This chapter takes place right after the episode "The Price". Merry Christmas everyone! :)

The Price:

Deanna's POV:

"Devinoni has just left the Enterprise."

I feel Beverly's cool blue eyes on me as I hang my head.

To have a relationship with him while he was negotiating for the opposing side was not the smartest thing I could have done, but I was glad I had told the Captain about his telepathy. Though it cost me a relationship, I gained a new level of respect from Captain Picard.

After Devinoni left, I needed to talk to someone. Can you believe that? The ships counselor needing to talk to someone? But I have emotions and flaws just like any other species. So, I went to the one person who I knew would understand how I felt.

Beverly was sitting in a seat by the window in Ten Forward. Smiling as I walked up to her, she stood up and gave me a big hug. Despite her coolness to the people around her, she has the warmest heart. It's funny that she is reluctant to show it, but with her type of work and her history, I think she feels the need to keep her guard up.

However, she has been very secretive and elusive since she came back from her year at Starfleet Medical. Oh, don't get me wrong; she's very good at not letting her emotions or thoughts show on her face, but being an empath, I can feel that she is holding something back. And at certain times, she is ready to explode. And usually during those times, she is with the Captain.

I noticed them looking at each other once. It was like a game between them, except they weren't aware they were playing. She would look at him when he was concentrating on something else and vice versa.

The feelings between them are definitely more than that of just friends, but I don't know how far they have gone. I think back to that day in the shuttlebay when Beverly was leaving for Starfleet Medical. Something was definitely different with her. It wasn't her looks or her emotions; it was something on a deeper level. When she had left, everything I felt from the Captain for the following year was bereft of any true happiness. It was almost like he was punishing himself. But with what? And more importantly, why?

"How are you feeling?"

Her question brings me out of my thoughts. "Honestly, a little bit empty. I had known him for a short period of time, but the love I felt for him ran just as deep. I also know what his true intention were and that he would use any means necessary to get what he wanted, but the times we spent together felt different. It was as if he didn't have to pretend anymore – that he could be his true self. That is the part I miss."

I stop for a moment when the waiter brings our drinks to the table. After he leaves, I lean in and quietly ask, "Will this emptiness ever truly go away?" I already know the answer to my question but I want to hear her say it.

"No, not entirely. The pain will hurt a little less as the days turn into months and then years, but it will always be there, waiting for you to be alone in your own thoughts. Sometimes the pain is unbearable, but most days, you won't know it's there."

I notice her vision becomes blurry as she stares into her drink - her thoughts obviously a million miles away. She knew exactly how I would feel – as though she had lived it herself. She would make a wonderful counselor. "How do I make the pain bearable?"

She smiles, but it's a sad one. "It will take time, but you will think about other things and other people and the thought of him will start to move to the back of your mind. Eventually, you will go months, maybe even years, without thinking about him." She takes a sip of her drink as we sit in silence.

Her profound sadness engulfs me and at this moment I know it has everything to do with Captain Picard. Now, more than ever, I want to ask her about her relationship with him, but something holds me back. I don't want her to shut down, not when I feel she has more to say.

"Maybe, if you're lucky, you will find something to occupy your mind and you won't think about it so much." She looks up from her drink and smiles to where it touches her eyes. "But you already know that, don't you? You have gone through heartbreak and loss before, and not to mention, you're the ships counselor, so you know what happens next. Why are you asking me?"

"I needed to hear it from someone else. Kind of like needing a dose of my own medicine, but instead of medicine it was advice."

She nods her head as she takes another sip of her drink.

"But I was also a little curious about you and the Captain." Where did that come from? Just a moment ago I didn't want to delve in to that part of her life. Apparently, my subconscious has other plans.

She looks down at the table as the smile slides from her face. "The Captain and me? What are you curious about?"

For the second time in five seconds, I am taken by surprised. She is willing to talk about it, but how much is she willing to divulge? I lean back in my chair to get comfortable. "Well I know that there are strong feelings between the two of you. I have known ever since you joined us at Farpoint. When you left for Starfleet Medical, something had changed in you physically and emotionally. And when you came back, you walked in with a burden on your shoulders. It has something to do with him, doesn't it?"

She is concentrating so hard on her glass that if she had telekinesis she could make it fly across the room.

I place a comforting hand on hers. "You know Beverly, this goes both ways. If you ever need to talk, I'm always here for you as well."

I look at her stone facade and wish with all my might that I got through to her. Then like a bubble, I feel hope rising through her body. She opens her mouth like she is going to say something, but then an anxious feeling overtakes that hope and squashes it down further into her soul. She looks at me with utter sadness in her eyes, "I want to tell you Deanna, but I can't. I'm sorry." She takes away her hand and grabs her glass to drink from. Whatever piece I chiseled away from the stone is being rebuilt ten times stronger than the previous.

I reach over and replace my other hand on hers and squeeze tightly. "Don't be sorry. Whatever it is, it will find its own way out. And when it does, I hope that you don't come to me, but that you go to him."

We finish our drinks in silence.