The computer chirped, then interrupted his sleep with with her familiar voice, "Incoming communique from Starfleet Academy."
Rolling over to his side, Jean-Luc detached himself from the arms around his chest and the long leg that was draped over his own. Beverly only murmured slightly before relaxing back into sleep. If he said her name, she'd been awake in an instant, but otherwise she was a master of sleeping when she could. In the short time since they'd started spending nights together he'd learned that she was capable of sleeping through the myriad communiques that interrupted the captain's sleep. She also had the fascinating ability to fall asleep immediately, seemingly seconds after he said goodnight.

Taking the chair at his desk, Jean-Luc tried to place who would be contacting him from the Academy and decided whoever it was, was going to have to put up with his bare chest. "Onscreen," he bade the computer.

The stars and triangle symbol of Starfleet Academy gave way to the familiar and immediately confused face of Wesley Crusher. "Hey mom, sorry to get you in the middle of the night," he began and instantly corrected himself. "Captain Picard," he recognized in confusion.

"Wesley!" he replied with a surprised grin. "It's no trouble. How's the Academy treating you? You must be in the middle of finals around this time, aren't you?"

"Midterms," Welsey agreed with a wincing nod. "I've finished two of them, but I have interspecies diplomacy and first contact situations tomorrow."

Smiling as he remembered his own third year, Jean-Luc caught a glimpse of darkness behind the young man. "Why are you up? What time is it there? The difference can't be too great, are you pulling an all-nighter to get ready?"

"Just before two hundred hours," Wesley admitted with a sheepish smile that reminded him of Jack studying for his lieutenant's exam. They'd spent an entire night in the mess hall counting on pots of replicated coffee and all of Jean-Luc's knowledge of alien worlds to get Jack through his test. "I couldn't sleep. Mom usually doesn't mind hearing from me. Usually she calls me on Tuesdays, it's kind of our tradition. I know she missed last week because she was on the away mission to find you. She was really worried about you while you were missing. When I heard you'd been recovered, I thought she'd remember this week."

"And it's Friday," Jean-Luc finished for him when the younger man trailed off.

"When I called the Enterprise," Wesley explained before he folded his hands together on the desk in front of him. "Worf told me the mission to bring you home was interesting. There must have been some sort of computer glitch because usually my messages go straight to her, I don't usually go through the bridge. Maybe you should ask Commander La Forge to run a diagnostic on the subspace routining protocol--"

Jean-Luc raised a hand to stop him. "Thank you Wesley, I'm afraid-" he paused and wondered if there was a good way to say it. "I'm afraid there's a simple explanation."

To his credit, Wesley hid his both his embarrassment and amusement remarkably well. "My message went to my mother's quarters, when they were empty my message went back to tactical. Worf talked to me and transferred me to your quarters."

"Very astute," he agreed with the young man as he breathed a sigh of relief that the conversation was not going to be as uncomfortable as he feared. "I'm sorry neither of us told you sooner."

Wesley shrugged, again reminding him of a more serious version of Jack. "I thought it was coming," he admitted easily. "Mom's always really liked you. When you got assimilated by the Borg, the look on her face was the same as when Dad died. I'm glad you're--" The young man stopped and grinned wickedly at his former captain. "This is off the record, correct?"

"Conversations I have in my robe rarely are," Jean-Luc replied sardonically as he tried to guess what was on Wesley's mind.

"She spends too much time alone," Wesley confided leaning back in his chair. "I worry about her."

"Well," Jean-Luc said fidgeting with his robe. He searched for the words before he spoke. "I can assure you that she's spent very little time alone of late."

"I thought so," Wesley replied as his expression became thoughtful. "Worf seemed to be hiding something. I suppose he didn't want to be the one to have to break it to me that there's something going on between you and my mother."
The same calm that seemed to make Wesley seem so much older than he was, also made him incredibly difficult to conceal anything from. Clearing his throat, he leaned in towards the comm screen and folded his hands in his lap before he spoke.

"Wesley, I care very deeply for your mother. Since she came aboard the Enterprise she has been my closest friend and ally. I believed our relationship was fated to remain that way, and I was quite content to let it remain so."
Grinning as if he knew the punchline to a joke Jean-Luc hadn't heard yet, Wesley nodded. "No offense, captain, but Boothby said you never did know a good thing until it hit you in the face."

Feeling his expression stiffen in shock before he forced it to relax into a smile, Jean-Luc let himself see Wesley for what he had astonishingly become, a young man who was capable, even briefly, of seeing him as an equal.

Wesley's preposession faded into an embarassed blush. "Sorry, sir, I didn't mean--"

Waving him silent, Jean-Luc shook his head and asked, "I hope I'm not going to regret introducing the two of you?"

"Nah, I promise we don't actually talk about you that much. I should get back to my studying," Wesley suggested as he lifted one of his padds. "I know mom needs her sleep. Don't wake her up, maybe you could tell her I'm thinking about her."

"Wesley," Jean-Luc felt his lips moving almost outside of his control. "There is something else I need to tell you."

The young man's expresson darkened for a moment and he set down the padd. "Everything okay?"

"She may very well kill me for telling you," Jean-Luc admitted conspiratorially leaning close enough to whisper to the screen.
"You may need to feign surprise when she does. I must confess this isn't easy for me."

"You love her," Wesley interrupted in an effort to be helpful.

"Very deeply," he agreed seriously before he sighed and lowered his head to his hands for a moment. "Wesley."

"Captain?"

Resting his chin on his hands as he stared at the remarkable young man who was the closest thing he had to a son, Jean-Luc reminded himself that Wesley deserved no less than his full honesty. "Your mother and I have experienced an abrupt change of circumstances that will have repercussions for you as well. Please forgive my bluntness but I can think of no easy way to tell you. Your mother and I are, well, Wesley, we're having a child."

Wesley spit coffee onto his computer terminal. Jean-Luc could see the droplets run down Wesley's side of the screen as he heard the young man choke on what was left in his mouth. "Mom's pregnant?" the question was almost an accusation.

"Yes."

"And you--"

"Yes."

Wesley grasped at a straw for a moment and asked, "Did Jeff's dad put you up to this as a joke? I know the thing with the Orion traders and his sister wasn't very funny."

Taking a moment to process the reference to Wesley's last roommate, Jeff Legano, Jean-Luc unfortunately had to shake his head. "I can assure you Admiral Legano had nothing to do with it."

"Oh." Wesley said numbly. A cloth cleaned the coffee from the computer screen and the cadet shook his head. "Is mom okay?"

Lying was impossible, but witholding the truth only made a twinge in his stomach. "She's fine now," he answered.

"How? Why? When is it-?" Wesley started to ask before he stopped himself. "Maybe I don't want to know."

"Approximately six months from now," Jean-Luc answered what he thought was the safest question.

"Right in the middle of finals," Wesley groaned as he poured himself another cup of coffee. Downing it quickly, he poured a second cup and stared at it. "Okay, all right, I really do need to study or I won't be able to write anything coherent when I get to the essays tomorrow."

Wishing he could offer him something to calm him, Jean-Luc drew him back to his studies. "Remember the goal of all first contact situations in the same, keep your ship and crew intact and avoid inadvertantly breaking any cultural taboos that will get you killed."

Nodding to acknowledge he'd heard him, poor Wesley's mind was somewhere else. "Captain," he began seriously. "I need you to promise me you'll--"

"Mister Crusher," he bit his lip and corrected the reflex. "Wesley, your mother is the most remarkable woman I know. She will be foremost in my thoughts and deeds because having a child with her is a priveledge I seriously doubt-"

"-You're going to be a great dad," Wesley interrupted him this time. "One of the finest, in or out of Starfleet. Any time you doubt that, well," he shrugged again and grinned. "You know where to find me. I gotta go. Good night, captain."

"Good luck tomorrow," he wished heartily. "Remember to let your first officer handle the first meeting and keep the initial away team small-"

"Got it," Wesley cut him off with an embarassed grin. "Good luck to you too. If you ever need to know why she's angry with you, or what she wants for her birthday-"

"-I do know where to find you," Jean-Luc finished for him. "Thank you."

"Captain," he started. Wesley's face was suddenly incredibly serious. "I'm glad it's you. Crusher out." The symbol of the Academy abruptly replaced that of the remarkable young man Jean-Luc could nearly call his son. Keeping his head in his hands for a moment, he felt the incredible weight of his new responsibility settle over him like a cloak.

Leaving his chair, he crawled back into bed and placed his arms behind his head. Beverly immediately snuggled into his chest, her cheek finding the spot just beneath his collarbone she preferred before she was still. Resting a hand on her bare shoulder, Jean-Luc Picard held her close and realized the one frontier he'd been terrified of most of his adult life had found him when he least expected it.

Running his hand down Beverly's bare back beneath the sheet, he settled it on the curve her spine adjacent to her womb. He'd never had this sort of domesticity. He'd never even been asked to share his quarters but this time even the crew seemed to be adapting. Worf had known where to find the doctor. Wesley had been admirally sanguine about the idea of a half-sibling.
Lwaxana insisted on sending them eclectic yet thoughtful gifts, many of them lavish and beautiful, though no more as stunning the Betazoid soul diamond that seemed to breathe light from its place of honor on his desk. He hadn't had the heart to tell Beverly just how rare the jewel was. Jean-Luc wasn't even sure Deanna knew. Lwaxana also seemed delighted to receive steady updates and according to Beverly, any long, rambling complaints of hers concerning just how difficult it was to maintain order in sickbay when she had the emotional discretion of a drunken Klingon.

Instead of being weepy, or overly sentimental, Beverly's emotional response to her hormones was a seething, sarcastic rage that was capable of eating through the a lifetime worth of carefully contructed buffers that kept many hurtful things unsaid. After Beverly had made the admission that Lwaxana was keeping her sane over subspace at dinner, he'd simply raised an eyebrow and decided to unobtrusively send the ambassador a thank you gift. It seemed in parenthood, just like space travel, the rigors were eased and the marvels compounded by company one kept. Jean-Luc Picard could think of none better than the good people he'd become surrounded with as he let himself drift into sleep.