Star Trek belongs to Paramount, the song to Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart and the story to me.

My brother and sister-in-law used the James Taylor version of this song as their first dance at their wedding. I'm a Tony Bennett woman myself, but it's really the song that counts.

This goes on the very non-canon - but highly preferable - theory that a certain red-haired doctor was not afraid to explore certain feelings after Kes-Prytt.

My Romance
By E. Wallace
2001

TO: All Enterprise Personnel
FROM: Cmdr. William Riker
SUBJECT: Entertainment

"Due to the continuing problems that have shut down the holodecks, alternate arrangements are being made. For three days the main cargo bay is being converted into a 'night club' of sorts.

It will be open around the clock, and all crewmembers are welcome to attend during their off-duty periods. Anyone wishing to perform can contact Commander Data for scheduling."

oxo

'He's so adorable when he sulks.'

The stalwart captain of the Federation flagship would have been deeply offended to hear himself described in such childish terms, but Beverly found them singularly appropriate.

Peeking at him around her book from her position on the sofa, she watched him frowning over a report that Starfleet had demanded on short notice. As usual, duty had put an end to their plans to attend the second night of 'Club Riker' as it had quickly come to be called. Jean-Luc had told her to go without him, but she knew better than to leave him alone when he was in this mood, so here she sat, hiding behind a book she had no interest in.

The crew had been going non-stop for months, charting a star system here, negotiating a treaty there, providing relief from the odd natural disaster or saving the galaxy in general. Shore leave had been impossible and getting time off for the two of them together aboard ship hadn't been any easier.

She looked up again when he grunted as he input a request for additional information. His scowl deepened, and she wondered what creative invectives were being silently heaped upon Admiral Nechayev's head. She had discovered some important things on Kesprytt - aside from the fact that he loved her. His ability to control his temper was far greater than anyone could have imagined, but it was the depth and breadth of his knowledge of curses in a variety of languages that would have shocked everyone who knew him. She was now pestering him to teach her some of them.

Tonight's cancellation had given him a solid reason to exercise his linguistic skills. His last two attempts at concocting a romantic interlude had been masterstrokes of planning, down to the last detail. Unfortunately - as somehow always seemed to be the case - glitches in the recent computer upgrades had manifested themselves on the holodeck.

A stroll on a moonlit beach had turned into an hour-long slog through a dank, smelly, insect infested swamp before the program could be shut down. Next, an unscheduled icy rain washed out their dinner at a sidewalk cafe on the Champs Elysee and nearly ruined the silk dress that had been his gift for her last birthday.

Jean-Luc's spirits had been down around his ankles for the last week. In the wake of the Parisian disaster, she told him he was trying too hard, but he kept insisting that she deserved something special. When tonight's plans had fallen through, he resorted to promising to take her dancing in whatever venue was next available.

It had never seemed like the right time to tell him that she didn't particularly care for holodeck rendezvous. For her, ending the program to return to their quarters put a damper on the mood, and she had yet to push him past the limits of his decorum so that he would make love with her on the holodeck.

In the privacy of their quarters, however, his limits were much easier to overrun.

The wicked smile that curled her lips was hidden behind the book as she worked out the details of her plans for the rest of the evening.

oxo

"How much longer do you think you'll be?"

It registered in the back of his mind that her voice came from the bedroom and not the sofa, but Jean-Luc didn't look away from the terminal screen. "I should be able to complete it in about an hour."

"Then why don't you come to bed and finish in the morning when you're rested?"

"I'd rather get it out of the way now."

"Are you sure?" Her voice was pitched a tone lower and got his attention.

He looked up to see her framed in the doorway.

She had long ago appropriated the top of his favorite dark blue pajamas claiming that it fit her 'more interestingly'.

The deep V-neck came down to the single closure that rested just below her navel leaving her torso tantalizingly revealed yet covered at the same time. The hem skimmed across the tops of her thighs, allowing an unimpeded view of her divine dancer's legs.

It most definitely looked better on her than it did on him.

The entire outfit shifted as she lifted her right arm, propping her elbow on the doorframe and resting her head in her hand. He swallowed hard at the curve of breast and hip now posed provocatively before him.

"Beverly..."

"I'm going to bed now, and I'll be asleep in an hour. Are you sure you want to finish that report tonight?"

He gave in, hitting the save key as he rose from the chair. His own voice took on a seductive quality as he crossed the room. "I thought you wanted me to be rested in the morning?"

"Well, that might not have been the proper wording," she conceded. "How about less tense?

"How about drained," he kissed her cheek, "or sated," he kissed her jaw, "or deliriously happy," he kissed that spot behind her ear.

Beverly's hands were as busy as his mouth, divesting him of his uniform top as they fell on the bed together.

oxo

Jean-Luc was forced to skip breakfast the next morning in order to get his report finished and sent on time. Beverly left him to it, slipping out quietly in hopes that starting her day early would mean that it could end early.

They both worked diligently to make sure their schedules and desks were clear for the evening. They were eagerly looking forward to the few precious hours they had managed set aside for each other.

Casually dressed and ready to make an appearance at 'Club Riker'...

"Sickbay to Dr. Crusher."

Beverly's barely controlled scream of frustration brought a half smile to his lips... a smile that quickly faded as he listened to her conversation.

"Crusher here."

"Doctor, there's a problem with one of your Eyaf specimens..."

"Alyssa, please tell me it's turning purple and not yellow."

"If that's the good news, then I'm glad to deliver it."

"Well, it's not exactly good news, but it is infinitely better than the alternative. I'll be right there. Crusher out."

She looked at Jean-Luc, unerringly reading the disappointment he was probably certain he had masked. It was a feeling she knew all too well, having been on the other side of the numerous occasions when it was the Captain's attention that had been urgently needed.

"You go on to the club," she insisted. "I'll meet you there."

He sighed heavily, "No, I'll just wait for you here."

Beverly was adamant in her response. "You will not! You're not going to sit here pouting like a little boy who just dropped his ice cream cone in the dirt."

"I do not pout!" he retorted, hazel eyes flashing.

She rolled her own blue eyes but otherwise ignored his petulant exclamation. "Listen, I know what's gone wrong, and I know how to fix it. I won't be more than half an hour, I promise. If I am, I expect you to come after me - and to drag me out kicking and screaming if necessary."

His smile was back as he easily predicted the crew's reaction if such a scene were to occur.

Slipping her arms around his neck, she kissed him, loving the feel of his smile against her lips. "Go on. Relax and have a good time. Just don't enjoy yourself too much until I get there!"

Jean-Luc had no choice but to agree, knowing that she could easily check up on him... and would.

They took the turbolift together to deck 12 where he saw her off with a quick kiss.

His earlier promise did not preclude the fleeting idea of going back to their quarters. He had been a solitary person for most of his adult life, preferring his own company to most others, with few notable exceptions such as Jack Crusher, Walker Keel, and of course, Beverly.

He strolled down the corridor at a thoughtful pace as he tried to figure out how she nearly always got him to do what she wanted.

oxo

The overall atmosphere of the 'club' was more subdued than Picard had anticipated - and for that he was grateful. The music volume was at a tolerable level that still allowed for conversation. He assumed it was being provided by the computer at the moment as the stage crew was busily setting up for the next performer.

He stopped by the table where Deanna, Data and Geordi sat. They talked for a few minutes but he declined the offer to join them. There were no empty tables for two, so he found a place at the end of the bar where he could keep an eye on the room in case one became available.

The lights dimmed until the entire room was shrouded in darkness.

"Ladies and gentlemen," Will Riker intoned in his most seductive voice, "Beverly Crusher."

A single spotlight rose slowly, revealing the curvaceous figure standing before the old-fashion microphone. A trick of the light made her auburn hair seem to smolder as her dark silver gray satin gown shimmered. She was covered from neck to toe with only her arms bare, but the material clung just so, leaving everything to the imagination - and there were quite a few imaginations at work at the moment.

Picard, realizing the Sickbay call had been an elaborate ruse, smiled in fond remembrance when he recognized the dress as one she had worn for a Dixon Hill adventure... during a time when the holodecks actually worked.

She scanned the audience, mouth curving into a mysterious half smile as her vision adjusted to penetrate the barrier created by the lights from the stage meeting the dimness of the room beyond. She knew precisely where he was although she couldn't see him clearly.

Without directing the song specifically to him, everyone knew it was for him as Riker's haunting trombone, emanating from the shadows behind her, underscored her beguiling voice.

"My romance
Doesn't have to have
a moon in the sky.
My romance
Doesn't need
a blue lagoon standing by.

No month of May,
No twinkling stars,
No hideaway,
No soft guitars.

My romance
Doesn't need
a castle rising in Spain;
Nor a dance
To a constantly
surprising refrain.

Eyes closed, she swayed slightly as though the music was seeping through her skin and into the nerves and muscles of her body.

"Wide awake
I can make
My most fantastic
dreams come true.

"My romance
Doesn't need a thing..."

Blue eyes fluttered open, finding him unerringly as the music faded away, leaving only her voice.

"...but you."

An eternal moment of deafening silence was followed by a roar of applause. She accepted the praise graciously but declined calls for an encore.

oxo

Waiting as she came from backstage, Jean-Luc immediately whisked her onto the dance floor.

"Why Captain Picard, dancing in public?" she teased, her fingers tracing a tantalizing path along the skin exposed between his collar and the short fringe of gray hair.

"We're both full of surprises tonight. As for mine, the decision was purely selfish, I assure you. I get to hold you and no one else can talk to you." His own hands lightly kneaded her back, feeling the satin of her dress and knowing the skin underneath was far softer.

"No castles? No moonlight?" he murmured softly as they swayed together.

Her reply brushed across his ear. "Only you, my love."

"Would your romance deign to accept a wedding?"

Her breath caught in wonder as she realized this was what he had been leading to - and why he had been so upset when his romantic plans had fallen victim to temperamental technology.

Pleading hazel eyes looked deep into hers. "This wasn't the way I had planned to ask you... but I have just been informed that I was over-compensating anyway. The ring is back in our quarters, and I can't recall a single word of the eloquent, impassioned proposal I had worked out, but please, Beverly, would you do me the indescribable honor of being my wife?"

His heart soared as she pressed half a dozen tender kisses to his lips, murmuring "yes" after each one.

"We could have the ceremony on Caldos, or at the vineyard in France, where ever you like."

"Anywhere except the holodeck."

He smothered her laugh with a kiss that was only broken at the sound of Will's voice as he danced by with Deanna.

"Tsk, tsk. The Captain and the CMO necking in full view of the crew? What sort of example is that to set?"

"Number One," he paused while Beverly removed traces of her lipstick from his lower lip with her thumb. "Rest assured, this is a perfectly acceptable public celebration when the woman of your dreams has agreed to marry you. You should try it some time."

Giving the other man no opportunity to reply, Jean-Luc danced Beverly across the floor in the direction of the exit as the news rippled through the room in their wake.

The End

My Romance
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart