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The Gift (2002) by Catherine Ellis


Summary: Picard gave Beverly a present without realising the trouble it would cause between them.


This story is set aboard the Enterprise 'E', 8 months into its first voyage, therefore it comes before Nemesis.

The Star Trek characters all belong to Paramount, I'm just exercising them for my own amusement. Revised August 2004

After six weeks away from the Enterprise, Picard was looking forward to the company of his colleagues. The last thing he wanted was visitors and especially not this one. As the captain siiped his drink he watched the 'intruder' talking to Dr Crusher on the other side of the lounge.

Soon Troi appeared at Picard's elbow, drawn by the strong emotions he was emitting.

"Tinnov seems very interested in Beverly's necklace." She commented.

Picard just grunted. Deanna could have added "and you're annoyed with him for daring to touch it and with Beverly for allowing him to do so" but she held her tongue. He was in no mood to be teased.

Instead she asked, "Who's the man in the beard standing with them?"

"Paul Evans, " he replied, without enthusiasm. "He'll be our ship's archaeologist while Chatar is away. He came on board with me this morning."

"He doesn't look much like the picture in his personnel file."

"It's the beard." Picard explained. "He grew it recently to make himself look older. People expect archaeologists to be ... 'mature'. I had a brief conversation with him while we waited for the Enterprise to arrive at the starbase."

"What do you think of him?"

Picard hesitated, before giving a carefully phrased reply.

"Ambitious ... self-assured ... eager to please."

Troi lifted a hand to hide a wry smile. She could guess what that meant - 'pushy, arrogant but willing to kiss the Captain's arse'.

"I see he's also fascinated by the necklace. It is a beautiful piece, Sir, where did you get it?"

Picard didn't answer. He was beginning to regret giving Beverly a necklace. It gave other men the perfect excuse for staring at that part of her anatomy.


A knowing smirk crossed Tinnov's face as he announced loudly "Whoever gave you this necklace is either your lover or he aspires to be."

Dr Crusher glanced anxiously round to see who had heard. She only just managed to avoid blushing and thanked God she hadn't named the donor.

"Oh yes?" she replied casually, " And what makes you think that?"

"Because ... unless I'm very much mistaken ... it is about 3,000 years old and extremely valuable. The Ferengi over there will probably offer you 800 bars of gold pressed latinum for it and still consider it a bargain."

"You must be mistaken Tinnov." She gave a dismissive little laugh. "It couldn't possible be worth that. A good copy perhaps."

"If you don't believe me then ask your colleague here."

Before Evans could raise a hand, Dr Crusher removed the necklace and gave it to him. One strange man touching her was quite sufficient for the evening. The archaeologist examined it carefully.

"I think you may be right, Tinnov. It looks and feels like Rion."

Turning to Beverly he explained that Rion was the human name for a rare Romulan metal.

"It's light but very durable, similar to titanium in many ways but more malleable and more attractive to the eye. From the variations in the engraving on each leaf I'd say it's hand made but by a master craftsman. Must have taken months. Even if it's a copy it's still very valuable. Let me have it tomorrow and I'll identify its origin."

Beverly recovered her necklace and excused herself. She'd had enough of those two staring at her bosom. Instead she went in search of more agreeable company. Ten minutes of skilful manoeuvring around the lounge was needed to place her in the same group as Captain Picard. Here she remained happily for the rest of the evening, but never managed a private moment to ask him about the necklace.


Picard turned off the view-screen with more than a little irritation.

"Damn, why does she have to be a doctor."

He and Beverly hadn't been alone together since his return to the ship and he'd been looking forward to breakfast with her. Still, he supposed, the patients had to come first and her invitation to spend the evening on the holodeck was adequate compensation. He wasn't going to let a little hiccup spoil his enjoyment of being home.


The senior staff weren't surprised to see Tinnov joining their meeing in the observation lounge. He was on board the ship to provide background information for their current mission. They had met the man before and admired his scientific abilities but that did not make his behaviour any easier to stomach. He had a compulsive habit of provoking people, of needling them with statements that disturbed their emotions. This could be entertaining if you were in the audience but painful if you were the unlucky victim. Picard was one of Tinnov's favourite targets. So far he hadn't managed to ruffle the Captain's stoic facade but he kept chipping away.

This morning Tinnov had been unusually silent as they waited to start the meeting - but not for long.

"Captain, isn't Dr Crusher joining us?" he enquired.

"Later. A patient needs her attention."

"Interesting woman."

At Tinnov's remark the others fell silent. Picard glanced down the table. Five amused faces looked back, waiting to see how he would respond.

He tried side-stepping the statement.

"I thought it was her necklace that interested you?"

"It does. But that's what makes her so intriguing. What is it about her that makes a man want to give her a priceless gift?"

Picard remained silent and expressionless. This verbal duelling was getting more personal than he cared for. Round the table several minds wonder if Picard was himself 'the man'.

Tinnov continued the needling.

"Tell me, Captain. If you had a necklace worth a thousand bars of gold pressed latinum would you give it away?"

There was a shocked intake of breath; he'd said 'priceless' but they'd never expected a thousand bars!

Still silent, Picard tilted his head forward and looked down at his own chest. Riker immediately burst out laughing. The thought of that beautiful necklace on Jean-Luc's hairy torso was too much.

"You haven't answered my question." Tinnov persisted.

Once again Picard took his time, he turned to Troi and asked,

"Counselor, if Tinnov offered you a fine piece if jewellery, would you accept it?"

"No", was the succinct and truthful reply.

"You see, " he continued, " as far as I'm concerned, whether to give it away isn't the main issue. The more difficult problem is finding someone you want to give it to and then persuading them to accept it."

A thoughtful silence followed as the others pondered on the nature of Beverly's relationship with the donor. During this tense moment Dr Crusher entered and was immediately unnerved by the strange atmosphere. Several heads turned towards her with odd expressions on their faces. Only Picard appeared normal.

"Doctor! Please, sit down. Tinnov has been diverting us with some thought provoking questions but I think we should getting on with our meeting." He waited for her to settle down. "Now, the purpose of our journey to Rigel 5 is to investigate a strange shift in the orbit of its moon..."


The Captain was in fine form and his colleagues knew it, they were as glad to have him back as he was to be there. Riker sat silently observing the way Picard ran the meeting, how he so quickly spotted the relevant points and asked the most pertinent questions. A smile of admiration settled on the commander's face.

"Is something wrong, Number One?"

"No Sir. Nothing at all." A slight blush crossed Picard's face as he guessed what Will was thinking.

"Please continue Tinnov, you were saying ..." but he never did. A voice from the bridge interrupted the meeting.

"Captain. Message from Admiral Hudson. He's aboard the Ajax and coming our way. Apparently the Rigelians don't want the Enterprise in their sector, they see the Federation flagship as a threat. The Admiral wants you and Tinnov to transfer to the Ajax immediately. You should expect to be over there for at least a week."

A groan of disappointment escaped several mouths and even Picard let his irritation show. Seeing a needling opportunity, Tinnov asked cheerfully,

"Well! Are you coming then Captain?"

"When I'm ready." He almost snapped. "If you'd care to proceed to the transporter room, I'll join you there shortly."

After Tinnov had left the officers sat in silence. Picard glanced briefly at his friends and then studied the table top. He wasn't given to sentimental words even if he felt them.

"If I'm not back in a week, can you think up some problem that requires my presence on the Enterprise?"

Affectionate smiles greeted this request. They all recognised an "I'll miss you" statement when they heard one.

"No problem Sir, we'll have a whole list of issues that requires your expertise."

"It that case, Commander, I shall leave the Enterprise in your capable hands."

The officers rose together but waited for their Captain to leave first. On the way out, Jean-Luc brushed Beverly's arm. "Another time?" he mouthed and was answered with a discrete smile and a silent "Yes".


"It doesn't make any sense. Why does Jean-Luc have to transfer to the Ajax? "

In the cramp confines of the turbolift Beverly's irritation assaulted Troi's empathic sensors.

"Because, my dear Doctor, Admiral Hudson likes to play games. He enjoys provoking people, seeing how they react to a bit of competition. He's probably trying to unsettle the Ajax's captain by having Picard aboard his ship. I think our captain's in for an 'eventful' week, what with Tinnov needling him from one side and Hudson from the other."

Crusher headed off to sickbay still annoyed at what fate was doing to her life. Just when she and Jean-Luc had settled in into a close and comfortable routine, Starfleet HQ yanked him away to run a 6 week training course. Yes, they'd been parted before and many times, but this separation had seemed different. She'd been surprised at how much she'd missed him - missed the breakfast time chats, the off-duty hours spent playing or exercising on the holodecks, the friendly hugs and the occasional shoulder massage. Without him she'd felt incomplete and the thought distrurbed her. Irrational fears floated into her mind - he'd get sick if she wasn't there to look after him, he'd have an accident, someone else would usurp her place in his heart. Irrational she knew, but one couldn't control what the subconscious chose to think about.

As usual, when something worried her, Beverly threw herself into her work. She didn't wish ill-health on anyone but if they happened to injure themselves then she'd be more than happy to patch them up.


Paul Evans spent his day searching the records for Romulan jewellery or any jewellery that resembled Dr Crusher's piece. Its construction reminded him of the overlapping scales on a snake. Over the centuries many craftsmen had used this in their designs but few had done it so successfully. The engraving looked vaguely Romulan but didn't match any he could find. This failure didn't phase him, in fact it added to the excitement. Being the one who discovered a unique and ancient Romulan artefact was something he'd always dreamed about, the Federation knew so little about this civilisation. He was convinced this was the find which would make his career. The speech he would give to an archaeology conference was already forming in his imagination. All that was needed was a few scientific tests to confirm his assumptions.


"Damn. Why does she have to be a doctor." Evans swore. He was smarting from the curt "Later!" he had received when he called her. Now it would be hours before he could collect the necklace and all because she didn't know how to delegate responsibility for 5 minutes.


At 20:00 Beverly should have been walking along a beach with Jean-Luc, dodging the waves, skimming pebbles and listening to the seagulls. She had found this particular holodeck programme 3 weeks before and had been saving it for his return. But he was away again and she was alone. Not tired enough to go to sleep but too tired to do anything productive, she sat in her quarters staring aimlessly at the wall. It had been one of those days you didn't want to repeat. She'd lost two patients - a sick passenger who had been on his way to a specialist hospital and the unborn child of two off her crewmates. Neither death had been her fault but that didn't make them any easier to bear. When the door chime sounded she welcomed the intrusion even when she saw who it was.

"Come in Mr Evans, sit down."

"No need, I've only come for the necklace."

Dr Crusher waited for the 'please' or some other civil words to soften the blunt request. None was forthcoming. The man showed no understanding of what it meant to her. For a moment she considered refusing but that would only make her look foolish. There was no excuse for one scientist refusing to assist another, even if he was as rude as this one.

She fetched the box and reluctantly handed it over.

"You won't damage it, will you?"

A look of hurt pride instantly crossed Evan's face; that anyone could doubt his professional expertise was deeply offensive. Beverly found herself in the ludicrous position of having to apologise to this offensive little man.


"Arrogant, tactless little shit!" She yelled as soon as he had gone. She wanted something to hit, a way to vent her anger. A wild kick at a passing chair only left her with sore toes. Another day she would have laughed it off and not minded losing custody of the necklace. But today it was the last straw. Her control began to slip. Her throat tightened and tears began to well.

"Damn it, Beverly, why are you crying?" She pressed her hands against her eyes and tried to stem the tears.

"It's only a necklace."

But it wasn't only a necklace, it was the most recent and the most beautiful thing Jean-Luc had ever given her. It linked the two of them in a way she couldn't explain. She brushed away the tears and laughed at the thought of how Riker would react if she complained to him.

"Please Sir, make Mr Evans give me my necklace back?" She could just hear herself pleading like a little child.

A few sniffs and she was almost in control, but the need for something personal of Jean-Luc's hung on. After a moment's hesitation she left her quarters and strode purposely down the corridor. Passing colleagues, who wanted to talk, were dismissed with a casual wave. As she neared the Captain's cabin she slowed her pace and timed her arrival for when the passageway was empty. CMO security clearance came in useful when you had unauthorised entry in mind.

Once inside Beverly felt better immediately - this was familiar Jean-Luc territory. She strolled around the room leafing through his books and touching his belongings. From the food dispenser she ordered warm milk with nutmeg and sat down on the couch. She wrapped her fingers round the mug and enjoyed calming heat.

"I've come for a chat Jean-Luc, do you mind?"

The ensuing silence only emphasised his absence.

"Damn." The tears welled again.

"Enough of this Beverly, get a grip on yourself." She quickly finished her drink and returned the mug to the dispenser.

In the bedroom area used clothing lay discarded on the floor, evidence of Picard's hurried departure. Beverly walked in intending clean it up. She picked up a T-shirt and stroked the fabric. A faint aroma of Jean-Luc reached her nostrils. She lifted the garment to her face and breathed more deeply. The familiar scent was masculine and comforting. On a sudden impulse she rolled it into a small bundle and headed quickly for the cabin door. Just before the exit she instructed the computer to tell her when the corridor outside was empty.


Paul Evans was in seventh heaven. His analysis of the necklace showed it was indeed Rion, though the surface layer included another substance he hadn't yet identified. His tests also indicated that the metal was smelted around 3,000 years ago and that it was hand made as he had first guessed. There were tiny differences between each leaf that were the mark of manual rather than machine construction. The necklace was clearly the work of one craftsman rather than a team effort.

Starfleet archives contained very little information on Romulan decorative arts. They told him that Rion production had ceased 2000 years ago when the deposits were exhausted. There were pictures of jewellery from this period supplied by a Romulan archaeologist who had wanted other races to appreciate his planet's cultural history. But amongst all these artefacts there was nothing quiet like 'his' necklace. What excited him most was how few examples of ancient Romulan jewellery were actually held in Federation Museums. This would be the find of his career.

Only one thing worried him about the necklace, why was it so little evidence of wear?


After two further days of study Evans arranged to see Dr Crusher in her quarters. This time Beverly was prepared for his rudeness and met it head on. She allowed him only one steps inside the door before blocking his way.

"Yes?" Her tone was professional and detached.

"Where did you get the necklace, Dr Crusher?"

"I told you, a friend gave it to me."

"Did he say where he got it?"

"No and I didn't ask him."

"Who is the friend?"

Beverly clenched her teeth. "That's my business."

"It is my professional duty to find out where it came from. As I supected, it is Romulan and very old, about 3,000 years old. It ought to be in a museum rather than hidden away in someone's draw. Furthermore it might have been stolen. I must know know who gave it to you and how they came by it."

Beverly could barely contain her rage.

"My friends are not in the habit of stealing or handling stolen property!"

"Nevertheless I must know."

"I will ask him where it came from but he's a busy man. You may have to wait a week or two for the reply."

Evans didn't like this evasion but had no alternative but to accept the delay. With feigned politeness he wished her goodnight.

When he was almost out the door she called after him.

"Wait. Can I have my necklace back please?

Beverly instantly regretted her words. By revealing her desire for its return she had given him the upper hand. An unpleasant smile crossed his face.

"No doctor, I don't think so. You find out where it came from and I'll consider your request."


Evans had no misgivings about holding on to the necklace. Though her ownership might be legitimate, it was more likely that her 'friend' had obtained it by some underhand manner. As the Ship's Archaeologist he had a duty to keep it safe. Experience had taught him that women were unpredictable when their emotions were aroused. Even a senior doctor might be tempted to return it to her 'boyfriend'.


"... rude, arrogant, inconsiderate ..."

Deanna just listened while she ranted on. This venting of spleen was obviously doing her good.

"How on earth did he get appointed to the Federation Flagship?"

The question had been bothering Troi too. Beverly wasn't the only crew member to have been incensed by Evans' behaviour.

"I think someone wanted to see if he would improve if he was given authority. In his last post he complained of being stifled by supervisors less capable than himself."

"Well it hasn't worked!"

"I know Beverly, but is he really worth getting this worked-up about?"

The doctor stopped and noted her own physical condition - pulse and temperature up, breathing rapid, chest tight - her friend had a point. She sat down and tried to relax with slow breathing.

Troi watched her from the other chair.

"It's not just Evans' behaviour that's bothering you, is it?"

"Perceptive as usual .... Yes, there is something else. Where did Jean-Luc get the necklace? How could he possibly afford it? Why would he give me a 3,000 year old necklace he knows belongs in a museum?"

"Perhaps he doesn't know what it is?"

"Oh come off it Deanna! Jean-Luc's no novice when it comes to archaeology. He'd investigate its origins just like Evans."

"Then perhaps Evans is wrong."

The idea was appealing but despite her dislike for him she feared he knew his subject.

"I don't know anymore." Her voice sounded exhausted. "Four days ago I had a beautiful necklace, that I enjoyed wearing, from someone I .... Today, I have a priceless antique, a Romulan heirloom that's possibly stolen. Evans won't let me keep and, even if he did, I'd be scared to wear it. I don't NEED this Deanna."

Troi moved across and knelt beside her.

"Have you tried contacting the Captain?"

"No. I thought I'd wait until his return. He's got quite enough to deal with without me asking him if he stole my present."

Deanna touched her friend's arm.

"I'm sure there's a simple explanation. Just wait and see."


Evans frequently pestered Dr Crusher during the next three days.

"Have you contacted him yet?"

She enjoyed having the power to wind him up with her vague replies.

"He's a busy man. He'll get back to me when he can."


Commander Riker was preparing one of his 'Picard needed on the Enterprise' plans when a message from the Captain informed them he was already on his way. On arrival he went straight to the bridge but declined the command chair. He needed a long sleep before he took on that responsibility. Instead he retired to his ready room and checked through the messages and reports awaiting his attention. There were over forty messages but only one item got his immediate attention, a personal message from Dr Crusher. 'Welcome home. I missed you. B.'

Picard sighed sat back in his chair, glad to be back where belonged. Not even a pile of dull administrative work was going to spoil his good mood. It was just one of the irritations that came wih the job. Just then another form of irritation appeared at his door. His first impulse was to dismiss the intruder but the young man was keen and obviously excited.

"Mr Evans, what can I do for you?"

"I'm sorry to disturb you Sir, I know you've only just returned but I've made a discovery that I'm sure you'll want to know about."

"Go on, Lieutenant, what is it that's so fascinating?"

"I've found a Romulan artefact that's about 3,000 years old. It's of a beautifuldesign and construction. Must have been made by a master craftsman."

"So what is it?"

"A necklace." Alarm bells rang in Picard's head."Dr Crusher had it. Some friend gave it to her. God knows how he came by it. It should be in a museum."

Picard could have explained everything there and then, but wasn't inclined to reveal his private life to this particular individual.

"Where is the necklace now?"

"In my vault. Dr Crusher wanted it back but I said no. I'm sure you'd agree."

The Captain got to his feet.

"No Lieutenant, I would not agree. Give it back to her."

Evans stared, baffled by Picard's reaction.


"Return it NOW!"

"Yes Sir. Right away Sir." Evans backed out not wanting to expose his rear to a captain in this sort of mood.

Picard bristled like an angry cat. "How dare he!"

The necklace was a very personal item; something between him and Beverly alone. The thought of Evans handling it was repugnant. His first thought was to visit her in Sickbay but he didn't want to appear over possessive. An "I missed you too" message would have to do for now. In three hours she would be off duty and in the mean time he could catch up on some badly needed sleep.


"Dr Crusher! wait a minute."

Beverly could hear Evans running after her. If he asks me about the necklace one more time I'll...

Hands clenched she turned on him with an frosty smile.

"I just wanted to return your necklace." He panted.

"What?" She replied in total disbelief.

"Your necklace."

He handed over the box, wished her goodnight and disappeared as quickly as he'd come. Back in her quarters Beverly immediately checked it for damage - none was apparent but the necklace felt different somehow. It was no longer her necklace, she was just its current - and reluctant - custodian. As she fingered its scales she wondered how many other women had worn it? A hundred? More?


Picard got to his feet eagerly when he heard the chime. He was sure it was Beverly. At her welcoming smile his first impulse was to engulf her in his arms. He stepped forward to do so but saw the necklace box. She's going to give it back. The thought hit him like an icy blow. His outstretched arms folded across his chest and he heard himself say "Good to see you Doctor" as if she were some ordinary colleague.

Beverly spotted the instant change in his mood and guessed the cause - one more reason to dislike the damn thing. She put the box down on the table and stood facing him, arms folded across her own chest.

"How was your week?" She replied equally formally.

"I've had better. How about yours? I hear Mr Evans has been examining your necklace. "

"Yes, he's very excited by it." She rubbed one hand nervously along the other. "So much so that he's been pestering me about all week - where it came form and who gave it to me. He seems convinced it's a priceless Romulan antique."

"The idea seems to worry you."

Beverly scanned his inscrutable face and wished she were a telepath. Do I lie to him or do I risk hurting him with the truth?

"Jean-Luc? You know I really like the necklace. It suits me and I treasure it because you gave it to me ..."


She heitated again and then dived in. "Now I know its history I don't feel comfortable about wearing something so old and valuable. It's like wearing a holy relic."

She held her breath, waiting for his reaction.

"Well in that case you'll be glad to know it was only made last year."

"Last year! Last year? Are you sure?" She wanted to believe him.

"Quite sure." Picard stepped forward and grasped her shoulders. "Beverly, how could I possibly afford a 3,000 year old necklace?"

"I didn't know. That's one the things that's been ... " her voiced trailed off.

"Oh terrific! You thought I'd stolen it!" His words were harsh but his eyes were smiling.

"Yes ... I mean No... I mean ... How could Evans be so wrong?"

"He isn't entirely wrong. I think he just found what he wanted to find and ignored all the evidence to the contrary. Let me explain. It is made from 3,000-year-old Rion. About five years ago the Romulans found a horde of 500 Rion ingots. They traded them with the Ferengi for military technology. Three of them got into the hands of a Ferengi merchant from whom I bought one last year. Or rather I swapped it for an ancient Cardassian dagger. The one Madred gave to me as a 'going away present'."

Beverly let out a sigh of relief and put her hands on his waist. He felt warm and strong.

"So how did the ingot turn into a necklace? Did you commission someone to make it?"

A mischievous smile crossed Picard's face. "Not exactly."

"Come on, Jean-Luc" She gave him a quick pinch. "I want the answer. Now!"

"Come here, I'll show you." He led her into his sleeping quarters. There, from a set of draws, he fetched a tray and laid it on the counter top. Beverly looked down and tried to make sense of the contents - a jumble of pliers, old fashioned tools, bits of metal and an almost complete bracelet.

She stared at him - disbelieving.

"You made it!"

"Yes, I made it. You needn't look so surprised."

"But ... but how is that possible? It takes years of practice."

"I know, thirty years." He said softly, almost sadly.

She didn't understand.

"Do you remember that Kataan history probe that locked on to me?" She could guess what was coming. "Playing the flute wasn't the only skill I picked up. In that 'imaginary' life I earned my living as a metal weaver. I made all sorts of things from farm implements to telescopes and jewellery."

'For your wife' the idea appeared unbidden in her mind. She'd never felt comfortable discussing his Kataan experience. The thought of him believing he'd been married and had children by another woman was something she prefered not to think about. The subject was 'off limits' as much as her married life with Jack.

"But when I was there I never made anything quite like your necklace."

She caught his eye. Had he guessed her jealous thought? She looked down at the tray again, embarrassed at resenting his dream.

"What gave you the idea of creating a real piece of jewellery?"

She could feel him looking at her.

"You did." He lifted a lock of hair to better see her neck. "You told me you liked necklaces but their weight often made your neck ache."

She brightened up. "I remember that conversation! We were in the Egyptian museum in Cairo."

"It was soon after that that I met the Ferengi Rion for sale and since it's a light but strong metal that suits your colouring, the idea sort of ... grew. It took me 6 weeks to perfect the engraving technique. After that I managed to make one or two scales a night for months. ..."

As Jean-Luc continued his story he lifted the bracelet and waited for her to offer her wrist. Beverly moved in beside him, pulled back her sleeve and brought her arm up between his hands.

"... Making the necklace was very therapeutic. It took my mind off worrying about the loss of the Enterprise 'D' and whether I'd be offered another ship. When you seemed so pleased with the result I thought I'd keep going and make a matching bracelet"

He made a minor adjustment to the fastening and held her arm out for his efforts to be admired. It was beautiful, even better than the necklace. What was more it was 'her' bracelet, all hers, a unique item created especially for her wrist. She ran her hand slowly down her bare arm, across the bracelet, her hand and onto his fingers.

"It feels like snake skin."

"That's the idea."

She kept tracing her fingers slowly across the surfaces, enjoying the different textures.

"Evans said the Rion's coated with something he couldn't identify. What is it?"

"Ah ... I don't think you want to know that."

"Yes, I do. " She bumped his hip playfully." Come on, tell me."

"Well, if you must know, it's .... sweat! Human sweat to be exact."

"Sweat?" She turned to stare at him. This time it was Jean-Luc who looked down in embarrassment.

"It's an old iron weavers trick. If you catch the metal at the right temperature then the oil in the sweat fuses into the surface and gives it that smooth texture. I did tell you not to ask."

"Oh I don't know, it adds a certain ... intimacy to the gift." She rested her chin on his shoulder and whispered in his ear, "It is your sweat isn't it?"

Picard swallowed hard. He could no longer ignore her proximity.

"Yes it's mine."


She returned to stroking her arm, but lingered when she reached his fingers.

"I have a confession to make, Jean-Luc." A note of playfulness crept into her voice.

"Beverly, are you sure I want to hear this?"

"While you were away I came in here and took something" She paused. "I took the T-shirt you'd discarded."

"What did you want that for? Some medical experiment?"

"No. For company. ... I've been wearing it ... in bed."

He froze, the unexpected reply was exciting and he wanted to know more.

"Was that under or over your nightwear?"

"Instead of."

Picard had never envied a T-shirt before.

"Of course, your aroma is beginning to wear off now."

"May I offer you a fresh one?" Picard heard himself say it but couldn't believe he'd had the nerve.

It seemed like forever before she replied.

"You may ... but I'd prefer one with you in it."

He stopped breathing. Did she really mean what he thought she meant?

She stroked a finger gently along one of his.

"That was an invitation to my bed in case you were wondering."


The Captain rubbed his hands as he sat down at the head of the conference table.

"You look like you had a good night, Sir."

"Yes, thank you, Number One, I think that would be an accurate description."

Dr Crusher just managed to keep a straight face as she avoided Troi's eye. The counselor was bound to have sensed what they'd been up to.

"Shall we get on with the meeting then?" Picard took control. "Mr Evans, tell us about the archaeological site that Starfleet wants us to examine."

"Yes Sir. But before I do can I request we make a detour to Starbase 14. Professor Rhineheart, the Romulan expert, is visiting there and I think we ought to entrust Dr Crusher's necklace to his care.

"No!" Beverly had had enough of this nonsense. "It is NOT Romulan. It was made last year from a 3000 year old Rion ingot."

Evans made a dismissive snort, women were so gullible.

"I suppose that's the story your 'boyfriend' told you and you believe him."

The thwack as Picard's palm hit the tabletop made even Worf jump.

"Mr Evans, that's ENOUGH! For your information I am Dr Crusher's 'boyfriend'. I'm also the person who made her necklace from a Rion ingot. Now, do you want to call me a liar?"

There were times when a transfer to another ship seemed like a good career move. Paul Evans decided this was just such a moment.

The end.
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