Disclaimer: I don't own anything, I'm just borrowing things for a while and I promise I'll put everything back exactly how I found it when I've finished. Well, almost exactly how I found it. ;)
I watch her, surreptitiously, of course, but still I watch. To be overt about it would not do; for anyone else, perhaps, but not for me. I must remain discreet, I must hide my feelings and my true intentions behind a mask of calm, underneath an exterior of command.
It hasn't always been this way. There was a time when we could discuss our feelings openly with one another. There was a time…well, more than one time when things between us were…different. We were closer, in more ways than one.
Our friendship, such as it is, has grown and changed and taken many different directions over the years. On occasion, a romantic relationship has easily been within our grasp, and both of have wanted to reach out to grasp it. Sometimes I wish it was so easy.
On the one hand, we deserve the happiness love would bring, and I don't say that with an iota of egotism. It's the simple truth. We deserve it as much as Worf and Jadzia, Will and Deanna…especially Will and Deanna. I don't think two people deserve happiness more than those two, but they still haven't achieved it. What does that say about the good doctor and myself?
She's sat beside me now, on the bridge of the *Enterprise.* Counselor Troi and Commander Riker are…somewhere. I have a strong suspicion that they are both on some down time and that, if I cared to check, I would find them using the same holodeck. I wish them luck.
"Is something wrong, Captain?"
I blink, wondering what Beverly is talking about. Then I realise I'm doing it again. I'm watching her, without even realising it. I smile and shake my head. "Nothing, Doctor."
Beverly simply inclines her head, but she knows as well as I do that I'm lying through my teeth. It's not something I enjoy doing, but it is an unfortunate necessity in our situation. I am the captain of a starship, and not just any ship; the flagship of the fleet. She is the ship's doctor, and one of its most senior officers. Starfleet does not forbid relationships between its personnel, but when a captain is involved, they certainly frown upon it.
I can feel it starting, the headache just behind my eyes, and the way it's throbbing, it won't be going away any time soon. Now would be the perfect time to retreat to my ready room; I think that's just what I'll do. I'm not needed on the bridge; we're conducting routine sweeps, which the crew are more than capable of handling without me.
"You have the bridge, Doctor," I say, rising and heading off the bridge.
Beverly stands also. "Yes, Captain," she replies, but I can feel her eyes on me, watching.
As I reach my ready room door, I turn and our eyes lock. As we stare at each other, I know Beverly can tell I'm running away, so to speak. And I think she knows why. For a fraction of a second, her face softens and I can tell she's feeling the same frustrations over our constrictions that I am.
The moment passes as she moves to my chair and faces resolutely forward, staring at the view screen, watching the stars fly by. I retreat to my sanctuary and do the same. Usually to inkiness of space soothes me, but not today. Weary with the hopelessness of having love right in front of me and not being able to reach forward and grasp it, I settle into my chair and try to catch up on my reading.
After a while, I hear the chimes announcing someone's presence outside the room. "Come," I say, and the doors open.
Beverly walks in, her hands clasped in front of her, and she's avoiding my gaze. She walks over to the replicata and orders a drink. She then carries it over to me.
"What is this for?" I ask, curious and ever-so-slightly amused.
But Beverly doesn't speak. She puts the drink on my desk, then rounds it and leans against it, very close to me. She looks at me now, and I can see pain in her eyes, something I never wanted to see.
"Beverly," I start to say quietly, but she stops me with a gentle finger on my lips. Her hand then moves to caress my cheek, and I find myself leaning into her palm. There is a faint scent assaulting my nostrils, something that is uniquely Beverly, and for a moment, I find the peace I was looking for.
When I hear the door chimes, I jump, startled. I was dreaming. The memory I carry with me of one of the last missions of the *Enterprise-D* haunts me more frequently now; it was the last time Beverly and I shared a kiss. The last time we were even remotely close.
The chimes sound again, and I realise someone is waiting patiently for me to respond. Taking a second to make sure I reveal nothing of what I'm thinking, I say, "Enter."
Beverly walks in, but her hands are by her sides and she's looking right at me. "Commander Data has returned to the bridge, Captain. Do you want him to take over?" Beverly asks.
"Yes. Thank you, Doctor," I reply, then before I can stop myself, I add, "Unless you would like to stay on the bridge."
"No reason to now," she says, turning to leave.
*No reason to now.* Perhaps I am not the only one who has been watching. There was no reason for Beverly to be on the bridge in the first place, really, unless….
Beverly looks at me curiously. "Yes?"
I have a brief debate with myself and luckily, I win. I stand and walk towards her. "If I ask you a question, Beverly, will you answer me honestly?"
She smiles. "Of course, Jean-Luc."
First name usage. That's always a good sign. "Why were you on the bridge?"
Beverly's smile turns weary. "I think you already know the answer."
To spend time with me. It was what I first thought and now I am certain. I don't need to voice the answer; it isn't necessary. What is needed, however, is a course of action, one that will hopefully prevent any further look of pain in Beverly's eyes.
"I have been thinking about our…about out 'situation'," I say carefully.
"Really? What about it?" she asks.
"I would like to change it."
Beverly's expression turns immediately wary and probably without even realising it, she moves away from me. "How?"
But I smile, trying to reassure her. "Have breakfast with me again," I say, reaching out for her hand. "Perhaps not every morning, but sometimes." I lace my fingers with hers, pleased when she doesn't move away. "I enjoy spending time with you, Beverly."
"And I with you, Jean-Luc, but is this a wise idea?" she asks, moving closer to me again.
"I have been known to make the odd bad decision," I reply, my face straight but a smile in my eyes.
Beverly nods in agreement. "Yes, you have."
"Is this one of them?"
"I don't think so."
"Your opinion is all that matters in this situation," I say quickly. I know what would have followed that sentence, but it really is nobody else's business what we do with our time.
"Tomorrow morning, eight o'clock, my quarters," Beverly replies with a smile. Then she leans forward and kisses my cheek. "Now I have to get back to sickbay."
"Of course, Doctor," I say, releasing her hand.
But before she leaves, Beverly turns and looks at me, her eyes sparkling with mischief. "Does this mean you're going to stop watching me?"
My answer is instantaneous and sincere. "Never."
"Good," Beverly says quietly.
In the silence that follows her departure, I'm filled with a sense of hope and for now, I am content to let the future unfold as it wishes. As long as I have hope, I have the strength to carry on.