|Waking from the Light
Author: RhyannD PM
TPTB WASTED so many fine opportunities... this is just a little interlude and epilogue to The Inner Light. The Captain and the Doctor, as they should have been. updated only for spelling, grammar & missing wordsRated: Fiction K+ - English - Hurt/Comfort/Romance - B. Crusher & J. Picard - Words: 2,680 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 6 - Follows: 3 - Published: 08-04-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7251850
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Beverly Crusher sat back on her haunches and dropped her head to her knees. Oblivious to the fact that she was still on the bridge, in front of all of the command crew, she closed her eyes and willed herself to breathe.
That was too damn close.
Jean-Luc still lay, unconscious on the floor in front of his command chair. The contents of two med-kits and the trauma kit were strewn over the bridge like refuse. Alyssa Ogawa still knelt next to the Captain, but like the Doctor, she too was concentrating on slowing her breathing. She looked across the Captain's prone form to see her boss. Long red hair fell forward to hide Crusher's expression. Alyssa knew, hell, EVERYONE knew, that the Doctor's feelings for this patient were deeper than either of them were willing to admit.
Everyone knew, it seemed, except the Doctor and the Captain.
Beverly pushed her palms against the unaccustomed pressure of tears for a moment, before gathering herself. Reality intruded, first the sounds, which reminded her where she was... then Will's gentle, big hand on her shoulder. He gripped her, firmly, anchoring her to reality. They had won, for now.
With a sigh that only Deanna and Will could tell was the slightest bit fluttery, she sat up, and resumed her ineffective ministrations.
It was nothing they had figured out, nothing they had accomplished; nonetheless, the beam ended as abruptly as it began. Within seconds the brain wave monitors began chirping and flashing. The Captain moved slightly, the Doctor gently stroked the side of his face, then his head, and he quieted at her touch instantly.
Years of practice had her peripheral vision evaluating the monitors, while her main focus was on the physical patient. The Captain groaned slightly. The Doctor continued her calming, soothing touches. It was not uncommon for her to comfort her patients with touch, in fact that was part of what made her such a good trauma Doctor. But this touch was perhaps as much for herself as for her patient this time.
Jean-Luc felt her hand, the warmth of her touch. As he muddled through the sensations roiling about inside him, he became aware of her scent—how he had missed that scent. It calmed him and soothed him and tickled at his memory... the scent was like fresh clover and green apples and the blossoms of Queen Anne's lace, with the exotic, familiar warmth and sweetness that was so uniquely Beverly... Beverly? But then... it was true... he was Jean-Luc. He WAS Jean-Luc...
For just another moment he rested in the darkness, trying to reconcile where he was. He could hear sounds that triggered memories he'd put far behind him. The low rumble of engines beneath the hard carpeted floor he lay on, the quiet chirps and beeps of computers, the voices of... the voices of his crew.
He felt a soothing, calming, warm touch on the side of his head. A whisper of a caress. A promise.
He could procrastinate no longer, he opened his eyes, to see a worried, beloved set of ocean blue ones looking back at him. He felt her hand move to the side of his face. He raised his own to hold hers there. "Beverly." He whispered, on a breath. She was here. He was here.
"I am Jean-Luc." His normally velvet-on-steel voice was soft. She helped him to sit up, then he proclaimed, certainty growing, "I am on the Enterprise." Will knelt next to him, worry and stress prominent in the usually laughing blue eyes. Deanna was in his peripheral vision, behind Beverly. Data sat at Nav, a perplexed eyebrow raised as he watched the developments in front of him play out.
Was it a dream? "How long?" He implored of his First Officer. It didn't feel like a dream. It felt as solid as this reality. He had felt, touched, loved, lost...
"Twenty, twenty-five minutes."
Twenty five minutes. He had lived... a lifetime. Seen his children grow and seen his grandchild. Buried his wife and his best friend... Twenty five minutes.
He looked around at the bridge with new eyes. He felt like he had been gone for all of that lifetime, everything had changed, and yet nothing was different. Will assisted him on one side while Beverly helped him on the other as he stood. He felt... He wasn't sure how he felt. Physically he felt fine. Mentally...
For once he did not fuss as Dr. Crusher escorted him to sickbay. His mind was still going over and over his experience. It was so real. He tasted, hurt, thirsted, made music... he had loved.
"Can you remember anything?" She asked as she ran her familiar, requisite tests.
He remembered everything. But he had no idea how to voice it yet. He just gave half a negative nod. Her hair was so vibrant, like fire. The artificial lighting of the starship could not do it justice, he had seen her hair alight with copper glimmer in sunlight... Eline's hair had been dark and thick in his hands. From only stolen touches, he knew that Beverly's was fine, like gossamer silk. He clenched his fist to keep himself for reaching for it when she leaned forward to check his pupils with the otoscope.
He realised she had said something to him.
"I'm sorry... what was that?" He tried not to sound doddery. Her left hand rested on his shoulder, while she finished with the lighted scope in her right hand.
"I just said that everything comes up normal on all the scans. I guess I have to release you... but would you humour me?"
Jean-Luck looked at her, really LOOKED at her, and saw the paleness of her skin, her lush lips drawn with stress, the worry in her eyes. How he had missed her. He had *mourned* her. For five long years he had held on to hope that he would somehow get back to his ship, back to her... And then, when he had given in to his new life, he had mourned the loss of her anew, mourned her death, to him.
"Humour you?" he asked, his voice still subuded.
"Would you at least take the rest of this shift off? Will can handle the bridge, and it will be a few hours at least until Data has any information on the probe... "
He reached up his right hand to grasp her left, bringing it down, then encasing it in both of his hands. Savouring the feel of her delicate, long fingers. His thumb brushed against her wrist.
"I'll make you a deal." Beverly squinted slightly at his answer, ready to do battle on this point, "I will take the rest of the shift off, if you will join me for dinner."
She smiled, though it didn't quite reach her eyes. "I would be delighted." Her voice broke ever so slightly, "so I guess that means you are free to go, Captain."
He sat for another moment, looking at her, his thumb absently caressing her wrist. She tried to suppress the shiver that touch sent up her spine, and deep into her womb. She was content to stand there, just to look at him, whole and well and There.
"Well." He reluctantly stood, still holding her hand. "I will just let Will know he has the bridge, and then I will retire to my quarters." With a gentle squeeze, he released her hand. "I'll see you at supper then."
Beverly nodded at him, unwilling to trust her voice.
She stood where she was until Alyssa came through the door, juggling the two med kits and the trauma kit, startling her out of her fugue. Immediately she went to help her head nurse replenish the kits.
By the time the kits were restocked and stored and her initial report on the Captain written, an ensign who had been a little too enthusiastic in the holodeck treated, and a sore throat from the pre-school swabbed for strep, there was only time to write up the rest of her day's reports and upate the logs.
Normally stoic, and in fact, thriving in challenging circumstances, writing the details of the Captain's 20 minutes of unconsciousness brought back the sheer terror she had felt when nothing they could do helped. It was only the fact that Data got the stream from the probe back-or that the probe itself reestablished the link, that saved Jean-Luc's life. A flutter of panic went through her as she relived those moments.
Closing her eyes, she reminded herself he was fine now. That was what mattered. If her heart twisted at the 'what if...' well. Well. They all knew the risks of being on a starship. That the Enterprise routinely searched beyond the known galaxies and made first contacts... the risk was raised exponentially.
She was so exhausted by the time she finished the report, she did not bother going to her own quarters to change, but went straight to the Captain's quarters. She had barely finished pushing the chime when his strong, confident "Come" beckoned.
Before he could get a word out, Beverly said "Humour me," and had the tricorder out. Everything still normal. She noted his casual dress-she loved that moss green shirt on him, his hazel eyes coming close to matching the colour of it... the otoscope came out and she checked his pupil reactin to light, then had him follow the light with just his eyes to evaluate horizontal gaze nastagnus. All seemed perfectly normal. Realising she was just standing there, holding the scope, gazing into his eyes, she stowed it in her pocket, and then shrugged off the lab coat. Jean-Luc assisted, lifting it off her shoulders. She allowed herself a deep sigh, taking in the smell of something delicious and the sight of a carefully set table with a candle in the middle.
The Captain meticulously folded, then laid her coat over the arm of the couch. She smiled, it was headed for the refresher, but such was his habitual discipline.
He then held her chair out for her to sit. "This is lovely Jean-Luc. I should order you off shift more often."
"First of all," he said, pouring a Picard Merlot into each of their glasses, "You did not order me, you asked me. I am less inclined to agree with orders than with asking." The self-depricating grin crinkled the corners of his eyes. He took the covers off the serving dishes, and sat himself. Knowing his strict adherence to manners, she served herself.
"How are you feeling?" She asked while he dished out szechwan greenbeans and beef over white rice. He had chosen the spicy dish because he had missed it for decades, or so it seemed.
"Physically, I'm fine." He paused. She waited for the other shoe to drop. He saw the quickly masked fear in her features, her pupils constricting slightly. Knowing it was Beverly, knowing it was precisely WHY he had asked her here, he went on, "Mentally... emotionally... I have a lot to process."
She chewed slowly, waiting for him, knowing he had to work up to this at his own pace. It was so very difficult for Captain Jean-Luc Picard to speak of any emotions, any weaknesses. Her heart seemed to stop beating until he spoke again.
"I lived... I lived an entire lifetime..." He went on to tell her of the world he'd found himself in, the story they'd had him believe, the journey of several decades he'd made in less than a half-hour.
They had finished eating, napkins resting on empty plates. "I knew... I knew it was wrong. In the beginning I was waiting for Q to show up, or to find a time-space anomaly, or portal or... I just kept waiting for the Enterprise to FIND me... " Beverly's eyes stung with tears, she reached her hand over to cover his where he toyed with the tablecloth. He turned his, palm up, to entwine his fingers with hers.
"It took five years for me to give up. To stop holding out for rescue. To stop hoping." His voice had dropped to a whisper with the last. After a moment, he squeezed her hand, then abruptly got up to clear the table. Beverly assisted, falling into rhythm with him seamlessly.
He poured the last of the wine into their glasses, bringing them over to the low table in front of the couch. He sat, suddenly overwhelmed with weariness.
Beverly sat next to him, facing him sideways, one leg crossed under her. She knew that Data and Geordi had found information in the probe that completely matched Jean-Luc's story. They had somehow instilled the memories of a lifetime, of a culture, of an entire dying planet, into his being in just twenty five minutes. The weight of it, the enormity of it was staggering.
She tentatively reached a hand to touch his arm, feeling warm strong muscles corded under the thin cloth. She didn't know if he wanted her touch. He had told her he had a wife, they had children together... and it seemed it was as real to him as this life was. She was ashamed at the surge of jealousy that curled in her belly, souring dinner. She should not be jealous of a memory, a manufactured experience... but she was.
Jean-Luc looked down at her hand on his arm. Her strong, slim fingers. Fingers that soothed and healed. He thought of what else they could do... he thought of his regrets when he had lost her, his grief when he mourned her.
"Beverly," his voice was low, something just beneath her breastbone clenched at the tone. He raised his own hand to cover hers. "When I thought I had lost this life, when I thought I had lost you..."
"Shhh..." She laid her fingers on his lips, then cradled his jaw in her hand.
Later she would wonder why she had not let him continue. Later she would regret not seizing the moment. But now, her panic was too close to the surface, the precipice of loss she'd balanced on just hours ago too fresh. Her own emotions were too rough. If they talked about this, she would have to admit her jealousy. Would have to admit she wanted to be the one by his side. Would have to ask why he had changed his mind about children. She felt too petty, too selfish and just too afraid.
She wanted more. She wanted it all. She wanted to come home to him at night and wake with him in the morning. She wanted to soothe his stress, and to lose herself in his strength. But she had died a little in those twenty minutes. She just could not admit her weaknesses tonight.
Instead, she just said softly, "I'm here Jean-Luc. You're here. We'll always be here." She knew the last was a lie, but he lifted his arm to the back of the couch, and she moved into the space he made. He gave in to his undeniable urge, and gently sifted her hair through his fingers. If she preened to his touch like a sleepy kitten, he savored it and did not question it.
Both closed their eyes, savoring a lifetime-this lifetime-of deep and abiding love and friendship. Tomorrow, he thought, tomorrow when he had rested and pondered the enormity of his experience... tomorrow they would speak more of this.
And relinquishing some of her fear, the Doctor rested her hand over his heart and drifted to sleep. And cherishing the weight of her against him, the Captain let his weary mind rest in her presence, and drifted to sleep.