Title: Goose and Gander
Author: Whoa Nellie (whoa_nellie40@hotmail.com)
Series: TNG
Rating: R
Codes: P/Vash
Summary: With a little more than a month left until Picard and Vash's wedding day, Riker and LaForge plan a bachelor party for their captain. Not to be outdone, Beverly and Deanna throw Vash a bachelorette party the following week.

Author's notes: This story was first posted to ASC on September 6, 1999, and takes place in Whoa Nellie's "Double Entendre" timeline. This story can stand on its own. This story has been edited down from an NC-17 to an R-rated version for this site. If you are over 18 and prefer to read the original version, it and our other Picard/Vash stories can be found at our website listed on our author's page.

Feel free to archive to any pertinent site.
As always: Paramount owns all the marbles, we just have a lot more fun playing with them.
Feedback is always appreciated - posted or e-mail.

"Jean-Luc, does your staff always brutalize visiting admirals this way or am I a special case?" Admiral Gilbert Raleigh complained good-naturedly as he sank down into the couch in the captain's quarters of the Enterprise E after being the latest victim of the senior staff's weekly poker game.

"Only the ones they like, Gil," Captain Jean-Luc Picard replied as he handed the admiral a drink. Sitting down in the armchair next to the couch, he had to add, "And they really seemed to like you tonight."

Archaeology Councilmember Vash and Commander William Riker cleaned up the last of the poker chips from the table; with the game over, only the four of them were left. Raleigh and Picard had been friends for many years, going back to the academy. Vash glanced over at Picard. With his handsome, chiseled features, steel grey eyes, and sleek muscular build, Jean-Luc Picard was pure masculine virility. The fact that he was bald, except for the closely trimmed grey hair at his temples, only added to his commanding presence. When he spoke, his rich baritone voice and formal delivery resonated with authority. He carried himself with the easy grace of a French aristocrat.

If Picard had the appearance of a French aristocrat, then the very British Raleigh could best be described as an Alfred Doolittle from Pygmalion. Only a few years older than Picard and about the same height, Raleigh was a handsome man with a burly build, dark brown eyes, and a strong square jaw. His thick black hair was just starting to go grey at the temples. He spoke with a heavy British accent, occasionally peppered with a little cockney. Where Picard followed the command track, Raleigh was an engineering specialist who had spent years working on drawing boards and testing prototypes. One of the Federation's most brilliant developmental engineers, Raleigh carried himself with the air of someone about to go play darts at a local pub.

"After all those years as the bachelor ship's captain, I can't believe you're actually getting married," Raleigh sounded slightly amazed. Then Vash caught his eye as she walked across the room toward them. She was wearing a light pink cashmere sweater dress that ended just above the knee. The soft material skimmed the perfect curves of her feminine silhouette. She handed Picard a drink as she gracefully sat herself on the arm of his chair. Raleigh found his eyes lingered on her sheer silk stockings as she crossed her long, shapely legs. As his gaze focused on the delicate features of her face, he corrected himself, "On second thought, looking at the lovely lass, I can believe it."

"Thank you, Admiral," Vash responded with a shy smile as she brushed a stray lock of her shoulder length, brunette hair out of her face.

"You're welcome, and, by the way, they have to call me admiral. You, angel, may call me Gil," the admiral told her with a wink. He turned his attention to Will Riker and remarked with a grin, "Follow your CO's example and stay on the command track, my boy. Women may like a man in uniform, but they throw themselves at the man in the center seat. The galaxy's most beautiful women literally swoon over a starship captain."

"Yes, sir," Riker nodded returning the grin. "I'll remember that Admiral."

"Gil, you've been saying that for years," Picard admonished his old friend. "And to use one of your favorite sayings, it's absolute poppycock."

"Oh really, you and I are both men in our prime, physically fit and very successful in our careers. However, you are the one with the charming lady archaeologist perched on the arm of your chair handing you a drink," Raleigh gestured to Vash. Pulling at his uniform jacket, he ribbed Picard with, "The real kick in the pants is that I bloody outrank you."

"There is no argument, I'm a very lucky man," Picard slipped an arm around Vash's tiny waist, allowing his hand to rest on her hip. "However, I can assure you that commanding a starship does not give one an advantage in the pursuit of the opposite sex." Hearing Vash clear her throat slightly, he looked up to see her nonchalantly studying the ceiling. "I take it you have something to add, Vash?"

"Darling, the fact that you command a starship has nothing to do with our falling in love or our getting married," she told him earnestly. Her blue eyes sparkled impishly as she tried to sound as angelic as possible, "However, it may have had something to do with what happened between us that first night on Risa."

"You're not serious," Picard laughed, his eyes wide with astonishment.

Before she could respond, Raleigh jumped in sounding very amused, "You and Jean-Luc met on Risa?"

"Uh huh," Vash nodded.

"It's not like it sounds, Gil," Picard asserted, suddenly feeling like a little boy caught with his hands in the cookie jar. Risa had a reputation as an interstellar pleasure planet with its very open sexuality.

"My dear, I would love to hear all about how the two of you met," Raleigh said, shooting a humorous glance at Picard.

Riker's grin grew as he chimed in with, "I've waited years to hear this."

"Pull up a chair, junior," the admiral quipped.

"Yes, sir, right away, sir," Riker joked as he pulled one of the chairs from the table over. Spinning the chair around backward, he sat down straddling it, resting his elbows on the back of it.

"Go ahead, ma chere," Picard encouraged, as he glanced up over his shoulder at Vash. "You now have their undivided attention."

"It was a number of years ago. In fact, Jean-Luc had only commanded the Enterprise D for about three years," Vash paused, looking at Picard for confirmation. Seeing him nod, she continued, "I was on Risa after Sam Estergon's death to finish his work on the Tox Uthat. Which, by the way, Jean-Luc destroyed to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. Once again demonstrating why he's the starship captain and I'm the archaeologist."

Riker and Raleigh chuckled. Feigning injury, Picard uttered, "Ouch, what was that for?"

"Just a little target practice," Vash chirped sweetly with a regal toss of her silky, brunette hair. "Anyway, the first time I saw Jean-Luc was in the main lobby of the resort. I was trying to lose Sovak, a slimy little Ferengi, who did some occasional work for Sam. I saw this very handsome man enter the lobby. Not knowing who he was, I grabbed him and kissed him until Sovak wandered off. Then I welcomed the man to Risa and went on my way."

"Oh, the mental picture that creates is just priceless," the admiral crowed.

"We have only begun. It gets better, much better," Vash assured her audience. "A short time later, I was sitting in the sun on the pool side patio when I noticed 'Mr. Very Good Looking' from the lobby was sitting across the patio reading a book. Two things struck me. First, the book he was reading was Ethics, Sophistry and the Alternate Universe by Ving Kuda. Now this is the type of book you force yourself to read five pages from just so that you can reference it in your master's thesis. I wanted to know who would actually read this thing cover to cover, let alone on vacation. The second thing I noticed was that there was a horga'hn sitting out next to him."

"Jean-Luc, a horga'hn?" Raleigh rolled with laughter at the thought of his old friend even possessing the Risan symbol of sexuality.

"I had no idea what it was, and I was certainly unaware that displaying it was a request for . . . companionship," Picard tried, in vain, to defend himself. "Someone had asked me to bring one back as a souvenir."

"Who would . . ." the admiral trailed off as he noted the look that was exchanged between Picard and Riker. "Oh junior, you didn't."

"I wanted to make sure he had a good time," Riker replied.

"You let him live?" the admiral chuckled to Picard.

"Only because he is the finest first officer in the fleet and I didn't want to do the paper work," Picard quipped dryly.

Re-crossing her legs, Vash continued, "So I watched as five different beachbunnies bounced over to offer themselves as . . . companions. And even with all the bouncing, jiggling and giggling going on for his benefit, 'Mr. Very Good-Looking' just kept reading his book. Bunny number five must have told him about the horga'hn because after she left he quickly hid it under his towel."

"Five offers, the most I've ever gotten was three," Riker whistled with amazement.

"Maybe it's a good thing I brought the horga'hn back for you after all, Will," Picard baited his first officer.

"Sweetheart," Riker beseeched Vash to save him, "please go on."

"Well, just after he settled back down with his book, Sovak came up to him. During the brief exchange, I noticed Sovak becoming more and more agitated and 'Mr. Very Good Looking' becoming calmer and colder. I wasn't aware of it at the time, but I was about to see my first glimpse of Captain Picard. Slamming his book shut, he stood up to tower over Sovak with the tightly coiled appearance of a jungle cat. Needless to say, our Ferengi friend beat a hasty retreat. I knew I had to meet this man, so I went up and introduced myself . When I asked him to tell me about himself, he said . . ." Vash paused, a wistful smile played at her lips. In a very good impersonation of her future husband, she finished, "I'm the captain of a Federation starship."

Gil Raleigh fixed his eyes on Picard. "Jean-Luc, my friend, I think this may be the perfect opportunity to settle our debate over the existence of that certain little perk associated with command of a ship. Will you agree to letting your very charming, bride-to-be settle the issue?"

"Agreed," Picard's pride in Vash was evident in his voice and expression.

The admiral looked up at Vash, "Truthfully now, lass, what was your first thought when Jean-Luc told you he commanded a starship?"

"I was already attracted to him," Vash hedged slightly as she toyed with Picard's academy ring, which hung on a gold chain around her neck. With her eyes sparkling mischievously, Vash finally answered, "What the hell? I'm sorry Jean-Luc, but my first thought was . . . Oh yes, just take me now! "

"I guess that settles that," Riker noted.

In response to Picard's raised eyebrow, Vash asserted, "Come on Jean-Luc. It's the modern equivalent of a gallant knight on a charging steed. The image is heroic and very romantic."

"You win, Gil," Picard gave a self-deprecating smile, "I guess if I have to lose an argument, this is a good one to lose."

"So, how long till the big day?" the admiral asked.

Picard lovingly glanced up at Vash as he answered, "Just five weeks."

"Oh, that reminds me, sir," Riker said with a snap of his fingers. "There is something I needed to talk to you and the admiral about."

"Go ahead, Number One," Picard turned his attention back to Riker.

"Geordi and I would like to throw you a bachelor party next Friday," Riker offered with a broad grin.

"What?" Picard asked, taken off-guard.

Vash gently laid her hand on Picard's broad shoulder as she teased, "A bachelor party, darling, where your buddies drag you off for a night of drunken debauchery in a vain attempt to pry you from my evil clutches. You'll have a great time."

Ignoring her joke, Picard leaned back in his chair, "Will, I really appreciate the sentiment . . ."

He broke off as he felt Vash nudge him. As he looked up at her, she gently chided, "Jean-Luc, let them do this for you."

"That kind of carousing was never really my style," Picard persisted.

"Oh really, Captain Straight-Laced," Raleigh chuckled, "Maybe we should go tell that to the Nausicaan who stabbed you during that barroom brawl you started on Starbase Earhart."

"Admiral, I can't thank you enough for reminding me of that incident," Picard sighed.

"All this is why Geordi and I reserved the Zephyrus Club in Tycho City for a private party," Riker explained, very pleased with himself.

"Oh my, how uptown, Will, nice choice," Vash gushed, impressed. The Zephyrus Club was a very posh nightclub on Earth's moon. Designed to resemble a cabaret from Earth's 1940's Big Band era, the Zephyrus was best known for its elegant interior and lavish burlesque-styled shows.

"You know it?" Riker asked.

"Very well, actually," Vash nodded. "Besides Jean-Luc, how can deny yourself the joy of seeing Data at a bachelor party."

"I see your point," Picard quipped dryly.

"So, you'll go, sir?" Riker pressed his Captain.

"I'm looking forward to it," Picard told his first officer with a smile. "It sounds like a very enjoyable evening. Thank you, Will."

"So Commander, what do you need from me?" Raleigh offered pleasantly.

"Geordi and I know everyone to invite from the Enterprise; however, we were hoping you could help us with . . ." Riker trailed off, not quite knowing how to put it.

"The more seasoned officers," Raleigh finished for him. "No problem, lad. I'll have a list for you tomorrow. And let me know if there is anything else I can do to help."

"Thank you, sir." Riker started to get up from his chair. "Goodnight everyone. And trust me, Captain, you're going to have a wonderful time."

"Well, I intend to enjoy mine," Vash stated. Receiving several curious looks, she added, "Beverly and Deanna are throwing a bachelorette party for me the following week."

"Why am I not surprised," Picard sighed.

"Hey, what's good for the goose is good for the gander," Vash quipped.

As Riker reached the door, Picard called, "Number one?"

"Yes, sir?"

Picard eyed his first officer, "You aren't planning to have a stripper at this party?"

"No, sir. As your first officer and best man, I can assure you that there are no plans for a stripper," Riker gasped with mock horror. His eyes sparkled as he gave Picard a huge grin, "The plans are for several strippers and a few dancing girls too."

With that parting shot, Riker was gone. As the door slid shut behind him, Raleigh sighed contentedly, "Sounds like a bloody good time if you ask me."

"Strippers and dancing girls," Picard muttered, "I still haven't gotten even with him for that damn horga'hn."

Moving from her perch on the arm of Picard's chair, Vash picked up her pet cat, Charcoal, and began to pace the room. Lost in thought, she stroked the black fur of the small animal. Finally, she turned to face Picard, "Jean-Luc, does Will know about the job I had as an undergraduate?"

"No, you asked me not to tell him or anyone else; although, I'd like to see his face if he ever found out." Amusement lit Picard's eyes at the very thought.

"I've thought of the most wonderful, wicked way for you to even the score with Will," Vash smiled devilishly at Picard. "Instead of telling him, how would you like to show him?"

"Show him? What are you two talking about?" Raleigh looked from one to the other, confused.

"Brace yourself, Gil," Picard quipped. Turning to Vash, he continued conspiratorially, "All right, petite amie. What is your plan?"

Carefully, Vash laid out all the details of her entire plan for the two men. When she was finished, she coyly glanced from one man to the other, "Well?"

The admiral regarded Picard, his expression and tone were full of admiration. "It's sheer brilliance. With the element of surprise involved here, our poor boy won't know what hit him."

"I agree, it's marvelous," Picard nodded, his voice full of pride, "I told you, Gil, I watched this woman beat a Ferengi at his own game."

"Jean-Luc, are you absolutely sure about this?" Vash asked, sounding slightly hesitant as she let the cat down. "I don't want to interfere, after all, this is your bachelor party, your night."

"Yes, ma chere, I'm sure." Picard stood up to face her. Pressing quick kiss to her forehead, he assured her, "It's my night and I can't think of a more delightful way to top it off."

"Well, its getting late, I'd better shove off." The admiral got up from the couch and straightened his uniform. "Jean-Luc, thank you for an entertaining evening and keep me advised about this little scheme."

"Of course, Gil," Picard responded with a smile.

Raleigh took Vash's hands in his, "It's been a real pleasure, lass. You're a remarkable young woman, and if flyboy here ever forgets that, you can always come see me. Don't forget, I do have more brass than he does." The admiral leaned toward Vash and in a mock whisper continued, "In more ways than one."

"I'll keep that in mind, thank you, sir," Vash replied flirtatiously.

"Goodnight, Gil," Picard offered with mock annoyance as he walked the Admiral to the door.

"Goodnight, Jean-Luc," the admiral chuckled as he walked out the door.

After the door slid shut, Picard turned to Vash and noted with amusement, "Vash, I'm beginning to believe you could charm a snake out of his skin."

"Possibly," Vash's eyes sparkled impishly as she seemed to consider it. "Although, I doubt it would be as much fun as charming the flagship captain out of his pants, which we both know I'm capable of."

"I supposed I walked right into that," Picard rolled his eyes.

"It might help if you didn't make it quite so easy," Vash giggled.

"That was a very engaging re-telling of the events leading up to how we met." Picard walked across the room to her. "May I assume that it has been shared with most of the women on this ship."

"That would be a pretty safe assumption," she responded with just a touch of bravado as she smiled up at him, tracing along the waistband of his uniform. Playfully walking her fingers up his torso, she began, "We need to have a little discussion about this impetuous youth that was mentioned earlier." With both hands resting flat against the muscular wall of his chest, she pushed him backward until he bumped against the couch. As he fell backward onto the couch, she straddled his thighs. Drumming her fingertips against his chest, she arched an eyebrow, "What's this about you intentionally picking that fight with those three Nausicaans on Starbase Earhart?"

"I . . .well . . . uh," Picard stammered as he furiously searched for an rational explanation. The first problem was that, frankly, there wasn't a rational explanation. The second problem was Vash's current position. With Vash straddling him, the hemline of her dress had risen to a very precarious level to say the least. He felt no man should be expected to think rationally under such duress. His hands moved to caress the sheer silk stockings that covered her thighs as he started to explain, "It was a long time ago and I was fresh out of the academy, very full of myself and fairly inexperienced . . ."

"Jean-Luc," Vash interrupted as her arms slid around his neck and she brought her face to his.

"Ma chere," he breathed, totally distracted by her closeness.

"Shut up," Vash chided softly just before claiming his lips with hers in a passionately heated kiss.

..........................................

Picard had to admit that his first officer had outdone himself this time. The Zephyrus Club's large, private, party room had the appearance of a Gentlemen's club that could have been lifted from the pages of one of Picard's favorite Dixon Hill novels. The walls were covered in a dark wood paneling accented with deep burgundy drapes and carpeting. The heavy mahogany furniture was upholstered in rich leather. A very talented bartender stood behind the long, fully stocked bar that stretched the length of one entire wall. There was a table set up for poker and three old-style billiard/pool tables. The two main tables were set up in front of the stage at the opposite end of the room from the bar.

As Picard mingled with the two dozen or so guests, he found he was really enjoying himself; with only a few exceptions, almost everyone there was a Starfleet officer. He was surprised that so many of them had managed to attend, considering the vast distances and busy schedules involved. He had spent most of the evening reminiscing with friends he hadn't seen in sometime. Picard smiled as he overheard Geordi La Forge joking to Gil Raleigh that there was probably enough brass in the room for an all-brass marching band. Gil had joked back that at least another full commander would be needed for that. In actuality, there wasn't a uniform to be seen in the room.

Picard made his way over to Captain Chris Bradford and Captain Flint Hadley. Both were married men who had known Picard for many years. Picard's choice of outfit, a casual fitting, blue-grey silk shirt with a deep V neckline and tan trousers, became the topic of conversation.

"She picked it out, didn't she?" Bradford asked knowingly.

"I don't see where it matters, but yes, Vash suggested the outfit," Picard answered, bemused.

Hadley smiled at Bradford, "I told you when he finally fell, it would be fast. The wedding is only a formality. He's a husband, all right."

Bradford nodded and clapped Picard on the shoulder, "Welcome to our little group, Jean-Luc, the few, the proud, the henpecked."

"Chris, I really don't think you could consider any man in here henpecked," Picard replied.

"Oh no?" Bradford quipped, "See if this little scenario sounds at all familiar. I'm getting ready for a very early shift on the bridge where I'll be dealing with the Breen. As I reach in the closet for my red uniform jacket, my beloved, who I thought was asleep, says rather bluntly, 'Not that one, dear. You're dealing with the Breen here, wear the grey and black uniform with the crimson turtleneck. The dark colors will be much more intimidating.'"

"I have to admit, it has a familiar ring to it." The look of recognition on Picard's face was undeniable as several similar situations went through his mind.

"You both still get to try to pick out your uniforms? Gentlemen, I'm impressed," Hadley chimed in. "My wife has been laying out my uniform every morning for the past ten years. I'm convinced the woman knows my orders even before H.Q. does."

"You're a grown man, Flint, you can't be serious," Picard chuckled.

Flint smiled, "Tell me, Jean-Luc, when you hand the bridge over to Will, leaving him to complete some piece of ship's business, do you even give it a second thought?"

"Of course not, Will has been my first officer for over a decade," Picard answered.

"Well, my friend, now you have two first officers," Flint explained, "Will is your ship's first officer and Vash is your life's first officer. Trust me, it will become second nature to let her handle certain details."

"And become the 'friendly, approachable, face of command in social situations,'" Picard quoted.

"Very eloquently put," Bradford said, sounding impressed.

"It was Vash's description," Picard admitted with a proud smile.

"Sounds to me like the lady knows her job," Bradford noted. With a chuckle, he tilted his head toward the poker table. "Jean-Luc, look over at your second officer."

Picard glanced in Data's direction. Dressed in a casual, light-brown sweater and matching trousers, Data sat at the poker table with a cigar hanging from his mouth and a vodka martini in front of him. He was shuffling a deck of cards with the flair of a Las Vegas blackjack dealer. The cigar came from one of the several boxes of replicated 'hand-rolled Havana's' placed on the two main tables. Also on the main tables were a couple of bottles of Romulan ale. Picard didn't know where they came from and he really didn't care to know. Of course, with ten admirals, six starship captains, and assorted commanders in attendance, who in their right mind would raid the place for a few bottles of contraband? Picard turned back to Bradford, "Chris, the only thing I know that surpasses the speed of Data's positronic brain is his enthusiasm. If you'll excuse me, gentlemen." With that, Picard started to make his way toward the main tables.

"Having a good time?" Will Riker asked as Picard finally reached the main tables.

"Yes, Will, thank you," Picard answered as he took his seat between Riker and Gil Raleigh. Data, Geordi, and Worf all took seats on the other side of Riker.

"Good," Riker grinned as he handed Picard a cigar, "Because it's about to get even better."

"Will, you're incorrigible," Picard said between puffs as he lit his cigar.

"So's your bride," chuckled Professor Clarktown of the Archaeology Council, one of the few people present who was not a Starfleet officer.

"I take it, Professor, you've known Vash for quite a while," Gil guessed as he handed Clarktown a glass of Romulan ale.

Clarktown took his glass. "Thank you; yes, ever since she was a freshman in my Archaeology 101 class." After taking a long drink, he continued, "Years later, after she received several doctorates, she joined the council. A short time after that, I just gave up trying to reprimand her for her various escapades. What could I do? Vash would listen to my diatribes with the sweetest smile on her face, batting those huge, blue eyes at me, she would give me this innocent 'Who me?' look. And before I knew it, she would be off doing precisely whatever it was she wanted to do in the first place. The problem was she always managed to turn up the most impressive finds. She's one of the most gifted field archaeologists I've ever seen."

Raleigh smiled, "That sounds like a very spirited filly."

"I'm getting too old for this," Clarktown quipped, "Life on the Enterprise has tamed her slightly. I'm hoping marriage to the good captain here will rein her in the rest of the way."

"To stay with the analogy," Picard commented wryly. "I'd only end up bucked off at a full gallop for my effort."

"Does the lady throw you out of the saddle very often, Jean-Luc?" Admiral Stuart Bernard deadpanned from the other side of the table.

Before Picard could find a suitable retort, his attention was drawn over to Geordi laughing. Picard raised an eyebrow at his chief engineer, "Geordi."

"Oh come on, I may have thought it, but I didn't say it," La Forge replied, still laughing. "Do I at least get points for not saying it."

"Only a few," Picard said as he accepted a glass of Aldebaran whiskey from a waitress.

Picard was talking to Clarktown about one of the more recent digs on Kurlan when the first stripper appeared on the stage. A very statuesque blond strutted out to center stage. Her voluptuous curves were tightly wrapped in a black sequined gown with bright red satin gloves and a red feather boa finishing off her costume. As she began a slow bump and grind striptease to the composition *The Stripper*, Picard caught Will Riker gleefully grinning at him out of the corner of his eye. For a moment, the captain rather dispassionately watched the stripper. The young lady was certainly pretty and a fairly good dancer, but Picard had seen better bump and grinds, fairly recently actually. He turned his attention back to his conversation with Professor Clarktown.

'All right, Captain, the blond bombshell isn't the only thing in my arsenal,' Riker thought to himself resolutely as he watched Picard, seemingly unimpressed by the stripper, resume his conversation with Clarktown. 'Eventually, we will stumble onto something that suits your tastes.' The captain's self-control was quite literally the stuff legends were made of. Riker greatly respected Picard's cool composure and had learned from it; however, on rare occasions, Riker took almost a boyish delight in seeing if he could surprise his friend and catch him off guard, if only for a moment. Leaning back in his chair, Riker enjoyed the rest of the blonde's performance. He was mildly disappointed when, after the stripper threw her gloves and feather boa into the audience, the gloves fell onto Raleigh's lap and her boa fell on Data. Riker would have paid dearly for any one of those items to have landed on Picard. However, Data and Raleigh seemed delighted at the events.

The second stripper was a very buxom brunette dressed in a French-style Can Can costume and doing a rather erotic version of the Can Can. Still, Riker saw absolutely no reaction from Picard. The third stripper was a tall, willowy, red-head whose generous curves nearly spilled out of her very skimpy 'French maid's' outfit. Her shapely legs were covered with fishnet stockings and she wore five inch, stiletto-heeled shoes. As she shimmied her way across the stage to the beat of the music, she would bend over provocatively to dust imaginary objects with her duster. Picard leaned over to Riker with long-suffering exasperation in his voice, "Will, I've spent a great deal of time in France and have seen my fair share of French women. I hate to break it to you, but they don't dress that way."

"Killjoy," Riker retorted with a chuckle.

Just then a waitress came up and handed Picard a small folded note. The captain smiled as he read the one word message, 'Engage.' He looked up, "Geordi, could you do me a favor?"

"Of course, sir."

"A couple of cases of Chardonnay have just arrived and are in the front lobby. There should be one bottle for everyone here. Could you please check it for me and bring them in?" Picard asked.

"Chardonnay?" Riker raised an eyebrow, "That's pretty extravagant."

"Not when you own the vineyard, Will. Data," Picard glanced over to see the android currently had the feather boa around his neck and was playing with the ends of it. With a chuckle, Picard chastised, "Data, put that ridiculous thing down and go help Geordi with the cases of wine."

"Yes, sir," Data replied as he put down the boa and followed Geordi out of the room.

Out in the front lobby, Geordi and Data were checking out the cases of wine when they heard the familiar voice of Doctor Beverly Crusher quietly whisper from behind them, "Hello, gentlemen."

Both of them turned. Geordi gasped, "Doc, what are you doing here?"

"Shhhh! Not so loud." Beverly whispered, "Jean-Luc knows I'm here. He has a little surprise planned for Will."

Geordi smiled, "But why tell us?"

"Because you two are the only ones in the room capable of accidentally springing the surprise before its proper time," Beverly explained, somewhat cryptically. "All you two have to do is sit tight and play along."

"Captain Picard, our Captain Picard, is going to play a practical joke?" Geordi gasped in awe. "Oh now this I've got to see."

"It's a beaut, boys," Beverly giggled. "I think Jean-Luc has been biding his time ever since that little horga'hn incident on Risa. Poor Will won't know what hit him."

"We're in," Geordi said, as he and Data exchanged grins.

"Trust me, it will be well worth it," Beverly assured them with a knowing smile. "Now go on. Take the wine in before anyone gets suspicious."

"Thank you, gentlemen," Picard offered as Geordi and Data sat back down after distributing the bottles of wine.

"You're welcome, sir," Geordi answered, "It was our pleasure."

Picard lit a cigar, and settled back into his chair. Contentedly, he thought to himself, 'The game's afoot.'

After two more dancing girls performed, the last dancing girl came on stage. As the strains of an exotic Arabian composition filled the room, a brunette with a delicate frame and flawless, ivory skin began a slow, seductive belly dance. Her perfect curves were clad in a bright, teal-blue, harem girl costume with silver trim. At the center of her generous cleavage lay a silver clasp that highlighted her teal-blue, sequined brassiere-style top. Her long, shapely legs were showcased in very sheer, blue chiffon harem pants that were accented with brightly sequined cuffs around her slender ankles and silver high-heeled shoes. The sequined bikini-style yoke of the pants rode very low on her hips. As she danced, her slim waist and flat stomach undulated to the beat of the music causing the large blue gemstone in her navel to sparkle under the stage lights. An opaque, blue scarf covered the entire lower half of her face. The scarf attached to the sides of her Egyptian-style headpiece, a cap made of silver chains with blue beads accenting it. From beneath her headpiece, her silky brunette hair fell in glamorous curls to her bare midriff.

Without any pretense, Picard allowed his eyes to travel hungrily over the vision of feminine perfection in front of him. He openly admired her curvaceous silhouette as she danced for him. Sitting forward slightly, he threw back his drink, finishing the whiskey in one swallow. As she beckoned to him with enticing movements of her arms, he answered with a small wolfish smile.

'Yes! Sensors detect a direct hit!' Riker thought to himself with a huge victorious grin as he observed Picard's reaction to the belly dancer. He was slightly startled by the way Picard was able to finish the Aldebaran whiskey in one smooth gulp; Aldebaran whiskey was pretty powerful stuff. The first officer looked over at the 'harem girl' who had managed to capture the captain's full attention. Riker found himself transfixed by the sight of her lithe, delicate frame moving with effortless grace as she performed her alluring dance. Her hair fell past her shoulders in a silky cascade of curls that drew attention to the full curves of her breasts, her tiny waist and the feminine flair of her hips. Noticing how her long, shapely legs seemed to go on for light-years, Riker had to admit that he liked his CO's taste.

Across the table from Picard and Riker, Geordi leaned into Data and whispered, "Oh my God! She's . . ."

"Impressive, most impressive," Data finished under his breath as Geordi trailed off, speechless.

"That's putting it mildly," Geordi answered with admiration in his voice as the dancing girl on stage turned her back to them. She showed amazing agility as she bent over backward to look out at her audience, giving a breathtaking view of the lush cleavage that threatened to spill out of her sequined brassiere. With a smile, La Forge added, "We should enjoy this while it lasts. Somehow, I think this is a one shot deal and I doubt we'll ever be graced with an encore performance."

"Agreed," Data replied as he returned the smile.

Without missing a beat, the belly dancer straightened up and spun back around to face her audience. As her body swayed enticingly to the music, Picard allowed his gaze to sweep over her until his eyes locked with hers. His eyes never leaving hers, Picard puffed on his cigar and pushed his chair out from the table. He leaned back, making himself very comfortable in his chair. Arching an eyebrow in a silent invitation, Picard briefly took the cigar out of his mouth and casually blew a perfect smoke ring.

From over her blue scarf, Vash coyly fluttered her eyelashes at him, accepting his invitation. As she continued her traditional belly dance and gradually made her way off the stage, she noticed a few reactions from the audience. Geordi and Data were just too funny, watching her like a couple of shy, but very interested, schoolboys. From the amused expression on his face, it was fairly obvious that Clarktown knew who she was. Completely clueless, Will spent half the time making eyes at her as she danced and the other half grinning smugly in Jean-Luc's direction. She knew that smug smile was about to disappear. Leaned back in his chair, Jean-Luc gave an outward appearance of casual indulgence. However, as her gaze locked with his, she could see the intensity in his steel-grey eyes. Vash felt an answering surge of arousal in response to the carnal heat contained in Jean-Luc's eyes. As Vash began to slowly, lasciviously, dance around his chair, the very idea of this public foreplay sent a highly charged, erotic thrill coursing through her.

With a slightly bewildered expression, Riker watched as the beauty danced around Picard like a prized concubine entertaining her sultan. Noting Picard's obvious delight, the first officer began to wonder just how much whiskey the captain had had to drink that evening. Riker really hadn't paid any attention. After all, he'd known Picard for over a decade and had never seen him even the slightest bit tipsy, let alone drunk.

Vash knew what she had planned next would most likely panic Riker and it would also mercilessly tease Jean-Luc. She had to admit trying to actually nudge Jean-Luc's incredible self-control was half the fun of this little game. As the concluding strains of the Arabian composition swirled through the room, Vash slowly sunk to her knees at Jean-Luc's feet. Bending over backward until her head just brushed the floor, she arched her body toward the starship captain, surrendering herself to him in a timeless fashion.

As always, Vash's dancing had sent Picard's libido and his imagination racing at warp nine. The sight of her now sprawled so invitingly in front of him drove his need up to an almost unbearable level. Deciding he would definitely take her up on the offer later, Picard reached down and helped the beautiful woman up to her feet. As his eyes greedily traced every curve of her feminine silhouette, he gently pulled her down to sit on his lap. As Vash settled herself against him, Picard slipped his arm around her bare midriff, enjoying the feel of her soft, satiny skin. He began toying with the heavy, silken mass of curls that caressed her waist. With his free hand, he held his cigar.

There were a few startled glances from the more seasoned officers. But they relaxed as they saw that Raleigh seemed amused and completely unruffled, as did Vash's mentor, Professor Clarktown. William Riker was completely flabbergasted by the sight of his soon-to-be married CO sitting there with a dancing girl on his lap. Riker was so stunned that he didn't even notice the looks of amusement on the faces of Raleigh, Data, Geordi, and Clarktown.

Sitting on Picard's lap, Vash ran her hands up over the muscular expanse of his chest to rest on his broad shoulders. Her senses stirred at the warmth of his strong hand sliding over the bare skin of her waist. The way he was playing with the curls in her hair was driving her to distraction. Vash studied the handsome, chiseled features of Jean-Luc's face and the firm set of his mouth. Suddenly hungry for his kiss, she found herself daydreaming about his lips, firm but pliant, pressed against hers. Slipping one arm around his neck, her other hand leisurely traced along the deep V-neckline of his shirt. Fascinated by the strength of the muscles beneath her fingertips, her fingers strayed more and more from the neckline of his shirt to his bare chest. Leaning into him, she closed her eyes and nuzzled his neck. She delighted in the clean, masculine scent of his aftershave and the feel of the hard length of his body beneath hers. His arm tightened around her waist, pulling her even closer. Her excitement fed off his as Jean-Luc freely gave into impulses that he would have normally curbed severely in public.

"Well Captain," Clarktown chuckled, "You have to admit . . . it's good to be the king."

Picard looked over at Clarktown, his voice was a little huskier than normal as he replied, "You're damn right."

Vash took the momentary interruption to try and rein in her increasing desires. She glanced over at Riker. Smiling behind her scarf, Vash realized Will had gone right past panicked and was now next door to hysterical.

"Geordi," Riker sputtered under his breath as he leaned over to the engineer. "Just how much has the Captain had to drink?"

"I don't know," Geordi answered with a calm smile. "He seems sober enough to me."

"Sober? Are you kidding?" Riker hissed, "Look at him!"

"Looks like he's having a great time," Geordi offered pleasantly.

"If Vash finds out about this, she will kill him!" Riker exclaimed, frustrated that Geordi just wasn't seeing the obvious problem.

Unable to help himself, Geordi cheerfully remarked to his friend, "Well then, I guess that will make you the captain."

Riker pulled at his beard apprehensively, "She'll kill me too! "

"And that will make me the captain," Data quipped with a smile.

Riker rolled his eyes and ran his hand through his hair in nervous exasperation. Riker's heart leapt into his throat as he heard Admiral Raleigh voice, "For God's sake, Picard, take the wench and get a room, will ya?"

Picard looked over at Raleigh "Know of one that's available, Gil?"

"Sure do. Here, catch," Raleigh replied with a huge grin as he tossed Picard a security key-card. Picard reached up and caught the card in midair as Raleigh added, "Starfleet Command's penthouse here in Tycho city is not being used at the moment. Enjoy."

"No no no no no . . ." Riker intoned under his breath, things had gotten desperately out of hand.

Out of the corner of his eye, Picard could see that Riker looked about ready to hyperventilate. Picard had seen Crusher's report on Will's latest physical, so he knew his first officer was in no real danger of heart failure. With unmitigated glee, he decided to bait Will just a little further. Picard stood up, lifting Vash in his arms, "Come along, my pretty little thing, let's find out if you do more than dance."

Hearing Picard's very uncharacteristic response, Riker almost choked. His alarm was evident in his voice as he stood up and whispered, "Geordi, we have to stop him."

"No, you have to stop him," Geordi corrected good-naturedly. Seeing Riker's complete panic, he couldn't help but continue, "Decisions, decisions. Let's see, stop the captain from bedding a woman he fancies or face Vash and become the first gelding in Starfleet. Whoa! Been nice knowing you, Commander."

As Picard carried her in his arms, Vash buried her face into the curve of his neck to smother the giggles that shook her tiny frame. Swaggering about three steps toward the door, Picard whispered so that only she could hear, "I think it's time." Vash nodded. Picard turned back around, "Oh Will,"

"Yes," Riker managed to choke out as Picard walked toward him.

"Remember that little horga'hn incident on Risa?" Picard asked as he gently set Vash down on her feet.

Riker could only nod as the bellydancer slowly sauntered up to him.

Vash gazed up at the handsome first officer. Batting her eyelashes, she pulled off the scarf covering her face and flirtatiously cooed, "Gottcha."

"Vash! Oh thank God!" Riker exclaimed with relief as he collapsed into his chair. 'The belly dancer was Vash,' Riker thought to himself . Right on the heels of that thought came, 'The hot little number who just did that steamy, erotic belly dance was Vash, the soon-to-be Mrs. Jean-Luc Picard. Holy shit!' Riker had always found Vash to be a fascinating lady with a vivacious personality. She was a brilliant scientist, not to mention an incredibly attractive woman. Never, even in his wildest fantasies, had he ever imagined her as such a sultry seductress. Looking up at her in total shock, he gasped, "Vash."

"That's right." Vash gently patted his shoulder, by this point the entire room was laughing.

Still in shock, Riker turned to gape at Picard. The dumfounded expression on Riker's face finally broke Picard. The captain collapsed in his chair, practically doubled over with laughter. Looking up with tears streaming down his face, Picard managed to gasp, "Oh Gil, did you see his face?"

"It wasn't just his face," Gil Raleigh replied in a fit of laughter. "When you started to carry her off, I really thought poor junior here was going to go apoplectic."

"I suppose I had this coming," Riker admitted good-naturedly as he began chuckling. Looking around the room, he asked, "Did everyone but me know about this?"

"Not at all," Vash reassured him as she slid into his lap and fluttered her eyelashes at him. Sounding as sweet and innocent as possible, she continued, "Just myself, Beverly, Deanna, Jean-Luc and Gil. For obvious reasons, at the last minute, we had to let Geordi and Data know something was going on. Clarktown figured it out on his own, though."

Holding up his glass to Picard in a mock toast, Captain Flint Hadely joked, "And that little display of cunning, gentlemen, is why Picard commands the flagship."

"Not so fast, boys," Clarktown interrupted the here-heres. "I would lay money this wasn't the good Captain's idea."

"Oh really," Riker looked over as he quipped, "Just who do you think I should thank for my recent near-death experience?"

"I'd start with that little vixen perched on your lap. This has her name written all over it!" Clarktown chuckled. "After all, she spent the last two years while she was an undergraduate working at this very club as a burlesque-style striptease dancer."

Riker regarded Vash totally amazed, "You really worked here as a striptease dancer?"

Vash nodded, trying her best to appear contrite. Before she could respond, Clarktown spoke up again, sounding enthusiastic, "I caught a few of her performances. Vash was one of the best dancers they've ever had. She embodied the tease in striptease. She even had a real catchy stage name. Oh now, what was it? Something like, Fiery Flower . . ."

"The name was Blaze Rose, I chose to name myself after two of the most famous strippers in history, Gypsy Rose Lee and Blaze Starr." Vash offered. She added demurely, "But, thank you for the compliment. I wasn't aware that you had seen me perform."

"You were a very impetuous young lady. Estragon and I wanted to make sure you hadn't gotten in over your head, so we came to check it out," Clarktown confessed. "Once we realized that the only place that had more Starfleet roaming about than the moon was San Francisco itself, we relaxed and figured that even you couldn't get into too much trouble. By the way, your hair was the biggest giveaway tonight. I haven't seen you wear it that way since your days as an undergraduate."

"It's not a real practical style for field work, but the Enterprise has the most talented hairstylist named Mr. Mot. He puts these hair extensions in for me on certain special occasions and only a trained stylist could tell they were extensions." Vash gave a slight toss of her long glamorous curls. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught Jean-Luc's brief playful glance. The aforementioned special occasions had been the private performances she had given the Enterprise's captain.

Feigning insult, Riker regarded the pretty woman seated on his lap, "So, you were behind this whole thing?"

"I'm sorry, Will, but you looked so smug when you told Jean-Luc about the strippers. It was soooo easy and you were just too tempting a target to pass up," Vash confessed sweetly. She decided it was time to really turn on the charm. Reaching up to toy with his beard, she fluttered her eyelashes and cooed at the tall, dark, and handsome first officer, "Will my number one champion please forgive me?"

"Of course you're forgiven," Riker told her, grinning at how she had managed to appropriate the moniker Picard had given him for her own purposes. Placing a quick kiss on her forehead, he teased, "Her Majesty leaves a man very little choice. Are there any other hidden talents we should be aware of?"

"She sings too," Clarktown noted.

"Really?" Raleigh asked with a smile.

"Like a lark," Picard boasted proudly. Vash flushed slightly at the praise.

Riker looked over at Picard, who had calmed down to just an occasional chuckle. "You're really enjoying this, aren't you?"

"Considering that you are the same first officer who conned me into buying a horga'hn because you considered it highly implausible that I would actually be able to procure such female companionship on my own," Picard quipped, relishing Riker's rather sheepish expression. Hearing a few of his fellow ship's captains chuckling in the background, he continued, "I must admit, the chance to see your face when you realized that not only had I managed to find such companionship, without your assistance, but that the incredibly sexy woman in question was also a talented striptease queen was just to good to pass up."

"May I now consider myself properly chastised?" Riker offered with a rueful smile.

"Probably," Picard answered, rather pleased with himself.

Looking over at Worf, Riker asked, "Did you know about this?"

"I'm sure, he did," Vash giggled. "I'd bet when she got home that evening, Deanna first words were, 'Guess what?'"

"I was forbidden to speak of it," Worf said with a slight smile. Catching a few curious glances from some of the other ships' officers, The large Klingon explained, "The women on the Enterprise can be quite . . . . .formidable."

"We do pride ourselves on that," Vash offered in agreement from her perch on Riker's lap.

"And on that note," Riker began, effortlessly lifting the tiny woman into his arms as he stood up. Carrying her a few steps over to where Picard was sitting, Riker unceremoniously deposited her onto the captain's lap. "I believe that this is yours, sir."

"Thank you," Picard answered as Vash settled herself back into his lap.

"I can't believe this," Riker muttered to himself as he walked back to his own chair.

With a slight wiggle, Vash lamented, "Jean-Luc, you're going to have to help me get this damn stone out of my belly-button later. It's stuck and it itches."

"It will be my pleasure, ma chere," Picard replied suavely.

"It would serve him right if he choked on it," Riker grumbled softly as he sat down.

Raising an eyebrow, Picard retorted, "I never have before."

"I really don't want to know," Riker shook his head. He glanced over at Geordi, "However, all this does go a long way in explaining that certain walk of hers."

"It does," Geordi nodded with a smile.

"Walk?" Vash sounded slightly baffled, but immediately realized what Riker was referring to. Knowing Jean-Luc was a bit of a leg man, there was a particular gait she used whenever she wanted to capture his attention. Obviously, it had been noticed by a number of other gentlemen onboard. "Oh, that walk."

"The stripper strut," Picard chuckled knowingly as he wrapped his fingers in the silky curls of her long hair.

"Must be something if he's named it," Captain Hadley joked.

"It's one her favorite ploys to attract my attention," Picard explained.

"It works. It's what we in archaeology call a field expedient measure," Vash teased. "Besides, in most cases 'the leg' would be just a little over the top."

"Okay, I'll bite," Geordi remarked, "The leg?"

"I have to show them," Vash looked at Picard. "They will continue to harass me until I tell them and then they won't believe me when I do."

Picard sighed as Vash slid gracefully out of his lap. Gesturing to her audience, she crooked a finger and gave a Cheshire-cat smile. "Gentlemen, for my next trick I will need assistance from the audience. Commander Data, front and center." Beckoning to Data, she motioned him to stand in front of her.

Looking as nervous as an android could, Data tugged on his sweater as he waited to see what Vash wanted to do to him and hoping his captain was mellow enough to not deactivate him for it. Vash moved to stand just in front of him. As she splayed her hands on his chest for balance, her left leg came up in a large arcing fan kick, her slender ankle landing gently on his right shoulder. Standing on one leg, Vash was doing a complete split down the length of Data's body. Whispering instructions to Data, she had him back up around in a circle amidst the onlookers to end right in front of a very open-mouthed Riker. Whispering more instructions to Data, she had him hold her waist as she bent backward, her leg still on his shoulder, to brush her head against the floor. Straightening back up, she had Data hold his right arm out slightly. Her leg slowly slid down his arm and to the floor, until she was once again standing normally.

"Limber little minx, isn't she?" Gil Raleigh noted to no one in particular.

"I wish to assure you, sir, that I took the precaution of deactivating my emotion chip so that I could in no way enjoy this experience. If you wish me to delete this from my memory banks, I will see to it at once. Please do not deactivate me, I would find that most unpleasant," Data quickly interjected to Picard.

"It's all right, Mr. Data. It's quite clear who the instigator was; you were just a prop for her demonstration. Feel free to leave the experience in your memory banks," Picard assured him. Turning to his fiancee', he kissed her forehead, "beautiful and impressive, as always."

"I try, dear," Vash said, entwining her arm through his.

"Jean-Luc," Gil interrupted, "I took the liberty of actually preparing the penthouse for you and Vash to stay in tonight. Enjoy yourself, my friend."

"Thank you, Gil," Picard smiled and then turned to Riker, "And thank you, Will,
everyone. I really appreciate everything you did. It was a very pleasant evening."

"You're welcome, sir," Riker said with that familiar good-natured glint in his eyes.

Picard reached in his shirt pocket and tapped his communicator, "Picard to Enterprise"

"Enterprise here, sir," came Deanna Troi's voice.

"Counselor, I'd like a site-to-site transport for two from my coordinates to Starfleet's Tycho city penthouse."

"It will be just a few moments, sir," Troi's replied. "Oh, Captain?"

"Yes, Counselor."

"Is Commander Riker still breathing, sir?" Troi's amusement was very evident in her voice.

"Just barely, Deanna," Picard quipped as he glanced over at Riker, who had thrown up his arms in total resignation.

"I bet his face was priceless. Permission to laugh at the first officer while sitting in the command chair, sir?" Deanna requested with mock seriousness.

"Permission granted. The bridge is yours, Deanna," Picard smiled as he heard Deanna's giggles coming over the comm link.

Tapping his own communicator, Riker lamented, "You're all heart, Deanna."

Choking back the last of her giggles, Deanna reported, "Captain, the transporter is ready and waiting for your signal, sir."

"Acknowledged," Picard responded. Addressing the room, he announced, "Gentlemen, I'd like to thank everyone for a very enjoyable evening. Now, if you will all excuse me, I'll just take my favorite exotic dancer and retire for the evening. Au revoir."

Picard swept Vash up into his arms and she slid one arm around his neck. With her free hand, she reached over, tapped his communicator and said, "Energize." They disappeared as the transporter beam surrounded them.

............................................

Starfleet's Tycho city penthouse was on the top floor of the Lovell building, the tallest building in the city. Picard and Vash materialized on the transporter pad at one end of a hallway on the building's top floor. Gently setting Vash on her feet, Picard stepped off the pad and gestured down the hallway, "I believe it's the third door on the right."

"What was your first clue, darling, the gold Starfleet chevron on the door or the word's Starfleet Command surrounding it?" Vash quipped, taking his offered hand and allowing him to help her down from the pad. Picard chuckled as he took her arm in his, quickly leading her down the hall toward the door.

When they reached the door, Picard slid the security key-card through the door's lock. When the lock chirped, he responded. "Authorization: Picard, four-seven-alpha-tango." As he said the words, out of the corner of his eye he caught Vash mouthing them along with him. Raising his eyebrow in amusement, he asked, "You know my authorization code?"

Vash nodded, "Just like I know your serial number, your shirt, jacket, and shoe sizes . . ." She trailed off as the door to the penthouse slid open. As Picard stepped through the door, Vash gave him a light swat on the seat of his pants and finished with, "your inseam measurement."

The door slid shut behind them and he playfully chided her, "Brazen hussy."

"If you're lucky," she bantered back flirtatiously.

"Ahh, there we are," Picard said as he found the control pad near the door and turned on the lights.

Vash took her first real good look at the apartment. The interior was very esthetically pleasing, done in neutral tones with white walls and deep-piled, mocha-colored carpet. Highly polished oak tables along with a plush couch and chairs upholstered in a cream brocade made up the elegant, modern furnishings. To Vash's right was the dining area and a small well-equipped kitchen and centered on the far wall to her left was a large fireplace. Also on the left wall, toward the back of the room, was the door to the bedroom suite. The most notable feature of the penthouse was the back wall itself, the entire wall was a one-way window. The view was a breathtaking panorama of Tycho city backed by an endless sea of stars. The Earth hung in the middle of this scene, looking like a beautiful blue-green jewel. Glancing at Picard, Vash whistled softly with appreciation, "This is nice, very nice."

"I'm glad you like it," Picard replied. Tossing the key-card on nearby table, he made his way over to the dining table. Sitting on the table was a large bowl of fresh fruit and a silver champagne bucket with a bottle of Dom Perignon chilling on ice. He picked up the card in front of the bucket and smiled as he read it. "Thought you might like to check out one of your competitors, Best wishes, Gil." Setting down the card, he walked over to the kitchen, "I'll get us some glasses."

"You seem to know your way around here," Vash commented, very amused at how familiar Jean-Luc seemed to be with the apartment.

"Uh huh," Picard nodded as he retrieved two champagne flutes from a cabinet.

Vash found herself distracted by his sleek, muscular build as he moved through the room. Whenever she performed an erotic dance for Jean-Luc, his reactions always left her entire body tingling with anticipation and tonight was no exception. Trying to regain her composure, she impishly baited him, "So Captain, just how many nights have you spent in Starfleet Command's posh, lunar playpen?"

Picard placed the glasses on the table and turned to face Vash. Giving her his most innocent expression, he replied, "Uh, very few, . . . . . really."

"Right, Johnny," Vash giggled as she shook her head. "I may have been born in the dark, but it wasn't last night."

"You certainly proved that tonight with a truly unforgettable performance. Having such a talented, alluring, and beautiful lady at my side made me the envy of every man in the room," Picard noted proudly. With a chuckle, he added, "Although, I think your belly-dancing may have come dangerously close to melting poor Data's positronic neural net."

Vash blushed slightly as she asked, "Was my performance really that good?"

"In a word, yes." Picard's steel grey eyes smoldered with passion as he thought back to her seductive dance. A small wry smile played at his lips as he continued, "Rest assured, your dancing tonight will most likely fire Will Riker's imagination for the rest of his life."

Vash sighed with amusement, "I think you're really getting a perverse thrill out of torturing him this way."

"Will Riker is my first officer and one of my closest friends. I trust him with my ship and my life; more importantly, I would trust him with your life." Picard's lips stretched into a full grin as he defended himself, "However, trust me when I tell you; the boy has had it coming for a long while."

"Funny, that is exactly what Beverly and Deanna both said when I first told them about our little plan," Vash giggled. She walked over to stand in front of the huge window that encompassed the back wall and stared out at the breathtaking view. With a small sigh, she exclaimed, "This is truly a magnificent view."

As Picard admired his beautiful bride-to-be, his playful expression gave way to show his intense desire for her. The provocative harem-girl costume she was dressed in drew attention to her curvaceous silhouette. His eyes drank in the feminine curves of her shoulders and the way the long, silken curls of her hair caressed the soft, ivory skin of her bare midriff. His gaze traveled over the graceful arch of her spine, the slight flair of her hips, the perfect roundness of her backside and her long, shapely legs. Walking up to stand behind her, Picard noted huskily, "I have to admit Will was right. Eternity has never looked so lovely."

Vash's senses stirred at the sound of his bedroom baritone. She slowly turned to face him. Staring up into his desire-hardened, grey eyes, she decided to continue with the role she had played earlier that evening. She reached up with her left hand and leisurely trailed her index finger down the muscular expanse of his chest exposed by the deep V neckline of his blue-grey silk shirt. Vash's voice was low and sultry as she inquired, "What is your desire, my lord? Another dance perhaps?"

Picard's eyes hungrily raked over the enticing curves of Vash's body, barely contained by the glittering belly-dancer costume. As he felt her teasing fingertip slide down his chest, his gaze once again locked with hers. Staring into her vivid, blue eyes, he cupped her cheek with his palm. He slipped his thumb under her chin and tilted her face up slightly. His determined answer was a hoarsely whispered, "I want you."

Vash's breath caught in her throat at the sexual heat so plainly visible in the handsome chiseled features of his face. Jean-Luc's mouth descended onto hers, crushing her lips beneath his in a forcefully possessive kiss. Vash's arms fell helplessly to her sides. She could feel the entire length of his hard muscular form against her as he pressed her back against the window. He used the hand that had been cupping her cheek to force open her mouth to deepen the kiss even further. His tongue plunged past her parted lips, decisively laying claim to everything in its path. Vash's own desires became even more inflamed by the very masculine combination of his clean-scented aftershave and the slight taste of whiskey in his kiss.

As her lips and tongue answered the demands of his, Picard could feel every muscle in his body tighten in fervent response. His large hands traveled down along her shoulders and arms until they spanned her tiny waist. He slid his mouth from hers to explore the soft skin of her throat.

"The window," Vash gasped breathlessly, shuddering slightly as he gently nuzzled the sensitive spot on her neck just below her ear.

"They're the same type used on starships, reinforced with forcefields; but these are completely mirrored on the outside," Picard murmured reassuringly against her skin as he breathed in the sweet scent of her. His mouth reached the hollow of her throat and he could feel her very rapid pulse against his lips. Flicking his tongue against her pulse point, he was rewarded when she gasped and rolled her head back against the glass. His mouth moved even lower to the lush cleavage offered by the teal-blue sequined brassiere and his tongue traced the swell of her breasts.

Vash's entire body was in a state of highly-charged anticipation. The rosy crests of her breasts hardened, pushing against the tiny sequined bits of cloth restraining them. Her small hands moved to grip his broad shoulders, expecting him to remove the bra. She knew the exquisite sensations that would flood over her when his mouth finally claimed the sensitive mounds. She could only whimper in confused frustration when, instead of undoing the silver clasp nestled between her straining breasts. Jean-Luc moved even lower still.

Picard laid a trail of hot kisses down the smooth skin of her flat stomach. Falling to his knees in front of her, he delighted in tasting every dip and curve. Knowing this particular costume intimately, he reached down to her slender ankles and expertly undid the hidden clasp on each sequined cuff of the sheer harem pants. Continuing to lavish soft kisses over her bare midriff, he reached around behind her hips to undo the three clasps hidden on the back of the yoke. The gossamer material slid down her legs to pool on the floor at her feet. He pulled back slightly as she stepped out of the pants. Tossing the pants aside, Picard's gaze swept over the vision of feminine perfection in front of him. As he admired her marvelous legs, his hands encircled her graceful ankles just above the silver high heels. His eyes followed his hands as they leisurely skimmed up the smooth, shapely length of her legs. His hands continued past the teal-blue, sequined g-string that framed the feminine flare of her hips to tightly grasp her waist. He was captivated by the way her arousal had caused her ivory skin to flush and the lush curves of her breasts threatening to spill out of their restraint with each trembling breath. The very provocative sight only added fuel to his own burning need. Suddenly, the glittering blue stone in her navel caught his attention. Looking up into her eyes, he gave her one of his just barely-there smiles.

Vash quivered as she felt the warmth of his strong hands sliding up her legs and across her hips to span her waist. She went weak in the knees at the devilish expression on his handsome chiseled features. She clutched his broad shoulders for support as he leaned in to nuzzle her midriff. He placed kisses around her navel before erotically exploring it with his tongue. Every touch of his mouth felt like a lighting strike to her sensitive skin as Jean-Luc used only his lips and tongue to remove the blue gem-stone from her navel. Closing her eyes, Vash moaned his name and writhed helplessly under his hot, moist assault.

With the stone clasped in his teeth, Picard stood up and gazed down at Vash. Her breathing sounded very ragged as her eyes fluttered open. He found his own breath caught in his throat at the fire that blazed in her blue eyes. She reached up and her fingertips brushed sensuously over his lips as she took the stone from his mouth. In a deep, resonating whisper, Picard told her, "You are truly a treasure to the senses, ma chere."

Before Vash could reply, Jean-Luc lowered his face to hers and captured her lips with his in a fiercely demanding kiss. She responded ravenousnessly as his mouth took command of hers. Dropping the stone to the floor, Vash's hands went to work, furiously undoing the fasteners of his shirt. She reached up, pushing the shirt off his broad shoulders and urgently stripping it from his firm torso. Her hands traveled upward along his bare arms, lingering on the solid, bulging biceps. Reaching his shoulders, she thrilled at the breadth of them compared to her tiny palms. Her hands glided down his chest to explore the rippling pectorals and coarse chest hair. She marveled at the power contained in his lean, well-defined muscular body. Her hands drifted down over the taut muscles of his stomach to the waistband of his trousers. Running her hands over his strong thighs, Vash found and caressed the evidence of his need. She heard a low growl from the back of Jean-Luc's throat as he broke off their kiss. Even through the fabric of his trousers, she could feel his body throbbing under her expert touch.

"Vash," Picard rasped, half pleading, half warning. With each passing moment, his muscles continued to tighten and his hardness grew as the teasing ministrations of her small hands pushed at the limits of his control.

"Please . . .Jean-Luc . . . please . . . take me now," Vash gasped, her entire body trembling from intense sexual arousal. His rock hard body strained impressively against fabric of his trousers, pressing against her talented hands.

Quickly, Picard captured both of her tiny wrists in one of his large hands. He drew them up above her head to lay against the glass window pane. Pulling back just slightly, he took a deep calming breath as his heated gaze swept over the beautiful woman he had pinned to the window. She was an exquisite sight, with her curvaceous silhouette barely contained in her sequined brassiere and g-string. The one thing he enjoyed more than having her strip for him was stripping her himself. As he stared into her blue eyes, his deep resonating whisper took on a wolfish tone, "I've been aching ever since you took the stage earlier this evening. And make no mistake, mademoiselle, I intend to have you. In time, when I'm damn good and ready."

Picard lowered his face to capture her lips with his in a violently possessive kiss. As his tongue plundered the depths of her mouth, he crushed the hard length of his body against hers, pressing her forcefully against the window. He could feel her soft, supple curves writhing beneath him. Once again, his mouth slid from hers to slowly journey back down her graceful neck to explore the lush curves of her breasts. His tongue traced the swell of her breasts just before placing an open mouth kiss at the center of her cleavage. Picard smiled into her skin when he felt Vash's hands clench and her body twisting in his grasp as she panted under her breath, "Oh, you bastard!"

Vash's nipples were so hard they ached and she bit her bottom lip in response to the warmth of his free hand laying flat against her stomach. Slowly, he slid his hand up her body to the silver clasp at the front of her brassiere. She shivered with anticipation as he unhooked the clasp and brushed the material aside.

"So beautiful," Picard murmured as he revealed her bare breasts with their lush roundness and ivory skin tipped with deep rosy peaks. Lowering his face, he captured one of the sweet crests in his mouth. Like a starving man, he ravenously tormented first one breast and then the other.

Streaks of fire raced through Vash's body. Whimpering mindlessly from his carnal onslaught, she vainly tried to pull her hands from his strong grasp. His mouth left her breasts to leisurely travel back up to her neck. Her breasts were now crushed against the muscular expanse of his chest, the coarse hair searing her already inflamed nipples. His free hand skimmed down the flat plane of her stomach to rest on her g-string. Her eyes flew open to stare into his as she felt his large hand tenderly cup the g-string. His skillful fingers slipped past the thin, sequined material to softly stroke the very center of her desire. Her entire body felt as if it were made of liquid flames as his fingertips continued to arouse her. As his teasing caress took her even closer to the edge, she breathlessly pleaded, "Please. . . Johnny . . .please."

Releasing her hands, he reached down to swiftly unhook and strip off her g-string. As soon as he released her hands, Vash slid them down his torso to the waistband of his trousers and swiftly opened them. Picard tried to control the surge of need that went through him. His mouth attacked hers in a savage kiss. Breaking the kiss, his voice was hoarse with arousal as he suggested, "the leg."

Vash knew immediately what he wanted and moved her hands up to his broad shoulders to brace herself. Shifting her weight slightly, she began to draw her right knee slowly up.

Picard slid his left hand under her knee and began to slide it down her leg, straightening her leg out as he went. Reaching her ankle, he carefully slid his entire arm under her leg to rest it on his shoulder. Standing on her left leg, Vash was doing a complete split down the length of his body. He spread his feet slightly further apart for better balance for what he was about to do. He tightly grasped her hips and slowly eased himself into her, pausing to savor the extraordinary sensations engulfing him.

Vash sighed sensuously as she felt Jean-Luc join them. When he went no further, she whimpered helplessly in her throat at the frustration. In her position, she couldn't move her hips, she could only wait in torment until he decided to finish the torture that had begun hours earlier during the party. The leg holding her up began to buckle as the sensations began to overwhelm her.

Picard finally felt the response he had been waiting for. When Vash began to sag beneath him, he moved his hands around to cup her derriere and began thrusting, using his arms to lift her hips to meet his. He fought to keep his motions methodical, suppressing the urge to speed up, in order to take Vash to the very edge of sexual insanity.

Unable to even stand on her own, Vash relinquished all control to Jean-Luc. She gave herself up to the strength and sheer virility of his masculine presence, surrendering herself to him completely. With her body pushed to its limits, an overpowering pressure was building inside her and every sensation was magnified. His steady, measured tempo was driving her mad with wanting. Entangling her fingers in her hair, Vash mindlessly tossed her head from side to side as she called out his name.

Picard's eyes never left Vash as his body took complete possession of hers. With her eyes closed, she wore a look of total ecstasy on her delicate features. Each of her sweet cries of passion sent an intense surge of arousal through his own body. Her body began to tighten around his and her leg muscles began to quiver. Unleashing the tight reign he had held on his own needs, he gradually increased the tempo.

"Now, Jean-Luc, now!" Vash cried out as she felt him increasing the pace. The tension that had he had been building in her finally reached a crescendo. Her overwhelming release came in wave after wave of pleasure crashing over her. With a primal scream, Vash's head fell back against the glass and her entire body arched upward.

Not breaking stride, Picard watched with wonder as her body arched toward him with completion. He continued relentlessly, until, with one, last, powerful thrust, he held himself deep inside her as his own explosive release ripped through him.

As her leg slipped down from his shoulder, Vash collapsed in a near swoon against Picard's damp muscular frame. Her breathing was labored and spasms raced through her trembling, damp body. Effortlessly, Picard swept her tiny, limp frame up into his strong arms. Falling to his knees, he gently laid her down on the deep piled carpet. Stretching out next to her on his side, he smiled down at her as he tenderly stroked the silky hair on the top of her head.

Slowly becoming aware of her surroundings, Vash opened her eyes to see Jean-Luc smiling down at her, appearing insufferably satisfied. As tremors of pleasure continued to course through her quivering body, she realized her intense release must have triggered a 'La petite morte.' Jean-Luc had recently discovered, to his great delight, that he could cause her body to respond that way and ever since it had become almost a mission objective with him. With amused exasperation, Vash chuckled, "You really love doing that to me, don't you?"

"Oui, mademoiselle," he answered with almost boyish glee. He reached up to stroke her cheek and admitted in a deep bedroom baritone, "When it happens to you the sight is so incredibly erotic."

"It's also physically exhausting," Vash groaned as she rolled over sprawling out on her stomach. She pillowed her head on her crossed arms and watched as he quickly stripped out of his remaining clothes. She smiled with contented appreciation as her eyes drank in the sight of his hard, tightly sculpted body glistening slightly beneath a sheen of sweat. Impishly, she teased, "Aren't men your age supposed to be discovering that they have a favorite chair?"

"Actually, I do have a particular chair that I am somewhat fond of," he deadpanned as he knelt next to her. His eyes trailed over the feminine lines of her silhouette. Her hair fell in a silky cascade of curls that veiled the graceful curve of her spine to her slender waist leaving the roundness of her backside and long legs exposed. The lovely vision made him wish that he had Data's talent for painting so he could capture the moment.

"I suppose I walked right into that one," Vash replied dryly, rolling her eyes. Jean-Luc brushed her hair aside and began tenderly massaging her shoulders. She closed her eyes and relished the warmth of his large hands rubbing down along her back. Moving to kneel between her legs, Jean-Luc's strong hands lightly kneaded the taxed muscles of her upper legs. As he worked the stress and strain from her upper thighs, Vash sighed, "Oh yes . . .that feels so wonderful."

Picard caressed her up and down, from her thighs to the small of her back. His hands lingered of their own accord on the supple curves of her backside. Cupping the pliant flesh in his hands, he lowered his face to brush feather-light kisses down the small of her back and over her shapely derriere. As he continued to nuzzle her, his voice resonated over her skin, "Have I ever told you that you have a perfectly shaped . . ."

"Jean-Luc Picard," Vash gasped in surprise. Raising up slightly, Vash looked over her shoulder at him. With an amused expression of shock, she asked, "Just how much have you had to drink tonight?"

"More than enough to allow me to tell you that you have the kind of body any man would want to bend over the nearest piece of furniture," Picard teased huskily just before placing a soft love bite on one round cheek. Straightening up, he grasped her around the waist. He gently pulled her hips up toward him, forcing her to rise to her knees. "But not nearly enough to keep me from doing this."

"Ohhhhhh," Vash moaned wordlessly as Jean-Luc drove deep into her body from behind. Once again, that familiar, carnal ache bloomed deep inside her, building steadily with every deep stroke of his body into hers.

This time Picard gave into his need, taking her with total abandon. The cadence became one of furious intensity as his body demanded total surrender from hers. Steadying her hips with one hand, he reached under her with the other to add to the fire already consuming her.

Vash bucked up, pushing herself into his driving thrusts and teasing fingers. The hand Jean-Luc had on her hip slid up to cup one of her breasts, his muscular arm holding her tightly against the expanse of his chest. Her head rolled back onto his shoulder as the skillful fingers of one hand toyed with the taut nipple of her breast and the other hand tormented the center of her desire. As a powerful release sent spasms of pleasure racing through her, she gasped, "Oh I can't . . . It's too much . . . I can't."

"Quelle femme magnifique," he uttered under his breath with masculine satisfaction, reveling in her passionate responses to his lovemaking. Even as he felt her entire body shudder in completion, Picard drove himself into her relentlessly. He had never seen anything as erotically compelling as Vash at the peak of ecstasy. As he continued arousing her overheated body, he rasped into her ear, "Just let it happen, chere, just once more. Give yourself to me once more."

Waves of intense sensations flooded over Vash. Once again, Jean-Luc was taking her closer and closer to the peak of ecstasy. It was the sound of his voice, rough with his own sexual arousal, coaxing her, that finally sent her over. Lost in the throes of an even stronger release, she cried out in astonishment, "Oh my . . .Oh Jean-Luc . . . it's happening again!"

"Yes!" Picard growled triumphantly, moving with a renewed urgency. With one final hard thrust, he held himself deep inside her as her release triggered his own draining response.

Gasping for breath, Vash wondered if her quivering body and racing heart would ever calm back down to normal. As she leaned back against the damp, muscular expanse of his chest, Jean-Luc's strong arms wrapped around her and held her tightly to him. Resting her head against his shoulder, she listened as his ragged breathing rasped in her ear. After resting a few moments, Vash smiled and panted between breaths, "Thank you, God . . . for Starfleet . . .endurance training!"

"It does have . . . its fringe benefits," Picard admitted, breathing heavily himself. He lowered them both down to lay on the carpet and settled her against his chest, facing him. Wearily, he added, "But even a Starfleet officer can only do so much."

"You have no one but yourself to blame. I was completely content with round one," Vash chided softly, cuddling up against him. "You, sir, are the one who got rather obstinate."

"And you richly rewarded my tenacity," Picard whispered tenderly. Lowering his face, he claimed her lips with his in a deep, romantic kiss. As his tongue began a thorough exploration of her mouth, his hands caressed the soft skin of her back.

As her lips and tongue responded to his, Vash luxuriated in the warmth of his strong embrace and the solid breadth of his chest. He broke the kiss and she snuggled up against him, sighing like a contented cat as she started to drift off to sleep. She realized he had slipped his arm out from underneath her and was sitting up. Patting her hip, he told her, "Stay right there, petite amie. Don't go anywhere."

"Even if I had the energy to move, where would I go?" Vash teased, too drowsy to even open her eyes to see what he was doing. She heard him chuckle as he moved about the room. Was he picking up their clothes, perhaps? 'That would definitely put a few more gold stars in his column tonight,' she thought to herself. It sounded as if he had moved off into the bedroom. After a short time, she heard water running. She could also hear him quietly singing to himself. It took Vash a few moments to recognize the tune. It was the old motown song My Girl from around the mid-twentieth century, but he was singing it in French. She smiled as she thought, 'If only the rest of the galaxy knew how the legendary starship captain entertained himself.'

Picard made his way back to where Vash was stretched out on the living room carpet. Kneeling down next to her, he softly beckoned, "Vash."

"Hmmmm," she sighed, her eyes fluttering open to look up at him.

"Come on, my sleepy beauty. It's time to get ready for bed," he coaxed, taking her hands in his and gently helping her to her feet. He raised one of her hands to his lips and placed a courtly kiss on the back of it. He seemed very pleased with himself as he led her toward the bedroom.

The elegant bedroom was done in the same neutral decor as the living room. The large bed, with sumptuous bedding in a rich cream colored satin, was placed up against the window that encompassed the back wall of the room. The panoramic view of stars was as breathtaking as the one in the living room. The lighting in the room was soft, provided by the starlight and a few lit candles. Vash noticed that their clothes were neatly folded on an easy chair next to a large dresser. Two glasses of champagne and the now open bottle were sitting on one of the nightstands. As Jean-Luc handed her a glass of champagne, she couldn't help but tease him, "Johnny, aren't you supposed get me drunk before we have sex?"

"It was hardly necessary," he informed her with a chuckle. Placing a kiss on her cheek, he added, "Come on, there's still more I have to show you."

Jean-Luc led her into the spacious bathroom. Again, the room was romantically lit by candles along the entire length of the double vanity and starlight streaming in from the bay window that surrounded half of the immense Jacuzzi bathtub. To her great delight, Vash realized that the tub, perfectly sized for two, was practically overflowing with a rose-scented bubblebath. Jean-Luc stood her in front of the vanity, the candlelight reflecting up at her from the vanity's mirror. On the vanity was her hairbrush and a couple of hair clips. With a deep breath, she closed her eyes as she felt him gently sweeping her hair up and securing it with the clips.

Picard enjoyed the feel of the heavy, silken mass of curls in his hands as he secured her hair up and out of the way. Lowering his head, he brushed soft kisses along the feminine curve of her shoulder. He pulled back to appraise the French twist in her hair, "Not quite as elegant as the ones done by you or Mr. Mot, but . . ."

"It's close enough for government work," Vash finished teasingly as she set her glass down and turned around to face him. Staring into his eyes, she slowly slipped her hands up the hard expanse of his chest. Just before her arms encircled his neck, he caught her hands in his and stepped back out of reach. He gently squeezed her hands as he placed a quick kiss on her full lips. Taking both of her hands in one of his, he tapped a small control panel on the vanity before leading her over to the tub. Quiet strains of romantic music filled the background. Vash looked up at him lovingly and cooed, "You certainly cover all the bases, don't you, Monsieur Picard?"

"I try . . ." he trailed off in thought. Searching the lovely features of her face, he asked, "Would it be presumptuous of me to say Madame Picard."

"Not at all," Vash assured him as she took his hand and he helped her into the tub.

Picard gazed adoringly as her smooth, flawless skin disappeared beneath the bubbles. The sound of Vash's sensuous sigh startled him out of his daze. He quickly retrieved her glass of champagne from the vanity. Handing her the glass, he lowered himself in the tub behind her.

"Since I and my Starfleet training are responsible for getting you all hot and sweaty, I thought it only appropriate that I bathe you before we retire," Jean-Luc explained as he picked up a loofah sponge from the side of the tub and lathered it with soap.

"Mmmm, I love the way you think," Vash practically purred as he reached around with the sponge to stroke down the swan-like column of her throat. Closing her eyes, she leaned back against his chest as he slid the sponge down across her chest, encircling each breast and brushing across the nipples. Completely satiated from their earlier lovemaking, she reveled in the soft sensation of the sponge, feeling utterly adored and cherished by the man bathing her.

Picard ran the sponge down the valley between her breasts and lingeringly moved it across the flat skin of her stomach. Nudging Vash forward slightly, he washed the smooth skin of her back with long, gentle strokes. Admiring her lithe form, he couldn't help leaning forward to snake his tongue out, licking the wet skin at the back of her neck.

"I thought even Starfleet officers had their limits?" Vash asked teasingly when she felt the rough moistness of his tongue against her neck.

"They do," Picard mumbled, nuzzling her further.

"Well, might I suggest that a certain Starfleet officer not start something that he can't finish."

"Point taken, ma chere." With that, Picard reluctantly got out of the tub and picked up a fluffy, pink towel. Not bothering with himself, he turned to help Vash out and painstakingly dried every inch of her body. Slipping the pins out of her hair, he brushed the long tresses dry. Quickly patting himself dry, he dropped the towel and swept Vash up into his arms. He carried her in and laid her gently on the bed. Laying back the covers he settled both of them into the luxurious bedding and pulled Vash into his arms.

"We'll just reconvene in a few hours," he murmured into her hair as he kissed the top of her head.

"Sounds like a plan," Vash responded, planting a drowsy kiss on his chest.

...........................................

One week later, early Friday afternoon, Picard walked down the corridors of the Enterprise toward his quarters. He nodded politely to two young ensigns who were replacing a short length of conduit behind one of the computer interfaces. Lieutenant Barclay approached needing the proper authorization codes to finish an upgrade on the brig's forcefields. As he rounded a corner, Geordi stopped him to ask how he wanted a crew rotation problem handled. Beverly met him at the turbolift with a question concerning her latest equipment requisition. When he exited the turbolift, Data was waiting to inform him about a malfunction that had occurred with one of the newest sensor units just installed. After passing through what seemed to be an endless gauntlet of officers with questions for him, Picard sighed with relief as he finally reached his quarters and stepped inside.

He could hear some up-tempo contemporary music coming from the bedroom. Setting the PADD he had been carrying down on his desk, he noticed Charcoal, Vash's small black kitten, curled up asleep in his desk chair. He regarded the tiny animal and quietly noted, "Well cat, don't you look comfortable. Only one problem, that's my chair. Yours is over there." Picard pointed to the pet bed in the corner of the room. Almost as if considering his words, the small kitten looked up at him and then over at the white wicker basket with its fluffy, pink satin pillow. With a yawn, the cat rose, stretched, and curled right back up in the desk chair. With a small chuckle, he reached down to scratch the pampered animal behind it's ears, "You're just like your mistress, she doesn't follow orders either."

Picard made his way to the bedroom. As he stood in the doorway, he couldn't help but grin at the sight in front of him. The bed was completely covered in women's clothing. There were blouses, skirts, and dresses of all styles with good amount of lingerie scattered in with them. At least a dozen pairs of shoes were strewn across the floor next to the bed. He decided one of two things had happened. Either Vash's ever-increasing half of the closet had finally exploded or she was having trouble deciding what to wear for her party tonight.

Vash's voice could be heard from the bathroom as she sang along to the music, unaware of his presence. The lyrics were rather racy, filled with blatant sexual innuendo, and Vash was crooning along with jubilant abandon. Several articles of clothing were tossed out of the bathroom door, landing on the bed in perfect time to the music. Taking a few cautious steps into the room, Picard suppressed the urge to say 'I'm home, dear,' and instead opted for, "Hello."

Startled out of her singing, Vash turned the music down and called out from the bathroom, "Hey, what are you doing here?"

Picard carefully cleared off a corner of the bed so he could sit down, "The last time I checked the crew manifest, I lived here."

"Really, you don't say," she quipped as she checked her makeup and hair in the bathroom mirror. "All I meant was it's just a little unusual for you to show up at home in the middle of the day like this."

"Since you ladies are going to be gone tonight, Will and I figured we could work on the progress reports over dinner in my ready room. That, of course, left me free to come home for a long lunch. Is there anything wrong with a man coming home to have lunch with his lovely bride-to-be?"

"Not at all," Vash called to him as she made some adjustments to her hairstyle. "It's just that normally, you prefer to replicate something in your readyroom and have to be practically pried off the bridge just to have lunch in the forward lounge."

"No wonder," he told her. "While walking here I was bombarded by officers, most of them needing something and the ones that didn't need anything just smiled at me. I know what they're thinking."

Vash giggled, "Johnny, you might want to talk to Dee about that slight paranoia streak of yours."

"They don't do that to Will," he lamented.

"That's because you make it much more fun," she reasoned, sounding amused. "First of all, the real fun is in the guessing and with you they are guessing. They know what Will is up to. It's old hat. The man wears his sexual prowess like a medal of honor. Secondly, you, darling, are the Captain. I'm sure after we've become an 'old married couple' they'll move on to something more exciting like speculating on Data's love life."

"Are you ever coming out of there?" Picard chuckled, changing the subject.

"Yes," Vash cooed, "when I'm ready and not before."

"Oh, I see," he retorted. "So, if you don't mind me asking, what are the big plans for tonight?"

"We are planning a Girls' Night Out," she told him as she checked her lipstick.

"Which entails?" he prompted, fishing for details.

"It's kind of a tradition that started in grad-school," Vash smiled at the memory. "My group of girlfriends would get together one Friday night every month and go club-hopping. Dressed up in our sexiest 'date' outfits, we would hit the dance floors, dancing and flirting outrageously. The one rule was that it was strictly a 'no men' night. No matter what the offer was or who made it, you turned it down. Even if it was your current 'steady' asking for a dance, you blew him off in favor of the girls. You could arrange to meet or talk later with whomever, but that night was strictly off limits."

"Vash," Picard blinked in shock, "are you telling me that you ladies entertained yourselves by dressing provocatively, going out to deliberately attract the attention of young men, and then shooting down any poor fool brave enough to make an offer?"

"Yep," she chirped shamelessly.

"Chere, that is not a night out, it's an ambush," he protested with a groan of sympathy for all the past victims of this ritual, "a sadistic, cold-blooded ambush."

"It was a hobby," Vash noted nostalgically. "We even kept score."

"It sounds like an ancient game of skeet shooting with all of mankind being used as the clay targets," he replied dryly.

"Pull!" she shouted teasingly.

"So, who is going to be participating in tonight's blood-sport?" he asked with a sigh of resignation from where he sat on the edge of the bed.

"I'm sorry, darling, but I didn't quite catch that," Vash admitted as she moved to stand in the open doorway of the bathroom.

"I asked . . ." Picard's voice trailed off, his attention captured by the way the straps of her high-heeled, white pumps wrapped around her slender ankles. His eyes slowly traveled up the shapely length of her legs, which were encased in a shimmery mist of silk stockings. Just as he was beginning to wonder if there was a skirt, his eyes reached her mid-thigh and the hem of her mini-skirt. The white suede of the skirt molded itself to the slight flair of her hips and her tiny waist. Pearl buttons ran up the front of the matching white, suede vest. The fitted vest had long, full sleeves of sheer white chiffon that ended in tight cuffs at her wrists. The plunging sweetheart neckline displayed an audacious amount of her décolletage. Her hair fell in soft curls to her shoulders, framing her rose-petal lips, the slight blush of her cheeks and the flutter of her suspiciously-dark lashes. As she stood poised in the doorway, she exuded an air of seductive mystique that left him breathless. Completely taken by surprise, he gasped under his breath, "Oh my!"

A small smile played at Vash's lips as she mentally placed the first mark on her score-card for the night. Jean-Luc's astonishment was written plainly on his face. She had seen his eyes widen as his jaw dropped and had heard him gasp under his breath. Never one to miss an opportunity, she thought, 'Let the games begin.' Bending over forward at the waist, she reached down with both hands and splayed her fingers around one of her ankles. Leisurely, she slid her hands up the length of her leg, smoothing out her stocking. She peered at him flirtatiously out of the corner of her eyes, "You wanted to ask me something, Jean-Luc?"

"I, uh, I wanted . . ." Picard broke off when Vash's hands reached the hem of her skirt. The soft suede began to inch higher and higher as her fingers glided up her silk covered thigh until they reached the lace edge of the stocking. The sight made it difficult for him to remember exactly what the conversation had been. Helplessly, his eyes followed her hands as she repeated the procedure with the other leg.

Vash was inwardly amused as she saw Jean-Luc shake his head slightly and swallow hard. She stood up straight, running her hands from her waist down over her hips to smooth out her skirt. She was thoroughly enjoying herself and could see his eyes were now that telltale steel grey. Very aware of the amount cleavage displayed by the plunging neckline, Vash reached up to toy with the first pearl button on her vest. Her voice was low and sultry, "You wanted?"

'I want to show you how quickly I could undo all of those damn buttons,' Picard thought to himself as he watched her fiddle with the button. Noticing the mischievous sparkle that lit her blue eyes, he realized exactly what she was doing. If she wanted to play, so be it. After all, he was convinced that most of his crew thought that was what he was doing. Tugging at his uniform jacket, he stood up to better engage the little minx.

As Jean-Luc stood, confident determination blazed in his steel-grey eyes. Vash's breath caught in her throat at the way his natural commanding presence revealed itself in his handsome, chiseled features. Seeing his demeanor change, Vash knew she had lost the element of surprise. 'Serve and volley,' she thought to herself as Jean-Luc slowly advanced toward her without a word, 'so he wants to play.' He stopped directly in front of her. With only a few inches of space between them, the clean, masculine scent of his aftershave tantalized her. Taking the offensive, she brazenly met Jean-Luc's gaze, "What was it you wanted to ask?"

Picard gazed down at her lovely face for a long moment, his eyes lingering on her full, inviting lips. He lowered his face until his lips were just a hairsbreadth from hers. In a rich, bedroom baritone, he whispered, "It will wait, Vash."

Vash found herself mesmerized by Jean-Luc's masterful voice. Her gaze was drawn to the firm set of his mouth, silently willing him to kiss her. Reaching up with one hand, she ran the tips of her fingers sensuously over his bottom lip. She trailed her fingertips up the strong, square line of his jaw, gently cupping his cheek in the palm of her hand. Refusing to wait another moment, Vash crushed her lips to Jean-Luc's in a deep, ravenous kiss. She used the hand that had been cupping his cheek to coax open his mouth, allowing her tongue to begin a thorough exploration of the warm, moist cavern.

Blood roared in Picard's ears as Vash's tongue continued to ravage his mouth. Every muscle in his body tightened with the surge of arousal that rushed through him. His hands moved to span her tiny waist, feeling the smooth suede beneath his fingertips. Slowly, he slid his hands up the soft material to her breasts. Vash's arms encircled his neck and she arched into him as he caressed the full curves through her vest. He deepened the kiss, forcing his own tongue past hers in his own erotic investigation of her mouth. His hands traveled possessively over her, demanding access to every curve. His arms slipped around her, his hands finding the roundness of her derriere. Cupping the supple flesh in his hands, he roughly pulled her against him as his tongue continued to plunder the depths of her mouth.

Vash savored the feel of her body crushed against Jean-Luc's hard length. The warmth of his strong hands through the thin material of her skirt was driving her to distraction. Bracing her hands on his broad shoulders, she pushed back slightly and broke the kiss. Throwing her head back and drawing in huge gulps of air, Vash tried to gain control over her own increasing desires. It wasn't easy. Every breath forced the stiff peaks of her breasts up against the muscular wall of his chest. Jean-Luc took advantage of her bared throat and trailed heated kisses over the sensitive area. Firmly reminding herself that she was the one who was supposed to be doing the seducing, Vash purred, "Does this mean you like the outfit?"

"It's lovely," Picard murmured into her soft skin as he continued to nibble on her neck. Anticipating a strategic retreat on the part of his enchanting adversary, he tightened his hold on her backend slightly. "And it's going to look even lovelier piled on the floor next to the bed."

"Ohhh," she cooed teasingly as she tried to wiggle backward in a futile attempt to escape his embrace. "Is that where it's going?"

Pulling back slightly, Picard gave Vash his most suave smile and assured her. "Oh yes, that is exactly where it's going."

Vash was contemplating her next possible move when Jean-Luc's communicator chirped. With a triumphant look, Vash inquired, "Don't you think you ought to answer that?"

"Yes, I should," he admitted, albeit reluctantly. Still, he held her tightly to him.

After a long moment, the communicator chirped again. Raising an eyebrow, Vash playfully noted, "Johnny, you will have to take at least one hand off my ass to do that."

"Such are the burdens of command," Picard quipped as he reached up with one hand to activate his communicator.

As she turned to move from Jean-Luc's embrace, Vash felt his other hand firmly pinch her behind before letting go. After placing a few steps between them, she spun back around to see him smile, insufferably pleased with himself, as he spoke into his comm-badge, "Picard."

"Riker, here sir," Will Riker sounded a little concerned, the captain usually answered hails very promptly.

"Sorry about the delay, Number One," Picard looked over at Vash meaningfully as he continued, "but, I had my hands full."

Riker exchanged a baffled look with Data. Rather than go there, he decided to get right to business. "Data and I wanted to let you know that we managed to fix the new sensor unit and it's now on line."

"Well done, gentlemen," Picard replied into his communicator as he openly admired the feminine jewel standing next to his bed. "I look forward to hearing all the details . . . when I get back from lunch. Picard out."

As soon as the channel was closed, Vash giggled, "hands full! I can't believe you actually said that to Will."

"Out of everyone onboard, he should have known," Picard chuckled as he pulled the communicator off his uniform jacket and tossed the offending object onto the bed.

Reaching over to the nightstand, Vash picked up a pair of pearl drop earrings. As she put them on, she asked flirtatiously, "Now, where were we?"

"I believe," Picard observed, as he closed the distance between them, "that you were busy sexually tormenting the good captain of this fine vessel."

"Why, Mon Capitaine," she gushed, looking up at him coyly through her lashes. "What would ever make you say such a thing?"

Picard's eyes traveled over Vash, lingering on the generous length of leg revealed by the short skirt, before returning to her face. As he spoke, his deep, resonating voice took on a decidedly wolfish tone. "Perhaps, just perhaps, it's the way you bent over to smooth out your hosiery, surreptitiously exposing as much of those long legs of yours as possible. Shall I even mention the way you played with your top button, making damn sure I noticed that the vest revealed more of your cleavage than it covered."

"Really, monsieur, I was simply preparing for a night out," Vash professed, feigning a breathless naiveté. Making huge doe-eyes at him, she reached up to leisurely trace the rank pips on the collar of his burgundy uniform tunic. "Although, I'll admit there may have been a bit of innocent flirtation involved."

"Uh-huh," Picard uttered, not buying the explanation for a second. She was playing with his rank pips, which meant she was plotting something. He could only watch in astonishment as her entire demeanor changed from impish vixen to wanton vamp in the blink of an eye.

Vash's voice became low and seductive, "But if sexual torment is your desire, by all means, let's go there." Without prelude, her hand reached up to grip the upper edge of his uniform jacket and, in one swift motion, ripped the snaps open down the front. She quickly slid both her hands up to his shoulders and pulled the jacket down to his wrists. Leaving his hands effectively bound behind his back, she began boldly stroking and caressing his bulging biceps and rippling chest. Grasping the top edges of his tunic, Vash strongly jerked the tunic open and down to join the jacket around his wrists. She stepped in closer, flicking the hardened nipples through the fabric of his T-shirt. As one hand continued to twirl and caress one nipple, she lowered her head to lick and nip at the other. Not satisfied, she gave in to her desire to taste him and moved her mouth up to run her tongue lightly along his very clenched jawline.

Picard suppressed a moan as he felt her warm, moist tongue tormenting him through the thin fabric and he renewed his efforts to free his arms still trapped behind his back. He shifted closer, pressing himself into her mouth as he felt her tongue along his jaw. Streaks of fire shot through his body when her mouth began sucking strongly at the sensitive skin along the side of his throat. He almost let loose a Klingon howl of triumph as he succeeded in freeing his arms to grab his torturous fiancee'.

His triumph was short-lived as Vash just narrowly avoided his grasp. She had quickly moved to stand a few steps behind him, leaving him staring at the empty space between himself and the bed. Picard turned to face her. Every muscle in his body tightened in fervent response to the seductress that met his eyes. Vash was standing with her legs apart and her hands on her hips, her wide stance causing the hem of her skirt to rise to a precarious level. Now unbuttoned halfway, her vest parted to reveal a brassiere of white Venetian lace sprinkled with tiny sequins. The lush curves of her breasts appeared to overwhelm their glittering confines. She slowly advanced on him, until she was only an arm's length away. When she raised one hand to lay it flat against the center of his chest, he noticed that her fingernails were slightly longer than usual and manicured in a rich pink color that matched her lips. Forcing his gaze back up to her face, his breath caught in his throat at the carnal fire that blazed in her blue eyes.

"Breathe, baby," Vash commanded in a lascivious tone. She reveled in the ragged sound his breath made as he inhaled shakily. Using the hand she had splayed across the center of his muscular chest, she pushed Jean-Luc backward until he bumped against the bed. With one last nudge, he dropped to sit on the bed.

Picard tightly gripped the edge of the bed as Vash took a small step back from him and leisurely undid the rest of the buttons on her vest. With a gentle roll of her shoulders, she slid the vest off in one fluid movement. He found himself spellbound by the way the creamy skin of her slender midriff disappeared beneath the white suede of her skirt. She slowly and deliberately unfastened each of the clasps that ran along the right side of the skirt from her waist down the curve of her hip. Picard's pulse quickened as the skirt glided past her hips and down the length of her legs to unveil thong panties of white Venetian lace covered in tiny sequins. The enchanting nymph standing before him was now clad only in high heels, silk stockings and matching brassiere and panties. That was if that itty-bitty scrap of sparkling material could actually be considered a pair of panties. Trying to regain some control over the situation, Picard reached out to run his hand up her silk covered right thigh to the soft skin of her bare hip. His tone charmingly wry, he teased, "On a night when you won't be with me, you choose to wear this particular pair of panties."

Vash's skin tingled from the heat of Jean-Luc's hand resting on her hip. The resulting rush of desire only served to embolden her. She braced her hands on his broad shoulders and leaned toward him, her right knee finding purchase in the mattress next to him. Staring brazenly into his smoldering grey eyes, she informed him in her finest bedroom voice, "If I were going to be with you tonight I wouldn't need panties."

"Heaven help me," Picard muttered at her words as he closed his eyes briefly and swallowed hard. The sweet scent of her favorite perfume along with the sight of her curvaceous silhouette so scantily attired was playing havoc with his senses.

Bringing her other knee up onto the bed, Vash straddled Jean-Luc's lap. His lips were firm but pliant as she seized them with her own in a fiercely demanding kiss. Her hands drifted over the corded muscles of his shoulders and arms, lingering on the bulging biceps of his upper arms. Vash's own arousal was becoming more and more inflamed by the feel of the hard length of his body beneath her. As her tongue searched his mouth, she slid her hands down the lean tapering lines of his torso to the waistband of his trousers. Impatiently, her fingers tugged at his T-shirt yanking it free of his waistband. Her hands glided over the sculpted muscles of his chest as she pushed his T-shirt up. She finally broke the kiss allowing him to strip his T-shirt off over his head. With Jean-Luc stripped to the waist, Vash's eyes drank in the tightly leashed strength of the well-defined muscles of his chest, shoulders and arms. As she explored the expanse of his chest, her hands delighted in the rippling pectorals and coarse chest hair. Still breathless from the kiss, her voice came out husky and passion-laced, "You're so much like the ship you command, dear Captain. You have such sleek lines with a graceful, hard form. It just barely contains a scintillating mind that guides such amazing power. You are, without a doubt the flagship captain of the fleet. Such raw virility can be physically overwhelming to a poor, innocent girl."

The tone of Vash's voice along with the feel of her small hands roaming over his chest and arms drove Picard's need up yet another notch. His arms encircled her, his palms slipping around her tiny waist to skim up the feminine curve of her spine to the brassiere strap. Deftly, he undid the clasp. As he discarded the bra, his heated gaze took in her breasts with their creamy roundness tipped in deep rosy peaks. Cupping her breasts possessively in his hands, he gently caressed the hardened nipples with his thumbs. With a sigh, Vash arched herself into his ministrations, her small hands clutching his shoulders. Aching to claim the seductive vixen, one hand moved around to cup her head and pull her down to his lips in a forceful kiss. His tongue plunged past her parted lips, laying claim to everything in it's path. Sliding both of his arms to encircle her waist, he crushed the supple curves of her body tightly against him. His mouth left her soft, swollen lips almost reluctantly, moving down to nudge beneath a curtain of brown hair, nuzzling the sensitive spot under her earlobe.

Picard's voice took on a smooth, honeyed baritone timbre, "You are so amazing. Every time I see you I want you more. Just watching you from across the lounge I want to grab you, claim you in front of everyone and carry you off here, to my quarters. Locking the door, I would slowly peel every strip of clothing off your delectable body and make love to you for days. I want to take you leisurely and watch the passion in your eyes as you respond to me. I want to take you hard and fast, claiming and possessing every inch of you for myself. I want you to forget every man before me."

"Oh Jean-Luc, I adore your voice," Vash sighed ardently, rolling her head back to bare her throat to the gentle onslaught of his mouth. She was very conscious of the stiff peaks of her breasts crushed against the muscular wall of his chest. She pulled back slightly to gaze into his steel-grey eyes.

"Your voice alone claims me. My body responds to your deep, sexy, resonating voice like a physical caress," Vash purred, reaching up with a hand to run her fingertips sensuously over his lower lip. She began slowly moving her hands down him, her fingertips brushing over his coarse chest hair and down the taut strength of his abdomen.

"Sacre Bleu!" Picard cursed hoarsely under his breath as Vash's erotic admission caused his desire to climb to an almost unbearable level.

Deciding to press her advantage, she slipped her hands lower to find the evidence of his need for her. Leaning into him to nibble on the sensitive spot just below his ear, she murmured, "You know a shuttle would make things easier tonight."

Picard fought for control as Vash deftly opened his trousers and grasped him with an even more insistent touch. He thought he might lose his mind from the sensations caused by her delicate, skillful hands. With a low groan, he managed to choke out, "take the Captain's yacht."

"Merci beaucoup, mon Capitaine," Vash cooed breathlessly against his neck, as her hands continued the familiar rhythm.

'Have at you!' Picard thought to himself as he decided playtime was over and enough was enough. Turning his face, his mouth found hers, capturing it in a deep, savage kiss. As his mouth took command of hers, he slid one hand to cup her panties, his fingers slipping past the thin, sequined material to invade and stroke the very center of her desire. He was extremely gratified to discover she was as aroused as she had claimed.

"Please . . .Jean-Luc . . . please, " Vash panted mindlessly, breaking the kiss. Her hands moved to clutch his broad shoulders, her body arching like a drawn bow as his talented fingers continued to caress and fill her erotically. Vash tossed her head as the exquisite torment drove her to near insanity.

Picard grasped her in his muscular arms and spun them, pushing her back onto the bed and swiftly covering her with his own hard body. Lowering his head, he claimed the stiff nipple of one of her breasts in his mouth, sending shockwaves over her inflamed nerves as he swirled his tongue over the sensitive peak. As he feasted on the sweet crests of her lush breasts, his hands swiftly slid her panties down the length of her legs dropping them to the floor. Lifting his head up, he looked down at her lovely face, her eyes closed in ecstasy. Her eyes fluttered open and her gaze locked with his. Bracing his arms on either side of her shoulders, he placed himself between her long, shapely legs. From deep in his throat, he growled softly, "Now mademoiselle."

"Ohhhh Jean-Luc," Vash moaned. She matched him motion for motion, her hands stroking the tightly sculpted muscles of his arms, feeling the strong muscles ripple and bunch with every forceful movement of his body. She cried out his name as wave after wave of pleasure crashed over her and his body violently plummeted into her own.

A thin sheen of perspiration covered Picard's body as he struggled to keep from losing himself to the burning pleasure of her body moving in complete synchronization with his own. Vash's sweet cries of passion spurred him on to even higher heights of desire.

"Now. . . Jean-Luc! Ohhh . . . yes . . . now!" Vash screamed out as the overwhelming pressure mounting inside her finally detonated in an explosive release of wave after wave of ecstasy.

"Yes, Vash," Picard hissed triumphantly. As he thrust himself into her with an ever increasing urgency, the tension she had been building in him all afternoon finally reached a crescendo.

Collapsing onto Vash, Picard's body was damp and his breathing labored from the physical exertion. He let out a contented sigh as he felt her small hands traveling over the muscles of his back.

"And that was sexually tormenting the good captain of this fine vessel," Vash cooed, enjoying the play of his strong muscles beneath her fingertips.

"Oh."

"Darling," she purred sweetly as she felt him nuzzle her neck, "you do remember offering me the use of the Captain's yacht?"

Chuckling into the soft, damp skin of her throat, he acknowledged, "Yes, I remember being coerced into allowing you the use of that particular vessel."

Casually, Vash swept her arm over the bed to locate Jean-Luc's communicator. Presenting it to him, "Good. Here."

He raised himself up on one elbow to take the communicator from her. He arched an eyebrow and used his best Dixon Hill voice, "Has anyone ever told you that you really are a pushy broad?"

"Of course," Vash smiled and shrugged her shoulders. "That's the first line on my resume`."

"Of that, I have no doubt," he replied dryly. Activating the communicator, his voice became all business. "Picard to main shuttlebay."

"Lieutenant Kingston here, sir," came the prompt reply.

"Mr. Kingston, what is the current status of the yacht?" Picard inquired.

"She's ready to go, sir, all shipshape and Bristol fashion. She'll only need the final preflight check," the young man answered.

Vash smiled to herself. The boy had just earned himself a few bonus points with the boss. Jean-Luc simply adored it when one of his crew used an old naval term. Although he was French, Vash was convinced Jean-Luc saw himself as a reincarnation of Admiral Horatio Nelson.

Picard ignored Vash's grin. "Very good, Lieutenant. Please have the yacht and one of our best pilots on standby at eighteen hundred hours. The yacht will be at the disposal of Councilmember Vash and her party tonight."

"Aye, sir. I'll see to all the arrangements myself. Everything will be perfect for Professor Vash," came the suddenly enthusiastic response.

"Thank you, Lieutenant. Picard out." Picard closed the channel and glanced down to see Vash looking quite tickled with herself. He rolled his eyes as he spoke. "They are completely smitten with you, every last one of them. As far as my male officers are concerned, you can do no wrong."

"And I treasure each and every one of them. But I'm completely smitten with their C.O.," she cooed up at him, taking his face tenderly in her hands for a brief, sweet kiss. "Thank you."

"You're welcome," he replied with a smile. As her body shifted underneath his, Vash splayed her small hands across his chest and gently pushed up. Picard chuckled, "Oh I see how this works. I got what I wanted, now get off of me."

"Well . . . .yes," Vash remarked, not sounding the least bit apologetic.

Laughing, Picard rolled off to one side and sat up. "So, that's it. Wham bam . . ."

"Merci, mon Capitaine," she added her own twist to the age-old adage as she sat up, draping herself over his back and shoulder.

"I suppose . . ." Picard's voice trailed off. Kissing the back of Vash's hand, he stood up and began to get dressed. As he pulled on his T-shirt, he caught his reflection in the dresser mirror. He saw a small, but very noticeable, bluish-purple bruise high on his neck. He turned to his bride-to-be and gestured to the lovebite, "Explain this."

"Marking territory," Vash boasted playfully as she admired her handiwork from the bed.

"I am not going to the bridge this way. I'll have to stop in sickbay to see Beverly," Picard said with only the slightest hint of exasperation.

"She's already left for the day to get ready for the party," Vash told him as she slipped her panties back on.

"Lieutenant Ogawa?" he asked, not sounding very hopeful.

"Alyssa is also going tonight and has gone off duty," Vash answered as she put on and adjusted her bra. "Although, Dr. Selar is on duty."

"A Vulcan," he sighed.

"Look at it this way, Jean-Luc," Vash quipped, fluffing her hair with her fingers, "at least you know she won't laugh, even to herself."

"That is not entirely helpful, chere," he replied as he watched her slide her skirt back on. Suddenly, he remembered what he was about to ask her before he had become so . . . distracted. "Who else is going tonight?"

"Well, let's see," Vash began as she slipped her vest back on. "Of course, there is Beverly, Alyssa, Deanna, Robin Lefler. There is also Blair Durante and Rochelle Bernadine, my girlfriends from college and Barbara Caldwell, my lab assistant, is also going.

"Rochelle Bernadine, isn't she the one Will likes, the blond with the legs?" Picard asked.

"The blond with the legs? The blonde with the legs?" Vash looked over at him astounded. "The woman is a renowned quantum physicist who was instrumental in designing the quantum torpedo. You know, the little thing that actually blows up Borg Cubes."
"I know what they do, I've used them," he stated flatly. Then his smile returned, "It still doesn't change the fact that she is a leggy blonde."

"You sound like your first officer. Does that make me the brunette with the legs?" Vash had to laugh at the 'isn't that obvious' expression on his face. "So that would make Beverly the leggy-redhead and Deanna the brunette with the really great set of . . ."

"I never noticed," Picard cut her off quickly as he put on his uniform tunic.

"You've never noticed that your ship's counselor has breasts that enter a room five minutes before the rest of her does?" she asked incredulous. Seeing him try to hide a smile as he emphatically shook his head no, Vash giggled, "Liar."

As he pulled on his uniform jacket, he quickly changed the subject by teasing her, "Promise me you will try and stay out of trouble."

"I always try," Vash purred the expected response. She walked over to stand in front of him while buttoning the last two buttons on her vest. Reaching up, she tenderly ran her hands over his jacket, smoothing out the lines of his uniform. She gazed up at him contentedly, "Je t`aime."

"Je t`aime," Picard murmured as he stroked her hair with one hand. Leaning down, he brushed a sweet, brief kiss across her lips. Straightening up, he added, "I really should be getting back to the bridge soon."

"I know, but, let me replicate a quick sandwich for you," she offered with a smile. "After all, it wouldn't do for you to show up on the bridge hungry after a long lunch in your quarters."

......................................................

Early that evening, Picard stood in front of the replicator in his readyroom. As he took his cup Earl Grey, he called back over his shoulder, "Are you sure I can't get you anything, Number One?"

"No thank you, sir." Riker shook his head, then a smile spread across his face. "Unless you want to just forget these progress reports and we'll go play a couple of rounds of dom-jot."

"I'm all for that idea," Picard chuckled, walking over to sit down in his desk chair. "You explain to Admiral Nechayev why she really doesn't need the reports and I'll get the cue sticks."

"Why take such unnecessary risks? We'll just do these reports and play a round or two of dom-jot after we're finished," Riker suggested knowingly.

"It does sound like a much safer plan," Picard retorted dryly. Straightening his uniform jacket, he added, "But before we start, I do want to check with the main shuttle bay. I promised Vash use of the Captain's Yacht for this evening's festivities."

With a low wolf-whistle, Riker blurted out, "Whoa, the Captain's Yacht, what did she do?"

Caught mid-sip, Picard nearly choked on his tea at being proverbially 'caught red-handed' by his close friend and second-in-command. With a look of mock disdain, he gasped, "Will!"

"Sorry," Riker laughed as he shook his head and held his hands up in capitulation. "It just slipped out."

"It's all right," Picard assured him good-naturedly. Giving Riker a small, self-depreciating smile, he added. "It's sufficient to say, Number One, that what she did, she did very, very well."

"Understood, sir," Riker replied with that familiar gleam in his eyes.

The captain activated the comm-link on his desk, "Picard to main shuttle bay. Status?"

"Shuttle bay, Lieutenant Kerwin here, sir. The yacht is ready to go. I was waiting for Professor Vash and her party to arrive before I do my last flight check."

"Very good, Mr. Kerwin. I assume you will be the pilot tonight?" Picard asked.

"Yes, sir," the young man answered.

"Thank you, Lieutenant," Picard responded.

Chuckling, Riker added, "Hey Bruce, I want to extend my most sincere sympathies to you over pulling this hazardous detail."

"Thank you, Commander, chauffeuring a bachelorette party can get pretty horrific," the lieutenant responded tongue-in-cheek. "If this vessel returns without me, may I request a search party be launched relatively quickly, sir?"

"If Vash sells you to anyone, I promise to buy you back personally, Lieutenant," Picard promised.

........................................

"Aye, sir," Kerwin spoke into the comm-link located on the shuttle bay's control console. Suddenly hearing the door open, the lieutenant looked up to see eight women walking in, laughing and talking. He spotted his captain's fiancee and stepped toward her, "Professor Vash, I need to do one final flight check and we'll be underway in five to ten minutes."

"No hurry," Vash smiled at the young man. "It's Bruce, isn't it?"

"Yes, Ma'am," he nodded, pleased she knew his name. "Please wait here. Like I said, it should be less then ten minutes."

"He is the one with all the brass on the shoulder," Vash said gesturing upward in the direction of the bridge. "Not me, so relax and take your time, Bruce. We'll be ready when you are."

"Yes, ma'am," Kerwin smiled before heading over toward the yacht.

............................................

In the captain's ready room, Picard and Riker had heard the exchange. Picard noted amused, "It seems Mr. Kerwin has forgotten to close down his half of the channel."

Riker nodded, "With our half closed, they can't hear us but we can hear them. The eternal battle of the sexes and we have a chance to eavesdrop on the enemy camp. This is almost too good to pass up."

"However, we should pass it up," Picard admitted, "and close the rest of the channel off up here."

"Yes, sir, absolutely," Riker agreed. With that mischievous glint in his eyes, he added, "Of course, the shuttle bay is a secured access area of the ship and, as captain, it is well within your rights to monitor activity on any secured access area of this vessel."

"That's weak, Will," Picard uttered. Neither man made a move to shut down the channel.

.........................................................

"So, how bout a little sneaky peak to get the party rolling?" Vash called out as she held up two bottles of wine. She handed one to Blair Durante, a pretty red-head who was a college girlfriend and an expert in molecular cybernetics.

"Where'd that come from?" Robin Lefler asked.

"I raided my man's liquor cabinet," Vash boasted, very pleased with herself.

"The captain keeps bottles of chardonnay onboard?" Alyssa Ogawa asked, sounding surprised.

"He's French, any self-respecting Frenchmen always has good wine nearby," Rochelle Bernadine explained with a toss of her blond hair, her own French accent coming through.

................................................

Picard found himself nodding in agreement with Rochelle.

.................................................

"Still, this looks like awfully expensive stuff to be swigging down," Alyssa remarked as she watched Beverly Crusher accept the bottle from Blair and take a long drink.

"It's the expensive stuff all right," Beverly assured the younger woman. "But look at the label, Alyssa. He owns the vineyard."

"Oh," Alyssa giggled. "Well then hand it over."

......................................................

Rolling his eyes with feigned insult, Picard huffed, "Number One, those ladies are guzzling down my label's best chardonnay like it was bathtub gin."

"Try not to take it personally, sir."

......................................................

"I just can't believe you're getting married, Vash," Blair teased. "You, the one that always declared, 'No man is going to tell me what to do' and 'I certainly don't need a man to take care of me.' Not only are you getting married, you're marrying Starfleet's Captain Heroic and living on the starship he commands."

"I don't need a man to take care of me," Vash laughed, "however, I've discovered I like having a man take care of me. It does have it's advantages. Whenever a problem arises, you point the problem toward the imposing man in uniform and say, 'Talk to him.' He also squishes the really big bugs, moves the heavy objects and pays the check."

"He squishes the really big bugs?" Blair rolled her eyes in disbelief. "Vash, honey, are you aware of the fact that the man you're about to marry is considered a living legend?"

Vash exchanged glances with Beverly and Deanna. Turning to Blair, she replied, "Yes, of course I'm aware of it and sometimes, I'm even conscious of it."

"Sometimes?" Blair prompted.

"I met and fell in love with Jean-Luc before ever seeing Captain Picard," Vash explained with a smile. "Jean-Luc is a very complicated man, with many facets to his personality. I live with the man, not the legend, behind the legend is a very passionate and demonstrative man, with a gentle charm and a very quick wit. A born scientist, there are times when he will become so engrossed in solving a mystery or a problem that I will literally have to remind him to eat. When he has solved the mystery or found the answer to the problem, I've seen his face light up like a ten-year-old boy as he tells me all about it. I've also had this man pursue me around the bedroom with the tenacity of a randy twenty-year-old cadet taking leave on Risa."

.......................................................

Hearing the ladies laughing at the last statement, Riker raised an eyebrow at Picard.

"Like you wouldn't if you were in my shoes," the captain offered in defense.

......................................................

"However, there are times when I'm very conscious of the legend, the consummate starship captain, confident, determined, resourceful and completely in command. Just put him in his dress uniform, it hits me like a ton of bricks," Vash continued, her voice becoming more impassioned. "Whenever he is on the bridge in his command chair, he looks every inch the hero he's reputed to be. No matter how many times I see it, the sight of him on the bridge always . . ."

"Always . . ." Beverly coaxed impishly.

"Makes me horny," Vash admitted, "Without fail, I see him on the bridge, I get all hot and bothered, and I start thinking of ways to seduce him. And if he knew about this, he'd probably revoke my bridge privileges."

...................................................

"Au contraire, ma chere," Picard quipped to his first officer's great amusement. Leaning back slightly in his chair, he added, "I must admit, Number One, this is quite informative."

...................................................

"Will you listen to me?" Vash scoffed at herself. "I sound like a lovesick schoolgirl suffering from her first major crush."

"Whoa boss, you really got it bad for the man, don't you?" Barbara Caldwell chimed in. The pretty brunette was an assistant archaeologist onboard and reminiscent of a younger Vash.

Looking over at her protégé, Vash gasped in mock surprise, "You think so, junior."

Rochelle chuckled, "There is only one thing that surprises me about this."

"And that is?" Vash asked.

Rochelle grinned, "Your French, ma amie, your pronunciation was always so atrocious."

"It's improved," Vash remarked dryly.

"Vash, I was a little surprised when you said we had a shuttle," Deanna confided as she handed one of the wine bottles to Lefler. "Do you know which one we're taking?"

"What do you mean which one?" Vash feigned innocence. "The only one suitable for the captain's wife, the captain's yacht."

"Hot Damn!" squealed Robin amidst deafening cheers and high fives.

Beverly draped an arm around Vash's shoulder, "You shameless slut, you slept with the groom, didn't you?"

"Beverly, of course I didn't sleep with him," Vash protested. "I fucked him, there was no sleeping with him," she clarified.

...............................................

Picard choked on a sip of tea. Recovering, he muttered, "I didn't hear that." Risking a glance at Riker, "And neither did you."

"Yes, sir," Riker replied, unable to look at Picard for fear of laughing.

..............................................

"I stand corrected," Beverly quipped.

Taking a swig of wine, Blair noted, "There are distinct advantages to bangin' the boss."

Barbara picked up with, "Oh, you mean like, 'servicing the C.O..'"

................................................

Picard closed his eyes in resignation.

..................................................

Beverly chimed in, "Sexin the Skipper."

.....................................................

Picard gritted his teeth, "She knows I hate that term."

"Sexin?" Riker inquired, choking down a laugh.

"No, Skipper."

........................................................

"Copulating with the Captain," Deanna added to the melee.

........................................................

Riker leaned back in his chair, giving in to the need to laugh.

.........................................................

Rochelle gave the piece de resistance, "Mounting Mon Capitaine."

"My, that was vivid, wasn't it, children?" Vash giggled.

..........................................................

Head buried in his hands, Picard nodded in silent agreement. Stretched full length in his chair, Riker clutched his midsection as tears rolled down his face.

........................................................

Glancing over at Rochelle and Blair, Vash asked, "So girls, now that you've met him, what do you think?

........................................................

"Oh God, no," Picard muttered into his hands.

.......................................................

Blair sighed, "He certainly fills out the uniform, tight package, real nice ass."

"Noticed that, huh?" Vash chuckled with pride.

"It's kind of hard to miss," Rochelle jumped in. "Of course, Commander Tall dark and edible is definitely do-able. I wonder, if you bounced coins off their butts, which would bounce higher?" She postulated an intriguing theory.

Vash championed her man, "Jean-Luc, definitely Jean-Luc's."

"Well, Will's ass is awful tight," Deanna remembered fondly.

Vash shrugged. "They're both in the readyroom, replicate a coin and we'll go find out."

Beverly laughed, imagining the scene. "Excuse me gentlemen, could you both stand up and bend over? We have a bet to settle."

......................................................

Riker looked over at Picard in sheer terror. Picard immediately spoke up, "Computer, secure ready room door, my authorization only."

"Well done, sir.

......................................................

"And those mouth-watering physiques aren't even their best features," Alyssa added with a shy giggle.

"No kidding," Beverly agreed, "there is only one thing sexier than Will Riker's sparkling blue, bedroom eyes and 'your place or mine?' smile."

"The captain's voice," chorused Beverly, Deanna, Robin and Alyssa.

Deanna mused, "It's a tool he uses most effectively. On the bridge, his powerful voice resonates with authority. It's part of that commanding presence he has that is very reassuring when you're staring at a fleet of enemy ships. However, in private, his tone softens to a rich, gentle baritone that can melt butter. He's one of the few individuals that my mother would rather hear their voice than receive their thoughts."

"Oh, he does have the most unbelievably sexy voice," Robin sighed. Not sounding the least bit apologetic, she added, "Sorry Vash, but every woman on this ship I know has at least one sexual fantasy involving the captain."

.....................................................

Picard blinked in astonishment at that little bombshell. Tugging uncomfortably at his uniform jacket, he sat back in his chair and rubbed the bridge of his nose. The captain was finding all this feminine adulation a bit disconcerting. He risked a glance at his first officer, who was grinning with unholy glee.

"You were right, sir. This is quite informative. All this time to prepare for command I've been learning fencing, history, diplomacy and military strategy from you," Riker managed to deadpan, before laughing, "when what I really need was voice and diction lessons."

"Number One," Picard admonished.

"I'm very sorry, sir," Riker said, sounding anything but sympathetic. "I'm sure hearing this has been a horrible experience for you. Such heavy burdens of command, what will you do?"

"Absolutely nothing." With amused exasperation, he lamented, "Are you quite finished now?"

"Now, that all depends on the ladies, sir," Riker retorted.

...........................................................

"No need to apologize, Robin," Vash giggled conspiratorially. "I have my fair share of lustful fantasies about our distinguished captain, I just get to act on them."

"While we're on the subject, Vash, there's something I've always wanted to know," Robin broached a subject they were all curious about.

"Do tell," Vash encouraged.

"Well . . ." Robin began slightly hesitant. "Is he as good as he looks?"

"Ooh-la-la," Vash trumpeted, briefly closing her eyes. "Jean-Luc is the most extraordinary lover I've ever had. No one even comes close. The sex is absolutely mind-blowing. Trust me ladies, the most impressive Picard Maneuvers are not found in Starfleet Academy text books."

"Really rings your bell, does he?" Beverly giggled.

"At least two, usually three times a night. This man is amazing in bed . . ." Vash gushed, "or on the floor, on the couch, the dining table, the holodeck, a shuttle craft, his readyroom desk . . ."

....................................................

"The desk?" Riker gestured to the piece of furniture between them.

"It was convenient at the time," the captain replied, trying to contain his triumphant delight at hearing Vash's answer.

"Look, it's just me in here. I've been your second-in-command for over a decade, I'm going to be the best man at your wedding. I promise not to tell a soul that you're human, so please, just let it out before I explode!" Riker implored, looking over expectantly at Picard.

"YES!" Picard crowed exultant, slamming his fist victoriously on his desk. Composing himself, he sat back in his chair. Completely straight faced, he addressed Riker with his usual aplomb, "It's always nice to hear one's efforts appreciated."

Riker erupted in another fit of laughter.

....................................................

Alyssa suddenly giggled, "Can you imagine the captain's reaction if he could actually overhear any of this?"

Vash smiled lovingly at the thought of Jean-Luc's response, "Oh, I know exactly what his reaction would be. Tugging on his jacket, he'd roll his eyes. Then rubbing the bridge of his nose, he'd give us one of those long, suffering sighs and complain, 'Is there anything you ladies won't tell each other?'"

"She's got him pegged," Beverly chuckled to Deanna.

"Ladies, I think we need to get Vash off this ship quickly," Blair urged with feigned seriousness. "She's has that sappy expression on her face that says 'isn't my boyfriend just the dreamiest.'"

"Here, Blair," Vash handed her a bottle as she retorted good-naturedly, "Drink this and shut up." Vash noticed Lieutenant Kerwin approaching, "Okay guys, time to clean up our act for awhile. Here comes the pilot."

"Why clean it up at all?" Beverly asked mischievously.

"Because it's not nice to terrorize the junior officers, Beverly," Vash teased.

..........................................................

"Well, I guess the fun's over, sir," Riker was breathing heavily from the exertion of sustained laughter. "It's probably safe to unlock the door."

"She's still intoxicated and on my ship. I'll let her clear the shuttle bay first, Number One. She probably just forgot about the bet with all the other topics coming up."

"I'll pretend that you didn't intend that particular pun, sir."

..........................................................

The next morning, actually closer to noon, Vash stirred awake to the sound of Jean-Luc quietly moving in the outer room of the quarters. She wasn't hung-over, exactly. Beverly had given them all an antitoxin hypospray at the end of the evening. Actually, Beverly had given them the hypo this morning, around 4 am. With her eyes closed, she laid there preparing herself for the, albeit well-deserved, ribbing she knew would be forthcoming from her soon-to-be spouse. She heard his approach and opened her eyes to see him standing in the doorway, smiling down at her tenderly. To her surprise, he was holding a breakfast tray with a single red rose laying in front of the meal. She could smell the coffee and a Belgian waffle topped with strawberries which looked divine.

"Good morning, I thought you might be hungry," Picard greeted her quietly. Even though it had been quite informative, he was still feeling slightly guilty for eavesdropping on her and her girlfriends the night before.

"I am, thank you; but, I think it's probably more like good afternoon," Vash replied as she watched Jean-Luc walk over to the bed with the tray. She was just a little baffled, this scene was more like a peace offering rather than the good-natured scolding she was expecting. As she sat up running her hand through her hair, she groaned, "I'm sure I look like something the cat dragged in."

"Quite the contrary." Picard placed the tray across Vash's lap as he sat next to her on the bed. His eyes drank in the way her lavender, satin negligee clung to her. Leaning over to brush a kiss across her cheek, he quoted softly, "'Earth has not anything to show more fair.'"

"Ohhh, you are a silver-tongued devil," she cooed, amused at hearing him recite Wordsworth this early in the day. "What did you do?"

"Moi?" Picard sat back and gave her his best 'who me?' expression.

"Vous," Vash insisted with a smile. She picked up the rose and tapped him on the nose with each word, "Johnny . . .what . . .did . . .you . . .do?"

"Well, it was early in the evening and I was with Will in my readyroom. Just before we started on the reports, I contacted the shuttle bay to check with Lieutenant Kerwin on the status of the yacht," Picard explained, trying to sound as innocent as possible. "You and the rest of the ladies came in just as we finished our conversation. In his hurry to greet you, Mr. Kerwin inadvertently forgot to close the channel."

Instantly realizing that Jean-Luc and Will had listened in on the conversation in the shuttle bay, Vash started laughing. She could only imagine how the girl-talk they heard must have flustered the two of them. Right off hand, she could think of several comments that must have turned Jean-Luc the same shade of crimson as his uniform tunic. He was so adorable at the moment, looking like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar, unable to even meet her gaze. She teased him mercilessly, "So, we entertained ourselves with a little eavesdropping, did we? What's next? I know, you and Billy are planning a panty raid once we get to the Picard estate."

"It wasn't eavesdropping," Picard defended himself in vain. "The shuttle bays are secured access areas of the ship and, as captain, it is well within my rights to monitor activity on any secured access area of this vessel."

"Of course, Captain," Vash nodded with feigned seriousness. Raising an eyebrow at him, she giggled, "That's weak, Jean-Luc."

"I know," he sighed. Looking very contrite, he asked, "Are you angry?"

"No. Lucky for you, I find the very idea of you overhearing that particular conversation, especially in front of Will Riker, utterly hilarious. I'm sure it was quite enlightening . . . for both of you," Vash laughed.

"I must admit, it was educational. I never realized my voice was considered so intriguing by you ladies," he replied as he picked up a strawberry. With a slight flush, he inquired, "Was Lieutenant Lefler accurate in her assessment of the number of my . . . admirers?"

"Uh-huh," Vash nodded as she took a sip of her coffee.

"I always assumed that Will was the object of feminine adulation onboard," he remarked, sounding mystified as he took a bite of the strawberry.

Vash put down her coffee, "Jean-Luc, you're a hero to the women on this ship, handsome, powerful and enigmatic. I doubt very many women would actually kick Will Riker out of bed but he still plays second fiddle when compared to you, or at least he did. Too bad you didn't have this information a year ago or you might have been able to put it to use." She patted his cheek and added, "Now, however, you, my boy, are off the market. They can only dream about what I have. And after listening in on our girl-talk last night, I'd wager nobody thinks you need a horga'hn anymore."

Picard chuckled, "I believe Will came to that conclusion the first time he laid eyes on you. Nevertheless, I wish you could have seen his reaction when you mentioned my readyroom desk."

"Ohhh," Vash cooed as she took a strawberry, "did the girls and I shock poor Billy?"

"Not really," Picard smiled. "But some of your divulgences about you and I certainly surprised him."

"As far as the girls were concerned, I was only confirming already strong fantasies about your capabilities," Vash noted, biting into the strawberry. In a coyly suggestive tone, she prompted, "Was there anything that shocked and surprised you, Johnny?"

"There was a discussion on how sexually exciting you found the ship's C.O., especially in his dress uniform or sitting in his command chair on the bridge. You mentioned how either sight invariably inspires you to make plans for his seduction," Picard said with a raised eyebrow, "I simply had no idea that you were so infatuated with the ship's captain."

"Oops." It was Vash's turn to blush as she thought back to exactly what she had said about her own steamy reactions to his Captain Picard persona. She thought, 'this could be a minor tactical disadvantage in the future.'

"Which reminds me, I need to have your bridge privileges dramatically . . . increased," Picard informed her wolfishly, leaning in to capture her lips with his in an ardently impassioned kiss.

**FINIS**