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Brief Encounter

by Catherine Ellis

Summary :A Brief Encounter from the past leaves Picard with a lot of explaining to do. This scene is from an alternative time line, it is set when Picard and Crusher have become lovers but aren't yet married.

"Ah! Doctor! We weren't expecting you until this evening." Worf looked uneasy at her unexpected arrival.

"I hitched a ride on a freighter heading this way. Why? Is something wrong?" she asked.


She didn't quite believe him. "Good. Well if you'll excuse me I want to talk to the Captain."

"He's ..." Worf's reply was interrupted by a com-call from the bridge.

While he paused to handle the request, Beverly stepped around him and pressed the Ready-Room chime. The door opened promptly.

From the surprised look on his face Picard had obviously been expecting someone else.

"Beverly! You're early, we weren't expecting ..."

"...I hitched a ride," she cut in; then noticed he wasn't alone. "Wes!" She rushed over to hug her son. "Why didn't you tell me you were coming? Are you all right?" She studied his face and felt his arms - he'd lost muscle since she'd last seen him.

"Mom ..., " he started hesitantly, "there is someone I would like you to meet. He stepped aside and another young man slowly got up from the sofa.

"Dr Crusher," he smiled and bowed respectfully.

Beverly was dumbstruck.

She looked from Wesley to the stranger and back again, hardly believing what she was seeing.

The resemblance between them was staggering.

"Who are you she asked?" at last.

Wesley answered for him. "He's my brother - Jean-Luc Durand."

"Your brother? Your BROTHER!"

"I'm his half-brother, to be exact." Durand replied. Even their voices were the alike.

"He's two years older than me," Wesley explained quickly, placing his brother's conception before his mother had met Jack.

Beverly breathed a little easier at this news, but she still wasn't over the shock. How many more children had Jack sired? And why was this one called Jean-Luc! She turned a steely gaze on Picard.

"Wesley," the Captain said calmly, "Why don't you and your brother get some lunch. Your mother and I will join you later."

The two of them left quickly. As soon as the doors had closed Picard tried to speak, but Beverly cut him off.

"What the hell happened on the Stargazer? How many children have you and Jack got scattered all over the galaxy?"

"He's the only one ... as far as I know ... and he's Jack's as you can see."

She wasn't placated. "Did you know this young man existed?"

"I ... ", Picard picked his words slowly and carefully. "... I knew there was the possibility of a child. It was what Sophie Durand wanted."

"So what happened? Did you and Jack toss for who obliged her?"

Despite understanding her anger, Picard was irritated by her tone. "I'll explain, if you'll listen."

Beverly bristled at his rebuke, then backed off a little.

"All right." She said, sitting down on the sofa. "You explain."

He rubbed his palms together while deciding how to begin, then took a deep breath. "Sophie Durand was born in space. Her extended family ran a freighter that plied its trade between the scattered colonies in the Cyops and Kayon Systems. She liked that life but it had its downsides, especially if you wanted to find a partner you weren't related to and to raise a family. She was a bright attractive woman in her mid thirties - not beautiful but attractive nevertheless. She'd had several offers of marriage but none of her suitors wanted to live on the freighter and she wasn't prepared to leave her family. She was beginning to fear if she would never find the right man. She wasn't prepared to settle for any passing sailor, she wanted to able to tell her child that their father was someone they could be proud of."

"Okay, so I can understand why she might resort to propositioning passing Starfleet officers, especially charming handsome men like you and Jack; what I don't understand was why you - or rather Jack - agreed."

Picard shifted uncomfortably. Do I really have to explain Jack's behaviour to you?

"Jack wanted children and like Sophie he was starting to fear that it would never happen unless he gave up exploring."

"Come off it, Jean-Luc. He was an attractive man, I'm sure there were plenty of women interested in him."

"There were - but he hadn't met one he wanted to marry and have children by. He hadn't met you yet. For a man who longed for a child, Sophie's offer was the next best thing. He could be confident it would be loved and well cared for by her and her family. As you can see, I think his hopes were met, Durand seems a fine young man."

Beverly let out a sigh that said she understood, however she was still upset by the revelation.

Picard came over and sat beside her. He took her hand. "Still hurts, doesn't it?"

"Yes... You see it means I wasn't as 'special' a person in Jack's life as I thought I was."

He squeezed her hand. "Yes you were. He would never have asked Sophie to marry him even if she'd been willing to go with him. For Jack, you were the love of his life. I can still remember the look on his face when he told me there was someone he wanted me to meet. 'She's the One, Jean-Luc. She's the One!'"

His words soothed her anger, but they disturbed him. He didn't like remembering she was his friend's wife.

"Thank you." She leaned in and kissed him on the mouth. "I'm sorry; complaining to you about Jack like that ... it was ... tactless."

"I'll forgive you. My situation is different, I've always known about you and him."

She studied his face, then stroked a finger down his cheek. "He might have come first, but you're no less dear to me. You know that don't you?"

He wanted to be more than that, but feared to hear her say it. It would have rekindled the guilt he felt for loving his friend's wife, for letting Jack die. He caught her hand and kissed it. "Yes, I know. Now let's leave the subject, shall we?" He stood up. "Would you like a drink?"

"Yes please, coffee."

As he instructed the replicator, she sat back into the sofa.

"Jean-Luc? ....."

" ... Yes?"

" ... How did Wes and Durand come to meet?"

"By accident. Durand's family now runs a trading post in the Kayon System. Wesley stopped there on a recent mission and people immediately remarked on the resemblance. Durand knew his father's name was Crusher so it wasn't long before the pair of them worked out their relationship."

"That must have been quite a shock for him - learning he had an older half-brother."

"... And two nephews and a niece."

"Jack has grandchildren!" she gasped, " ... I hadn't thought of that possibility."

She fell silent again, sipping her coffee as she mulled over this latest news. "If Durand has a family on the trading post, then what's he doing here on the Enterprise?"

"He wanted to learn more about his father and about the man he was named after. Wesley asked me to give him some answers."

He hesitated, wondering how much more he should say. "As you guessed Wes pretty shocked to find he had a brother; he's over that now and he's come to like Durand. He wants to maintain contact, but he was concerned how you'd feel about that. He was asking my advice when you arrived."

"I see ..."

"I think Durand's interested in meeting you too. His own mother died ten years ago. He's curious to meet his father's wife."

"Oh my!" Beverly took a deep breath. "This is complicated."

"We didn't mean to spring it on you like this."

"I know." She retreated back into her thoughts, finally resurfacing to ask, "Why is Durand called Jean-Luc? Was it you Sophie wanted as the father?"

"No. Durand says the name was Jack's choice. He asked Sophie to call the child Jean-Luc if it was a boy."

She nodded acceptingly. "I can believe that, he really admired you, you know."

Picard blushed and looked away. Damn you Jack. Why can't you rest in peace.

He placed his cup firmly in the recycle unit and straightened his jacket. "Well ... we have two young men who want to talk to us, are you feeling up to it?"

The end.
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