Disclaimer: Star Trek is the property of Paramount. I own nothing.

Author's note: This story starts approximately one month after the events in 'Lighting a Fire'. Please read that first. Thank you everyone who reviewed 'Lighting a Fire'; it's greatly appreciated. Please note that I will not be following the timeline as laid out in 'Insurrection' etc.

Chapter One

Jean-Luc was woken by the sound of someone falling followed by a yelp of pain. Sitting bolt upright, he said,

'Computer, lights.'

The lights showed Deanna struggling to her feet by the bedroom door. She was bleeding profusely from a cut on her forehead and, as he looked at her in horror, she tried to raise her hand to her head only to stop with a hiss of pain. Leaping out of bed, Jean-Luc hurried towards her, only to stumble and nearly trip himself. Looking down, he saw his boots lying on the floor in the middle of the doorway, perfectly positioned to trip anyone who didn't know that they were there. Particularly someone who was getting up in the dark to avoid waking their lover, who was on a different shift. Regaining his footing, Jean-Luc carefully put an arm around Deanna, making sure that he didn't jostle her arm, and said,

'Computer, two to transport to Sickbay.'

As the transporter beam took them, Jean-Luc braced himself for the well-deserved tongue-lashing that he was certain to get from Beverly.
When they materialised in Sickbay, Dean Rivers was the doctor on duty and Jean-Luc realised that it was earlier than he had thought. Doctor Rivers hurried over to them, saying,

'What happened?'

'I tripped and hit my head and shoulder on the door frame,' replied Deanna.

Dean quickly scanned Deanna with his medical tricorder to check for any other injuries,

'Laceration on left side of forehead, bruising to the forehead, left clavicle broken, bruising on left palm. Nothing to worry about. Captain, could you help Counsellor Troi sit on the bio bed, please.'

Jean-Luc obeyed, feeling guilty and helpless.

Doctor Rivers disappeared into the main office and Nurse Rega went into the main storeroom, returning a few seconds later with a pair of loose drawstring trousers and a blanket. It was only when she handed him the trousers that Jean-Luc remembered that he and Deanna were both naked. As he slipped the trousers on, the nurse wrapped the blanket round Deanna, tucking it in underneath her right armpit, leaving her shoulders bare. Jean-Luc nodded his thanks to the nurse, glad that Sickbay was empty this morning. All of the medical staff except Dean Rivers had seen him naked numerous times but they always respected patient confidentiality so he didn't feel too self-conscious in front of them. The thought of appearing naked in front of other crewmembers still embarrassed him even though he knew that they would have understood that getting Deanna to Sickbay was more important than dressing.

Dean Rivers nervously checked Deanna Troi's medical records for any known allergies. To his relief, Doctor Crusher had clear and extensive records on Counsellor Troi's reactions to all the common medicines and gave a list of recommended medicines and dosages. Relaxing he chose the first painkiller from the list and double-checked the dose before loading it into the hyposray. Leaving the office, he returned to the bio bed and raised the hypospray, saying,

'I'm going to give you a painkiller.'

Deanna nodded and then sighed as the pain began to recede. Dean continued,

'I'll close the wound on your head first, then repair your collar bone and then deal with the bruises.'

Jean-Luc stepped back and watched as Dean calmly repaired the damage that his carelessness had caused. Once Dean had finished his first round of repairs he asked Deanna to lie on the bio bed so that he could confirm the medical tricorder readings. Medical tricorders were very good but they didn't have the capability of a bio bed so it was standard procedure to double check whenever possible. As Deanna lay down, Jean-Luc came back to her side, intending to apologise. However, as he looked down at her he found himself thinking how tiny and fragile she looked, like a delicate child. The absurdity of that assumption suddenly struck him and he bit back a laugh. A second later he found himself face to face with an irate woman,

'Is there something funny about this?'

'No, of course not.'

'Then what was so amusing?'

'When you lay back I had a sudden image of you as delicate and helpless and then I remembered that time on Dionara when those men were bothering you…'

'And I used the Klingon nut cruncher on them.'

'Yes, and no one dared to make eye contact with you for the rest of the evening.'

Deanna could tell that Jean-Luc was telling the truth so she forced her anger aside and lay back down on the bio bed so that Dean could finish his examination.

It was clear that Deanna was still angry and Jean-Luc realised that he still hadn't apologised for leaving his boots in the way,

'Deanna, I'm sorry that I was so careless. It won't happen again.'

Jean-Luc's remorse was genuine and Deanna felt her anger melting away,

'Apology accepted.'

Deanna smiled and Jean-Luc felt warmth spreading through him. He returned her smile and reached out to take her hand. He was about to suggest that they plan some time off together when the doors to Sickbay opened to admit Beverly, who immediately came over to them, saying,

'What happened?'

'I left my boots in the middle of the floor last night and Deanna tripped over them this morning getting up,' replied Jean-Luc, bracing himself.

Beverly glared at him but turned to Dean to find out the medical details first. Having received the details of Deanna's injuries and updates from the rest of gamma shift, Beverly relieved Dean and he left. Going to Deanna's side, she said,

'You should be fine. Luckily you didn't do any damage to your skull and there's no concussion. No heavy lifting with your left arm for forty-eight hours. Come back to Sickbay immediately if you have any headaches, nausea or dizziness.'

'Right.'

Deanna got off the bed, then swore under her breath as she saw the time,

'I'm going to be late for my first appointment. I haven't showered yet and my uniform is in Jean-Luc's quarters.'

'Why don't you shower here and use the Sickbay replicators to get a new uniform,' suggested Jean-Luc.

'My hairbrush and make-up are in my quarters.'

Jean-Luc thought for a moment,

'Why don't you go to your quarters and start getting ready. I'll fetch your uniform from my quarters and bring it to you.'

'All right.'

Deanna left Sickbay at full speed. Jean-Luc turned to follow her, but was stopped by Beverly, who said icily,

'After you've done that, please come back here, Captain.'

Jean-Luc nodded curtly. The discussion with Beverly was bound to be unpleasant but trying to duck it would only make it worse.

Back in his own quarters, Jean-Luc took thirty seconds to dress before gathering up Deanna's uniform and heading out again. When he reached Deanna's quarters she was just stepping out of the bathroom and he felt his breath catch at the sight of her flawless beauty. Deanna quickly slipped her underwear on and then went over to where Jean-Luc was stood rooted to the spot holding her uniform. As she lifted her clothes out of his arms, she smiled, saying,

'See something you like?'

'Yes.'

Jean-Luc returned her smile with a mock leer and she laughed even as she hurriedly dressed. Going to the mirror, she started brushing her hair, pulling it back and pinning it in place in just a couple of minutes. She opened her make-up bag but then caught a glimpse of the chronometer and with an exasperated exclamation closed it again,

'Dammit, I don't have time.'

'I don't know why you bother anyway.'

'Because I like to look my best,' said Deanna, feeling her earlier annoyance returning.

'Deanna, you always look beautiful regardless of whether or not you're wearing make-up.'

Deanna smiled softly at him, saying,

'Thank you.'

She reached up and gave him a brief kiss, then rushed out.

Jean-Luc made his way back to Sickbay, feeling tired and irritable. He considered pleading tiredness as an excuse to avoid a lecture but knew that Beverly would see through it. When he arrived, Beverly said,

'Come into my office, Jean-Luc.'

Relieved that he wasn't going to be dressed down in front of an audience, Jean-Luc followed Beverly. Once inside, Beverly said,

'Sit down. Would you like a drink?'

'Earl Grey, please,' said Jean-Luc, sitting on the sofa.

Beverly ordered his tea and handed it to him, then sat beside him. She then spent five minutes telling him what she thought about his carelessness. Jean-Luc sat quietly, knowing that he had no excuse. Beverly finished by saying,

'You know I could give you a 'ship's klutz' award, don't you?'

Jean-Luc winced at the thought of his carelessness becoming common knowledge, but said,

'I probably deserve one.'

'You do but I won't give you one this time.'

'You won't?' said Jean-Luc surprised.

'You and Deanna are learning to live together and there are bound to be hiccups.'

'Thank you. I'll make sure it doesn't happen again.'

'See that you do. I don't want to find Deanna in here again because you can't put your things away. Why did she trip over your boots anyway? Wasn't she looking where she was going?'

'It was dark. She hasn't been putting the light on because it wakes me.'

'Okay…Jean-Luc, why isn't Deanna on the same shift as you?'

'I'm on beta shift for a few days. You know that I take beta shift for two weeks once every three months,' said Jean-Luc, puzzled.

'Yes, Jean-Luc, I'm fully aware of that. I have been breakfasting alone for the last few days. That isn't what I asked.'

The sarcasm in Beverly's voice jolted Jean-Luc's brain into action and he said,

'Deanna is part of the primary medical team so she's always on alpha shift.'

'It's customary, yes, but she could be on another shift occasionally, perhaps when a certain starship captain were, for example.'

'Wouldn't that be quite inconvenient for her?'

'It might be but it might be less inconvenient than sneaking around in the dark, tripping over things. Why don't you ask her?'

'All right,' said Jean-Luc still slightly confused.

Beverly gave an exasperated sigh as she realised that she'd have to spell it out for him, sometimes Jean-Luc could be very slow,

'Jean-Luc, when you signed this months duty roster did you consider the effect that it would have on you and Deanna? You need to start thinking of you and Deanna as a couple. How is your sex life, by the way?'

'Fine, thank you,' lied Jean-Luc, knowing that Beverly was right. He had signed the roster without giving it any thought at all and he and Deanna had been finding it very frustrating. She had waited up for him a couple of times and he had woken early once but the resulting sex had been perfunctory and only partially satisfying. He also missed talking to Deanna in the evenings. Before he had gone on to beta shift, they had got into a routine; after shift they would make love and then they would either do something with friends or they would eat together and talk. Often they had paperwork to do and they would sit down on the sofa together and enjoy the buzz that being near each other always brought whilst they worked. He sighed, saying,

'You're right but how can I put Deanna on the same shift as me without it being seen as unfair?'

'T107 applies, remember? This is exactly the sort of thing it was intended for.'

'It is, isn't it? I'll talk to Deanna and see what she wants to do.'

'Good. Now go and get some sleep.'

'Yes, Doctor.'

Jean-Luc smiled wryly as he left, he'd just had a reminder never to underestimate Beverly. Instead of losing her temper, she'd made him think about the cause of the problem and possible solutions. As he walked back to his quarters, he tried to decide how to make amends to Deanna. Chocolate and flowers were out, he'd heard Deanna and Beverly's views on men using them as a way to avoid caring about what they'd done wrong far too many times to fall into that trap. They were in deep space again, so he was limited to things on the ship. He racked his brain, trying to think of something thoughtful to do. He had undressed and got into bed when suddenly he knew what to do. Throwing his clothes back on, he went in search of Paul Fisher.

Deanna entered Jean-Luc's quarters warily. He'd sent her a padd message saying that there was a surprise for her on the table in his quarters and she was desperately hoping that it wasn't chocolate or flowers. Going over to the table, she saw a padd and two replicator bowls with stasis covers on. Peering inside she saw what looked like oskoid leaves. Puzzled, she picked up the padd and read,

"Every Betazoid I've ever served with has said that the oskoid leaves from the replicators don't taste quite right so I asked Paul Fisher to look at the program. These are from his first two adjustments. Please let him know whether or not it's an improvement."

Smiling tenderly, Deanna lifted the stasis lids off the bowls and sat down.

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