Five days later heralded the much awaited departure of Beverly Crusher from Sickbay. Much awaited by Beverly, who was thrilled at finally being able to escape the ministrations of her overattentive staff; and much awaited by her staff, who where quick to confirm the age old adage that doctors were indeed
the worst patients.
Dr. Selar had agreed to release her under the conditions that she come in for weekly regenerative appointments and that she get some rest. Jean-Luc, hovering nearby and listening intently, had glanced pointedly at Beverly in regards to the latter. Finally in what seemed like hours, but was, in all actuality, mere minutes, Beverly made it to her quarters. Sighing dramatically, she plopped down onto her couch.
"Finally! Free at last!" she proclaimed.
"Yes," Jean-Luc murmured, coming to sit beside her. "I don't know who's happier. You or your staff."
"That's a horrible thing to say, Jean-Luc."
Picard saw the laughter in her eyes and smiled. "It is," he admitted, "but it's still true. You don't make a very good patient."
"I know," she sighed, glancing over. "But, then again, neither do you."
"Touché." He laughed and brought his arm to the back of couch.
Beverly smiled and leaned back into the space he had created for her. "So, are you going to tell me what happened down there or do I have to start guessing?"
"No, of course I'll tell you. I just wanted to wait until you were recovered."
Beverly took in the sadness of his voice, the reflection in his eyes, and immediately knew. "All of them?" she whispered.
"Dead. There were over 1,014 people at the research institute," her voice cracked.
He placed a comforting arm around her. "Shh. I know. There was nothing we could do for them."
Sniffling, she raised her head. "And the Cardassians? Did they take the proto-reactor?"
"No, thanks to you, they did not."
"Me?" She looked surprised.
"Yes. Apparently, they were in the process of removing the proto-reactor from its housing chamber when you, Will, and Data walked in."
"So, in essence, had I not been there to get shot, the proto-reactor would be halfway to Cardassia by now."
Jean-Luc glanced at her warily. "That's a rough assessment, yes." He paused. "An old professor of mine would say that what you did was an effective, if not dramatic, display of field tactics."
"Hmph. I don't want to repeat that effective display for a long time."
"I'd actually prefer if it were never."
The poorly masked pain in his statement prodded Beverly to lift her head, bringing her eye level with him. She reached up and placed her palm against his cheek. "Jean-Luc. I'm so sorry."
He closed his eyes and released a short breath. Leaning into her touch, he spoke. "Beverly, I thought that I'd lost you. I saw you lying there, in Sickbay, and I could think about was how I might never get to hold you in my arms again. Never taste your sweet lips, never …"
His words were muffled. She leaned in closer, not quite understanding what he was murmuring. "Never what, Jean-Luc?" she pressed him, straining to hear his whispered reply.
"Make love. I would never get to make love to you. Hear you call out my name in passion. Feel your body beneath mine."
Beverly's eyes slid shut at his words, her breath suddenly becoming very quick. This sweet man, who loved her with his very soul, who had been to hell and back, was broken. Broken by the simple thought that he might never share his bed with her. Her heart flooded with emotion, her decision made. It was
finally alright. There would be no more waiting.
"What makes you so sure that it won't be you calling out my name?" she whispered softly.
His eyes lifted to meet their blue counterparts and a loving smile. "Beverly?" he murmured, the silent question being asked in his gaze, still unsure of what he thought he'd just heard.
"I want you to make love to me, Jean-Luc," came the tender reply.
His lips covered hers in agreement.
"Picard to Troi."
"Could you come to my quarters. I could use your help."
"On my way."
A few minutes later, Deanna stood outside the doorway, thumbing the control panel.
Deanna glided through the doors and then burst into laughter at the sight she beheld. Beverly Picard stood before her, hair in disarray, and a foreign green substance splattered across her upper body.
"I take it Jack isn't too happy," she giggled.
"Very funny. Here," she sighed, thrusting the little boy into Deanna's arms. "Babysitting is going to start a little early tonight."
"Fine with me," Deanna smiled, gazing at the toddler with undisguised affection. She followed Beverly into the bedroom. "Busy day?"
"Hah!" she snorted. "I had an entire class of second graders in Sickbay for a your this morning, two surgeries, one birth - Ensign James," she said in answer to Deanna's questioning look. "And as if that wasn't enough, Jean-Luc is going to be home in an hour, expecting me to be ready for tonight."
She let out an exasperated sigh as she made her across the room. Spying a flash of red, she bent down. "That man!"
Deanna glanced up. "What?"
"If he ever learned to pick up his clothes, I'd die of shock!"
"The Captain?" Deanna's eyebrows lifted in surprise. "I would've thought he'd be more ... tidy. "
"So did I. But I was wrong. He's not. At least when it comes to his clothes. See?" She lifted up a pair of red silk boxers as if to emphasize her point.
Deanna tried suppressing a laugh, but failed…miserably. "He wears those?"
Beverly looked up, confused. "Yes. Why?"
"It's just that they're so," she paused.
Beverly was silent for a moment. Then, a sly grin broke out onto her face. "Yes. They are. He is."
"Who is?" asked a baritone voice.
Beverly stuffed the boxers behind her back as Jean-Luc stepped into the entryway.
He glanced over at Deanna, who at the moment, was trying to be the picture of pure innocence, and then back at Beverly.
Deanna stood. "Well, I think Jack and I will be going now. I'll drop him off tomorrow first thing."
Beverly watched enviously as she made her escape from their quarters and then brought her attention back to Jean-Luc when he cleared his throat.
"You're home early tonight."
"I am," he nodded. "And you're up to something."
"I am not up to something."
"Mm-hmm." He came closer. "What's behind your back?"
Beverly though about it for a moment and then decided that giving up would be easier than trying to convince Jean-Luc otherwise. Bringing her hand out from behind, she smiled. "Just your boxers."
His eyes narrowed. "And why, may I ask, were you discussing my underwear with Deanna?"
"We weren't 'discussing' anything, Jean-Luc. She happened to see them and commented that they were sexy. I merely agreed."
"That was it. I didn't discuss our sex life or anything that could cause even an iota of embarrassment t you. I promise."
"Well, I was planning on taking you to dinner tonight, but now –"
"Now that you're so interested in my underwear, perhaps we should spend some time discussing it in depth."
Beverly smiled softly as he pulled her close. "Sounds like a great idea to me."
He leaned in and kissed her. "Glad you approve," he whispered, his hands moving to the back of her uniform.
"I always approve of your ideas Jean-Luc."
His laughter was cut off as her lips covered his.
Much, much later, under the cover of blackness and starlight, three words were uttered.
"Happy Anniversary, love."