Disclaimer: Paramount owns everything Star Trek, but that doesn't mean they know what to do with it or the characters they have created. Thank you, Paramount, for keeping me off the streets by giving me something to do.
Acknowledgments: The Andrews Sisters' recording of 'I Can Dream, Can't I' was the inspiration for this piece. It's just so Jean-Luc. Thank you, Patty, Maxine and Laverne.
By E. Wallace
"I can see,
No matter how near you'll be,
You'll never belong to me
But I can dream,
Can't I adore you,
Although we are oceans apart?
I can't make you open your heart
But I can dream
He knew the moment she entered the room. Ten Forward was crowded with diplomats, dignitaries and crewmembers and still he knew. His back was to the door and still he knew. It had always been this way, but the incident on Kesprytt three months ago had made their connection even stronger.
But that also meant he felt the pain of her rejection all the more strongly. How was it possible for his heart to hurt this much and continue to function?
Throughout the evening, he tracked her path, knowing when she left one conversation or was drawn into a new one. He could pick her laughter out of all the other sounds that filled the room. He knew when she stood alone at a viewport watching the stars flash by. He knew when she danced with someone else.
Eventually, she would ask him to dance, she always did. He never asked anyone, and she was the only one who dared ask him. He would decline then she would cajole him into it. It was a rather ridiculous game, but for some reason, they continued to play it. Everyone thought he hated dancing, begrudging even the strictest duty dance.
Everyone was wrong. It was just that he didn't want to dance with anyone but her.
She moved toward him. Her vibrant hair glowed even in the subdued lighting. Her blue dress uniform was no different from the dozens of other blue dress uniforms that identified the personnel of the Science departments, yet she managed to wear it as though it was an evening gown.
And then she was there, standing next to him, a casual hand on his arm, asking him to dance. He kept the promise he had made to himself, that he wouldn't play the game. Tonight, he accepted her invitation immediately. He saw her blue eyes widen slightly in surprise at his easy capitulation, but didn't give her an opportunity to comment as he led her onto the small dance floor.
They danced smoothly together. Not too close, not too far apart. All very proper, but at least he could hold her in his arms.
Lying in bed, he stared at the ceiling. He knew the dreams would come as they always did after evenings like this. The dreams he didn't want to avoid.
These were the dreams where they danced into the early hours of the morning before going home - together. The dreams where he could love her, and she would love him in return.
With a small smile touching his lips, he closed his eyes and waited for the dreams to come.
"When I'm alone
With only dreams of you
That won't come true
What'll I do?"
The dreams came as she knew they would. Evenings like this always brought them.
Evenings spent trying to follow a conversation and watch him at the same time. Evenings spent in a crowded room yet feeling terribly lonely. Evenings spent looking forward only to the few brief minutes he would hold her in his arms as they danced.
Evenings spent knowing that he watched her, too.
The dreams had come more frequently in recent months. Since Kesprytt. Over and over in her dreams, she relived those moments of her greatest failures... as a friend, as a doctor, as a Starfleet officer.
Those terrible times when she had left him. To the Borg. To the Cardassians.
He did not blame her for those times, had told her so, had told her there was nothing to forgive. But she knew differently and could not forgive herself.
Then, on Kesprytt, he had opened his heart to her. Revealed his guilty secret of loving his best friend's wife. She had assured him he had done nothing wrong.
Later, all he had asked for was a chance. A chance for the two of them.
She had so desperately wanted to say yes, to give into what they both wanted. But her own guilt made her leave him again, hurt him more deeply. She had done everything wrong... again.
With sleep no longer possible, she paced up and down the length of the room, raking a hand through her hair at every other pass. She examined each possible option, but try as she might she kept coming to the same conclusion.
There was only one way she could make things right.
By leaving him for the last time.
Her greeting was quiet. Quiet enough for him to be concerned. He saw her hand waver as she handed him a padd with a suggestion that he read it before they sat down to breakfast.
Her attitude puzzled him as did her ill-concealed nervousness. He read - and caught his breath.
A request for a transfer.
His distress was evident, darkening his eyes and slumping his shoulders. She braced herself against it, telling herself that it was the last time she would hurt him.
Last night's dreams had renewed his hopes, and now those hopes were in jeopardy. His mind raced furiously. There had to be something he could do to keep her here. With him. He watched her flit anxiously around the room and knew this was not what she truly wanted.
He refused to accept her decision without an explanation. When she answered with only vague reasons, he dismissed them with a wave of his hand and pressed for details.
Her barriers were fragile, and he broke through easily. She acknowledged the pain she was causing, tried to assure him it wouldn't hurt forever.
He pointed out that he had loved her in vain for over twenty five years. Just when was the pain supposed to go away? He sought truth in her sapphire eyes and was startled to find fear instead.
At his gentle questioning, she told him of her nightmares and her conviction that, if she stayed, there would be another crisis. A crisis when she would have to leave him again. And that would be the time when he didn't return. She couldn't - she wouldn't - risk his life that way ever again.
She turned to leave, wanting to get away before she could inflict any more damage. He caught her hand, stopping her desperate flight.
A shiver rippled through her as he took her in his arms, knowing how easy it would be to hide there, as though she had a right to be there. As though she had a right to hear him murmur words of love.
Brokenly, she insisted that she didn't deserve any of it. Not his compassion, not his caring, not his concern. Not his love. He softly vowed that she alone deserved every bit of love he had to give. She was his life, the only reason he had survived.
His tender kiss muted her fears for the moment, and his warm embrace stopped her trembling. Slowly, a tiny piece of her heart began to believe in his words. In their love. In their future.
Their journey would not always be easy, but it would be filled with love and hope. They would have new dreams. Happy dreams. Together.
"If your heart is in your dream
No request is too extreme.
When you wish upon a star
Like dreamers do."
'I Can Dream Can't I'
By Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal
'What'll I Do'
By Irving Berlin
'When You Wish Upon a Star'
By Ned Washington and Leigh Harline