Disclaimer: Star Trek: The Next Generation nor any of it's characters or situations belong to me.

The atrium was one of Beverly Crusher's favorite places aboard the Starship Enterprise. It was often her haven, a place where she could retreat to, to relax from the stresses of her last shift or try not to think about the fact that she hadn't seen or heard from her son in years. She often did her best thinking there.

Today, however, that was not the reason she was there. It was a mystery, actually. Jack had always said that she was too curious for her own good. Her predictable counter argument was to offer that it was also what made her such a good Doctor.

"Beverly," the low voice coming from behind the thicket of wild Vulcan roses startled her, although it shouldn't have. The note that had appeared on her desk had to have come from someone.

She rounded the thicket and then stopped short. She was both surprised and a little disappointed. Some part of her had hoped that the note was from an admirer.

"Hello, Jean-Luc," she said, her smiled tinged with sadness.

To her surprise, he stepped forward and swept a rose out from behind his back.

"For you," he said, with a hint of gruffness. His eyes were glittering strangely as she carefully reached out to accept it. She examined it carefully.

"Vulcan roses are the most beautiful roses in the Alpha Quadrant," she said wistfully.

"But they have no scent," Jean-Luc finished for her softly. "And there is nothing so incomplete as a rose without its scent."

His melancholy mood seemed to match her own for a moment and unbidden she found herself thinking of Jack in twice as many minutes.

Then she remembered her manners and flashed a small smile. "Thank you."

He shook his head and silence took them again until she was beginning to feel uncomfortable with it. The whole situation just felt strange.

"Beverly," he spoke her name again, slowly, deliberately, not as he did when the situation was so dire that he forgot to be formal; not as he did when the argued; and not in the off hand way that he usually spoke when they were alone. She decided that she liked it.

"I'm glad that you found my note. I was afraid that you would miss it."

She shook her head, "I didn't." He had placed it on top of her personal monitor. He knew that she always checked it at the beginning and end of every shift, hoping for some news or a letter from Wes.

"I'm glad." He cleared his throat, uncomfortably as she grew puzzled.

"Jean-Luc, are you all right?" She spoke abruptly. As Chief Medical Officer she should certainly know if something was wrong with her Captain.

"I'm fine," he said hastily. "Fine," he repeated reassuringly. He seemed to make a decision about something. "Beverly will you go with me to next week's theatre production? I believe Mr. Data is putting on an excellent production of Phantom of the Opera."

She was even more puzzled.

"Of course, Jean-Luc," she said with an easy smile. Attending plays or other cultural events aboard the Enterprise together was a long standing tradition with them. They rarely discussed it any more, but usually showed up at the door to the other's quarters, dressed and ready to go. "Is that all," she asked, feeling a hint of relief that it had only been about such a minor detail.

She had half-turned to leave when she felt his hand catch her arm.

"No, Beverly," he said softly. "I'm not asking if you'll go with me as an old friend, but," he cleared his throat, his eyes locked on hers, "as a date."

"Jean-Luc-" She was at a loss for words. The only thing that she could think was "Why now?"

There had been no near death experiences and the little epiphanies that came with them for either of them lately. No alien technology had bound their minds together making denying their mutual attraction almost impossible. Neither of them had just been unceremoniously let go from another relationship and was feeling particularly lonely. So, why now after nearly two decades of missed opportunities?

Beverly was beginning to grow angry.

"No."

"I'm sorry?" Jean-Lu sounded genuinely perplexed.

"I said no. Why should I go with you now when you haven't made a move any time in the past two decades?"

He seemed dumbstruck. Clearly he had not been expecting whatever this was. "I – well, it just never seemed to be the right moment."

"You'll have to do better than that, Jean-Luc," she said sharply.

For a moment, she was afraid that she'd pushed him too far, but if they started this, she had to be certain of him. She was bitterly familiar with loss, but there was only so much loss that she could live through. Surviving was not living.

"I was afraid," he said shortly, "that you would always hate me because of Jack. I preferred to be certain of our friendship rather than push for more and know that it was so."

His words startled her. "Jean-Luc," the rote placations about Jack's death stuck in her throat. She had been angry at him when he had lived and her husband had died. She had been good at being a wife and she had loved their life. Her world had been stripped from her when he died.

"This isn't about Jack," she said firmly. "Jack has been gone for a very long time, Jean-Luc. This is about us. I don't wish that you were dead and Jack was standing there in your place. I'm very glad that you're here," she said softly.

He took a step closer to her. "Can you forgive me for waiting so long?"

A smile twitched across her lips. "Make it up to me."

She saw him relax fractionally. "As the Doctor orders."

His hand slid around her waist, pulling her to him. His lips met hers gently, and even in her surprise, she melted into the kiss.

It was just what the Doctor ordered.