Just Stopped Breathing by Ana Lyssie Cotton
Jean-Luc Picard wakes in the early morning hours and remembers, reflexively, that the body tangled with his is not an enemy. She is Beverly Crusher, and she is his now. Or he is hers. He isn't quite sure how this works out right now.
He doesn't remember how they got into this position, she curled next to him, their legs tangled. The door to his quarters locked. But he can remember her soft screams as she arched beneath him.
He doesn't recall exactly what day it is, but he can feel the lines she clawed into his back as she came.
None of the others would understand this, if they were here.
None of them were there.
He has never asked her what they did to her in that quiet cold place with five lights (no, four, there are only ever four lights). But it was most likely similar to his torture. The Cardassians had tested him, again and again. Endurance and stamina he hadn't known he had sustained him. They must have sustained her, as well.
The muscle tone in her body is shot, and she is much too thin beneath his sheets.
She smells of lilacs and her skin feels like sandpaper (they really have to get back into the habit of eating and drinking properly).
For Jean-Luc Picard, explaining to anyone exactly how he feels is something he is not allowed. Even buried in her arms, his mind blank with nothing but his own release he is not allowed to be human and frail. There is no admitting his need for this, no allowing his tears to fall.
He is a starship captain, and he isn't allowed the harsher emotions. Compassion, friendship, love, duty, he can display these and does.
But weariness, depression... Deanna doesn't understand. She tries, with her platitudes and sympathetic glances.
As she tried when the Borg took him and raped his mind, scattering his knowledge to the four winds and reducing Jean-Luc Picard to just a man.
Ironically, he senses that this is less of a trauma this time around.
At least he can share it, this time.
"Jean-Luc?" The sleepy questioning tone distracts him from his contemplation and he reaches up to twine his fingers in her hair.
"Go back to sleep, Beverly."
"Not sleepy." Canny green eyes which have watched him for six years (and longer, he knows, but he doesn't like to think of a time before the Enterprise) blink once, and lips that he is now allowed to taste quirk slightly.
"You have a duty shift in an hour."
"There are a lot of things that don't take an hour to do."
He recognizes the look in her eyes, and leans in to kiss her jaw. And then methodically, he slides down her body, kissing and sucking and stroking. This is not making love, this is precise, every movement calculated within an inch to drive her senses insane until she is begging beneath him, sweat soaking her sandpaper skin. And then he takes her with his mouth.
When she comes her thighs clamp around his head and her back arches in a position he might once have thought unbearable, but she is not as old as he is. Her cries are muffled in her pillow.
In six short hours, this bed has become partially hers. He can lay part of the blame on the fact that both he and it smell of her. She smells of him, of course, and someday he might reflect on that fact with a sort of masculine pride. Right now he simply dwells on the fact that she has made some part of him hers.
She doesn't linger in his bed.
He watches her walk across his dimly-lit quarters and disappear into the sanitation unit. He understands. She has to be on duty in less than twenty minutes. The sound of her retching only makes him flop onto his back. Jean-Luc is sure that she understands the inherent wrongness in a doctor of medicine losing the nutrients of her body. He is certain she has a thousand and one lectures on the subject (she certainly delivered them all to him after the Borg).
But he is also certain she can't help it.
Like him, she is sickened by the things done to her. Unlike him she has no previous experience, no mental defences against something that ravaged her soul.
She comes back out, freshly washed and pressed and begins to dress in the uniform one of them discarded the night before. There are scratches on her sides and he assumes he put them there although he can't remember. He's not sure his nails are really that long. There are bruises, too, and those don't surprise him.
Once more the epitome of a Starfleet officer, she turns to him. "How many lights did you see?"
He can at least answer this, now. There is not yet any distance, but he can tell the truth. "Four."
Something flickers across her face and then it's gone. And she's following it, turning and heading for the door.
She stops outside the sense-range of his door. "What."
Not a question. She doesn't want questions--probably not even answers. "How many lights?"
"Five." Her voice cracks across him, searing into his brain. "I finally saw five."
She is gone and the door is sliding shut before he can move. It's all he can do to take in the enormity of her statement. As he loses the contents of his own stomach, he wonders which of them he failed more.