Summary: A response to a challenge for a nice, mushy Valentine's Day story.
Special thanks to the legendary Irving Berlin - the wonderful song used as the title and quoted in the story is his.
It Only Happens When I Dance With You
By E. Wallace
Romance was going to be a tough sell tonight. He'd known things were beyond bad when she went straight to Sickbay instead of reporting to the bridge on her return.
Jean-Luc knew all too well how much Beverly despised bureaucrats. She greatly resented having to take time away from her patients and her research to "deal with a bunch of Starfleet brass who had nothing more constructive to do than annoy the hell out of her."
The latest round of discussion about the proposed medical ships - her proposal, made all those years ago during her tenure as Head of Starfleet Medical - had accomplished exactly nothing. Seven hours alone in a shuttlecraft hadn't cooled her temper in the least.
From the relative safety of the bridge, he shared knowing looks with Will and Deanna as storm warnings tracked her path through the ship. The shuttle bay reported her slightly hard landing. Sickbay noted that she had immediately sequestered herself in her office. An hour later, Alyssa Ogawa, the only person brave enough to beard the lioness in her den, suggested that it might be prudent for everyone if the subspace communication system were to develop a problem that would prevent the doctor from actually sending the scathing report she was preparing until she could reconsider the wisdom of such a missive.
Lucky for him that Nurse Ogawa was on his side, and that she was all for anything that got her boss to relax for more than an hour at a time.
Also lucky that these meetings, despite how they irritated Beverly, gave him the opportunity to arrange his surprise. He had spent every available moment in the holodeck so that he would be totally prepared.
"You're working too hard."
The voice from her doorway startled her out of her concentration on the test results in front of her. "Hello to you, too."
"I stopped by to remind you about our dinner date tonight, Beverly."
She heard the comforting warmth in his voice. Dear God, it felt so good to be home again. The doctor sighed, torn between wanting to spend a quiet evening alone with him and wanting to spend a quiet evening alone.
Jean-Luc understood her hesitation but knew she just needed a nudge in the right direction. "No excuses, Beverly. By Captain's orders, you are officially off duty as of this moment. You have two hours to get ready."
"Two hours!" she scoffed. "Just what do you think I need to do?"
"Perhaps some mental preparation? Put all thoughts of medicine, research and Starfleet brass out of your mind and concentrate on you," his voice dropped beguilingly, "and me. I will pick you up at 1900 hours."
"Pick me up? Where are you going to be?"
"I thought you'd like some time to yourself. And a rare chance to get dressed without me in your way." His hopes were bolstered by the sound of her smothered giggle.
"Where would we be going?" she asked with mock formality.
"That's a surprise."
"What should I wear?"
"I'm sure you'll figure something out. Besides, you look stunning in anything."
"Jean-Luc, I don't think I..."
He interrupted her with a gentle command. "Leaving Sickbay is an order. How you spend the rest of the evening is up to you. I'll be there at 1900 for your decision. Go home, love."
Beverly watched him leave, smiling as she turned off her terminal. She knew he would show up just as he said he would. But what would her answer be?
She entered the cabin, shrugging out of her lab coat even as the door closed behind her. She still hadn't decided whether she would go along with Jean-Luc's little mystery. Why spend two hours getting ready to go somewhere she didn't want to go? Then again, what if he convinced her to go at the last minute, and she wasn't dressed?
Her jumbled thoughts faded as she entered the bedroom, suddenly realizing that the lights were on, very low. She knew she hadn't ordered that.
Then she saw it.
Spread out on the bed was a dress. Dark red velvet. A perfect shade that wouldn't clash with her hair. Beverly reached out a tentative hand almost afraid it wouldn't be real. 'How did he do this?' she wondered as her fingers trailed lightly across the material, no doubt in her mind as to the identity of her dressmaker.
She ordered the lights to full for a better look. The scalloped neckline was cut a bit lower than she would have chosen, but as he was the only person who would be getting a good look, she decided she could live with it. The skirt was full and floor length. The sleeves were long, loose from shoulder to elbow, but tight down to the wrist. She wrinkled her nose as she spotted the dozen or so heart shaped silver filigree buttons on each sleeve. "He must be insane," she muttered. It would take her two hours just to do up all those buttons! On closer inspection, however, she saw that he had done more thinking than she'd given him credit for. The buttons were merely decoration camouflaging a much simpler fastener system.
This dress called for very special accessories, and Beverly frowned, not sure she had anything that would truly do it justice. Turning to her jewelry box, she belatedly saw a black case lying next to it. 'So, Captain Romance strikes again,' she thought, lifting the lid. Her breath caught at the sight of the earrings, necklace and bracelet that lay inside. Made of the same silver filigree as the buttons on the dress, they carried on the heart theme as well.
Her own heart skipped a beat as she began to understand just how thorough he had been, and she instantly knew she would not be staying home tonight.
This was not a Ten Forward dress, at least not without a formal, ship-wide event scheduled. And certainly no such event was planned for this evening.
This was also not an arboretum dress. They had taken their share of romantic walks, but never in an outfit like this.
The briefest glance out the window told her they were still moving at warp speed - about warp three the bridge officer in her guessed. That could mean they were headed for a starbase or planet, but somehow she doubted it.
Which left the holodeck.
A crafty grin tugged at her mouth. Maybe she could surprise him just a bit. "Computer, does Captain Picard have a holodeck reserved for 1900 hours tonight?"
"Affirmative," came the dispassionate response.
"Computer, has the Captain ordered a program to begin running prior to his arrival?"
The grin bloomed to a full smile of self-satisfaction. "Computer, list the parameters of the Captain's program."
"That information is not available."
Puzzlement instantly replaced the smile. "Why not?"
"It is a surprise."
Her mouth dropped open. How had he accomplished that? The smile returned as she realized it didn't matter how. It only mattered that he cared enough to do it. She looked at the chronometer. She'd better get busy if she was going to be suitably presentable for this evening.
Jean-Luc's hand trembled as he reached out to touch the door chime. He pulled at the collar of his formal shirt - it suddenly felt too much like his dress uniform. He was more nervous than if he was about to face an entire roomful of recalcitrant aliens. What if she didn't like what he had done? The computer had notified him when she tried to get some details on his plans. Her inquiries told him she was curious, but was she also interested? Or better yet... intrigued?
He heard her give permission for him to enter, and his heart began to race. 'Be calm,' he coached himself as the door hissed open, and he stepped inside.
Breathing ceased along with all conscious thought.
Beverly stood near the viewport, framed by a backdrop of the blackness of space and racing stars. She was absolutely radiant. He had imagined her in the dress dozens of times, yet those paltry daydreams paled in comparison to her vibrant reality. Just as all his fantasies about her had.
"Well?" she asked, pirouetting slowly so that he could properly evaluate her appearance.
The dress was perfect, although Jean-Luc was glad this was a private evening as he had rather misjudged the depth of the neckline. Her flaming hair was pulled into a loose gathering of curls, held up by a broad, mantilla style silver comb with tiny hearts dangling from it. He was well aware that it was a new acquisition and was oddly gratified to know she had taken the time to replicate it.
He took her hand and kissed it tenderly, his hazel eyes never leaving her sparkling blue ones. "You are," he said thickly, "and always have been, the most exquisite woman I have ever known."
Beverly caressed his cheek and sighed. "How do you always know when to say just what I need to hear?"
"Diplomacy is part of the job." He drew her close so that he could kiss her. "But it does help when I'm also telling the truth. I have never known another woman worthy of comparison to you." He kissed her again. "Now, since you're all dressed up, may I presume that you have accepted my invitation to dinner, dear lady?"
"You may indeed, kind sir."
He tucked her hand into the crook of his arm and led her out into the corridor.
He'd chosen her favorite restaurant in San Francisco, perched high on a hill overlooking the bay, and they were led to a secluded table for two. Large windows opened onto the stunning vista of a blazing sun setting into the sea. A faint breeze tinged with salt wafted through.
Conversation was light and easy, touching on everything and nothing in particular. They even managed to talk about the crew but not about work.
Music from an unseen orchestra drifted in. It played an eclectic mix of classical pieces along with love songs and ballads. Beethoven, Bach and Mozart interspersed with 20th century composers Gershwin, Porter, Kern and Berlin. She recognized them all and couldn't have chosen a better selection herself.
Beverly wondered what he was up to next when he told the waiter they would wait for desert. She didn't have long to wait to find out as he offered his hand and led her to their private dance floor.
No fancy dips or swirls or spins, but it was definitely more than his usual 'duty dance' style.
"You've been practicing, Jean-Luc," she noted, snuggling deeper into his embrace.
"You've been gone for almost two weeks, Beverly. It was the closest thing to being with you."
"The music... all my favorite pieces. How did you do it?"
"Easy, I had the computer analyze your music selections for the last eight months. Your tastes have changed noticeably. Softer, gentler, with a touch of romance."
"Well, it's said that music has charms to soothe a savage breast, and apparently it works even when the savagery is hormonally induced. This has been a perfect evening, Jean-Luc. Thank you so much."
He pulled her close to nuzzle her ear. "We're not finished yet." The music changed as a new song started. He hummed the opening bars and then he began to sing.
"It only happens when I dance with you,
That trip to heaven til the dance is through.
With no one else to the heavens seem quite so near,
Why does it happen, dear,
Only with you?"
She pulled back in astonishment. He merely smiled as he picked up the next line.
"Two cheeks together can be so divine,
But only when those cheeks are yours and mine.
I've dance with dozens of others
The whole night through,
But the thrill that comes with spring,
When anything could happen,
That only happens with you."
Tenderly, Jean-Luc brushed away the tears that glittered on her cheeks.
Her voice cracked as she asked, "Why did you do all this?"
"How many reasons do you want?" he teased.
"Start counting. I'll tell you when it's enough."
"I wanted to please you. Centuries ago, this was known as St. Valentine's Day, a day for lovers. Deanna is planning that damn party next week for our anniversary. Still counting?" She nodded, and he stole a quick kiss before continuing. "You deserve it. In five weeks, it won't be just the two of us any longer. I love you. I..."
She silenced him with a kiss, a lingering, promise-filled kiss. "You should have started with that last one," she murmured, catching his lips for another thank you.
Reaching up, Jean-Luc pulled the comb from her hair, letting his fingers drift through the silken strands as he drew the riot of curls around to frame her face.
She laughed softly as she pressed into his palm. "You always seem to enjoy unpinning my hair almost as much as you enjoy undressing me - and I have no idea why."
"That's because you've always had hair, my love." His thumb rubbed lightly across her cheek. "My wonderful Beverly, you are so incredibly beautiful."
She blushed, lowering her eyes. "Even now?"
His large hand covered hers where it rested atop her rounded abdomen. He felt the warmth of her skin, the softness of the velvet and the movement of their child growing inside her. "Now more than ever."
Their kiss escalated as hands traced familiar patterns over backs and necks and shoulders. Knowing how easily their passion could carry them away, Beverly broke the kiss. She bowed her head, trying to catch her breath. "What you do to me, Jean-Luc Picard, and so quickly, too."
He pressed his lips to her forehead. "No less than you do to me, Beverly Picard." He let her slip from his arms and watched her move to catch the cool breeze off the ocean.
Standing behind her and placing his hands over the backs of hers, he laced their fingers together and pulled her back against him as he wrapped their arms around her. They stood in silence for long minutes, just taking in the vision they so rarely saw - land and sea and sky. At length, he asked softly, "Would you like desert now?"
Beverly turned to him, eyes smoldering with barely suppressed emotion. "Take me home, Jean-Luc. Make love with me. Don't let this marvelous fantasy end."
"End? Dear wife, our fantasy has just begun."