How many times had she watched him walk away, wondering if he'd ever come back? At first, Jack had been ahead in her farewell count, but the longer she stayed on the Enterprise, the more she said good bye to Jean-Luc Picard. Jack had said good bye in gallant, nonchalant ways that made her laugh. Jean-Luc was quiet, even contemplative. When he'd left her in charge of the Enterprise and the thousand lives usually in his care, all he'd had to do was smile and she was putty in his hands.

Not that she could admit it. She'd had a ship to run at the time. Then, when Jean-Luc had come back, everyone else had as well, so it was chaotic for a day or two. Then there were debriefings. She'd had dinner with Will and Deanna, Geordi had stopped by to tease her about burning up the Enterprise but she'd barely seen Jean-Luc.

Perhaps that was why she'd been so weak in the knees when they sat down to a well earned bottle of wine. Having no access to Chateau Picard, she'd procured a bottle of something dusty from Guinan and met him after dinner.

They talked about the Borg becoming individuals and the dual nature of all of them. Losing Data, even temporarily, put a hole in their family. By the second glass of wine, her hand was on his knee. Jean-Luc let it stay there, even covered it with his own when she admitted how difficult it was to have responsibility for all the lives aboard at once.

There was no triage for a starship. The unconscious shiver that ran up her back drew his arm over to her shoulders. The half-empty glass of wine in her hands was unimportant, but it smelled rich, like black pepper and currants.

She kissed him, not his cheek as had been her original intent, but his lips. Maybe it was the drink, or the relief that everyone, especially him, was alive.

Jean-Luc moved her glass, setting it down on the glass coffee table. "Beverly--"

She took his away and set it down roughly. The ringing of glass on glass was less important than the heat of his lips against hers. The stubble just off them scratched against her cheek. He leaned slightly towards her but she was the one who pressed him back towards the sofa. One of his hands pushed her hair back, easing her to a better angle to deepen the kiss.

His teeth caught her lip for a moment and she gasped.


"Don't stop," she insisted, beginning another kiss. Meeting his tongue in his mouth, Beverly sighed and pulled him closer. Her hair rustled and his fingers grew tighter on her neck. Her hand dropped to his chest, then further downward.

Jean-Luc caught it, holding it firmly. "We can't."

Kissing down his neck, she put both hands on his chest and lifted her head to met his eyes. She could still taste him in the wetness on her lips. His breathing was rapid and his pupils were full and dark.

"Why not?"

Jean-Luc's voice was too soft, even choked. "You don't love me."

Warmth blossomed in her stomach and Beverly couldn't put an emotion behind it. She rested her forehead against his cheek, wondering if he could feel the heat of her blush.

"That's not entirely accurate." She floundered, realising with the speed of a warp reaction that he left himself out. He doubted her feelings but his own were fact.

Heartbeats stretched into seconds, perhaps aeons. She had to say something but her mouth was dry now that they weren't kissing. Beverly looked down at his lap. Her hand was only centimetres above his waist and she knew he wanted her. The tight, steadily growing ache between her thighs made her pause.

"I don't know what I feel for you," she admitted, half out of breath. "It is precious to me. I can't--"

Jean-Luc kissed her, this time crushing her lips with his. His leg moved against hers and his hand fell to her chest. Beverly guided it to her breast when they broke apart again.

"I would never..." he panted.

"I know," she whispered back. Squeezing his hand until he took over the pressure on his own, Beverly kissed him again. Sliding her now free hand down his firm stomach, she danced it across his lap. His sudden gasp as she brushed across his cock through his uniform made her smile. She kissed then sucked on his neck just below his ear. Making him gasp for breath made her want him that much more.

Jean-Luc kneaded her breast with his hand once more before he dropped both of his hands to her waist and stood them up. He tilted his head towards the bedroom and she nodded, then playfully nibbled his ear.

"Please." The little moan she added on the end made him grab her that much harder. The warmth of his growing erection pressed against her hips as they stood, searching each other's mouth before they stumbled towards the bedroom. Jean-Luc caught her hands when she tried to take off her uniform.

"Let me," he asked, sliding down the zipper. The sigh of the fabric parting mixed with her shiver as the air hit her back through the thin undershirt beneath her jacket. Jean-Luc set the jacket aside and started to remove his own.

"Play fair." Beverly grabbed his hands and kissed them. "I get to do it." She freed him with a flourish and let his jacket fall to the ground. Running her hands over the muscles of his chest, she trembled again when her hips brushed against his. "I haven't--"

He shook his head and caught her face with a hand. Kissing her firmly, then enough to make her ache, Jean-Luc broke it only to whisper. "You could never be anything less than incredible."

Beverly laughed, even blushed again as she sat on the edge of the bed. Easing off her boots, she giggled and unzipped her trousers as he removed his own. The little dance of taking them off was entirely undignified and Jean-Luc salvaged his poise by catching her in another invigorating kiss. He dragged open the sheets with one hand and she pushed them further away. They fell onto the bed together with Beverly slightly more beneath him. She slipped her hands beneath his shirt and started pulling it free. Gliding her hands across the smooth muscles and soft hair of his chest, she let him slide his hand around to tug off her tank top. She had no surprises for him. Her bra and panties were grey, standard Starfleet issue.

Jean-Luc kissed the strap, then trailed across her chest. He smiled, looking up to meet her eyes. "Freckles?"

Beverly laughed, sinking her fingertips into his chest. "Just a few."

Gripping his arms, she pulled him closer. The strong, muscular bar of his arm passed across her chest when he rolled her up over him. Her bare legs slid against his and she dropped her hands to his hips. She caressed his inner thigh and the heat of him. Beverly smiled, kissing him sweetly as she ran her hand over his shorts and the ever-tightening erection beneath.

Freeing her breasts was his revenge. He dropped his mouth to one nipple and sucked until she gasped in pleasure. Jean-Luc's finger ran between her breasts and up to land on her lips. Kissing his finger playfully, she slipped her hand beneath his shorts and caught him in her palm. For a moment, their eyes met in greedy anticipation. She smiled and he kissed her neck.

"Lower," she murmured. He raised his head, smirking a little before he kissed down her neck and settled on her collarbone. He worked his way across until she whimpered, then remained there. Her fingers were cold, Beverly realised as she touched his cock and he stiffened against her.

"Sorry," she said quickly, retrieving her hand and tucking it between her knees.

"Why are your hands so cold?" Jean-Luc asked, sitting up to pull off his shorts. Kneeling in front of her, he moved her hand up to her chest and eased off her panties. His touch was warm, slightly rough, and worked its way up her thigh and then stopped, toying with the sensitive skin.

"Why are you such a tease?" she retorted, slipping a foot behind his knee and unbalancing him. His shocked snort of surprise, and her own laughter as they tangled together, left them both a little breathless. His hand pressed in, then flicked across her clit making her moan into his neck.

She smacked his shoulder lightly, still shaking her head.

"No teasing," Jean-Luc promised. His fingers returned but this time they circled in a slow, agonising rhythm. Growing wetter by the moment, she shifted her hips closer to his hand. Her own hand had finally warmed up and she reached for his cock again. This time, she was the one who made him sigh. Cupping her hand around him, Beverly moved her hand faster.

He dropped his mouth to her breast again, sucking and licking until she was trembling.

"Jean-Luc." Her gasp was part warning. Just kissing him probably could have had her halfway and the friction on her clit was just too insistent. "I need you."

Surprise flashed across his eyes, and he paused. His hand returned to her stomach, warm and damp against her skin. "Not too fast?"

"You're perfect," Beverly promised. The ache was already starting to make her head spin. "It's you..." She rolled above him, glancing down as he lifted his cock and waited for her. Covering his hands with hers, she eased him in. The fullness of having him within her only made the spinning worse. "It's a little intense." She tried to explain.

Jean-Luc held her chin. His eyes were dark, and having so much of their skin in contact was driving both of them closer to the brink. "You're all right?"

"I'm all right." She leaned down, rocking her hips a little before she kissed him. "You're wonderful."

Strong fingers dug into her hips and he sucked her bottom lip for an extra moment. His nose brushed her cheek. She could smell the sweat of his neck. When she kissed his jawline, she tasted the salt on his skin. He held still, waiting. How he could when she wanted desperately to find a hard, fast rhythm was beyond her, but she appreciated it. There was more than enough Jean-Luc to be distracted with. Her mind and her body had the same target, but were almost too far apart.

"It doesn't have to be perfect."

Beverly smiled and started to rock. Her body pulsed, tingling as orgasm threatened far too quickly. It wouldn't be what it could be if she came now. His chest against hers and his hands in her hair were exquisite. If she could have buried herself in the scent of him and the racing of his breath, she would have. She moaned again, panting against his chest.

"But it is." She moved over him, grinding down into him and he thrust up to meet her. His eyes darkened and his grip on her back tightened. He started to circle around for her clit but she shook her head and kissed his cheek. " I won't last."

Jean-Luc stopped her apology and kissed her again. "Let me." He caressed her cheek, then buried his fingers in her hair. "We have all the time in the universe." His arms wrapped around her back, then they rolled together. With her back against the bed, it was a little easier to stay with him instead of being swept deliciously away. Parting her legs, she took him deeper and slipped the left around his back.

Clinging to the sheets, Beverly nodded to him. "Jean-Luc..."

He smiled and kissed her breast lazily. Thrusting into her slowly, he sighed in ecstasy, then returned his mouth to her lips. His voice was coarse, even a growl. "I can't hold here long."

"I do love you." She whispered to him. It wasn't the time for such admissions but she needed him to know.

"Beverly, I--"

Shaking her head, she kissed him hard enough to take away everything else he meant to say. "Later."

Her fingertips dug in along his spine. He crushed her breasts against her chest. The quickening rhythm of him within her rose, then continued without her. She'd been too close already. Her orgasm was a shivering, slow surrender. Writhing up and clutching him tighter, Beverly sighed into his shoulder. "Yes."

Jean-Luc moved within her, pushing deeper. She was wet and still floating from the aftermath of her climax. Waiting for him, she held him close and lifted her hips up to meet him. His breathing grew fast, then ragged. The slickness of the sweat between them let him glide over her. Stiffening before he grunted and came within her, Jean-Luc lay over her. They caught their breath together. Her hip pressed awkwardly against his stomach and she was fairly certain his knee was going numb. Stroking the back of his neck, she sighed contentedly.

He started to roll off but stopped when she caught his shoulder. "Give me a minute," Beverly asked. Holding him above her, she watched him smile, then closed her eyes. Just staying in contact with him was blissful and she soaked up his presence. For this moment, she needed the weight of him.

When her head stopped spinning, she patted his shoulder again and Jean-Luc slipped off her, watching her with a smile. Sitting up slowly, she grinned back at him. The soft, pleasant dizziness still filled her mind and she closed her eyes when he kissed her.

"I'll be back."

She ducked into the washroom. Beverly dropped her head into her hands as she peed. All the thoughts of what she'd just done could wait. The self-recrimination that she may have ruined the closest friendship she had and self-doubt that she was ready to risk her heart again, could both wait. Right now, she had him and that made her smile at herself in the mirror. Carefully washing her hands with hot water, she dried them quickly then crept back into bed.

Jean-Luc lay on his back. He lifted the sheets and made room for her at his side as she wound herself around him. He kept toying with her hair and that made her smile.

"Warmer now," he teased, kissing the back of her hand.

Beverly nuzzled his chest in response. "Mm-hmm."

Planting a kiss neatly on her forehead, Jean-Luc stroked her waist. "I didn't think to ask if you felt as I do."

Shaking her head, she lifted it so she could look up into his gentle eyes. "I don't think I knew. I knew there was something. There's always been something between us but I didn't know you--"

"I love you," Jean-Luc interrupted. His tone was even and calm. This was a fact of the universe and she couldn't dispute it. "I would never have taken advantage--"

Her laughter interrupted him and she sighed. Holding his face in her palm, Beverly felt her heart skip. "None was taken. I wanted you as much as you wanted me. I think--I needed--I mean, I need you."

"You've always had me." Pain flashed through his eyes, as if she'd touched on an old wound.

Reaching across his chest, she pulled herself up to kiss him. Beverly met his gaze, finding what she needed in his eyes. "Now I know." She kissed him again, sealing the taste of him into her mind. "I'm not letting go."

"I don't-" his voice broke and softened- "think there will ever be a reason."

Resting her head on his chest, Beverly sighed again. Her heart was full and being held by him brought a kind of peace she'd long denied herself. Looking up at the ceiling, she let her breath slow.

"Was it all right?" His question startled her back from dozing off.



She chuckled sleepily and dragged her hand lazily across his stomach. "I was quick."

"I'm sorry, if I--"

"No, no, no..." she insisted, hugging him close. "It was fine. I just..." She had to think. "I didn't realise how much you meant to me. Just touching you did something to me."

"And that was-"

"Wonderful," she promised. "Absolutely wonderful."

"I agree," Jean-Luc said, tightening his embrace.

"You just needed to be a gentleman."

His gentle laughter made his chest shift beneath her head. "I would never wish to be neglectful of your needs."

Licking her lips, Beverly lifted her head. Her red hair fell across his chest. Kissing a line from his collarbone up to his lips, she slipped her tongue deep into his mouth. "And if I need something additional?"

Jean-Luc caught her arm and pulled her closer. His leg insinuated in between hers and she sighed in wanting when his thigh brushed against her. "Then I'm at your service."`