hiya, i know i've been away for a while, but this story has been beavering in my mind for ages and i can't put it off any longer! this is just the prologue to start off, hope you enjoy!

Jessie xx

disclaimer: Paramount is big brother, just borrowing his toys for a while...


Prologue

"Captain! Doctor! I understand you have your differences on this matter…"

"This is a private conversation, doctor!" Picard spat angrily, not taking his attention away from Beverly.

"I understand that captain, but not in my sickbay!"

Silence fell as sharply as Beverly Crusher's head turned. The staff paused mid-task, the patients ceased to make any movement or noise. Even the captain paused mid-sentence.

Katherine Pulaski stared fast as Beverly's blue eyes bore into her, seeing her for the first time. "Please, doctor," Katherine indicated toward a private room. Beverly stood still until Dr. Selar moved forward at which point she walked into the room, followed by the Vulcan. Katherine watched them pass then returned her steely gaze to Picard.

"My ready room, ten minutes," Picard growled softly and turned abruptly on his heel.

Katherine barely nodded before dismissing his presence and entering the side room, the rest of the sick-bay gradually returned to its background hubbub as the door closed behind her. Dr. Crusher sat on the biobed as Dr. Selar completed her physical examination. It was an annoyance as far as Beverly was concerned to have to be on the other side of the tricorder and it never got any pleasanter for her. Katherine recognised Crusher's famous temper as much as her brilliant reputation; she was glad to have been assigned to the Enterprise to replace Crusher while the other woman went to head Starfleet Medical for a year.

"I am sorry Dr. Crusher," she began. She didn't want the woman to hate her, she knew how tight the sick-bay staff were, if she offended their boss her job would be harder. Beverly for her part turned her head; it could have been to Dr. Selar as a silent continuation of their conversation or as a way of ignoring her successor.

"Doctor," Dr. Selar said simply in response to her boss' look whether it was to her or not. "I need to…"

"Not yet," Beverly growled.

The Vulcan replied with a stern glance. Beverly sighed, knowing that she deserved it and turned to Katherine.

"Dr. Pulaski, I must apologise," she began, noting that the other woman showed no signs of forgiveness. "I'm sorry."

Katherine nodded curtly.

"I should be getting back," Beverly got off the bench and straightened her lab coat. She looked around nostalgically. It had only been her sickbay for a year, but that first year on the Enterprise had truly felt to her more like home than any other ship she had been aboard in recent years. "Look after the place, eh?"