Jean-luc rested his cheek against the seat of the toilet and breathed deeply; which was possibly not the best of moves considering that he had just deposited the menu of an ambassadorial dinner into the bowl. The scent of curdled Fitorus milk had him dry retching.
He forwent brushing his teeth and made do with a squirt of refresher gel to get the taste from his mouth. He knew that he was going to have to see Beverley about this soon. This was not merely a reaction to the rich foreign foods demanded by the current talks; he was obviously unwell.
Crumpling into bed, he wrapped himself in the soft maroon cover and hit the comm badge resting on the bedside table.
"Picard to Crusher."
"Crusher here. How can I help you Captain?"
"Could you come to my quarters please? I believe I may have had a bad reaction to this evening's dinner."
"Of course Captain. I'll be right there."
Jean-luc realised that he had fallen asleep when the door chime sounded and awoke him. He had felt more tired lately, but not being able to remain awake for a few minutes, whilst expecting someone, was unusual enough to be concerned about. The door chimed again.
Beverley looked concerned herself.
"Jean-luc. I've been standing there for five minutes, are you alright?"
"Apparently not. My apologies Beverley, I fell asleep. This is one of the problems that I have been having. I seem to feel tired all the time."
Beverley frowned, "I thought you had food poisoning."
"Yes. Well, maybe not poisoning. Shortly after the talks began I started to feel nauseous. It started out mild but it seems to be getting worse. It always happens in the evening, so I thought that it was probably the food. Perhaps I am allergic to something that we are eating at these dinners."
The medical tricorder buzzed and whirred as though it was collecting answers, which in some ways, it was.
"Have you actually been sick?"
"Yes, for the last three or four days."
"JEAN-LUC," she sounded indignant, "Why didn't you come to me earlier?"
"I thought that it would go away. I really didn't think it was particularly serious. Is it?"
"I can't see any signs of allergic reaction or food poisoning. There's no sign of virus, infection or unusual bacteria in your blood. Your hormone levels look strange though. Lie back on the bed and let me give you a full examination."
"Do you really think…"
The Doctor's hand on his chest ensured that he followed her instructions and with a sigh, he lay back on the bed and kicked the covers off so that he was hidden only by the grey pyjama bottoms. Beverley scanned him in regions, whilst also examining muscle tone, skin condition, nerve reaction. She ceased her medicinal roaming when she reached his abdomen. For a moment, Jean-luc though that she looked shocked, but she recovered quickly and looked him firmly in the eye.
"Jean-luc, I need to ask you a couple of very personal questions and I need you to actually answer them. Can you do that?"
"Beverley? What have you found?"
"Will you answer a couple of questions?"
Jean-luc swallowed deeply. He had no idea what she could possibly ask that would require this strategy, but it was obviously serious. His answer was almost a whisper.
"Yes, of course."
She nodded, professionalism rearing to the surface above her own feelings, and moved to sit on the edge of the bed. She took hold of her friend's hand and looked him directly in the eye again.
"Jean-luc, are you homosexual?"
He gaped like a fish for a moment, unable to quite recover his usual calm.
"Beverley, I, you, don't, I mean, really.."
She raised her other hand and gently stroked his cheek.
"Jean-luc? I need you to answer the question."
He closed his eyes and rested his forehead against hers. It was a terribly intimate gesture and Beverley knew, just from the lack of sexual tension, what his answer would be.
Their foreheads remained pressed together, their hands clasped, their eyes closed.
"Have you been sexually active recently?"
She heard him huff in his breath a little deeper, drawing strength from the very air before he answered.
"How recently do you mean?"
Another breath, another sigh.
"I was involved with someone at the Garganta dig. That was nearly four months ago, I wasn't sure if you would consider that recently. I haven't been involved with anyone since."
"Okay, this will be the most difficult question for you. I need to know if you had penetrative sex and if he ejaculated inside you."
The pause seemed to exist outside normal time. They remained frozen in tableaux, a portrait of what Beverley was delighted to find was a genuine friendship and not something borne of unfulfilled attraction. Many people on the ship believed that the Captain was attracted to her, she had heard the gossip, some believed them to be involved. The consideration had put a distance between herself and her friend. She had not wanted to encourage an advance. A gay man was unlikely to make such an advance though, wasn't he. Jean-luc tried to comprehend what was occurring. He was not at all happy with this intrusive line of questioning, he was a private man and this was a private matter. But this was Beverley, she might nosily ask but she wouldn't pressure him or impress a sense of severity upon him if it was not necessary.
"Yes, to both questions. Why do you need to know this?"
"Just one more question. The man that you were involved with, was he human?"
Jean-luc frowned. Where on earth was she going with this? He at first assumed that she thought he had contracted some kind of sexually transmitted disease that was exclusive to gay men. Whether or not his partner was human, would have little bearing on that though.
"No. Theich is Nashiran. He was participating in the transfer exchange scheme, to convert his skills so that he would be part of Starfleet as well as the Nashiran Control. What does this have to with me feeling unwell?"
"Jean-luc. Of goodness, I really don't know how to tell you this. I needed to rule something out, considering it happened to Deanna. With what you've told me though, I would have to say that it is perfectly natural."
"What is perfectly natural?"
Beverley took a deep breath and grasped her friend's hands firmly.
"Jean-luc. You are pregnant."
Silence. A breath. Calm. Focused eyes.
"That. Is. Not. Possible."
"Oh Jean-luc, of course it is. It isn't common, but then not many human men have relationships with Nashiran men. It's a little like the connection that occurs between humans and Betazoids or Deltans. Those that are too weak, can go insane from the emotional overload during sex. Well, I suppose that you would know that, wouldn't you?"
"Obviously. However, that does not lead to pregnancy. I cannot be pregnant."
"You can and you are. Nashiran men can procreate with both the males and females of their race, that obviously extends to humans as well. Nashiran pregnancies are considerably shorter than human ones, four months to our nine. As it has been nearly four months since you were last with ..since the dig… you must be at least four months pregnant now. It is impossible to tell how long the pregnancy will last, the baby is well developed. I would say that the development is closer to six months gestation but the size is equivalent to four months. I will just have to keep an eye on how things go, we might get a better idea of a due date a little later on."
"Later on? How things go? How long? Beverley, I cannot have a baby. Oh good God, this is not happening."
He buried his face in his pillow, growling deeply. He emerged looking no less scared and frustrated.
"I'm a starship Captain. I cannot give birth. Captains do not give birth."
"They do actually. I could name at least five off the top of my head and those are just the ones currently in service. Admittedly, they are all women, but that isn't the point. They are good Captains whilst being good mothers."
"I am not a mother."
"Well, that's an argument to have with Data really, definition by gender versus function. Functionally you are most definitely a mother, gender-wise I suppose Father would be more appropriate except for the fact that Fatherhood implies that you fathered the child rather than that you carried it and gave birth to it. The baby's father is Theek. Is that right?"
"Theich, more of a ch sound than a k. Rhymes with peach. Semantics aside, this is ridiculous, I cannot do this."
"You really don't have a choice. I am sorry but even if the baby was entirely human, you have gone well past the date at which we could legally terminate the pregnancy. You don't have any choice now, you will have to carry the baby to term. Jean-luc, I am going to give you some space to come to terms with this but I want you to keep something in mind."
She took his hand and placed it palm down on his bare abdomen, pressing the fingers into the flesh. She then leaned close and whispered.
"You made this. You and Theich. You bound yourselves together and created life. Feel it Jean-luc. That is your baby. A son or a daughter. What will they look like? Your nose? Theich's eyes? Remember that it is your child that you are thinking about. Not an imposition. Not a problem hampering your will. Your baby."
Jean-luc continued to stare at his stomach long after she had removed hers, long after she had said goodnight and left the room, long after he should have fallen asleep. When he did fall asleep, his hand remained where it was, pressed against the place where his baby slept inside him. His last conscious though was of Theich and how he would have to contact him.