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Oh, Captain, My Captain! Part 4 (no sex)
by Christine Faltz

"Beverly, may I talk with you about Captain Picard?"

Counselor Troi was dressed in a tight exercise leotard. Dr. Crusher turned
from studying her calisthenics program menu.

"Why? Is something wrong? He has been acting awfully distant lately. But it's
not distance really. It's more like -- he's unsure around me. As if he has
something to hide."

"Well," Troi said. "I wouldn't dwell on it too much. I think he probably just
needs a little shore leave."

"You know something," Crusher said, walking over to look closely at Troi.
"You had a talk with him."

"Now, Beverly, are you trying to home in on my turf?" Troi teased. But she
averted her eyes.

"Now, I know you're lying, or concealing. Is Jean ... -- the Captain all
right?"

"He's fine, Beverly, really."

"Then what is it, Deanna?"

"I think this is something you will have to discuss with him."

Troi began stretching out on the holo-deck mat.

"Computer," she said, "run Troi, program 7."

"Deanna?"

"Beverly, please," Troi begged. "I can't talk about this with you. I don't
want to say this to hurt you, but if he hasn't told you what it is, he
doesn't want you to know."

Crusher winced. She left the holo-deck, and nearly bumped into Data.

"Data. I'm sorry; I'm a little distracted."

"Can I help, Doctor?"

"No, Data. Only the Captain can help."

"I have not been informed of any serious problems or conflicts on the
Enterprise, Doctor. I believe I would have been informed if there were such
a grave problem. Are you sure you want to bother the Captain with --"

"Data," Dr. Crusher said, "this type of problem has nothing to do with the
ship."

Data looked at her, considering.

"Ah, I understand, Doctor."

"Good." Crusher turned and walked away.

"Doctor?" Data called.

"What, Data?" Crusher asked, a little shortly.

"Good luck. Is not that appropriate?"

Crusher had to laugh.

* * *

"Come." Beverly entered the captain's quarters. He was smiling broadly when
she entered, but as their eyes met, he quickly grew reserved, his face
closing.

"Jean-Luc," she said, diving in. "What the hell is wrong with you? We no
longer have breakfast; you rarely look at me, let alone say hello to me
when we cross paths. I figured you were busy, preoccupied with something
you couldn't tell me. But I know Troi well enough to know that she knows
something I don't."

Picard sighed. He began to pace. He looked at her, then quickly looked away.

"Beverly." He sat down and motioned for her to sit across from him. She
walked slowly, feeling a terrible dread for which there was no explanation.

"We have to talk, Beverly," he said. She struggled to calm herself.

"What about?"

"My recent behavior. And -- the reasons for it."

"I'm listening."

"Beverly, a while back we agreed - we agreed that although we are obviously
attracted to one another, and that each of us would no doubt derive great
benefits from a more - intimate relationship..."

"Yes, Jean-Luc. Just get it over with. Please."

"Beverly, I don't want to hurt you. Please, don't be like that."

"Like what? You told me all the reasons we shouldn't get-involved. They were
good reasons. They made sense. Are you going to tell me now that you and
Troi --"

"Oh, no! No!"

Picard got up and walked over to her.

"That is not what I'm trying to tell you. Not at all. Besides, Mr. Worf has
been rather busy in that area."

She stared at him. That wasn't something he would say, not even to her. He
never joked so easily about the relationships of his crew. He was changing
right before her eyes. She felt a pang of terrible loss.

"Beverly? Beverly, are you all right?"

He lifted her face to look at her.

"Who is it, then?" Her lips were trembling slightly, but her eyes were dry,
her face eerily vacant of any emotion.

"Beverly, please. Don't do this."

"Apparently, I'm not the one doing anything, Jean-Luc. You are!"

Her voice had traveled up about half an octave; she fought to gain control.

"WHO IS IT, DAMN IT? YOU OWE ME THAT MUCH."

Picard went back to his chair and sat down. What was he supposed to say?
"Beverly, I have a relationship with a nonhuman alien who is half-Q?" He
couldn't say that. He had never liked scenarios like this. This was never
something he had developed a way of dealing with so that no one got hurt.
He had hurt many like this, he recalled. But she was waiting.

"Beverly," he said, clearing his throat and averting his gaze.

"Look at me," she said so quietly he barely heard her.

"You look at me for this. I refuse to make this easy for you just so you can
feel better about it, so you can believe that the way you did it was the
noblest way possible! How could you? How could you let whatever you're about
to tell me develop to a stage that it obviously has, and continue, at least
for a time, to keep up our usual routine?"

"Beverly," he said, a bit tightly. "We never agreed that the possibility of
other relationships was closed to either of us."

"Other relationships? No, you're right. At the very least, though, I always
was aware of what was going on, what the potential was. I was always aware
of the parameters."

"Well, I am terribly sorry I didn't ask you for permission," he said. There
was a stunned silence. She gaped at him, disbelieving.

"WHO IS IT? JUST LET ME KNOW THAT, AND I'LL DROP IT. Please, do me that
service."

"Ztlaf, please present yourself," Picard said, sighing.

"In what form, Jean-Luc?" she asked.

"My favorite," he answered wordlessly.

Ztlaf appeared before Crusher as she had appeared to Picard in their last
encounter -- this was also the form Troi had seen.

Beverly Crusher looked into the young woman's eyes. They were very pretty
eyes, green-blue, the type that would look green-gray or dark blue in -- the
dark. She studied her; she looked nothing like Crusher, nothing like the
other women she knew about. The woman's hair was short, medium-brown with
traces of red. She was about Jean-Luc's height; she had good-sized breasts
and long legs. She had a small nose and mouth, and a pleasant smile. But her
eyes held something other than friendliness. They held sorrow.

"Don't you DARE pity me, you little --"

"Beverly!" Picard walked between them. "She doesn't pity you. I don't pity
you, and for goodness sake, you should stop feeling sorry for yourself. It
isn't as though I cheated on you, as if I'd broken some vow."

"No, Jean-Luc? Well that's what it feels like you did."

Dr. Crusher stood and backed towards the door, locking eyes with Ztlaf.

"I'm sorry," the woman said.

"Go to hell!" Beverly cried, and ran through the door.

* * *

"Deanna, Deanna!" Dr. Crusher rushed through the holo-deck arch.

"Computer!" Troi shouted, seeing Crusher's face. "Quit program!"

The holo-deck returned to normal.

"Beverly, let's go to my quarters."

Crusher followed Troi wordlessly to the turbolift. She was crying softly,
and her obvious efforts to stop seemed to make it worse.

"Beverly." Crusher turned on her.

"HOW COULD YOU NOT TELL ME? YOU HELPED HIM MAKE A FOOL OF ME! SHE WAS THERE,
WHATEVER SHE IS."

"Ztlaf?" Troi asked.

"Oh, Deanna, I didn't know you were on a first-name basis."

"Beverly, stop it! Would you listen to yourself?"

They arrived at Troi's quarters.

"I know this hurts, and I'm sorry. I really am. I know what you're going
through? This is me, remember? Do you think I wanted to be the cause of so
much pain? You've suspected for the past week, ever since he began making
excuses about breakfast. You saw it coming, Beverly. This isn't a time for
placing blame. You have to work through this."

"And how do you suggest I do that? I will never be able to trust him again,
never be able to respect him as I did. He took so long to tell me."

"Beverly, listen to yourself. You are talking about not being able to respect
a man you've loved and admired for a long time, because he acted completely
true to his character. You know he handled this the only way he knew how.
Maybe that's a flaw, and maybe not. He was never perfect, and never claimed
to be. He was always honest with you."

"Until now!"

"He was honest with you, Beverly. That's why you're so upset. A lie would
have been better, because you wouldn't feel this way. But then, your security
would have been false."

"Why are you saying these things, when you know what I'm feeling? This agony
that is so strong I feel as if it could choke me."

"Because you need to hear it, and because if you don't eventually -- not
right away, eventually -- work this into your mind, you'll never get over
this."

Troi walked over to Crusher and wrapped her arms around the trembling,
weeping doctor. Crusher sobbed into Troi's neck, and Deanna's face showed
Crusher's pain. She attempted to stop the tears which came to her own eyes.
But she could not. She clutched Beverly in her arms, rocking her slightly.

"Deanna," Crusher moaned, "How can I look at him in the same way? Tell me,
Deanna! How?!"

"It won't happen for a while, Beverly. But you will."

Troi went to the replicator after seating Crusher gently on the edge of the
bunk.

"Hot chocolate," she said. "not that it'll help."

"Do you want anything, Beverly?" She turned and saw Dr. Crusher staring
blank-faced at the computer.

"No. No." She leaned back wearily on the mattress, closing her eyes.

Troi brought her hot chocolate back to the bunk and sat beside Crusher,
stroking her face gently.

"Take a nap, Beverly," she said softly. "It will still hurt when you wake up,
but not nearly as much."

Crusher called a medic to bring her a mild sedative. After it was
administered, she slipped into a troubled doze.

"Well, I'm feeling awfully tired suddenly myself," Troi thought. "I'm
absolutely bone-weary."

She asked the computer for a shower and stepped into the field when she had
negotiated the temperature with the computer. Afterwards, she lay beside
Crusher and slipped into a fitful doze.

* * *

Ztlaf was restless and unhappy. She had known about this strange, largely
nonphysical relationship; she had read all about it in Picard's thoughts.
She could not reach everything within him, only the strong impressions. She
understood that on some level, he had been able to hurt the doctor because
of his relationship with Ztlaf. She felt the discord within her; she wasn't
supposed to hurt others; the Q Continuum had sought her out and made sure
they had wired her powers such that negative actions on her part would make
her violently ill and send a warning signal to the Continuum. She had to
right this situation, or she would be killed. Worse than that, she might be
condemned to a lonely exile without Jean-Luc Picard.

* * *

Deanna Troi woke with a start.

"Deanna," Crusher said, smiling. "I don't know what to make of this, but I
feel wonderful. I had this -- well, strange dream" she flushed "but I feel
completely better. I had this talk with you. Everything seemed to make sense,
and I felt myself, in the dream, become totally unconcerned with what has
just happened. And, better than that, I still do."

"That's wonderful, Beverly," Troi smiled. "And your feelings towards Captain
Picard?"

"Oh, so he has some fling with this alien. So what? He's still the same loyal
friend I've always known him to be."

Deanna barely heard. She was trying to figure something out about the dream
she had just had.

"Beverly," she said, "that's great, but you know, I just had a dream about
you, too."

"Were we discussing Jean-Luc?"

"Yes, well... for a time."

Crusher flushed again.

"Deanna, it seems that our unwillingness to talk about our dreams further
means we are uncomfortable with certain aspects of them."

"Yes. Perhaps."

Troi got up and walked towards the replicator, then turned and walked back.

"Beverly," she said, "I think the best thing to do would be for me to just
tell you -- what I dreamed."

"All right, Deanna." Crusher looked away.

"I dreamed that you and I went for a swim in a holo-deck bay," she said. "We
discussed what has happened today and worked it through. Then --"

"The first part of my dream went precisely the same way, Deanna. I suppose"
she glanced up quickly, then looked away "the rest did too."

"We -- were intimate."

They looked at each other, stunned. Then, they both burst into laughter.

"Well, all right," said Crusher.

"We are wonderfully close friends; this recent occurrence had to do with --
well -- physical intimacy. It makes sense."

"But it doesn't make sense that we had the same dream. Unless --"

Crusher sat up. "That alien! She did it!"

"Now, Beverly, let's not jump to conclusions."

"Before I left Jean-Luc's quarters, she said 'I'm sorry'"

They each thought about that for a moment.

After a long, uncomfortable silence, Troi said, "Beverly, I happen to know
that she only has partial powers. She's half-shapeshifter, half-Q, or some
other combination of the two. She couldn't have put such a dream together
without considerable help from our psyches."

"Are you saying --" Crusher looked at Troi.

"I'm *saying* that we are very close friends, that we've discussed very
intimate things, and shared our lives in very intimate ways. It isn't
far-fetched to think that on some level, we are attracted to one another
physically."

Crusher thought about it for a moment, then smiled.

"Well, Deanna, you are rather attractive."

They laughed.

"Well, should we explore this further?" Beverly asked.

"Let's go to the holo-deck."

* * *

The sun glinted off the clear green water. Crusher and Troi raced each other
back and forth across the bay. When they were thoroughly exhausted, they lay
out on the beach, side by side on a grassy embankment.

"We've been playing this rather innocently," Deanna mused.

"Perhaps we should do something a little more -- daring -- to see where it
takes us."

"Like what?"

Deanna rolled over on top of Beverly, wiping the water off of her face and
neck with a towel that lay nearby.

"Computer, a change of scenery, please. A twilight scene, a clearing in dense
woods."

The scenery changed. As Crusher watched the terrain change around them,
Deanna began kissing her tentatively on the lips. Crusher hesitated. She had
not been intimate with anyone for a long time. She briefly considered her
disgust when her Trill lover had turned from a wonderful male companion to
a woman. She remembered the strain between them, their brief, stilted
discourse. Why had she been so against that? The person carried what she
wanted with her, didn't she?

Beverly began to respond to Deanna. She encircled her in her arms, and rolled
them onto their sides. They explored each other's bodies with their hands.
They took turns massaging each other's back and limbs. At some point, Deanna
began massaging Beverly's breasts and the area immediately surrounding them.

"I think I could learn to like this," said Beverly.

"Really? Me, too," said Troi, feigning surprise.

"Yes, really. Regrettably, however, I have a minor operation to attend to.
How about meeting me back here in an hour?"

"It's a date. Same scene?"

"Same scene."

    

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