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by Catherine Ellis

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

Summary D.L.M. challenged a group of us to write a Valentine's day story within 3 days that included the following:
  1. a big, heart-shaped box of chocolates,
  2. white lace,
  3. gold in any form,
  4. a cat,
  5. a bottle of Picard wine
  6. and a drunk man (of your choice) in Beverly's bed.

My story is set at a time when Jack Crusher was still alive.

"Captain! What a pleasant surprise. And bearing gifts too!"

Beverly beckoned him in and cleared an area on the table for his box.

"What is it?"

"A case of Picard wine. You said you wanted to try some."

"You're too generous Captain, one bottle would have been enough."

"Then consider it a gift for Wesley. You can lay it down for him."

The idea appealed to her. "Thank you Captain."

"Can I ask a favour in return?"

"Anything!" She flirted.

"Stop calling me Captain."

"What would you prefer ... 'Sir' ?"

"God forbid, I'm not your commanding officer. 'Jean-Luc' or 'Jean', anything but 'Johnny'."

"Jean-Luc it is then."


Picard looked around searching for a topic of conversation. His eyes fell on a large heart shaped box.

"Another present?" He asked. "What's the occasion?"

"It's Valentine's Day. They're chocolates."

"The giver can't know you very well. You don't like them do you?"

"No, I don't. I'm afraid Jack's not as observant as you."

Jean-Luc squirmed with embarrassment and changed the subject,

"Where is he? I thought he'd be home by now."

"He's home alright. Well and truly. Some old Academy pals brought him here an hour ago. They'd been to a bar after work. Jack must have forgotten about not drinking alcohol while he's taking those pills. I've never seen him so drunk before. He's sleeping it off now in our bed."

Picard felt embarrassed for his friend.

"It's not like him to get drunk, Beverly. I'm sure it was just forgetfulness."

"It's all right, Jean-Luc, I'll forgive him. Though it's a pity you weren't there to take care of him."

"I'll do better in future." He joked.

Picard wanted to stay but with Jack in bed there was no excuse.

"I guess I'd better get going."

"Do you have to? Wesley's asleep and I haven't talked to an adult all day? At least come and sit on the balcony for a while. There's a lovely view of the sunset."

"Well if you put it like that."


As she led him out onto the balcony Picard let his eye run over her figure. The flowing skirt and white lace blouse suited her perfectly. Jack was a lucky man and Picard knew it. He sat in the chair Jack should have been occupying and enjoyed the sights Jack should have been seeing.

Out here on the balcony they found no need to talk, sharing the sunset was company enough. After a while their tranquillity was disturbed by the neighbour's cat. It jumped across from the adjacent balcony and cautiously approached Jean-Luc. He patted his leg and, in his deep baritone, invited it up. The cat climbed onto his lap, turned round three times and sat down. Picard stroked it carefully and expertly between the ears, under the chin and down the back. Loud purrs were soon heard.

Beverly watched the caressing enviously, hadn't she always wanted someone this good at caressing.

"You've a magic touch Jean-Luc. Jack and I can never get near that cat."

"Runs in the family, it's the one thing my father and I had in common."

They sat in silence again, Beverly fidgeting with something in her pocket. Eventually she brought it out and Jean-Luc saw the sunlight glint off a gold ring.

"Your wedding ring?"

"No, not mine. I bought it for Jack, to replace the one he lost in that Canonian swamp. I was going to give it to him today."

She held it out for Jean-Luc to see.

"I'm worried Jack will consider it effeminate."

"But it's beautiful, I'm sure he'll like it. The engraved pattern's like an ancient Vulcan design."

"Trust you to see a historical link. Try it on will you? I'd like to see how it looks on a male hand."

Picard hesitated before slipping it over his wedding finger. He liked its look.

"There." He held out his hand out for her to inspect. "Manly enough for you?"

Beverly smiled approvingly while the cat complained it wasn't getting enough attention.

"Sorry puss." Jean-Luc returned obediently to his caressing duties.

When the sun set five minutes later Picard found the nerve to speak.

"Beverly, there's something I have to tell you ....


...I can't get your ring off."

End of 1

I couldn't resist writing a follow up story. See below.

Part 2

Beverly looked up anxiously and then laughed.

"Nice one, Jean-Luc, you really had me worried there."

"I'm not joking, it's stuck!"

He struggled frantically.. The cat got up in disgust and went to find a more restful lap.

"Stop pulling so hard, you'll damage your knuckle. Come into the kitchen, maybe some soap will do it."

Jean-Luc followed her feeling like a complete idiot. His face was crimson with embarrassment.

"Give me your hand, let me have a go."

She tried to ease the skin under the ring but it didn't work. While she was trying some olive oil the unmistakable sound of someone retching reached them from the bedroom.

"Beverly?" Jack's pitiful voice called out for his wife.

She looked to the bedroom and then back at Jean-Luc.

"You'd better go." She whispered. "He won't want you to see him like this."

"But what about the ring?"

"It's bound to come off by tomorrow. You can bring it back then. Now go."


Picard walked home with his hand in his jacket pocket. Several more hours of manipulation failed to remove it and only left his finger sore. Eventually he went to bed resigned to having it cut off in the morning.

He was woken very early by a call from Starfleet insisting he return to the Star Gazer immediately. His Chief Engineer had to be replaced and Picard was needed on board to help the replacement familiarise herself with the ship. Cutting the ring off would have to wait. He covered it with a strip of medical tape and when anyone asked he mumbled about a blister and changed the subject.

Two days later the Star Gazer was about to leave on its next mission. Jack Crusher returned to his ship looking fit and cheerful. He told Jean-Luc of Beverly's disappointment at not seeing him again but said she understood why he he hadn't been able to come.

To his relief Picard noticed Jack was wearing a new wedding ring.

"Beverly bought it for me, to replace the one I lost in the swamp."

The young husband displayed the matrimonial emblem with pride. "I'll be careful not to lose this one."

Jean-Luc admired it, but knew the ring on his own wedding finger was far more beautiful.

The next morning, light years from Earth, the ring slipped off Picard's finger with no trouble at all.

Jack Crusher never lost his new wedding ring, 8 weeks later he was buried still wearing it.

16 years later

"Keep still will you!"

Picard raised his chin to let Beverly fastened the top button of his shirt.

"These Dixon Hill clothes are a bit fiddly but I think they suit you."

Jean-Luc held his stomach in and turned around to give her a better view.

"Very nice!" A wicked grin crossed her face.

Was it his clothes or his backside she was admiring.

He gave a little bow. "And which tie would madam prefer to see me in - the red or the blue?"

"The blue...Do you need cufflinks? Can I get them for you?"

"I've a pair my grandfather gave me. They're in a small black box in the top draw in my bedroom."

While Beverly searched for the links Picard made three attempts at fixing his tie. He never could understand why these strange bits of fabric had been such a popular part of male attire.

"Have you found them yet?"

He strolled into the bedroom to help her search. His box and its contents were laid out on the dresser. Beverly was standing there transfixed by one particular item. Regret gripped him immediately.

"I'm sorry Beverly, I didn't mean for you to find it like that. I know I should have returned it years ago but I never found the right moment."

The distress in his voice was obvious. She turned to face him.

He continued. "I'm so sorry. My stupidity prevented you from giving it to Jack."

"Ssh." She pressed a finger to his lips and held his arm. "It doesn't matter. No, look at me." She waited till he obeyed. "It didn't matter then either. In fact you saved me from making a mistake. Jack raised the subject of a wedding ring the next day. He wanted one exactly like his first. I showed him a picture of this one but he didn't like it. So you see if you hadn't taken it away I would have given him something he didn't want to wear."

Picard lifted his shoulders and then relaxed. A weight he had carried for years was gone.

"And besides", she reassured him, "I think it was me who asked you to try it own."

"True, I had forgotten that."

Beverly let go his arm and picked up the ring, turning it over so that it caught the light.

Picard still thought it was beautiful and said so.

"Then keep it."

She placed it in the palm of his hand.

Jean-Luc looked down at the golden object.

"No, I couldn't... But ...if you ever want to put it on my finger then I'll be more than proud to wear it.

The End
If you enjoyed this story, or have any suggestions as to how I could improve it, then please let me know.
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