"Areas one through five, send the representative you have chosen to the bridge." The command came over the intercom while she was getting scrubs for her bathing-suited patient to wear.
'Well, I guess that's me,' she thought to herself. It was clear—and clearly annoying—that she was a Doctor. A Doctor who could remember how to heal a patient's shoulder, but not her own name or where she was, or why… She refused to acknowledge how disconcerting the blank slate of memory was.
After giving the scrubs to the patient, and telling her to sit tight for now, she squared her shoulders and headed for the bridge.
And how, exactly, did she know where the bridge was?The paradoxes were already mounting up and threatening to make her head explode. "Bridge," she spat in annoyance and the turbolift hissed into motion.
When it stopped, the doors opened. She expected to feel some sort of instinctive recognition, the way she had when she reached for the tissue regenerator. Instead, it was like pushing against a wall of pressure foam… spongy to a point, and then absorbing all force applied to it and becoming impenetrable.
She stepped onto the bridge, hands fisted in the pockets of her blue medical jacket. A Klingon (and how did she know that?) acknowledged her presence with a curt nod. "You are the Doctor?"
"Apparently." She almost snorted at the obvious. Her gaze wandered to the others. They all wore the maroon uniform which she *knew* signified command staff. Her glance went from the tall, bearded man, (attractive, she noted,) to the black man with an optical prosthetic, (again, she *knew* and her ire increased.) There was an attractive dark haired woman with nasal-cranial ridges and multiple earrings signifying her as a Bajoran. She seemed the most agitated of the group.
Then her eyes came to rest on the last member of the Command Staff. A jolt of… something… went through her. Recognition? Maybe. Then again, maybe lust. He was not as tall as the bearded man, nor as broad as the Klingon, but there was a definite air of confidence and authority about him. He was fit and appeared strong, of mind and body. His eyes met hers, dark green, and she thought she saw a jolt of remembrance on his part too.
Self-consciously she ran a hand through her hair. It felt like a familiar gesture. His eyes stayed on her as she did it. She put her hand back in the jacket pocket, clenching her fists against the tide of panic and frustration vying equally for precedence.
She tried to gather her wits. "So I take it this isn't isolated." Her tone was aggravated, even to her own ears. She drew in a breath, trying to keep her temper in check. She HATED being helpless and clueless. She did not need her memory to know that.
"No, it is a ship-wide phenomena," the Klingon answered. "We were hopeful you might have a medical explanation?" He looked at her expectantly.
"I don't know anything." She shook her head in exasperation. "I only know I'm a Doctor because I healed a patient without even having to think about the diagnosis or the cure." She paced slightly, realized what she was doing, and stopped, standing to face the bridge crew again. 'And I seem to be the only one with pockets,' she concluded to herself, biting off the smile which came with the burst of completely irrelevant observation.
Hesaw the smile she curtailed reach her eyes, and wondered what the joke was. He had watched her from the moment the lift doors opened. More than anything else, he knew he was connected to her. He could not remember her, yet he knew that he knew her.
He had an instinctive desire to get her somewhere private and talk the situation out with her. Somehow, he felt she would have insight.
He was drawn to her. Logically, he acknowledged it could be simply biological. Her red hair was stunning. Her body was lean and lithe and graceful. Her blue eyes sparkled with intelligence. He must know her if he was Command crew and she was a Doctor… but did he *know* her? Instinct was all he had at the moment, and instinct told him he knew her and he trusted her.
"I can't access the medical records from sickbay. Can you get to them here?" she asked, hopefully.
The black man with the vision prosthesis shook his head. "We can't access medical records, crew roster or *any* significant computer files." His sigh spoke of the same exasperation the Doctor was feeling. She sensed he was not used to being thwarted by the machine.
"We're going to start a deck-by-deck survey of the ship," the tall, bearded man said. He had clear blue eyes, with lines that spoke of an easy smile. "We'll let you know if we come up with anything. In the meantime, if you could maybe come up with a medical explanation for our mutual missing memories…"
"Trust me, I'll try." She smiled at the bearded man and nodded her assent.
Henoticed this smile did not reach her eyes. He watched her visibly square her shoulders as she turned back to the turbolift. He imagined she was psyching herself up for the battle of discovering the medical cause of the phenomena. He had the distinct impression she would not sleep until she solved the mystery.
Commander LaForge had managed to pull up the crew roster. That was how she knew his name and rank. She still knew nothing else about him other than her impressions.
The balding man with the mossy green eyes was the Captain. That fit with her impression, and piqued her interest. 'Jean-Luc.' She tested the name on her tongue. It felt familiar. More familiar than her own name, Beverly Crusher.
'Doctor,' felt familiar. She supposed she had accepted that from the first moment of awareness, the paradox of awareness of the lack of memory.
She was buried in the neural maps of several of her own staff and her swimmer-patient when the doors hissed open.
"Doctor." The whiskey-smooth baritone was immediately familiar to her. She knew before she looked up it was the Captain.
"Sir?" That felt awkward. Did she call him Jean-Luc? Somehow that didn't feel right either. Perhaps just 'Captain.' She shrugged. Some of the mysteries were not worth the effort of wondering about. They would sort themselves out.
"Am I interrupting?" he asked, walking over to the station she was working on.
"Not really," she admitted. "I keep going over the same information. I can see where the issue is, but not why." She shook her head ruefully. "What can I do for you?" She looked up from the display to find his eyes on her with a burning intensity.
"I just have this… feeling… that perhaps we… " He broke off, clearly uncomfortable. "I thought we might talk about things." He paced, looking at the digital displays on the wall. He stopped and faced her again, "With each other."
Something fluttered beneath her stomach. "I feel like I recognize you." That sounded ridiculous to her own ears, but she suspected he knew what she meant. She shook her head, "I mean, I didn't even know my own name, but when I saw you… " She shrugged, hoping the blush she felt rising from her neck did not make it to her face.
"This mission, this war does not feel right," the Captain stated simply. He came over to rest a hip against the console she was working on, facing her where she sat. He placed his hands on either side of him, resting against the edge of the desk.
She sat back in her chair, looking up at him. The sense of deja vu was stronger than the sense of remembering. Something about their proximity, their positions... Only, usually, they were reversed. He sat and she stood, leaning on his desk.
She shook her head, exasperated at the cobwebby hints leading nowhere. "Does war ever feel right?" she asked. "Somehow I don't think I'm very compliant with Federation ideals." Her voice was disgusted. She couldn't remember who she was, but she could not square with signing on to a war ship, bent on destroying lives. She was a Doctor: that meant saving lives…
He saw the sadness and confusion on her face. "It doesn't feel right to you, either, does it."
"No." She shook her head. "I can't imagine why I would have signed on for this. It feels against… I can't say against everything I believe in, because I don't know what I believe in. Or believed in. But I know what I feel inside now…
"And that is that I don't belong on this ship, on this mission. It's just… wrong." She shrugged in frustration, unable to find the right words. He nodded in agreement, in understanding.
"The ship we destroyed… " There was self-recrimination in his voice. "They could not have harmed us. I cannot help but feel it was cold blooded murder."
"Jean-Luc." She reached a hand, rested it on his leg. This, at last, was familiar. "They fired on us first."
"I know, but…" He broke off, stood and strode away from her, disgust obvious in his bearing. "We could have disabled their weapons. We could have even stranded them. We did not have to… annihilatethem." He stopped, braced his forearm above him, against the curve of the bulkhead, closed his eyes.
She rose, without thought, compelled to comfort him. She stood behind him, placed her hand on his shoulder; felt the warmth, the strength, the humanitybeneath the uniform. "You did what you thought you had to do."
"But not what I thought was RIGHT." The admission was pulled from him, a hoarse whisper. "It wasn't RIGHT."
Obligated by something beyond her conscious grasp, she laid her forehead against his shoulder. This man's pain was somehow her own pain. "We have time. We will figure this out before we get there."
He reached his hand up, covered her smaller one where it rested on his shoulder. But he still did not turn to face her. "What if we can't?"
"Then we will do the Right Thing."
He let out a sigh. Smelled her nearness. Memory teased the edge of his awareness. It was as if it was right there, on the other side of glass… glass that looked transparent, but in fact was only showing a projection, not what was actually through the glass.
He yearned to turn, to embrace her, to lean on her certainty. He felt like her gentle touch on his shoulder, her forehead on his back anchored him. Strengthened him.
But he could not remember. And he was afraid if he gathered her to him, he would not let go. His fingers itched to weave themselves into her long red curls. He longed to taste her lips… and… more.
So instead he grasped her fingers within his own, squeezing them in thanks. "Thank you, Doctor." He straightened; she straightened, reluctantly stepping back from him.
"For what, Captain?" He turned, their gazes caught, and shared lifetimes seemed to connect them for an instant. Then it was gone.
"For listening; for talking to me. For not being afraid to say the things everyone else seems to be thinking but is afraid to say." He could not consciously stop his hand from lifting to push an errant curl behind her ear. She tipped her face infinitesimally into his touch.
"I'll… ah… leave you to your work, Doctor. Perhaps you will be able to solve our dilemma." His half-smile did not reach his eyes.
"No pressure or anything… " she muttered under her breath. "Captain," she called as an afterthought, to his retreating back. He stopped, turned to her. "Have you eaten?"
"What?" The non-sequitur caught him off guard.
"Eaten. You know, food. Meals. Breakfast, lunch, supper? Sustenance? " Her voice was cross, but her eyes sparkled.
"Now that you mention it, I have not, not that I… remember." His eyebrow rose at his own unintended humor.
"Why don't you bring me by some supper, later then. I won't be giving up on this mystery until it's solved, and we both need to eat." There was a subtle hint of uncertainty in her voice. He thought she was afraid he would say no.
"Indeed, we do need to eat." He saw the relief cross her features. "I'll be back with food." He turned to leave again, stopped mid-turn. "What do you like?"
"I've no idea." This time the smile reached her eyes. "Surprise me."
With a nod, he departed.
"You were right in the first place." The Captain sat up from the reclined chair where the Doctor had just treated him, restoring his memories completely.
She nodded, a frown on her face. "That's why he volunteered to go first. He knew I had solved it." She fiddled with her equipment. "He made me think I had hurt him."
Jean-Luc reached for her hands, stopping their nervous motion. "Beverly. He fooled all of us."
"I know." She pulled her hands from his. He felt unaccountably bereft. "Now get, I have just under a thousand crew members to treat."
He stood, but before he left, he reached for her hand again. She stilled in her agitation, looking down at their hands. "I wanted to thank you." He waited for her to look up. When she did, he continued, "For listening." Blue eyes met hazel. "You are my better conscience sometimes, you know."
She smiled, somewhat wistfully, he thought. But she squeezed his hand. "You are welcome, Captain. Now go." For just a moment she thought he might brush a kiss on her cheek. But that was absurd, they were in sickbay, full of witnesses… He squeezed her hand, and left.
Hours later, she wasn't sure how many, she actually startled when a hand dropped to her shoulder. She was sitting on her stool, next to the reclined chair where yet another crew member was being treated. It only took a moment to recognize the familiar touch, but her edginess spoke volumes as to her exhaustion.
"Doctor, I was less than thrilled when I was informed that you were still on duty." His voice held censure, but an equal measure of concern.
"It's not fair, to have to wait…" She broke off, as the hum of the neural stimulator ended and the monitor beeped. The patient in the chair sat up with a smile.
"Thank you, Doctor Crusher!" The young ensign bounced up with relieved delight.
"Did you eat?" It was the Doctor's turn to be stumped by the non-sequitur.
"Eat, you know, nourishment?" The Captain mimed a knife and fork, "food, sustenance?"
"Oh." The Doctor smirked at her own words being tossed back at her. "I had a ration bar… uh…" She glanced at the chronometer. "A while ago."
"Let's go." He took hold of her hand and led her. Her wordless compliance proved her state of fatigue. "Gamma shift can finish up just fine without you."
Once in the turbolift, she gave in and leaned against him, resting her forehead on his shoulder. He led her to her quarters, straight to the bedroom. The bed had been made and turned down. "I thought you were going to feed me," she mumbled crossly.
"I am. Get changed and into bed. I'll be right back." Without argument she peeled off her uniform and put on her soft flannel 'granny' nightgown. She was crawling under the covers when he knocked lightly.
"Come." She wasn't sure she wanted food any more, though her stomach took the opportunity to protest that thought loudly. He carried a tray in. She scooted back against the headboard, her eyes wide. "Jean-Luc…"
He had a steaming mug of vegetable soup for her, a buttered roll, and a glass of juice. She felt tears pressing against her eyes. "Thank you," she whispered, slightly overwhelmed.
"You are welcome." He settled down on the chair next to her bed, and began to fill her in on the rest of what was happening around the ship. She had been in sickbay the entire time since the probe had erased their memories. She had not realized that was thirty-four hours ago. She was delightfully sated by the simple meal, and touched beyond measure. Before she could move to get up, he whisked the tray away from her.
He set it down on the chair he had vacated, and gallantly tucked her in. Just when she thought he was going to leave, he sat lightly on the edge of the bed. Her eyes were heavy, she fought to keep them open. He tucked the covers up around her shoulders. "How could I ever forget you my friend?"
Her last conscious thought was that she felt him brush a kiss on her forehead.
1. a riddle, the answer to which involves a pun or play on words
2. anything that puzzles.