
With a wry chuckle, Jean-Luc muttered,
"Lesson number one?"
Beverly turned in his arms and kissed him passionately.
"I make a great teacher."
They kissed again before Jean-Luc murmured,
"And I am an apt pupil."
As Beverly took Jean-Luc by the hand to lead him to the bedroom, she quipped,
"What a delightful combination."

 

Whereas before Beverly was almost always in a hurry, she took some time to visit the replicator before slowly undressing, watching Jean-Luc as he did the same. Once they were both on the bed, Beverly showed Jean-Luc what she had replicated. He took it in his hands and smiled.
"A synthetic cock ring."
Beverly grinned.
"Ah huh. It won't give me the intensity of sensation the other one did, but I think you may be more comfortable in using it."
He ran the pad of his index finger over the softer spikes and nodded thoughtfully.
"Yes, I am happier with this."
Beverly lazily ran her hand down his torso to his hardening penis and smiled.
"You seem to like the idea."
He sighed as she slipped the ring over the head and pushed it to the base of the shaft. She then slowly stroked him, revelling in how he grew in her hand. When she went to mount him, he grabbed her hips, concern on his face.
"Lubricant?"
In response, Beverly took one of Jean-Luc's hands and put it on her sex.
"Feel me."
With his eyes darkening, he slid his fingers through her folds and inside her. His eyebrows rose.
"You're so wet."
Sultrily she purred,
"I want you."
His erection now huge and throbbing, Beverly positioned herself above him and raised one eyebrow.
"May I?"
Jean-Luc nodded, but said,
"Yes, but slowly, my love."
Beverly wanted to impale herself with force and ride him hard and fast, but she knew this had to be done on his terms. Slowly, centimetre by centimetre she slid down his penis, her head thrown back as she felt him stretch and fill her. When she reached the limit and he was completely buried inside her, she leaned forward and ground her clit against the teaser.
Jean-Luc was in rapture. Never before had any woman taken all of him so slowly. It was excruciatingly wonderful. Instinctively knowing what he needed, Beverly rode him with slothful intent, rising slowly and descending with the same deliberate slowness. Jean-Luc gripped her hips hard enough to leave bruises, his eyes screwed shut and his mouth wide open.
Beverly watched him intently, asking huskily,
"What does it feel like, Jean-Luc?"
With his eyes still closed he shook his head from side to side, saying breathlessly,
"Oh God...it's...it's...I can't describe it!"
The sexual tension was building in Jean-Luc. He knew he couldn't come with the ring in place and he also knew Beverly must be almost mad with need, so he opened his eyes and gasped,
"I want to fuck you!"
Overjoyed, Beverly lay down on him and he rolled, pinning her under him. She wrapped her legs around his waist, but he surprised her by grabbing her ankles and putting her legs over his shoulders. As he began to pound in and out of her he growled,
"Mon Dieu, mon coeur, I love you, heart, body and soul!"
Each time the teaser ground against Beverly's clit a surge of need went through her. She wanted more, so much more, but for this time she would allow Jean-Luc what he needed.
She relaxed and concentrated hard, willing herself to orgasm. She felt it coming and gasped,
"Harder!"
He complied and she came, not with her usual abandon, but it was not without its pleasure. She reached down and released the ring. Jean-Luc came almost immediately, yelling Beverly's name. As he began to soften, Beverly, still needing more, whispered,
"Use your mouth on me, my love...bite me...please."
Still trying to regain his breath, Jean-Luc slid down the bed and attacked Beverly's sex. With mouth, tongue, fingers and finally teeth, Beverly experienced a powerful orgasm that finally sated her.
Jean-Luc moved up the bed, tears in his eyes. Beverly frowned, but he allayed her fears.
"Don't worry, my love, I'm happy beyond measure. Thank you."
Beverly smiled tenderly and whispered,
"Wait for lesson two."
As he drifted off to sleep, Jean-Luc murmured,
"I can't wait."

 

In the morning, Jean-Luc waited until Beverly had left his quarters before tapping his comm. badge.
"Picard to Riker."
"Riker here, Sir."
"I will be a little late coming up to the Bridge, Number One. I'll be in my quarters if you need me."
"Aye, Captain."
Yvette hopped down from her chair at the table and took Jean-Luc's hand, leading him to his favourite chair. She waited until he sat, then climbed onto his lap.
"You enjoyed sex last night."
He frowned, trying to find the right words.
"Yes I did, but I was still worried about what my actions were doing to Beverly."
Yvette shook her head.
"You shouldn't, it's what she wants."
With a nod, Jean-Luc's frown deepened.
"I know that on an intellectual level, but to actually inflict the pain troubles me deeply."
He then looked into Yvette huge violet eyes.
"Yvette, Counsellor Troi suggested I talk to you about it...that you might be able to help me, offer some advice on how I might be able to cope."
Yvette smiled and lifted a hand to stroke Jean-Luc's face.
"Jean-Luc, you are the kindest, gentlest person I have ever known. It's only natural that you would have difficulties inflicting the pain Beverly needs. But pain can be liberating, not just for the recipient, but for the giver. Last night, you said..."I want to fuck you." That's not like you, Jean-Luc. You usually prefer to be gentle, to make love. What changed?"
He sighed and rubbed his eyes.
"I've been thinking about that myself. I think perhaps it was the freedom Beverly had given me. Never before had I experienced what she was doing to me and I knew, at least on some level, Beverly was receiving some kind of pleasure as well. I found it overwhelming and all I wanted to do was come as quickly as I could."
"Yet the position you put Beverly in was hardly one of a gentle lover."
Jean-Luc reddened.
"I know. Some part of me wanted to pound her, fuck her. I've never experienced anything like it before."
"Do you think it was because you knew her pain was at a minimum?"
Jean-Luc nodded.
"Probably, yes. Although it troubles me that she went without true satisfaction."
Yvette snorted.
"She came hard enough when you bit her clitoris."
Striving to control his embarrassment, Jean-Luc nodded.
"Yes, but I know she prefers penetrative sex...with toys."
Yvette nodded.
"And pain."
"Yes, lots of intense pain."
Yvette thought for a moment, then said softly,
"Jean-Luc, you are by your very nature an altruistic man, are you not?"
He shrugged.
"I suppose so. Why?"
"Well, can't you think of your role in Beverly's needs as a gift of yourself? You are physically very well endowed, that in itself is enough to inflict pain. Beverly likes to include toys that inflict more pain. That is her choice, not yours. Your role is to facilitate. You are not responsible for her needs, you are an end to her yearning, a means by which she can finally achieve what she needs and by doing so, so do you. That is not a crime, it is not a betrayal, nor is it something to be worried about, it is simply how it is. Give and receive."
He smiled for the first time, his face incredulous.
"Sharing."
Yvette nodded.
"Exactly. You're not hurting Beverly per se, you are giving her a gift, a gift borne of your love for her, and in return, she is give you her gift, her ability to accommodate you."
Jean-Luc looked into Yvette's eyes and smiled.
"That is what Deanna was trying to tell me."
He then frowned.
"But Yvette, how did you cope, all that time you were held captive?"
She sighed.
"I came to think of it as my purpose and in doing so, achieved a semblance of self esteem. Even at its worse I was providing something which was needed. I had a purpose, albeit an unpleasant one."
Jean-Luc kissed Yvette's cheek.
"And so do I, although mine is ultimately more pleasant."
Yvette chuckled.
"You should be on the Bridge...Captain."
Jean-Luc hugged Yvette and kissed her again.
"Thank you my little one, you have helped me a great deal."
She slid off his lap and grinned up at him.
"I love you, Jean-Luc, I could do nothing else but help you in any way I could."
"And I love you. Now you are right, I must go. Counsellor Troi will be by later to take you to school. I hope you have an enjoyable time."
Her grin faltered, but she smiled nonetheless.
"I'm sure I will. Goodbye, Jean-Luc. See you later."
"Goodbye, Yvette."
It was with a much lighter step that Jean-Luc left his quarters.

 

After spending an hour or so on the Bridge, Jean-Luc retired to his Ready Room to keep working, but try as he might, he couldn't get Beverly out of his mind.
He lost interest in what he was doing and sat back in his chair, his mind going to the previous night. To his surprise he found himself hardening. The more he thought about the activities of last night, the harder he got. Eventually he tapped his comm. badge, concentrating on keeping the desire out of his voice as he called Beverly.
"Picard to Crusher."
"Crusher here, Captain."
He reached down and gripped his erection, squeezing it.
"Doctor, can you come up to the Ready Room immediately?"
"Ah, yes, I'm on my way. Crusher out."
Beverly frowned as she left Sick Bay.
"I wonder what he wants?"
Jean-Luc was lightly sweating when the chime rang. Lest it be someone other than Beverly, he sat up and composed himself before saying,
"Come."
Beverly came into the room, making Jean-Luc say,
"Oh, Beverly...thank God."
Confused and alarmed, she took a step towards her lover, saying,
"What is it, Jean-Luc? Are you all right?"
In reply, Jean-Luc stood. Beverly's eyes travelled over his body and she gasped quietly when she saw his huge erection. He held a hand out to her, saying softly, but urgently,
"Beverly...I need you."
She went to him immediately, kissing him and rubbing him through the material of his trousers. He groaned softly and nuzzled her neck. Beverly lifted her head and said,
"Transporter Room, two to beam..."
Jean-Luc interrupted.
"Belay that, Transporter Room."
To Beverly's surprised face he explained,
"I can't leave the Bridge, my love...I'm on duty."
"Oh, I see. Then how can I help you my love? Do you want to make love?"
They both looked at the sofa and Jean-Luc shook his head. He was becoming breathless with desire.
"I would love to make love to you mon coeur, but not here."
Squeezing him hard enough to make him groan, Beverly asked,
"What then? A hand job? A blow job?"
As she spoke, Beverly undid Jean-Luc fly, reached inside and negotiated her way past his panelled underwear. When she finally gripped him he gasped.
"A blow job...please."
With a saucy smile, Beverly gently eased Jean-Luc back into his chair. She then proceeded to pull his pants and underwear down until his enormous penis was free. Kneeling between his legs, she took him with both hands and lifted him to her mouth. Keeping eye contact, she darted out her tongue, teasing the head and slit.
Jean-Luc's hands gripped the armrests as his head fell back on the chair. He was becoming lost in what Beverly was doing and she had to speak his name twice to gain his attention.
"Jean-Luc?"
He opened his eyes and looked down.
"Yes?"
"Lock the doors."
He swallowed to wet his dry mouth and said with as much authority as he could,
"Computer, lock Ready Room doors."
With the chirp of compliance, Beverly applied herself to her task. Using both hands, she squeezed as she stroked him, taking the head entirely into her mouth. Giving Jean-Luc a blow job was difficult because of his enormous size, but Beverly had learned a few tricks. The key was relaxation. So she relaxed and breathed deeply through her nose as she removed her uppermost hand and began to take as much of him as she could.
As her lips slid over him, his hands reached for her, his fingers tangling in her hair. Breathlessly he said,
"Oh, Beverly...that feels so good!"
Ignoring her own deep arousal, Beverly concentrated on her lover, giving him all the pleasure she could. When she had taken as much of him as possible, she slowly pulled up, dragging her teeth and tongue over him. Jean-Luc's hips bucked and he groaned sensuously. Beverly set a slow pace, down, then up, dallying at the head with her tongue. She revelled in the soft skin that covered such hard flesh. She also revelled in the power she held over her lover. She glanced up to see him with his eyes shut and his mouth open. If she could paint, this is how she would paint him...lost in sexual pleasure.
He suddenly lifted his hips, saying roughly,
"My balls...squeeze my balls."
Surprised, Beverly used her free hand to cup, then gently squeeze his testicles. Helpless to stop it, Jean-Luc began to thrust into Beverly's mouth. She had to be careful to lift her head so he didn't push in too far and choke her. Abruptly he shouted,
"Beverly...I'm going to come!"
The Doctor, took as much of him as she could and squeezed his testicles again. He came hard, his semen hot and salty as it hit the back of her throat. He growled out her name as he came, his fingers painfully clutching her hair. She kept sucking and licking as he began to soften, until he opened his eyes and looked down at her. She stopped and let him slip from her mouth.
His eyes held love and gratitude and Beverly was overwhelmed with need. She stood and stripped off her uniform before sitting on Jean-Luc's desk, displayed in front of him. She spread her legs wide and said sultrily,
"My turn?"
Jean-Luc grinned and scooted his chair forward, his hands running up the insides of her thighs. She was so wet she was actually leaving moisture on his desktop. He lapped at her, making her moan and softly complain,
"Don't tease Jean-Luc...just do it!"
He knew exactly how she felt. He attacked her with mouth, fingers and tongue, making Beverly gasp repeatedly. Suddenly Yvette's words popped into his head.
"Give her what she needs!"
He withdrew his fingers and Beverly moaned with displeasure, but what he did next made her almost scream with delight. He fisted her. He did it slowly and carefully, having never done it before, but he knew by Beverly's reactions that she was loving it.
He leaned forward and Beverly's hands grabbed the back of his head, pulling him to her. With his fist buried deep inside her, he bit her clit. Beverly screamed as she came, her lubricant dribbling out to puddle on the desktop. Jean-Luc had a random thought, grateful that both the Ready Room and his quarters were sound proof.
He gently changed the shape of his hand and slowly withdrew it. He stood and took Beverly into his arms, holding her while she recovered. Eventually she lifted her head from his shoulder to sigh and smile.
"That was wonderful, Jean-Luc. Thank you."
He kissed her, then said,
"It is I who should thank you."
She looked him up and down and had to laugh. There he stood, with his trousers and underwear down to his thighs and his now flaccid penis dangling down. He looked down and chuckled.
"Not exactly in uniform, am I."
Beverly bent down to tickle the tip of his penis, saying,
"Oh, I don't know...I rather like this look."
Jean-Luc stepped back as he pulled his pants up, taking care to comfortably position his penis. Beverly watched carefully, her eyebrows raised.
"You have to almost bend it right over?"
Jean-Luc nodded.
"Yes, otherwise it doesn't fit behind the panel."
She frowned.
"It must be uncomfortable when you get a hard on."
With a rueful expression, Jean-Luc nodded.
"Oh, yes."
Having put her own uniform back on, Beverly sighed.
"No wonder you called for me."
Jean-Luc frowned.
"I didn't call for you because I was uncomfortable, Beverly. I called for you because I needed you."
With her hands flat on his chest, Beverly kissed him.
"I know that, Jean-Luc, I didn't mean to upset you."
That brought a smile.
"I'm not upset, my love, in fact I'm feel very happy. I am satisfied and so are you. What could be better than that?"
Beverly mewed and nuzzled his neck.
"Hmm, and just when did you decide to fist me?"
He reddened.
"Ah...it was something Yvette said."
Beverly gave him an incredulous look.
"Yvette told you to fist me?"
Holding up his hands, Jean-Luc shook his head.
"No! She just reminded me to give you what you need. I had no toys, so I improvised."
Beverly chuckled and kissed him again.
"Ah, my clever Captain."
A little uncomfortable with praise, Jean-Luc bowed his head and said softly,
"Well, I suppose we should be getting back to work."
To anyone else, that sentence would have been dismissive and insulting, but Beverly knew her lover. To have called for her in the first place showed her just how much he loved and needed her, but his ingrained sense of duty was never far away. He had allowed himself a rare indulgence, now it was time to put it aside and get back to work. Beverly smiled and kissed him one final time.
"I love you, Jean-Luc."
He smiled and ran his fingers down her face.
"And I you. Computer, unlock Ready Room doors."
It was after Beverly had left and Jean-Luc was once again seated at his desk, hands washed, that he noticed the little puddle. He smiled as he cleaned it up, his expression wistful.
Just as he begun to work, Yvette's words popped into his mind.
"It worked, didn't it."
Normally such an intrusion would have irritated him, but on this occasion he was grateful.
"Yes, thank you."
"How did you feel?"
Jean-Luc thought about that and sighed.
"I'm not sure. On one hand I was pleased to give Beverly pleasure, but on the other...fisting is not something I ever thought I'd do to a woman."
"But she enjoyed it."
"Yes, definitely."
"Did you become aroused?"
Again, Jean-Luc had to think about it.
"Not physically, but seeing Beverly so...abandoned, it was very...satisfying."
"Satisfying to know it was you giving her that pleasure."
Jean-Luc smiled.
"Yes."
"Sharing."
His smile widened.
"Yes, sharing."
"Nothing simpler than that, Jean-Luc."
He chuckled.
"I don't think it was simple, Yvette, but I understand the sentiment. Now I am on duty and I must return to work."
Yvette sighed.
"Knowing you as I do, I understand what duty means to you, Jean-Luc, but don't let it interfere with what you have with Beverly. It is too precious."
His reply was sardonic.
"I would have thought what I just did was proof enough that I am willing to put Beverly first."
"As you should. I will see you later tonight. Goodbye, Jean-Luc."
He smiled tenderly.
"Until then."

 

Two days later, the Enterprise offloaded their prisoners and the Plunderer. Their new mission brought relief to both Captain and crew. They were to map a nearby star system, designated M4, named KYcygni in the Cygnus system.
Able to spend more time with Yvette, Jean-Luc asked her what she thought of school.
She thought long and hard about her answer, obviously wanting to be very clear.
"It is not what I expected."
Careful not to appear concerned or disappointed, Jean-Luc asked gently,
"How so?"
The little alien sighed.
"I have been placed amongst the older students. I find their preoccupation with trivial matters distracting and annoying."
With a knowing smile, Jean-Luc's concern evaporated.
"Their behaviour is quite normal, Yvette. I can remember thinking of little else other than girls when I was a teenager."
Yvette huffed.
"Girls, boys, attire...it's endless. How do the teachers ever get them to learn anything?"
Offering a shrug, Jean-Luc's smile grew.
"I honestly don't know, other than they must have limitless patience."
Yvette sighed again. Jean-Luc sat down and patted his lap. Yvette climbed up and shook her head.
"I find them vacuous."
Jean-Luc lowered his head and sighed.
"Are you learning anything?"
Yvette looked up, her eyes shining.
"Oh yes! I block out the other students and concentrate on the teacher. Jean-Luc, can I go to Earth one day?"
That brought surprise to Jean-Luc's face.
"Earth? Why Earth?"
Holding up her hands, Yvette tapped her fingers.
"One: you are from Earth and I would like to see your home. Two: Earth has a fascinating history and three: I have found that I like humans."
With a frown, Jean-Luc sat back and rubbed his lower lip in thought.
"But Yvette, there are many species aboard the Enterprise, each from a world with histories just as interesting or more than Earth's. Don't limit yourself. The universe is there to explore, that's what we are out here doing."
Yvette gave Jean-Luc's shoulder a playful slap.
"And I intend to explore, Jean-Luc, but I want to start with Earth."
Jean-Luc shrugged.
"Well I have no idea when we will return to Earth, we do so only rarely."
"But you can take leave and return?"
That brought a frown.
"I can, but I choose not to. I usually spend my leaves on archaeological digs on distant planets."
"Alone?"
"Yes."
Yvette looked into Jean-Luc's eyes.
"What about Beverly?"
Jean-Luc reddened as he realised he'd not given her any thought in the context of their present discussion.
"Ah...I don't know...Look, Yvette I rarely take leave anyway. I don't think it would be an issue."
With a frown, Yvette gave Jean-Luc a look of admonishment.
"You don't think it's important to consider taking Beverly when you go on leave, even though you rarely go? Jean-Luc, you surprise me. I thought you were more considerate than that. Don't you think Beverly would relish the thought of taking leave with you to some nice...perhaps exotic place?"
With a sigh of resignation, Jean-Luc nodded.
"Of course she would."
"Then why don't you take her somewhere?"
Becoming slightly irritated, Jean-Luc said in a clipped tone,
"Yvette, I am the Captain of this ship, I can't just go gallivanting off whenever the whim takes me. I have far too many responsibilities."
Her frank look of disbelief was humbling.
"What is our present mission?"
He sighed.
"Mapping a star system."
"And the ship is running at its optimum?"
Knowing where this was leading, Jean-Luc held up his hand.
"Yes, but..."
"But nothing! You have no excuse not to take a few days to indulge yourself with Beverly. She would be delighted, and you know it."
Jean-Luc stood abruptly with Yvette in his arms. Looking into her eyes he said softly,
"You can be very persuasive."
Yvette just laughed.
"After dinner tonight, I will make myself scarce and block you both out. Ask her Jean-Luc, you won't be disappointed."
He gently set Yvette on her feet and stroked her head, saying softly,
"I'll think about it. Now, speaking of Beverly, she'll be here soon. What shall we have for dinner?"
Yvette grinned up at Jean-Luc.
"What is Beverly's favourite meal?"
Jean-Luc rolled his eyes.
"Do you ever give up?"
She shook her head.
"As a matter of fact...no."
With a deep sigh and a soft groan, Jean-Luc muttered,
"God help me."

 

As promised, Yvette took herself off to bed early and blocked the couple out. Beverly had noticed Jean-Luc was a little distracted through their dinner and afterwards, but she put it down to work and dismissed it. However, now that they were seated together on the sofa, enjoying a bottle from the Picard vineyards, when he didn't show any signs of relaxing, the Doctor knew something was bothering him. She gave him a long look over the rim of her glass and said quietly,
"What is it, Jean-Luc?"
Startled out of his thoughts, the Captain swallowed and cleared his throat.
"I've been thinking."
With a sardonic chuckle, Beverly quipped,
"That much is certain."
He smiled, reddening slightly.
"You know me so well, don't you."
Running her fingers down his face, Beverly smiled.
"After all these years, what do you expect?"
He shook his head and sighed.
"What would you say if I suggested we take some leave together?"
Beverly gaped.
"You...take leave...with me?"
Holding up one hand, Jean-Luc bowed his head.
"I know it's atypical, but I have been reminded recently that we're a couple now and I have to adjust my thinking. Yes, it's true I rarely take leave, but I thought it might be nice to share some time with you off the ship. Not long mind...perhaps just a week at first, but what do you think?"
In response, Beverly took her glass and his and placed them on the low table. She then took Jean-Luc's face in her hands and kissed him tenderly before whispering,
"I'd love to."
She then looked into Jean-Luc's eyes and said soberly,
"What about Yvette?"
Worry crossed Jean-Luc's face. He held up one finger, saying,
"Give me a moment."
He then thought,
"Yvette?"
Even though she had blocked the couple out, such was her connection to Jean-Luc that she heard him immediately.
"Yes, Jean-Luc?"
"Beverly has agreed to go on leave with me. I take it you will be all right here on the ship while we're gone?"
"NO! We cannot be separated!"
Jean-Luc sat up, alarmed.
"Why not?"
"I would suffer a catastrophic sub arachnoid haemorrhage. It would be fatal."
Jean-Luc's brow lowered.
"Why have you never told me of this?"
"I never thought we would be parted."
"What distance are we talking about?"
"About five kilometres."
"And you know this how?"
"I just know."
Beverly, on seeing Jean-Luc's expression of worry and anger, gently squeezed his hand to gain his attention.
"What is it?"
He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.
"Yvette has just informed me that of we are separated by more than five kilometres, she will suffer a fatal sub arachnoid haemorrhage."
Beverly shook her head.
"How does she know?"
Jean-Luc shrugged.
"She couldn't tell me, she says she just knows."
Abruptly standing, Beverly went over to her lab coat and fished out her medical tricorder from one pocket.
"I'm going to scan her."
Jean-Luc nodded, thinking,
"Yvette, come out here please, Beverly wants to scan you."
The little alien padded out of her room and stood before Beverly, patiently waiting while she was scanned. With a deep frown, Beverly snapped the device closed and went down on one knee.
"Yvette, there are no structural anomalies in your brain that I can detect, but I want you to come down to Sick Bay so I can run a full neurological series."
Yvette sighed.
"I will comply, but you won't find anything, Beverly."
"Then how do you know it will happen."
Yvette shrugged.
"I just do. How do you know you are in love?"
Beverly frowned.
"Love is an emotion, Yvette and it evokes an emotional response. What you're telling us is that you're going to suffer a physical reaction to being separated from Jean-Luc. Can't you give me any idea how you know?"
Yvette went to Jean-Luc and sat on his lap, purring softly as he stroked her fur.
"Beverly, I can't tell you how I know, I just do. It became apparent as our bond became complete. It is the price I have to pay, I suppose."
Beverly went to Jean-Luc and sat beside him so she could be closer to Yvette. With measured words, Beverly strove to keep her panic from her voice.
"What about Jean-Luc? Would he suffer any ill effects?"
Yvette patted Beverly's hand in a placating manner.
"You needn't worry, Beverly. The only thing that would happen to Jean-Luc is that he would suffer neural shock should I die. He would recover in a few days and be normal again within a week."
Beverly breathed a sigh of relief, mirrored by Jean-Luc. The Doctor frowned, asking,
"And the distance? Would Jean-Luc be affected by the separation?"
Yvette shrugged.
"He would feel the loss, but he would not suffer any physical ill effects."
Jean-Luc gently squeezed Yvette's shoulder, gaining her attention.
"Why didn't you tell me this when you suggested I take leave?"
Before Yvette could reply, Beverly said with an edge to her voice,
"Taking leave was Yvette's suggestion?"
Realising his mistake, Jean-Luc sought to mollify his angry lover.
"It was Yvette's suggestion, but it was more that I take a more proactive part in our relationship. She reminded me that you might like to go on leave with me. She made me realise I'd been selfish. I'm sorry, Beverly, I should have thought of it myself."
Her anger subsiding, Beverly was about to speak when Yvette looked up into Jean-Luc's eyes and said,
"Forgive me, Jean-Luc. I should have told you I would have to come too."
Jean-Luc looked at Beverly and she offered a wry smile and a shrug.
"If you can accept it, so can I."
He sighed, frowned, then smiled.
"Very well, it would seem we're to be a threesome."
He was surprised when both Beverly and Yvette hugged him. He was still grinning when they let him go. He sobered and held up a finger of caution.
"I'll have to speak to Will about this. I can only go if he's happy with the idea."
With a chuckle, Beverly lifted her head and grinned.
"The only thing you'll have to worry about is if he falls over when you tell him! My bet is he'll be delighted. You know damned well how long he and Deanna have conspired to get you to take leave."
Jean-Luc feigned grumpiness.
"That's only because he wants to captain the ship in my absence."
Beverly chuckled again.
"Well can you blame him?"
That brought a rare full grin.
"I suppose not. I was never a First Officer, but I treasured my limited time on the Bridge."
Pointing a finger, Beverly smiled.
"There you go then. He's going to be ecstatic. When will you ask him?"
With a long suffering sigh, Jean-Luc rolled his eyes.
"Tomorrow."
Both Beverly and Yvette giggled. It was Beverly who muttered,
"I won't be able to sleep tonight."
Jean-Luc caught the double entendre and smiled.
Yvette blinked and rolled her eyes.
"I'm not going to get any sleep tonight either, am I."
Jean-Luc stood, hugged the little female and walked towards her bedroom.
"We'll wait until you're asleep."
They both knew that wouldn't work, but Yvette felt Jean-Luc's need for privacy, so she went along with it.
"Thank you, Jean-Luc."
He kissed her cheek as he put her in bed.
"You're welcome. Now, sleep soundly."
"I will. Goodnight."
"Goodnight, Yvette."

 

As it turned out, Jean-Luc and Beverly didn't go to bed until quite late. While Beverly was taking a shower, Jean-Luc stripped off his uniform and naked, slipped into his bed. In the dimmed lighting in the room, he watched with hooded eyes as a naked Beverly went to the replicator. She spoke quietly, but was at the machine for so long, Jean-Luc was about to get up to see what she was up to.
With an annoyed snort, Beverly retrieved something and turned to the bed. Jean-Luc sat up, saying with some trepidation,
"What have you there?"
Beverly went to him, kneeling by his side. She had an object in each hand. One Jean-Luc thought he'd seem before; a cock ring, but in her other hand was a latex glove, covered with stiff synthetic spikes. He looked at the glove and swallowed hard. Beverly smiled and spoke softly.
"I think you know what I want you to do."
He gave a slow nod.
"You want me to fist you again."
He pointed to the glove.
"And you want me to wear that."
Beverly nodded and gently proffered the glove.
"Yes. And this."
She held up the cock ring, but before Jean-Luc could say anything, Beverly stared intently into his eyes and said quietly,
"It's not your usual run-of-the-mill cock ring, Jean-Luc."
He gave a small smile that didn't reach his eyes.
"Tell me."
Beverly looked at the shiny metal ring with its wicked spiked teaser and sighed.
"It contains a modified condom, one that will give me immense pleasure."
His eyes darkened.
"And pain."
She nodded slowly.
"Yes."
He sighed.
"That's what took you so long at the replicator."
With an irritated snort, Beverly scowled.
"Bloody thing! First I had to override the safety protocols, then the damned thing refused the dimensions I gave for the condom part. It simply refused to accept a human male could be so large."
Jean-Luc blushed and Beverly felt his embarrassment.
"Don't worry, my love, I made the requests confidential. Not even Geordi will find any reference in the files."
He nodded, but Beverly knew he was having trouble accepting her appeal. She moved to sit beside him, saying softly,
"Too soon?"
He sighed and thought for some moments before saying quietly,
"No...I think I can cope."
She placed the cock ring on the bed and took Jean-Luc's face in her hands. Kissing him with a mixture of tenderness and passion, Beverly whispered,
"Use your fingers...feel me."
She parted her legs and Jean-Luc slid his fingers through her folds.
"You're so wet."
Almost purring, Beverly muttered,
"I ache for you."
Jean-Luc responded by kissing her with immense passion. Beverly pushed the covers down the bed and helped Jean-Luc put the glove on his right hand. She then lay back and spread her legs, saying breathlessly,
"Do it Jean-Luc."
He was worried and not fully convinced he should be doing what she wanted, but he was powerless to deny her.
He knelt between her legs and buried his face in her sex, licking and biting. Beverly wrapped her hands around his head, urging him on.
"Harder, Jean-Luc, bite me harder."
He did and Beverly arched off the bed, crying out,
"Fist me...fist me now!"
Jean-Luc sat up and began to ease his gloved, fisted hand into her vagina, but Beverly had other ideas.
"No...faster...shove it inside me!"
Gritting his teeth and wishing he could close his eyes against the sight of what he was doing, Jean-Luc complied.
Beverly writhed, her hands fisted on the sheet. When Jean-Luc's entire fist was inside her, Beverly gasped.
"Turn it, push it in and out, then bite my clit!"
With tears in his eyes, Jean-Luc obeyed her and was rewarded for his efforts when Beverly abruptly screamed. He wanted to stop, but knew she needed more, so he kept doing it. Her second orgasm was even stronger than the first. About to change the shape of his hand to remove it, Beverly shook her head, saying between panting,
"No, keep it in a fist."
He tried not to imagine the spikes dragging across her already damaged flesh. As he suspected would be the case, his gloved hand emerged wet and bloodied. He lay beside her and took her in his arms, whispering,
"Are you all right?"
Beverly mewed sensuously and ran her hand down his torso to his completely flaccid penis.
A few gentle strokes and he began to stiffen. Beverly sat up and slipped the cock ring over his growing erection. He looked down to see the sheer sheath was covered in synthetic spikes. If not for the ring constricting the blood flow, he would have lost his erection. Instead he continued to grow harder. Beverly gently caressed his chest and face, gaining his attention.
"It's all right, my love. We will both enjoy this, I promise."
He loved her beyond measure and he trusted her implicitly. He smiled and reached for her, sharing a protracted kiss. Beverly gently encouraged him to lie back, whispering,
"Just relax and enjoy it, my love."
He tried to do as she asked, but inside his artificial heart raced and his mouth went dry.
Beverly straddled him and held herself above him, lifting his penis and teasing herself with the tip. The condom, with its spikes, dulled the sensation for Jean-Luc, but he knew Beverly would release him when she felt the time was right.
He watched her intently as she quickly lowered herself, taking him in his entirety.
Unable to resist, Jean-Luc thrust upwards and watched as Beverly threw her head back, crying out with pleasure and pain. She quickly threw herself forward and jammed her clit down on the metal teaser. Tears flowed down her face, one that was contorted in what looked like agony. Jean-Luc said urgently,
"Beverly, are you all right?"
She lifted her head, but kept her eyes closed.
"Oh God, Jean-Luc...it feels...it feels so good...so fucking good..."
Gasping at her confession, Jean-Luc panted,
"I love you, mon coeur."
She began to ride him hard and fast, crying out,
"I love you, Jean-Luc!"
Her first orgasm was spectacular, as was the second, but by the third, she was exhausted.
She lifted herself off slowly and pressed a button on the cock ring. The sheath retracted into the ring without releasing its pressure. Jean-Luc closed his eyes and groaned.
Beverly descended on him, using her mouth and tongue but what surprised Jean-Luc was when she gently inserted her index finger into his anus. Tenderly pushing her finger in and out, she used the knuckles of her free hand to push hard against the area between his anus and scrotum. Jean-Luc gasped Beverly's name and lifted his hips, thrusting into her mouth.
Copying his words, Beverly asked,
"Are you all right, Jean-Luc?"
He nodded and opened his eyes and panted,
"Yes...it's..it's...overwhelming."
Beverly kept up her actions for another five minutes before Jean-Luc cried out,
"Please, Beverly, I want to come!"
It was what she's been waiting for. She removed both her finger and the ring and quickly straddled him. Just as she reached the base of his penis, he gripped her hips and pushed up hard. Something inside her tore as Jean-Luc came with a guttural shout of incoherent ecstasy.
He thrust three times as he came and it was enough to trigger another climax in Beverly.
She collapsed on his chest and Jean-Luc managed to find the strength to hold her as they both slowly recovered. Once he had completely softened, Beverly eased herself off him, wincing as she did so. There was blood, her lubricant and semen staining the sheets and Beverly groaned softly.
"We'll have to change the bed."
Jean-Luc nodded, but as he was about to get up, Beverly took his hand and look deeply into his eyes.
"How was it? Are you all right?"
He thought about it for a few moments and smiled.
"It was wonderful and I'm fine, but we should see to your injuries."
Beverly nodded.
"Agreed. You change the bed while I use the tissue regenerator."
Jean-Luc smiled.
"Consider it done."
While the couple went about their tasks, Yvette lay panting in her bed. She slowly eased the dildo from her body and sighed, closing her eyes and waiting for sleep.

Sleep came quickly for the couple, but Yvette lay awake for a while, thinking about Beverly and her need for intense pain. In the years of her captivity, Yvette had known nothing but pain, but, as she'd explained to Jean-Luc, she had managed to find a way to mitigate it by convincing herself she was being of use, thereby gaining some self esteem. As she grew more and more familiar with Beverly and knew her more intimately, she understood just what a brilliant and independent woman she was. Why she would want pain as she did was a mystery to Yvette. Through her studies of human sexuality she knew such things were perfectly normal, but Beverly's need was so deeply rooted in her psyche and her desire for such intense pain was, even for a human, unusual. It was little wonder Jean-Luc was having trouble accommodating her, but she was certain her advice was correct.
Still, it was unusual. She sighed and stretched languidly as her large eyes began to droop. Sleep came soon after.

 

Breakfast next morning was almost a comical affair. Jean-Luc was well aware that both females wanted him to hurry up to the Bridge to speak with Will about taking leave, but the Captain took his time, leisurely eating his croissants and sipping his coffee. Beverly was cognizant to what he was doing and knew perfectly well if she complained her would feign innocence and go even slower, so she nibbled away at her croissants and tried to make out she hadn't a care in the world. Yvette, however, was a different story. She picked up on the undercurrent of cat-and-mouse games the couple were playing, but she lacked Beverly's patience. Having bolted down a croissant and gulped down some orange juice, she wiped her mouth and stared intently at Jean-Luc, making him look at her.
"Well?"
Wiping his mouth with his serviette, Jean-Luc frowned, but his eyes were twinkling.
"Well what?"
"Are you going to the Bridge to talk to Will?"
Jean-Luc gestured to his plate.
"I've not yet finished my breakfast."

"You've had enough and it's taken you long enough to eat what you've had. Get going, Jean-Luc!"

He smiled and winked at Beverly.
"Is that your opinion too?"
Feigning nonchalance, Beverly smiled, but she shrugged.
"If you're ready, I don't see why not."
He sat in seemingly deep thought for a few moments, before slowly rising to his feet. In an affectedly tired tone, said,
"Well, I suppose I could make an exception and go up to the Bridge now."
Before Beverly could say anything, Yvette said archly,
"Well go on then."
Jean-Luc chuckled and shook his head.
"Very well. If you will excuse me, ladies."
He ambled to the doors, Beverly's eyes glued to his backside. After he'd gone, Yvette said with amusement,
"You really like his buttocks, don't you."
Reddening slightly, Beverly nodded.
"I have always found him very attractive...all of him."
Nodding sagely, Yvette sighed.
"Me too."
Keeping her jealousy at bay, Beverly said with a smile,
"Then that's something we have in common."
Beverly helped Yvette clear the table, then left for her shift. Yvette went to school.

 

 

Upon seeing his Captain leave the aft turbolift, Will rose from the Command Chair, a genial smile on his face.
"Good morning, Sir."
Jean-Luc kept his expression neutral.
"Good morning, Number One. Report."
Straightening, Will's smile disappeared.
"All is well, Captain. All departments report no anomalies."
Jean-Luc offered a small smile.
"Excellent, Commander. Would you join me in my Ready Room when you're free?"
Will gave a nod.
"Of course, Captain."
It was half an hour before Will reported. Jean-Luc was working behind his desk as the door chimed.
"Come."
"You wanted to see me Sir?"
Jean-Luc looked up, keeping his face unreadable.
"Yes, Number One. How would you feel about me taking some leave?"
Will gaped, he couldn't help it.
"Take leave, Sir? You?"
Normally that would have irritated Jean-Luc, but on this occasion he found it amusing, Beverly's words ringing in his ears.
"Yes, Will...me, take leave."
The big man grinned.
"I'd be delighted, Captain! How long, Sir?"
"Just seven days. I thought I might take Doctor Crusher and Yvette with me."
That threw Will. He and Deanna had long speculated about the exact nature of Jean-Luc and Beverly's relationship. They knew they were sexually active, but not much else.
"You're taking Yvette, Captain?"
The Captain nodded, saying dryly,
"Yes."
Knowing by his tone that no more information was going to be forthcoming, Will merely nodded.
"Of course, Captain, I'm sure that will be fine. Do you have a destination in mind?"
Sitting back, Jean-Luc clasped his hands in his lap.
"I thought the M class planet in this system."
Will nodded thoughtfully.
"Camping, Sir?"
Jean-Luc shook his head.
"No, we'll take the yacht."
"Very good, Captain, I'll amend the roster to reflect the changes. I take it you'll leave soon?"
Jean-Luc nodded.
"Yes, as soon as possible. Probably tomorrow morning."
"Aye, Captain."
Will left and Jean-Luc tapped his comm. badge.
"Picard to Crusher."
"Crusher here, go ahead, Captain."
"Are you alone, Doctor?"
"Yes, I'm in my office."
Jean-Luc relaxed.
"How would you like to leave tomorrow morning?"
There was a momentary silence before Beverly said cautiously,
"Ah...yes, but where are we going? There're no resorts within days travel."
He smiled to himself.
"I know, I thought we'd take the Calypso to the nearest M class planet. There's one in this system."
Beverly gave that some thought and realised it was the best she was going to get...for now.
"Okay, I'm game."
"Good, we'll discuss it tonight. Picard out."

 

 

Jean-Luc was reading to Yvette when Beverly walked in to his quarters. He looked up and smiled.
"Hello, Beverly. How was your day?"
She flopped down on the sofa, toed off her boots and closed her eyes.
"Do you have any idea what is involved in organising a roster for Sick Bay with only twelve hours notice?"
Jean-Luc frowned.
"But can't Selar just take over?"
Opening her eyes, Beverly gave Jean-Luc a hard look.
"I have to hand over my patients, make sure all the records are up to date, do an inventory of all drugs and equipment and update the staff as to all the latest downloads from SFM. Normally that would take place over about four days."
Chagrined, Jean-Luc's look of contrition stole Beverly's irritation. She sighed and flapped a hand.
"Don't give it another thought, Jean-Luc, it's done."
He sent her a look of love and said quietly,
"And you're exhausted."
She raised a wry smile.
"Who said men are obtuse? Yes Jean-Luc, I'm pooped."
Yvette gave a small giggle.
"Does that mean I can get a full night's sleep?"
Jean-Luc growled with humour and tickled the little alien.
"You mind your own business, my little lady."
He then said to Beverly in a much softer tone,
"You go and shower, I'll replicate dinner."
Beverly smiled tiredly and slowly stood, picking up her boots.
"Thanks, Jean-Luc, but nothing heavy. Maybe just a chicken salad if that's okay with you?"
Jean-Luc looked down into Yvette's eyes and she nodded.
"That's fine by me"
Jean-Luc grinned.
Then chicken salad it is. He rose with Yvette in his arms, walked to the replicator before putting her down. He looked at the top of her head, yet again surprised by the swell of love he felt for her. He gently stroked her head, saying softly,
"Are you sure you want chicken salad?"
She looked up at him with her remarkable eyes and smiled.
"I don't really like salad."
Jean-Luc bent down and whispered,
"What would you like?"
"Beef and chips."
With a sigh, Jean-Luc frowned.
"What about some vegetables?"
Yvette thought for a moment or two, then nodded.
"A fried egg, some peas and fried onions."
His eyebrows raised, Jean-Luc smiled.
"Hungry?"
Yvette nodded, grinning.
"School makes me ravenous! It's all that learning."
Chuckling, Jean-Luc placed the orders then he and Yvette set the table. By the time Beverly emerged, dinner was ready and waiting.
Their dinner conversation was very animated. Jean-Luc told his companions how the scans recently done had showed the planet he'd chosen to be idyllic. Warm and tropical, it was devoid of sentient life and, as far as they could tell; no dangerous animals. Beverly spent some time telling Yvette of the luxurious Captain's yacht and how they wouldn't need to take anything.
They lingered at the table, excited, yet tired. It was Jean-Luc who brought the discussion to an end.
"Well, I think we should retire for the night; we have an early start tomorrow."
Yvette rubbed her eyes and burped loudly, making her giggle. Jean-Luc frowned and she immediately sobered.
"Sorry. I beg my pardon."
His frown disappeared and Jean-Luc smiled.
"After the meal you just ate, I think I can forgive your lapse. Now off to bed with you, I'll be in to tuck you in soon."
Yvette slid off the seat and kissed both Jean-Luc and Beverly.
"Goodnight."
In unison, Jean-Luc and Beverly said,
"Goodnight, Yvette."

 

 

Jean-Luc had to admit, he was tired. He too had had to do extra work to clear the way for this break. After he had put Yvette to bed, he came out to find that Beverly had cleared away the dinner dishes and was in the bedroom, lying in bed naked, her eyes slitted. Jean-Luc sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose, saying with exasperation,
"Beverly..."
She patted his side of the bed and smiled.
"It's, all right, Jean-Luc, I'm tired and I know you are too, I just want something a little subdued. How about you get naked and I'll tell you what I have in mind."
Sighing in resignation, but with a rueful smile, Jean-Luc complied.
Once he was in bed and lying on his side, Beverly lay on her back and said quietly,
"Kiss me and while you do it, pinch my nipples hard."
He did so and Beverly moaned into his mouth. She reached for him, stroking him as he slowly hardened. Suddenly she broke the kiss and panted,
"Pinch my clit with your fingernails."
Distracted by what she was doing to him, he had to concentrate and found he wasn't disturbed by what she had asked him to do. Her clit was engorged and he pinched it hard, rewarded when Beverly arched and let out a long soft cry. She gently took his hand and removed it from her sex, but didn't stop her sensuous stroking. In fact, she sat up and reached for a tube on the side table. Covering her hands in lubricant, she stroked harder and faster with both hands, making Jean-Luc buck his hips involuntarily. She felt him harden further and slipped one of her fingers into his anus. He arched up from the bed, crying out,
"I'm going to come!"
Beverly took the head of his penis into her mouth and sucked hard while pushing her finger to the limit. He filled her mouth with his semen and she swallowed, relishing the situation whereby she could take her lover's essence within her and ingest it. It made her feel even closer to him.
Jean-Luc slowly relaxed, his entire body growing limp. Beverly wiped her hands on a handy towel and pulled the covers up before snuggling up to her lover. Jean-Luc welcomed her into his embrace, barely able to keep his eyes open. His deep baritone rumbled through his chest, making Beverly smile.
"I love you, mon coeur."
Sighing with happiness, Beverly idly drew runes through Jean-Luc's chest hair.
"And I love you, my dear heart."
Sleep came soon after.

 

 

 

The Captain's yacht departed early next morning. Will had positioned the Enterprise close to the planet with instructions to return in one week's time. Yvette was in the cockpit, watching the great ship as it made its jump to warp.
"WOW!"
Jean-Luc chuckled.
"If I'm not mistaken, that was my first reaction on seeing a ship jump to warp from space."
Yvette's already huge eyes widened.
"It's so fast."
With a nod, Jean-Luc agreed.
"It certainly is. Now I want you to go and sit in the lounge while I pilot the yacht to the surface."
"Okay, Jean-Luc."
Beverly looked up to see Yvette take her seat.
"Did you see the Enterprise ?"
Yvette nodded eagerly.
"Yes! I saw it jump to warp."
Nodding wisely, Beverly said softly,
"It's impressive alright. Just think...over a thousand people are on that ship, travelling through space faster than the speed of light."
She shook her head.
"It makes me feel small."
Yvette tilted her head, saying gently,
"Insignificant?"
Beverly frowned.
"In a way, but compared to the vastness of space, I don't think warp travel makes me feel insignificant, just small."
Yvette nodded in return, a remarkable lack of sadness in her voice when she said quietly,
"I used to feel insignificant."
With a deep frown, Beverly replied,
"But you told us you found purpose in what was happening to you."
"Purpose, yes, but I had no say in what happened to me. I was...a thing, a thing with no other use but to provide pleasure. I did eventually find a purpose, some form of self esteem in that, but nevertheless, I was still insignificant. Had I died, they would simply have found another to take my place. I had value only as long as I was alive."
From the cockpit, Jean-Luc called,
"We're about to enter the atmosphere, it might get a little bumpy."
Distractedly, Beverly called out,
"Understood."
To Yvette she said,
"I'm so sorry, Yvette. You have been through so much sorrow and pain."
Yvette shrugged.
"I don't think of it as sorrow, Beverly, I think of it as a journey. If that was the path I had to take to be with Jean-Luc, then I accept what happened to me."
With a deep sigh, Beverly bowed her head.
"I don't think I could be so forgiving."
Yvette's eyes hardened.
"I haven't forgiven, Beverly. Hate and vengeance lives within me, but it is tempered by my love for Jean-Luc."
Jean-Luc's voice rang out.
"Prepare for landing."
Both Beverly and Yvette put their seat belts on. With his customary skill, Jean-Luc landed the yacht with nary a bump.
Beverly had more she wanted to discuss with Yvette, but she had to wait. Jean-Luc emerged in the day area just as the aft hatch was opening.
"After you, ladies."
Yvette was first out, almost running. Beverly, feeling very introspective, followed, hand in hand with her lover. Jean-Luc sensed Beverly's mood and said quietly,
"What is it, my love?"
Summoning a wan smile, Beverly sighed.
"I was just talking with Yvette, it got me thinking."
Now concerned, Jean-Luc asked,
"About what?"
Beverly took a moment to take in the beauty that surrounded her, then sighed again.
"Our place in the universe."
Somewhat taken aback, Jean-Luc softly whistled.
"That's quite a subject, Beverly."
She smiled with more warmth.
"Oh, I know, my love, but if anyone has a bloody edged perspective of our insignificance, it's Yvette."
That silenced the Captain. He squeezed Beverly's hand and took the opportunity to view his surroundings. Tall orange trunked trees were capped in bright purple foliage. Flitting between the thick canopy were brightly coloured birds. Thinking about what Beverly had said, Jean-Luc muttered,
"I always thought of our place in the universe as insignificant, but you only have to look around you to see that everything is insignificant in the greater scheme of things."
He looked down at the ground to see small insects rummaging through the leaf detritus. He pointed.
"Are they more significant than us? Are they aware of us? Are they aware of their place in the universe?"
Beverly snorted.
"Going a little Zen on me are you?"
He sighed.
"No, but I'm just as confused as you are and as for Yvette, we can only continue to help her...help her and love her."

 

 

They spent the day exploring their environment, eating a quiet lunch by the side of a river, not far from the landing site. Evening came quickly and the temperature dropped markedly. They retreated to the yacht and ate their evening meal at the dining table. Beverly, still pondering their earlier conversation. After dinner was over and the table cleared, the trio moved to the lounge. She waited while Yvette and Jean-Luc discussed their day, adding her own observations before changing the subject. Leaning forward in her chair, Beverly said quietly,
"Yvette, can we talk further about what we discussed this morning?"
The little alien shrugged.
"I don't mind, Beverly, but what can be gained. It is history now."
With a rueful smile, Beverly lifted her hands.
"There is much to be gained, Yvette, at least I think so."
Holding her hands palm upwards, Yvette said softly,
"Then ask away."
Beverly smiled her thanks.
"You said that you accepted what happened to you because it led you to Jean-Luc. How can you be so...equanimous? What you went through...what you suffered...it was horrendous."
Yvette shrugged.
"Yes it was, but from what I know of fate, our destiny is all about choices. My choices led me to Jean-Luc."
Beverly shook her head.
"You didn't chose to be kidnapped, Yvette, you didn't choose to be horribly abused."
The alien smiled.
"No, I didn't, but I chose to stay alive. I could have taken my own life."
Jean-Luc said quietly,
"You thought about it?"
Yvette nodded.
"Often."
"What stopped you?"
Yvette looked into Jean-Luc's eyes and smiled.
"Cowardice. I was too scared of what I might find if I took my own life."
Beverly said softly,
"You believe in an afterlife?"
Yvette shrugged.
"I'm not sure I believe in anything other than my love for Jean-Luc, but from listening to some of the men talking about their beliefs, I found I couldn't discount the possibility."
Jean-Luc frowned.
"I'm surprised any of those pirates had religious beliefs."
With a chuckle, Yvette shook her head.
"You'd be surprised indeed, Jean-Luc. There were many who had very devout beliefs, but they only applied to their own kind. What they did to others was of no consequence to them."
Beverly scratched her head.
"So you believe you were somehow destined to meet Jean-Luc."
"Destined? No, not destined. Life is too random for destiny. No, I believe it was a simple matter of choices....choices and time. In my life I was ready to meet Jean-Luc at that time."
Beverly rubbed her brow.
"I'm not so sure I would be so equanimous if I were in your position."
Yvette grinned.
"My position? Look at me now, Beverly. The journey was worth every centimetre."
Jean-Luc stood.
"Well, ladies, I think we should retire for the night. The rotation of this planet is slow and we have a long night ahead of us. Tomorrow is a new day and I believe we'd be better prepared for it with a good night's sleep."
Beverly and Yvette rose from their seats and Beverly waited while Yvette hugged and kissed Jean-Luc.
"Bon nuit, Yvette."
"Bon nuit, Jean-Luc."
Once Yvette had gone to her room, Beverly held out her hand. Jean-Luc took it and drew her to him.
"Would you like to know something?"
Mewing softly, Beverly nuzzled Jean-Luc's neck.
"I was once told my perfect mate should be independent, forceful, brilliant and adventurous. You are all that and so much more, mon coeur. You are compassionate, you possess a wicked sense of humour, you're passionate and warm. I too have travelled a journey to find your love and I don't regret a single centimetre of it. And you should know...I very much appreciate your acceptance of my relationship with Yvette."
That made Beverly bow her head, causing Jean-Luc to ask,
"Beverly? Have I said something wrong?"
She shook her head silently, then sighed.
"No, my love. I'm just having feelings of guilt."
Jean-Luc frowned.
"Guilt? Why guilt?"
She sighed again.
"Yes, guilt. I'm not completely over your feelings for Yvette, Jean-Luc and I am forced to admit, shamefully, that I still feel slightly jealous."
Gently placing his hands on her shoulders, Jean-Luc said softly,
"But, Beverly...my feelings for Yvette are those of a parent towards a child. Surely you can't be jealous of that? It doesn't impact on my relationship with you at all."
She looked into his eyes, her mouth a thin line before she said tartly,
"Really? How many children want to have sex with their parent?"
Jean-Luc sighed in exasperation.
"Beverly..."
She held up a hand, closing her eyes.
"I know! I'm sorry, I can't help it. I suppose the root of my problem is that I don't want to share you."
Jean-Luc gently drew Beverly into his embrace.
"You don't have to share me, Beverly, I am yours, lock, stock and barrel...I have been since the first time I saw you all those years ago."
Beverly laid her head on Jean-Luc's shoulder and hugged him, whispering,
"I don't deserve you, Jean-Luc."
He kissed her cheek and closed his eyes.
"It is I who doesn't deserve you, my love."
Beverly lifted her head and kissed her lover with unbridled passion.
"I want you."
He kissed her back with equal passion.
"Then you shall have me, mon amour."
He was becoming aroused even before they had entered their bedroom. Idly, he once again mentally thanked the designers of the yacht for making the bedrooms sound proof. Into his mind a mildly amused voice came from Yvette.
"So am I."
He thought back firmly,
"Goodnight, Yvette."
A chuckle was his only reply.
Bringing his thoughts to the present, he was pleased to see Beverly standing before him naked. He could see by her smoky blue eyes and her erect nipples she was ready for him. He slowly undressed, his eyes never leaving hers until he too was naked. He then took the time to let his eyes wander over her beautiful body. His own eyes darkened with desire.
"Ye Gods, Beverly, but you're stunning."
Crooking her finger, she drew him closer, then pointed to the bed. On it were several objects.
In a sultry undertone she said,
"I brought some toys with me. You choose."
Hesitation made his erection soften a little. Beverly took his hand and looked into his eyes.
"You have come so far in such a short period of time, Jean-Luc. We don't have to use any of these, like Yvette says, it's all about choice, but to continue as we have been you have to be bold, brave, strong and resolute. I know you are all of those things and more."
Hand in hand they went to the bed and Jean-Luc picked up each item in turn, trying not to let his disquiet show. Eventually he chose a curious looking item and raised one brow in silent query. Beverly smiled and explained.
"I'm not sure what it's called, but this ring acts like a cock ring and the long stiff studded bit runs up the length of the underside of your shaft. The second ring does up under the head of your cock. As you can see, it's spiked."
Jean-Luc looked more closely and ran his fingers over the studs and spikes. He then looked into Beverly's eyes.
"You want this too?"
She nodded, taking his hand and putting it over her sex. Huskily she said,
"Feel me."
She was saturated in her own lubricant. With one broad sweep of her arm, she cleared the bed.
She then knelt in front of Jean-Luc and put the apparatus on him. Knowing her would regain his erection as he pleasured her, she sprawled on the bed, panting,
"Make me come."
He went to her, kissing her passionately and pinching her nipples hard. She said over and over,
"Yes...yes...yes."
He moved down her body, biting and licking until he buried his face in her sex. He wasn't surprised when she almost shouted,
"Bite me!"
He did so, but she barked,
"Harder!"
As he slid his fist into her he bit her clit until he tasted blood. Beverly screamed and arched off the bed. He was about to stop, but she begged for more.
"No, Jean-Luc, I want more..please...more!"
With his now raging erection confined in the device, he could do nothing but comply. He brought her to four more climaxes until she tapped his shoulder, panting,
"I want you inside me."
He slowly removed his fist and covered her body with his. Beverly allowed him to ease himself into her, her head thrashing back and forth on the pillow as his enormous penis filled her. The lower cock ring had no teaser, but as his coarse pubic hair made contact with her damaged clit she shouted in sheer joy.
"Oh God, yes! Do it to me, Jean-Luc, do it to me hard."
Knowing that Beverly had two very sensitive areas inside her vagina, Jean-Luc withdrew, then slammed back into her. He opened his closed eyes to see Beverly's mouth and eyes open wide in a soundless scream. Again and again he slammed in and out of her. Her orgasms seemed to be endless, but Jean-Luc was being overwhelmed by his own need for release. With his entire genitalia aching he pleaded breathlessly,
"Beverly...please...I want to come."
Shaking her head, Beverly gasped,
"Not yet."
She climaxed twice more, but Jean-Luc was at his limit, both physically and psychologically. He pleaded to be released. With tears streaming down his face he sobbed,
"Please...please...I beg you, Beverly...let me come!"
Nodding, Beverly encouraged Jean-Luc to withdraw completely. With two quick movements he was free of the device. Beverly pulled him to her, biting his earlobe and whispering huskily,
"Give yourself to me, my love."
He slid back inside her and with half a dozen hard thrusts he reached his climax. He buried himself inside her as deeply as he could and shouted her name as he seemed to ejaculate endlessly.
As they lay together, spent and trembling, Yvette slid the dildo from herself and relaxed in her bed, sharing the afterglow of the couple's lovemaking.
By now, Jean-Luc was becoming accustomed to seeing blood everywhere, but he didn't think he would ever stop being concerned. Sated and stretching with feline grace, Beverly looked into Jean-Luc's eyes and began to weep. Immediately alarmed, Jean-Luc took her into his arms, saying brokenly,
"Have I hurt you too much?"
Finding it difficult to speak, Beverly swallowed the lump in her throat and shook her head, managing to say,
"No, my love. I was just thinking how much I love you and how very lucky I am that you are willing to help me achieve the best sex I've ever had. Thank you, Jean-Luc."
He was so relieved, tears formed in his eyes.
"I would do anything for you, Beverly...you know that."
She nodded, her voice a little stronger.
"Yes, but to overcome your inherent gentleness just to satisfy me means so much to me, I'm afraid I owe you a debt I can never fully repay."
He smiled and kissed her.
"Between two people who love each other as we do, there are no debts, Beverly. The gift of your love is all I have ever needed...all I have ever wanted."
Her smile was crooked as she tried unsuccessfully to control her emotions.
"You have all of me, Jean-Luc, there is nothing more I can give."
"Then we are even." He said softly. "Now let's see to your injuries and then sleep."
She nodded, still smiling.
"Good idea."
They settled down, snuggling together, but Jean-Luc found he couldn't find sleep. Beverly, upon feeling his tension, lifted her head from the pillow and asked softly,
"What is it, Jean-Luc?"
He sighed and shook his head, whispering,
"It's nothing. Go to sleep mon coeur."
Now concerned, Beverly propped herself up on one elbow.
"I can't sleep if I know something's wrong. Tell me."
Knowing she would not back down, Jean-Luc turned to face his lover in the darkness of their bedroom.
"Why do you make me beg?"
Immediately embarrassed, Beverly lowered her head back to the pillow and rolled onto her back. When she didn't say anything for a while, Jean-Luc quietly said,
"Are you a sadist too?"
Her reply was sharp.
"NO!"
Trying to calm her, Jean-Luc reached for her, but she shied away from his touch. Keeping his voice soft and gentle he spoke to the blackness of the room.
"I am coming to terms with your masochism, but I don't understand why you make me beg. Have I done something to you that makes you want revenge?"
Beverly let out a plosive breath and tried valiantly to keep control of herself.
"How many years have I served under you, Jean-Luc?"
He was surprised by the question and a little angered.
"Seven years, but surely you don't resent the differences in our rank?"
Beverly sighed deeply.
"It's not resentment, Jean-Luc, it's just that there are times when I like to be in total control."
Jean-Luc thought he understood.
"And it increases your pleasure."
With a silent nod, Beverly turned onto her side and gently caressed Jean-Luc's face.
"It's not just that you are my Commanding Officer, Jean-Luc. You are my lover...my partner and when we have sex I like to be in charge, but that's not to say it has to be that way every time. However I find it difficult to describe how I feel when you beg. Superior, certainly, but knowing how much you love me and that you're willing to trust me...well let's just say it's a very potent mix, very...heady."
They lay in silence for a while before Jean-Luc said into the darkness,
"Normally I like to be in charge, but you know that of course. It was difficult for me to beg you at first, but you're right, I do trust you. I suppose there is a certain amount of liberation in handing someone else the reins, especially someone you love."
He snorted softly and reached for Beverly. This time she went to him and they embraced before kissing tenderly.
"I never thought I would experience so many new, personal things at my age."
Beverly chuckled quietly.
"And I never thought I would find a lover who could satisfy me."
They kissed again.
"Then we're both lucky." Jean-Luc said softly.
Beverly just hummed her reply, her eyes were beginning to droop. She managed to say,
"Do you think you can sleep now?"
Jean-Luc yawned expansively and nodded.
"Yes. Goodnight Beverly."
The Doctor snuggled closer, on the very edge of sleep. She mumbled,
"'Night." And was gone. Jean-Luc followed her mere minutes later.

 

The next morning proved to be vexing. After breakfast, Yvette raced outside, wanting to go back to the river, but she took a detour and found an expanse of high grass-like plants. Delighted, she romped in it, heedless of the seeds which got caught in her fur. By the time Jean-Luc and Beverly arrived on the scene, Yvette's fur was matted with burrs. It took two and a half hours with a comb and a lot of complaints from Yvette until her fur was once again free of the seeds. Jean-Luc put his hands on her shoulders and looked her in the eye.
"Now you stay away from that grass patch."
Yvette nodded, still fidgeting. Beverly decided to play peace maker.
"Yvette, can you swim?"
The little female shrugged.
"I don't know."
Jean-Luc knew what was coming and tried to forestall his lover.
"Now Beverly..."
She would have none of it.
"Oh come on, Jean-Luc. It's a lovely day and that river looked wonderful. I bet we can teach Yvette to swim in under an hour."
He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.
"I didn't bring my bathing trunks."
He caught the mischief in her eyes before she spoke.
"We don't need bathing suits, Jean-Luc...it's just the three of us."
Shaking his head, Jean-Luc said warningly,
"Beverly..."
The Doctor chuckled impishly.
"Come on, Jean-Luc...when was the last time you went skinny dipping?"
Before he could answer, Yvette's eye widened.
"You mean go in the water with no clothes?"
Jean-Luc opened his mouth to reply, but Beverly beat him to it.
"Yes! It's great fun, Yvette."
Jean-Luc was fast running out of patience. Through gritted teeth he muttered,
"I am not going skinny dipping!"
With a dismissive wave of her hand, Beverly swept his protest aside.
"Of course you are. Come on, Yvette, let's get some towels."
Yvette ran to the replicator, but Jean-Luc snagged Beverly's arm, gently pulling her back and saying sotto voce,
"You know what happens when I see you naked."
Beverly purred coquettishly and whispered,
"Hopefully the water will be cold enough to keep you in check. Besides, Jean-Luc, if Yvette wants to play by the river, she has to know how to swim."
Yvette was saying...
"What colour towels?"
As Jean-Luc muttered,
"But we don't have to teach her naked! You know damn well we can replicate bathers."
Beverly playfully nipped at his ear lobe, saying quietly,
"Come on, Jean-Luc...it'll be fun, I promise."
Yvette ran back to the couple, saying impatiently,
"Can I have a yellow towel? I like yellow."
Jean-Luc threw Beverly a dark look, then went to the replicator with Yvette. He ordered the towels; Yvette's was yellow.
Beverly was right. The river was cold, keeping Jean-Luc's erection at bay and they had Yvette swimming in under an hour. It took Jean-Luc some time to overcome his embarrassment at being naked, but they had such fun, he soon forgot his inhibitions and joined in.
Later, lying in the sun to dry, Yvette became bored. She sidled up to Jean-Luc and asked,
"Can I go exploring?"
Knowing a refusal would only make her sulk; Jean-Luc sighed, reached into their bag and retrieved a tricorder. He entered some commands and gave it to Yvette.
"You may go exploring, but not too far and I want you to scan often. If the alarm goes off, you are to return immediately."
On her feet in a flash, Yvette was about to run off, but Beverly stopped her with...
"And keep out of the grass patches!"
Offering a rueful grin, Yvette nodded and quickly disappeared.
Now alone, Beverly ran an appreciative eye over Jean-Luc's back and behind. He was lying face down and she leaned over and tickled his backside. He swatted her hand away and snorted.
"That's quite enough of that, thank you."
He could tell she was aroused when she said quietly,
"Turn over, Jean-Luc."
Just the sound of her voice made him begin to harden. He briefly considered refusing, but in the end he wanted her as much as she wanted him. He turned over and Beverly was delighted to see his erection. Purring sultrily, she murmured,'
"Sex outdoors is so much fun."
He reached for her, pulling her to him and kissing her passionately, his fingers sliding into her sex. Somehow, Beverly reached into the bag and produced a cock ring. Jean-Luc's eyes darkened when he saw it. The Doctor forestalled his anxiety.
"It has synthetic spikes, but you're too hard for me to put it on you. I'm going to squeeze you under the head...it may hurt a little."
As she squeezed him, he pushed his fingers deep inside her and pressed his thumb nail hard against her clit. Beverly bit her lower lip, noting his erection didn't soften. She took a deep breath and said firmly,
"Stop that, Jean-Luc. I want to get this ring on you."
He looked into her eyes and said softly,
"And I want you to come."
He ground his thumb nail against her again and she moaned sensuously, closing her eyes. She gave up her quest and dropped the ring, lying back and allowing Jean-Luc to do as he wanted.
Rising to his knees, he used his free hand to pinch her nipples savagely, twisting and pulling. Beverly cried out, her alabaster skin stained pink with arousal. He crouched between her spread legs and withdrew his fingers, only to form a fist. He pushed it inside her as he bent and bit her clit hard enough to taste blood. Beverly screamed and came hard. Jean-Luc immediately stopped what he was doing, making Beverly beg for more. He shook his head, saying,
"No, put the ring on me now."
This time when she squeezed him he winced and partially lost his erection. Beverly slipped the ring on and stroked him quickly. He was hard again in seconds. She had intended to tease him, but he had other ideas. He pushed her onto her back, using his knees to spread her legs before plunging inside her. As the teaser hit her damaged clit, Beverly cried out, her body arching up from the ground. Jean-Luc plunged in and out relentlessly, heedless of his own needs...mentally refusing to beg, but all too soon his testicles began to ache almost unbearably and he briefly thought his enormous penis would split under the strain of holding too much blood. However, his goal was to make Beverly reach her limit, so he pushed his pain aside and continued.
Beverly lost count of the number of times she came, but eventually she reached her limit. Gasping and moaning, she beseeched her lover,
"Stop, Jean-Luc, I can't take any more."
Through gritted teeth, Jean-Luc ground out,
"Release me."
He was still inside her when Beverly undid the cock ring. He came immediately, experiencing more pain than pleasure, yet still feeling utterly sated. Panting heavily, Jean-Luc rested his head on Beverly's shoulder. Together they recovered. It was Beverly who eventually said,
"I didn't know you possessed such control."
He lifted his head and smiled ruefully, still panting.
"Neither did I."
Beverly wiped some of the sweat from his face before asking,
"What prompted it?"
He shrugged, not really knowing himself.
"I'm not sure. I suppose I wanted to see if I could outlast you."
Beverly grinned.
"Without begging."
Jean-Luc frowned, then smiled.
"Without begging. In fact, as I recall, it was you who begged."
Beverly pushed him gently and he withdrew to lie beside her. They lay in silence for a while before Beverly said archly,
"Chauvinist."
Rolling onto his side, Jean-Luc was angry.
"I am not a chauvinist!"
"You are so! You just had to prove your superiority!"
He sighed and briefly closed his eyes.
"Beverly...I am learning a lot in a very short period of time. If you want me to be an equal partner, then I have to know my limits. For my own peace of mind, I had to know. It wasn't about superiority, it was about completely satisfying you and breaking new ground for me."
Beverly closed her eyes, two tears slipping free. She felt Jean-Luc's fingers wiping them from her face.
"I'm sorry, Jean-Luc, I should have known better. You're an altruist, it's your very nature."
She opened her eyes and gave him a frank look.
"How did you do it?"
He looked embarrassed, causing Beverly to chuckle.
"Come on...out with it."
He grimaced and admitted,
"I recalibrated the warp core...three times."
Not fully convinced, Beverly said gently.
"You could do that in five minutes. And what else?"
Reddening, Jean-Luc confessed,
"I translated nine of my favourite Shakespeare sonnets into Klingon."
"And that's it?"
With a sigh, Jean-Luc mumbled,
"I had two lines of the tenth done when you gave up."
Smiling wryly, Beverly muttered,
"Worf would be proud of you. He always said Shakespeare was at its best in the original Klingon."
That made Jean-Luc chuckle.
Beverly sobered.
"Seriously though, it was a phenomenal effort."
Jean-Luc shrugged.
"I didn't know I could do it until I did. Now I know."
Beverly's grin was impish.
"Now we both know."
Jean-Luc's grin was lascivious.
"Indeed."
Then Jean-Luc frowned.
"Yvette has been gone a long time. You're closest, reach into the bag, there's another tricorder in there. We can track her with it."
"Okay."
Having deployed the device, Jean-Luc frowned.
"She's over two kilometres away."
He then abruptly stood, bringing Beverly to her feet too.
"Beverly, her blood pressure is low."
Immediately adopting her Doctor's persona, Beverly barked,
"Back to the yacht, Jean-Luc, we can get to her faster that way."
No reply was necessary as they both ran for the yacht.
Beverly quickly repaired her injuries as Jean-Luc dressed. As he piloted the yacht, Beverly dressed and it was only minutes before they were landing next to Yvette's prone body. As they ran towards her they could see a pool of blood between her legs and what looked like a branch protruding from her vagina. She was barely conscious as Beverly scanned her. With exquisite gentleness, Beverly removed the branch. More blood flowed out sluggishly as Beverly said perfunctorily,
"Take her to the yacht, Jean-Luc, but be very gentle."
He picked her up with great care and, as he carried her to the yacht, said worriedly,
"Can you heal her?"
Beverly nodded as she trotted beside him.
"I think so, the yacht is well equipped for medical needs."

She was right. After repairing the vaginal tears caused by the branch, the bark and splinters were removed and a saline drip inserted into Yvette's arm vein. Yvette began to regain consciousness quite quickly after that. Jean-Luc took her hand in his and said softly,
"Why, Yvette?"
She seemed unable to answer and her eyes filled with tears, but she managed,
"What you and Beverly did was so intense...I couldn't help it...I had to..."
Beverly gently squeezed Jean-Luc's arm, stopping any further questions. To Yvette she said,
"We're so sorry, Yvette. We should have known what it would do to you."
Yvette shook her head, trying to regain her composure.
"Don't apologise, Beverly. It was...it was...wonderful."
The Doctor reddened and smiled.
"Yes, it was."
Jean-Luc was trying to control his anger.
"That doesn't mitigate our actions, Yvette. In future we will be more careful."
Yvette nodded and her eyes closed.
"I'm tired."
Gently stroking her head, Jean-Luc kissed her cheek and said softly,
"Sleep, little one, sleep."
She did so and Jean-Luc sat back, resting his elbows on his knees and cradling his face in his hands. Beverly covered Yvette with a blanket and said quietly,
"Are you angry with me?"
He shook his head.
"No, I'm angry with myself. I should have realised, Beverly."
The red head sighed.
"We both should have realised, Jean-Luc."
Jean-Luc sat up and thumped his thigh with his fist.
"We have to make sure nothing like this ever happens again. There is more at stake here than our sexual gratification. I am, to all intents and purposes, Yvette's father. I have to be more responsible."
Beverly nodded.
"We both do. If you're her father, then I'm her de facto mother."
The Captain nodded.
"True enough."
Beverly took Jean-Luc's hand.
"You realise it probably means we can't have sex unless Yvette is close by?"
With a heavy sigh, Jean-Luc nodded.
"Yes."
"Then we have some re evaluation to do."
With a snort, Jean-Luc shook his head.
"That's putting it mildly, but the reality is she's been close by all this time. We've just ignored it."
Beverly sighed deeply.
"Until today."
Jean-Luc nodded.
"Until today."
They both sat in silence for a while before Jean-Luc said quietly,
"Shall we go back to the Enterprise?"
Beverly thought about it, but shook her head.
"No, I don't think so. Yvette will be fine by tomorrow and I know she's really enjoying being off the ship. No, let's stay."
Jean-Luc nodded and summoned a smile.
"She does enjoy the freedom, doesn't she?"
"Yes! Why don't we try fishing tomorrow?"
Jean-Luc almost gaped.
"You like fishing?"
Nodding vigorously, Beverly said enthusiastically,
"Yes! Wesley and I used to go all the time when he was little. I was quite good at it too."
Jean-Luc's smile grew into a rare full grin.
"Then fishing it is."
Their light-hearted banter soon waned as the ramifications of what had happened weighed heavily on their minds.

 

Yvette slept for the rest of the afternoon and woke just before dinner time. She woke hungry. Jean-Luc had to laugh, causing Beverly to ask,
"What's so funny?"
He immediately realised his mistake, but had to answer honestly. Holding up a placating hand, he said mildly,
"I never thought I'd see someone with an appetite as...healthy as yours."
Despite his efforts to be diplomatic, Beverly was incensed.
"Are you saying I eat too much?"
Now slightly intimidated in the face of her anger, Jean-Luc shook his head vigorously.
"Not at all! Your svelte, sexy figure is testament to your wonderful metabolism."
Not fully placated, Beverly put one fist on her hip and pointed with her other hand.
"But you still think I eat a lot."
Not sure what to say, Jean-Luc simply shrugged.
Beverly huffed and muttered,
"Well at least I do eat. You, on the other hand, get by on barely nothing but lettuce and tea."
Yvette piped up with,
"I can go two weeks without food or water."
The couple gaped. Beverly asked gently,
"How?"
"I can shut down my metabolism and put myself into a form of stasis. I was often in that state when I was abused."
Jean-Luc muttered,
"Well that at least was a mercy."
Yvette shook her head.
"Not really, Jean-Luc. Although my body was shut down, I was always mentally aware. I felt everything, I just didn't respond."
The Captain's eyes sharpened.
"Did your captor know?"
Yvette nodded.
"Yes."
"Damn him to hell!"
Yvette placed a gentle hand on Jean-Luc's arm.
"He's gone, Jean-Luc, all that is behind me now. I am with you, that is all that matters."
Jean-Luc rose and picked Yvette up, hugging her.
"I love you, Yvette."
"And I love you, Jean-Luc."

Over breakfast the next morning, both Beverly and Yvette noticed Jean-Luc was quieter than usual. Knowing her lover as she did, after they had eaten, Beverly gently took one of his hands and said softly,
"What is it?"
Yvette looked into Jean-Luc's eyes and said,
"He's worried about our connection."
Placing his serviette on the table, Jean-Luc took a deep breath, held it for a few seconds, then slowly let it out.
"That's not exactly true, Yvette. What concerns me is the range. You were two kilometres away, yet you sensed us. And then there was your injury. Why didn't you call for help?"
Yvette sighed.
"I was enjoying the afterglow, Jean-Luc. What I...we...experienced was so intense, I wanted to hang on to it as long as I could. And as for my injury, I thought I might be able to regenerate once I'd removed the branch. Beverly beat me to it."
Jean-Luc shook his head.
"But two kilometres, Yvette. That's a long way for a mental connection."
With a sad smile, Yvette said softly,
"It will increase as I age."
Shock made Jean-Luc gape.
"Do you know your eventual range?"
"No. All I do know is that it is getting stronger the older I get."
Beverly frowned, wondering if she should voice her concerns.
"The trouble is, we don't know how long your species lives for, but judging how quickly you've grown mentally since your rescue, I hesitate to say it might not me all that long."
Yvette shrugged, not knowing the answer, but Jean-Luc held up his hand.
"But, Beverly, we have to take into account the strategies Yvette used to endure her capture. Now free of those constraints she has blossomed. Perhaps she may live much longer than you anticipate."
Beverly nodded guardedly, her eyes showing nothing but compassion.
"Perhaps, but we cannot discount my gut feeling. I'm a Doctor, Jean-Luc and from what I've seen..." She sighed. "Let's just say I hope you're right."
The discussion had put a pall over the participants so Yvette decided to lighten things up.
"Jean-Luc can I ask you something?"
Brought out of his dark thoughts, Jean-Luc smiled, his eyes twinkling.
"Anything, you know that, Yvette."
"Thank you, Jean-Luc. Can I ask you to remind me to take my dildo with me when I go exploring?"
Beverly guffawed, Jean-Luc blushed, lowered his head and shook it.
"You are incorrigible, Yvette, but you needn't worry. Neither Beverly nor I will be so irresponsible as to put you in that situation again."
With a heavy sigh, Yvette shook her head.
"Pity, I really enjoyed it."
Jean-Luc glared, but there was no real venom in it. He put aside his embarrassment and said with authority,
"We're going fishing today. Care to try?"
"What is fishing?"
Jean-Luc waved a hand at Beverly, inviting her to explain.
"Well, you have a long thin pole, called a rod, with a reel at the thick end on which is wound a thin line. At the other end of the rod a hook is attached to the line and on it you put some bait...a worm or a small insect. The hook is lowered by casting it out into the deeper water, then you wait for a fish to take the bait. Once that happens, you quickly lift the rod to set the hook into the fish's mouth, then you reel it in."
Yvette scowled.
"It sounds cruel."
Beverly frowned.
"Cruel?"
Using her fingers to count, Yvette explained.
"First you impale a small creature, then you hope to pull a fish out of the water by setting a hook in its mouth...and I suppose you kill the fish?"
Beverly shrugged.
"Some people do, they fish for food, but I have always thrown the fish back. I've never thought of it as cruel. Scientists say fish don't feel pain...and as for the worms and insects, I doubt they feel pain either."
Yvette's expression was one of disbelief.
"Beverly it's not just humans I sense. I sense everything around me. Believe me, even the smallest of creatures is capable of feeling something...if not pain then at least stress."
With a sigh, Beverly threw her hands in the air.
"So fishing is out then."
Yvette smiled.
"I didn't say that. I can lessen the pain or stress in the creatures so I think we can fish."
Dubiously, Jean-Luc said,
"Even if the bait dies?"
Yvette shrugged.
"Replicate some. Surely you can conjure up some kind of fish food that's not a living being."
Jean-Luc's eyebrows rose and he looked speculatively at Beverly. She shrugged and held up her hands.
"Well, it's not traditional, but I don't see why it wouldn't work."
Almost as an afterthought, Jean-Luc muttered,
"Livingston loves dried shrimp. I replicate that."
Yvette chuckled and said with amusement,
"I've been meaning to talk to you about that captive fish, Jean-Luc."
The Captain held up his hand.
"Don't start. He's perfectly happy and gives me great enjoyment."
"You may derive enjoyment from him, Jean-Luc, but he is still a captive. He should be free, swimming in the tropical waters of Earth."
"We'll talk about him later, Yvette. For now, let's just go fishing."

 

As it turned out, their fishing expedition was a great success. Beverly proved to be the most proficient, catching four fish, but Yvette was close behind with three. Jean-Luc's paltry effort of an undersized specimen brought much laughter, but he secretly found peace and happiness in just watching the two loves of his life enjoying themselves. He wound in his hook and found a comfortable place on the river bank, stretching out in the sun. With his eyes slitted, he was nearly dozing when Yvette joined him. The soft kiss and the tickle of fur told him who it was. Keeping his eyes closed he muttered,
"Have you come to gloat?"
Yvette's chuckle was warm, sending happiness through his entire being.
"Not at all. Beverly says it's time for lunch and that I should wake you up."
He huffed, saying with affront,
"I wasn't asleep."
"I know that, but you weren't exactly awake, either."
With an expansive yawn and a warm smile, Jean-Luc nodded his agreement.
"True enough. So, what do you think of fishing?"
Her smile told him volumes.
"Once I was able to quell the stress in the fish, I really enjoyed it. The fish were so relieved at being set free...it was very gratifying."
They were both silent for a few minutes, each contemplating the situation when Yvette said quietly,
"Why do you keep Livingston captive?"
Sighing, Jean-Luc sat up, bent his legs and rested his arms on his knees.
"Fish have been kept as pets for centuries, Yvette. As I have already said, he has given me much enjoyment...and at low times in my latter years I have sometimes felt he was the only friend I had."
"But not now?"
"No, not now. I am enriched beyond measure."
Yvette's smile was impish.
"So you don't need Livingston anymore."
Jean-Luc sighed and rubbed his eyes.
"Yvette, Livingston was born and bred in captivity. He wouldn't survive in the wild."
That hadn't occurred to Yvette. Her limpid eyes widened and she said quietly,
"Oh."
Jean-Luc stood and held out his hand, assisting Yvette to her feet.
"If he had been taken from the wild I wouldn't hesitate to free him, but it's just not possible."
"I understand now, Jean-Luc. I'm sorry for nagging."
He gave a shake of his head and a soft grunt.
"No harm done. Now...did Beverly say what we're having for lunch?"
Yvette's grin was infectious.
"Fish and chips."
Jean-Luc's laughter reverberated across the river.

 

After lunch, Beverly went off, tricorder and specimen bags in hand to look for botanical specimens. Jean-Luc was still feeling a little tired, so he opted to stay on the yacht, listening to music and reading. Yvette, after receiving instructions not to go too far away, left to go exploring.
Jean-Luc stretched out on the sofa, Mozart playing softly in the background and a book in his hands, but he found he couldn't get Yvette out of his mind. What she had done troubled him, as did her pronouncement of their connection strengthening as she aged. He was wrestling with his thoughts when Yvette's voice permeated his mind, but gently, like a misty shower on an Autumn day.
"Why do you worry so, Jean-Luc?"
He sighed, trying not to be annoyed by having his thoughts heard by another.
"What you did was extreme, Yvette. You could have died."
"But I didn't. Besides, I could have called you for help."
Jean-Luc snorted, his face clouded in anger.
"Yet you didn't! When we found you, you were barely conscious."
Hearing the anger in his voice, Yvette strove to calm him.
"Our link doesn't depend on me being conscious, Jean-Luc. I could have summoned you even whilst unconscious. I don't understand your anger. You pushed the limits of your physical boundaries and achieved something you've never done before. And as for Beverly, I never thought you would be able to outlast her, cock ring or no cock ring. Can you imagine what it must have been like for me to be a party to all that? Of course I had to do what I did. In some ways I had no other option. But you are concerned by more than that, aren't you."
Jean-Luc closed his eyes and sighed.
"Yvette, we don't know how old you are and it troubles me to think that you are doing things only an adult should do."
"True enough. I may be a child...or I might be older than you, Jean-Luc, but isn't it more to do with the fact I share what you do with Beverly? You are, by your very nature, an intensely private man. I am well aware you don't want me there, in your mind when you and Beverly make love, but such is the potency of your lovemaking, I have yet to find a way how to block you out...especially since you insist on pushing your boundaries."
Exasperated, Jean-Luc snapped,
"So you blame me?"
He heard the quiet condescension and gritted his teeth.
"Of course not, Jean-Luc. You can't help being what you are."
"Which is?"
The snigger in Yvette's voice made Jean-Luc rise to his feet, his hands fisted.
"Hopelessly in love, yet still an explorer at heart. Admit it, Jean-Luc. Despite your reservations about how Beverly needs pain, your innate curiosity has got the better of you."
Jean-Luc sat back down heavily, shocked at having his most private thoughts exposed. But he was nothing if not truthful and he had to admit she was right.
"You are correct, of course, but that doesn't mitigate my feelings towards you. Please, Yvette, don't resort to such extreme measures again. If you have to, tell us to stop."
"I promise, Jean-Luc. I learned my lesson when I felt how dreadful you felt and how worried you were. I don't ever want you to feel that way about me again."
There was silence then, until Yvette said softly,
"Go and find Beverly. You are on holiday to be together. She would be delighted if you showed some interest in her passion for botany."
His tiredness forgotten, Jean-Luc stood and smiled.
"You are wise, Yvette. Thank you for reminding me why we are here."
"Think nothing of it, Jean-Luc. I get more from you than you from me."
He grinned to himself and shook his head.
"I'll see you in about an hour...and remember, no grass seeds."
"No grass seeds, right. See you in an hour."
When Jean-Luc left the yacht, his step was a light one.

 

He found Beverly thigh deep in a patch of soft green fern-like plants. He was just about to go to her when she held up one hand, her attention focussed solely on her tricorder.
"Stay there, Jean-Luc."
Ever curious, the Captain replied,
"What have you found?"
Beverly didn't answer immediately, nor did she take her gaze from the device in her hands, but she did sigh and tilt her head, saying distractedly,
"Brush your hand over the fronds."
Jean-Luc did so and was amazed to see the fronds first close, then follow his hand.
"What's causing it, Beverly? Is it the warmth of my hand, or are they aware of me?"
Finally looking up, Beverly shook her head, obviously stumped.
"I don't know."
She looked over at her lover and smiled.
"Walk to me, but be mindful of the plants."
Jean-Luc did so and was amazed to see the plants part for him. Once at Beverly's side, he removed his own tricorder from its holster and began to scan. Beverly reached forward and the plant shied away, but as she kept her hand still, the frond relaxed and came to her hand.
Jean-Luc said incredulously,
"Sentient?"
Beverly shrugged.
"I don't know, but they are remarkable. Pity I can't take a sample."
They stood in the middle of the patch in awe. Being quite a warm day, Beverly was wearing a pretty sun dress, whereas Jean-Luc was dressed in shorts and a short sleeved shirt. Unseen by either officer, a tip of one frond behind Jean-Luc reached up and slipped under his shirt and over the waist band of his shorts. There it disconnected itself from the rest of the frond and flattened, moulding itself to the surface of Jean-Luc's skin, changing colour as it did so. He felt nothing.
Having spent almost an hour scanning the ferns, they left the patch and went off in search of other specimens. Although they found plenty of interesting botanical examples, there was nothing even remotely like the ferns.
Twice Jean-Luc had made contact with Yvette and, from what he could gather, she had not found any ferns like the ones they had found. He cautioned her against playing among them, just in case she did come across some.
With the long day beginning to draw in, Jean-Luc and Beverly made their way back to the yacht, all of Beverly's bags full. They found Yvette asleep on the sofa.
Having been out in the sun for so long, both Jean-Luc and Beverly were sweaty. He knew as soon as he spotted her lascivious grin that Beverly had something erotic in mind. She sidled up to him and whispered,
"Shower with me?"
Despite his tiredness and lingering soreness from their previous romp, he began to harden at the mere thought. He cast his eyes over Beverly and sighed, muttering softly,
"Ye Gods, Beverly, but you're beautiful."
Taking him by the hand and beginning to lead him towards the bedroom, Beverly noticed the growing bulge in his trousers and licked her lips.
"You're not bad yourself, Jean-Luc."
By the time they began to strip off their clothing, Jean-Luc was achingly hard. Beverly came to him, falling to her knees and wrapping both hands around his penis to lift it to her mouth.
All he wanted to do was push her to the floor and drive into her but, as usual, he let her set the pace. She teased him until he thought he'd go mad, but then she suddenly stopped. Almost growling in dissatisfaction, Jean-Luc opened his tightly closed eyes to see Beverly spread before him, on the bedroom floor. She crooked a finger at him, saying sultrily,
"Come on big boy, I want all of you, right now!"
He briefly closed his eyes and took a deep, settling breath. Once he felt more in control of himself, he looked down and smiled.
"What...no toys?"
Annoyed at being kept waiting, Beverly pinched one of her own nipples and her free hand found its way to her clit. As her fingernails dug into the engorged organ, Beverly closed her eyes and shook her head, murmuring,
"Oh yes, Jean-Luc."
He'd been teased enough. He dropped to his knees and roughly grabbed her hand, removing it from her sex. He then spread her legs wider and looked down into her cerulean eyes.
"You want all of me?" He growled.
"Yes!" She almost shrieked.
"Then you shall have all of me!"
He shoved into her with more force than he'd intended. Beverly screamed and arched up from the floor. As he began to thrust in and out of her, he reached down to pinch her clit.
Beverly's first orgasm took them both by surprise. It was very intense and came upon her very rapidly, with little warning. It did, however, erode Jean-Luc's control. The sight of Beverly, under him, her skin stained pink with arousal, her vibrant red hair spread out on the carpet all went to making the experience more than just a simple physical act. It affected him viscerally and he responded the only way he knew how. He bent his head and kissed Beverly with all the passion he possessed. She dragged her mouth free and bit his shoulder just as he came hard. His orgasm was potent, affecting both body and mind.
As he began to soften, Beverly whispered raggedly,
"One more, Jean-Luc...please...one more."
She'd gripped his buttock cheek with one hand, the other was with his, buried in her sex. Together they brought about another orgasm for Beverly. They lay as one, panting and whispering each other's name.
The piece of fern on Jean-Luc's hip suddenly began to move. It made its way to Beverly's arm and used her appendage to travel upwards. Jean-Luc's brow was resting on Beverly's shoulder and the fern crossed from her to Jean-Luc's face. From his cheek, it moved across and up, eventually coming upon his ear. It slid inside and began to secrete a thick mucous as it began to burrow. Still, Jean-Luc felt nothing.
They showered and then went into the day area to prepare the evening meal. Woken by the aroma of the food, Yvette padded over to the table and grinned.
"I had a wonderful dream."
With a sigh, Jean-Luc's tone was a warning not to tease, however, Yvette didn't take any notice.
"I dreamt that a handsome, bald man was making love to me."
Jean-Luc's eyes glittered dangerously, making Yvette back off.
"I'm sorry, Jean-Luc. I wasn't prying, I just wanted you to know it was very pleasant for me too."
Beverly, ever the peace maker, smiled.
"Well at least you're in one piece."
With a non-committal nod, Yvette shook out her serviette and began her meal. Twice, during dinner, Jean-Luc scratched at his ear, but thought nothing of it. At the meal's end they cleared the table and went into the lounge. Yvette watched some holovids as the couple read. Much later Jean-Luc carried a sleeping Yvette into her room before stretching and yawning expansively.
"Ready for bed?"
Beverly looked up at her lover and nodded with a tired smile.
"Yes."
Hand in hand they walked into the bedroom and before Jean-Luc could ask, Beverly said quietly,
"I just want to sleep in your arms tonight, Jean-Luc. I'm pooped."
Secretly delighted as he'd begun to feel slightly nauseous, Jean-Luc kissed Beverly with tenderness and said softly,
"Perhaps in the morning?"
Beverly nodded dreamily.
"Yes, most definitely."
They stripped off their clothing and slipped into bed naked. Beverly spooned into Jean-Luc's front and they quickly drifted off to sleep.

 

During the long night, Jean-Luc's temperature rose sharply and he dreamed of bizarre things, somehow entangled with most, if not all, of his life's memories, from infancy to his present day. It was the bed sheets, made damp by his sweating that woke Beverly in the early hours of morning. Immediately alarmed she gently shook her lover, saying urgently,
"Jean-Luc, wake up!"
It was then there was a knock at the door.
"Beverly? May I come in? Something is wrong with Jean-Luc."
Busy reading the screen of her tricorder, Beverly called out distractedly,
"Yes, come in."
Yvette went to Jean-Luc's side of the bed and watched implacably as Beverly tried to determine what was wrong. The little alien laid a hand on Jean-Luc's face, only to quickly withdraw it.
"He is very hot!"
Beverly nodded, lifting Jean-Luc's eye lids to find nothing but the whites of his eyes.
"I know and I can't wake him up, although the tricorder says he not unconscious as such, just asleep."
"Have you ever seen anything like this before?"
Guardedly, Beverly nodded.
"Yes, once, about five years ago. It was a parasitic infestation, but I can't find anything with the tricorder."
Yvette came closer to the bed and closed her huge eyes. When she opened them, worry crinkled her brow.
"You are right, Beverly, it is a parasite, but an intelligent one. And it's not an infestation, there is only one."
Wracking her brain, Beverly suddenly snapped her fingers.
"The fern!"
Yvette nodded.
"It is botanical in nature, but as I said, it is intelligent."
Her only concern being Jean-Luc's safety, Beverly barked,
"Is it hurting him?"
Yvette shook her head.
"No, it just wants information."
Beverly snapped the tricorder closed, it was all but useless.
"Where is it?"
Yvette gently placed her hand on Jean-Luc's brow.
"It is in his brain stem. It has already been in his autonomic areas, scanned his life's memories and is now looking at his atavistic functions."
Alarmed and feeling utterly helpless, all Beverly could do was ask,
"Will it damage him?"
Yvette shrugged.
"I don't know for certain, but I doubt it. From what I sense it is merely curious."
Suddenly Jean-Luc groaned and a little blood trickled from his left nostril. As both females watched, a tiny green object appeared. Yvette closed her eyes and sighed.
"It wants to...examine... you now, Beverly."
The Doctor bridled.
"And if I refuse?"
Yvette frowned.
"It has left a part of itself embedded in Jean-Luc's brain. It will not hurt him if you cooperate."
Beverly scanned Jean-Luc again, then glared balefully at the green creature.
"His temperature is over forty degrees! I can't help him if that happens to me too."
Yvette frowned, then snapped her fingers.
"I can monitor you through the entity."
Unwilling to proceed, but unable to decline, Beverly snarled,
"Bloody hell! Oh all right, what do I have to do?"
Yvette closed her eyes again and received her instructions.
"Let the entity get onto your index finger, then put that finger into your ear."
With hesitation, Beverly placed her finger on Jean-Luc's upper lip. The green specimen moved with remarkable speed onto her finger and she reluctantly raised her hand to her head. Yvette said softly,
"You will feel no pain, Beverly."
Just before she put her finger into her ear, Beverly said quietly,
"Take care of Jean-Luc, Yvette."
The alien smiled.
"I will care for both of you, Beverly."
Scant seconds after placing her finger in her ear, Beverly began to feel very drowsy. She lay beside Jean-Luc and allowed her eyes to close. She slipped into sleep seamlessly.
Yvette watched the tricorder intently, although she knew the entity meant no harm. When Beverly's temperature spiked, Yvette was aware there was nothing she could do.
Beverly began to dream and, like Jean-Luc, dreamt of all her life's memories. What she wasn't prepared for was abrupt arousal. She reached for Jean-Luc, finding him as hard as iron. Still both deeply asleep, Beverly rolled onto her back. Jean-Luc covered her with his body, the head of his huge penis nudging at her entrance. He slid into her and Beverly arched under him. This was conventional sex, no toys, no games and interestingly, no foreplay.
Yvette watched intrigued as she felt nothing. She was aware of the couple and the entity, but she felt no sexual arousal herself.
It was over in about five minutes. Jean-Luc slowly withdrew from his lover and they lay, their bodies entangled. As Yvette monitored them, a voice appeared in her mind.
"Our study is complete. We will leave now, having bestowed a gift. Please take us back to our home."
From both of the couple, a trickle of blood heralded the emergence of two small, green botanical specimens.
Wary, Yvette gathered the two samples and placed them in a small container. Making one final check on her patients, she left the yacht and followed the creature's directions back to the fern patch. She then hurried back to the yacht to find Jean-Luc drowsily awake and confused. Beverly woke soon after and stretched. Ignoring Yvette, she said sleepily to Jean-Luc,
"I feel like I've just had sex."
He nodded, knuckling one eye.
"Me too."
They both looked at Yvette for an explanation. She shrugged.
"You have just had sex. What is the last thing you remember?"
The both frowned, but I was Beverly who snapped her fingers.
"An entity had infiltrated Jean-Luc's brain and I agreed to be next."
Jean-Luc grabbed Beverly's arm, his eyes boring into hers.
"I had an alien entity in my brain and you allowed it to infiltrate yours? Why did you do that?"
Beverly scratched her head, trying to remember. It was Yvette who jogged her memory.
"It was in Jean-Luc's brain stem."
Beverly snapped her fingers again.
"Yes! It said if I didn't agree, it would harm you, but it did promise to do no damage. Yvette, give me the tricorder, please."
The little alien did so and Beverly scanned first Jean-Luc, then herself.
Jean-Luc was rapidly growing impatient.
"Well?"
With a sigh of resignation, Beverly nodded.
"We seem to be just fine."
Just then, Jean-Luc sneezed, spraying bloody mucous into his hand. Beverly quickly followed him. Before he could say anything, she held up one hand.
"Despite a slight irritation in our sinuses."
Yvette supplied,
"It exited both your left nostrils."
Beverly rose a little unsteadily from the bed and retrieved a med kit. With the assistance of a tissue regenerator, the irritation was healed.
By now sitting up, Jean-Luc the Captain came to the only logical solution.
"The fern-like plant."
It was Yvette who agreed with him, beating Beverly to the punch.
"Yes. It is botanical in nature, but it is an intelligent, sentient being who wished to know more about you."
Jean-Luc scowled.
"And just how did it get into our brains?"
Beverly tapped the side of her head.
"Through our ears."
Shaking his head, Jean-uc disagreed.
"But I didn't get any near my ears."
Yvette filled him in.
"Apparently it can mimic other tissue. Some must have found its way to your skin and disguised itself only to travel up your body to your ear."
Beverly ran her fingers through her hair and sighed.
"I remember dreaming. In fact I think I dreamt my entire life."
Jean-Luc nodded.
"Me too."
He then said to Yvette,
"How long were we asleep?"
"All night and about two hours this morning."
Feeling embarrassed, Jean-Luc asked,
"And we had sex."
Yvette nodded but frowned.
"Yes, but ordinary sex and it didn't last long, only a few minutes."
All three were silent for a little while, before Yvette said quietly,
"It said it had left you with a gift."
Jean-Luc frowned.
"A gift? What kind of gift?"
Yvette shrugged.
"I don't know."
He turned his attention to Beverly.
"Can you detect anything?"
She shook her head.
"No, nothing. Like I said, we're both fine."
Despite the fact he was naked, Jean-Luc quickly exited the bed.
"Well I want more information. I'm going back to the fern patch. Coming?"
Beverly nodded but held up one finger.
"Just let me shower."
Yvette frowned and grabbed Jean-Luc hand.
"Do you think that's wise, Jean-Luc?"
He bridled.
"We have been violated, Yvette, and I want to know why."
She squeezed his hand.
"They just wanted information, Jean-Luc. They are explorers, just like you."
He snorted.
"Well they should have asked."
"Perhaps, but you might have said no."
Dismissing her with a wave of his hand, Jean-Luc shook his head.
"I still want answers."
Beverly was out of the shower quickly and both officers dressed with speed.
It was with great surprise that when they arrived at the location, the fern patch was deserted.
Standing in the middle, Beverly deployed her tricorder, turning slowly in a complete circle.
Keeping his impatience under control with a concerted effort, Jean-Luc waited as Beverly assimilated the data on the device. Stating the obvious did little to quell Jean-Luc's growing irritation.
"It's gone."
Jean-Luc briefly closed his eyes and said through gritted teeth,
"I can see that, Beverly, but where is it now?"
Her eyes glued to the screen, Beverly shrugged.
"I haven't the faintest idea."
Holding out his hand, Jean-Luc said tersely,
"Give me a look."
Instead of handing her tricorder over, Beverly did give her lover a look and it spoke volumes.
"Your tone could do with some improvement, Jean-Luc."
He took a deep breath and tried to smile.
"I'm sorry, Beverly. May have the tricorder, please?"
She returned his smile.
"Gladly."
He took the device and inputted some commands, but was met with the same result. Letting out a plosive breath, Jean-Luc let his hand holding the tricorder drop to his side.
"This shouldn't be possible."
Yvette went to Jean-Luc and gently tugged his trousers.
"Jean-Luc?"
He looked down and smiled.
"Yes, Yvette?"
"I can't sense them, either."
Beverly pulled her pony tail tighter and wondered,
"Do you think they had a ship in orbit?"
Jean-Luc shrugged.
"I've had the proximity alert activated since we landed. It should have let us know if there was anything in orbit."
He too did a three-sixty degree turn, growing increasingly frustrated.
"Where the hell did they go?"
When he was met with silence, Jean-Luc eventually had to accept that they would, in all probability, never know. He noticed that the two females appeared a little despondent. Wishing to lighten the mood, he said in an even tone,
"Well, we're up now. How about breakfast and some more exploring?"
At the mention of food, Yvette perked up immediately.
"Can we have waffles with syrup?"
Jean-Luc scooped Yvette up into his arms, saying,
"You can have whatever your heart desires."
Her grin was infectious.
"Then I want chocolate for breakfast!"
With a chuckle, Jean-Luc shook his head.
"Except chocolate."
With an adorable pout, Yvette's grin faded.
"That's not fair. You said I could have anything I wanted."
Jean-Luc nodded, a ghost of a smile evident.
"That's true, but I am responsible for you and chocolate is not an appropriate choice for the first meal of the day."
He set Yvette on her feet and ruffled her fur atop her head.
"Waffles and syrup will have to do."
Deciding the compromise was all she was going to get; Yvette acknowledged the defeat with a crooked smile.
"Okay, Jean-Luc."
As she scampered off in front of the walking couple, Jean-Luc muttered,
"Counsellor Troi has some explaining to do."
Beverly chuckled delightedly.
"I think she feels it's her life's mission to introduce chocolate to all and sundry."
Smiling, Jean-Luc shook his head.
"I can understand that, but chocolate for breakfast?" He shuddered.
"It makes me feel ill just thinking about it."
Beverly slipped her hand in his and gave it a squeeze.
"But you like chocolate."
He nodded his agreement.
"That's true, but it has its time and place."
Giving his hand a squeeze again, Beverly said sotto voce,
"So we can play with some chocolate?"
He felt his penis twitch in anticipation, his eyes darkening.
"I don't see why not."
Beverly just smiled, making Jean-Luc begin to harden. In his mind he heard,
"Really, Jean-Luc. Can't we have breakfast first?"
That killed his rising arousal. By the time they reached the yacht, he was once again under control of himself.

 

 

 

The rest of their holiday was uneventful, with the exception of Yvette finding more grasses to play in, necessitating anther long and uncomfortable session with a brush and comb. They left the planet with some regret, although both Jean-Luc and Beverly couldn't shake the feeling they had unfinished business with the entity they had encountered.
Their rendezvous with the Enterprise went off without a hitch and they continued on their mission, completing it with a week to spare.
Command approved shore leave at Star Base eighteen.
Having docked within days at the base, Jean-Luc, Beverly and Yvette were seated at a cafe, dressed in civilian clothing just like any tourists, when Yvette looked over her shoulder, then gave Jean-Luc a stricken look.
"Jean-Luc, that being is having bad thoughts about me."
The Captain looked behind Yvette to see a tall, rather attractive male alien of a species he wasn't familiar with. He gave the being a hard look, but it refused the hint, instead sidling over to their table. Without preamble, it spoke, making the universal translator come on line.
"Is it a female?"
Jean-Luc stood, his face hard.
"That is none of your business. Now if you don't mind, we would appreciate some privacy."
Unfazed, the alien reached into his shirt pocket for an isolinear chip.
"I think she is. I'll give you one hundred and fifty bars of latinum for her."
Growing angry at both the being's rudeness and the distress he was causing Yvette, Jean-Luc grabbed him by the shoulder and led him away from their table.
"If you don't stop pestering us, I will have security remove you."
The alien shrugged.
"If I had a female Rushedin I'd be reluctant to part with her too. I'm well aware of what they can do in bed. All right, three hundred and fifty bars."
Realising the being knew about Yvette's species, Jean-Luc tempered his anger. Adopting a sly look, Jean-Luc said quietly,
"Look, she's not for sale, but she doesn't tell me much and I want another one. What can you tell me about her species? Where is her home planet?"
Disappointed, but not offended, the alien was quiet amiable.
"It's in a distant system, near the crab nebular, but you won't find much, the Borg went through there years ago. There are pockets of the survivors spread all over the place, but the biggest colony I know of is at Coralus II."
Rubbing his lower lip in deep thought, Jean-Luc said quietly,
"And they're called Rushedin?"
The alien scratched at the luxurious mane of hair atop his domed head.
"Yes. They have very strong family ties. I doubt you'll be able to buy one; you'll have to just take what you want. They don't fight back much, being pacifists and all."
Clapping his hand on the alien's shoulder, Jean-Luc smiled.
"Well thank you, sorry I couldn't oblige."
The tall being shrugged.
"No problem, but I envy you."
His wink and grin was lascivious and Jean-Luc had to resist the urge to punch him in the face.
They parted and Jean-Luc rejoined his companions. Yvette immediately gripped his hand.
"I am a Rushedin?"
Smiling to ease her fear, Jean-Luc nodded.
"So it seems."
Tears welled in Yvette's eyes and her lower lip began to tremble.
"You won't sell me?"
His voice cracked and he pulled her onto his lap.
Oh, my little one. Never, I would never sell you, don't you know that?"
Yvette rested her face on Jean-Luc's chest and began to softly purr. He stroked her head, willing his own tears at bay. Beverly also stroked Yvette fur, but she was having trouble dealing with her towering anger. She had to struggle to keep her voice down.
"I don't believe it! That...thing...offering to buy Yvette at a Federation Star Base! How the hell is that allowed in Federation space? Our fundamental principle is based on freedom. What he was suggesting was slavery!"
Jean-Luc caught her eye and sent her his love, calming her.
"What you're saying is true, of course, but who knows where he was from. I didn't recognise his species, I doubt he was a Federation citizen and he obviously thought we were tourists. Perhaps slavery is the norm in his society."
"And perhaps he was just a sexual predator!"
At that, Yvette trembled, immediately making Beverly regret her angry words. She stroked Yvette again and smiled.
"Well he's gone now and look at what we know. You're a Rushedin, Yvette. How does it feel to know that?"
Yvette lifted her head and managed a wan smile.
"Good, I suppose. Will you go there, Jean-Luc? Go to Coralus II?"
Looking down into her remarkable violet eyes, Jean-Luc said softly,
"Do you want me to?"
Yvette sighed and rubbed her eyes.
"Can I think about it?"
Giving her a hug, Jean-Luc nodded.
"Of course you can, take all the time you need."
It wasn't mentioned again.

 

 

As it turned out, it was four weeks until Yvette brooked the subject. Over breakfast one morning she said quite out of the blue,
"Jean-Luc...I want to go to Coralus II."
With his hand half way to his mouth, Jean-Luc looked at Beverly before eating the piece of croissant. His face was calm, but he was thinking hard. Yvette, of course, knew.
"Is there a problem, Jean-Luc?"
He swallowed and took Yvette's hand.
"Not a problem as such, it's just that we can't just up and leave right now...we have to complete this survey mission, then I have to see what our new orders are. The reality is, it might be some time before we can get to Coralus II, it is a long way out."
Disappointed, but understanding, Yvette summoned a wan smile.
"That's okay, Jean-Luc. I can wait."
Beverly looked first at her lover, then at Yvette.
"You never know, Yvette. Jean-Luc can work magic with Command when he wants to. Don't give up hope."
Yvette smile grew.
"I won't, thank you, Beverly."
Soon after, Jean-Luc was in his office, talking to Admiral Alynna Nechayev.
"...so you see, Admiral, we can complete this mission fairly quickly and gain two weeks...enough time to have a look at the Coralus system."
The woman gave the Captain a hard look.
"And just what is it about the Coralus system that requires such scrutiny?"
Donning his best non-committal face, Jean-Luc sat back and raised his hands.
"I've heard they have large deposits of dilithium. Perhaps a diplomatic call wouldn't go astray?"
Still the hard look, but the Admiral was coming to see her Captain's point of view...with reservations.
"I'm not completely convinced as to your motives, Picard, but you have my permission to survey the Coralus system. Report back in four weeks."
Jean-Luc smiled, then sobered.
"The Coralus system is quite some distance away, Admiral. May I have your permission to exceed warp five?"
Her eyes were gimlet-like.
"You're pushing it, Picard."
Then she sighed.
"Oh, very well."
Putting on his best smile, Jean-Luc said softly,
"Thank you, Admiral, Picard out."
He then sat back and thought,
"Yvette? Are you listening?"
"Yes, Jean-Luc."
"You heard?"
"Yes, Jean-Luc."
"Are you happy?"
"Yes, Jean-Luc."
He sighed.
"Have you anything other than "Yes, Jean-Luc" to say?"
"No, Jean-Luc."
He chuckled and closed his eyes briefly.
"I'll see you after my shift ends. We can talk about it then."
"Okay, Jean-Luc. See you then."
Sighing, he went back to his work.

 

 

 

Yvette was waiting for Jean-Luc as he came through the doors. She bolted across the room and launched herself into his arms, causing him to take several backwards steps, making the doors open again. He chuckled and stepped back inside his quarters.
"Hello to you too, Yvette."
She hugged with remarkable strength.
"Hello, Jean-Luc, I love you!"
Beverly came out of the bathroom, drying her hands. Jean-Luc thought she looked a little unwell.
"Are you all right, Beverly?"
She waved off his concern.
"Just a bit of an upset stomach. I'm fine."
Jean-Luc smiled.
"That's my line."
She went to him and kissed his cheek.
"One of the things about being in a relationship is learning to share."
His eyebrows rose.
"Even my speech patterns?"
Beverly chuckled.
"Yep."
They walked further into the day area and Jean-Luc sat in his favourite chair with Yvette still clinging to him.
"How long will it take to get there, Jean-Luc?"
"At warp nine, four days."
Beverly gaped.
"Warp nine!"
Jean-Luc scratched near his right ear.
"Well, yes. Admiral Nechayev owned me a favour."
"That hard-arsed witch owed you a favour? This I have to hear!"
With a sigh, Jean-Luc explained.
"The last time we were at Earth, I partnered her in a very important bridge game. Apparently it was vitally important we won and I played a winning hand to seal the match."
Beverly was incredulous.
"That's it? You help win a card game and she gives you permission to exceed warp five?"
With difficulty, Jean-Luc shrugged, then said to Yvette,
"You can let me go now."
He then said to Beverly,
"What can I say? It was a very important card game. You know what those Admirals are like."
Beverly sneered.
"Trumped up, hard-arsed, self important, arrogant..."
Jean-Luc held up his hand.
"That's enough, Beverly. You know we have to respect the chain of command,"
She gave a grudging smile.
"True, but we don't have to like it."
Yvette began to fidget.
"When can we go?"
"Two days from now."
"I can't wait!"
With a chuckle, Jean-Luc eased Yvette off his lap.
"Well you'll just have to. I still have to tell Will."
Beverly frowned.
"He wouldn't object, would he?"
Jean-Luc shook his head.
"I doubt it, but it is unusual."
Yvette gave Jean-Luc a fearful look.
"When will you tell him?"
He hugged her, saying softly,
"Tomorrow, but don't worry, everything will be all right, I promise."
"Okay then, Jean-Luc, I trust you."
He smiled tenderly.
"I know, little one. Now, how about you read to me?"
"Okay."

 

 

 

 

That night, just after Jean-Luc and Beverly had gone to bed, the Doctor turned on her side and ran her fingers through his chest hair, saying softly,
"What if we find her parents? Are you prepared for that?"
He sighed deeply.
"I can't say I'm looking forward to it, but it would be the best thing for Yvette. She needs to be with her own kind."
Gently biting his earlobe, Beverly murmured,
"I can't imagine how you must feel, giving away your daughter."
Liking what she was doing was distracting Jean-Luc from the subject at hand.
"Hmm, yes, but can you imagine how her parents would feel...regaining their daughter after so long apart?"
Beverly reached under the waist band of his shorts to squeeze his growing erection.
"I'm not concerned about her parents, Jean-Luc, I'm concerned for you. Remember what she said would happen if you and she were separated?"
His erection wilted.
"Oh my God...yes! Beverly, we have to find a way to stop it."
Squeezing him again, Beverly murmured,
"Perhaps being reunited with her parents will negate it."
Beverly pushed the covers down, along with Jean-Luc's shorts.
"Let's think about it later. In the meantime, I'll take your mind off it."
He felt the cock ring being pushed down his shaft and he sighed as Beverly's mouth covered the upper portion of his penis. He was, by now, familiar with the heavy ache that began as the blood filled his penis and was trapped by the ring. He looked down at Beverly and noted the metal spikes on the teaser. He reached for her, sliding his fingers through her folds and finding her dripping wet.
His voice was very deep and husky with arousal.
"You're ready for me."
In silence, Beverly straddled Jean-Luc and lifted his penis, guiding it to her entrance. Even though he was prepared for it, Jean-Luc couldn't contain the loud moan of pain/pleasure as Beverly engulfed him.
Something tore inside her and Beverly called out Jean-Luc's name. He'd felt it before, but it still troubled him. He reached for her, pulling her down onto his upper body. That action brought Beverly clit in direct contact with the steel teaser spikes. She ground herself against him, biting his shoulder.
Lost in carnal desire, Jean-Luc grabbed her hips and pushed up hard, making Beverly cry out. He should have stopped, or at least tempered his actions, but he knew what she wanted. He lifted her up while withdrawing, then pulled her down as he thrust up. It was exactly what she wanted. With her fingernails drawing blood on his shoulders, Beverly moaned and writhed as Jean-Luc did what she needed. She came three times before she rolled them over and released Jean-Luc from his constraint. Growling his appreciation, it took only one or two thrusts before he came hard, calling out Beverly's name.
He could barely keep his eyes open as Beverly repaired the damage to herself, then remade the bed.
The last thing he heard before sleep claimed him was...
"We'll talk about it in the morning"
In her bedroom, Yvette eased the dildo from her body, ignoring the tears that streamed down her face.
"I don't want to leave you, Jean-Luc. What am I to do?"
Cancelling the trip was out of the question now, she had made her feelings clear, but now she was having misgivings. She lay awake many hours into the long night.

 

The next morning, Will kept his face unreadable as his CO ordered the ship to the Coralus system...at warp nine. Having done that, the Captain invited Will to accompany him to his Ready Room. Gesturing to the chair in front of his desk, Jean-Luc bade Will to sit while he himself retrieved two hot drinks. A coffee for Will and an Earl Grey tea for him.
Jean-Luc took a sip, then placed the cup on the desktop.
"I take it you have some questions?"
The big bearded man smiled, his blue eyes twinkling.
"I do, Sir, yes."
"And they are?"
Will sat back and took a sip of his coffee.
"Why are we going to the Coralus system and why are we going like a bat out of hell to get there?"
With a sigh, Jean-Luc wrapped his hands around his cup, staring at it as if it held the answers.
"We have recently found Yvette is a Rushedin. Apparently their world was decimated by the Borg many years ago, but there were survivors, scattered throughout the quadrant. The largest concentration of survivors is in the Coralus system."
Will crossed his legs, ankle over knee and took another sip of his coffee.
"I see. And the warp nine?"
"I have received permission to exceed warp five for this mission. The Coralus system is a long way out and we have but four weeks to complete our business."
Will's eyes hardened.
"Which is?"
Jean-Luc sighed.
"Find Yvette's parents, or at least remaining members of her family."
Will sighed too.
"That's a hell of a long shot, Captain."
Nodding, Jean-Luc agreed.
"I know, but I have to try. She deserves to be amongst her own kind."
Will gulped down his coffee and rose, saying,
"Well good luck, Sir, you're going to need it."
Giving a slight nod, Jean-Luc said quietly,
"Thank you Number One. Dismissed."
It didn't take long for the next chime from his doors and he was ready for it.
"Come."
Deanna Troi entered; a concerned look on her face. Jean-Luc sat back and steepled his fingers under his chin, saying dryly,
"Counsellor."
She sensed his barriers were up and sighed.
"I've been talking to Will."
His eyebrows rose.
"Really? How interesting, but what has that to do with me?"
Giving him an admonishing look, Deanna sat down in front of the desk and sighed.
"I know how you must be feeling, Captain."
Adopting a hard look, Jean-Luc said quietly,
"I don't see how that has any bearing on the matter. Yvette must be returned to her family if at all possible."
Deanna's expression was one of sympathy.
"But what of the cost to you?"
Jean-Luc shrugged.
"Irrelevant."
Now growing angry at his reticence, Deanna had the temerity to slap her hand on the desktop.
"It is certainly NOT irrelevant! You love Yvette, she's like a daughter to you. How can you sit there and so calmly talk about handing her over as if she's livestock?"
His face grew stony and his eyes hard. He placed both hands palm down on the desktop and said with deceptive calm.
"I assure you, Counsellor, I will deal with my emotions regarding this in due time. In the interim, I will exert my energies to finding her family. Is that all?"
No, it wasn't, but Deanna heard the implicit dismissal. She rose and bowed her head.
"Yes, Captain."
But she paused at the open doors.
"When the time comes that you need to see me, you will be welcome."
No reply was forthcoming.
After Deanna had left, Jean-Luc got up at went to the aft viewport, staring out at the stars, thinking desperately,
"I can do this! It's what's best for Yvette!"
He was still fretting when Yvette's gentle voice pervaded his mind.
"I'm upset too, Jean-Luc. In fact I'm thinking I don't want to go after all."
Jean-Luc immediately stiffened his resolve.
"No, Yvette, you must go. These are your people. We may not find your parents, but we might find some relatives, or a family willing to take you in."
Yvette sighed deeply.
"But I don't want to leave you, Jean-Luc. I love you."
Tears welled in Jean-Luc's eyes as he struggled to say,
"And I love you, but it is for the best, Yvette. You must trust me on this."
"I trust you implicitly, Jean-Luc. I will go."
Jean-Luc sighed with relief.
"Thank you, little one...and remember, you don't have to stay if you really don't want to."
"Very well, Jean-Luc, I will give you back your privacy."
"Thank you."
Jean-Luc went to his desk and sat heavily, placing his face in his hands and tried to stop thinking about Yvette leaving.

 

 

Beverly exercised her rank and left Sick Bay early, dropping by the school to pick up Yvette. The little alien was unusually quiet, making Beverly curious. Once in Jean-Luc's quarters she invited Yvette to sit with her on the sofa and asked gently,
"Is there anything wrong, Yvette?"
Her large violet eyes brimmed with tears and she lowered her head. Sighing, she said brokenly,
"I don't want to leave."
Beverly took her hand and gently squeezed it.
"Nobody says you have to leave, Yvette."
Looking up into Beverly's eyes, Yvette said,
"Jean-Luc says it's for the best, that I should be with my own people."
With a gentle smile, Beverly said softly,
"I know Jean-Luc. I bet he's told you, you don't have to go if you don't want to."
Yvette nodded, but her melancholy remained.
"But, Beverly, what if we do find my family? How could I refuse to go with them?"
Unable to answer that particular question, Beverly instead chose to take a positive view.
"We don't know much about your species, Yvette. It well may be that when and if you do meet your parents a bond might surface. I tell you what. You try and stop worrying and just see what happens."
Buoyed slightly by what Beverly had said, Yvette blinked away her tears and nodded, even raising a wan smile. Beverly rose and retrieved Yvette's favourite book, "The Wind In The Willows" And smiled gently.
"Want to read to me, or would you rather I read to you?"
Yvette didn't have to think.
"You read to me, please, Beverly."
Yvette snuggled up to Beverly and she began to read off the PADD.
Beverly was still reading to a drowsy Yvette when Jean-Luc came in. He smiled at the scene, but Beverly noted the sadness in his eyes. Yvette woke and quickly slid off the sofa to run across the room. Jean-Luc bent down and caught her, hoisting her up into a hug.
"Hello Little One."
"Hello, Jean-Luc, I'm glad you're home."
He grinned and kissed her temple.
"Me too, I get to see my two favourite females."
Beverly put the PADD down and rose, smiling tenderly.
"Hungry?"
Jean-Luc sighed.
"Not really."
Beverly nodded her understanding.
"Something light then. Tuna salad?"
The Captain nodded and sighed.
"Yes, that would suffice, thank you."
Dinner was a somewhat sombre affair. Jean-Luc was obviously distracted and Yvette and Beverly soon tired of trying to engage him in conversation.
After dinner, Jean-Luc retreated into a book, leaving Beverly and Yvette to amuse themselves. Beverly had to remind Jean-Luc when Yvette's bedtime arrived.
He put her to bed and kissed her brow, saying softly,
"I love you, Yvette."
She looked up at him and smiled warmly.
"I love you too, Jean-Luc. Don't worry, everything will be all right."
With those brave words in his mind, Jean-Luc joined Beverly in the living area.
"She is remarkable."
Beverly put down her PADD and sighed.
"I know. She possesses more bravery than you and I combined."
Jean-Luc picked up his book, but Beverly took his hand, shaking her head.
"Uh uh, my love...you need some stress relief."
He shook his head.
"Beverly, I'm really not in the mood."
With a sultry smile, Beverly began to lead her lover to his bedroom, saying huskily,
"You soon will be, I promise."
He gave in. It wasn't that he felt particularly aroused, it was more to please Beverly.
She said over her shoulder,
"You undress and get into bed. I want to replicate one or two things."
He did so, lying on his back with the back of his head cradled in his hands. He watched with hooded eyes as Beverly undressed, noting his penis was beginning to show movement.
Beverly got into the bed and immediately straddled her lover. She held up two items.
"I want you to put this glove on your right hand."
He took the glove, noting it was covered in hard synthetic spikes.
Next, Beverly showed him the second item. It was a large condom, similarly covered in hard artificial spikes.
"I think you know where this goes."
Jean-Luc was interested, but concerned. He looked up at Beverly and said softly,
"You're sure?"
She grinned saucily.
"Oh yes. But first we have to get you hard."
Ultimately it wasn't difficult. Utilising her mouth and hands he was soon rock hard and seeping pre come. He had put the glove on and groaned sensuously as Beverly rolled the condom onto his throbbing penis. She then surprised him by turning onto her stomach.
"I want you up my arse. The glove is for my pussy."
He began to wilt.
"Beverly, I don't know if I can."
Turning her head to look at him, he saw the raw desire and lust in her eyes.
"Yes you can, just think of the pleasure you'll give me."
It was enough. He hardened again and grabbed a pillow, encouraging Beverly to lift her hips so he could place it under her.
He placed his hands on the cheeks of her buttocks and spread them, staring fixedly and her most intimate parts. Huskily and very deeply he said,
"Are you ready?"
All Beverly could do was nod vigorously.
He placed the tip of his covered penis at her anus and began to push. At first it was difficult, Beverly's natural reaction was to tighten, but she overcame it and relaxed, admitting him inside her. As he entered her centimetre by centimetre she gripped her pillow and bit it, crying out in unbridled pleasure.
Transfixed, Jean-Luc almost forgot the glove. He reached down and grabbed her sex, squeezing hard. Beverly's head snapped up and she yelled,
"My clit, rub my clit!"
Just as Jean-Luc complied with her request, he reached the limit of his penetration.
Beverly pushed back into him, almost sobbing,
"Do it, Jean-Luc, do it all, do everything!"
As he began to thrust in and out of her, he pushed three fingers inside her and crushed his thumb against her clit.
She writhed under him, bucking and twisting in ecstasy.
Jean-Luc was in another world; uplifted by the euphoria he was giving the love of his life.
Suddenly Beverly screamed and screamed and screamed. Jean-Luc almost came, but for some reason he didn't want to. Not like this. Beverly seemed to sense his feelings and panted,
"Take your cock out and remove the condom."
As he did this, trying to ignore the blood, Beverly turned over. He looked down at her and she was smiling.
"Fuck me Jean-Luc, fuck me hard."
It was what he'd been waiting for. He surged into her and she bit his shoulder before whispering huskily,
"Use the glove."
He reached between them and rubbed the spiked fingers over her clit as he pumped in and out of her.
She began to spasm and shudder, sure signs she was about to come again. Jean-Luc was ready. He thrust as hard as he could and rubbed his fingers with great force over Beverly's clit. She screamed again, only this time, so did Jean-Luc.
As the spasms of the aftershocks began to wane, it occurred to Jean-Luc he'd never come so hard before in his life.
Still buried deep inside Beverly, his eyes began to droop as sleep threatened to overtake him. That was before Beverly said exhaustedly,
"Come on let's change the bed."
It was the very last thing Jean-Luc wanted to do, but he knew there would be a mess of blood and semen, so he dragged himself out of bed and helped Beverly with their task.
Once again in a clean bed, they spooned together and could finally sleep.
Yvette slipped into sleep with the dildo still inside her.

 

 

In the morning, Beverly woke before Jean-Luc, a rarity. She smiled dreamily with remembrance of their lovemaking the previous night. Jean-Luc must have sensed her mood as his eyes cracked open and he tightened his embrace.
"I love you." He whispered.
"And I love you." Beverly replied.
She felt him against her back, hard and hot. She turned over and put one leg over his hip. His look of silent enquiry made her smile.
"It's all right, I'm sore enough to enjoy some vanilla sex."
Jean-Luc snorted.
"Vanilla sex?"
With a sigh, Beverly rolled her eyes.
"Oh all right, conventional sex."
He kissed her with tender passion and whispered,
"Making love."
Her only reply was a soft hum.
They made love languidly, Jean-Luc taking his time bringing Beverly to the edge, but she had to pinch her clit with her fingernails to come. Jean-Luc came with a rush of love for Beverly that brought tears to his eyes.
"My God, Beverly, there are no limits to my love for you."
She wiped away his tears and smiled.
"Do you realise how much it means to me to hear you say that? I love you too, Jean-Luc, with all my heart."
They dozed then, still joined.
Yvette sighed and removed the dildo, basking in their love as sleep claimed her.

 

 

It was the alarm that woke them later. Having the morning off, Jean-Luc grumpily growled,
"Off!"
Beverly too was on afternoon shift and revelled in the opportunity to lie in bed with her lover. They were gently caressing each other when Beverly said gently,
"Can I ask you something?"
Dreamily, Jean-Luc nodded, his eyes slitted.
"Anything."
"When you first found out where Yvette's people were, you were excited, eager to take her home. What happened to make you so sad?"
He sighed and closed his eyes.
"The realisation I would be losing her. At first I thought nothing but of Yvette's welfare...returning her to her family seemed tantamount, but then reality set in and the thought of losing her ate away at me. I'm still dealing with it, as is Yvette, despite her brave words."
Beverly nodded.
"Yes, I had a brief discussion with her about it yesterday."
She propped herself up on one elbow.
"Jean-Luc, we know so little about her species, who knows what might happen if we're lucky enough to find her parents? They're telepathic, remember. Perhaps some kind of bond will form...who knows? The thing is, you're doing the right thing. I'm just sorry you have to pay such a high cost."
Jean-Luc sighed deeply.
"Returning a child to her parents is not a high cost, Beverly, it is a privilege."
He smiled then.
"Besides, I have you...all I ever wanted."
She gently slapped his shoulder.
"Don't change the subject."
"I'm not, I'm just prioritising. You need to repair your damage and I want breakfast, I'm starving."
Grinning at his change of mood, Beverly kissed him before whispering,
"Wash my back?"
He graced Beverly with a rare full grin.
"Most certainly."
After Beverly had tended to her damage, they played in the shower eventually erotically. Beverly went down on her knees and fellated him, causing him to cry out softly as he came. When he'd recovered he reached for her, but she shook her head, whispering in his ear,
"No, that was just for you."
He grinned, saying wolfishly,
"Now I'm ravenous!"
For that he received a slap to his behind.
Yvette had been partially successful in blocking out Jean-Luc's sensations, so she showered and was at the table just before the couple emerged from the bedroom.
Breakfast was a much happier affair than the previous night's dinner. There was love and laughter, both Jean-Luc and Yvette making an effort to put the future where it belonged...in the unknown.

 

Their journey to the Coralus system was soon achieved, but all attempts at communication were met with silence. Eventually, Jean-Luc rose from the Command Chair and said succinctly,
"Can we transport down there?"
"Yes, Sir."
Tugging down his tunic top, Jean-Luc muttered angrily,
"Then I'm going to beam down."
He held up his hand to forestall Will's protests.
"No, Number one, I have to do this for Yvette's sake."
The big, bearded First Officer reluctantly acquiesced.
"Aye, Captain."
Jean-Luc turned to Tactical and asked,
"Are there any main structures...anything that looks like a government building?"
The young Ensign looked at her panel and nodded.
"Yes, Captain. There is a central square with a substantial building."
"Send the coordinates to transporter room three."
"Aye, Sir."
Yvette's words appeared in his mind.
"Do you want me to come with you?"
He thought back,
"No, little one, not until I assess the situation."
"Very well, Jean-Luc. Take care."
He smiled.
"I will, thank you."
Just as he was about to leave, Will tried one more time.
"Captain, we don't even know if this is the right planet. There are three more in this system with populations of Rushedin."
Growing somewhat irritated, Jean-Luc's voice was sharp.
"Because this one has the highest number. The odds favour us."
Will knew when to back down. He bowed his head, saying softly,
"As you wish, Sir."
Jean-Luc regretted his harshness and relented slightly.
"I have to go, Number One, surely you can see that?"
The big man nodded.
"Yes, Captain, I can...I just wish you would take a security detail with you."
With a wave of his hand, Jean-Luc dismissed the idea.
"Unnecessary. I want to appear as a friend, not as an adversary, armed to the teeth."
Will nodded again.
"Aye, Captain. Just take care and come back in one piece."
Jean-Luc raised a smile.
"I'll try, Number One, I'll try."

 

 

Jean-Luc materialised in the courtyard of a large building made of a light composite material. Milling about were perhaps two hundred Rushedin. He didn't even have time to look around. Jean-Luc immediately howled in agony, dropping to his knees and holding his head. He managed to shout,
"NO! TOO MUCH! I AM NOT TELEPATHIC!"
In the sudden silence in his mind, he scrambled to gather his thoughts. Through the throng that had gathered around him, a taller ginger furred being went to Jean-Luc and helped him to his feet. It was then that Jean-Luc noticed the being had two penises. One large, rivalling his own, the other smaller and underneath the first but by no means less impressive. The words appeared in Jean-Luc's mind with an edge to them.
"Who are you and why are you here?"
"I am Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Federation Starship Enterprise. I have come to you on an important matter."
The tall alien frowned.
"You lied. You are telepathic. You have bonded with a Rushedin."
Holding up his hand, Jean-Luc strove to explain.
"That is true, but my species is not naturally telepathic and the influx of so many voices in my mind was too much for me to bear."
"You have bonded with a Rushedin?"
With a nod, Jean-Luc smiled for the first time.
"Yes and it is her I wish to talk to you about."
The alien seemed to give that some thought, then gestured for Jean-Luc to follow him into the large building. As they walked, Jean-Luc looked around. He noted sophisticated arrays of buildings, the people he saw had fur colour varying from blond to dark brown, but they all had Yvette's huge violet eyes and all were watching him.
They entered and went down a corridor, eventually stopping at a door. The Rushedin motioned Jean-Luc to enter, then followed him inside. It was warm and peaceful, with floor to ceiling windows looking out on a beautiful garden.
They both took a seat and the alien gestured with his large hand.
"Tell me of your important matter, but I warn you, we do not accept strangers. Since our world was decimated by the Borg, those of us who survived decided to live our lives as isolated communities. We neither need, nor want Federation assistance."
Jean-Luc placed his hands palm down on the table and said quietly,
"It might help you to know I was once assimilated by the Borg and used to kill and destroy everything I hold dear. If not for the dogged courage of my crew, they would have succeeded in assimilating my home planet."
Shock registered on the Rushedin's face.
"How was it prevented?"
"I was rescued from the cube by my crew and we used my knowledge of the Borg to destroy them."
The alien sat back and ran his fingers through the fur of his cheek.
"You have been through too much. Are you recovered?"
"I still have the occasional nightmare, but yes, I am well."
"Then tell me. What is it you seek from us?"
"On board my ship is a young female Rushedin. I rescued her from a group of particularly cruel pirates. They had been using her as a sex slave for a long time. She had many injuries, she was severely mal nourished and utterly terrified. My medical team restored her to full physical health, but she had fixated on me. I thought it was because she had seen me kill the one she called her master, but I later discovered she could read my mind and she bonded with me because she thought I was righteous."
The being held up his hand.
"The bonding of a Rushedin is not to be taken lightly. Have you mated with her?"
Jean-Luc shook his head, striving to keep calm.
"No."
The Rushedin was obviously displeased.
"You have insulted her in the most heinous way! She would feel utterly rejected."
Jean-Luc held up both hands.
"In my culture it is a heinous crime for an adult to have sex with a child...especially if that adult is a parent of that child."
The Rushedin calmed somewhat.
"And you feel like her parent?"
With a nod, Jean-Luc sighed.
"Yes, I do."
The alien bowed his head.
"It is understandable, but why are you here?"
"She belongs with her own people. To my species, sex is a very private thing and Yvette...that's the name she chose for herself...is privy to the sex I have with my partner. To us this is intolerable. As is the growing pressure she is exerting on me to have sex with her, something I steadfastly refuse to do. I was hoping we could find her parents, or a relative or even a family who could take her in."
"You are willing to break the bond?"
"For Yvette's sake, yes."
The alien closed his eyes as he thought. On opening them he said,
"Do you understand DNA?"
Jean-Luc nodded enthusiastically.
"Yes."
"My name is Haj. Bring me a sample of her DNA. We will see."
Jean-Luc smiled and bowed his head.
"Thank you Haj, I will return shortly."
Standing, the big alien said quietly,
"Come alone, Captain Jean-Luc Picard."
Straightening his spine, Jean-Luc looked Haj in the eyes.
"I will."

 

Once out in the courtyard, Jean-Luc tapped his com badge.
"Picard to Crusher."
"Crusher here, Captain."
Casting looks at the curious onlookers, Jean-Luc kept his voice low.
"I'm coming up to the ship; I need a DNA sample from Yvette."
He heard the confusion in Beverly's voice.
"I can beam one down right now."
He sighed.
"I know, but I want to speak with Yvette first...explain what's happening."
Now there was sarcasm.
"You don't think she already knows?"
Growing tired of the back and forth, Jean-Luc grew irritated.
"Of course I know! But I think she deserves to hear it from me in person."
Now Beverly understood. With a crisp,
"Aye, Captain, we'll be waiting for you in Sick Bay", Beverly closed the channel.
Within seconds of his order, Jean-Luc materialised in Sick Bay. Sitting on a bio bed was Yvette with Beverly by her side, holding her hand. In her other hand she held a small chip.
Having received a surreptitious look from Jean-Luc, Beverly kissed Yvette's cheek, saying,
"I'll see you later."
Yvette said nothing as she watched Jean-Luc approach, but as he reached her, she held up the chip.
"My DNA."
Deciding to keep the conversation private, Jean-Luc thought back,
"You understand why this is being done?"
Yvette nodded, but her eyes were suspiciously moist.
"To be with my own kind."
Jean-Luc gently took Yvette's hands in his.
"You still want to have sex with me, don't you."
The little alien nodded.
"I can never do that, Yvette and now I know just how important it is to you, I cannot deny you your customs."
"But I will eventually learn to block you out."
The Captain shook his head.
"But that too would be wrong. You need to be the person you were meant to be little one, not something forced into being by the customs of another species."
Yvette's head bowed as she said,
"When do I have to leave?"
He gently tightened his grip on her hands.
"Not until we're sure we can find the right family for you."
"Will I ever see you again?"
With a sigh, Jean-Luc swallowed the lump in his throat.
"I don't know. I will request it, but I have to abide by the Prime Directive, but if we can't find a suitable family, you can stay."
"Very well, I will wait here."
This time when Jean-Luc materialised in the courtyard he was shocked to see many couples, some children, copulating. Everyone stopped at his arrival and stared silently at him. It was with great relief that Haj appeared and took him into the large building.
Jean-Luc handed over the chip, saying,
"That should give you all the information you need. But there is something I must ask."
Haj's eyes grew wider.
"And that is?"
"Yvette once told me that should we be separated, she would die of a sub arachnoid haemorrhage. Can it be prevented?"
Haj smiled, changing his face completely.
"Yes, Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Once she is with her own kind, and the bond broken, she will be safe."
With a broad grin, the Captain said,
"I would be honoured if you called me by my given name. Jean-Luc."
Haj's smile grew to a grin.
"I like you, Jean-Luc I think you are a man of honour. Yvette chose well. So it will be."
Jean-Luc extended his right hand.
"It is the custom of my people to grip the right hand both in greeting and in friendship. I offer it in both."
Haj took Jean-Luc's hand and gripped it. His fur was coarser than Yvette's and longer. To be expected, Jean-Luc supposed.
"I will return to my ship now and await your findings."
Haj nodded.
"Yes, it shouldn't take long. Every Rushedin that survived and their subsequent offspring are in the database. I will contact you with any news."
Jean-Luc nodded.
"Until then."
He then tapped his com badge.
"Picard to Enterprise. One to beam up."
Again aboard his ship, Jean-Luc went to Sick Bay and told both Yvette and Beverly what was going on. To Yvette he said softly,
"Their DNA database is very comprehensive. If any of your family survived, we should know soon."
Yvette sighed and wiped at her eyes.
"I don't know what to think. I want to stay here with you, but I think I want to find my family too."
Jean-Luc gently took her into his arms and hugged her, saying softly,
"It would be best if you were with your family, my little one. The ties that bind a family are stronger than anything I can provide you."
Hiccupping a stifled sob, Yvette rested her head on Jean-Luc's chest.
"I suppose so."
Just then a call came from then Bridge.
Jean-Luc lifted his head, but didn't release Yvette from his arms.
"Picard here."
"Sir there's a Mr. Haj calling from the planet."
Briefly closing his eyes, Jean-Luc said gently,
"I'll take it down here, Number One."
"Aye, Sir, transferring now."
The Captain released Yvette and looked into her eyes.
"Do you want to hear?"
She nodded her head slowly.
He held out his hand.
"Come on then."
Yvette slid off the bio bed and hand in hand walked into Beverly's office. The Doctor rose from her desk and was about to leave, but Jean-Luc held up his hand.
"No, Beverly, stay. This involves you too."
Jean-Luc sat behind her desk and activated the monitor. He picked Yvette up and placed her on his lap.
Haj's face appeared and his expression was solemn, leaving Jean-Luc to think the news was bad.
Text appeared on the screen.
"I have news, Jean-Luc."
The Captain nodded, saying,
"We are prepared."
"It is good news, though sad as well. We have found your Yvette's family, but it is not as it was. From a family of seven, two adults, three male children and two female children, they escaped with only a seven year old male and Nesca, your Yvette. At the time of her abduction, she was two years old. She is now almost six." Jean-Luc looked down at Yvette and gave her a one armed hug.
"Your name is Nesca."
More text appeared.
"You will need to go to the fifth planet. I have sent your details and Nesca's parents are waiting."
Jean-Luc smiled, saying,
"We will leave immediately. Thank you for all you have done Haj."
"It has been my pleasure, Jean-Luc. Goodbye."
Tapping his comm. badge, Jean-Luc said,
"Picard to Riker."
"Riker here, Captain."
"Go to the fifth planet and take up a standard orbit."
"Aye, Captain."
He then looked at Yvette.
"How do you feel, Nesca?"
"Please, Jean-Luc, call me Yvette."
With a soft chuckle, Jean-Luc hugged her.
"Very well, but your parents are going to be confused."
Gently putting Yvette on her feet, Jean-Luc stood, doing his level best to sound normal.
"Now if you ladies will excuse me, I'm going to spend a little time alone in my quarters." He tapped Yvette's nose.
"And I'd like some privacy."
Beverly was concerned, but knew her lover well enough to give him his space. Besides, she had a queasy stomach again and had decided to scan herself.
Jean-Luc left Sick Bay and strode briskly to his quarters. Once inside he went to the viewport, standing rigidly, his fists clenched at his sides. Blinking back tears, he said softly to himself,
"It is for the best. Yvette belongs with her own family."
His lack of control galled him, making him take deep breaths to regain his composure, but the thought of losing Yvette ate at him, right to his very soul. To all intents and purposes, he felt like her father and to give her up was turning out to be excruciatingly painful. Nevertheless, he knew deep down it was the right thing to do and, as Yvette was still quite young, he knew in time she would grow used to her family and memories of him would fade. But he would remember her for the rest of his life.
A call came from the Bridge.
"Riker to Picard."
Taking a deep breath, Jean-Luc cleared his mind of distressing thoughts.
"Picard here, Number One."
"We've established a standard orbit around the fifth planet, Sir."
Closing his eyes against the inevitable, Jean-Luc silently sighed.
"Very well Commander. I'll be in Transporter Room two."
"Aye, Captain."
He tapped his comm. badge.
"Picard to Crusher."
Beverly answered but her voice had an edge to it that he couldn't quite indentify.
"Crusher here, Captain."
He frowned, thinking,
"Captain?"
He wasn't used to such formality from Beverly. Still, he passed it off.
"Would you and Yvette meet me in Transporter two immediately, please?"
"Understood, on our way. Crusher out."
Taking one final deep breath, Jean-Luc suppressed his feelings and left his quarters, his pace brisk.
Being closer to the Transporter Room, Beverly and Yvette were waiting for him when he arrived. The Ensign on duty nodded to her Captain and said,
"Three to beam up, Captain."
Turning to face the pad, Jean-Luc said quietly,
"Energise."
He felt Yvette's hand take his.

 

Three beings materialised on the pad. The taller was obviously the father, while the shorter male was Yvette's brother. Standing beside her mate was the mother. Their fur was slightly darker than Yvette's, but all had her remarkable large violet eyes.
Jean-Luc tried to ignore the erections of both males and stepped forward.
"I am Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Welcome aboard the Enterprise."
The taller male gave Jean-Luc scant attention, instead thinking at Yvette,
"Nesca, my daughter, we thought we would never see you again. Come and join with me and your brother."
Yvette's grip tightened on Jean-Luc's hand. She looked up at the Captain and thought with fear in her voice,
"I don't want to."
Confusion marred Yvette's father's features, causing Jean-Luc to say,
"Yvette has lived with us for some time. We do not follow the same customs as you. Perhaps you could give her a little time to get used to you again?"
Slowly the father's eyes moved to Jean-Luc. The voice in the Captain's head was tinged with anger.
"Her name is Nesca!"
Holding up a placating hand, Jean-Luc bowed his head.
"Of course, my apologies. She chose the name Yvette for herself and that is how we address her. We will call her Nesca from now on."
Yvette shook her head.
"No! My name is Yvette!"
Jean-Luc turned and went down on one knee. Holding both her hands, he looked into her eyes and said softly,
"We must do as your father wishes now, Nesca."
The father said in a softer tone,
"Come and join with me and your brother. Only then can the bond form."
Jean-Luc stood and gently put his hand on Nesca's back, tenderly urging her forward.
"Go to your family, Nesca, it is what's right."
Jean-Luc expected hugs, or perhaps kisses. What he wasn't prepared for was for her father to pick her up and lower her onto his large penis. Unable to cope, he abruptly said,
"We should give them privacy."
With that, both he, Beverly and the Ensign left the room. Once out in the corridor, Jean-Luc bowed his head and put one hand to his brow. Beverly gently squeezed his upper arm.
"We should have expected it, Jean-Luc."
He sighed deeply.
"I know, but to see it...she's just a child and he's her father."
Shaking his head, he looked at Beverly, his eyes showing his anger.
"You know, Beverly, I have had contact with hundreds of aliens and their cultures, but this one I find abhorrent."
Not wishing to make light of the situation, but needing to bring the situation into perspective, Beverly said quietly,
"The Prime Directive, Jean-Luc."
He held up a hand and sighed.
"I know, I know."
They waited outside until Nesca emerged with her family. Her already striking eyes were glowing and her smile was radiant.
Jean-Luc went to her, gently placing his hands on her shoulders.
"Are you alright Yvet...sorry. Nesca?"
She moved forward and hugged Jean-Luc tightly.
"I feel wonderful, Jean-Luc and my name is Nesca. Let me introduce you to my family."
Quelling his personal views, Jean-Luc smiled and held out his right hand.
Nesca said with obvious pride,
"This is my father, Mond. My mother Jin and my brother Senni."
The tall father thought,
"Through our bond we know everything that has happened to Nesca since she was taken from us. We thank you, Captain Jean-Luc Picard for giving us back our daughter, thus restoring that which we had lost."
Putting aside his feelings, Jean-Luc gave a genuine smile.
"It was my pleasure. I would like to introduce you to my partner, Doctor Beverly Crusher. She was instrumental in restoring Nesca to full health."
Jin stepped forward and took Beverly's hand, raising it to her forehead and bowing.
"I thank you, Doctor Beverly Crusher. Without you, our daughter would have continued to suffer."
Jean-Luc was going to invite them to stay a while, but he was pre-empted.
Mond gently touched his hand to Jean-Luc's forehead and bowed.
"We must go now, Captain Jean-Luc Picard. There is a celebration waiting for Nesca at our home. Many guests are waiting."
Jean-Luc felt a surge of panic, but Beverly took his hand in hers and calmed him. He regained his composure and went down on one knee, holding out his arms. Nesca went to him happily and they hugged.
"Have a long and happy life Nesca."
She kissed his cheek, saying softly,
"I will, Jean-Luc and to you I will always be Yvette."
She then hugged Beverly before they all went back into the Transporter Room.
In seeing the family on the pad, all holding hands, Jean-Luc couldn't hold back a tear in his eyes.
"Energise."
And then they were gone.
Grief and loss welled up in Jean-Luc, but Beverly said quietly,
"Let's go back to your quarters, we need to talk."
Wiping away his tears, Jean-Luc straightened his spine and nodded silently.
Their journey was taken in silence, but once inside his quarters, Beverly hugged him tightly.
"I know exactly how you feel. It was the same for me when Wesley left with the Traveller."
Jean-Luc nodded silently, his head resting on Beverly's shoulder. She hesitated then said,
"It's not all bad news though. I have something to tell you that might ease your pain."
He lifted his tear stained face and frowned.
"What is it?"
With a lopsided smile, Beverly said softly,
"I'm pregnant."
His first reaction was to gape. Then he blinked a few times before saying incredulously,
"How? Your implant..."
Beverly held up one hand.
"I don't know. It might have been the cock ring. Its use causes a much larger than normal amount of ejaculate. It could be that the chemicals in the implant were simply overwhelmed. But the simple truth is I don't know. I removed the implant this morning."
His next words made Beverly chuckle.
"I need to sit down."
They sat together on the sofa holding hands, Jean-Luc still stunned. Beverly gently cupped his chin and turned him to face her.
"Aren't you going to kiss me?"
He smiled for the first time.
They kissed tenderly, imparting all their love. Jean-Luc ran his fingers down her face and said quietly,
"How long..."
"About four and a half weeks."
Jean-Luc nodded.
"So we don't know the gender yet."
With a shake of her head, Beverly said,
"Nup. Do you have a preference?"
He shook his head, but said hesitatingly,
"A boy would be nice to carry on the Picard name...that is if you want our child to have my name?"
Beverly smiled, beaming.
"That's a given."
Jean-Luc took her hands and looked deeply into her eyes.
"Marry me, Beverly."
Beverly leaned forward and touched her forehead to his.
"Let me think about it, my love, I'm not sure I want to go down that road."
Disappointed, but acquiescing, Jean-Luc said,
"Very well, mon coeur, just remember the offer stands until you're ready."
Beverly smiled and lifted her head.
"So how do you feel now?"
He shook his head and chuckled.
"Completely confused. I just lost my daughter only to find I am going to be a father again, this time my biological child. It's a little overwhelming."
Beverly frowned.
"But you're happy...right?"
Jean-Luc beamed.
"I'm ecstatic!"
Beverly looked a little sad.
"We're going to have to curtail our games until the baby's born.
Jean-Luc laughed outright.
"Who knows, you might learn to enjoy vanilla sex."
Lightly punching his shoulder, Beverly smirked.
"Not bloody likely!"
The Captain smiled with unmitigated joy.
"It doesn't matter, Beverly, there are ways and means. We'll make do."
They hugged and kissed, growing ever more aroused. It was Jean-Luc who said,
"Why don't we start now?"
Beverly smiled sultrily.
"You always have the best ideas."
He grinned back at her.
"That's why I'm the Captain."

Fin.