Disclaimer: Paramount owns everything including, appropriately enough, 'Clueless' because that's what they are.

An email discussion about dialogue was the inspiration for this piece (Thanks Monica!!)

Chat
By E. Wallace
1998

"You look tired. Lovely," he amended quickly, "but a bit tired."

Beverly sighed as she settled back in her chair. She might have bristled at that comment coming from anyone else, but somehow, he always managed to sound too sincere for her to be upset.

"Tell me about your day. Sickbay very busy?"

"Jean-Luc, you can read the Sickbay report for yourself," she chided.

He smiled back at her. "I know, but I like seeing you talk about your work."

"Seeing? I think you mean hearing."

"I said what I meant. I can tell more about your day by watching your face than reading any report. Go ahead, think about your best case today." She tried hiding behind her wine glass, but to him, that look was unmistakable. "Ah, it involves a child." Her smile widened involuntarily. "Lt. Stevens must have had her baby. I shall have to send my congratulations." He searched her face again. "Have they named him yet?"

Now her eyes narrowed in suspicion. "What makes you think it's a boy?"

"Because all boys make you think of Wesley." His voice softened as he leaned forward. "I know how much you miss him. Any word?"

"None. It's been over a month. I wouldn't notice as much if things weren't so slow right now."

"You'll hear from him soon. Probably even tomorrow." Her pensive expression barely flickered. He had to do something to bring her out of this -- it was his fault anyway. "All right, on with the Sickbay report. How about your most time consuming case?"

This time she grimaced before shaking her head with a laugh.

Jean-Luc joined her laughter. "What does Mr. Barclay think he has now?"

"He came in with a list of half a dozen possibilities -- one of which only affects Bolians! I keep saying I'm going to block his access to the medical database, but..."

"But he keeps you on your toes. I know, Geordi says the same thing. Did you manage to convince him yet again that he wasn't due for a gruesome death in the foreseeable future?" When she didn't answer him, it was his turn to be suspicious. "Beverly, what are you plotting?"

"Maybe," she said slowly, "I could invent a disease -- nothing life threatening, mind you -- just for Reg, with some nice vague symptoms and a long term treatment that would keep him out of my hair."

"Beverly Howard Crusher, don't you dare!" he commanded in his sternest captain's voice. "What would your grandmother think of such a plot?"

"Nana would have treated him to a few hard truths and then barred him from Sickbay altogether unless he was brought in bleeding or unconscious!" She ran a hand through her red hair; a gesture he knew was a sign of stress. "Enough about me. How did your day go?"

He shuddered dramatically. "I spent the day in meetings with various groups of admirals and ambassadors."

"Sounds horrible," she sympathized. "Was it really that bad?"

"Let's just say that for warmth, openness and personality, the award goes to Admiral Nechayev."

"You poor thing! I've been telling you for years that your brilliant career would get you into trouble." Her teasing tone faded. "How much longer do you think these meetings will go on?"

"With any luck, we'll be able to wind them up the day after tomorrow." He rubbed his forehead. "But since luck hasn't been with us so far, probably not until the following day. That's bad enough, but then it will be almost a full day on the shuttle to rendezvous with the Enterprise."

"Four more days? You're going to owe Deanna big time."

"I'm not even on the ship. How can I be in debt to Deanna?"

"You've obviously never heard how much she dislikes being dragged out of bed early in the morning. Since my usual breakfast companion is unavailable..."

"...you've been picking on my ship's counselor," he finished for her. "Well, I guess a box of fancy chocolates is a small price to pay, so long as you haven't been finding new company for other times of the day."

"I can have breakfast with almost anybody. Those other times... I never want to be with anyone but you."

"The feeling is mutual, my love. Gods, I wish you were here! These meetings wouldn't seem so tedious if I knew you were waiting for me."

"I am waiting for you, just not there. Besides, I don't exactly like the image of a concubine lounging around in anticipation of her master's attentions."

"Concubine was your word, not mine. Anyway, that role would be a gross waste of your many talents, Beverly."

"Oh, so you do love me for my mind."

"Now I do. Although, to be perfectly honest, your mind wasn't the first thing I fell in love with all those years ago when Jack introduced us."

She raised an inquiring eyebrow. "When Jack introduced us? You fell in love with me that very first time? Now I'm intrigued. Just what did attract your attention?"

"A cloud of auburn silk," he recalled fondly. "All I wanted to do was run my hands through that glorious hair. Then I saw the face it framed, and I was lost. I never believed in love at first sight until that moment. Everything faded into the background as I stared at the most beautiful creature in the universe. It was quite a rude awakening when Jack's voice finally registered, and I heard the word 'fiancée'."

"I'm sorry," she whispered.

"For what?"

"For hurting you more than I ever realized."

"Stop it, Beverly. None of that. What happened happened, and I wouldn't change it. If we had gotten together back then, who's to say we'd be together now? No, I'll accept the path my life has taken and be very grateful for what we share right now."

"Why did you have to tell me this now?" she sighed.

"When should I have told you?"

"Months ago or the night before you left for these meetings, any time when I could have done something about it. Not over sub-space when we're light years apart."

"And just what would you have done?"

"Told you I feel exactly the same way." She looked at him for a long moment, memorizing the features she already knew so well. "Hurry home to me, Jean-Luc."

"As fast as ever I can, my love."

She grinned slyly. "You know that concubine thing? I wouldn't want it as a lifestyle, but for an evening? That definitely has possibilities."

He groaned. "You are a wicked woman, Beverly, torturing me like this."

"I just wanted to give you something to think about over the next four days. Call it incentive."

"If I think about that image during one of these meetings, it will go straight from incentive to indecent. Not that it's been easy looking at you tonight, sitting there in my robe. Maybe these calls aren't such a good idea."

"You'd better be right there tomorrow night. Seeing you long distance will always be better than not seeing you at all."

"All right, I'll be here. As if you really thought I wouldn't. Good night, Beverly. Sleep well."

"Good night, Jean-Luc. I love you."

"I love you, too."

She clicked off the viewer before the Federation logo had time to appear. The image she wanted to remember off that screen was his face. Even though he was far away at the moment, she felt more content than she had in many years.

Maybe she would let Deanna sleep in tomorrow.

The End