DISCLAIMER: Star Trek: The Next Generation and all its characters belong to Paramount Pictures; no infringement of copyright is intended. The story however belongs to me.
WARNING: This is the very first story I ever finished. Looking back at it now, I have to say I'm almost ashamed of it because it is so sugary sweet and makes use of many clichés that you will find in romantic writing. Still, it is part of my story collection and I hope you will enjoy it despite its flaws.
PUBLICATION HISTORY: originally written October 1992-April 1994; first published January 1996; republished here September 2012 with minor edits
TIME FRAME: This story is set late in the fourth season of ST:TNG.
The Captain's Dance
by Hester (hester4418)
The Enterprise was on a routine mission again. They were supposed to pick up several scientists at Starbase 36 and then take them to the planet Maled IV where they would be attending a congress. No troubles were expected, and since they were still two days away from the starbase, everything on the Enterprise went its usual way. The crew finally got the time again to relax and pursue some long-neglected hobbies. For Captain Picard this meant engaging in a new Dixon Hill adventure on the holodeck.
It was a rather simple mystery this time, and he solved it a lot faster than he had anticipated. Slightly disappointed in the holodeck's originality (or lack thereof), he was on his way back to his quarters. His time off-duty was not over yet, but he had no idea how to spend the remaining hours. Picard actually had to admit that he was bored, something that usually did not happen to him. He tried to read, but could not concentrate on the words. Music did not help lifting his mood either, and he finally decided that he did not want to sit around in his quarters anymore. Ten-Forward seemed the logical place to go.
It was still early in the day, so the ship's lounge was almost empty. Guinan approached as Picard sat down on a stool at the bar. "What can I get you, Captain?"
"Do you still have some of that Dysirian Brandy?"
"Saved some just for you." Guinan reached under the bar and produced a bottle of shiny red liquid which she poured into a tall, narrow glass and handed it over to Picard.
He lifted the glass in a toast, and then drowned its contents in one gulp.
Guinan eyed him with her mysterious eyes while she poured him some more brandy. "Anything you want to talk about?"
Picard smiled. "You know me better than anyone else. Yes, I probably do want to talk." He sighed. "Lately, I feel a little... tired. My duties don't satisfy me and my hobbies don't distract me anymore. Everything has become a boring routine."
"Maybe you just need some company."
He started to protest, but she held up her hand. "As you just said, I know you, and I know that you prefer to do everything by yourself. You even spend most of your off-duty hours alone. Nobody can stand solitude without end, not even you. It's time for you to accept that you may need somebody every now and then."
"That's probably what I came here for. I needed to talk."
"Yes, you did, but that's not all." She looked at him sternly. "You should get some company, Captain. Just take a look around you, there may actually be some people who would like to spend their spare time with you. A woman even. You're always so wrapped up in your work, you never notice anything like that."
"Really?" He looked at her dumbfounded. "Who is it?"
"You'll have to find out by yourself. But don't worry. Just open your eyes and you'll find her."
Deanna Troi was in her office studying some files when the door chime announced a visitor. "Come in."
The door slid aside to reveal Beverly Crusher. The doctor was not wearing her usual blue jumpsuit and light blue lab coat, but instead had opted for a flowing summer dress in old rose. Clearly she was off-duty, but her manner was not a relaxed one. Troi could tell at once that there was something on her friend's mind. She motioned to a chair.
"Come in and sit down. It's nice to see you. What can I do for you?"
"I would like some advice."
"Professional or personal?"
Crusher settled in the chair. "Both I think." She sighed.
Troi waited patiently for her to go on.
Finally the doctor took a deep breath. "Deanna, I don't know what to do anymore. I feel like I'm losing control over myself. I can't sleep, I can't eat, I lose my temper a dozen times a day. I must be horrible to work with at the moment. But worst of all is that I don't know why this is happening to me. There is just no reason. Nothing in my life changed."
Troi eyed her thoughtfully. "Maybe that is the reason."
Crusher looked at her in surprise. "What do you mean?"
"Well, think about what you've done lately. Was there anything out of the ordinary, anything surprising, exciting or just funny?"
The doctor thought for a moment. "No, not really."
"Anything challenging in sickbay? A new disease, a difficult surgery?"
"And what about your personal life?"
"There was nothing there, either, and you know that as well as I do."
"Yes, I know." Troi smiled. Then she leaned forward and reached for Crusher's hands. "Beverly, look at me."
Their eyes met and the counselor pressed her friend's hands. "I think you know quite well what is wrong with you. You are lonely, Beverly. You long for someone who is there for you when you are down, someone to comfort you – someone to love you. And I even know who you would like to see in that position."
Now Crusher was smiling, too. "Is it that obvious?"
"It is to me, but I don't think that anybody else knows about it."
"But what should I do?"
"You only have two choices: either tell him and become yourself again, with a chance for great happiness even, or go on like before and stay miserable."
"I've tried to tell him so many times already over the past years, but always something interrupted me and I couldn't go on later. What if I tell him now and he doesn't want to know anything about it?"
"Then you would at least know that you've tried. But believe me – he will want to know."
Crusher's eyes widened in surprise. "You mean you sensed something from him? Something about me?"
"Yes, but he would never admit that, not even to himself. It's more like an unconscious reaction, a flickering of emotion almost too faint to notice. You'll have to catch him in one of those moments and keep going, and maybe then he'll realize how much he really cares about you."
"It sounds easy when you put it like that." Crusher sighed.
"It is easy, you'll see. You just have to find the right moment."
"And when will that be? Tonight, next week – or in two years?! Deanna, I've waited for so long already, I just don't know how much longer I'm willing to go on like that!"
"Then go ahead and tell him! It's understandable that you don't want to risk a negative answer, but if you don't take that risk, you'll never know for sure."
Defeated, Crusher smiled faintly. "I know that you're right, I just get so frustrated sometimes." She rose.
"Thanks for your advice, Deanna. I'll try and talk to him. After all, I don't have much to lose, do I." Except for a wonderful friendship, she thought to herself.
The counselor sensed her friend's concern and rose to meet her eyes. "Do not be afraid, Beverly. If nothing else, he will always be your friend. Nothing could ever change that."
Crusher smiled, her fears lessened a bit, and she hugged Troi warmly. "Thank you. I really don't know what I would do without you."
"Probably stay miserable forever and become an old maid." They both laughed.
"Now all I have left to do is to convince Jean-Luc of what's best for him."
On his way back to his cabin, the captain thought about what Guinan had said. A woman was trying to tell him that she was attracted to him. Who in the universe could that be? He mentally called up all the female crew members he was working with, trying to find some clues as to who might want to start a relationship other than of professional nature with him. He was so deeply lost in thought that, turning around a corner, he ran into two crew members who had been walking his way.
"Oh, sorry Lieutenant... Naskov," he stammered, momentarily at a loss for the Lieutenant's name. While he was trying to catch his footing he remembered having seen her in Engineering a couple of times.
She had been quicker regaining her balance and helped him steady himself.
"I'm really sorry, Lieutenant, I didn't mean to knock you over. Are you all right?"
"Oh, quite all right, Captain. I hope you did not hurt yourself, either?" She smiled at him sweetly, and at once he started wondering whether she could be the mysterious woman he was looking for. Dismissing the thought as being absolutely ridiculous (after all he had only met her maybe four or five times), he assured her of his undamaged health and excused himself quickly. She shot him a curious look which immediately aroused his suspicions again.
Picard was still pondering that question when he reached the turbolift. Suddenly he heard a familiar voice behind him.
"Could you hold that lift for me, please."
"Hold," he told the computer and turned around. Beverly Crusher was approaching the lift in fast stride. Picard found himself noticing how beautiful she was, especially when wearing a dress like this one. Her hair looked different somehow as well. Or didn't it? He had been so busy lately, he couldn't remember.
"Well, Mr. Hill, how's it going? Catch any criminals today?"
"Excuse me, Doctor?" How could she know what he had been doing?
"Jean-Luc," she said as they entered the turbolift together, "you've been getting on my nerves for weeks, telling me over and over again that you would plunge right into a new Dixon Hill story on the holodeck as soon as you got the chance, and now you actually want to tell me that you didn't?" Remembering that she wanted to go someplace, she said, "Deck 12," and turned back to Picard. "You've had the whole day off, what the blazes did you do?"
He couldn't resist the temptation to tease her and smiled innocently. "Why, I've been reading Shakespeare for a couple of hours this morning, then I went through some files that needed to be reviewed, and after that..." He noticed that Crusher was trying to keep herself from interrupting him and suppressed a grin. "Well, after that I –"
Crusher had tried to stay calm, but now she couldn't hold herself back anymore. "Jean-Luc, you are really the most annoying person on the whole ship. How am I supposed to ensure the well-being of the crew when even the captain refuses to relax? How can I –"
By now Picard was smiling openly. Crusher stared at him in disbelief. "Now what's so funny about that?"
He patted her arm gently. "Oh, Beverly, I wish you wouldn't get so worked up about this all the time. Of course I went to the holodeck this morning to spend some time as Dixon Hill. Unfortunately, the case was not as interesting as I had hoped, so after I finished I went to Ten-Forward and had a little chat with Guinan. She gave me some things to think about, and now I'm on my way back to my quarters to be alone and think about them. No," he added hastily when he saw the inquiring look on her face, "I do not want to talk about it, it is of a very personal nature and I would prefer keeping it to myself."
Crusher tried not to feel offended by that remark and almost succeeded. He had a right to have some private secrets, didn't he? But somewhere deep inside her a little voice whispered No, I want to know everything about him! Aloud she said, "All right, I acknowledge that you really did something for relaxation today. But," she wagged a finger at him in warning, "don't think you're getting off the hook that easily. You owe me something for that bad joke you pulled."
To her surprise he accepted without protest. "All right Doctor, whatever you say." Teasingly, he added, "Your wish is my command," and bowed slightly. "So what will my punishment be?"
Crusher thought for a moment, then she had an idea. She smiled at him sweetly. "Dinner with me tonight." Seeing the slightly puzzled, but also relieved look on his face, she added, "And we'll go dancing."
Picard was less than enthusiastic about that but he did not let it show. After all, the joke had been pretty mean.
"Please pick me up at my quarters at 2000 hours," was the last thing he heard before the doctor left the turbolift without looking back.
The whole afternoon Picard was distracted. He tried to concentrate on his work, but Guinan's words and the images of at least a dozen female crew members kept drifting in and out of his thoughts. He finally took refuge in his ready room and sat there, staring out of the window at the vast field of stars, allowing his thoughts to go free. Who could be that woman he was looking for? Who... Then a thought crossed his mind. What if he finally found her and discovered that it was someone he didn't want to get involved with? For that matter, did he want to get involved with anyone at all? Guinan had told him he should, but did he really want to? He tried to think of someone with whom he could imagine getting that close but there was none. Except maybe Beverly, but that was out of the question. She would never... or would she? Come to think of it, they had gotten pretty close over the years, but had never crossed the line that separated professional from personal. There had been a few times when he had wondered what it would be like to fall in love with a woman like her (no, actually he had wondered what it would be like to be in love with her) but something had always kept him from exploring the thought further. Maybe he should talk to her about it... No, he told himself, if she had wanted to start a relationship with me, she would have told me, or at least would have given me some kind of clue. So it can't be her Guinan was talking about. But who then?
Finally deciding that these thoughts would lead him nowhere, he turned back to his desk and activated the computer screen. If there really was a woman looking out for him, she would have to come to him, because he would not be looking out for her anymore. After all, he had managed to lead a happy and content life so far and was not exactly looking forward to any changes in his personal routine.
Picard called up the files about their upcoming mission and studied them again. When he finally turned the terminal off and headed back to the bridge, he had put all his personal worries behind him. He even began to look forward to having dinner with Beverly Crusher, even though it meant dancing as well.
Settling in the command chair at the center of the bridge, he inquired, "Mr. Data, what is our E.T.A. at Starbase 36?"
The response came without hesitation. "41 hours and 28 minutes, Captain."
"Thank you, Mr. Data." Picard leaned back comfortably in his chair. So hopefully he could spend a nice evening with a good friend, without any unexpected interruptions.
Deanna Troi, who was sitting in her usual position to the captain's left, sensed his thoughts and smiled to herself. She sincerely hoped that this time Beverly would have the courage to tell Jean-Luc how she felt about him. He just seemed to be in the right mood for it. But if she didn't... Troi sighed inwardly. Then she would have to pick up the pieces again.
Beverly Crusher had not had much time to think during the afternoon. First a kindergarten class had come for a tour of sickbay and she had had to explain every single tool and fixture. Of course each of the four-to-five-year-olds had wanted to lie on a biobed and play being 'sick', and so it had taken almost two hours until they finally left, happily clutching the little gadgets that Crusher had given them as souvenirs, like pieces of gauze and small Band-Aids that, among other 'archaic' instruments, she kept in her office just in case if any of the sophisticated medical equipment should break down and she should have to perform 'old-fashioned' medicine.
Just after the kindergarten kids had left, two teenagers had come in carrying a third who had badly twisted his ankle while climbing rocks on the holodeck. And as if that had not been enough excitement for a day's work, Doctor Selar had discovered that one of their patients had suddenly disappeared. After several minutes of hectic search they had finally found him in the quarantine section, lying on the floor, unconscious. Nobody could explain how exactly it had happened, but the overall opinion was that his medication had worn off sooner than expected so that he had woken up while nobody was there. Disoriented, he must have tried to find someone to talk to and somehow ended up in the quarantine section where he lost consciousness again.
Half an hour later, with the patient safely secured in his bed once again, Crusher had finally been able to leave sickbay and retire to her quarters.
She was tired, and all she wanted was to take a long, steaming hot bath and relax. Unfortunately she had only just about one hour left before Picard would pick her up, so she decided to take a shower instead.
At exactly 2000 hours, the door chime sounded.
"Come in," Crusher called out, and the door slid aside to reveal Jean-Luc Picard.
It had taken him several minutes to decide what to wear for this occasion. Finally, taking in account that Crusher obviously wanted to go out with a gentleman dancer, he had decided on a black tuxedo and white shirt. Entering her cabin, he looked around searching for Beverly, hoping that his outfit would match hers, but she was nowhere to be seen. Then he heard her voice, coming out of the bedroom.
"Just sit down, I'll be right there."
Barely had he settled in a chair when she appeared in the doorway. Jean-Luc started to rise but stopped in mid-motion when he looked at her.
She was breathtaking.
Knowing quite well that blue was one of the colors that suited her best, Beverly had chosen a long azure blue velvet dress that just bared her shoulders. Her skirt was falling in soft folds down to her feet, almost touching the floor and moving gracefully around her legs as she walked. Her hair was piled up on her head and only a few red-gold wisps played around her ears.
Jean-Luc could not remember ever having seen her look this beautiful. It took all of his mental strength to help him get up and greet her as she approached without openly staring at her. Nevertheless, he did not manage to completely hide his feelings because Beverly could read some of the admiration he felt for her in his face. She was very pleased about the effect she apparently had on him, but at the same time had to work hard to control herself as well, as he looked so handsome in his tuxedo and the look in his eyes was so soft that she could almost feel his caress on her skin. All she wanted to do was lose herself in his embrace and get carried away by her feelings, but she did not dare to take that step yet. Not as long as she did not know for sure how he felt about her.
So she just smiled at him. "Shall we go?"
Jean-Luc blinked once to clear his head, then smiled back and offered her his arm. "Would you mind telling me where we're going?"
"Just wait and see. You wouldn't want to spoil the surprise, would you?"
"I never had the slightest intention. I know that I can trust you with anything, so I guess I don't need to be afraid of any harmful additions to the menu, do I?"
"Only as long as you don't forget that this is supposed to be a punishment for being nasty."
He grinned at her mischievously. "I might make a habit of being nasty if you promise you'll always punish me like this."
Beverly tried to look shocked but didn't quite succeed. "Now don't think that I always happen to be in such a generous mood as today. Next time I might just give you a little spanking, to teach you how to properly behave with your CMO."
"As long as you don't decide to sign me up for an extra physical, I would even take that spanking."
"You'd better stop it now, or I might start thinking about it seriously." Beverly smiled happily. She loved their little teasing, and she knew that he enjoyed it just as much as she did. She was glad that she had taken the time to arrange everything this afternoon, right after he had accepted to go out to dinner with her. Everything would be perfect, from the room and its decorations down to the music and the dishes. She had reserved holodeck three for them, and that was where they were headed now.
Picard shot her a surprised look when they arrived in front of the holodeck but said nothing. Crusher addressed the ship's computer. "Computer, run program 'Crusher Forty-three Alpha'."
"Program engaged. Enter when ready."
Arm in arm they approached the holodeck doors which slid aside to reveal a noble restaurant of the finest quality. The walls were covered with silk tapestries, displaying mysterious ornaments in spectacular color arrangements. The tables and chairs had been made out of mahogany wood, their dark polished, reddish-brown surfaces gleaming in the light of dozens of crystal chandeliers. Soft violin music sounded throughout the room.
As Beverly had requested, there were only few guests present, just enough not to let the room look deserted, but few enough to create an intimate atmosphere.
A waiter led them to a table in a corner from where they could survey the whole room, as well as part of the adjoining ballroom, which seemed to be just as richly fitted as the restaurant.
Jean-Luc was impressed. He had not expected anything like this, and the more he looked around, the more he liked it. He even began to look forward to exploring the ballroom, since it seemed to hold another series of fascinating secrets, waiting to be discovered.
The waiters began serving them right after they had settled at their table. Beverly had arranged the menu very carefully, and the food was delicious. All the way through dinner they talked, of their work, their hobbies and their views for the future. Beverly told Jean-Luc the latest news from Wesley, and he in turn related his latest adventure as Dixon Hill. He even thought about telling her of his conversation with Guinan, but decided not to bother her with his problems. It seemed to lose importance anyway as the evening went on, and soon he had completely forgotten about it. All he could think of was Beverly, the way she tilted her head and looked at him, the way she laughed when he told a joke, the way the light played on her face and neck when she moved. He almost wanted to reach out and touch that soft skin, trace the delicate contours of her face and lose himself in those deep blue eyes. He found himself staring at her openly more than once but she didn't seem to notice, or if she did, she did not mind. He was mesmerized by her beauty and wanted the evening to go on forever, just so he could stay close to her and watch her.
He had been lost in thought, not paying attention to anything she was saying. When she touched his hand lightly, he felt like being caught in doing something forbidden.
"Jean-Luc? You promised me a dance."
Waltz music drifted over from the ballroom. He rose and offered his arm to Beverly. "As you wish, Milady. Will you join me on the dance floor?"
"With pleasure." His eagerness surprised Beverly. Maybe it just took the right surroundings for him to like dancing.
Only four or five couples were on the dance floor, so there still was enough room. Beverly felt very comfortable in Jean-Luc's arms, maybe because he was holding her a little tighter than necessary while they moved about the room. The music changed, first becoming faster, then slower again. They still danced, irresistibly drawn by the melody and unable to let go of each other.
Beverly felt like she was walking in a dream, her only connection to reality being Jean-Luc, his strong arms holding her up. She closed her eyes and let her senses get carried away by the music and the wonderful feeling of being held by the man she loved. If only she could find the right words to tell him how she felt.
She stifled a sigh. What had Deanna said? 'It's easy, you'll see.' Sure it's easy when you're a Betazoid and know exactly what other people think about you. Beverly almost got angry. But what about me, will I ever know what he's thinking about me?
The music slowed even more, and unconsciously he pulled her closer to him. Instinctively, she rested her head on his shoulder, her arms encircling his waist. Jean-Luc was surprised how good holding her like that felt, and he found himself wondering why he had never much liked dancing before.
Just then the music stopped for an instant, and Beverly looked up. The look in her eyes was so tender that Jean-Luc felt his heart melt. Unable to resist the temptation, he bent down and kissed her.
The moment their lips met, everything around them vanished. The ballroom, the music, the other dancers – it was all gone. Only the two of them existed, caught in a rush of emotion that had been set free by the touching of their lips.
Abruptly, Jean-Luc drew back, suddenly terrified by the question what Beverly would think of him, taking advantage of the situation as he did. But the love that shone in her eyes, unconcealed for the first time, made him forget all his doubts in an instant. Suddenly the meaning of Guinan's words was as clear as if it had been spelled out to him: Beverly was the woman he had been in love with all the time, only he had never allowed himself to notice and instead had covered up his feelings behind the solid wall of friendship.
He looked at her, slowly taking in the delicate features of her face, then reached up and searched for the pin that held up her hair. Finally finding it, he pulled it out, and a flood of gorgeous red hair came cascading down over Beverly's shoulders. Jean-Luc was sure that he had never seen a woman looking more beautiful than her, and he wanted to curse himself for not having noticed it earlier.
Drawing her back to him, he made a silent vow that he would never again neglect his love for her as long as she was willing to accept it. Kissing her again, he felt her responding openly, welcoming him, willing him to continue and never stop again. He longed to be alone with her, not realizing that all the other dancers around them were just holographic images.
Beverly was dizzy. She felt like a little girl who suddenly realized that the wish made long ago had finally come true. He loved her, she was sure of it now. And she loved him, as she could feel with every piece of her heart. The way he kissed her made her long for more, and when their lips parted, she thought she could not stand being separated from him just for a single moment.
His lips brushing against her ear, he murmured softly, "Do you still want to dance?"
She shook her head, unable to speak.
"Computer, discontinue program." The ballroom vanished, but Beverly hardly noticed. Jean-Luc led her to the door and they walked to her quarters in silence, none of them wanting to speak as long as they risked being overheard. Somehow they both felt that they needed to keep this new development in their relationship a secret, at least for a while.
Arriving at Beverly's quarters, he followed her inside without hesitation and took her in his arms as soon as the door slid shut behind them. This time their kiss was longer, starting very gently and becoming more and more passionate as each of them began exploring the other one's body. Jean-Luc's hands moved about Beverly's back, finding the zipper to her dress just when she pushed his tuxedo jacket off of his shoulders. It fell to the ground but he didn't care. He lifted her off the floor and carried her to the bedroom. Very gently he set her down on her bed and she pulled him with her. Their faces were now just inches apart, but they didn't move closer. Savoring the feeling of closeness and anticipation, they just lay there, studying each other's faces. So many unspoken words passed between them, words that each of them had wanted to say a long time ago already, but had never dared to say them out loud. Now they were not necessary anymore.
Finally Beverly couldn't stand the suspense any longer. She needed to be close to him, needed to feel him, needed to hear him say that he loved her and never would let go of her again. Slowly, her hand moved up his arm, passed his shoulder and neck and gently traced the fine lines of his face. Then, moving closer, she kissed him. Gingerly covering his face and neck with dozens of tiny little kisses, she felt his arms encircling her, pulling her even closer. His lips searched for hers, and when they kissed again, she was surprised at the force with which he demanded more. Nothing else was important anymore, only the two of them and the love they shared, and sinking back on the bed, they both knew that finally their mutual desires would be fulfilled.
When Beverly awoke the next morning, he was gone. Still half asleep, her searching hand found nothing but emptiness. Then she heard a voice and opened her eyes.
Jean-Luc was standing at the food dispenser, ordering breakfast for two. Smiling contentedly, Beverly closed her eyes and pretended still to be asleep when he approached with an overloaded tray. After setting it down next to the bed, Jean-Luc slid back under the covers and bent over Beverly's sleeping form. Lightly kissing her neck, cheek, nose and forehead, he murmured softly, "Wake up, sleepyhead, breakfast is ready."
Beverly allowed herself another moment of savoring his soft kisses on her face, then she stretched like a cat and opened her eyes. Reaching up at his face, she gently stroked his cheek and smiled. "Good morning."
"'Morning yourself." He bent down and placed a kiss on her lips. "Would you like some breakfast?"
"Not yet." She pulled him down to her and leaned her head against his chest. A feeling of warmth and security spread out inside of her and was intensified even more when he started stroking her back with gentle, caressing hands.
After last night, Beverly finally knew that Jean-Luc loved her at least as much as she loved him, and for the first time in so many years they could show openly how much they cared about each other. All their doubts and worries had been washed away by an enormous outburst of long built-up emotion, finally being released by that first kiss on the holodeck.
Beverly did not know how they would manage to keep this relationship going despite all the demands of their separate jobs, but she knew that they had to try. The Enterprise was a ship constructed for carrying families, so there was no reason why the captain should not have some kind of family, too. Of course they would have to separate professional from personal in some areas, but she was sure that they would manage.
Just a look into his eyes was enough to convince her of the love he felt for her, and of the wonderful future that lay ahead for them.
But for now, the next thing that lay ahead was work.
After finishing the spectacular breakfast that Jean-Luc had ordered for them, they went their separate ways to prepare for the day, but not without kissing good-bye at least half a dozen times. They both did not want to part, but knew they had to.
"I'll expect you to dinner tonight," he whispered in her ear before finally leaving her quarters, "but this time I want to stay at home."
Beverly looked at him in mock pouting. "So you don't want to go dancing with me again? Last night you seemed quite taken by it."
"I was, and still am, but," he grinned at her, "don't you think I should save my strength for something different?"
She laughed. "All right, I won't push it. But promise me we'll go for a dance every once in a while."
"I promise. But now I have to leave. Captain's duties are calling."
"As are the doctor's."
They kissed again, and after a final embrace he left.
Smiling contentedly, Beverly turned to get ready for her day in sickbay. Hopefully she would be able to find some time to talk to Deanna today.
All day long, Beverly Crusher could not stop smiling. Sitting in her office, humming softly to herself so that nobody else would hear, she was writing a report to Starfleet Medical Headquarters when Deanna Troi appeared in the doorway and knocked softly.
Crusher's head jerked up as she was unexpectedly called from her thoughts which had been wandering free. "Oh, it's you. Come on in and sit down."
"Am I disturbing you?"
"No, no, I've only been preparing a report for Medical H.Q., about the results of our latest research project. Nothing that couldn't wait."
The counselor settled in a chair facing Crusher across her desk. "I came to see how you were doing."
The doctor smiled. "And, what do you think?"
Troi smiled as well. "From what I can sense, I'd say you've finally taken a step into the right direction and met with success."
Crusher knew that she could not keep anything secret from her friend, and she would not have tried anyway. But before she could reply, the counselor went on.
"Am I to understand that our captain finally admitted the full extent of his feelings to you? Or hasn't he quite got that far yet?" Troi knew that definitely something had happened between Beverly and the captain, but she was not sure how far it had gone. She had to find out whether her friend was just about to lose herself in false hopes again, or if this time she really could stop worrying about those two who had such a hard time getting together. "So tell me, what happened?"
Crusher smiled, cherishing the memory as she began to talk. "I made him go out dancing with me last night, as punishment for a bad joke he pulled earlier yesterday." She chuckled. "You should have seen the look in his eyes when I told him he'd have to dance."
Troi smiled, knowing only too well what Crusher meant.
"But, incredible enough, he didn't object. Actually, I didn't really give him the chance to say anything, I just told him when to pick me up and left as fast as I could."
"You were afraid he would start an argument."
"Yes, and I knew that he would calm down and get used to the thought if I just left him alone.
"So he picked me up and we went to the holodeck. Do you remember that really spectacular restaurant that we went to on Starbase 43? The one with the ballroom?"
"Well, that's where I took him, and it looks like it was the best choice I ever could have made. We ate, we talked, and after that we went dancing. And then he kissed me." She paused. "I don't know what finally made him do it, but he kissed me, and once we started it was hard to stop. We then left the holodeck and went back to my quarters. I guess you can imagine the rest." She shook her head, suddenly puzzled. "I almost can't believe how fast it all happened. Only yesterday afternoon we were nothing more but friends. Very close friends that is, but still..."
"I told you it would be easy if you just summoned up the courage to do something." Troi became serious. "Beverly, I hope you realize that with the captain, nothing is going to be easy. He's been on his own for quite a long time and will probably have some difficulty adapting to the new situation, as will you. You will still get frustrated with him at times, especially when he's so wrapped up in something that he doesn't even notice you. You know how often that happens."
"I know, and I think I'm prepared for that. We've been through it before."
"But it will be different, now that you're so close. Your occasional clashes about professional matters might also become different. Everything will be much more intense because your emotions get involved. Beverly, all I'm saying is that you have to make sure not to let your personal feelings influence your professional judgment." Suddenly she laughed. "But who am I to tell you this anyway? I'm always scared to death when Will is going down to some alien planet, although I should know that that's his job. I'm the counselor, I should follow my own advice before trying to help anybody else."
Crusher laughed as well, but then she became serious again. "Deanna, we've decided not to make our relationship public yet. We first have to see how everything works out between us. You can tell Will of course, but we'd appreciate it if for now you two are the only ones who know."
Troi rose and went around Crusher's desk to give her friend a warm hug.
"Your secret is safe with me. I'm so happy for you, and I am sure that everything will work out fine. You've dealt with other problems before, you'll be able to handle this as well. And who knows? Maybe it will work out better than any of us could ever imagine."
"I sure hope it will." Crusher returned the hug, and for a short while the two women just stood there, giving each other the strength that they both needed. Then Troi left, and Crusher went back to her report for Medical Headquarters. But before picking up where she had left it, she thought of Jean-Luc and blew a kiss in the direction of the bridge where he would be now.
They would make it, she was sure. And softly humming, she returned to her work, a happy smile still playing on her lips.
-==/ The End \==-