Alone Inside.
"Don't forget to pack your swimsuit…you know the green one…the one I like."
Beverly Crusher, CMO of the Starship Enterprise stuck her head around his bedroom door, a sly grin on her face.
"I told you Jean-Luc, we're not going on a jaunt…it's a medical symposium. You know…boring lectures, even more boring food…"
"All I'm saying is the Emerald Sea at Tyrenna is breathtaking at sunset. The water is warm and the sand soft and golden. You'd be mad if you didn't try to schedule some time to swim. Anyway, they can't keep you at lectures all the time. You and Deanna must get some personal time, you're there for two weeks after all."
She laughed softly and came fully into the living area. Sidling up to him, she wound her arms around his chest and gently kissed him.
He sighed, his eyes drifting shut. His arms encircled her as his tongue tenderly requested admission into her mouth. She opened to him willingly and he deepened the kiss, pulling her more tightly to his body, his hands sliding down to cup her buttocks.
She moaned into his mouth as he ground their hips together, feeling the growing arousal.
Panting, she broke the kiss and rested her forehead against his. In an unsteady voice she said,
"We can't…not now. I've got to finish packing and Deanna's waiting for me…there's not enough time."
In response, Jean-Luc kissed her again and slowly walked her backwards into the bedroom. Without breaking the kiss, he undid her blouse and slipped his hands inside, caressing her breasts. Again she broke the kiss and gasped,
"Jean-Luc…"
His hands swiftly unfastened her skirt and soon it and her underwear were lying at her feet. He pushed her bra up and tongued her stiff nipples.
She couldn't resist him. Her hands undid his shirt and opened it so she could touch the flexing muscles of his chest. As she did this, he quickly undid his trousers and pushed them, and his briefs down and out of the way. Easing her back onto the bed, he shoved the clothes and case aside and covered her with his body. With his hands caressing her breasts and kissing her passionately, he entered her with one fluid stroke.
Beverly cried out and arched up to him, her hands sliding under his shirt to rake his back.
He thrust into her hard and fast and she met every action with one of her own. Her legs came up his sides and over his hips as she clung to him. He broke the kiss and braced himself on his arms, watching her intently as he pistoned into her. Her hands gripped his muscled arms as she writhed beneath him.
"Oh God yes! More…harder…please Jean-Luc harder!"
He closed his eyes, bowed his head and gave up his formidable control as his lean muscular body flexed in his efforts to please her. He pumped in and out of her furiously and she felt the onrush of her climax.
Her upper body rose, her head straining back on her neck as the ecstasy exploded through her body. His name was torn from her throat and she sobbed as subsequent orgasms ripped through her.
The sounds of her passion were his undoing. His release was shattering, his body shivering with sensation as he buried himself deeply inside her and pumped his essence into her. They both remained stiff with the aftershocks before slowly relaxing and catching their breath. Jean-Luc lowered himself on shaking arms and kissed Beverly tenderly. They were quiet for a time, each feeling the love of the other and savouring it, holding it deep in their hearts, hoping it would sustain them during the upcoming separation.
It was Beverly who spoke first.
"Thank you my love."
Jean-Luc raised his head and kissed her softly, his fingers gently rubbing through her hair.
"It is I who should thank you my lovely."
Beverly giggled and touched her nose to his.
"Where did that come from anyway? Didn't you get enough this morning?"
Rolling onto his side and pulling her with him, he grinned sheepishly and gave a gentle shrug.
"When you kissed me I had a sudden urge to make love to you. You're very alluring you know."
"Well it was sudden, I'll give you that."
She looked down their bodies and laughed happily.
"You've still got your pants on…and your socks and shoes. My, you were in a hurry."
"Well you said Deanna was waiting and…"
"Oh God…Deanna! Jean-Luc get up. I have to shower now and finish packing…"
He was still lying on the bed as Beverly made a dash for the bathroom. Over her shoulder she called,
"You clean up the mess while I shower."
He climbed to his feet, restored his clothing to its proper place and had tidied the bedroom by the time Beverly re-emerged. She dressed quickly and he watched in amused silence as she threw articles into her carry case. After a quick trip back to the bathroom to apply her makeup, she rejoined her lover in the bedroom and cast her eyes about, trying to think if she'd remembered everything. She nodded to herself and closed the case with a satisfied sigh.
"Well that's about it Jean-Luc…I think I'm ready. How do I look?"
Jean-Luc smiled and took her in his arms.
"You look utterly delectable. You always do."
Beverly chuckled then grew serious.
"Now Jean-Luc…you will eat properly?"
"Yes Beverly."
"And get enough sleep?"
"Yes Beverly."
"And no working at your desk 'til God knows what time?"
"Yes Beverly."
"And no sleeping in the Ready Room?"
"Yes Beverly."
"Stop saying 'yes Beverly'!"
"Yes Beverly."
She playfully slapped his chest as a rare full grin graced his handsome features. She sighed and rested her head on his chest.
"I'll miss you."
He pulled her closer to him and murmured,
"And I you, my beloved. I will be counting the days until you return to me."
Beverly looked up into his dark hazel eyes and kissed him one last time.
When they parted, he picked up her case and together they left his quarters.

 

 

 

 

Will Riker; second in command of the Starship was waiting with Counsellor Deanna Troi in Shuttle Bay three when the Captain and his CMO entered. They walked together, but without touching. As was his habit, Jean-Luc refrained from showing open affection for Beverly whilst on duty.
As the others chatted, the Captain placed Beverly's case in the runabout, checked the instruments, then joined his officers.
Will lifted his bearded chin and grinned down at the two women.
" Now I hope you ladies stay out of trouble, you're representing the flagship remember."
Deanna giggled delightedly.
"If I recall those stories about some of your shore leaves, we have some traditions to uphold."
"Ah yes, but they were shore leaves, not medical symposiums."
Jean-Luc joined the conversation.
"Will's right. You will be required to be on your best behaviour for the entire two weeks I'm afraid and if I receive even so much as one detrimental report…well let's just say I won't be very happy."
Beverly's eyes gleamed evilly.
"Well we can't have that now can we?"
Nudging her friend she said sotto voce,
"We'll just have to be very careful!"
The four friends laughed and Will hugged Deanna. Observing that they were occupied, Jean-Luc gave Beverly's hand a quick squeeze and a surreptitious wink, earning him a beaming smile. The men stood back as the women boarded the runabout, then walked to the control module as the doors opened. They watched in silence as the runabout powered up, rose from the floor and exited the ship. Will sighed and turned to his Captain.
"Well Sir they're on their way. God help Targus III. Jean-Luc grinned and clasped his friend's shoulder.
"I just hope they leave the planet in one piece Number One."
"It will take them what…three days to reach Targus?"
"Yes, but I've managed to organize a rendezvous with them at Starbase two sierra tango on their return. It will save us two days travel and the crew can have some shore leave on the station."
Will smiled and nodded.
"Thank you Sir. I'm sure the crew will appreciate it."
The two men left for the Bridge.

 

 

 

Deanna consulted the monitors once again and, satisfied with what she saw, left the cockpit to join Beverly in the main body of the runabout.
"Want some lunch?"
Beverly uncrossed her long legs and put aside the PADD she'd been reading.
"We've only been travelling for two hours Deanna. Didn't you have anything before we left?"
"I was too excited…and Will was being, well, solicitous…you know how he gets."
"Hmm."
"What about you?"
"What about me?"
"You know…was the Captain…did he…oh come on Beverly you know what I mean."
Beverly laughed and went to the replicator.
"What do you want to eat?"
"What? Oh, just a chicken salad. It's no good hiding Beverly; I can sense your happiness…and his, although he's doing his damnedest to shut me out. Come on, tell me!"
Beverly was silent while she retrieved two salads and drinks. She placed the meals on the table, sat and picked up her serviette before Deanna spoke again.
"Beverly…!"
She looked up and smiled wistfully.
"We made love. Twice this morning and again about twenty minutes before we made it to the Shuttle Bay."
Deanna's eyes opened wide, her fork stopped en route to her mouth.
"Wow! What's he like?"
"Deanna!"
"Oh come on Beverly, details…I want details!"
Grinning saucily, Beverly ate a few bites, then pointed with her knife.
"I can tell you he'd put most men half his age to shame. He's gentle, considerate, energetic and has the stamina of a twenty year old."
Deanna smirked and sighed.
"So you're satisfied then?"
"Satisfied? Gods, I'm worn out! I don't know how he does it…I'm just happy he does."
The two friends shared a giggle and Deanna though the subject was closed. Beverly, however, wasn't finished.
"And his hands…and mouth…oh God Dee, the first time I thought I'd died and gone to heaven."
"Really?"
"Uh huh. Underneath that cool exterior lies the heart of a true lover…a man dedicated to giving his partner nothing but the purest pleasure."
Deanna nodded and smiled.
"To those that don't know him, you'd think he was cold, almost devoid of emotion. It took me years to realise the depths of his passions. You're one lucky woman."
"I know. When we began this new relationship I didn't know how he'd be with me…you know, would he be hesitant, shy…I didn't expect such desire, such forthright passion. I know he's loved me for a very long time…I don't know how he kept it all in check."
"Men like Captain Picard are often repressed in their personal relationships. I think the love he's had for you all these years has prepared him for you. I don't think he could be that way with anyone else."
"Really? That's flattering. I know I've given myself to him wholly…body and soul. He's the love of my life."
Deanna sighed and took a sip of her tea.
"What about you and Will?"
"We're fine. He's another one who's commitment shy, but we have worked out a lot of issues. I think we're moving forward well now."
"That's good. I know one thing…the men in our lives sure do keep us on our toes. How many women have a lover who's also their commanding officer?"
Deanna laughed and shook her head.
"Only you I think."

 

 

 

 

 

Two days later the Enterprise was mapping a binary star system. Stellar cartography was in the process of formulating predicted configurations when a call came through from Cargo Bay nine.
"Ensign Fullarton to Commander Data."
"Data here."
"Sir I've finished loading the supplies for Ephrim colony. What do you want me to do next?"
"So soon Ensign? I will be down shortly. Please wait for me."
As Data stood, Captain Picard held up his hand.
"Wait Data. I've got to go down to Astrophysics; I'll drop by and see to Ensign Fullarton. Let Commander Riker know where I've gone will you? You have the Bridge."
Data nodded.
"Thank you Sir."
Jean-Luc entered the turbolift and allowed his mind to wander momentarily.
"I wonder what she's doing now? Still in the runabout…maybe reading, catching up on her research. Two days…it's been two days and Gods I miss her. I don't want to be in my quarters without her… or in my bed alone. Fifteen more days! How will I make it through that?"
The lift arrived on the appropriate deck and the Captain exited and headed to Cargo Bay nine. When the doors opened he stood stunned at what he saw.
"Ensign! What the hell do you think you're doing?"
Ensign Amy Fullarton snapped to attention and blanched.
"Sir! I thought I'd save some time, Sir!"
"By grossly overloading the antigrav?"
Jean-Luc stepped further into the room and could hear the whine of the protesting antigrav. The Ensign had put five times the recommended load on the unit. Crates, stasis units, supplies of all sorts were piled high, topped with several steel spikes, used in geology to separate rocks for study. A metre long and two point five centimetres thick, they were sharp at one end and flattened at the other.
The Captain walked over to the antigrav, awed by what he saw.
"Ensign why…?"
The hapless officer rushed forward to speak with her Captain, only to stumble. Pitching forward, she cannoned into the captain, knocking him off his feet. He fell sideways, collecting the edge of the antigrav as he tried to prevent his fall. The two officers lay sprawled on the floor with one of the Captain's arms under the antigrav.
The jostling was too much for the straining unit. It veered, dipped and emitted a loud screech before suddenly slamming down onto the deck. The load rebounded with the impact and the metal spikes jumped into the air.
Jean-Luc, his arm trapped up to the shoulder, was just registering the fact when the spikes fell towards him. He glimpsed them in horror and used his free arm to shove the Ensign away.
He couldn't contain the yell of agony as three of the spikes impaled him. One through his thigh, one through his lower chest and one through his shoulder.
Amy sat up and stared in horror. A dark pool of blood was spreading around her Captain as he shuddered in agony. She slapped her combadge.
"Medical emergency in Cargo Bay nine! The Captain's been injured!"
On her hands and knees, she went to him and gingerly touched the spike protruding from his chest.
"Sir…can I help you?…is there anything I can do?"
Through gritted teeth Jean-Luc replied,
"No. Don't touch me…wait for the medics."
Overhead the speakers came to life.
"This is the Bridge. State the nature of the emergency."
"It's Amy…I mean Ensign Fullarton. Captain Picard has been impaled by several spikes and is trapped by his arm, which is under the antigrav. There's so much blood…"
"Stay calm Ensign. Medical should be with you momentarily. Commander Riker is on his way and he will monitor the situation from there. Is the Captain conscious?"
"Yes Sir."
"Then stay with him and…"
"The medics are here Sir!"
Amy sat back as Doctor Selar and two nurses rushed across the distance from the closing doors.
Deploying her med kit, Selar scanned Jean-Luc with a medical tricorder and administered an analgesic. Using another scanner, she mapped the positions of the spikes. Turning to Amy, she ordered her to obtain a phaser. Being relieved to be able to help, the Ensign was back in moments, handing the weapon to the Doctor.
With the help of the two nurses, Selar cut the spikes off, leaving two centimetres of the metal above Jean-Luc's skin. Tapping her combadge, she called the Bridge just as Will arrived.
"Selar to Bridge."
"Bridge here."
"We have stabilised the Captain but he is still trapped. His condition is serious. When we have unloaded the antigrav I will immobilise his arm and have him transported to Sick Bay."
"Understood."
Will crouched down beside his Commanding Officer and asked the Doctor,
"What can I do?"
As she stood, Selar looked down at the Commander.
"You can help by aiding us in unloading the antigrav."
The five crew immediately began to relieve the unit of its load. As they worked, Will frowned at the Ensign.
"What the hell were you trying to do? You should know better than to place this much weight on this size antigrav."
Without pausing in her work, Amy answered her Commander.
"I do know Sir…it's just…I was trying to get the work done quickly. Commander Data was overseeing my rotation and I wanted to…"
"Impress him. I see. Well I hope you've learned from this disaster Ensign. Not too many Ensigns slip up by nearly killing their Captain by being overly keen."
"Yes Sir. Do you think he'll be all right?"
Will took pity on the woman and relented.
"I'm sure once we get him to Sick Bay he'll be fine."
Selar shooed Will and Amy out of the way when the job was finished and bent to speak to the Captain.
"Sir we will soon be lifting the unit off your arm. Please remain as still as you can. I do not want to exacerbate your injuries."
Jean-Luc grunted his acceptance of her suggestion and braced himself.
The officers gathered around the antigrav and, bending their knees, hooked their fingers under the unit. On the count of three, they lifted.
As the weight suddenly disappeared, Jean-Luc felt a stab of pain down his arm that even the analgesics couldn't quell. He cried out but, with a Herculean effort, remained still.
Quickly putting the antigrav aside, Selar placed a pressure cuff around the shoulder joint and scanned the afflicted arm.
"There are multiple fractures in the humerus, ulna and radius. The shoulder is dislocated and the hand has been crushed. There has been extensive disruption to the nerve pathways and the blood vessels have been compromised. I am going to place the appendage in stasis prior to transport."
Will blanched as he looked at the flattened arm. His eyes wandered over his Captain's body and he frowned at the pooling blood.
"What about his other injuries?"
"Only one of the spikes is dangerously sited. The lower lobe of the left lung has been pierced and blood is leaking into it. I will treat the injury as soon as he arrives in the surgery suite. If you will stand back Commander…"
Will nodded and he and Amy stood back as the four people shimmered in blue light and disappeared.
Amy looked up at Will uncertainly.
"Sir…what am I supposed to do now? Could I go to Sick Bay too? I'd like to know how the Captain's doing."
Will looked around him and came to a decision.
"Tell you what. You get another antigrav and finish this job…properly this time, clean up…and when you're done you can come up to Sick Bay. I'll give you new orders then."
A relieved Ensign grinned at her superior.
"Thank you Sir."
Will nodded then left the Cargo Bay. Amy looked around her, sighed and began her tasks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc was sweating freely by the time Selar injected him with more painkiller.
He closed his eyes as his uniform was cut from his body and winced when he was shifted to the gurney that was to take him to surgery. Selar came into his field of vision.
"Captain Picard, you will be going to surgery momentarily. When you wake up you will be in the recovery room. I do not foresee any problems with your treatment…however your arm may take some time to heal completely. I cannot say now exactly how I will treat your arm…I will know more when I can examine it more closely."
Jean-Luc nodded and grimaced as he tried to sigh.
"Try to take small breaths Captain. Your left lung has been damaged."
He nodded again and swallowed convulsively as he felt the gurney begin to move. Concentrating fiercely, he made sure his last conscious thought was of Beverly.

 

 

 

Having checked her notes, Beverly absently rubbed her stomach, trying to dispel the lingering nausea she felt. Still on their way, Beverly had been feeling slightly ill for some time and she hoped their impending arrival at the planet would alleviate her unsettled stomach. Deanna noticed her friend's discomfort and came to sit beside her.
"Beverly are you all right? You've been rubbing your midriff a while now."
"Yes I'm fine. We had a very rich dessert last night; perhaps it's disagreeing with me. Tell me Deanna, have you had a chance to review our accommodations?"
"Not really. Other than knowing we're sharing a room, I just assumed it would be standard Starfleet quarters."
Beverly frowned and sighed.
"Well I hope we get a room with a bath. I could do with a long hot soak. What's our ETA?"
"Oh, about 08.30 tomorrow, give or take an hour. You know how crowded the docking arrangements get when these symposiums set up."
"So another twelve hours? Hmm, I think I'll do a little more reading then call it a night. Are you ready…did you complete your submission?"
"As a matter of fact I did. I'm as ready as I can be, but I'm not looking forward to giving my speech. I'd much rather listen to the others."
"I know how you feel. I've got to give three lectures and I'm dreading each one. I'm really looking forward to hearing Doctor Adamson's address on the latest regeneration techniques. It's something I believe we could easily incorporate onto the ship."
"I'll make sure I go to that one."
Beverly sighed and closed her eyes. Stretching, she thought of her lover.
"What are you doing right now?"

 

 

 

It was the beautiful red head he saw in his mind when consciousness returned. He lay quietly, his eyes closed, assessing his body. His left thigh had a tightness in it he knew to be newly reconstructed tissue. He gently flexed the muscle and felt the telltale answering twinge.
Using his left hand, he fingered the wound on his chest and took a tentative breath. Again the signature tightness. His left shoulder rotated well and the muscles there also showed some tenderness. Of his right arm, he could feel nothing. From shoulder to fingertips, it was completely numb. He tried wriggling his fingers, but garnered no response. He opened his eyes and noted the subdued lighting. Lifting his head, he strained to look at his arm. What he saw made him scream in terror.
His arm was encased in a very Borg-like prosthesis. Black and silver with areas of transparency, it began at his shoulder and snaked down his arm and terminated at his fingertips. Thick wires bulged up over his fingers and tubes wound themselves around his muscles. It was jointed at the elbow and he could see open wounds, the blood vessels in plain view. In horror he recoiled in the bed and shouted,
"Nooooo! No! Take it off!"
Hearing his first scream, Selar was entering his room as he began to claw at the prothesis with his left hand.
"Captain Picard! Stop what you are doing or I will sedate you!"
He didn't hear her. Sitting up he wrenched at the hardware and nearly fell off the bed. Still yelling, he slammed the arm against the side of the bed and raised it again for another assault when Selar applied a hypospray to his leg. Calling for help, she supported his senseless body until a nurse arrived.
"Doctor…what happened?"
"I'm not certain. He was trying to remove the stasis unit."
"But why was he so upset? Was he in pain?"
"No. I do not know why he was so distraught. I will check his medical file, perhaps that will shed some light on the problem."
Selar had just entered Beverly's office when Will poked his head around the door.
"Doctor? Nurse Ogawa said the Captain's woken up."
"Yes Commander he has."
"How is he?"
Selar's hesitation worried Will.
"What is it?"
"When the Captain regained consciousness he became very…upset."
"Upset? Over what? Won't you let him go back to his quarters?"
"He can return to convalesce in his quarters tomorrow…that is not what is bothering him."
"Well what is it?"
"I do not know. It appears he is unhappy with the stasis unit on his arm. He was trying to remove it and shouting incoherently. He was becoming violent…I do not understand."
"Violent? The Captain? Was it the drugs…did he have a head injury we didn't know about?"
"No Commander there were no other injuries and Captain Picard was given no pharmaceuticals he has not had before. I fear his reaction was psychological not physical."
"But why? Can I go see him?"
"Yes, but he is unconscious."
Will nodded and strode into his friend's room. In the soft lighting he gasped when he saw the equipment encasing the right arm. He left immediately and sought out Selar again.
"The Borg!"
"I beg your pardon Commander?"
"When Captain Picard was assimilated by the Borg he had a prosthetic right arm. The Borg fitted him with it and it was one of the last things Beverly removed. It took him weeks to regain total control of the limb. When he woke up and saw that…"
"…He must have thought he had been re-assimilated. This is not good Commander."
"You're damn right it isn't. When will he wake up?"
Selar consulted a chronograph.
"In approximately two hours."
"Well you'd better keep him slightly sedated while we try to convince him that everything's ok."
"A wise idea Commander."

 

 

When Jean-Luc next awoke he knew immediately he was restrained. He heard the gently hum of the restriction field and frowned at its presence. He opened his eyes and was about to speak when he felt a hypospray empty against his neck. The effect was instantaneous. His body relaxed and his sharp mind dulled.
"Captain? It's Will. Do you know where you are?"
Jean-Luc opened his eyes and looked about. Finding his voice he grumbled,
"Yes. I'm in Sick Bay."
"Do you remember what happened?"
After a momentary pause, he scowled.
"Yes. The antigrav in Cargo Bay nine was…"
He suddenly stilled, his eyes opening wide.
"My arm! The Borg!"
He twisted his head sideways and stared at his arm. He snapped his eyes shut and whimpered,
"No…God please no…not again…"
Will stepped forward and clasped his Captain's shoulder gently.
"Sir…it's all right. There's no Borg…it's a stasis unit that's all…just a stasis unit to help repair your arm. Open your eyes Captain…it's all right."
As Jean-Luc attempted to get his breathing under control, Will noticed as the muscles in his jaws flexing. First one eye, then the other cracked open and Jean-Luc snapped his head back looking hard at the ceiling. Still panting, he gasped,
"Not the Borg?"
"No Sir…I promise. Please…"
"Can you remove it?"
Selar stepped forward and said softly,
"No Captain. Your right arm was extensively damaged. The bones, nerves, muscles and blood vessels need intensive treatment if you are to regain full use of the limb. I apologise for your discomfort, but it is the only way."
"Remove the restraining field and give me something to counteract the sedative."
"Sir I do not think…"
"Doctor Selar I can assure you I will be fine. Remove the field…please."
The Vulcan hesitated but capitulated when she saw the surreptitious nod from Will.
"Very well Captain."
The room was very quiet with the field silenced. Jean-Luc spoke again.
"Would you allow me to sit up?"
"Yes Sir, but please don't move the arm."
Selar raised the head of the bed and the Captain sighed. Will noted he refused to look at his arm.
"When can I be released?"
"If all goes well; tomorrow morning. You will be off duty for an extended period while your arm heals. You may work from your quarters in four day's time. Until then you are to rest."
"I see. Commander, ship's status?"
"Nothing to report Sir. Everything's fine. You just…"
"I want to see that Ensign."
"Ensign Sir?"
"The one who caused all this mayhem."
"Oh. Ensign Fullarton."
"Yes, Ensign Fullarton."
"Sir she's been up to Sick Bay several times to enquire about you…she feels just terrible about what happened…"
"Now Commander!"
"Aye Sir."
Will paged the Ensign and tried again with his furious Captain.
"Sir she was just trying to…"
"I know what she was trying to do Commander…I bore the brunt of her enthusiasm remember! She does not need your excuses…I will deal with her as I see fit! Is that understood?"
"Yes Sir!"
Selar left the room and noted when the frightened Ensign arrived. She entered the Captain's room and stood at attention.
In an icily calm voice, Jean-Luc said,
"You may leave Commander."
Will cast a worried glance over the Ensign and left, but stayed in Sick Bay.
Jean-Luc let the ominous silence stretch on. The Ensign's trembling became overt and beads of sweat appeared on her brow. In a deceptively quiet voice, the Captain addressed her.
"Do you have any idea what you've done? Did you give any thought to the repercussions of your actions?"
"Sir I…"
"Silence! What were you thinking when you deliberately overloaded the antigrav in an effort to ingratiate yourself with your commanding officer?"
His deep baritone was now loud and harsh with condemnation.
"What the hell were you thinking? You have shown yourself to be an incompetent fool!"
Tears appeared in Amy's eyes and fell down her face as she stood rigidly before her Captain.
"Answer me!"
"Sir! I…I'm sorry…so sorry…I…I…"
"You're what? Sorry? Well that just makes everything all right then does it? You could have killed me Ensign! Are you sorry about that too?"
"Sir…Captain Picard…I…I'm…"
"You are confined to your quarters until further notice. Now get out!"
Amy turned and fled. Blinded by tears, she didn't see Will until she ran right into him.
"Hey, slow down. What did he say?"
Her breath hiccuping, she tried to answer her superior.
"He said…he said…"
"Take it easy, here sit down. I'll get you a glass of water."
When the distraught Ensign had calmed somewhat, Will asked again.
"What did he say?"
"He yelled at me and confined me to quarters. Oh God he'll throw me off the ship! What have I done? I'm washed up! He'll see to it I'm thrown out of Starfleet! Oh God! Oh God!"
"Stop Ensign! Stop that right now. Look Captain Picard is pretty angry right now…he's not himself. Let things cool down and I'll talk to him. Stay in your quarters for now and I'll see what I can do. And Ensign? I'd appreciate it if you kept this to yourself…at least for now."
"But my roommate…"
"Tell her…or him…if they have any questions, to come and see me. Ok?"
"Yes Sir. Commander?…the Captain…he will be all right…won't he?"
Will looked down and Amy and gave a wan smile.
"Yes, of course. Now shoo, be gone."
Amy gave a tentative smile of her own and turned to leave. But before her feet took her to the door, she lifted her head and spoke.
"Thank you Sir."
Will watched her go with a sigh.
He turned, frowning as he looked at the Captain's closed door.
"What the hell's going on?"

Jean-Luc made a fist with his left hand. Lifting his head, he screwed his eyes shut and clenched his jaw hard, grinding his teeth.
"Not the Borg…not the Borg…"
The door annunciator broke into his mantra.
"Yes! Who is it?", he barked.
Will stepped hesitantly into the room.
"It's just me Sir. Captain…is there anything I can do…would you like me to…"
"What I would like, Commander, is to be left alone! Return to the Bridge. I'll expect a report from you at the end of the shift."
Will straightened and lifted his chin.
"Aye Sir."
He left and sought out Selar. He found her reading the Captain's medical file.
She looked up when Will entered and straddled a seat in the office.
"Have you found anything Doctor?"
"Captain Picard has an extensive file. It will take some time to fully scan it, but I have noticed several files that are closed to general viewing. They are coded for Doctor Crusher's purview only."
"But that doesn't make any sense. Surely it would be detrimental to the Captain in the event that she wasn't here to care for him?"
"I agree Commander. It may well be that the information we seek is contained in those files. I will continue to scan the available information and hope that I can glean some answers."
Will nodded thoughtfully and rose from the chair.
"Keep me posted will you? I'm ordered to return to the Bridge. I'll be back at shift's end."
"Very well Commander."
Will left and Selar continued her search of the records. She was interrupted a short time later by a call from the Captain.
"Yes Sir?"
He was standing beside his bed.
"I want some clothing and a computer terminal."
"I'm sorry Captain but as long as you are under my care, you will stay in Sick Bay attire and rest. I have already outlined your schedule."
Unreasonable anger sparked within Jean-Luc and he stepped closer to the Vulcan physician.
"Dammit woman do you expect me to just lie here staring at the ceiling? I have a ship to run."
"Not at the moment you don't Sir. Until further notice, you are relieved of duty. If you fail to comply with my orders, I will have you sedated and confined to Sick Bay for the duration of your recovery."
Said with calm determination, Jean-Luc's anger rose another notch.
"How dare you speak to me in such a manner. You can't threaten me! I order you to release me!"
"I'm sorry Sir, I cannot. Please return to you bed and try to rest. This amount of stress is detrimental to your health."
Jean-Luc stood his ground and glared at the Doctor, daring her to make good her threat.
"Sir I will sedate you."
The Captain spun on his heel and swept a tray of instruments from the tabletop. He stood, his back to Selar, shaking with suppressed rage. She moved quietly behind him and gathered up the fallen articles.
"Get into the bed please Captain."
Angrily, his movements stiff with indignation, he regained the bed and lay rigidly, ignoring the Doctor's presence.
"Thank you Captain. Now if you would just…"
"You're dismissed."
Hesitating just a moment, Selar bowed her head and acquiesced.
"Very well Captain. I will come in later to see if you require anything."
He did not acknowledge her.

 

 

 

 

Amy sat on her bunk, still shaking with fear from the captain's outburst.
When she'd been posted to the Enterprise, it had been the happiest time of her short life. She had worked exceptionally hard at the Academy and the Enterprise had been her goal. She decided early on that she would strive to excel, earning the recognition she hoped would lead to rapid promotion. She knew she was serving under the finest Captain and crew…the Enterprise was after all, the Flag Ship of the fleet.
So what had she done? Completely ignored standing regulations about loading the antigrav and damn near killed her Captain in the process.
"Oh God", she groaned. "I've had it now."
Tears welled up and she lay on her bunk, burying her head under the pillow.

 

 

 

 

 

Her roommate, Ensign Mark McKee, entered the quarters and heard Amy's sobbing. He cautiously approached her and rested his hand on her shaking back.
"Hey Amy…what's wrong?"
She sniffed loudly and rolled over, taking the pillow off her face.
"Oh God Mark…I nearly killed the Captain today."
"What?"
"I overloaded an antigrav and he caught me and I fell and knocked him over and the antigrav failed and crushed his arm and these spikes impaled him and…"
"Wait…whoa…slow down. The Captain was impaled? By spikes?"
Tears started to flow again as Amy slowly nodded.
"In three places! His leg, his chest and his shoulder…and his right arm was completely squashed under the antigrav!"
"Shit Amy! How the hell?…Why did you overload the antigrav?"
"Oh I just wanted to impress Commander Data! If I finished quickly I thought he'd order me to the Bridge. You know how much I've wanted to sit at Ops. Now it looks as if I'm going to be kicked off the ship. Captain Picard is really pissed off. He yelled at me and confined me to Quarters. You're supposed to direct all your questions to Commander Riker."
"He yelled at you? Captain Picard yelled at you?"
"Yep."
"My God…he never yells."
"Tell me about it!"
"So what else did Riker say?"
Amy sighed and stood.
"He said he'd talk to the Captain. I've had it Mark…I'm washed up."
Mark took her into his arms and rubbed her back.
"Don't give up on the Commander yet Amy. He and the Captain are friends…they go way back. He'll sort it out. The Captain's going to be ok isn't he?"
Amy nodded into his shoulder.
"Well there you go. Once he's recovered, he just might see the funny side of all this."
Amy raised her head and sniffed.
"There's a funny side?"
"Of course there is! I think…"
"Well when you find it, tell me will you…I could do with a laugh."

 

 

 

 

Beverly was near the end of her first submission. Her feet shifted again as sweat ran coldly down her back. She gripped each side of the podium until her knuckles showed white as her stomach lurched again.
Bringing the dissertation to an end, she didn't wait for the applause, but ran straight from the stage brushing past the waiting dignitaries. She only just made into the cubicle of the ladies room before she vomited. Holding tightly to the handrail she retched piteously as her stomach rebelled and emptied its contents into the bowl.
When the nausea subsided, she sat on the seat and lowered her pale head into her hands.
"Definitely not something I ate!"
She was washing her face when Deanna came in.
"Beverly what happened? Everybody's talking about your exit…what's going on?"
"I had to hurry…I was going to throw up."
"Again? But…"
"I know, I know…it's getting worse. Come on let's go back to our room. I've got a medical tricorder in my case."
"You don't want to go to the infirmary?"
"No, not until I know more."
The two women left and were soon at their room. Beverly quickly found her instrument and lost no time in scanning herself. She froze with the scanner at her lower abdomen.
"No…it can't be…"
"Beverly? What is it?"
"Hold on a minute, this must be wrong."
She scanned herself again and shook her head.
"Oh God."
"Beverly!"
"I'm pregnant."
Deanna's hands flew to her mouth, her gasp loud in the quiet room.
"What? How? What about your contraceptive implant?"
Beverly used the tricorder to scan an area on the underside of her left forearm.
"It's inactive…must be a dud."
"A dud? But that can't happen…can it? And what about Captain Picard…he has an implant doesn't he?"
"He can't have one because of his artificial heart. It was decided long ago that an implant might compromise his immune system."
"Ok, but what about yours. I can't believe they manufacture…duds."
"You'd be surprised at what can affect them. Ion radiation…spatial rifts… any one of a dozen…"
"Beverly…your pregnant! What are you going to do?"
The Doctor sat on her bed and shrugged her shoulders.
"I don't know Dee, I don't know."

 

 

 

 

 

The 'morning' shift had started on the Enterprise and Will was on his way to Sick Bay, His report to the Captain the previous evening had been unpleasant as the Captain's ire was evident in everything he said. Having made his report, he was ordered from the room. In fact he was pleased to leave. He wasn't used to dealing with such an angry Captain.
He strode through the doors to be confronted by a shaken Alyssa Ogawa.
"Commander Riker…good morning Sir."
"Good morning Alyssa…what's wrong?"
The nurse looked around nervously, wringing her hands.
"The Captain…he…"
She got no further. A sharp deep voice rang out.
"What are you doing here Commander?"
Will spun around to see his Captain approaching.
"Sir…good morning. I was just coming to see…"
"Why aren't you on the Bridge?"
"Sir…I came down to see you…"
"Well as you can plainly see, I'm fine."
Will looked over his shoulder at Selar.
"That's good Sir…"
"Yes it is. Now stop wasting valuable time and report to the Bridge!"
"Sir?"
"Now Commander!"
"Aye Sir."
Will turned and strode out of Sick Bay, his face burning.
Jean-Luc turned to Selar. In the same angry tone he said,
"I take it you're finished with me?"
She nodded and folded her hands in front of her.
"Yes Sir, you can be discharged to your quarters. Please bear in mind that your arm needs to stay as still as possible and you are required to rest. Also…"
"Fine. I take it you will want me to report for checkups?"
"Yes Sir, every day."
"Very well. If that is all…?"
She nodded and Jean-Luc turned on his heel and walked briskly from Sick Bay, the staff scuttling out of his way. Selar handed control to another Doctor and left for the Bridge.
As she arrived at the command centre of the ship, she caught Will's eye and together they entered the Ready Room. Will rounded on the Doctor.
"What the hell's going on?"
"The Captain appears to be angry."
"I can see that! Has he been like that since he woke up?"
"He has been…adversarial all night. He did not sleep."
"Why not? Couldn't you sedate him?"
Selar placed her hands behind her back and tilted her head.
"I deemed it unnecessary. He would have been against it and I wanted to avoid further confrontation. As long as he was left alone, he was all right. It was only when staff approached him that he became belligerent."
Will perched on the desk and crossed his long legs. Folding his arms he asked,
"Where is he now?"
"I discharged him to his quarters."
"Do you think he's fit to be alone?"
"Physically yes. Emotionally, I am not so confident, however it seemed better to let him go than to provoke him further by making him stay."
"What about his arm. Did he mention it at all…make any reference to it?"
"No Sir…in fact he ignored it completely. Apart from asking about checkups he didn't acknowledge his injuries in any way."
Will shook his head and frowned deeply.
"This doesn't make sense! Why is he so angry? Why would he ignore his injuries? Have you been able to unlock the files?"
"No Sir, not yet."
"Well keep on it Doctor. The answer is there somewhere."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc sat on his sofa, his right arm hanging rigidly at his side. Still encased in the prosthesis, he couldn't bear to look at it. To do so invited madness. He was drinking neat scotch, the nearly empty bottle on the low table, the tumbler warm in his grasp. He closed his eyes and rested his head back on the cushion. His heart hammered in his chest as he tried to think of something calming, but his mind wouldn't let him. It kept whispering to him…
The Borg…the Borg…
He gripped the tumbler savagely and gasped as it shattered in his hand. He threw the remnants across the room and shouted,
"NO! It's not…it's not…Oh God no…"
He sat there sobbing as his cut hand slowly dribbled blood onto the carpet.

 

 

 

 

At lunchtime Will decided to try one more time to talk with his Captain. Handing the Bridge to Data, he wandered through the corridors, deliberately slowing his approach as he devoted more thought to the problem.
"Ok so he wakes up and finds his arm encased in a very Borg-like prosthesis and gets a fright. We reassure him, but he gets angry and chooses to ignore his arm. We make sure he knows he hasn't been re-assimilated, but he's still angry. Why?"
Before he could formulate an answer, he found himself at the Captain's door. With some trepidation, he pressed the door chime. The speaker above his head startled him as it activated.
"Who the hell is it!?"
"It's me Sir…Will Riker."
"Get back to the Bridge!"
"Sir…Captain Picard please…I just want…"
The door hissed open suddenly. Will felt the anger wash over him.
"You just want to what?"
Will stared at his Commanding Officer in shock. He was pale, dark shadows accentuating his haunted eyes and he appeared to be trembling. As Will's eyes travelled down he noticed the dripping blood.
"Sir…your hand! Let me help you."
As he stepped forward, he was halted by the venom in his Captain's words.
"Mind your own damn business!"
Jean-Luc left a bloodied handprint on Will's chest as he pushed him back out into the corridor. The door sighed shut leaving a confused and shocked Will staring at it in disbelief. He tapped his combadge.
"Riker to Selar."
"Selar here Commander."
"Doctor report immediately to the Captain's quarters and bring a med kit."
"Aye Sir."
When Selar arrived Will took a moment to appraise her.
"Doctor something's very wrong. The Captain has been injured but he doesn't want to see anybody. You will have to use your medical override to go in."
"What is the nature of the injury?"
"I'm not sure. All I know is that his left hand is dripping blood."
"I see."
She addressed the computer.
"Computer open Captain Picard's door. Authorization Selar Omega three one."
The door opened obediently and the two officers entered cautiously. In the subdued lighting, they spotted the Captain staring out at the viewports. The approached him slowly. It was Will who spoke.
"Sir? Captain Picard? Doctor Selar is with me…she wants to see your hand."
He turned abruptly and barked,
"I thought I told you to mind your own business Commander!"
"Yes Sir, but…"
"But? Are you questioning my orders?"
Before Will could answer, Selar stepped forward and stood between the two men.
"Captain Picard if it is an order you want then I am ordering you to submit to an examination. Commander Riker is here at my request. You will comply!"
He sneered and raised his injured hand, forming a fist, then thought better of it. He dropped his hand to his side and muttered,
"Very well, get on with it!"
Selar went to him and raised his hand, scanning it. She frowned as she read the results.
"These are very deep lacerations Sir. How did you acquire them?"
He closed his eyes and sighed.
"I…I cut it…"
Will, who had been surreptitiously looking around, noted the scotch bottle and the glass shards.
"Did you break the glass Captain?"
"Yes…"
"Is that the scotch I gave you? You said you were going to save it. It's nearly empty Sir."
Jean-Luc's hard eyes fell on Will.
"I am off duty. I hope you're not suggesting the Captain can't have a drink in the privacy of his own quarters?"
"No Sir, of course not, but I would question the sense of drinking that much real alcohol when you've just been discharged from Sick Bay. It seems to me that…"
"I don't particularly care what you think Commander! I've already told you to mind your own…"
Selar snapped the tricorder shut, silencing the heated exchange.
"Captain Picard I require you to accompany me to Sick Bay. These wounds need more care than I can adequately give here."
He scowled at the Doctor and snarled,
"What? Surely Doctor…"
"Now Captain."
His face hardened into a fierce mask. He clenched his jaw and strode past the two officers. They had to hurry to catch up with him.

The Captain was seated on a biobed, his hand under a regeneration field. Selar had sealed the wounds but the underlying nerves had been damaged. A nurse approached him and asked hesitantly,
"Captain…would you like a cup of…"
His head snapped around and he scowled.
"No I would not! Go about your business and leave me alone!"
Selar heard him from across the room and walked over to him. In a quietly insistent voice she warned,
"Captain Picard while you are in this facility you will treat the staff with respect. The nurse only wanted to help you."
Jean-Luc glared at the Doctor but kept his voice deadly quiet.
"I don't require any help…from anybody!"
"As you wish. Just remember where you are…Sir."
The Doctor left the fuming Captain and met with Will in the office.
"God he's no better…in fact he's worse! And what's with the drinking? I've never known Captain Picard to resort to the bottle…ever."
"I agree Commander. Perhaps I should ask Lieutenant Emerauld to talk with him?"
"Why Emerauld?"
"He's a qualified psychologist. It may be that he can help the Captain."
Will nodded, stroking his beard.
"Yeah maybe. God I wish Deanna and Beverly were here. They'd know what to do."
"That may be the case Sir, but we have to deal with this ourselves. Once his hand is healed he will want to return to his quarters."
"Are you going to let him?"
"I will wait to hear from Lieutenant Emerauld."

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was fortunate indeed that Beverly was well acquainted with the infirmary's CMO. She sat quietly while Adam Simpson scanned her in the privacy of the cubicle, the only other person present, Deanna.
"Well I've got to hand it to you dear…you've got one in the oven."
"Oh that's just charming! Do you say that to all expectant mothers?"
"No, just the old red headed ones."
Deanna gasped then giggled as Beverly's mouth gaped.
"OLD?"
Adam smirked and poked her in the shoulder.
"Yes old! What were you thinking…getting pregnant at your age? I know we can work wonders medically, but really Beverly, don't you think you're…well…past it?"
"Obviously not! And anyhow it's not my fault. The implant's not working."
Adam's eyebrows rose.
"Really? Let me take it out."
It took only moments before he was scanning the defective unit.
"I'll be damned, you're right. It's a dud."
Deanna sighed exasperatedly.
"Is that a medical term?"
Adam grinned and winked at her.
"It probably was functioning, but so many things can upset them. Neutrinos, gamma radiation…"
Deanna held up her hand laughing.
"I've already had this conversation."
Adam gently patted Beverly's thigh and looked her in the eye.
"Well old girl…what do you want to do?"
Beverly sighed and looked at her hands.
"I'm what…eight weeks?"
"Yep."
"Well I think this is something I should discuss with the father. Just give me something for the nausea for now…I'll be all right."
"You sure?"
She nodded then suddenly reached up and took hold of Adam's coat.
"And don't call me old!"
He laughed and leaned in for a quick kiss.
"You going to tell me who the father is?"
"Not on your life!"
He chuckled and applied a hypospray to her neck.
"There you go. I'll make available a vial of the medication to keep you going. It'll save you from having to come here regularly. You'd be amazed at how such things are noticed."
Deanna grimaced.
"And talked about. Beverly's already the topic of gossip because of her rushed exit from the hall this morning. I've been telling people she ate something that disagreed with her."
Adam was packing up his equipment.
"Good idea. Even though this instillation is on a planet, the grapevine is as good as any Space Station I've ever been on."
Beverly grinned and sighed.
"Thank God I'm not showing. Boy would that raise some eyebrows."
The three officers laughed together.
"Well off you go then. Good luck."
"Thanks Adam."
As they walked out of the infirmary, Deanna suggested a cup of tea. Seated at a café, the women enjoyed the hot brew.
Deanna looked slyly over her cup.
"So…when was it?"
Beverly looked up and frowned.
"Pardon?"
"You know…when was it…when did you conceive?"
"Oh. Well…about eight weeks ago."
"Ha, ha. Very funny. You know damn well what I mean. Which time?"
Beverly placed her cup in its saucer and grew wistful.
"You know, I think it may have been the first time."
"The first? How romantic!"
"Oh yes…really romantic. You can keep romance when your head is over a toilet and you're loosing your lunch!"
"Oh come on Beverly. Don't tell me you don't think its somehow…fitting that you conceived his child the first time you made love? What do you think he'll say?"
"God knows…that is as long as he doesn't faint."
"Oh go on…he'd make a wonderful father."
"Well as it is…I agree with you. I just don't know if he knows that…yet."
"When will you tell him?"
"I suppose when we get back."
"Not before? Not over subspace?"
"Uh uh…no, I don't think that he'd…appreciate that. This is something that requires a romantic dinner…and privacy Deanna. This will be stupendous news for him and I want to deliver it right."
"So you want to keep it then?"
Beverly smiled, her hand drifting down to her stomach.
"Yes…if he's willing."
"And if he's not?"
"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."
Deanna sighed and sat back in her seat.
"I envy you Beverly."
Beverly just smiled.

 

 

 

 

Lieutenant Rossen Emerauld was tall for a Bolian. His bald blue head was easily seen over the heads of his shorter crewmates. He walked with a ponderous gait, seemingly always in a state of contemplation. Calm and reassuring, his usual post was in Anthropology where he studied the new species they encountered. He stood in Beverly's office with Selar and Will, gently frowning as they briefed him.
"So as you can see, this is a very…delicate…case. The Captain has an unfortunate history of being assimilated by the Borg and though we feel confident his present difficulties pertain to that event, we can't verify it as some of his medical files are coded."
Rossen nodded and scrolled through the file.
"He's been through so much…it's no wonder he's having problems."
Will unfolded his arms and gestured with his hands.
"Look Lieutenant the Captain is a remarkable man. Yes, he's been to hell and back, but he's always recovered. What's happening to him now…well it's weird. It's as if he's not registering the fact that he's been injured…that and the anger he's displayed…it's completely out of character. Do you think you can help him?"
Rossen gazed at the Commander and solemnly stroked his chin.
"I can't answer that now Commander. I will talk to him. I will know more then. Is he here in Sick Bay?"
Selar turned off the monitor and stood.
"Yes. He has been having a lengthy regen treatment for a hand injury. He has been moved to his private room. Come with me, I will introduce you."
"If it's all the same to you, I'd rather you didn't. He may become defensive if he views me as an adversary."
Will muttered,
"You'll be an adversary anyway."
The Lieutenant nodded and smiled gently.
"That may be so Commander, but I still want to find out for myself."
Will stood back and waved his arm in a grand gesture.
"Be my guest."
Rossen made his way to the door and stood quietly, centring himself. When he felt ready, he moved forward and activated the door.
Jean-Luc was sitting on the bed watching his hand in the blue light of the regen beam. His right arm, now bent slightly at the elbow, hung stiffly at his side. He ignored the visitor.
"Good afternoon Captain Picard."
Silence.
"How is your hand progressing?"
The Captain's head snapped up and he glared at the Lieutenant. His voice was harsh.
"What do you want?"
"I thought perhaps you might like to talk."
Jean-Luc sneered.
"Talk? About what?"
"Oh I don't know. I've only been on the Enterprise a few months, I haven't had a chance to meet you…other than your welcome when I first came aboard."
"So?"
"Well Sir how are you feeling? How is your arm today?"
Jean-Luc sighed and closed his eyes momentarily.
"Look Lieutenant…?"
"Emerauld, Rossen Emerauld."
"Fine. I really don't want to talk to you or anyone else. I'd appreciate it if you left…now."
"How did you injure your arm Captain?"
Jean-Luc's face settled into a hard mask. His eyes glittered darkly as he drew himself up. In a deceptively quiet voice he said,
"Get out."
"Captain you need…"
"Lieutenant, do you understand the chain of command?"
Somewhat taken aback, Rossen answered his Commanding officer.
"Yes Sir."
"Then understand this. I'm giving you a direct order. Get out. Now."
Said with such quiet, deadly intensity, the Lieutenant had no other choice but to leave. He went straight to the office. Will and Selar were waiting for him.
"Well how did it go?"
Rossen faced the Commander with a regretful expression.
"Not well I'm afraid."
"Did he yell at you?"
Rossen's eyebrows rose in surprise.
"No. As a matter of fact he was very…controlled. Almost too controlled actually. He refused to answer any of my questions and ordered me to leave."
Selar seated herself and folded her hands on her lap.
"Then we are no further along in helping him."
They all stilled when they heard the page.
"Picard to Riker."
"Riker here Sir."
"Join me Commander."
Still the quietly sinister voice.
Will looked at his companions with a worried frown.
"Aye Sir."
He was soon stood beside the Captain's bed. The silence crept on as the Captain kept his attention on his healing hand. Becoming nervous, Will eventually broke the impasse.
"You wanted to see me Sir?"
Jean-Luc slowly raised his head and fixed his hard eyes on his friend. Still speaking quietly, he asked,
"Who was that Lieutenant that was just here?"
"Lieutenant Emerauld Sir?"
"Yes, Lieutenant Emerauld."
Will began to lightly sweat under his uniform.
"Oh he's from…ah…Anthropology…Sir."
"Anthropology? How fascinating. He has a degree then? Perhaps more than one?"
"I suppose so Sir."
"You suppose so? Do you know or not?"
Will shifted his weight and straightened his top.
"Yes Sir, I know."
"Tell me."
"He has two degrees Sir. One in Anthropology…and one in…"
"Yes Commander?"
Will closed his eyes and swallowed.
"And one in Psychology Sir."
"Do tell Commander! Psychology? How interesting. Now why would a Lieutenant from Anthropology, with a degree in Psychology, whom I barely know, come into my private room in Sick Bay and want to strike up a meaningless conversation with me? Hmm?"
"Sir…Captain please let me…"
Jean-Luc stood abruptly and glowered at the Commander. He began speaking softly, but as he spoke, his voice rose.
"If you do that to me again I'll have you relieved of duty! Do you understand?!"
The last words were shouted. Will withstood his Captain's rage, replied with a brisk
"Yes Sir!"
and left the room.
He joined Selar and Rossen in the office. Blowing out a deep breath, he straddled a chair and shook his head.
"We're not to try that again. He saw right through it."
Selar tilted her head and asked,
"How is he now?"
"As angry as hell. How much longer can you keep him here?"
"He can go now. I will go and check his arm soon, other than that he will be free to go. His hand is healed."
"You can't keep him here?"
The Lieutenant spoke up.
"That's probably not a good idea Sir. In his present state he would most likely react badly to an enforced stay here. Better to let him stew in his own quarters. At least he won't take it out on anyone else."
Will ran an exasperated hand through his dark hair.
"Captain Picard has always recovered…always. I don't understand this at all. God I wish Doctor Crusher and Counsellor Troi were here."
The meeting broke up and Selar went to check Jean-Luc's arm. The examination was uneventful, the Captain choosing to ignore both the Doctor and his arm. Selar was finished quickly and placed her instruments on the table.
"Captain Picard I have completed the regeneration of you hand and your arm is doing well."
He looked up from his contemplation of the floor, pulling the corners of his mouth down with distaste.
"It's about time."
"Captain…"
"You said you're finished?"
"Yes Sir."
"Then I'm leaving."
"As you wish Sir. Please report tomorrow for…"
Her words fell on his departing back as he walked out the door. He stalked through the ship, staring straight ahead and not acknowledging his fellow crewmates as they passed.
As the doors of his quarters closed he stood in the middle of the room and clenched his eyes shut, his left hand curling into a tight fist.
"Oh dear God…help me…"

 

 

 

 

Rossen Emerauld entered the lounge a very perplexed Bolian. He wandered to the bar and didn't look up when the bartender approached.
"A Bolian ale please."
The warm glass appeared quicker than it should have, but Rossen didn't notice. A warm rich voice broke into his brooding thoughts.
"You look like someone with a problem."
He looked up, startled.
"What?"
"I said, you look like someone with a problem."
"Oh. Well yes…I suppose I am."
"Would you like to talk about it?"
Rossen was about to shake his head when he looked into the deepest brown eyes he'd ever seen. Mesmerised, he shrugged instead.
"I'm sorry…do I know you?"
The bartender smiled enigmatically and wiped the already spotless bar with her cloth.
"I'm Guinan. This is my bar."
"Ah I see. Well Guinan I can't really talk about my problem you see, so…"
"You'd be surprised how…liberating…it can be."
Rossen smiled indulgently and shook his head.
"No really, it has to do with patient confidentiality."
"Ok, then don't use names…be vague."
The Bolian regarded the dark skinned woman in the ridiculous yellow hat and sighed.
"Let's just say, I find Humans to be very…perplexing."
"All Humans?"
"Well, no. One in particular."
"I see, and has this particular Human caused you problems?"
"Not me exactly."
He sighed expansively and decided to end the sparring.
" Look, he's a very high ranking officer aboard this ship and he needs help…more help than I've been trained to give him. I don't know whether it's because I'm a Bolian, or because he's so strong willed, the fact is he's in a lot of trouble and needs help."
Guinan tilted her head and grasped his hand
"I'm sure you did what you could."
"Perhaps, but it wasn't enough."

 

 

 

 

Ensign Amy Fullarton wasn't having a very good day. Released from her quarters with Will's blessing, she was endeavouring to show Lieutenant Commander Geordie LaForge she knew how to vent the lateral plasma conduits. Becoming more and more flustered, she twice hit the wrong command before groaning in frustration as she locked out the controls all together.
"Hey! Whoa there…take it easy. Here, let me set it up for you again."
"It's no use Commander, I'm hopeless."
Data arrived and stood quietly out of sight as he listened to the two officers.
"It's ok Ensign. Look these controls can be pretty daunting at first. Just take your time and concentrate. You can do it."
Amy took a deep breath and placed her hands on the console. She tried to muster her concentration but the feelings of inadequacy welled.
"It's no use, I'm washed up anyway!"
Tears trailed down her face as she turned to flee Engineering, only to run into Data. She bounced off him and ricocheted down the corridor her blurry eyes hindering her escape. When she disappeared around the corner, Geordie whistled his dismay.
"Phew Data…what's gotten into her? She was in the top of her class and she's been doing just great since she came aboard. What's going on?"
Data rested his golden eyes upon his best friend.
"Ever since the accident involving Captain Picard, Ensign Fullarton's performance has been falling below regulation standards. If she does not improve soon, she will face a reprimand."
"She was there, wasn't she…at the accident?"
"Actually, I believe she caused the accident."
"And didn't the Captain punish her?"
"Yes. He upbraided her thoroughly and confined her to quarters."
"Which Commander Riker countermanded."
"Yes."
"Well something's going on. Have you ever known Commander Riker to countermand one of the Captain's orders?"
"No Geordie."
"Neither have I. Do you know what the Captain said to her?"
"No I do not."
Geordie looked down the corridor where Amy had fled.
"Well I think it's time I had a little chat to Commander Riker, don't you?"
Data pulled his mouth down and raised his eyebrows. Tilting his head he said guilelessly,
"I do not know."

 

 

 

 

 

Will was at the bar in the lounge when Geordie came in at shift's end. He sauntered up to the Commander, ordered a drink and leaned his elbows on the bar.
"Commander, we need to talk."
Will took a long draught of his ale, swallowed and turned his head. He looked at Geordie, nodded and pointed to an empty table, privately situated near the viewports.
The two friends seated themselves and drank quietly for a time. Geordie put his stein down and addressed his friend.
"Commander I have a problem."
"With what?"
"Not what…who."
"Ok, who then?"
"Ensign Fullarton."
Will lowered his head and ran a hand through his hair.
"Oh hell."
"What's going on Sir? She's gone from being a very competent, able officer to a teary, flustered parody of her former self."
Will sat back in his chair and crossed his legs.
"Let's just say…she had the stuffing knocked out of her."
"Is it true that Captain Picard confined her to quarters?"
"Yes."
"And yet she's back on duty."
"Yes."
"Did the Captain change his mind?"
"No."
Geordie raised his palms and shrugged his shoulders.
"Well?"
"I countermanded the order."
"I see. Does the Captain know?"
Will shook his head.
"Why?"
"Look Geordie…you know the Captain was injured in the accident."
"Uh huh."
"Well he's not been quite…himself. He's off duty for a while and he's really pissed off about it. He's got a few…issues…to deal with right now…he's not really thinking all that clearly. I released Ensign Fullarton because she'd been punished enough. I'll wear Captain Picard's objections later. Right now I just want the ship to run smoothly."
" Ok I hear you, but Commander somebody better speak to Amy, she needs to hear something good about herself…and soon."
Will sighed and watched as Geordie left the bar. He wasn't alone long.
"Mind if I join you?"
"Guinan! Not at all, have a seat."
The bartender settled herself in the chair, placed her hands on the table and laced her fingers.
"What's happening with Picard?"
Will stared at the woman, his eyebrows raised.
"He's off duty for now. Perhaps you could…"
"No. Tell me…what's wrong?"
"Guinan…"
"Riker look, you know Picard and I have a relationship…well let's just say it's deep. I know something's wrong and I'm asking you to tell me what it is."
Will stared at her hands then brought his own hands onto the table.
"The Captain was injured recently and, as a result, has a very Borg-like prosthesis on his right arm. He hasn't reacted to it very well and we've failed to help him. Everything we tried only made him angry. Anger is all he seems to be capable of at the moment."
"Anger? Anything else?"
"He damn near polished off a bottle of vintage scotch."
"Anger and drinking?"
"Uh huh. He also chewed out the Ensign who was responsible for the accident and I mean really chewed her out. She hasn't recovered yet, the performance of her duties has been terrible and she's in danger of washing up. This from one of our brightest recruits."
"Very un-Picard like."
"You bet. If something's not done soon…well let's just say something will have to give. He can't keep this up."
Guinan nodded and drew her hands back.
"I will talk to him."
Will looked up and grimaced.
"Good luck!"

 

 

 

 

Beverly lay on her bed idly drawing patterns on her stomach. Deanna wandered over and sat on the bed.
"Eight weeks? Why didn't you ask what sex it is?"
"Because I don't want to know."
"Why?"
"Oh I don't know…maybe I just love the mystery."
"Do you think Captain Picard will want to know?"
Beverly shrugged.
"I haven't a clue."
"What would you prefer, a boy or a girl?"
Beverly chuckled and playfully bit one of her fingernails.
"I don't care, as long as it's healthy."
"Ok then…what about names?"
"Hmm. That's something I'd need to discuss with Jean-Luc."
"Oh come on, don't tell me you haven't been thinking about it?"
Beverly frowned and flicked her hand at her friend.
"Of course I have! But I still think it's something between the two of us."
"Don't you mean three? Are you going to contact Wesley?"
"Only after I've spoken to Jean-Luc. I'd prefer it if we both told him the news."
Deanna took Beverly's hand and said softly,
"How do you think he'll take it?"
Beverly sighed softly and studied their joined hands.
"I don't know. He's twenty two now, I don't know what he'll think of a baby brother or sister."
"Well look on the positive side. Maybe he'll be delighted."
Beverly sighed again.
"That's if we can find him. All I can do is contact Tau Alpha C and hope for the best. Who knows where he is now?"
"The Captain will track him down I bet."
Beverly smiled sadly.
"I hope so."
"How long has it been since you heard from him?"
"Almost a year."
"That long? That must hurt."
Beverly sat up and pushed her hair back.
"Yes it does but I try and not dwell on it. Jean-Luc helps."
"I bet he does."
That earned a pillow to the shoulder.
"Now you stop that. I've got to give myself a dose of anti-nausea, then what say we take a stroll to the canteen? I don't know about you, but I'm hungry."
"Ok. Lets hope they've got a new menu."
The two women left the rooms, their laughter hanging in the air.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guinan waited patiently outside the Captain's door. She had pressed the chime three times and was wondering when he would acknowledge her presence. Suddenly the overhead speaker burst into life.
"Who the hell is it and what do you want!"
"It's Guinan."
There was a lengthy pause before the doors parted and she was confronted by the Captain.
"Guinan…I really don't want…"
"I know. We have to talk."
She stepped forward, but Jean-Luc held his ground.
"No Guinan, I don't think so."
She looked up at him, taking in his distressed appearance and the prosthesis on his arm.
"Come on Picard…it's me, let me in."
He shook his head, pulling his mouth down.
"I'd rather be alone right now."
"Picard…"
"Really Guinan, I'm fine…I just want some time on my own. I've got a few things to sort out, so if you'll…"
"Jean-Luc…"
His voice growing harsh, he snapped,
"Guinan please! Just go."
She blinked at him, feeling the anger wash over her. Stepping back, she hid her hands in her sleeves and lowered her head.
"As you wish, but if you need…"
'…I'll be sure to call you. Goodnight."
He stepped back and the doors whispered shut. Guinan stared at them a moment before slowly walking off down the corridor to the turbolift, lost in deep thought.

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc sat on his sofa, his eyes beginning to droop. It had been four days since the accident and he'd not slept, in fact he avoided sleep, fearing the nightmares he knew would come.
He breathed deeply through his nose and let his head fall back on the cushion. Again his eyes sagged and he let them drop. He registered the slip into sleep, but could do nothing to stop it.

 

 

 

 

His own scream woke him. Tears and sweat trickled down his face as he struggled to get his breath. Vestiges of the intense agony he'd experienced skittered through his tortured mind as images of the Borg drones and the unspeakable things they'd done to him clouded his vision.
"No…please God no…"
He lurched to his feet and staggered into his bedroom. Pausing at the door, he gripped the frame and tried to focus on the bathroom, too far across the room. He stepped forward and collapsed onto the floor.
Pulling himself to his knees, he crawled to the foot of his bed, turned around and sat, drawing his legs up. He wrapped his left arm around his legs and started to gently rock back and forth. Softly…very softly, he whispered as his body trembled,
"Not the Borg…not the Borg…"

 

 

 

 

Will Riker stepped briskly along the corridors, intent on his present mission. He reached Ensign Fullarton's quarters and stopped only long enough to tug down his uniform. Pressing the annunciator, he waited to be granted entry.
The doors whispered open and Ensign McKee gaped.
"Commander Riker…Sir!"
Will sighed and nodded.
"Ensign."
"Err, what can I do for you, Sir?"
"Actually I'm here to see Ensign Fullarton and I'd appreciate a little privacy."
Mark nodded but didn't move.
Will sighed again.
"So if you've got something else to do…somewhere to go…?"
"Oh! Yes, right…I'll go then."
Will stepped aside and allowed Mark to leave. He then stepped into the cabin. Amy was sitting on her bed and sprang to her feet when she spotted her superior.
"Sir!"
"At ease Ensign."
"Yes Sir!"
Will shook his head a grinned.
"No I mean it, sit down. I'm here to talk to you as much as a friend as your Commanding Officer. Why don't we have something to drink? Do you like coffee?"
Amy swallowed and sat gingerly on the edge of her bed. Clasping her hands nervously on her lap, she nodded at Will.
"Yes Sir, I like coffee. Mark…that is Ensign McKee says I drink too much, but it helps me to study, you know?"
"Oh I know. I must've drunk litres of the stuff in my youth and even now I'm not above a cup or two during night watch."
Will grabbed a chair, turned it around and straddled it. He blew on his hot drink and gathered his thoughts.
"Commander LaForge came to see me last night…about you."
Amy bowed her head, her shoulders slumping.
"Oh."
"Amy you mustn't let what the Captain said get at you. He didn't mean it…not really. I've known him for a very long time and I can assure you he would never castigate someone as he did you. He's not…well let's just say he's not himself and leave it at that."
Amy shook her head.
"But it's true! I am an incompetent fool. If only I hadn't overloaded that antigrav…"
"Stop. We can all say 'if only'. It happened and you have to deal with the consequences, yes, but you don't have to beat yourself up over it. It's done, over, finished with. Let it go."
Amy looked up and tilted her head.
"The Captain's sick isn't he?"
"Let's just say he could be better."
"And I'm to blame."
"Amy…"
"No Sir. Whatever's wrong with Captain Picard…it's because of me. I can't feel any better about all this until he recovers."
"Amy if your performance continues to slide, you'll be issued with a formal reprimand. Do you want that?"
She shook her head sadly.
"Then get with it! Amy it's within you to rectify this episode. You're not dependant on the Captain for anything other than leadership. If he knew you were doing this to yourself he would be mortified! If you can't do it for yourself, then do it for him, because he can't help you right now. If he means that much to you…"
Amy blushed and lowered her eyes.
"You know Commander…half the female Ensigns on the ship have a crush on him…and some of the men. He means the world to me."
Will cleared his throat uncomfortably and sipped his cooling drink.
"Ok granted, although I don't think we better tell the Captain that little snippet. Look just try, that's all I'm asking."
Amy looked up at Will and managed a wan smile.
"Ok I'll try."
"Good!"
Will stood, returned the chair to its rightful place and stood tall in the small room.
"Well I'll be going. I expect to hear better reports from now on."
"Aye Sir."
After Will left Mark returned and poked his head around the door.
"Is he gone?"
"Yes."
"What did he say?"
"Oh you know…the usual pep talk, nothing new."
"Did it help?"
Amy slumped onto the bed, picked up her pillow and hugged it.
"Not really. He doesn't understand. Until the Captain recovers, I'm under the cloud. I can't function Mark…God what the hell am I going to do? They'll be looking even more closely at me now. Shit! How did I get myself into this ungodly mess?"
Tears came then prompting Mark to take her into his arms.
It'll work itself out Amy, just hold on."

 

 

 

 

 

The next day, when Captain Picard was an hour late for his check up, Selar asked the computer where he was.
"Captain Picard is in his quarters."
Selar processed that information.
"Is he alone?"
"Yes."
"Is he asleep?"
"That information is inconclusive."
Allowing a rare frown, Selar picked up a med kit and left Sick Bay, headed to the
Captain's domain.
Her first press of the doorbell went unanswered as did the second and third. Using her medical override, she entered the cabin to find nothing amiss. She called to the Captain but received no response. She moved to the closed bedroom door and it opened to her. As her eyes adjusted to the dim light, she made out his huddled form at the foot of his bed.
"Captain! Captain Picard…"
She knelt beside him and scanned him with a tricorder. Her next action was to summon Will.
He came with alacrity, arriving slightly out of breath. He entered Jean-Luc's quarters and soon found Selar kneeling beside the unresponsive Captain.
"What is it? What's wrong with him?"
"He appears to have entered a state of catatonia, not responding to any stimuli.
"How long has he been like this?"
"Judging by the fact he has voided his bladder several times, my estimate would be fourteen hours at least."
"Can you help him…can you retrieve him?"
"I do not know Commander. With so many of his files coded, I am working in the dark. We need Doctor Crusher and Counsellor Troi here…now."
"Well let's get him moved to Sick Bay and I'll set about ordering the ship to Targus III. I'll send a subspace message warning them to be ready to beam aboard as soon as we arrive.
"Very good Commander."

 

 

 

Beverly and Deanna were seated in a large semi-circular auditorium listening avidly to a lecture about new regeneration techniques when Beverly's combadge beeped. She tapped it and quietly gave her acknowledgement before nudging Deanna and nodding to the exit.
When the two women were out in the foyer, Beverly tapped her combadge again and waited.
"Doctor Crusher I have a message for you from the Enterprise."
"Go ahead."
"One moment please."
Deanna giggled and poked Beverly in the ribs.
"They probably can't find something."
"Doctor Crusher? I have it now. Commander Riker reports the Enterprise will enter orbit in seven hours. Please be ready to beam aboard immediately upon their arrival."
"Is that all? Did he give a reason?"
"No Doctor."
"Ok thank you, Crusher out."
Deanna's face creased in a frown.
"Weren't they supposed to be mapping…?"
"Something's wrong. Why didn't Jean-Luc send the message?"
The two officers looked at each other and the tension went up another notch.
"Come on Deanna we have to pack."

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc lay limply on the biobed, his lean body connected to several monitors. Two nurses and Doctor Selar hovered about him, alternatively watching the terminals and casting their eyes over his inert frame.
Will watched from the door, his broad shoulders sagging. Having finished connecting the Captain to a bio waste unit, Selar joined Will at the door.
"Any change?"
"No Commander he is completely unresponsive."
Will ran his hand through his hair.
"What is it? How…what has caused this?"
"I have insufficient data to formulate a diagnosis, but if I were to postulate…I would say his psyche has reached a point where he can no longer cope. I would hazard he has…closed down."
"Ok, I can understand that, but what did it to him. What was so great that it overwhelmed his mind for God's sake?"
Selar cast a lingering look at the stricken man.
"I do not know Commander."
"Is there any brain activity?"
"Yes. There is a surfeit of activity from the parietal lobe. He is processing information at a phenomenal rate. My opinion is that he is experiencing a form of dreaming."
Will stepped up to his Captain and looked down at him.
"Well I hope they're pleasant dreams…the alternative is too deplorable to contemplate."
"I agree Commander. To be trapped, unable to waken and to be at the vagaries of an unending nightmare…it would be…unfortunate."
Will eyed the Vulcan physician and swallowed. His eyes lowered as he contemplated the horror Selar had just outlined.
The Doctor, keeping her vision locked on the Captain, said softly,
"When do we retrieve Doctor Crusher and the Counsellor?"
"About five hours more. Is there anything you can give him? Something to stop the dreaming?"
"Neural inducers would suppress dreams but until I know more about his condition…"
"Do it! For God's sake…don't allow him to suffer."
Selar hesitated only a moment then she went and got the inducers. Placing them on Jean-Luc's temples, she activated them and watched the monitors as the activity of his brain quietened.
"It is done Commander."
"Thank you Doctor, I'll be on the Bridge. Call me if there's any change."
"Aye Sir."
Will left and Selar took up a tricorder. Scanning the prosthesis on Jean-Luc's right arm, she noted the rate of healing and, after taking some measurements, bent the elbow joint until it was at a right angle. She then bent each finger and tightened the wires adjoining them. She called the duty nurse over and scheduled surgery for the Captain for the following morning. His arm was doing well; it was time to close some of the wounds within the unit.

 

 

 

 

Beverly and Deanna were in their room when the call came through from the Enterprise. They beamed aboard and met with Will in the Transporter Room.
"Beverly, Deanna…am I glad…"
Beverly stepped from the platform and stood before the tall man.
"What is it Will?"
"It's the Captain…he's…well he's…"
"He's what!"
"Selar says he's catatonic. He's in Sick Bay and he's not responding to anything."
Deanna gripped Beverly's arm and spoke.
"What happened?"
"We're not sure. He was involved in an accident a few days ago and he's been going downhill ever since. Apart from other things, his right arm was crushed. When he awoke from surgery he was very upset with the prosthesis that Selar put on his arm. I think he thought he'd been…
"…re-assimilated! Oh God."
Deanna looked at her friends and shook her head.
"But surely he would have known…didn't you tell him?"
Will nodded.
"Of course we did. Selar even sedated him but he just got angry. In fact anger was all he was capable of."
Beverly pinched the bridge of her nose and made for the door.
"Come on, we can talk on the way to Sick Bay."
The three officers walked briskly, each gesturing with their hands.
"So let me get this straight. He's in an accident and is injured. He has surgery and wakes up with prosthesis on his arm and mistakes it for a Borg unit. He reacts badly and becomes angry. How am I doing?"
Will nodded.
"That's about it. Every time we tried to approach him, he just got angrier. We tried a psychologist, but he…"
Deanna gasped and shook her head.
"Oh bad move Will. He wouldn't like that under any circumstances."
Beverly asked,
"Who did you use?"
"Ah…A Lieutenant Emerauld from Anthropology."
"Male or female?"
"Male."
"Hmm. Did he make it out alive?"
"Actually the Captain was very…controlled. Uncooperative, but not belligerent."
"Lucky Lieutenant!"
They arrived at Sick Bay and entered. Selar saw them and ushered them into the Captain's room.
Beverly scrutinised the readouts as her friends stood back and watched.
"How long has he been like this?"
"He has been in Sick Bay approximately ten hours. I estimate he was in this state for a further fourteen hours in his quarters."
"What? Why so long?"
"We did not know Doctor. He had been discharged to his quarters and when he did not arrive for his scheduled check up the next day, I went to see him. I found him on the floor in his bedroom and estimated the amount of time by the quantity of urine on the floor."
"Was there any warning? Did he show any signs…anything at all that might have signalled this?"
"No Doctor. Apart from his belligerence and his healing injuries, he was in good condition."
Beverly touched the back of her hand to Jean-Luc's cheek and sighed. Before she could ask any more questions, Selar interrupted her.
"Doctor why are some of Captain Picard's records coded? It made treating him very difficult."
Beverly's head snapped up and, what started as a glare of defiance, settled into a grimace of contrition.
"Come into the office…Will, you and Deanna better come too."

 

 

 

 

 

Data had immeasurable patience. His emotion chip allowed him the luxury of being able to immerse himself in the surrounding eddies and swirls as the feelings of his crewmates flowed around him. His golden eyes never moved as they watched Ensign Fullarton try to calibrate the aft sensor grid. A sheen of sweat glistened on her face as she frowned and shook her head.
"It's no use Commander…I just can't do it!"
He stepped closer and put what he hoped was an encouraging look on his face.
"This is a simulation Ensign. There is no pressure on you. I am aware that you have been under some duress, but I think this is a simple test you should be able to complete. Please try again."
Amy gritted her teeth and glared at the console, trying by force of will to bring to mind the elusive sequence. She stabbed her finger at the console and groaned as the lights flashed red…again. In frustration, she slammed her fists down on the glossy surface and kicked the pedestal.
"Dammit!"
Data was fascinated by her display, but kept that to himself. He placed a gentle hand on her shoulder and spoke quietly.
"Ensign…"
"NO! It's no use…I'm hopeless! You might as well write me off."
She shrugged out of his contact and fled the area leaving Data perplexed and worried. He thought about following her, but then decided to find Geordie to discuss the matter.
He found his friend in Engineering.
"Hiya Data…what's cooking?"
Data frowned and looked about him.
"Cooking Geordie? I do not think…"
"Come on Data, what's cooking? What are you doing?"
"Ah. I have just come from a very unproductive session with Ensign Fullarton."
"It didn't go well?"
"No. She displayed a level of ineptitude I have not witnessed in an Enterprise crewmember before. Had I not seen it, I would not have believed it."
"That bad eh?"
"Yes."
"What task did you set?"
"A simple re-calibration of the aft sensor array."
"During battle?"
"No Geordie, in the Space Dock."
"And she failed?"
"Yes…miserably."
Geordie spun his chair around and checked some instruments while thinking.
"How much more time can we give her?"
"She has a rotation coming up on the Bridge, then Astrophysics. If her performance is as bad in those she will have failed across the board."
"We can't let that happen Data, she's too good for that."
"I agree with you Geordie, but I do not know how to help her."
"Hmm. Leave it with me, I'll think on it and see what I can come up with."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beverly, Will, Deanna and Selar made themselves comfortable in the office as Beverly brought up the Captain's medical file. Entering a sequence of symbols, the coded files unlocked and presented themselves on the screen. Beverly turned the monitor so the others could see.
"During Captain Picard's recovery from his assimilation he had great trouble coming to terms with several things.
The assimilation itself was excruciatingly painful and protracted. He could do nothing but endure what they did to him…he didn't even have the luxury of screaming. Then they raped him, body and mind. They took all his knowledge and used it to destroy the fleet at Wolf 359 with the accompanying loss of eleven thousand lives. He had to learn to live with that if he was ever going to recover. Being the man he is, he recognised it, studied it then put it away in his mind. At first he was plagued with debilitating nightmares…so bad that I had to sedate him several times. Sometimes these nightmares would occur when he was conscious. He would see Borg in the shadows of his room…re-visit the carnage of Wolf 359…see comrades he'd known for years killed, or worse…assimilated.
He re-lived his own assimilation…I'll never forget his screams…they chilled me to the bone, but gradually, over time, he came out of it and regained himself. With Deanna's help he was able to understand he was not to blame and, bit-by-bit, we got him back.
I coded those areas of his record that dealt with that recovery because if Starfleet Command ever found out they may have taken his Captaincy and declared him as unfit to Command. I believe that those memories have re-surfaced and, without Deanna or me to help him, have run amok in his mind until he couldn't cope any more and suffered an overload. He shut down."
Will stroked his beard and muttered,
"We found that he was dreaming so I asked Selar to stop it. Was that right?"
Beverly perched on the desk and nodded.
"Yes. He would've been trapped in an unending nightmare. You did the right thing."
Will looked Beverly in the eye.
"What do we do now? How do we bring him out of it?"
"He has experienced short episodes of catatonia before as a result of particularly bad nightmares. I administered a psychotropic drug and, with Deanna's help, reached him on a subconscious level, but for that to work he has to be rid of that prosthesis on his arm. That was the trigger and as long as it's there he will regress into his memories. Selar?"
"I would envisage a further ten days before it can be removed. He is scheduled for surgery tomorrow, but I do not foresee any complications."
Beverly nodded and tucked some hair behind her ear.
Will had one more question.
"Beverly why was he so angry?"
She sighed and stood to pace around the room.
"As you know, the Captain prides himself on his control. His ability to remain cool in any crisis is one of the cornerstones of his Command. Most probably he was dismayed at his lapse when he first discovered the prosthesis and that made him angry and that anger represented a loss of control. Every time he displayed anger, he lost control and it fed upon itself, getting worse with each episode. He was gradually losing himself and could do nothing about it."
Will gave her a frank look.
"He drank a bottle of vintage scotch."
"Will he was suffering. What would you have done?"
Will nodded and sighed.
"Fair enough. I just wish he'd have come to us. Maybe…"
"No Will. This is something only Deanna and I can deal with. We know him and we know what to do, but we must wait. Now is not the time."
"Will it do him any harm to wait?"
"No I don't think so. As long as the neural inducers prevent dreaming, he should be fine. We'll feed him intravenously and take care of all his needs. He'll be fine."
"And in the long term?"
"He'll recover Will…with time and a lot of TLC, but I have to ask you all to keep what you've heard here today confidential. His Captaincy will be unaffected once he's recovered…I believe he deserves that, don't you?"
The officers looked at themselves and came to a mutual decision. Nodding in unison, Beverly brought the meeting to a close.
"What time is the surgery tomorrow?"
Selar answered.
"0800."
"I'll be there."

 

 

 

 

 

Beverly awoke the next morning with a pounding headache and a queasy stomach. She showered, dressed then administered a dose of the anti-emetic Adam had given her. She sat a moment, waiting for the medicine to work and was surprised when the headache remained. Not bothering with breakfast, she left her quarters and headed for Sick Bay. She arrived just as the nurses were preparing Jean-Luc for surgery.
"Selar have you got a minute?"
"Yes Doctor."
"What are you going to do today?"
"I intend to close the open wounds, fuse the breaks in the long bones and make sure the nerve pathways to the digits are unimpeded."
"Ok, good. Will you use the same prosthesis?"
"Yes. It will be at least another four days before I can use a smaller one. The wrist and hand have been extensively damaged. Did you read the report last night?"
"Yes I did. He was lucky with those spikes…has he shown any sign of lung impairment?"
"None Doctor."
"Good. Well I'll see you in the surgery suite, I've got one or two things to do here first."
"Very well Doctor. After this surgery, I take it you will take over the case?"
"If you don't mind."
"Not at all."
Selar went to prepare and Beverly went to the drug station and selected a vial of analgesic. Loading a hypospray, she injected herself in the privacy of her office, and was irritated when the headache only abated slightly. She had no more time to ponder this, as she had to get ready for the surgery.
In all it took three hours to do the work Selar had outlined. As the two Doctors watched the nursing staff settle the Captain in the recovery room, Beverly found herself rubbing her temples. Selar noticed and gestured for them to leave the room.
"Doctor Crusher are you in pain? I noticed several times during the surgery, you touched your head."
"Oh it's just a stubborn headache, nothing to worry about."
"Have you had anything for it?"
"Yes, before the surgery."
"And it's still there?"
Beverly nodded then winced as her head pounded.
"Doctor Crusher…"
"I know! Look Selar…"
Beverly looked around and found herself within earshot of several people.
"Come into the office will you?"
When the two women were seated, Beverly took a large breath.
"What I'm about to tell you must be kept in the strictest confidence."
"I understand."
"I'm pregnant."
"I see. How far…?"
"Eight weeks."
"Have you had a scan?"
Beverly sighed and shook her head.
"Not officially. I had the pregnancy confirmed and an anti-emetic prescribed for nausea."
"Then I propose you have a full scan done and the headache investigated."
Beverly sighed again, bending to the inevitable.
"Agreed."
"I will do a preliminary scan now, here in the office, but you must return at a later time to do a full workup."
Beverly nodded and waited patiently while Selar retrieved a tricorder and scanned her.
"You have elevated blood pressure. It is dangerously high. I will administer a counter measure."
Beverly shook her head and huffed.
"It must be stress."
Selar looked up and tilted her head.
"We will see."
Beverly pulled her hair out of the way and waited as Selar loaded the hypospray. The characteristic hiss made Beverly sigh.
"This analgesic should relieve you of pain…"
The hypospray was used again and Beverly was delighted to feel the throbbing ebb away.
"The foetus is healthy…do you want to know the sex?"
"No thank you."
"When you come back for the workup, I will create a database of both you and the father. May I ask…?
Beverly stared frankly at her fellow medic, debating whether or not to be forthcoming with the information she sought. Eventually she erred on the side of safety, correctly choosing the right thing for her unborn child.
"Captain Picard."
"I see. The database will be complete within the time it takes for your complete check up. When can we do it?"
"Well I'd appreciate some privacy…how about 1000 tonight? I can order the night staff out for a while, it shouldn't be a problem."
"Very well Doctor I will have everything ready. Will you stay on duty?"
"Yes I think so, as long as I'm fit and able."
"As you wish Doctor, but I do want to check you blood pressure frequently."
"Just as long as we keep it quiet, ok?"
"Yes Doctor. And Doctor Crusher? Congratulations."
Beverly smiled, her hand drifting down to gently rub her abdomen.

 

 

 

 

Later that night Beverly wandered into the nearly deserted Sick Bay and went into Jean-Luc's room. The gentle hum of the medical machinery he was connected to re-assured her and she stood beside him watching his chest rise and fall. Her fingers trailed down his left arm and lingered at his hand.
"Oh Jean-Luc…my love…where are you?"
He lay quietly inert, the blinking lights of the neural inducers casting shadows across his gaunt face. Dressed only in Pyjama bottoms, the softly curling grey hair of his chest moved with his exhalations mesmerising his watching lover. Her hand lifted, poised to caress him when a soft clearing of a throat came from the doorway.
Startled, Beverly spun around to find Selar framed in the light.
"Oh Selar…you gave me a fright."
"I apologise if I startled you Doctor, it was not my intention."
"That's all right, I was daydreaming anyway. Are you ready for me?"
"Yes Doctor."
Beverly left Jean-Luc and joined Selar in the main body of Sick Bay. She sat on a biobed and swung her legs up, making herself comfortable as Selar positioned the monitors.
"I will scan the foetus and the surrounding environment first. Do you wish to watch?"
"Yes I would."
Selar nodded and passed the transducer over Beverly's abdomen, occasionally stopping and measuring different aspects of Beverly's uterus.
Watching intently. Beverly gasped as she saw her child for the first time.
"Well hello there."
Selar widened the scan and cautioned the euphoric Doctor.
"Your blood pressure is still elevated, although not as bad as this morning. Has the headache abated?"
"It came back this evening but it's not as bad. Like I said…probably stress."
Selar changed the transducer for a tricorder.
"I do not think so. You major blood vessels show a hardening of their walls. Have you had hypertension in the past?"
"No."
"I will take some blood for analysis."
It took but a moment for the blood extraction and Beverly began to feel concerned.
"Is the baby affected?"
"No Doctor."
"Well what's causing it?"
"That is unknown at this time. I will know more when I perform further tests. Until then, I will administer a hypertensive drug to level out your blood pressure and an analgesic for the headache. You will be required to submit to regular checks. In two weeks, I will extract some amniotic fluid to check the health of the foetus. I do not foresee any problems, but we should eliminate any concerns. Have you any questions?"
"Well no…not at the moment, you seemed to be covering everything."
"Doctor Crusher I would advise you to take on a lighter work load, at least until we stabilise your blood pressure."
"Uh uh. I want to be here for the Captain."
"But Doctor he will be comatose for days yet…he will be unaware of your presence. What good will it do for you to be with him?"
"It's important to me Selar. Somewhere, somehow he might know I'm there and be comforted. I don't want to miss that chance."
"As you wish Doctor. I trust you will monitor your health and report any anomalies to me immediately?"
"Of course."
"Well the workup is complete and the database of you and Captain Picard has been created for the child. After the birth I will complete it with the child's information."
"Thank you Selar. I'll return to my quarters now and get some rest. See you tomorrow."
"Goodnight Doctor."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amy sat at the Ops station; sweat slowly running down her back. The last order she'd received she'd muffed, sending the wrong information to the Con, causing the Enterprise to veer sharply to port, nearly spinning on its axis.
Will was slowly losing patience.
"Ensign! Did you understand the order?"
In a shaky voice, Amy replied,
"Yes Sir."
"Well what happened? If not for the inertial dampeners, we could've had casualties all over the ship. Think Ensign, then react. You've done this drill a hundred times…you should be able to do it in your sleep. It's simple. You receive the order and implement it…as fast as you can. Understood?"
"Aye Sir."
"Then for God's sake do it! Now again…I want a course plotted to take us to Syrrus IV."
"Yes Sir."
Amy stared that the console, tears blurring her vision. She tried to input the correct commands and mistook a crucial sequence of orders. The con received the defective commands and again the ship lurched, this time a nosedive at full impulse.
"Ensign!"
Amy spun in her chair, tears streaming down her face. Hiccuping with sobs, she spluttered,
"I request to be relieved Sir."
Will lowered his head and blew out a frustrated breath. With his head still lowered he muttered,
"Permission granted."
Amy bolted from her seat and made it into the turbolift, waiting until the doors closed before collapsing into a sobbing mass on the floor.

 

 

 

 

 

It was late when Beverly returned to her cabin. She wasn't surprised to find Deanna waiting at her door.
"Hi there Dee, what can I do for you?"
"I thought you might like to talk."
Beverly regarded her friend and eventually reasoned she was right.
"Come in…I'll replicate some drinks. What do you want?"
"Oh the usual hot chocolate will do me. What about you?"
"I think I'll have an Earl Grey."
"Has the Captain got you drinking that too?"
"As a matter of fact I find it most refreshing. It's very fragrant. You should try it."
Deanna wrinkled her nose and shook her head.
"To be honest I haven't found an Earth tea that I like. I prefer the Valerian teas."
"Oh well…each to his own I guess."
Deanna sat and made herself comfortable.
How did the check up go?"
"Pretty good. My blood pressure is up a tad, but that's understandable considering everything. Selar's on to it and I'm taking medication for it. The baby's fine so that's all that matters."
"How's the headache?"
"Better now."
"Is it linked to the hypertension?"
"Yes. I really think it's stress, but Selar is running a battery of tests. We should know more tomorrow."
Deanna sipped her drink then asked her next question.
"How did the Captain's surgery go?"
"Oh good. We closed the open wounds, fused the breaks in the long bones and facilitated the nerve pathways to his fingers. The prosthesis will have to stay on for the next four days, but after that we can reduce it to his forearm and hand only. With luck he should be free of it in nine days."
"Then we wake him up?"
"Uh huh."
"Are you prepared for that Beverly…will you be able to cope with his recovery?"
Beverly stared into her cup frowning deeply.
"I'll have to…he'll need me."
"Well I'll help as much as he'll let me, but you'll have to bear in mind your condition. It won't be easy."
"I know Dee, but what choice do I have…I love him…and now…he's the father of my child."
Deanna moved to sit with her best friend. Gripping her arm, she whispered,
"We'll get through this Beverly…we have to."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amy was seated at her desk composing a letter of resignation when she was interrupted by the door chime.
Sniffing wetly, she called,
"Come in."
Guinan wafted through the doors and stood before the Ensign, serene as always.
"Hello Ensign."
Amy frowned and got to her feet.
"Hello."
"You remember me…I tend the bar in the lounge."
"Oh yeah, right. You're…"
"Guinan."
"Right, Guinan. What can I do for you?"
"We need to talk."
"We do? About what?"
"You and the Captain."
Amy gasped, her hand flying to her mouth.
"Oh no! I definitely don't want to talk about him."
Guinan gestured with her hand expansively.
"May I sit? Conversation is always better if you're seated, don't you think?"
"What?"
"You caused the accident that injured the Captain."
It was a statement, not a question.
Amy hesitated.
"…Yes…"
"And he reprimanded you."
"He did more than…yes he did."
"But Commander Riker countermanded his orders."
Amy nodded.
"So you're free to continue your work aboard the ship?"
"Well yes."
"Then why are you making such a God-awful mess of everything?"
Amy slumped down into a chair. Her hand went to her brow as she felt tears threaten.
"I can't function! The Captain's sick…he's not getting better and it's my fault! This whole damn mess was caused by me trying to get in sweet with my commanding officer and what do I do? I nearly kill the Captain! I think the best thing would be for me to resign and be gone so when he does get better, he won't be reminded of what happened by seeing me."
"You can't be serious?"
"You bet I am!"
"Your not that important."
"What?"
"Look, what's going on with Captain Picard has nothing at all to do with you. Have you heard of the Borg?"
"Of course I have."
"Do you know that Captain Picard was assimilated?"
"I know about Wolf 359…"
"Well that happened because Captain Picard had been assimilated into the Borg collective. He was rescued by the crew of this ship and aided Starfleet in defeating the Borg."
"Yes, I know…"
"Can you imagine what it must be like to have his memories?"
Amy stopped breathing a moment and looked up at her visitor. All she could do was shake her head.
"Have you seen the Captain lately?"
She nodded.
"Did you notice the prosthesis on his right arm?"
In a small voice she said,
"Yes."
"Do you know how much like a Borg prosthesis it is?"
"No."
"Well let me tell you, when Captain Picard woke up and saw it, he thought he'd been re-assimilated. Can you imagine what that must have been like?"
"Oh God."
"Oh God's right. He's in shock Amy and the only way he can express it is with anger. You were his first target."
"Oh. And what about now? I hear he's in some kind of catatonia and he's had more surgery."
"That's true, but he's been left like that for a reason. The two people most qualified to treat him are now on board. Let them do their jobs, I'm sure he'll be restored to us soon."
Amy stood and walked to her bed. Picking up the pillow, she hugged it to her chest.
"I hear what you're saying. I won't resign until the Captain's better. If I think he's ok…I might stick around. Ok?"
"Fair enough."
Guinan rose and let her intelligent eyes take in the pretty Ensign.
"Just give him time."
Amy nodded and Guinan left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beverly was seated beside her lover, her work finished for the day. When Selar came in, she turned and smiled at her fellow medic.
"Doctor Crusher you should return to your quarters. It has been a long day."
"Oh I think I'll stay a while. Did you finish my blood analysis?"
"Yes. I was going to discuss it with you tomorrow."
"Pull up a chair, I'm not going anywhere."
Selar hesitated but shrugged mentally and sat beside the tired red head.
"You are aware, of course, that you are pre-menopausal?"
Beverly turned her head and raised an eyebrow.
"Well I suppose…"
"Your pregnancy has caused your pituitary gland to secrete ACTH and it is making…"
"…My adrenal gland create too much adrenalin, causing the hypertension."
"Precisely. The arterioles are constricted."
"Have you ruled out a tumour of the pituitary gland?"
"Yes. My opinion is that we continue to treat the hypertension on a daily basis and monitor your condition. I am hopeful it will rectify itself after the birth."
"And these damn headaches?"
"The prognosis is the same."
"Fine. Am I due for analgesia?"
"If you wish. I will go and get it now."
"Thank you Selar."
Left alone again with Jean-Luc, she sighed and reached for his hand.
"Oh Jean-Luc, do we have some things to talk about."

 

 

 

 

 

Will Riker tightened his arms around the woman who shared his bed and sighed with satisfaction. Their lovemaking had been sweet and protracted and he basked in the afterglow. Deanna's feelings of wellbeing intensified as she detected her lover's emotions.
"You're happy with yourself."
"Mmmm."
She chuckled softly and nestled into his shoulder. His voice rumbled in his chest.
"We should've done this a long time ago."
"We did."
"You know what I mean. We wasted a lot of time…years…"
"Well we're here now, I think that's all that matters."
"I love you Deanna…you do know that don't you?"
Deanna rose up on an elbow and kissed him tenderly.
"Yes Will, I know and I love you."
He beamed at her and pulled her down in a warm embrace. They lay quietly for a time before Will spoke again.
"Do you think Beverly and the Captain have what we have?"
"Oh I think so. Do you know…the day we left, they made love twice in the morning, then again just before they made it to the Shuttle Bay."
"You're kidding! Captain Picard? Nooo he wouldn't…he's too…he's…"
"Believe it. Not only that, but Beverly says she's completely satisfied…in every way. She says his hands and mouth…"
"Ok! Enough already. So the crafty old dog's a lover is he? Well, who'd have believed it?"
"I think there's a lot about our Captain we don't know."
"You're right there. This Borg business, it came right out of left field. I felt so helpless. I wish there was something I could've done…something I could've said to him…God Dee, he suffered."
"I know, but you must realise that no one but Beverly or I could've helped him?"
"Yeah I know that but…"
"No buts Will. In some ways he's his own worse enemy. If he would only learn to be as open with us as he is with Beverly…"
Deanna drifted off in thought, pricking Will's curiosity.
"What?"
"Oh dammit Will…things are a lot more complicated than they seem."
"Why?"
Deanna sighed and lifted her head to look at her lover.
"Beverly's pregnant."
Will sat up abruptly, dislodging his companion.
"What!"
"Shh! Keep your voice down. She found out while we were away. She got sick and scanned herself."
"Holy shit Dee! Beverly's pregnant? Did she tell the Captain?"
"No she chose to wait. Of course we didn't know…"
"Oh right. So when the Captain wakes up she'll tell him?"
"I think she'll wait until he recovers."
"So what does she want to do? Does she want to keep it?"
"Yes."
"Wow. This is incredible news."
"Yes well Beverly knew I'd tell you, but leave it a while before you bring it up with her…she's pretty fragile right now…and she's been having bad headaches."
"She's all right though…isn't she?"
"I think so. Selar's looking after her anyway. With everything that's happened…I just hope she stays well."
"Me too Dee, me too."
They lay back down and Deanna snuggled into his warm body. Sleep soon found them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guinan stood in the doorway and watched the dozing Doctor. She stepped into the room and noticed that the Doctor's hand was holding the hand of the man in the bed. She was about to leave when Beverly woke. She scanned the monitors and began to stand when Guinan made her presence known.
"It's only me Beverly."
"Oh Guinan…I…"
"It's ok. I just dropped by to see you both."
Beverly sat back down and yawned.
"Well here we are."
The barkeeper came up beside the bed and stared compassionately at the comatose Captain.
"How long will he be like this?"
"Another eight days."
"How is he physically?"
"Oh he's doing well. His arm is healing and we hope to put a smaller prosthesis on in two days. It was a terrible injury."
"And psychologically?"
"He's shut down Guinan. Right now no one can reach him."
"I tried to talk to him you know, but he shut me out."
Beverly smiled ruefully and lowered her head.
"Yes, he can be a little…obtuse."
The two women sat in silence for a while before Guinan peeped at her friend.
"How far along are you?"
Beverly's face registered her shock.
"What?"
"You're pregnant. How far along are you?"
"Eight weeks. How did you know?"
"You're glowing."
"Is that based on any quantifiable method?"
"No. I just know that's all. Does he know?"
Beverly shook her head sadly and sighed.
"No. I chose not to tell him straight away. I figured we'd have a romantic dinner when I returned and I'd tell him then."
"Does it complicate things?"
"To be absolutely honest…I'm not sure. I really don't know how he'll take the news. On top of everything else…"
"Beverly…be assured. It will all work itself out…eventually."
Beverly laughed tiredly and shook her head.
"And on what do you base that?"
"Just trust me."
Beverly tilted her head and cast a long look at her friend. Nodding she said quietly,
"Ok."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three days later Jean-Luc had further surgery. A smaller prosthesis was fitted as the bones, muscles, nerves and blood vessels of his upper arm were completely healed. His shoulder was again functional and his elbow moved freely. Only his lower arm, wrist and hand needed further treatment. He had lengthy regeneration sessions and his fingers were manipulated frequently. Physically he was doing well.
Beverly continued to be his constant companion, only retiring to her quarters at the insistence of Selar, late every evening. The treatment of her hypertension and headaches went by on schedule and the pregnancy continued unhindered.
For the next five days they would finish treating the Captain's injuries and prepare to wake him.
Duly that day arrived.
Deanna called by Beverly's quarters in the morning and together they made their way to Sick Bay. The previous afternoon, Will, Deanna Selar and Beverly had met to discuss the treatment. Will was stalking about the office.
"So how long after administering the psychotropic drug do you wait 'til you try and reach him?"
It was Deanna who answered.
"I will know. If the drug works as it should, I will get a sense of his self emerging from the closed mental state."
Will turned to her and asked,
"So how will you make contact?"
"If he's in the same state as he's been in the past, he'll be confused and frightened. He will call for help. I will answer him."
"Is it telepathic?"
"No not exactly. It's more precisely a sense of feelings. He will project, I will receive then reciprocate."
"That's where I come in."
Beverly sat up in her seat and placed her hands on the table.
"Once Deanna makes contact she will let him know I'm there. At that stage I should be able to touch him. He will know me immediately."
"Selar cocked her head.
"How many times have you done this?"
Beverly cast a glance at Deanna and sighed.
"Too many times. Early on in his initial recovery, he had dreadful nightmares. Often he would loose contact with reality and enter a state of catatonia. We discovered my physical connection to him at that time. One touch from me worked wonders…most of the time."
Will stroked his beard.
"Were there times it didn't work?"
Again the glance between friends.
"Yes. But he did recover Will. We can't discount that."
"Well let's just hope he comes out of it unscathed."

 

 

 

They gathered around Jean-Luc's bed. Selar, Will, Deanna and Beverly, all dreading the coming events.
Beverly hefted the hypospray and cast her eyes over her companions.
"Are we ready?"
They nodded in unison, Deanna moving closer to Jean-Luc. Beverly pressed the hypospray to his neck and injected him.
They waited with trepidation, the minutes ticking by. Deanna frowned and shook her head.
"I'm not getting anything."
Beverly frowned.
"How long should we wait?"
Deanna shook her head.
"I should be hearing him by now. Can he have more of the drug?"
Selar checked the PADD she was holding and offered her opinion.
"According to these statistics he can have a further ten cc's. Any more than that will cause a psychotic episode."
Beverly sighed.
"Well that leaves one question. Do we give him the whole dose, or part of it?"
Will spoke up.
"He's been in this state a long time. Perhaps he needs the whole dose."
Deanna nodded.
"I agree with Will. Maybe he can't find his way."
With grim determination Beverly adjusted the hypospray and injected the entire ten cc's into Jean-Luc's neck. Will sighed.
"What if it doesn't work? What do we do then?"
Beverly was just about to answer when Deanna suddenly held up her hand. Stilling her body, she made herself hyperaware and concentrated with all her faculties.

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc became aware of light infiltrating his senses. At first fascinated, he soon became frightened as the light grew in intensity and overwhelmed him. In his mind he screamed…
"Noooo! Stop it! Stop!…Help!…Someone help me!"
He was screaming so loudly he didn't hear the voice but it was insistent, breaking through his terror.
"Jean-Luc! Hear me Jean-Luc…it's Deanna…hear me!"
He stilled, panting.
"Deanna?"
"Yes Jean-Luc it's Deanna. You're all right, you're safe and well and in Sick Bay."
He calmed somewhat and asked tentatively,
"Am I alive?"
"Yes Jean-Luc. Beverly's here."
Deanna opened her eyes and nodded at her friend. Beverly stepped forward and laid her hand on the side of his face. His body relaxed and he sighed. Beverly leaned to him and spoke softly.
"You can open your eyes Jean-Luc."
A small smile appeared on his face as his eyes cracked open.
"Well hello there…welcome back."
His gaze was unfocussed but the grin widened. Beverly sat on the bed and took his face in her hands.
"You're safe Jean-Luc, safe and well. I want you to sleep now. Get some rest and we'll talk when you wake up."
He tried to raise a hand but she forestalled him.
"No my love…sleep."
She brushed her hand over his eyes and they drifted shut. The neural inducers had been removed and Beverly peered at the monitors as he slipped into sleep.
"Selar I want someone with him at all times. Most likely, he'll have nightmares and I don't want him to slip back into catatonia."
Selar nodded to her superior and made a note on the computer. Will let out a large breath.
"Is that it?"
Beverly grimaced.
"No Will, this has been the beginning. Now that he's back with us, he has to deal with whatever made him shut down in the first place."
"Oh. Will he sleep long?"
"That's hard to say. His psyche has begun to repair itself. He will sleep as long as he needs to, or at least as long as the nightmares stay away."
"Can I stay with him?"
Beverly smiled and grasped Will's shoulder.
"Of course you can. I'll even show you how to read the monitor."
Will grinned and retrieved a chair.
"I'm all ears."
The Doctor spent the next ten minutes instructing Will while Deanna concentrated on the Captain. She detected nothing sinister coming from his brain and decided he could be left for a while. By the time Beverly was finished with Will, Deanna was ready to leave.
The three women left the room and went to the office to document their report. Will straddled the chair and rested his head on his folded arms.
"Well Captain it's just you and me. I'll watch over you."
Will sighed as he settled in his seat. He had served under Jean-Luc for many years now and had formed an unbreakable bond with the older man. Estranged from his own father, Will found the steady guidance from his friend a strong constant in his sometimes turbulent life. His burgeoning relationship with Deanna was a source of great happiness for him, as was the sense of family he found aboard the Starship, but it was the staunch dedication Jean-Luc showed him that sustained him the most.
In many ways, Jean-Luc was the father he'd always wanted…needed…and Will was determined to stay by his friend's side to see his through the gathering storm.

 

 

Three and a half hours later, Will was roused by the quiet alarm of the monitor. The Captain started to twitch and moan. Calling Beverly, he went to the Captain and was gently shaking his shoulder when Beverly came in.
"Captain Picard…wake up, come on, wake up."
Beverly came to Will's side and brushed his hands away. She reached down and took Jean-Luc's face in her hands.
His breathing calmed and his body relaxed.
"Jean-Luc? Wake up my love, it was just a dream."
His eyes opened sluggishly and cast about in an unfocussed daze. Beverly recognised his confusion and spoke to him gently.
"Jean-Luc you know it's me. Look at me."
His eyes found her face and locked on to her. The monitor showed his heart rate slowing as he began to find reality. His deep voice croaked as he tried to speak.
"Beverly?"
"Yes my love, it's me. Come on wake up."
As his faculties came on line, so did his memory.
"The Borg! They…they made me…"
"No Jean-Luc that was a dream. You're in Sick Bay, it's ok now…you're all right."
Her hand found his and gripped him tightly. Her other hand brushed his forehead.
Jean-Luc watched her as the fear abated. He swallowed and took a large breath. Clearing his throat, he asked,
"What happened to me?"
Will stepped back to allow Beverly to sit on the bed.
"You were injured some time ago Jean-Luc and your treatment made you think of the Borg. It became too much and your mind closed down."
"Like before? When I had the nightmares?"
"Yes like that."
"How long?"
Beverly cast a look at Will and smiled crookedly down at her lover.
"Well it's been a few days…"
"Days?"
"We had to keep you in the state you were in for medical reasons, but you're ok now."
"I don't remember…"
"That's understandable. When you're feeling better, I'll bring you up to speed but for now…rest is the best thing."
"No Beverly…I don't want to sleep…the nightmares…"
"I didn't say sleep, I said rest. I'll sit with you if you like, you just lie there and get better."
He smiled and sighed.
"I think I can manage that."
Beverly grinned at him then turned to Will.
"Do you want to stay?"
"Actually I think I'll find Deanna and go to the lounge."
To his captain he said,
"You get better Sir, I'll see you later."
Jean-Luc smiled at his First Officer and nodded. After Will left, Beverly went to the replicator and retrieved a glass of water.
"Here you go, have a drink."
She helped Jean-Luc to raise his head as he sipped the liquid and tut-tutted when he spilled some. She mopped up the spill and watched as he settled himself in the bed.
For the next four hours they spoke of inconsequentialities and passed the time as good friend do. Eventually his eyes began to droop and Beverly wasn't surprised to see him begin to slip into sleep, despite his fears. She stayed with him until he was into a deep sleep then called a nurse to be with him as she left his room.

 

 

 

 

 

Over the next two days he slowly came out of his fugue, staying awake longer and dreaming less, although the nightmares still plagued him.
When Selar came in to exercise his arm, his questions came to the fore. Selar called for Beverly and the three of them made themselves comfortable.
Jean-Luc flexed his right fist and noted the fading scars.
"What happened to my arm?"
Beverly and Selar told the Captain about the accident and his treatment. When it came to tell him about the prosthesis his head snapped up and he held up his hand.
"Wait! I remember that…when I woke up I though I'd been…"
"…re-assimilated. Yes. You tried to remove the unit and Selar had to sedate you. From that point on you went downhill."
Jean-Luc groaned and wiped his hands down his face.
"Oh God I remember now. I was so angry…with everyone. It seemed that everything I did only made me more angry and I couldn't understand why…I just vented my spleen on the closest person."
"It's understandable Jean-Luc. When you became angry you lost control…and that made you angrier. It just fed itself in an unending circle."
Jean-Luc lowered his head and blew out a breath.
"How many apologies do I owe?"
Beverly chuckled and brushed his arm.
"Oh a few…and Ensign Fullarton could use a…"
Jean-Luc closed his eyes and rested his head back on the pillow.
"That poor girl! Oh God, I confined her to quarters…"
"It's ok, Will rescinded the order when it became clear you were not…yourself."
Jean-Luc frowned, his eyes going hard.
"He did?"
Beverly saw the change and moved to quell it.
"Yes he did and it's a good thing too. That poor Ensign has suffered since; you've got no idea. She's gone from being one of our best to a shadow of her former self. You should speak to her."
The Captain reined in his pique and studied his hands.
"Yes, well perhaps later… What about my arm?"
Beverly gathered a smile and took the appendage in her hands.
"It's coming on fine. You'll have to do some therapy, strengthening exercises mostly, but all in all, I think we can pronounce it healed."
Jean-Luc recalled the spikes and gently fingered his chest.
"I was lucky, wasn't I."
Beverly grew tender as she remembered reading his recent medical file.
"Yes you were."
"Once again it would seem I owe you my thanks."
Beverly laughed and shook her head.
"No, not me this time. I wasn't on board remember? It was Selar who restored you, not me."
A look of confusion crossed Jean-Luc's face, then cleared as he remembered.
"Yes! You and Deanna were at a medical symposium…then how…?"
Beverly frowned and took his hand.
"Jean-Luc your mind was overwhelmed by what you were experiencing. You were alone in your quarters when you entered a state of catatonia…you weren't found for fourteen hours. Selar didn't have access to all of your medical files and couldn't help you. Will decided to come and get us there and then."
Jean-Luc caught Beverly's eyes with his own and sighed as a small smile spread across his face.
"Did you miss much?"
Beverly laughed and tossed her hair back.
"Only some boring speeches and some even more boring food. Oh by the way Adam Simpson says hello."
"Adam Simpson? You mean Donald Simpson's son?"
"Yes."
"Isn't he a Doctor?"
"Uh huh. He runs the Sick Bay at the facility."
Jean-Luc smiled and squeezed her hand.
"I hope you didn't need his professional services."
Beverly gulped and blushed, turning to fiddle with some instruments on the table.
Jean-Luc noticed the change and asked curiously,
"Beverly? What is it?"
The woman in question re-gathered her wits and turned back to him, a smile beaming on her beautiful face.
"He's a rogue Jean-Luc! He told us some of the most wicked gossip…I'll tell you later."
Mollified, Jean-Luc grinned up at his lover and sighed.
"I look forward to it.", although he wasn't completely convinced.

 

 

 

 

Later that afternoon Jean-Luc was reading in his room when he became aware of another presence in his room. Looking up, he smiled when he spied his visitor.
"Guinan, come in."
"Hello Picard, how are you?"
"Oh I'm fine."
"No you're not."
Jean-Luc bridled and closed his book firmly.
"I beg your pardon?"
Guinan stepped further into the room and settled comfortably into a chair.
"You're not fine, you're worried."
"Really? About what?"
"The Borg."
Jean-Luc blanched at the very mention of the name. He felt a tremble begin in his hands and angrily closed them into fists.
"Nonsense!"
"Picard it's me you're talking to. How much sleep are you getting?"
He turned his head slightly, peering at his visitor.
"Enough."
"Bullshit. What about the nightmares?"
"Look Guinan Beverly says…"
"I know what she says, I'm asking you."
He stared defiantly at her before frowning.
"They're getting better. I haven't slipped into that…state…again."
"But you still dream of the Borg."
Her calmness was in direct contrast to his anger.
"Yes dammit! I still dream of the Borg! So what?"
"What have you told Troi."?
Jean-Luc closed his eyes and took a calming breath. Feeling more in control, he opened his eyes and spoke gently.
"Look Guinan, everything is in hand. Deanna and I are working through some issues and I'm confident that we can resolve these…problems…I've been having."
"That only works if you tell her the truth."
The anger returned in a flash and with it his harsh voice.
"For fuck's sake, what would you have me say? I can't sleep? I don't want to be alone? I'm fucking afraid all the time?"
Guinan calmly clasped her hands on her lap and straightened her back.
"That would do for a start."
"Well it's not going to happen! I'm fine and I will get through this! Now if you've nothing better to do, I'd appreciate it if you'd leave!"
Guinan shook her head as she stood. Picking a non-existent speck of lint from her gown, she looked down at the fuming Captain.
"I'll go Picard, but we both know you won't get better until you come clean with Troi."
Jean-Luc sneered and muttered,
"Just go."
The silence in the room was deafening after she left. Jean-Luc threw the book across the room with all the strength he could muster then lowered his head into his hands.
Two hours later Beverly went into his room to find him asleep in the bed. Frowning at finding him asleep at that time of day, she lowered the lights and made sure the monitors were on before leaving him while she retrieved a book. During her absence, she was waylaid by a nurse wanting her opinion on something and she didn't hear the alarm when it sounded. Some moments later, she was once again on her way to his room when the alarm became evident as she approached the door. She ran the remaining distance to his side to find him on the floor curled up in a ball. When she shook his shoulder, his body lost its rigidity and became a loose bag of bones. Drool slipped from his slack mouth and when Beverly checked his eyes, they had rolled back in his head.
"Selar!"
The Vulcan came at the run to find her fellow medic holding the Captain's head.
"He's catatonic! Get Troi!"
Selar went to get some help and called Deanna as she went. She returned with three nurses and together they lifted Jean-Luc back onto the bed. Deanna was out of breath when she arrived.
"What happened?"
Beverly swept her hair out of the way.
"He was sleeping when I checked on him. I thought it was unusual, but I went to get a book. I was delayed and didn't hear the alarm. I found him on the floor, over there in the corner, curled up in a ball and when I touched him he went slack."
"We can assume it was a nightmare then?"
"Yes the monitor showed chaotic activity."
Deanna watched the comatose Captain for a moment then spoke her mind.
"I think we'd better bring him out of this quickly, don't you?"
"Yes. Selar will you get the drug?"
The Doctor nodded and left, soon returning with a loaded hypospray. Beverly took it and calibrated the dose. She pressed it to Jean-Luc's neck and pressed the trigger.
It was only seconds before Deanna felt his presence return. His body stiffened and his face contorted.
"Ahhh! No STOP! God please no more…no more please…please I can't…"
"Jean-Luc it's Deanna, it was a dream, just a dream…wake up…please Captain, wake up!"
Jean-Luc's hands flew to his head as he screamed in agony.
Beverly took his face in her hands and yelled,
"Jean-Luc wake up!"
His screaming paused and he drew another breath. Beverly called again,
"Jean-Luc! It's Beverly…for God's sake wake up!"
He hesitated and Deanna heard him in her mind.
"Beverly?"
"Yes Captain it's Beverly. You were having a nightmare, but it's over now. It's time to wake up."
On the bed, his body relaxed and his face softened. He lowered his hands and opened his eyes. Beverly's hands were still either side of his face as she stared intently down at him.
"Beverly? What…?"
"Shh Jean-Luc, it's all right now. Just relax everything's ok now."
Suddenly he grabbed her hands, his eyes opening wide.
"Beverly…the Borg! You must…"
"No Jean-Luc it was a dream, just a dream. You're safe now, in Sick Bay. It's ok."
His eyes filled with tears and his jaw trembled.
"There's no Borg?"
"No Jean-Luc no Borg."
"Oh God Beverly…they…they…"
Her own eyes brimming with unshed tears; she sat on the bed and took the distressed man into her arms.
"I know my love, I know, but they're gone now…all gone."
Jean-Luc started to sob, his breath hiccuping and catching in his throat. He lifted his arms and wound them around Beverly and clung to her as if his very life was hanging in the balance. In many ways it was.

 

 

 

 

Some time later, Selar, Deanna and Beverly watched as the sleeping Captain sighed. His head twitched but he showed no signs of distress. It was Deanna who spoke.
"He's obviously been withholding a lot from me."
Beverly huffed and straightened his bedcovers.
"So what else is new? I wouldn't mind betting…"
"…That he's been having trouble all along?"
"Guinan? What are you doing here?"
"My friend needed me."
"Your friend…you mean the Captain?"
"Yes. I came to see him earlier. We talked."
Beverly offered the enigmatic woman a chair. She seated herself regally and adjusted her gown.
Deanna asked the obvious.
"What did you talk about?"
"Oh things, you know. He told me he's not sleeping well, he's afraid to be alone and he's frightened all the time."
Deanna stood, her hands on her hips.
"He just came out and told you all that?"
"Well let's just say…I encouraged him."
"Why the hell would he withhold that from me? For God's sake doesn't he want to recover?"
"Picard is an unusual man."
"Guinan I know how special the Captain is…"
"No, you misunderstand me. He's unusual. The normal rules don't apply to him. Why do you think he's been able to recover form so much trauma in the past? Surely you must see that it takes an exceptional man to achieve that? Beverly you know him better than most…what do you think?"
Beverly stood and went to his side. After some thought, she replied,
"I think he's shielding me. I think he somehow thinks he's protecting me from something."
Guinan nodded sagely.
"I agree with you. Now what would be the best treatment for him at this time?"
Without hesitation Beverly answered.
"Absolute honesty. He would accept nothing else."
"Exactly. If he feels your withholding anything from him, he'll clam up and you'll get absolutely nothing from him."
The two woman's eyes met and Beverly's widened.
"Guinan surely you don't mean I should tell him about the baby? It's too soon!"
Guinan shook her head and smiled lopsidedly.
"He already knows. On some level, somehow, he knows something's amiss. Why else would he not be honest with Deanna? Maybe when you touched him that first time, I don't know, but I can tell you he knows and he resents you withholding it."
Deanna folded her arms and sighed.
"Beverly it makes sense."
"No it doesn't!"
"Beverly…"
"No! I will not have this conversation with him now. It's too soon; he's already got more than enough on his plate. Maybe later, when he's recovered…"
Guinan stood in preparation to leaving.
"Don't you see Doctor? If you don't tell him he won't recover. Are you prepared for that?"
She glided from the room leaving three thoughtful women in her wake.

 

 

 

 

 

Sometime later that evening Jean-Luc awoke to find Beverly dozing in a chair beside his bed. He sighed and smiled, but the good humour fled as he recalled his nightmare. His whispered,
"Mon Dieu…"
was heard by Beverly and her eyes snapped open.
"Jean-Luc?"
He closed his eyes and mustered a smile.
"It's all right…I'm fine."
Beverly frowned and checked the monitors. Finding nothing amiss she stood and gently brushed the back of her hand down his face.
"You need to shave."
He raised a hand and rubbed it over his stubbled jaw.
"Hmm."
"How do you feel? And don't say fine. I know for a fact that you must feel like a dog's breakfast."
He smirked, stifling a chuckle.
"Beverly where do you get these sayings? I've never heard…"
"Just answer the question Jean-Luc!"
He raised his eyebrows at her sharp tone and replied in kind.
"All right fine! I feel like shit! I'm tired and scared…there! Are you satisfied?"
"NO! Why did it take another nightmare and a bout of catatonia to drag that from you? For God's sake Jean-Luc…"
The Captain took a calming breath and reached for her hand.
"Look I know I can be a little…reticent. I'll try harder…all right?"
"It's Troi you should be saying that to. You scared six months growth out of me Jean-Luc! Tell me you'll be honest with Deanna…please?"
Bowing to the inevitable, he nodded.
"Very well, I will be the epitome of lucid thought. She will know my every secret. Now how about you?"
Beverly stared at him with trepidation.
"What about me?"
"Well if I have to be honest with Deanna you have to be honest with me."
"What do you mean?"
"Oh I don't know! How is my treatment going…what is my prognosis…what haven't you told me?"
"What? Nothing! There's nothing I haven't told you. Your treatment is on schedule and your prognosis is excellent. It's you who's been withholding things."
Somewhat taken aback, Jean-Luc squeezed her hand.
"Hey there's no need to get upset. I just felt you'd not been completely honest with me, that's all."
"And on what do you base this feeling?"
Now Jean-Luc was worried. Beverly was upset and he didn't know why. Cautiously he said,
"I don't know…I just feel it."
"Well your feelings are unfounded! You know I've never been anything but honest with you and I resent any implication to the contrary!"
"Beverly…calm down…I didn't mean to imply…look let's just forget it all right?"
The irate Doctor took a deep breath and reined in her temper. Seeing that she was upsetting her patient, she changed the subject.
"Are you up to a bit of therapy?"
"What?"
"I want to exercise your arm. How about it?"
"Very well."
Leaving him momentarily, she retrieved a bottle and squeezed some of the contents onto her hand. Warming the liquid, she took his arm and began to massage it with long firm strokes. As she worked, he regained his equilibrium and he soon fell into the rhythm of her strong hands. When the muscles and sinews were warmed and loose, she began a series of stretches designed to facilitate strength and mobility.
"Make a fist, then release it."
He did as she requested, repeating the movement four more times. He sighed with contentment as she extended the massage to his tense shoulders. His voice rumbled in his chest.
"I've missed your touch."
It was such a simple statement, but said with heartfelt earnestness. Beverly stilled her hands and cupped his chin, lifting his head. She leaned forward and kissed him tenderly, trying to impart all her love for him with the touch of her lips.
He hesitated then returned the kiss in kind, his tongue gently requesting admittance.
She opened to him slowly as his arms came up to encircle her. Twisting slightly sideways, he encouraged her to lie with him on the bed and she did, deepening the kiss.
His hands explored her back as the passion rose between them. One of his hands drifted down to her buttocks and pulled her hard against him. Feeling his evident arousal, she moaned into his mouth. His hand crept up and cupped her breast as he broke the kiss.
"I take it we can lock the door?"
Reality slammed into Beverly and she gasped.
"What? No…no we can't."
She sat up and made to leave the bed. Jean-Luc grabbed her arm and tried to catch her eye.
"Beverly? What is it?"
"Jean-Luc we can't…not here!"
"Why not? I'll admit it's not the most romantic of locales, but if we're quiet…it is the night shift isn't it?"
Shaking free of his grasp, Beverly left the bed and straightened her uniform.
"I am not going to make love to you here! What were you thinking?"
"What was I thinking? You kissed me remember!"
"Well that's just typical! One kiss and you expect sex! I've a good mind to…"
"To what? Make my life more miserable? I just thought…"
Beverly's tone was cutting.
"Thought? I don't think so. You want miserable? Fine! You can just stew in your own juice mister. I've got better things to do than mollycoddle you!"
With that she turned on her heel and stormed out. She'd almost reached her office when her words repeated themselves in her mind. She stopped dead in her tracks and pinched the bridge of her nose.
"Oh God what was I thinking?"
She retraced her steps and re-entered his room. He was lying on his side with the lights lowered.
"Jean-Luc?"
In a quiet voice he answered.
"Go away Beverly."
He sounds so tired, she thought.
She stepped into the room and went to his side. Gently rubbing his shoulder she sighed.
"Jean-Luc I'm sorry…I didn't mean what I said. Can we start again…please?"
He was still a moment until his shoulders rose in an expansive sigh. He turned onto his back and looked up at his best friend.
"Beverly…what just happened?"
"I don't know."
"Yes you do. Something's wrong."
Beverly sat on the bed and took his hands in hers.
"It's nothing Jean-Luc. I've been under a bit of stress lately…I'm a bit hormonal right now, I'm sure it will settle soon."
He gave Beverly his 'really' look but refrained from arguing.
"All right, I'll accept that, but I still think…"
Beverly loosened one hand and put her fingers to his lips, silencing him.
"Shh Jean-Luc. No more. You get some sleep. I'll sit with you."
He thought about remonstrating with her, but eventually had to admit he was tired. He made himself comfortable as Beverly secured a chair and, as he drifted off, he wondered what could be bothering her.

 

 

 

 

 

Two days later he was beginning to feel angry…again. Deanna's mental probing was wearing thin and he was losing his patience.
"Look, let's just say the whole thing was upsetting and leave it at that!"
"Captain you know that doesn't cover…"
"Doesn't it? I'm the one who was assimilated. It was me who was taken from my own Bridge, surgically mutilated and used as a weapon against our own people. Don't you think I'm intimately aware of what they did to me?"
Deanna lowered her head and let his anger wash over her. Re-aligning her mental barriers, she gathered her thoughts and tried again.
"Captain Picard, no one is trying to suggest that you're not fully cognizant of what happened to you. My point is…you still harbour fear and unresolved fury for the Borg…and that's perfectly understandable…but we need to deal with those feelings, otherwise they will continue to surface at times of stress."
Jean-Luc stood and strode around the room, his hands cutting the air.
"Can't you teach me some technique…some sort of mental discipline…that I could employ to negate these…episodes?"
"The short answer is no. In time, I will teach you some methods of regaining mental balance, but for now you have to do the hard work and tell me exactly what you feel."
"What I feel?"
His laugh was bitter.
"Counsellor you have no idea."
"Tell me."
He stood in the centre of the room staring at the petite woman. Sighing, he sat in the chair and ran his hands over his bald head. When he was ready, he began.
"When I came to and found that prosthesis on my arm I panicked. My first thought was that I'd been re-assimilated and the idea terrified me. I couldn't face it again Counsellor…I would rather die than go through that again. After they sedated me, the nightmares began. It was the whole experience all over again and I was trapped…doomed to relive it over and over…they woke me but the terror didn't dissipate. It stayed, dogging my thoughts, infiltrating my mind and I became angry. I was angry it was happening again and I was furious I had no control whatsoever over it. Each time I lost control the fury grew, as did the fear. I began to see Borg in the shadows and I feared for my sanity. I didn't eat, I didn't sleep, I just tried to function…to live with what was going on in my mind. Eventually I became exhausted and sleep claimed me, despite my efforts and I slipped into catatonia. I was trapped in an unending nightmare from which I couldn't escape. Will told me about the neural inducers…I owe him a great deal for that, he may well have saved my sanity. The thing is…I had absolutely no control. From the moment I saw the prosthesis I was doomed. How do I feel about that? I'll tell you Counsellor…I'm appalled!"
He lowered his head into his hands and sat quietly. Deanna weighed his words and gently called him.
"Captain?"
He raised his tired eyes and fixed his gaze upon her.
"Have you ever had that reaction to anything else? A prosthesis on someone else perhaps, or a picture of a Borg?"
His voice ragged, he closed his eyes and shook his head.
"No."
"Since your recovery, have you had trouble with nightmares?"
He sat up and rubbed his hands on his thighs.
"Not really. There are times…when I'm very tired or under great stress…it happens occasionally."
"Why didn't you ever tell me?"
"Because I didn't think it was necessary. Look Counsellor I think the occasional nightmare is small price to pay for what happened. You don't think I was going to come away completely unscathed did you?"
"No Sir but had you been more honest with me we may have prevented what happened recently."
He looked up and frowned deeply.
"Counsellor…Deanna… I don't think…"
"No really Captain. You've obviously been nurturing a hatred for the Borg that had festered with time and has only now emerged. What do you think we should do about it?"
He stared at her and shrugged his shoulders diffidently.
"I've no idea."
Deanna stood and held out her hand.
"Well I do! Come on Captain, we're going to see Beverly."

 

 

 

 

 

 

The red haired Doctor was treating a sprained wrist when Deanna and the Captain walked in. She took a moment to admire his handsome form in his civilian clothes, then turned her attention back to the wayward Ensign.
"Now Dwight this is the second…and definitely last…time I'll fix this wrist. Either alter the programme or choose another sport."
She winked at the Ensign, who had blanched at seeing the Captain's arrival.
"Go on now, off you go."
He offered a quick nod to Jean-Luc then made himself scarce. Beverly was still smiling at the effect the Captain had on his younger crew when Deanna broke into her thoughts.
"Beverly can we see you in the office?"
She nodded and led them across the room to her sanctum.
"What can I do for you?"
The three settled into chairs and Deanna gathered her thoughts.
"The Captain and I have been discussing his feelings concerning the Borg. It would seem he has some repressed anger that is doing him harm. I want you opinion on his suitability for regressive therapy."
"I think it's a good idea, but surely you don't need my sanction?"
"In this instance I do. I suggest you sedate the Captain prior to me hypnotising him. The choice of drug would be crucial of course."
"I see. Why sedation? Why not use the standard method of hypnosis?"
Deanna sat forward in her chair and clasped her hands on the desktop.
"Captain Picard has an extraordinarily strong mind. His natural instinct when threatened would be to shield himself from me and I want to circumvent that if possible by using drugs to sedate him first."
"What did you have in mind?"
"Benzotyline would be my choice…what do you think?"
"Hmm. Let me do some research and I'll get back to you. When did you think you want to do it?"
"Soon…the sooner the better."
Jean-Luc leaned forward and asked what was on his mind.
"Tell me, will I have any control over this procedure? Will I remember it?"
Deanna turned to him and nodded.
"No Captain, you'll have no control, but you will remember it and it's very important you do. We will be in your quarters. Beverly will sedate you and monitor your physical responses. I will hypnotise you and allow you to vent your buried emotions concerning the Borg. Later we will deal with the effects of the catharsis."
Jean-Luc frowned as his fingers gently rubbed his lower lip.
"So no one else…just us three."
"Yes Sir."
He looked at his best friend.
"Beverly? What do you think?"
She reached across the desk and took his hand. Looking deep into his dark hazel eyes, she smiled tenderly.
"Jean-Luc if this can help you…if you can rid yourself of this damn demon…then do it! Deanna and I will be with you, it'll be all right."
Jean-Luc sat back and studied the two women before him. He was about to commit his well being into the hands of others…again, but he knew these two women, knew them and trusted them. Coming to his decision he nodded abruptly.
"Very well then. We will do this and I pray we only ever have to do it once."
Deanna smiled at her Captain and nodded to Beverly.
"We'll be with you Sir."

 

The following afternoon the three friends gathered in Jean-Luc's quarters. He raised his eyebrows at Beverly who in turn looked to Deanna.
"Captain would you make yourself comfortable?"
He cast about, eventually choosing the chair by the viewports. Settling himself, he watched as Beverly opened her med kit and took out a hypospray. She opened a tricorder and placed it on the seat beside her then checked the dose on the hypospray. Nodding her readiness, she turned to Deanna. The Counsellor opened a small case and removed an intriguing object. Small in size and multi-faceted, it caught the light and glowed with the colours of the spectrum. She held it up and showed the Captain.
"This is what I will use to hypnotise you."
He nodded and smiled as Beverly came to his side. Her blue eyes glowed as she looked down at him.
"Are you ready?"
He shrugged and took a big breath.
"I suppose so."
Beverly trailed her fingers down his face then brought the hypospray to his neck.
"Remember my love…you're not alone."
As she said that, she dispensed the Benzotyline and watched as his body relaxed. Jean-Luc sighed and raised his head when Deanna called to him.
"Captain I want you to watch the lights, just watch the lights and relax…"
Within minutes the drug and Deanna had done their work and Jean-Luc entered a trance-like state.
Deanna moved closer and issued some simple commands that Jean-Luc carried out without hesitation. She looked up at Beverly.
"He's ready."
The Doctor nodded and took up the tricorder, scanning the Captain before giving Deanna her go-ahead. Deanna sat forward and spoke gently to Jean-Luc.
"Captain I want you to think about the Borg…"

 

 

 

 

 

Over the next two hours, Jean-Luc re-lived his assimilation and the devastation of the battle at Wolf 359, but this time he was able to express his feelings in all their dark connotations. He roared and spat, screamed his fury and sobbed his despair as piece by piece, Deanna dismantled his hidden emotions.
When it was over he lay exhausted and sleeping on the sofa. Beverly had placed a pillow under his head and a blanket over his body. The two women looked down at him with pity and awe.
"My God." Beverly whispered. "That was like removing the most stubborn malignant tumour."
Deanna nodded and went to the replicator, and returned with drinks for both of them.
"I suspected he was holding a lot in, but the reality of it…having him confront it then express how he feels…I don't know how he's managed all this time. It's no wonder it surfaced."
Beverly nodded and rubbed her face with her hands.
"Surfaced and bit him on the arse! God if only he wasn't so…so…"
"Beverly he is the way he is. Would you change him?"
She thought but a moment and sighed.
"Of course not. I love him Deanna, completely, with all his…foibles."
"There you go then."
"Would you change anything about Will?"
Deanna chuckled and put a finger to her chin.
"You mean apart from the beard?"
"What…you don't like his beard?"
"You're forgetting I have memories of a clean shaven Will Riker. Let's just say the beard may be on borrowed time."
The two friends settled into a companionable silence while they sipped their drinks. Beverly picked up the tricorder and scanned the somnolent Captain.
"He's been avoiding food hasn't he."
Beverly frowned over the readings and nodded.
"Yes and he's not been sleeping well…if at all. You know I thought that by keeping him in Sick Bay I could monitor all this, but he's done his usual thing right under my nose and I let him!"
"Don't be too hard on yourself Beverly. He's spent a lifetime doing what he wants, it would be a hard habit to break."
"I know…it's just…"
"You're thinking about the baby?"
"Yes. It will change everything. He will have to think about his vulnerability in a way he's never had to before. He won't like it."
"Maybe not, but perhaps it will strengthen your bond with him. Look at it this way…who else would he be happy in knowing all this?"
"Nobody!"
"Beverly…"
"All right, fair enough. I suppose you're going to tell me that if he's willing to let me witness this, then I should tell him about the baby."
"Well, what do you think?"
Beverly put down the tricorder and sighed.
"How do you think he's going to be when he wakes up…or over the next couple of days?"
"Very fragile. He'll be appalled at what he will see as a breakdown, it'll be my job to make him see himself in a kinder light."
"Well then, when he's stronger I'll tell him."
"…Tell me what?"
"Jean-Luc! How long have you been awake?"
He closed his eyes and shook his head.
"Just now. I woke up and heard you say you should tell me something. What?"
"That you need a meal and a drink, a shower then bed, in that order."
"Beverly…"
"Come on sit up…how do you feel?"
He ran a hand over his face and grimaced at feeling the salt from his tears.
"Wrung out mostly…and ashamed."
Deanna came to sit beside him and took his hand.
"No Captain, never shame. What happened was needed and accepted by us in the strictest confidence."
"I know Counsellor…but…"
"Not now Captain…later, when you're feeling stronger."
"That's not like you Counsellor. You usually like to tackle things head on."
"I know Captain but this time I think we all go do with a breather."
Beverly stood over the Captain.
"Come over to the table. I've replicated a light meal and a hot cup of Earl Grey."
Jean-Luc cast a long-suffering look at Deanna, but bent to Beverly's wishes. He sat at the table, looked at his meal and sighed.
"Beverly, I'm really not hungry…perhaps…?
"Uh uh Jean-Luc. I want you to eat all of that and I'm not going anywhere until you do!"
He looked up at her and frowned.
"I was hoping you'd stay anyway. I'm discharged from Sick Bay aren't I?"
The two women looked at each other and Deanna shrugged. Beverly made her decision on the spot.
"Ok."
"Ok to what? You staying or my discharge?"
"Both. But you're going to have to pull your weight. I want you eating and sleeping properly…no half measures…no 'I'm fine' and brush me off."
Jean-Luc scowled and looked up at Deanna.
"Can I stay with you instead?"
She chuckled; pleased he was finding his sense of humour.
"No Sir, you stay here. I think you and Beverly both need some quiet time together. I'll see you tomorrow and be prepared, you've got some hard work ahead of you."
He nodded and watched her leave before turning to his lover.
Beverly went to the replicator and returned with a meal for herself. Sitting, she picked up her cutlery.
"It's always nicer to share a meal, don't you think?"
"Hmm. I'm not convinced you know."
"Convinced? About what?"
"You've got something to tell me and it's got nothing to do with diet or sleep."
"Oh Jean-Luc…eat your chicken and be quiet."
He sighed and picked up his fork, looking down at the meal with distaste.
"Very well Beverly but you should know…I'm a very patient man. I'll wait."
She looked at him and smiled warmly. Inside her heart trembled.

 

 

 

 

Later that evening Beverly was wiping his brow with a damp cloth. He'd gone to bed, only to waken from a nightmare. His chest heaved as he regained his breath, his whole body quaking. Beverly was about to ask him to lie back down when he abruptly threw off the sheet and bolted from the bed.
"Jean-Luc?"
"God I hate this! When is it going to be bloody well over?"
She stood and went to him feeling his boiling emotions.
"Can I get you anything…a drink perhaps?"
He stopped his pacing and cocked his head.
"Yes! A whiskey…a double. There's a bottle in the sideboard."
While he went to the bathroom to wash his sweat-streaked face, Beverly went to the living area and soon returned with two glasses. She gave one to Jean-Luc and was about to suggest a toast when he placed the tumbler at his lips and downed the lot in one go.
"Did you bring the bottle?"
"No it's…"
He strode from the room and Beverly found him re-filling his glass.
"Do you want another?"
"I've not finished this one…"
He shrugged and downed the liquor in one gulp. He was reaching for the bottle again when she stopped him.
"Jean-Luc…this isn't necessary."
He filled the tumbler nonetheless and gestured with the container.
"Are you going to drink with me or not?"
She came fully into the room and sat on the sofa.
"I'll drink with you…at my own pace and you, my dear Captain, should slow down."
"Really? And what if I don't feel like slowing down?"
"Then…eventually…you'll get horribly drunk and I'll have to put you to bed."
He sat heavily on the chair and looked into the depths of the glass.
"Tempting…"
"Maybe, but you'll feel rotten in the morning."
"Nothing a well placed hypospray wouldn't fix."
"You'd feel worse than just hung over Jean-Luc…and you know it."
His voice grew harsh.
"Jesus Christ…there's no fucking escape is there?"
"Nope. You've got to face it Jean-Luc…you can't put it off any more."
His voice drooped to a rough whisper.
"It's so hard Beverly…so hard…"
"I know my love but you'll be well again soon. I need you to be well."
"Why Beverly…why are you so keen to see me recover quickly? You know it'll happen anyway."
"Oh Jean-Luc…you must know…I love you…I…"
"Tell me Beverly."
Beverly stared at this resolute man who'd stolen her heart and came to a sudden decision.
"I'm pregnant."
His breathing stopped.
"What? You're what?"
"Pregnant Jean-Luc, you know…with child."
He put down the glass and stared at the table.
"How?"
"My implant malfunctioned."
"When?"
"The first time we made love."
"So you're…?"
"Nine weeks."
When he didn't say anything further, Beverly began to worry. She rose from the sofa and kneeled at his legs. She took his hands and looked deeply into his glittering eyes.
"It's not necessarily a bad thing."
"I know."
"But…?"
He stood up and brushed past her, pacing about the room. Even dressed only in his sleep shorts he was an impressive man. Lost in thought, as he was now, only made him more desirable. Beverly rose to her feet and watched him as he wrestled with his thoughts.
He stopped suddenly and stared at her.
"You want to keep it?"
She took a step towards him, but stopped.
"Yes. But I'd rather not be a single parent again."
He nodded and lowered his head. Beverly closed the distance between them and rubbed his arm gently.
"Would it be such a terrible thing? To have a child with me?"
He looked up at her incredulously.
"Terrible? Beverly this is the most wonderful news I've ever had!"
"Then why do you hesitate?"
He gripped her elbow and led them both to the sofa. They sat and he gathered his thoughts.
"Beverly…since the untimely deaths of my brother and nephew…you know my feelings about my regret over the non-continuance of the Picard line. You know…surely you must know…that I'm delighted by this news…but would I make a good father? Look at me Beverly. At the moment I'm undergoing therapy for unresolved anger…what sort of a father could I be when I can't even keep myself under control?"
"Jean-Luc…"
"No Beverly, hear me. We need to think carefully about this. What if I make a mistake with the child? What if I shut it out, like I sometimes shut you out? A child deserves a full time father not a remote authority figure who will…"
"Stop it Jean-Luc! This self-castigating is getting us nowhere. I know you'll be a wonderful father. If I didn't I never would've told you. You're not yourself right now. Let's leave it a few days and, when your feeling stronger, we'll talk about it…Ok?"
He looked speculatively at her but acquiesced. He picked up the glasses from the table and gave Beverly hers.
"Is it all right for you to drink?"
"One's ok."
"Then here's to…us, all three of us."
They clinked tumblers and Jean-Luc tossed his down. Beverly sipped and giggled when she caught him glancing at her belly.
"I'm not showing yet."
He reddened slightly.
"And there's no movement to be felt…?"
"No not yet."
"May I?"
He gently moved his hand over her abdomen as she shifted to accommodate him.
"Who else knows?"
"Deanna, Selar, Guinan…oh, and Adam Simpson."
"Ah yes, Adam Simpson."
"I already knew when I saw him…I scanned myself when the vomiting wouldn't go away. He prescribed an anti-emetic and supplied me with a vial so I wouldn't have to continually turn up at the Infirmary."
"Are you well?"
"I've had a few hormone problems, hypertension and headaches, but Selar has it under control."
"Not life threatening I hope?"
Beverly shook her head, making her lustrous red hair dance.
"No! In fact we're both in tip-top condition. The problems should resolve themselves after the birth."
"And what about your age. Won't it be…difficult?"
"Not necessarily, but Selar will be monitoring me closely. I must admit…I'm not really looking forward to the birth. Wesley was hard work and I would rather not have to go through that again, but there are lots of things to consider. Nothing's set in stone."
Jean-Luc raised his hand and trailed his fingers down her face.
"Well I have a suggestion, if you're willing."
"Oh, what's that?"
"Right now I find you incredibly attractive. I want to make love to you Beverly."
Somewhat taken aback, Beverly smiled and cocked her head.
"So do pregnant women turn you on?"
"Apparently."
She chuckled but soon moaned as he kissed her suddenly and passionately. His hands roamed over her body and she arched up to him as he cupped her breasts. Breaking the kiss, he stood and held out his hand. She stood with him and their hands entwined. He kissed her again and led her slowly to his bedroom. Slowly undressing her, he kissed all the newly exposed skin and lavished her with love and on the bed that he'd so recently departed, they made the most tender and extraordinary love that two people could manage. In every gesture, every caress, he tried to let her see into his heart, into his very soul to let her know that he was happy, to say to her with his body what his mouth could not.

 

 

 

 

Two days later Jean-Luc found himself at a loose end. Having finished therapy with Deanna for the day and still off duty, he decided to take a wander through his ship.
The therapy sessions were, as Deanna predicted, gruelling. He was on an unfamiliar emotional roller coaster and didn't quite know how to handle the repercussions. Deanna helped, but he was still left feeling battered by the sessions. His feet took him out his door and he wasn't surprised to eventually find himself in the almost deserted lounge.
He fronted the bar and Guinan appeared as if by magic.
"Hello Picard, long time no see."
He nodded to the bartender and watched as she polished the bar top.
"So what brings you here…thirsty?"
"Not really."
"A cup of tea then?"
"Yes that would be fine, thank you."
Guinan retrieved the steaming brew and placed it before the thoughtful Captain.
She waited a while and, when he wasn't forthcoming, she opened the conversation.
"Tell me Picard, what do you make of it all?"
He looked up and straightened his arms on the bar.
"I…don't know."
Letting out a breath he didn't know he was holding, he peered at the bartender.
"You know…about the pregnancy."
"Yes."
"What do you think?"
"What's more to the point…what do you think?"
Jean-Luc screwed his eyes shut and sighed.
"I don't know about that either."
"Are you happy about it?"
"Yes! Definitely yes. I'm just not so sure this is the right time…that I can be a good father."
"Let me tell you something Picard…there's no right time to have children. They come along when they're meant to and I can assure you, you'll be a very good father."
"You sound very sure of yourself."
"That's because I am. What else is bothering you?"
He sighed again and sipped his tea.
"These damn therapy sessions. I never know from one to the next what will come out! Today I learned I'm capable of murder, or at least the emotion that drives it. God I just wish…"
"No point in that Picard and you know it. You know what you have to do…"
"I'm doing it dammit!"
"As I was saying…trust your staff. Deanna knows what she's doing just allow her to do her job and don't be obstructive."
"Obstructive? Guinan this is one of the hardest things I've ever done! I think I…"
"No, wrong again."
"What?"
"Being a parent will be the hardest…and most rewarding thing you'll ever do. Trust me Picard, you haven't worked yet."
He was silent for a time then drew himself up and addressed the computer.
"Computer, where is Ensign Amy Fullarton?"
"Ensign Amy Fullarton is currently in her quarters."
"Is she alone?"
"Affirmative."
Jean-Luc looked up at his friend and grimaced.
"Another of my…indiscretions."
"I was going to mention her."
"I know."
Guinan's eyes opened wide and she grinned at her friend.
"You're definitely on the mend."
He nodded, smiled warmly at her and left the bar.

 

 

 

 

 

Amy was bored. Since taking herself off duty she'd soon exhausted all the distractions in her quarters. Mark had been very supportive, but even his patience was wearing thin. She was challenging the computer to a game of Strategema when her door annunciator sounded. Rather than remaining in her seat, she went to the door and pressed the opener.
Her visitor made her gasp, then gulp.
"Captain!"
"Ensign. May I come in?"
"What? Oh yes! Of course!"
She stood back at rigid attention, trembling right down to her boots.
Jean-Luc entered her quarters and tried not to sigh.
"At ease Ensign."
"Aye Sir!"
Jean-Luc closed his eyes and allowed a sigh to escape.
"Ensign…Amy, I need to talk to you and I don't want this…tension between us. Relax…or shall I make that an order?"
Tentatively at first, Amy felt her shoulders inch lower and she found her normal voice.
"No Sir that won't be necessary. Would you like to sit?"
Jean-Luc smiled warmly and nodded.
"Only if you do too."
They both sat and there followed a moment of uncomfortable silence, broken when Jean-Luc cleared his throat.
"Ensign I've come to apologise."
"Sir you don't need to…"
Jean-Luc blinked slowly and said softly,
"Please don't interrupt me Ensign."
"Yes Captain."
"As I was saying…I want to offer my apologies for my inappropriate behaviour in regards to the accident. I overreacted and treated you most unfairly and I want you to know I regret my actions."
Amy mustered a smile of her own.
"Thank you Sir, it means a lot to me."
"I hear you're off duty?"
"Yes Sir. I was doing so poorly…there wasn't much point in me turning up."
"I hope that can be rectified. You know we all make mistakes."
"Sir?"
"When I was an Ensign, my First Officer on the Hermes collected carnivorous plants from Argus IV. I wanted to make a good impression so I fed them one day. What I didn't know was…they only ate insects from Argus IV. He had a supply of freeze-dried insects and I damn near killed the lot with replicated meat. It was a very near thing."
"Oh dear."
"Precisely. The point is Ensign; I understand what you did and why you did it. Whatever else happened was purely bad luck."
"Captain Picard…can I ask you something?"
"Yes."
"Are you well now Sir?"
He regarded the Ensign for a moment then decided to be honest.
"My recovery is…progressing. I would be lying if I said it was easy."
"I see Sir, thank you. I hope you're fully recovered soon."
"As do I. Well I will leave now. I hope to see your name back on the duty roster earning the same high grades we're used to seeing from you."
Amy beamed at her Captain and nodded vigorously.
"Yes Sir, you bet!"
Jean-Luc allowed an indulgent smile and left. He felt strangely light hearted.

 

 

 

 

 

Will Riker didn't often get the chance to be one up on Beverly Crusher. He spied her across the room in Sick Bay and decided to have a little fun…at her expense. He sidled up to her and whispered near her ear…
"Hi Mum."
Beverly's hands stilled, but her face showed no emotion. Her patient looked up at the two senior officers and grinned. Beverly soon took the good humour away.
"Now you listen to me Lieutenant. I've got better things to do than autosuture cuts gained from the ill use of razor blades. I don't care what your friend says…an isorazor does a better job! Now stay away from the replicator and shave in a safe manner."
"Aye Sir."
She stood back and allowed the chastened officer to leave. Her next words were directed at Will.
"In my office you."
He couldn't suppress a grin as they crossed Sick Bay. Once in her office he raised his hands before she could remonstrate with him.
"Ok! I'm sorry…Deanna warned me and I ignored her."
"It's not funny Will!"
He lowered his head, his grin fading.
"I know, I'm sorry. I didn't think."
Beverly felt her anger dissipating at the sight of the repentant First Officer.
"Oh Will…you big fool…"
He heard the change in her tone and lifted his head.
"So…I'm forgiven?"
Beverly's frown melted into a smile.
"Yes, you're forgiven, though God knows why."
They both shared a chuckle and sat down.
"So Beverly how are you?"
"Oh you know…coping."
"Just coping?"
"Well I've got some medical issues, but it's all under control."
"Good, that's good. Beverly…does he know?"
Beverly sighed and ran her hands through her hair.
"Yes he knows."
"And?"
"Let's just say…he's not…he's not sure."
"Not sure? About what?"
"Oh about being a father. He's going through a lot right now Will, he needs time."
"But he's happy about it…isn't he?"
"Yes."
"That's it? Just 'yes'."
"It's complicated! Look I think in time he'll be happy and confident…eventually."
"Well as long as you're happy…?"
She smiled then and winked at her friend.
"Oh I'm happy, don't you worry."
Will grinned at her and rose to his feet.
"Ok. I'll see you, all right?"
"Yes Will, that's fine."
She watched his departing back and enjoyed a few moments peace in the sanctuary of her office. It was, however, short lived. Deanna appeared at her door and requested admittance.
"Sure come in."
The Counsellor sat and frowned at the Doctor.
"What is it Deanna?"
"The session was pretty rough today."
"How is he taking it?"
"Outwardly…good."
"But?"
"He's resisting me."
"Damn!"
Deanna clasped her hands and rested them on her lap.
"Don't be too harsh Beverly, he's trying, he really is, but we're reaching into feelings he's left buried for a very long time. It's going to take time."
"Do you want me to talk to him?"
"No. The last thing he needs is to feel that he's being pressured."
"Ok, granted, but don't let him bully you Dee. You know how clever he can be."
"Oh I know, don't you worry. He's already tried some mental gymnastics with me. God he can be slippery when he wants to be."
"Tell me about it! Sometimes a simple discussion can turn into a complete debacle if he so wishes. Moody…that's how he's been lately."
"Well that's understandable."
Beverly leaned forward, frowning.
"When's the next session?"
"Tomorrow morning. I left him to his own devices this afternoon. I thought he could do with some time on his own."
Beverly nodded and smiled.
"Yes he would appreciate that."
"Beverly…when you see him tonight…be gentle with him. He's very fragile right now."
The red head nodded and sighed.
"I hear you Deanna. Don't worry I'll take care of him."
Deanna left soon after, leaving a very thoughtful Doctor in her wake.

 

 

 

 

After Jean-Luc left Amy's cabin he wandered aimlessly through the ship, nodding greetings to his passing crew. His good feelings had faded and his mind kept creeping back to his last session with Deanna.
He found an observation room on deck twelve and sat in one of the chairs, staring out at the stars. As his mind furnished the images unerringly, he drifted off into thought. It was over four hours later that he became aware of another presence in the room.
Startled, he sprang up from his chair.
"Hey, take it easy, it's just me."
"Beverly!"
"It's getting late Jean-Luc. I asked the computer where you were…I didn't think you'd mind…?"
He sat back down, his shoulders slumped.
"No…that's fine."
Beverly knelt at his knees and gently placed her hands on his thighs.
"What is it my love?"
He shook his head and closed his eyes.
"It's nothing…really…I'm fine."
Beverly felt her anger rising but pushed it ruthlessly aside. Softly and patiently she asked again,
"Jean-Luc it's me. Tell me what's wrong."
Slowly, almost imperceptibly he leaned forward until his head rested on her shoulder. His arms crept around her shoulders and she strained to hear his roughened voice.
"Just hold me Beverly."
She frowned and leaned her face against his head. Her own arms surrounded him as she felt him trembling. When she felt his tears she cried herself.
"We'll get through this Jean-Luc…I promise."
His only response was to tighten his embrace. Beverly reasoned he would not like to be seen in this state and tapped her combadge.
"Transporter Room, two to beam directly to the Captain's quarters."
They rematerialised on the floor in the main room of his cabin. Not bothering with moving to the chairs, Beverly cradled his head and began to rock back and forth.
His hands gathered fistfuls of material on her back as he began to sob. Beverly's own tears coursed down her cheeks as his heart broke.
They stayed like that for over an hour as the storm of emotion raged within Jean-Luc. When it eased, Beverly helped him into his bedroom and together they laid on his bed. In the darkness Jean-Luc steadied his breathing.
"I'm sorry Beverly."
"What for? It's about time you released some tension my love."
"Perhaps but I didn't intend for you to witness such a display."
"Afraid I'll see you're only human?"
She felt rather than saw his smile.
"Hardly. It's just…I don't like being so…vulnerable."
"Jean-Luc considering what you've been through…what you're going through…I don't know how you've held it in so long."
They were quiet a time, each comfortable in the other's company. Beverly smiled tenderly when he spoke.
"I only know one thing my love…I couldn't get through all this if it wasn't for you. The thought of returning to my quarters and having you here…in my arms…means more to me than I can sufficiently articulate. I love you Beverly, never forget that."
Beverly snuggled into his embrace and kissed his chin.
"Then that makes two of us. I'm kinda keen on you too."
He chuckled, the sound thrilling Beverly. She allowed her hand to slip under his shirt where she dallied in the hair of his chest. He sighed and released one arm, lying back on the bed, completely open to his lover. Beverly rose up on her knees and slowly undid the three buttons of his shirt. Encouraging him to sit up, she slipped the garment from his body then gently pushed him back down to the bed. Next she moved to his feet and took his shoes and socks off, discarding them over the side of the bed to join the shirt.
Moving back to his head, she kissed him languidly while her hands tweaked his stiffening nipples.
His own hands slid up her sides and cupped her breasts, kneading them through the material of her uniform. She let her hands leave his chest and wander down his torso. She smiled into their kiss when his stomach fluttered as her fingers tickled him. At the waistband of his trousers, she hesitated, taking time to gently outline his erection through the fabric.
In the silence of his bedroom, he began to undress her, pieces of her uniform joining his clothes on the floor. By mutual agreement, they parted from the kiss. Beverly sat up, still softly caressing him through his trousers. She stared at him intently, thrilled as his eyes glittered in the dark. Dressed now only in her underwear, she made an alluring image as she fondled him, the light from the passing stars picking up highlights in her hair.
Slowly she undid the closure of his pants and watched as the zip undid itself under the pressure of his straining erection. She gathered the trousers at his hips and pulled them down the length of his legs, pleased when they landed on the floor. She crawled up his body and paused at his groin where she bent low and kissed him forcibly, wetting the fabric of his briefs. In silence he thrust up rubbing himself over her face. She smiled sultrily and slipped her fingers under the waistband. Slowly, centimetre-by-centimetre, she lowered the briefs exposing his throbbing penis bit by bit. She cast a glance up and found him watching her. As their eyes met he licked his lips slowly, making her heart flutter. Once his underwear had found the floor, Beverly returned to his penis and slowly dragged her tongue up the length of the shaft. His hips bucked but still silence reigned.
When she slipped her lips over the head and swirled her tongue around him, she noticed his hands grabbing at the sheets. She released him and slid her body up his. His arms immediately embraced her and his mouth found hers in a searingly passionate kiss.
They parted gasping as his hands deftly rid her of her bra and panties. They lay together, their hands exploring each other until Jean-Luc gently eased Beverly onto her back.
He gazed lovingly into her eyes as his hands moved down her body to dally in the copper curls of her mons. She parted her legs wide and he made himself comfortable between them. He looked down at her moist sex and inhaled her unique scent as his fingers began to trace her outlines. Again he stared at her while he explored her folds. His eyes never leaving hers, he found her entrance and slid first one, then another thick finger into her heated depths before slothfully sliding them in and out.
One of her hands went to her nipples; the other went down and spread her labia for him.
It was a blatantly erotic thing to do and his penis twitched in response, growing harder. His free hand joined hers and together they gently caressed her clitoris.
Beverly's eyes drifted shut and her mouth opened silently. Arching her neck, she pressed her head back into the pillow as her hips undulated in time with his thrusting fingers.
Seeing her so wantonly sexual, so utterly desirable…he could no longer wait. He withdrew his fingers and spent a short moment watching her pleasuring herself before he took her hand and moved it aside. He then took his penis and slid the head through her folds, pushing up and over her swollen clitoris again and again.
Beverly raised her hand and he gripped it, entwining their fingers. He spread his knees, nudging her legs further apart and positioned himself at her opening. Her eyes snapped open and she watched him as he penetrated her slowly, her interior stretching to accommodate him.
When his hips met hers he took their hands and placed them beside her head as he started to slowly thrust. She lifted her head and they met in a deep kiss, their eyes still locked.
With each sliding invasion and retreat, Beverly moved ever closer to her climax. Already very close, she lifted her legs up and over his hips meeting every thrust with a motion of her own. Jean-Luc felt her juices bathing his penis and began to quicken his pace. Time and time again he pulled almost all the way out then plunged back into her quickly sending a shiver of sensation through both their bodies. Her hands left his and gripped his shoulders, gasps beginning to burst from their mouths.
Suddenly Beverly felt the onrush of orgasm. She arched up from the bed and raked her nails down his back, her mouth open in a silent scream. As she pulsed around him he pumped into her furiously sending her over the edge again as he spasmed through his own release. It surged through his body, his heightened senses reaching out and touching Beverly's.
Together they clung to each other, briefly, fleetingly touching each other's soul before collapsing onto the bed panting and gasping.
Later as they lay in each other's arms, Jean-Luc spoke, the first words for a long time.
"Thank you my love."
Beverly nuzzled his neck and sighed happily.
"You're welcome."

 

 

 

 

 

The next day found Jean-Luc once again in the Counsellor's office. He was seated and decidedly uncomfortable.
"Look Counsellor I really don't think…"
"Well I do! Captain please believe me what you're feeling is natural after what you've been through. If you didn't have these feelings I would have cause to worry. Now take some time and centre yourself as I've shown you and think about what you just said."
Jean-Luc sighed and reluctantly closed his eyes, feeling vaguely silly. Nevertheless, he went through the mental exercises Deanna had taught him and felt calmer for it. When he felt ready he spoke.
"When I said I wanted to kill them all, I didn't mean…"
"Yes you did! You're forgetting I can sense your emotions. Your desire to rid the universe of all Borg is understandable, if a little extreme. It is, however, a valid emotion and you shouldn't deny it. It's as much a part of you as anything else you might feel and you're not diminished in any way for feeling it."
"But really Counsellor…genocide?"
Deanna shook her head.
"Captain those feelings encompass much. You aren't just trying to protect yourself, your trying to protect all of us. You know what assimilation is like. You know, above everyone else what that kind of rape is like and you don't ever want anybody else to go through it. I'd say that was a very altruistic thought."
"Still…"
"Captain Picard give yourself a little room to move. Admit to yourself that these feelings are valid and move on. Denying them only sets you back."
He sighed and ran his hands over his head.
"All right Deanna, but I'm not sure we're getting anywhere. Yesterday it was murdering one Borg…now it's wiping out the entire race. I'm not so sure that's an improvement."
Deanna smiled and clasped her hands between her knees.
"Well it is for you, at least you're admitting it. Tell me how are you sleeping?"
He flushed slightly at that, causing Deanna to grin slyly.
"Ah…I'm sleeping quite well actually. With Beverly there…it helps."
"I'm sure it does. Would you like to talk about the pregnancy?"
"I'm not sure it would help."
"How do you feel about it?"
"On a basic level I'm delighted. I never though I would ever have a child…I thought my family line would die out with me and the fact that the child is the product of Beverly and myself is a matter of joy for me…it's just that I'm not so sure I will make a good father, I've had absolutely no experience…"
"What about the Kataan probe? How much do you remember about Meribor and Batai?"
"I have a complete memory of them."
"So why do you think this will be any different?"
"Because this is real."
Deanna stood, went to the replicator and retrieved drinks for them both. Regaining her seat, she blew on the hot Valerian tea.
"Captain your memories of Kataan are real to you. Just because it never really happened doesn't invalidate the experience. I think you know a lot more about being a father than you think."
Jean-Luc looked thoughtfully into his Earl Grey.
"Perhaps Counsellor, perhaps."
"Captain there's something I would like to try…something to do with your recovery, but it may be stressful for you."
"What is it?"
"I'd rather not say right now. Would you meet me at Holodeck Three this afternoon, at about 1400 hours?"
Jean-Luc frowned and hesitated, but demurred.
"As you wish."
"Good, I'll see you there."
Placing his cup on the table, he rose to his feet and looked down at his Counsellor.
"Deanna…I do appreciate everything you do for me."
"I know Captain, I know."
He left her office a feeling of disquiet deep in his belly.

 

 

 

 

At 1145 he turned up at Sick Bay and entered, taking a moment to watch his lover at work. He marvelled at how easily she went about her tasks, always bringing a smile to those around her.
Rousing himself, he wandered over and stood to one side, waiting to gain her attention.
Nurse Alyssa Ogawa saw him and raised her eyebrows at her boss. Frowning, Beverly turned, her frown disappearing to be replaced by a wide smile.
"Hello Captain. What can we do for you?"
He smiled and glanced down at his shoes, marvelling at the fact she could make him feel like a teenager again.
"Actually I was hoping we could have lunch together. I seem to be at a loose end."
"Lunch sounds delightful Jean-Luc. Why don't you wait in my office? I'll be free in a few minutes."
He grinned his agreement and made his way to her office, taking a seat and making himself comfortable. Beverly joined him soon after and together they left Sick Bay.
"Where are we going?"
"Oh the lounge I think."
"Won't it be crowded at this time of day?"
Jean-Luc's feet stopped and he considered her question.
"You know…you're right. Well, where would you like to go?"
Beverly thought for a moment and came up with an idea.
"Why don't we replicate a picnic and go to the Arboretum?"
"Splendid! I can order the staff to give us some privacy…"
"Jean-Luc…that might be better as a suggestion."
"Hmm. Agreed. There should be a replicator in here…"
They entered a utility room and spent some time conjuring up their picnic. Thus armed, they made their way to the ship's Arboretum. Karl Stynes the head Botanist greeted them personally and noted their accoutrements. He led them to a new exhibit area and left them, subtly signalling to his staff to leave them alone.
Jean-Luc spread the blanket at the base of a tree and placed the basket upon it. He and Beverly seated themselves and enjoyed taking out their food and drinks. They ate slowly savouring the delights and lingering over the chilled wine. Beverly propped her back against the tree trunk and invited Jean-Luc to lie with his head in her lap. They had been quietly contemplating their thoughts, Beverly idly stroking his head when he softly spoke.
"Beverly?"
"Mmm?"
"I've been thinking about the baby."
Beverly's hand stilled and she looked down at her best friend and lover.
"And?"
"I think it's going to be all right."
Beverly let out a breath she didn't know she'd been holding. She bent forward and kissed his forehead.
"Thank you my love. What made you come to that?"
He was silent a while then sighed.
"My therapy's helping…I'm getting better at coping with the memories…and Deanna reminded me about Meribor and Batai. I remember being a father to them and I recall the mistakes I made and I realised I've got the chance to do something very few people get to have."
"What's that?"
"Well I can be a better father. As I said I remember the mistakes and I've learned from them. I don't think I'll be likely to repeat them. How many parents get that chance?"
Beverly chuckled and shook her head.
"None that I know of."
"See what I mean?"
He sat up then and looked at her belly.
"Do you know the sex?"
"No."
"When is your next examination?"
"The day after tomorrow."
He scooted up next to her and placed a tender hand on her abdomen.
"Can I be there?"
Beverly's eyes began to fill with tears. She smiled lopsidedly and nodded.
"Of course you can."
Jean-Luc sighed with happiness and leaned in to kiss his love sweetly.
They stayed happily in each other's company for another hour before duty called. Beverly reminded him that she had to return to Sick Bay and together they packed up their picnic. As they exited the Arboretum his hand sought and held hers, shocking Beverly by the overt nature of the gesture.
He returned to his quarters and read for a while, setting his computer to call him at 1345.
This it duly did and he left his cabin and made his way to the Holodeck.

 

 

 

 

 

Deanna was waiting for him as he rounded the corner, her hands behind her back.
"Hello Captain."
"Counsellor."
He looked at the closed doors of the Holodeck and frowned.
"You said this may be…unsettling."
"Yes Sir."
"Very well…let's get on with it shall we?"
Deanna went to the computer interface and called up a programme. The computer bade them entry and they went in, only to see the usual black and yellow grid in the cavernous room. Deanna raised her voice and called,
"Computer run programme Troi Delta Two."
In an instant their surrounds changed to that of the interior of a Borg cube. Jean-Luc gasped and spun around, reeling with the memories that hammered in his head.
"Captain…"
His eyes fell on the Counsellor and he followed her pointing finger. He turned to be confronted by a Borg Drone. He cried out and stepped back, grabbing Deanna's shoulder and pulling her with him. She halted him after a few steps and in a gentle voice, spoke to him.
"It's all right Captain…it can't hurt you."
Jean-Luc, panting and savagely suppressing the urge to flee, looked askance at the Counsellor.
"What the hell is this about?" he hissed.
"This."
Deanna bent and picked up a heavy wooden club from the floor and handed it to the sweating Jean-Luc.
"You have the opportunity to do whatever you want to this drone. Kill it, maim it…smash it to pieces…anything you wish."
Jean-Luc stared at the drone, it's blinking lights and ghastly green pallor so real. He took a hesitant step forward and raised the club. The drone didn't react. He stepped closer and raised the club higher, growling with fury. Then he stopped, frozen in place as he fought the battle in his mind.
Deanna watched silently, a part of her curious to see what he'd do. She was not surprised when he slowly lowered the club and dropped it to the floor. He stepped up to the drone then walked warily around it, inspecting it minutely. When he finished the inspection he turned his back on it, cast a glance at Deanna and called for the arch.
"You're leaving Captain?"
He stopped and turned his head.
"Yes Counsellor. I have better things to do with my time."

 

 

 

 

 

The next day he met with Deanna in her office.
"So Captain, how do you feel?"
He smiled and shook his head.
"Liberated."
Deanna nodded, also smiling.
"You took a large step yesterday, I'm very proud of you. Do you know why you didn't act out your fantasies?"
"Not really…I just knew it wouldn't help…that in the end I had to come to terms with myself, not the Borg."
"Yes. I'm sorry it was so…confrontational, but I think it was necessary."
He shook his head and smiled ruefully.
"You know if you had told me what was waiting for me…I wouldn't have gone in."
"I know, but sometimes we have to face our worse fears in order to conquer them."
"So that's your new counselling technique…confrontation?"
Deanna laughed and stood, bringing the session to an end.
"Well let's just say I'll reserve it for recalcitrant Captains. I'll see you next week."
"Next week? Not tomorrow?"
"No Captain you're well on the road to recovery now."
Jean-Luc left her office feeling like a reprieved man. He tapped his combadge and called Beverly.
"Picard to Crusher."
"Crusher here Captain."
"Beverly I have some good news…"

 

 

 

 

Seven months later Jean-Luc and Beverly were once again in Sick Bay. Beverly was reclining in a birthing chair as Jean-Luc wiped the sweat from her brow. He held tightly to her hand as she grimaced in pain. Selar sat between Beverly's legs, encouraging her.
"One more push Doctor…the head and shoulders have appeared."
Beverly panted and looked up at her concerned partner. She was about to say something to him when another contraction took her.
"Oh God…"
Her back arched and Jean-Luc supported her as the spasm overtook her. She gasped and cried out, her body writhing with effort.
"I have the baby!"
Beverly let out a large breath as the pain subsided and tried to remember to ease her grip on Jean-Luc's hand. She looked up to see him staring at her intently. With her eyes on him she asked Selar…
"What is it?"
"You have a son Doctor. Congratulations to you both."
Selar got to her feet and proffered the bundle to Jean-Luc. He dragged his eyes away from his lover and disengaged his hand from Beverly. Lifting his arms, he took his son and showed him to his mother.
"Hello there little one."
Beverly winced as another contraction took her and Selar went to tend to her needs. Jean-Luc gazed down at his newborn son, tears misting his eyes.
"Welcome aboard Jean-Jacques."