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All Good Things - epilogue

by Catherine Ellis (version 2 - Feb 2002)

Rating : Any Age
Disclaimer : Paramount owns Star Trek. I'm just playing with their toys for my own amusement.

Summary and Prologue: This story is set 6 weeks after 'All Good Things'. At the start of ths story assume that Picard has not told Beverly details of the future timeline which Q showed him. She does not know of their future marriage nor Picard's illness. What happens next ...

For weeks Picard had resisted temptation but this morning he gave in. Now all he had to do was find a way to satisfy his curiosity. He didn't want to involve any of the medical staff and particularly not Dr Crusher. His chance eventually came one night when Beverly was on bridge duty and there were no patients to keep the other medical staff up. At three in the morning he entered the deserted Sickbay.

"Computer, activate the Emergency Medical Hologram."

The doctor shimmered into existence.

"Please state the nature of the medical emergency. Oh! It's you Captain. Have you misplaced all your human doctors?"

The tactless manner of the EMH irritated most people but Picard didn't mind. He didn't feel in the mood for social niceties himself.

"I want you to perform some tests. To be specific I want to know if I have a neurological flaw that might make me susceptible to Irimodic syndrome. "

"Been reading the medical books have we? If you don't mind,Captain, I'll make make the diagnoses around here. Sit down."

The EMH hardly ever got an outing in Dr Crusher's Sickbay. Once a year he was activated to make sure he still worked and very occasionally he was summoned to amuse some visiting guest. The opportunity to examine a patient without human supervision was something to be savoured. He subjected the Captain to a lengthy and unnecessarily detailed examination.Picard sighed loudly with irritation but having himself requested the tests he was in no position to complain about the doctor's thoroughness.

At last his torturer announced his conclusion.

"My tests show a minor abnormality in the parietal area of your brain. I might add that a normal physical examination by Dr Crusher wouldn't have picked it up." He couldn't resist putting the knife in. " As you have already guessed the condition could make you susceptible to Irimodic syndrome."

Picard had half expected this result but was still unprepared for the effect. Everyone lived with the possibility of illness and death hanging over them, but to be told you definitely had a fatal susceptibility was a different matter. He felt older and nearer death than ever before.

"Captian, Why do you look as though I've just pronounced your death sentence? Irimodic syndrome isn't inevitable and even it did occur it may not be for another 25 years. Given the nature of your job you're much more likely to get yourself killed before Irimodic syndrome ever has a chance to get you."

"Thank you doctor. What a comforting thought! Computer discontinue EMH."

Alone with this depressing news he wished he'd asked Beverly to do the tests. In Q's alternative timeline she'd been the one to tell him, something she'd done with tact and concern. Only now did he remember how pivotal that moment had been in their relationship. It had led step by step by step to their wedding. His fear illness was now drowned out by a new sorrow - life without marriage to Beverly was an appalling prospect.

- - - -

Next morning Picard didn't feel sociable, he retreated to his ready-room whenever he wasn't needed on the bridge. He was in there reading when Dr Crusher entered, he didn't look up. After observing him briefly she headed for the replicator and ordered warm milk with a dash of nutmeg. Picard watched her from his desk, making an effort to look cheerful for her benefit.

"Drink this, Captain, you look tired." She perched on the desk beside him.

"You don't look too great yourself. You're supposed to sleep after being on night duty.

"I know, and I will soon. It was an interesting night. The Argosa Cluster was just as spectacular as you had predicted. You should have joined us."

"Yes ... I should have." His voice betrayed his regret at this lost opportunity. In the pause that followed he allowed himself to stare at her for longer than usual.

"How about your night?" she asked gently.

"I've had better!" The forced jocularity was all too evident.

"That abnormality the EMH found in your brain - I detected the same flaw two weeks ago during your routine physical."

He stared at her, totally thrown by this unexpected reply.

"You've know for two weeks! Why didn't you tell me? And how did you find it? The EMH said it wouldn't show up in rountine tests."

"It was something you told us about your recent Q adventure that made me look. You said 'when you were older we didn't believe your theories about a spatial anomaly'. I couldn't believe we would disbelieve you unless you were ill. So I did more tests than usual. ... I didn't tell you what I'd found because ... there's nothing I can do about it. There didn't seem any point in burdening you with the knowledge. ... It was stupid of me not to realise you'd already know. ... Jean-Luc, why did you ask the EMH to run the tests? Why didn't you come to me?"

"Because ... I knew you couldn't do anything about it ... there didn't seem any point in burdening you with the knowledge. In that other timeline you were the one to tell me ... you handled it ... very gently"

For a moment he feared she would cry.

"Beverly? What is it?"

"As a physician I've often had to give people bad news ... to tell them they can't have children, that they need surgery or ... that they face a difficult illness."

"Irimodic syndrome isn't inevitable, it may never happen."

"But you've been to the future you know what'll happen!"
Picard grasped her hand genly.

"I prefer to think of the future as something that isn't set in stone. A lot could happen in twenty-five years. "

Beverly leant forward and kissed him tenderly on the mouth. As she moved slowly away she whispered," Yes, a lot can happen."

Picard sighed with pleasure. He knew exactly where this line of behaviour was leading. Now all he had to do was avoid driving her to divorce him in 6 years time.

The end.
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