Disclaimer: Paramount owns all Star Trek characters. I make no profit from this story.

Author's note: My first P/C story. Takes place right after the episode "Attached".

Big thanks to Pia for beta reading this. :)

Rating: PG

Feedback is welcome and hoped for but please be gentle.

Facing Fears
by Sunstar 08/2002

After reaching her quarters Beverly sat down on her couch, buried her head in her hands and burst into tears. Why? Why had she said those words?

"Or perhaps we should be afraid" What the hell was that supposed to mean?

Sharing thoughts and feelings with Jean-Luc had been wonderful! So intimate. Everything was exposed. You could not hide a thing!

She had found out the truth, they both had. Jean-Luc had said he did not have those feelings anymore but his thoughts had betrayed him. Beverly could tell he was lying and did not really mean what he said.

During the night on Kes-Prytt she had laid awake next to him listening to his dreams. He had dreamed of her, of them and he had had the look of utter peace and happiness on his face.

Even though the fire had been burning brightly, Beverly had felt a bit chilly and scared on the foreign planet. More than anything she had wished Jean-Luc would just wrap her in his arms and never let go.

Everything could be so perfect now if she had not said no... ...

They should be afraid?

Why? Why should they? Why should they fight something that clearly was meant to be?
They had been fighting for decades already. Was that not enough? Or was it that they had got so used to fighting they did not know how to stop? How to change course? Was that it?

Being afraid was stupid and they should definitely put an end to it, but how? It was easier said than done.

Over ten years had past since Jack's death. Would she be able to start another serious relationship? Would she remember how to? Would Jean-Luc be able to get over his guilt? Could they make it work? What about their careers, their working relationship? He was her commanding officer, the Captain of the ship.

Hundreds of questions were spinning around her mind making her dizzy.

Suddenly her door chime sounded announcing a visitor. Startled out of her thoughts Beverly jumped up from the couch and stared at the door. She did not want to face Jean-Luc now, not yet. Panic rising inside her, she paced the room and tried to think of a way out of the situation.

The chime rang again and the Doctor froze.

"Beverly, it's me! I know you're in there. Please let me in."

Releasing the breath she'd been holding, Beverly tapped at the control panel and opened the door.

"Come in, Deanna."

As the doors parted the Counselor walked in with a worried expression on her face.

"What's wrong, Beverly?" She asked gently, taking in her friend's tear stained features.

Beverly sighed and looked down. She knew it was no use to lie to an empath. Her mind was in such a turmoil she would have probably been able to sense it from the other side of the ship. So, instead of pretending nothing was wrong she cut right to the chase.

"It's about Jean-Luc..."

"I thought so."

"You did? How did you know?" Beverly asked surprised.

"Well... he's usually the only one who manages to get you this upset AND I just passed by his door on my way here and the feelings emanating from his cabin were far from the calm and composed they usually are, PLUS you two have just shared a terrible ordeal together." Deanna explained.

"Most of it wasn't terrible..." Beverly whispered as new tears began to roll down her face.

"Most of it was something wonderful! Precious and unique."

"Tell me what happened." Deanna said as she guided them both to the couch.

- - - - - - -

20 minutes later Beverly had told Deanna everything that had happened down on the planet and in Picard's quarters after their return to the ship. Deanna sat still and quiet for a while, thinking about what she had just heard, letting it all sink in as she contemplated the best way to help Beverly.

"And how are you feeling now?" She asked her friend, trying not to sound like a counselor.

"Confused. I'm so confused! I don't know what to do. I love him! I know it. You know it. He knows it. But I'm scared and I just can't seem to be able to let go of my fears."

"What exactly are you afraid of?" Deanna prompted.

"I don't know. I'm not sure... I guess I'm afraid of loving him, of losing him... I don't want to get my heart broken again. If something happened to him... I don't think I could stand that."

"So... it's better to be scared and miserable for the rest of your life than to take the chance and see what happens? ... ... Beverly, I can't tell you what to do but from what you just told me... you and the Captain have experienced something very special, something that gave you both the opportunity to find out exactly what the other one is feeling. ... ... What you do with that knowledge is up to you but ... ... Just think about how happy you could be ...

"Deanna rose from the couch and walked towards the doors. Turning back she looked at her friend a final time.

"You know I'll support you whatever you decide... Just promise me you won't say no again without thinking this through, okay?"

Beverly gave a silent nod of her head and Deanna left, leaving her alone.

- - - - - - -

Inside his quarters, Captain Picard had made his decision. He would not let Beverly go, not this time. He knew he loved her and he knew she loved him too, so there was nothing standing in their way... except her fear. He would have to convince her that this was the right thing to do. He was not going to live without her anymore. So, with determined strides, Picard walked out of his quarters.

- - - - - - -

Five minutes after Deanna left, Beverly's door chime rang again. This time she answered it immediately.

"Come in Deanna! Did you forget somethi... ... " Beverly's voice died in her throat.

The person behind the doors was not the Counselor.

"Jean-Luc!" She breathed and without invitation, he stepped inside.

"Beverly, there's something I need to tell you." Jean-Luc said taking a step closer to her.

"I don't want to live without you anymore. And I won't."

"Wha..what?" Beverly asked stunned.

"You heard me. I don't want to live like this anymore. I think it's time we stop pretending we don't love each other, because we both know the truth. And I, am not going to torture myself anymore. I've got over my guilt. I need you, Beverly. I want to share my life with you."

He closed the gap between them and took her trembling hands in his. Looking into her blue eyes he continued.

"Please, give me a chance. We can make it work. I know you're afraid but I'm here, and I'm not going anywhere. Not now, not ever. I love you, and I won't let you go. Please, Beverly! Let your guard down and let me in. I won't disappoint you, I promise."

Silent tears slid down her cheeks as she continued to look at him. Jean-Luc released her other hand so he could gently wipe the tears from her face.

"Shhh...don't cry. " He whispered stroking her hair.

"My beautiful Beverly.... Eyes as blue as the ice and hair as red as fire..." He sighed.

"... and a temper to match." He said as an afterthought and Beverly could not help smiling through tears at his last comment.

"Ahh... and a smile that could melt any man's heart." He said and pulled her close wrapping his arms around her.

"Jean-Luc... I..." She tried to resist but his hold on her was strong.

Putting a finger to her lips he silenced her.Beverly relented and laid her head on his shoulder. She could feel his heart beat and his arms resting on the small of her back. Wrapping her own arms around his neck she closed her eyes and whispered.

"Oh God, Jean-Luc...What are you doing to me?"

"I'm making you see reason... I'm making you let go of your fears."

He pulled back a little.

"Look at me.... Can you say you don't want this? If you want me to let go, I will. ... But if you let me into your heart, if you let me love you the way you deserve to be loved... we could be so happy. ... More than anything I want to hold you like this, feel you close to me, every day, for the rest of our lives."

"What about our careers? You're my commanding officer." Beverly said quietly, looking down.

"We can make it work, Beverly. I know we can. It won't be a problem. Together we can face anything. Trust me!"

Beverly searched his eyes, looking for a hint of doubt or hesitation but all she saw was his love. His love and adoration for her. It shone so brightly she could feel it radiate throughout his body.

"Just say no and I'll let go..." He whispered again.

She did not say a thing.

Jean-Luc moved his head closer to hers and saw her eyes slide shut. He swallowed and slowly, ever so slowly, kissed her. His lips brushed against her tenderly, lovingly. And she did not pull away. Gradually, he deepened the kiss and was rewarded with a soft sigh as she pressed herself closer to him. He let his hands wander around her body and enjoyed the feeling of her against him. He felt like he was in heaven.

Minutes later they broke apart breathlessly.

"Please tell me that was not your way of saying no." He asked looking deep into her eyes.

A single tear rolled down her face and she smiled at him, making his heart race. Pulling his head back to hers she whispered

"Jean-Luc...I think you were right.... ... We should NOT be afraid.".

The End