"Computer, four lights."

"Request cannot be processed. Please state portion of whole."

She'd heard it before. Four lights, he'd asked, he'd begged even if it didn't sound like it, she admitted it when she could be honest enough with herself. She didn't understand. Not what he meant, or why he wanted it. What she did know was that he didn't intend to be heard and so she also knew that nobody else, even Counselor Troi, had been privy to the same pleas even in the abstract. She knew it beyond doubt, though she'd never be able to explain why.

"Captain?" A careful inquiry. "Can I help you with something?" Bound by their unspoken agreement of respectful distance, she didn't leave her office to risk eye contact.


The response was unprofessional and distracted, as if he'd been called back, unexpectedly, to the present.

"It sounded like you needed something." Honest enough. And his silence was enough to draw her out of their unspoken agreement. She stood before his desk, and then and there for her their unspoken agreement didn't matter. All that mattered was the promise she'd made, the one she'd been prevented by Plausible Deniability from fulfilling.

"Nothing, Lieutenant."

She leaned forward, just a bit. "I thought maybe… Captain, please. If there's anything I can do…"

To help you. To heal you. To make up for everything I wanted to do, and couldn't.

Finally Picard looked up at her, and knew. For whatever odd and unplanned reason there was nothing to hide from her, nothing to fear from the revelation. Acceptance was a given, even if understanding was not. Why and how would be questions for much later.

"It comes back," he told her, "I can't stop it."

"Neither can I." Her answer was full of the honesty of every denial she'd tried to cling to in her past "It's okay, Jean Luc, it doesn't have to make sense. It never will, but it's okay." Against all instinct she stepped around the desk and knelt next to him. "Whatever's happening, it's okay. You're safe now, you're home now. It's okay."

When he dropped his head in his hands and felt her arm around his shoulders it wasn't everything he needed. It didn't erase his need to see four lights.

But, for the moment anyway, it was okay.