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14 February 2009 @ 08:08 pm
Fic: Vermicular Confusion: VI of VII (first half)  
Title: Vermicular Confusion part VI of VII (yes, I was trying to keep it to 6 parts, but...I uh, suck and now it shall be 7)
Previously: part I || part II || part III || part IV || part V
Author: me! the Oparu
Rating: R to be safe, there's some sex...
Pairings:Sheppard/Weir, Crusher(Beverly)/Picard, Riker/Troi
Universes:Season 3 STTNG, Season 2 SGA
Notes: Been forever since I updated, but in my defense, I moved 17 hours worth of timezone. I also decided to go epic and enjoy my own little universe of doom. ;)

Deanna’s dark eyes narrowed, her eyebrows knotted her face in concentration and she still couldn’t keep herself level on her feet. Beverly’s free hand shot out to help her as she stumbled, but Will was having trouble biting his lip hard enough. It was her death glare that made him finally lose control and start to chuckle.

“It’s not funny,” Deanna’s words slurred together and he managed to tone his smirk down into a smile. “I can barely feel my tongue.”

Shaking her head and trying to hid her own smile, Beverly absorbed the findings on her tricorder. “Her neurotransmitters are overloaded. There’s something in her bloodstream that’s inhibiting their re-uptake.” she explained as she forced Will to take over the job of assisting Deanna’s balance by pushing her hand into his. Deanna’s skin was unusually warm and her fingers toyed with the back of his palm. “Your’s are a little high but your’s are being reabsorbed by your brain” Pursing her lips helped her think.

“You know,” Deanna piped up as she swayed on her feet. “In this light, Beverly’s hair looks a lot redder than usual. Like strawberries or geetala fruit. Bill?” She pulled her hand free from his and ran it up his neck towards his chin. “Bill, have you ever had geetala fruit?’

“No,” he replied grinning. Aside from the Psi 2000 virus, he’d never seen Deanna drunk. “I’m afraid I haven’t had the pleasure.”

Still fascinated by Beverly’s hair, Deanna reached for a lock of it and held it loosely in her hand. Will had to move his hand, catching her around the small of her back to keep her upright.

“Sit her down, please,” Beverly asked as she ran the probe from her tricorder in a slow circle around Deanna’s head. When she sat, Will and Beverly had to sit with her. His arms were wrapped around her and Deanna was completely attached to Beverly’s hair. “Interfacing with the city has doubled the level of xerotolemine and psilosyne. They’re Betazoid neurotransmitters. The surplus is breaking down into an alcohol-like residue. Her liver’s not getting rid of it fast enough because there’s some kind of opiate residue in her bloodstream.” She started to smile and reached to free Deanna’s hand from her hair. “Does anything hurt?”

Clutching Beverly’s hand instead of her hair, Deanna grinned widely. “I feel amazing because I’m in this beautiful place. I like Atlantis. Did I tell you that? I must have told you that.”

Beverly patted her hand gently and ran the probe around Will’s head. Tilting her head in thought, she stared at him in astonishment. “You produce psilosine.”

“I’m told not very much nor very well,” he teased playfully. “Doctor Eigara found it eight years ago on the Potemkin, give or take. Side effect of having a very good time on Betazed. Should be in my record.”

“I afraid I don’t have it memorized verbatim,” Beverly retorted and tried not to smile too much when Deanna started humming. “Will, that’s extraordinary.”

“Why aren’t I-?” he wondered as Deanna turned her attention to his hair instead. Her little fingers running against his scalp made it very difficult to concentrate on Beverly’s voice.

“You must not produce very much, like you said,” Beverly repeated his earlier answer and shook her head. “You also don’t have any opiates in your bloodstream.” Getting back to her feet, Beverly looked for Doctor Zelenka, who had been patiently watching from one of the wall computers. “Are there any other crew who can use this chair on board, I mean, in the city?”

“Major Lorne, Doctor Beckett, Lieutenant Ryven, Doctor Soliari,” Doctor Zelenka paused for a moment and drummed his fingers on the wall in an attempt to remember. “Sargeant Mahonen, but he doesn’t really like anyone knowing it.”

“Will,” Beverly began after a quick nod in thanks to Doctor Zelenka. “I’m going to go scan Carson’s brain and compare it to yours. I should be able to figure out exactly what it is that they call the Ancient gene in this universe. I’ll get a name for the opiate in her blood as well. It’s probably something she was treated with when we first arrived, before I woke up.” Her eyes fell on Deanna, who was contentedly tracing the line of his beard. “She’ll be fine when it wears off. Just keep her out of trouble.”

“Right,” Will deadpanned as Deanna kissed his fingertips playfully before jumping to her feet.

“Let’s go swimming,” she announced purposefully. “We’re in the ocean. Bill-”

“Bill?” Beverly teased playfully watching as Deanna grabbed his arm and started dragging him towards the doorway.

Holding Deanna’s hand kept her where he could keep an eye on her. “It was a long time ago,” he made the excuse and wondered if he wasn’t feeling part of the effects. Every time he looked at Deanna, especially when she was staring at him as if she could see right through his clothes. “I’ll tell you sometime.”

“I think I’ll look forward to that,” Beverly quipped as she headed the other way down the corridor. “Bill.”

Wincing as he wondered how much he was going to squirm during that conversation, Will let Deanna wrap her arms around his.

“Did you bring a bathing suit?” she babbled without waiting for an answer. “I didn’t. I’m sure they have something we could borrow but it’s just not the same. Not as much fun either.” She started shrugging out of the fleece jacket she’d been given. “ I don’t need this.” She would have left it on the floor if Will hadn’t have bent to retrieve it. Even intoxicated, she still had enough of the city in her head to seem to know exactly where she was going.

“You don’t know what’s in the water,” Will offered in an attempt to gently keep her feet on dry land.

“Maybe that’s the exciting part,” Deanna murmured wrapping her discarded jacket around his neck and dragging his head down towards her. “Literally diving into the unknown.”

One of the Atlantis officers was watching them when she started kissing him. He half felt like an idiot, holding her head in his hands and letting her- letting her do what exactly? Will asked himself as he tried not to be wholly distracted by the incredibly pleasant feeling of her lips. Maybe he really was intoxicated, certainly not as much as Deanna, but something was in the back of his head wanted to keep kissing her.

He knew better. Logically, he had no right to impose himself on her. She was intoxicated and no matter what his reputation said, Will Riker never took advantage of a woman, and he took particular care with Deanna. She had already suffered enough because of his ambitions and fears. She was pushing him towards her quarters. Her little body was shoving him back, swimming now completely forgotten, towards the doorways leading towards crew quarters.

The heavy red door opened behind him, as if someone had flicked the blue glowing switch. He hadn’t and no one was behind him. Deanna’s hands were wrapped tightly around his shoulders and it was definitely not her. Except, she was amused. Deanna was giggling softly as she nibbled his neck and tried to shake him out of the black fleece jacket he wore over his t-shirt.

The pushing was in his mind as well, nothing as harsh as a shove but the opening was there. She was offering herself, not just her body, but the far more tantalizing gift of her mind. Deanna’s feelings were bare, vulnerable before him and all he could think was that he was taking advantage of her. Something in her thoughts tickled, like a stray piece of string running down the surface of his brain.

He was wrong. Will was definitely wrong. He wasn’t taking advantage of her. He’d never seen it that way and he was an idiot. Deanna was steadily dragging his t-shirt off of his shoulders. Two of Doctor Weir’s scientists scurried out of the way and Deanna made another door slide open in front of them.

How long had it been since he’d tumbled through a doorway with a woman? Deanna wasn’t a woman, he reminded himself. Deanna was his exercise in restraint. She’d reached inside his head and fundamentally changed him. His loneliness, his distrust of others and his terrible fear that somehow, no matter how hard he fought against himself he’d be a bitter man who died alone. People couldn’t be trusted, not even the best of Starfleet he served with. He’d known good officers, extraordinary beings who would have loved him like family.

Women who had loved him.

He hadn’t understood that love, as he’d come to know it on Betazed, came naked. Love required surrendering of the mind he’d just never been comfortable with. Until she’d gotten under his skin. Maybe that was what he really needed, someone who saw through everything and read him like a book.

Deanna’s black eyes stared up at him as she pulled him down to kiss him. You’re thinking too much.

“I very rarely get accused of that,” he murmured back, stopping her from stripping off his shirt and holding her against his chest. “You want this?”

“I want you, Imzadi, I may be intoxicated--”

“Swimming?” he teased as he felt her lips on the corner of his mouth.

Pulling her own t-shirt off, she dropped it on the floor of her guest quarters and looked past him out over the ocean before Deanna turned back to him and shrugged. “This feels right,” she said simply. Her hair lay in soft curls along her white shoulders and he couldn’t help remembering what it feel like to bury his hands in it. “I don’t know what’s happening in my head but I look at you and it feels right. You feel right.” Her hands slid up his spine, cool beneath his shirt.

Perhaps she was pushing him, maybe he was intoxicated, in the end, it didn’t matter because kissing her resonated within him like a warp coil finally falling into sync. “Deanna-” he protested one last time.

“Shut up.”

With him reaching down to kiss her forehead, Deanna felt him sigh. The weight of his regrets left his body as if something terribly heavy had finally been released. His mind itself felt lighter. Somehow through the haze of neurotransmitters she could hear him better than she had in years, as if the the city had sharpened her connection to him. Maybe it was the sad fact that only Beverly and Will were familiar in this strange universe but her connection to him seemed that much more important.

She wasn’t sure she could have explained it to him, certainly not in the vague mess her mind had turned into. Deanna still wanted to go swimming and she had to push that thought aside to concentrate on Will’s hands. His fingers were making their way down to her trousers and she bit her lip as her fingers found the clasps on the front of his. The uniforms on Atlantis were certainly different than what she was used to. It was almost like making love after a costume party.

Had she ever done that with him? Costume parties didn’t happen nearly enough on the Enterprise, Deanna resolved as she gleefully dragged his trousers down to his hips and pulled him back towards the single bed in her borrowed quarters. It would have been easier to do this on the Enterprise, she mused with her lips on his collarbone. The beds were certainly more comfortable there. His beard tickled her forehead before he brought her up to kiss her again. Quick, cheerful-yet-demanding kisses were part of the impulsive young Will Riker she’d never really gotten over. She liked it. She desperately wanted it because for all his imperfections, Will was part of her.

Perhaps that need was coming from the city. Deanna usually didn’t succumb to feeling lonely. The presence of the other minds around her, the fulfilling nature of her work and her family on the Enterprise had always been enough. Pulling Will into her head was the only thing that felt right.

He pulled his lips away from her searching ones and his eyes widened. If she’d been sober, she never would have been so demanding, Deanna realized slowly. He still looked mildly shell-shocked, as if he’d been told something he’d always considered innocuous had a kick after all.

“I didn’t realize-” he mumbled. His question remained half-formed as his warm fingers roamed over her bare collarbones. “You can?”

Deanna leaned forward and rested her forehead against his as he knelt by her bed. “I’m sorry. I wanted more of you.”

“I forgot,” Will began as he ran his hand up her neck. “Maybe I never knew you could do that.”

Kissing his lips apologetically, Deanna brought his other hand to her thigh. “I don’t, usually.” For some inane reason, she had to stifle a giggle in the back of her throat. “I though you liked determined women.”

“Not all determined women can pull me into their heads,” he admitted sheepishly without moving his hand. Relaxing himself as much as he could, Will tried to let her share his thoughts instead of speaking.

Deanna could barely focus on anything aside from her proximity to him. Will’s silence almost made it easier to think. His hand was on her thigh, the other was cupping the back of her neck and she could feel his beard against the skin of her cheek. The strange scent of Atlantis’ shampoo clung to his hair and the faint scent of brass that frequently clung to him on his off hours was absent. Her eyes caught the mix of feeling in his but her mind could define that better than her sight.

Atlantis was calm. The foreign minds around her went peacefully about their business. Nothing stuck out from the steady background noise of human thought. Beverly was tired, something deeper than that was gnawing at her and Deanna tried to make a mental note to at least convince her friend to get more rest, even if she couldn’t get to the bottom of it. Elizabeth’s mind was another knot of worry. Her concern was centered firmly around Sheppard’s team.

Brushing her mind along Elizabeth’s was like running her hand past an unshielded conduit. The tingling sensation crept over the back of Deanna’s mind and she actually shuddered. Will sighed as if he could share the sensation, then he moved up to kiss her cheek.

His concern was warm and stopped the tingling as easily as he could have moved her hand away from the conduit. His curiosity bubbled just beneath the concern, patient but throughly entranced by her. Deanna moved through that layer only because she had his permission. Normally she would have drawn her strength from him and left his deeper thoughts untouched. Instead she found her way deeper into his mind, winding through the layers of thought as if she were coming down from orbit. Deanna relaxed and allowed him to guide her. Like landing lights, Will’s love for her brought her down.

That feeling had varied in intensity over the years. It ebbed and swelled, patient but constant. They believed his feelings, like hers, were better left that way. A still ocean beneath the clouds of their minds that traveled with them through the stars, mostly unnoticed.

Pulling him in, strengthened and disoriented as she was by her recent communication with the city, had been like a moon crashing into the ocean of his mind. Instead of the pleasant changing of the tide, an emotional tsunami had threatened to drown him. Will, as experience kept reminding her, was an excellent example of the famed resilience of humanity.

The fear in his eyes faded and the clear blue of his irises met hers without hesitation. Instead of pulling him closer, Deanna simply dropped what remained of her shields to him. All of her thoughts, her lingering doubts, her nervousness that both of them had changed too much since their first meeting. Trying to remember how many years it had been since his hands ran their way down her shoulders, she felt the first brush of his mind against hers.

Will’s mind was as gentle as his hands, all of his being was reciprocally consumed with her. He was slow, it had been some time since he’d used the abilities she was asking him to, but his strength had hardly atrophied. She knew it must feel the same way to him as it felt to her, like coming home after a long journey.

Tickling her cheek, Will’s beard was unavoidable as he kissed her. The intoxicating sensation of his lips against hers more than made up for the itching. Bringing her hands up to his hair, she ran the errant lock from the front of his hair between her fingers as she pushed it back. The warm, slightly rough skin of his hands made contact with her back as he reached for the clasp of her bra. Releasing the simple, though unfamiliar, hook and loop fastener only took him a moment.

When she started to giggle, Will looked up from kissing the skin of her now bare shoulder and grinned. Glancing at the now abandoned black bra, he said, “I’m a quick study.”

“You have your subjects,” she murmured back. For some reason, she could feel her lips when he kissed them but struggled to form words whenever she was in charge of them. Wondering if some things just came easier to her muscle memory, Deanna guided him down. His legs parted hers slightly and his torso covered hers. Between Will and the bed, staring up at his reddened lips, she finally felt safe.

Will kissed his way down towards her left breast, teasing before he rolled her up over him. When his fingertips ran over her breast, she shared the pleasure of it with him, projecting it into his mind as her fingers fumbled with his trousers. Will’s steadier fingers slipped down to help her and she nibbled his chest until he chuckled and slid the black borrowed trousers down over his hips.

Moving down his stomach, Deanna passed her hips over his long enough to make him sigh greedily. The shared sensation of blood rushing to his groin made her bite her lip. She grew wet so much faster when she could feel his need as well as her own. She could share with other lovers, but Will was special, unique really, in his ability to convey what he felt. Sex with her imzadi was sex on all levels. She touched his hand and was touched in the same moment.

His right hand passed over her breasts, cupping one before teasing the nipple of the other into a hard, rounded point. The tissues beneath whimpered and grew more desperate in wanting. dropping down to rub against his chest helped ease the ache in her crotch. Will’s fingers ran light across sensitive skin, even through two layers of damning fabric.

Kissing her neck made her moan as his hand wandered over her hip and cupped her ass. Taking off her own trousers was a hell of a lot easier than his had been. Will helped her wriggle free. Her impatient groan made him smile wickedly. Sending him the memory of the two of them wrapped in each other was unfair even if Will couldn’t fully understand the image, the sensation was intense enough to distract him to the point where he bit her lip.

The removal of her panties and his boxer shorts followed too quickly for her to even remember who had removed them. His hands were more dextrous, her own still clouded with residual intoxication, and a moment after Deanna felt the gentle entrance of his fingers, he was inside of her. Grinding her teeth, she groaned and held them both steady.

Breathing continued without her, Will’s hand caught her cheek and his other hand ran across her stomach. Fingers ran across her mind, less tangible than his hands but no less palpable. She sighed, rocking slowly forward before she covered his hand with her own. As she kissed his neck, Deanna heard his voice in her mind, felt his lips against her ear and knew they were connected. Like being caught in the most powerful tractor beam, she was completely drawn in.

Beverly had managed to pretend to sleep, pulling her head away from the all-to-thin wall of the city while Will and Deanna made love. It reminder her of the dorms at Starfleet Academy, when it was hard not to be intimately aware of every visitor her friendly roommate had had. Not that Beverly had been short her own share of company then.

Now it was different. Now the muffled sounds of Deanna’s moaning made her terribly jealous the way her roommate never had. Maybe it was too long since she’d been naked and reckless. She’d been spoiled in her youth by the affectionate, attractive and doting Jack Crusher. After she’d woken up with the sun on her face and his chest pressed against her back, Beverly had known putting up with his atrocious sense of humor would be worth it.

But it was years since Jack had died and left her to raise Wes alone. Turning over in her bed, she moved her legs against the unfamiliar sheets and sighed again. Her son was safe with Geordi and Data, who would never let him avoid his studies, and Jean-Luc who would always look after him as if Wesley was his own. Maybe he was the real reason sleep was avoiding her.

Will and Deanna were quiet now and her too active imagination put Deanna’s dark head in his arms, her eyes closed as she rested on his naked chest. Beverly knew better. She shouldn’t let her imagination violate their privacy, but she liked knowing they were happy.

She was jealous of more than just their sex lives, even though the last time she’d been anywhere close to naked in the arms of a man, she’d been trying to seduce Jean-Luc while under the throes of the Psi-2000 virus. Sometimes, recently late at night, she wished they’d given in. It certainly would have added something to the last three years.

When she finally gave up her bed, her mind was still on Jean-Luc. Would he be able to save them? Rationally she had no idea, but irrationally she expected him to come to her rescue. There were things he needed to know before she disappeared into this universe or any other. Would he look after Wesley? Not just in the physical or mental sense, but really look after his well-being? Would Jean-Luc be able to counsel Wesley through his first broken heart? Would he attend his graduation? Would Wesley ever forgive her for vanishing like his father? What about his first love? His marriage?

Would Jean-Luc look at Wesley’s children as his grandchildren? Should he?
Unable to get his mind to focus on Wesley without turning her stomach into knots, Beverly let her thoughts drift to Jean-Luc, picturing him pacing the bridge gave her something she could focus on that steadied her.

A few moments spent looking out over the starry ocean from one of the many beautiful balconies made her regret not bringing the fleece jacket from her makeshift quarters. Beverly tried to remind herself that the security guard who had trailed her every move was a precaution they would have taken on the Enterprise. Trying to ignore him just made her feel more like a prisoner, so she forced herself to smile in his direction before she headed back into the warmth of the dark city.

Wandering eventually brought her to the only place she knew other than the bay where’d they’d been prisoners. The control room next to the great circle of lights everyone kept calling a ‘Stargate’ was as quiet as the bridge on Gamma shift. It made sense, it had to be some time in the middle of the night. How did they keep time in this city anyway?

Her eyes caught Doctor Weir leaning over the edge of a catwalk and Beverly knew the look on the other woman’s face. Realizing she could at least report what she’d learned from Carson and make herself look less like a sleepwalker, she headed up the steps towards the lonely leader of Atlantis.

“Prettier at night, isn’t it?” Elizabeth asked without turning to meet her. The woman had an uncanny ability to know who was around her. Almost like Jean-Luc, Beverly mused as she tucked her hands into the pockets of her trousers. It was rather nice to have pockets in them, it made her miss her lab coat less.

“It is rather beautiful,” Beverly echoed. “Carson and I compared notes. It’s really quite extraordinary. What has been classified as the ‘Ancient gene’ b your doctors on Earth is actually a genetic predisposition to telepathic activity. According to your brain scans it can be stimulated artificially with a retrovirus in the minds of some people, like Doctor McKay, but it doesn’t take in everyone. Yourself for example.”

Elizabeth’s lips pursed and Beverly saw her knuckles tighten. “You can learn all of that from your tricorder?” she wondered.

Beverly almost laughed and wondered how much they could actually learn from this city with the full power of the Enterprise’s computer banks. “I have had the luxury of a different type of medical training,” she began diplomatically. “Your, Atlantis’s, medical database is more in tune with that.”

Elizabeth nodded once and some of the tension left her shoulders. Beverly could see the concern and guilt appear in her eyes when she made eye contact. “Is Deanna all right?”

“Yes,” Beverly replied with a smirk. “The effect was a fluke. Something in the differences between her neural chemistry and the way she was treated when she arrived here. I don’t foresee any lasting effects, but I’ll keep an eye on her. “

Elizabeth pondered this for a moment before crossing her arms in front of her chest. “I heard she was drugged?”

“Intoxicated,” Beverly corrected. “My theory, and I believe Carson- Doctor Beckett-” she corrected before she violated protocol, “-agrees with me, is that the Ancients were touch telepaths. He told me about an encounter a group known as ‘SG-One’ had with an Ancient woman who was frozen on your Earth.”

“She was able to cure Colonel O’Neill of a plague by touching him,” Elizabeth elaborated.

“Fascinating,” Beverly agreed with a quick nod. “I’d love to see the whole report, or meet an Ancient-”

Elizabeth suddenly smiled and Beverly realized she had an explorer’s heart in common with Jean-Luc as well. “Wouldn’t we all?” She paused for a moment and then apologized. “I’m sorry. You were explaining the concept of touch telepaths.”

“There’s a race in my universe called Vulcans who are touch telepaths. They have remarkable abilities quite different from those the Ancients possessed, but the idea is similar.” Watching Elizabeth’s face, she though the other woman understood. “I’d love to see how many other forms of evolution are paralleled in our universes. Humans are obviously the same. The Goa’uld empire is quite different. We have empires, Klingons and Romulans, but no one race had taken an entire galaxy hostage in my universe. At least, not lately.”

Elizabeth shared her smile. “I have to admit I expected my first aliens to be green.”

“The Asgard are a little more like other species we’re encountered,” Beverly agreed as she wondered if Elizabeth had seen any of this “Star Trek” Carson had been telling her about. “They seem to have developed a similar level and type of technology as most advanced races in my universe. Of course, they’re slipstream hyperdrive is a little more complicated than warp drive.”

Elizabeth raised an eyebrow and pointed towards her office. “I’m not an engineer.”

“Good,” Beverly agreed softly with a rueful grin. “If I have to have another one-sided discussion about the nature of warp drive with your very eager doctor with the accent--”

“Zelenka,” Elizabeth filled in as she sank down and perched on the edge of her desk. The similarities of her office to Jean-Luc’s were in form only, both of them had a desk and a few pieces of art, but with her red shirt and explorer’s manner Elizabeth could easily pass for a Starfleet captain. “I’ll tell him to reign it in.”

“When we contact the Enterprise, I’ll make sure he gets a few hours with Data,” she said. Elizabeth tilted her head and politely waited for Beverly to explain. “Sorry, Data is the one person I think who could keep up with that level of questioning.”

Elizabeth let silence hang between them for a moment. Beverly’s mind wandered back to Jean-Luc and her futile desire to have him come riding to her rescue. It was childish, even foolish but she couldn’t let go of the image of his face. He’d hail the city. Possibly even beam down personally to greet them and welcome the three of them home.

“Is he human?” Elizabeth’s voice startled her.

Beverly stopped and tried to shake herself out of her imaginings. “I’m sorry?”

“Data,” the other woman finished patiently. “Is he human? It doesn’t sound like a human name.”

“He’s an android,” Beverly said waiting for a glimmer of understanding. “A synthetic life form. He’s incredibly complex, capable of processing many types of input at once and at incredible speeds. Though he still can’t whistle to save his life.”

“I hope I get a chance to see your vessel and your universe. It sounds most intriguing,” Elizabeth said. “Aliens, androids, vessels large enough for hundreds of people to live on not just between worlds but as your home. Sounds like a dream really.”

Biting her lip unconsciously, Beverly tried to imagine what it would be like to sudden be faced with that drastic a jump in technology. What would it be like to meet beings who could perform medical miracles? These humans on Atlantis didn’t even have dermal regenerators, laser scalpels, even the primitive but comforting ability to stimulate the regrowth of hair. Remembering Deanna gently trying to form Will’s soft brown hair into the cut it had been before she had removed it to save his life, Beverly shuddered. If she’d only had the technology available to her in Atlantis, Will would have died. If by some miracle Will had survived, he’d be bald. Now his hair was a little shaggy, but certainly nothing Mot wouldn’t be able to fix when they got home.

If they ever went home.

“The Federation is far from perfect,” Beverly offered. Weakly wondering if she should say something else, she sighed and tried to stop herself from biting her lip again. “But we keep trying. Something it seems all humans have in common.”

Elizabeth nodded sagely and the disconnected look on her face made Beverly wonder if she suffered from the same case of distraction. The dark-haired woman seemed gently resigned to her fate, calm in a way that hid her concerns to those who did not know her but made them all too obvious to someone used to the stoic type.

Beverly knew Jean-Luc would do everything in his power to find them. Find her, her mind echoed rebelliously and she found herself again fighting the urge to bite her lip. No amount of nervous destruction of the soft tissues of her mouth would bring her home to him. Her mind locked into a private debate over which him was taking precedence, her son or-- Or what? What was Jean-Luc other than an old, very good friend. He’d been at her wedding. He’d been at the birth of her son. He’d been Jack’s best friend and finally done what Jack couldn’t. On that final mission, Jean-Luc had made it back.

She’d never told him how that much that meant to her. They had never really discussed Jack Crusher’s final mission. Jack’s name could barely come up without a flash of guilt so powerful Beverly could barely handle watching his pain cross his face. So it went unsaid. Her gratitude that she had not had to bury them both remained in a very quiet place in her heart only to resurface each and every time he was in danger. Jean-Luc’s luck had always been worse than Jack’s. Jack could have crashed a shuttle in a blizzard on Rura Pente and landed in the one place with enough geothermal heat to survive. Jean-Luc would crash in the darkest, coldest corner but somehow survive through grit and the skin of his teeth.

She needed that now. Her fantasies wound her up, taking her mind away to a place where breakfast in his quarters suddenly included champagne and a chocolate based dessert that would have made Deanna jealous. She actually let herself wonder what it would be like to see him loose control and actually kiss her. What Shakespearean passion lay in those incredibly controlled lips?

Elizabeth moved at her side and Beverly barely felt the shift of the other woman’s departure. It didn’t matter really, the other woman had her work and she was just starting to get the fantasy right. She’d still be on the transporter platform. Will and Deanna would leave together. He’d stare at her in silence long enough that the technician, probably O’Brien, would get the hint and they’d be alone. She’d make a silly remark and he wouldn’t hear it as he crossed the room and slowly took her head in his hands. It would be the most delayed kiss of her life, the quietest, slow-burning, most overdue--


The voice that interrupted her thoughts was distinctly not Jean-Luc’s and she immediately resented it.

“Doctor Crusher?” The tenacious voice was Elizabeth’s.

“Yes?” She tried to bury her annoyance and hang onto her ridiculous fantasy in the same moment. Both thoughts proved fairly slippery.

“Forgive me,” Elizabeth said. The apology wasn’t important. The look of sheer wonder and the amazement glinting in her eyes, those were what mattered. “I think you need to hear this.”


Elizabeth’s small smile of triumph reminded her so much of Jean-Luc’s explorer grin that her heart leapt and twisted in the same moment. “We’re not sure. We can’t understand the message. Our technology isn’t as good as yours but I believe we’re being hailed.”

and on to the second half
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