Life with Beverly

Chapter 3: Defining Happily Ever After

"Harummmpphhh…" he muttered to himself as he bent over and picked up a grey heeled tap shoe resting on the slate blue colored Kerman Oriental carpet just inside the door to their bedroom. He muttered the same sound again as he bent over to pick up a pink legging. Then he went in search of their mates. He found them a few meters closer to the walk-in closet/dressing room that Beverly had sort of confiscated since the moment they'd moved into his inheritance.

He glanced about as if looking for something and then located it. "At least she hung up her uniform - this time," he mumbled under his breath, as he picked up the pink leotard and skirt that was in a clump on the lounge.

"Jean-Luc, is that you?" a cheerful voice called out from beyond the bathroom door.

"Yes, Beverly." This was said with his calmest, most controlled voice.

"Come and join me."

"Harumph." he muttered again. Then he leaned over and placed the socks and dance clothes in the recycler, her shoes neatly on her dancing shoes' rack, and stood up, closing his eyes as he rested his forehead against the edge of the closet door for a brief second. He strove to maintain his control. "I'll be there in a moment." He kicked off his slippers, took one step closer to the bathroom door in his bare feet, and then cursed in pain, rather loudly, "Merde!" Hopping on one foot he plopped himself down on the Federation blue and gold silk embroidered upholstered bench that was in the center of the dressing room.

"Jean-Luc. Is something wrong?" For Beverly had caught the edge of pain in Jean-Luc's cursing.

"I stepped on your damn admiral's bar!" he yelled back as he inspected the rising bruise and slight cut on the ball of his foot. "You're always losing them!"

A moment later Beverly entered the dressing room wearing only a rather large ivory towel wrapped around her damp, scented body.

She knelt before him trying to inspect the damage. He jerked his foot away from her. She slapped his hands away and grabbed his ankle. "Behave!" she ordered.

Reluctantly, he relaxed and permitted his wife to inspect his injury.

"Give me a moment, and I'll fix you right up." Standing and then kissing the top of his head, she added in a much softer tone of voice, "And if you're a good boy, I might kiss it and make it better." With that, she went to her med kit, duly noting as she walked by her uniform, that her admiral's bars were right where they were supposed to be - on her uniform collar. Pausing for a moment, she inspected the thick Oriental rug on the floor, and immediately spotted the offending bars. She bent over, picked them up, handed the bars that belonged to her husband over to him without saying a word, and then bent over to fix Jean-Luc's foot.

He glanced down at the bars that did not have a caduceus on them and grimaced.

When she was finished, she sat down next to Jean-Luc, crowding him so that their hips touched.

Not quite ready to admit that he'd been in the wrong about the source of his injury, he instead quietly asked, "You were saying something about kissing it and making it better?"

She ignored that statement. He wasn't the only one who could be out of sorts. Glancing about the dressing room, she too-casually stated, "You know, this room connects to the rooms beyond. At one point this truly was a master suite, complete with master and mistress bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as two dressing rooms and a sitting room. In the old days, you really had to walk if you felt like sex in the middle of the night." She ignored his disapproving glare. "I'm thinking of putting a bed in the bedroom on the other side."

"No!" His reaction was sharply and stiffly stated.

She eyed him even as she mentally relaxed at his over-reaction to her suggestion of sleeping somewhere else. He didn't want her to leave… "I didn't say that I'd be sleeping there."

"What?"

Beverly knew that she was confusing Jean-Luc. And that he was trying not to reveal it to her. "At least, not all the time. Only when I am staying up late working on something."

"No."

This time he was starting to sound angry at such a suggestion.

Beverly smiled, heartened by his protests in spite of his grumpiness. She leaned into him, resting her head against his shoulder even as she stroked his arm. "Darling, I'm only proposing that since I'm going to be decorating those rooms anyway, it might be a wise idea to create another place to which we can retreat."

He was silent for a moment. "I don't care where we sleep as long as we sleep together. I don't ever want to sleep in an empty bed again - when it is not necessary, of course."

She smiled. "I agree. Even if someday when I might be furious with you, we still should share the same bed after we're done yelling at each other." She understood his feelings for they were hers as well. "Well then, when I get that room finished, let's sleep there for a while." Her voice softened, acquiring a husky tone. "This is a big house. We may want to try out all the bedrooms to see which ones we like best."

He joined in with her laughter, relaxing into the irrepressible force that now ruled his life. "Such a dilemma..." He leaned over to kiss her even as he fingered the knot to her towel.

She swatted away his hands. "I've got a meeting that I must attend…"

His smile was full of understanding. "Later, then."

She stood and whispered, "Now, let me dress. Go and bother Mildred. I'm sure that she'll find something for you to do."

He watched her dress before he left. Suddenly all was right with the world again.

=/\= =/\= =/\=

"Where the devil are my slippers!" he grouchily complained.

Beverly sighed a most patient sigh before she looked up from the padd she was reading whilst resting in bed against a wall of blue pillows. In a loud, clear voice she asked, "Computer, where are Admiral Jean-Luc Picard's slippers?"

"Admiral Jean-Luc Picard's slippers are located in the admiral's closet, the first quadrant, second shelf to the floor, by the southern door."

The grumpy admiral groaned. "You placed location markers on my slippers?" Though he did have to admire her obvious solution to a problem that had vexed him over the years.

"That seemed to be the most efficient way to answer your slipper question. This is a big house. It's easy to lose them. Be nice and polite to the computer, and she'll answer your question every time."

Ignoring Beverly's sarcasm, he glanced about. "I know I didn't place my slippers in the dressing room." He paused and thought for a moment. "At least, I don't remember placing them…"

Beverly lightly laughed. "You're not going crazy, Jean-Luc. Mildred got one of those servobots to pick up around our suite. I've noticed that you seem distressed when I move one of your books or touch your tea cup, so I thought a servo unit putting things back where they belong was the simplest solution."

He didn't know whether to kiss her or to complain. He did have to appreciate her solution though.

=/\= =/\= =/\=

Beverly mightily sighed as she stirred more cream into her coffee. Resting back against her bright yellow wicker fan back arm chair, she sighed again as she looked out over her beautiful garden. She was sitting at a small table in a breakfast nook near the family kitchen. Jean-Luc had dashed off this morning after only a cup of tea. But Beverly didn't have to be at her offices until ten a.m., so she was enjoying a peaceful cup of coffee.

Mildred entered the room with its floor-to-ceiling glass walls and placed a fresh pot of coffee on the sunny yellow table next to Beverly.

"Not fun, is it?" she asked as she sat down next to Beverly.

"What isn't fun?"

"Educating Jean-Luc on how to be a husband."

Beverly rolled her eyes. "He's perfectly fine with the lover part. And the companion part. But the living-with part…"

"You're the one who married a crotchety old bachelor."

Beverly sighed again. "I never really realized the crotchety part existed. And to what extent. I guess I was ignoring the evidence."

"And love does conquer all."

Beverly slowly nodded in agreement. "You'd think I was a delusional teenager expecting happily-ever-afters now that I've married Jean-Luc."

"Beverly, the man's lived by himself for more than thirty years. He hasn't had to share a cabin with a crewmate in quite a while. From what I've heard, he's never really lived with a lover on a full time basis in decades."

Considering that Mildred thought that it was her duty to learn all the gossip that wasn't in the official files about everyone she cared about or worked for, Beverly did not question the accuracy of the lady's information.

Beverly thought briefly of what Jean-Luc had told her about his relationship with Eline. She guessed that in his life as Kamen, Eline had accommodated herself to his needs in those idyllic memories for they hadn't really been flesh and blood occurrences. "Mildred, do you have any suggestions as to how to handle him?" She ruefully laughed. "There are times I don't think that he appreciates my sense of humor."

"From what I've seen he likes it just fine," Mildred observed as she recalled her list of the rooms that the newlyweds had already 'christened'. "Beverly, the problem with Jean-Luc is that he is a man - a man very set in his ways."

"You can say that again. He's used to things being a certain way. And I certainly haven't figured out all of his 'ways' yet."

"Honey, just tell him to program the servobot. That will solve that problem."

"If only it were that simple."

"Jean-Luc has always been a private man, Beverly. Hon, he's still going to have a hard time coping with the loss of his instinctual privacy around you. You're invading and conquering his territory whether he consciously realizes it or not."

Beverly picked up a croissant and slathered some raspberry-rhubarb jam on it.

Mildred did the same.

"So what should I do, Mildred?"

"You've been married before. What did you do with Jack?"

"Jack was eager to be my husband; ready to be my husband. He was not a solitary man in nature like Jean-Luc. Jack really didn't need that much training except when it came to changing Wesley's diapers."

"Of course Jack was just playing house with you. Then he went back to his real work, his ship."

Beverly thought for a moment. "That's true. In actuality, we lived together only about eight months during the years of our marriage. I guess you could call it 'playing house'."

"But Jean-Luc is different. You're building a life together now. And he has no where to go when that gets to be too much. There's no ship to run to."

"I've got to be careful that I don't drive him into thinking that his superintendent's office is his only safe haven."

Mildred nodded in agreement. "Honey, I've outlived three husbands, have four sons and two grandsons. And of all the men in my life - including Winnie - Johnny boy is the most complicated and difficult man of them all."

"I'm sure that he'd say that he was the least difficult," Beverly observed.

Both ladies laughed in unison. "That he would," Mildred gasped.

=/\= =/\= =/\=

Jean-Luc looked about their bedroom, examining the small things. Everything was in its place. The mahogany book stand next to his new, favorite, comfortable arm chair, held all of his current reading choices and padds. There was a carafe standing next to his favorite tea cup and saucer sitting on a small side table by the navy blue upholstered chair. A vase full of zinnias and marigolds was centered on the oak mantelpiece. The lavender upholstered slipper chair by the window had not a solitary flimsy, silk undergarment draped over it. There wasn't a half-empty coffee cup in sight. And there wasn't a slipper - hers or his - in sight either. In short, the room was in picture-perfect condition. And somehow, instinctually, it felt so very wrong to him…

=/\= =/\= =/\=

"That was absolutely, sinfully delicious," Beverly declared as she placed down her Georgian sterling dessert spoon. The mocha chocolate mousse she'd just consumed had been the best mousse she'd ever eaten. She'd eaten all of it with no apologies for delighting in it. She then stirred the cream in her coffee with a coffee spoon that matched the dessert spoon. And then she took a sip of the finest brewed coffee that she'd ever tasted. In short, this luncheon had been divine.

"Thank you, Beverly. I always knew that you appreciated the finer things in life," her host replied, pleased that he had pleased Beverly. Winston Holt Wiley knew the difference between toadying and true compliments. Beverly's opinions - at least of the food that he served - had always been genuine.

"It was a superb lunch, Winston. I'm glad that you asked me to come."

"Well, when you called my office to make an appointment I took this as a sign from the heavens that I should ask you to lunch. It's been years since we've shared a quiet meal together."

"I just expected to take a few minutes of your time…"

"You know me, Beverly. The chance to spend an hour or two in the company of an intelligent, beautiful woman is something that I rarely deny myself." He eyed one of his favorite doctors in her admiral's uniform. Few people actually looked good in such a uniform. Beverly was the exception. "You know, Red, you can petition to change the style of your uniform if you wish."

"That's something I've been meaning to discuss with you, Winston. The new standard uniform is not that practical for medical personnel - especially those people who staff the intensive care wards and surgeries."

"Meaning?"

"We need pockets! Places where we can put all the stuff that we need to carry. At the very least, we need a pocket for the medical tricorders and padds."

"See to it."

Beverly blinked. He was authorizing her to change the uniforms just like that?

"Of course, Winston."

Winston motioned toward a crystal decanter and two glasses that a silent yeoman waiter had just placed on the table. "Port, Beverly?"

"No, thank you, Winston. I'm due back at the hospital this afternoon."

"I could always order you to take the afternoon off."

"Thank you. But I've got too much to do."

Winston stood, finished off his first glass of port, refilled it and then motioned toward a burgundy upholstered bergere to the side of his massive inlaid Louis XIV style d'ore ormolu and inlaid wood bureau plat desk.

"I knew that sooner or later you'd be contacting me."

"Did you?" Beverly didn't mean to be wary, but the Fleet Admiral of Starfleet was known to be a man with a Machiavellian side to his soul.

"Yes." He sat behind his le Roi-Soleil decorated desk. "I didn't imagine that it would take you that long to decide to tell me that you really don't want to be head of Starfleet Medical."

"I never said that I didn't wish to be head of Starfleet Medical. I do appreciate what you've done for Jean-Luc - and for me..."

He interrupted her. "Stuff it, Red." He drank some more port before he added. "I did what I did for Jean-Luc because it was what he wanted. What I did for you was because I wanted it."

Very politely, Beverly said, "Oh?"

He chuckled. "I knew that you really didn't want to be CMO. You've already done it. And learned that it's really a job for a doctor with a bureaucrat's heart. And you don't have the heart of a bureaucrat."

Again, she politely said, "Oh?"

He chuckled some more. "Only place I could put you when Jean-Luc dropped his bombshell on me about leaving the Enterprise. But the job's only temporary, doctor. So don't get too used to being a dictator. You're only the provisional head for a while. Admiral Cuddy will be taking over after you, when it's time."

Beverly didn't say anything this time since she was trying not to gape.

Winston Holt Wiley poured himself a third glass of port. "When the time comes, I'll still keep you on the board of Starfleet Medical. That board is in sore need of members who actually remember what it is like to be a doctor on board starships. I expect you to be the cool voice of sanity midst all the hot air the board usually generates."

"I see."

"Somehow you don't look like you do." Winston stood, shoved back his massive armchair and then walked over and grabbed the empty glass and the decanter off of the table por deux. He poured Beverly a glass of port and handed it to her. This time, Beverly did drink the port, in spite of the fact that she really didn't like that type of wine.

"Beverly, I've always had you in mind for another job. At the time I first considered you for this position, Jean-Luc had a habit of squashing any new job offers that you might get when you were his CMO of the Enterprise. I knew that I'd have to figure out a way of getting you off the ship with Jean-Luc's permission. Fortunately, Jean-Luc came up with the perfect solution on his own."

"What new position?" Beverly's voice only croaked a little bit.

"Remember the last time you were CMO?" She nodded. He hit a button on his desk, and holographic images of starships appeared in front of her. "You came up with the idea of a fleet of hospital ships."

"That idea was declined…"

"You mean the board shot it down with all their puny, petty little canons a'blazin'…"

"I guess you could say that," Beverly agreed.

"Well, I liked the idea. Thought about it for a while. And then did something about it. Your ships are being built at Utopia Planetia and Proxima Centauri. The first of them will be ready within twenty-four months."

Beverly drained her glass of port.

"In about three months, I'll make the formal announcement about this new step forward for the Federation and for Starfleet Medical. We'll have a fleet of hospital ships, triage ships…"

"Triage?"

"Didn't know what else to call them. They'll be smaller ships. But they'll be fast. When a disaster strikes, they'll be the first ships in, assessing the situations, and so forth. And when the hospital ship shows up, they'll be the ships responsible for prioritizing the needs of the situation. Or whatever uses you decide for them to have."

The idea was beginning to grow on her.

"Right now we're planning on two hospital ships and eight triage ships. Estimate time of launching between twenty-four to forty-eight months. With more down the pike depending upon how well this idea is received by the Federation Council."

"The Council knows?"

"Sort of. I've not formally announced it to them, yet. But with those delegates with whom I have discussed it, all agree that you should be the one in charge."

"Me?" She was having trouble accepting the idea that she was now the focus of Winston's machinations.

"Every person who knows you or has read your record, knows that you are a doctor first - and then a Starfleet officer."

"There are enough reprimands in my record that state that fact."

"More than a few times over the years - fortunately, for you."

Beverly raised an eyebrow.

"These ships, Beverly. They're not going to be Starfleet starships. They're going to be Federation vessels commanded by Starfleet officers and crew. But the majority of the medical personnel are going to be civilians. The boss in charge has to be someone that all sides agree upon. And you're it." He nodded toward the holographic ships. "And you're the one who has got to staff these ships. Find the Starfleet personnel as well as the civilian personnel. And then figure out how to get all of them to work together. You have carte blanche - at least over Starfleet."

"Oh my," she whispered.

"The triage ships are redesigned Intrepid class starships. The hospital ships are Galaxy class, though in the future we may use Sovereign class. You need to examine the specs, and come up with any changes, additions, corrections etc., that you think are necessary. Solve the problems. Fine tune the ships. Build the fleet, Beverly. Make this hospital fleet into one of the Federation's greatest humanitarian achievements."

Beverly considered his words, nodded, and then stood to more closely examine the largest of the ships. "I have a few questions."

Winston tossed her a padd. "I am sure that you do."