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A Journey

by Catherine Ellis

A post-Nemesis Picard presses Beverly to answer some long unanswered questions.

Disclaimer : Paramount own all the Star Trek characters, I'm just playing with them for my own amusement.

Starting point for this story.


The time is one year after Nemesis. Picard is still Captain of the Enterprise, Dr Crusher is now working at Starfleet medical on Earth. They have both been attending a conference, at Starbase 12, where Beverly was one of the speakers. They are now alone aboard the captain's yacht on route to rendezvous with the Enterprise. Beverly has accepted Jean-Luc's invitation to spend a few days on board before being returning to Earth.


Picard is in the Pilot's chair, she is in the engineer's seat alongside him.


The story begins.


Jean-Luc Picard was in an unusual state of mind - he felt happy. He could have been 'exceedingly' happy if only his passenger would stop reading a report. He'd tried distracting her with meaningful coughs and shuffling but this had only served to slow her progress.

His cheerful mood had started three days before. It had begun the moment he'd met her -she'd been so obviously pleased to see him and had hugged and kissed him right there in the public lobby. In the days that followed they'd hardly been apart - she had sat with him during lectures, ate with him, gone for holodeck walks with him. At the conference dinner she danced only with him, when he'd put his arm along the sofa she lent back against him, in his room she had massaged his head and shoulders, slept with him. True they had only 'slept' during this episode and been fully clothed, but to him it been a significant step. He had lain down to rest and she had joined him as though it were the natural thing in the world. It was this naturalness that pleased him most. They hadn't said anything significant to one another - they'd just fallen into 'behaving as a couple'.


"Finished!" Beverly announced emphatically.

"Good. I hope it was worth the time."

"Do I detect a hint of sarcasm, Jean-Luc?"

He feigned shock. "From me? Never!"

She smiled. "Yes, it was worth it. It's an excellent bit of research and all the better because of who wrote it. Do you remember a place called Rutia? We went there 13 years ago. There was a terrorist explosion and I insisted on playing the 'heroic doctor'. I got taken captive for my pains."

"I remember. Vividly."

"Well, this report was written by a boy I met there. He was only 12 at the time but he's grown up to become a remarkable scientist. This report is valuable. I'll want to study it in detail."

She stood up to put the PADD away but immediately cried out and grabbed her leg.

"Damn it. Cramp in my calf. I've been sitting around too long."

She moved painfully.

"Let me give it a rub."

"No, no. Don't bother. It'll go soon."

From the way she was wincing it obviously wouldn't.

"Beverly, I do know how to relieve cramp."

She stopped hopping and looked at him.

When she didn't reply, Picard turned away. Was their holiday 'romance' over already?

"On second thoughts, yes please."

He swivelled his chair back and tried not to smile too obviously.

"Sit." He commanded. "And take your boot off."

Beverly did as ordered before tentatively raising her leg.

"Come on, give it here."

He cupped his hand authoritatively around her heel and pulled her foot onto his lap. His strong fingers set to work flexing her toes and stroking her calf muscle. It felt good but the role reversal embarrassed her. Soon his hands had worked their magic.

"It's fine now, thank you" She started to withdraw her foot.

"Shall I do the other?"

She hesitated.

"Preventive medicine." He suggested, with a slight grin.

"Well, if you put it like that!" She laughed and took the other boot off. This time sat back, closed her eyes and let herself enjoy it. And why not? He was amazingly skilful at foot massage. She regretted not discovering this talent earlier.

Picard worked in silence expertly stretching and relaxing her muscles. His efforts almost sent her to sleep.

"What were you going to tell me?"

Beverly shook herself awake.


"On Rutia just before we were rescued, you were going to tell me something and then the lights went out. What was it you were going to say?"

"Jean-Luc? That was 13 years ago, how do you expect me to remember?"

"I'm sorry, it's just that it sounded important. I just thought you might ... " He let his words fade away.


She did remember, she remembered exactly what she'd been about to say. The question was - should she say it now?

Again Picard took her silence as refusal. "You're right, it was a long time ago." He released her leg, he didn't want her to feel pressurised.

Beverly didn't move. She left her foot on his lap and continued to stare at him. Picard found himself transfixed by her gaze.

At last she spoke - distinctly but hesitantly. "I was going to tell you ... how I never blamed you for Jack's death, to tell you ... how important you were to me ... How you were one of the reasons I asked to be assigned to the Enterprise ... and how ..... I'd come to come to love you."

He didn't speak, he couldn't, a lump had formed in his throat. He swallowed hard.

"Why didn't you tell me?" He asked softly. "After we were rescued?"

An audio alarm suddenly demanded attention.

Beverly withdrew her leg as Picard turned to the controls. It didn't take him long to assess the situation.

"Nothing serious, a proximity alarm. The area is prone to meteor showers but they're small fragments. The shields should be able to handle them." He increased their field strength and turned to face her again.

"Now where were we?" His eagerness was obvious. "You were explaining why you didn't tell me."


Once again she hesitated, but why stop now?

"I didn't know if you felt the same way ... and besides you already had a mistress - your ship. You might not have wanted the 'complication' of being loved by someone. If I'd spoken up it might have ended of our friendship, I wasn't going to risk that."

He let out an involuntary sigh. "Even after Kes-Prytt, when you knew I loved you, you were still afraid."

The alarm interrupted again, straining Picard's patience to the limit. He made some further adjustments and turned back to her yet again.

"Is there no hope for us?" He asked, almost pleadingly.

"I still love you, if that's what you're asking."

Her sudden declaration made him laugh.

"Really?" He beamed.


"That's good, because I feel the same way." He took a deep breath and let his shoulders relax. "What do you think we should do about it?"


He never heard her reply, the words were drowned by a deafening bang and the cries of multiple alarms. A savage jolt sent her flying half way over his shoulder. He pushed her back in her chair and swung into action.

"Send a distress signal" he barked.

His fingers darted rapidly across the control panel looking for information and applying remedial action. When he silenced the final alarm the result was a more terrifying noise - the sound of a gas escaping into space.

"It's our air supply! Get the space suits from the aft locker." He order. "We may need them and soon."

He set to work creating a force field to retain the air and to protect them from further impacts. To power it he had to sacrifice non-essential systems. Propulsion was already dead. In sequence he turned off navigation, artificial gravity, sensors, communications, computer operations, lighting, heating. Only then did the awful hissing cease.

Beverly appeared at his side. "I'm afraid the suits are no use, nor are the air tanks." She held a broken helmet in her hands.

"Merde!" Picard thumped the control panel. "How much oxygen do we have left?"

She floated over to the environmental controls. "The display's not working, I'll get my tricorder."

As she made her way toward her bag he noticed how oddly she was moving.

"Beverly? What's wrong?

"Nothing, I bruised my ribs during that first jolt, that's all. They're a bit sore. Here we are." She scanned the cabin and entered a few calculations. "If we're careful the air should last 30 to 35 minutes. Is that enough?"

"Maybe. Did the Enterprise acknowledge our distress call?"


"I probably turned off communications before they had the chance to reply. Let's assume they received it. In their last transmission they were an hour and 25 minutes from the rendezvous point. Say they were travelling at warp 3 and immediately jumped to warp 9..." he did some quick mental arithmetic.." they could be here in ... 40 minutes."

"Or maybe earlier." He added quickly. Five minutes would be a long time to hold one's breath.

All was silent, their craft tumbled slowly going nowhere. Shafts of starlight moved gradually across the cabin, illuminating their faces as they went. They locked eyes but neither spoke. Training and experience had taught them not to panic but it didn't quell the anxiety. Each saw the tell tale signs in the other's face. A minute passed, their warm breath became visible in the rapidly cooling air.

Beverly was the first to speak. "If we get cold we'll use more oxygen. We should wrap up. There are sleeping bags in the back."

"I'll get them." He volunteered. "You do something about those ribs."

When he return with an assortment of bedding, Beverly had finished her self medication.

"Better?" He asked.


He knew she was lying.

"Find the largest bag." She instructed. "If we get in together we'll stay warmer for longer."

"Yes Ma'am. What else will we need? Your med-kit..."

"... Water, a torch. You need a hat or you'll lose heat through that head of yours."

He quickly found all the items and attached them to the cabin wall. Next he arranged the sleeping bags into a cocoon and tethered them to the same area. He could have left their 'bed' free to float around but feared the consequences should they be hit by another meteor. When all this was done he looked round one more time. He'd have preferred to have been 'doing' something, some activity that would increase their chances of survival.

Beverly guessed his thoughts. "Frustrating isn't it? But what can we do except preserve oxygen and keep warm?"

"True." He replied, but still disliked this helpless state. He was The Captain wasn't he? He was supposed to find the answer, he was supposed to protect her.

"Would you care to go to bed?" He quipped.

"Why Jean-Luc, I never thought you'd ask."

He forced a smile but her joke almost made him cry - so many regrets.

"How shall we do this? I don't want to bump your ribs."

"I need to avoid bending. Can you steer me in and then pull yourself in afterwards?"

Picard did as she suggested grabbing a PADD at the last moment before joining her in the bag.

"What's that for?"

"I thought you might want to record a message for Wesley, just in case ...."

She found his hand and squeezed it. "Thank you." She whispered.


Jean-Luc faced away while she composed a last message to her child. He didn't want to intrude on such a private moment. As he waited he envied her having someone to write to. Who did he have, apart from Beverly herself? His nephew, his brother, Data - all gone before him. He still felt close to Will and Deanna but less so since their marriage.

"Jean-Luc? I've finished. Do you want to record anything?"

"No. The computer log will show what happened here."

He turned round to face her and was reminded of someone else in his life.

"Would you mind adding something to your message?"

"To Wesley?"


She readied her PADD. "What shall I write?"

He hesitated. "I'm not sure I have the right to say it - that I'm still proud of him."

She stroked his cheek. "You have the right."


The space inside their sleeping bag was limited. To get comfortable they inter-wound their legs and held their arms around one another.

Silence descended upon them again. What was there to say? And besides, words weren't the only means of communication. Picard raised his left hand and ran a finger slowly through her hair. From there he traced it across her brow, along her eyebrow, her eye, her ear, her cheek.

When his finger reached her mouth she slowly parted her lips and closed them around his fingertip. His heart leapt. He didn't want to die! There was so much to live for.

Moving his hand behind her head he pulled her to him, immediately kissing her willing lips. Within a second they had lost themselves in a frantic passionate embrace. Her ribs screamed with pain but she ignored them. The cold, the lack of air, their perilous position all were forgotten. It was several minutes before they finally parted.

"We shouldn't be doing this." She panted. "We're using up too much oxygen."

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry." Picard tried to calm himself. "I couldn't help myself."

"Don't apologise, I wanted it too."

They held each other, try to stay still, quiet their racing hearts and slow their breathing.



Fifteen, twenty minutes passed. No rescue arrived. The air started to taste stale. Beverly's breathing began to sound laboured, occasionally she winced with pain. Picard repeated his oxygen calculations. Each attempt took him longer as the carbon dioxide slowed his brain. Whatever initial assumptions he made the Enterprise never arrived in time. He could think of only one solution. Freeing an arm he pulled her med-kit towards him.

"Beverly, what have you got in here."

"Why? What do you need?"

"Something to send me to sleep ... permanently."

At first she didn't understand first.

"No!" She yelled. "I won't let you." She pushed the kit out of his reach. The effort made her cry with pain.

"Beverly, please! Be rational. I'm much older than you and You have a child. You have to keep living, please let me do this."

"No! I won't! I NEED you. Don't you understand? Without you I'll give up and die. You have to keep living for my sake."

It was an argument he wasn't going to win. As in all their battles her compassion would triumph over his logic. Prolonging the fight would only hasten their deaths. Reluctantly he gave in.

He moved his head back to see her better and concentrated on her face. He tried to remember the young woman who had first caught his eye - the studious twenty year old with a mischievous streak, the intern who out-argued her professors. She'd been impressive even then. As he reminisced a new stillness filled the air.

She wasn't breathing!

He shook her shoulders and slapped her face.

"Beverly! Wake up! Wake up!"

She flopped around like a rag-doll. "What do I do?" His befuddled brain couldn't think. Instinct took over, he put his mouth over hers and breathed into her lungs. Pressing her damaged ribs was dangerous but it had to be done. After four breaths her chest suddenly heaved. She gasped and opened her eyes.

"Beverly! Stay with me. They'll be here soon. You hear? Stay with me."

She mouthed something to him. He was sure it was "Hold me."

He wrapped his arms gently around her and cried into her hair. If his strength and his will could save her then he would. If he had to fight time, then that was what he would do.


That was it! Slow down time. It had worked on Baku, he could hold a moment. Make it last and last. Maybe it would save them. Maybe.




"Sir? Captain?"

A man's voice brought him to with a start. Bright lights dazzled his eyes.

"What? Where am I?"

Geordie's face came into focus.

"You're on the Enterprise, Sir, in Sickbay. You're safe now and so is Dr Crusher."

"Where is she?"

Picard struggled to rise but a strong Klingon hand held him down. "Dr Selar is repairing her lung. She will recover."

"Are you sure? Do they know she stopped breathing? Her brain may be damaged."

La Forge and Worf had never seen him so anxious.

"She's all right, really." Geordie reassured him. " She came round about 15 minutes ago. She's been telling them how to treat you."

"Sounds like Beverly." Picard quipped.

"Too right."

An invisible weight lifted itself from Picard's body. "When did you reach us? I never thought we'd survive."

Worf gave the explanation, "We reached you 49 minutes after receiving your distress call. You were both in some sort of trance. Dr Selar believes it slowed your metabolic rates enough to eke out your oxygen supply."

"49 minutes!" Picard found this hard to believe.

"I've been examining your craft." Geordie continued. "Most of the computer memory was destroyed so we'll never know exactly what happened. However from the damage I'd say you were hit by a meteor fragment. Your shields slowed it down but it got through and penetrated the hull. It must have been quiet a jolt. Sensors wouldn't have given you much warning."

These words disturbed Picard. Had he been paying any attention to the sensors or had he been engrossed in urging Beverly to express her love?

"Captain?" Dr Selar's voice interrupted his thoughts. "I have a patient who would like to speak to you."

"And me her. Excuse me gentlemen."

The two officers helped him to his feet and watched him follow the CMO into the recovery area.


Beverly's torso was encased in equipment but her face looked relaxed and pain free.

She beckoned him over."Come here."

For once he ignored decorum and grasped her hand. He even stroked her hair and kissed her forehead. He wanted to cheer her with a joke but the words stuck in his throat.

Beverly caught Selar's eye and gestured for her to leave.

"You see, I told you I needed you."

Still unable to speak he brought her hand to his lips and kissed her fingers.

"Selar says we survived through some kind of trance. How did you achieve that?"

"I'm not sure. It's a technique I learnt on Baku."

"From Anij?" He nodded. "Then I suppose I'll have to forgive her for catching your eye."

He pursed his lips and gripped her hand tightly. "No one has ever meant as much to me as you, or ever will."

It was Beverly's turn to be speechless.


"Captain Picard?" Dr Selar him interrupted again. "I'm sorry but Dr Crusher needs to rest."

He counted to five.

"All right, I'll leave but in a moment." He leant close to Beverly's face and whispered "Don't go away."

"I have no intention of going anywhere." She whispered back.




Picard slumped down on the sofa in his cabin. He was tired but elated at the shock of being rescued. How they had survived still baffled him. He couldn't believe his Baku skills had been sufficient, surely some other force had been at work - Q? If it was him, Picard was grateful but in no state to cope with Q's company. He'd thank him tomorrow, for now he had other things on his mind. He was glad to be alive but at the same time anxious. Beverly was the source of his worries or rather his relationship with her. By pushing her into talking about her feelings he had forced feelings into the open, but to what end? Where did he want things to go? And would she want to go down the same route?


It had all seemed so easy during the conference. He'd felt relaxed and contented. Things had somehow just 'happened' between them. Now when he thought back on those blissfull days he realised it hadn't been like that. Nothing hadn't occured by accident. Beverly had skillfully lead them done a path and he had willingly followed. So why not continue in that vein? Rather than 'manage' their relationship the way he managed the ship why not leave it to her? Did he 'have' to be in charge?


Picard lay down and closed his eyes. For the first time in decades he gave up the decision making role. He didn't know what she would chose - friends, lovers, partners - it didn't matter. She was in charge now, she would be their captain. Wherever they were going he trusted her to make the right decision - for both of them.

The end.
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