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First Encounter

by Catherine Ellis

Rating : Any age
Disclaimer : Paramount owns the Star Trek characters etc etc.

Summary: This is an alternative universe short story which I wrote in response to a writing challenge. I had to put Picard and Crusher in a completely different setting but still keep their behaviour in character.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard left the quayside and pushed his way through streets busy with people and horse drawn vehicles. It was three years since he had last visited his home city of Bristol and he was surprised at how much it had changed. 1830 was obviously going to be a boom year for this West Country port and he may have difficulty hiring seamen for his next voyage.

On his way to his lodgings he called in at the chandlers on the corner of

Parade Street. The place was crowed. Picard made his way to the far end expecting to receive immediate attention. An assistant recognised him and came over.

"I'm sorry to keeping you waiting, captain. The lady ahead of you has long list of requirements and we are only two thirds of the way through."

Picard glanced in her direction and kept looking. She was about 15 years his junior. Slim, about his height with red hair swept back from delicate high cheek bones. Jean-Luc had seen many beautiful women over the years, but few had her grace or self-confidence. He assured the assistant that he did not mind waiting and sat down to watch.

He was not disappointed. She had a natural command of her servants, politely but firmly instructing them on how to store her various purchases. When the merchant tried to pass her off with sub-standard products she spotted them immediately. If she had been a man, Picard would have instantly offered her a job as his ship's quarter-master.

Waiting had never been so enjoyable, he was quite disappointed when her final purchase was packed away. He rose to his feet just as she turned to leave.

The smile on his face and the look in his eye told her he had been watching for some time.

To his increased admiration she didn't blush or scurry away. Instead she held his gaze.

"Captain, may I serve you now?" the assistant asked.

Picard was still transfixed.

"Captain?" he tried again.

Just then some walked between them breaking their link.

On her way home in her carriage Beverly Crusher couldn't get the stranger out of her mind. He had the air of authority she hoped her husband would one day acquire. But there was also something else about him she couldn't quite describe. Would she be telling Jack about him? Probably not.

Throughout the day Picard's thoughts kept returning to the woman in the chandlers. He toyed with the idea of asking the chandler her name.


"Anything missing?" she asked as her husband checked her purchases.

"Not a thing. I don't know how I'll manage without you on this voyage."

"Why don't you ask your brother for an assistant? I'm sure he can spare you one seaman."

"You can ask him for me. He's coming to dinner this evening."

"Tonight!" She sat down in the chair next to his desk. "Tell me, does he look like you?"

"No, he favours his father and I mine. Someone once told me that we both resemble our mother but I can't see it."

"Where you close as children?" She asked.

"In some ways. He's ten years older than me so we didn't really play together. He used to read to me at night and he protected me from my father's temper, sometimes at his own expense. Father resented having to support a stepson, if he caught my mother showing affection to her eldest child then he'd chastise her for mollycoddling him."

Despite never having met him, Beverly Crusher was already feeling protective towards her husband's half brother. She had lost her own parents at an early age, but been lucky enough to have had a wonderful grandmother to look after her. Her heart went out to the ten year old boy who'd had been forced to grow-up too quickly. He might not have been welcome in his step-father's house but she would make certain he always felt welcome in his brother's.

For the next hour she busied herself making sure the servants provided the best possible diner.

At five to eight she walked from the garden into the sitting room just as the maid showed their guest into the same room.

Their eyes met. It's him! A moment of euphoria was followed immediately by one of fear. She looked away as the door burst open.

"Jean-Luc!" Jack rushed over and embraced his half-brother.

Picard seemed equally pleased to see Jack, though somewhat embarrassed by this unmanly display of affection.

"You're looking well Jack."

"I know, and it's all Beverly's doing. Have you met my wife."

Your wife! Picard swallowed and assumed a more formal air.

"We haven't been introduced."

"Beverly." Jack called her over and held her hand. "I'd like you to meet Captain Jean-Luc Picard, captain extraordinaire and the best brother in the world."

Picard winced at his brother's effusiveness, then bowed to his hostess.

"Captain." She nodded, politely.

"Captain? You can't call him that." Jack looked to Picard for support.

For a moment he hesitated. Damn it! She was his brother's wife and out of bounds, but at least he'd know the pleasure of hearing her say his name.

"Jack's right. Call me Jean-Luc, please?"

She'd have preferred to keep things formal, but that wasn't possible now.

"Jean-Luc, it is then. Are you hungry?"


"Then let's dine."

As Jack lead her to the dinning room, she prayed for Picard to do something annoying. Anything to make himself less perfect.

Her prayer went unanswered. As the evening wore on she found herself being drawn to him more and more. He was intelligent, thoughtful and witty. His tales of life on the high seas had her enthralled and she liked his easy camaraderie with Jack. Both of them were obviously looking forward to sailing together. Jack might not see his own similarities to Jean-Luc but she could. They shared facial expressions, had the same passion for exploration and they both looked at her in the same way.

Why couldn't he ignore her or treat her like an ornament like most of Jack's friends? And why did she have this urge to impress him with her knowledge of geography, botany and navigation?

Picard's earlier reserve towards her was lessening as he finished his third glass of wine. "Trust my brother to find the most intelligent woman in England and marry her?"

He had stopped talking and was staring at her. "You know Jack, you'll have your hands full as ship's botanist. Why shouldn't Beverly come too? She obviously knows as much as you do?"

Beverly struggled to hide her alarm. The three of them, aboard the same ship!

"It's a nice idea Jean-Luc, but a ship's no place for a child to be born."

She's pregnant! The news sobered him up.

"It's due in 7 months", she informed him.

Picard looked sharply at Jack, then back at her.

She could guess what he was thinking - disbelief at his brother leaving his pregnant wife.

"Jack and I have an understanding," she assured him. "I knew when I married him that he would be away on long voyages."

"Nevertheless, a first child ... "

She wouldn't allow him to criticise her husband. " ... So you would let your ship sail without you if you had a pregnant wife?"

Picard blushed slightly, she'd caught him out. He raised his glass, "I stand corrected."


It would be two months before he and Jack set sail for South America. Every morning Picard woke vowing that today he'd stay away from her. His resolve seldom lasted beyond lunch time. There was always some excuse, some point on which he had to consult Jack. His brother made it easier for him, saying he could ask Beverly if it was a matter on how to store botanical samples. He obviously wanted then to be friends.

"She's always happy after one of your visits." Jack had told him. "Especially if you've argued over some point. Most of my male friends don't know how to interact with an intelligent woman. They're either condescending or intimidated by her debating skills. You're the only one who treats her as an equal."

Jean-Luc enjoyed the arguments as much as she did. To him it was a form of intimacy. If he couldn't touch her body he could at least shape her mind, and she his. When they didn't debate he found it harder to hide the attraction he felt. Did he want her to love him in return? The answer was both Yes and No. 'No' was the safer answer, the more honourable for both of them. 'Yes' might lead to pleasure but also disaster and disgrace. It was better that he didn't know.

A year before, if someone had told her you could love two men at the same time, she have denied it. She knew better now. Jack was still as dear to her, he was the father of her unborn child and a passionate yet gentle lover. What was there not to love? And why did Jean-Luc make her heart leap, every time he cam to visit? She couldn't answer. She was ashamed of her feelings but couldn't help them .


As the day approached for their departure, both Beverly and Picard said less and less to one another. Jack didn't seem to notice, they were still talking to him.

When the final day arrived Beverly accompanied Jack down to the quayside, where Jean-Luc joined them. She'd felt certain Jack would remain at her side, thus protecting her from any foolish act. But Jack didn't understand his role and left them alone while he settled a bill.

They stood in silence, side by side, both staring at the ship.

Picard couldn't bare the silence any longer. "Beverly, is there anything I can do for you?"

She bit her lip as she struggled to control her emotions. Still looking away she answered him, "Just bring your ship home safely."

Then turning to face him, "I need you both."

The end.
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