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The Healing Arts

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Chief Operations Officer’s Log

Stardate 41244995.6

06:12h - COO has the conn.  Stolen Cardassian vessel with approximately two dozen Bajoran refugees inside, encountered just outside of Sector 773.44 Alpha.  The group appears to have escaped brutal treatment at the hands of Gul B’amorek; Enterprise will be offering aid and attempt to contact the Bajoran government to arrange their safe return.  This officer is pleased to report that between the skills of our Chief Medical Officer and ship’s counselor, this group of refugees will be treated by what is easily the finest trauma team in the fleet.

 

***

 

Deanna’s comm badge chirped.  

She mumbled and shifted against Beverly’s warm body, hoping she could remain on the right side of semi-consciousness for a few moments more.  

It chirped again.  “Data to Counselor Troi,” it insisted.

She sighed, lifted her head, and reached over Beverly’s waist to tap it.  “Yes, Data?” she asked sleepily.

“I apologize for waking you, Counselor, but we are receiving Bajoran refugees from a Cardassian prison camp, and will require your assistance in trauma assessment.”

She woke up a bit more.  “Alright, Data.  Where should I report to?”

“They are being brought in by shuttlecraft to Shuttle Bay 3, and from there escorted to Sick Bay.”

Beverly stirred at the words “sick bay”.  Her eyes snapped open.

“Alright.  I’ll meet them at the shuttle bay.”

“We’ll send a security team to assist you.”

“No phasers,” Deanna said firmly.  She felt Beverly’s urgency, tickling up her nerves like skittery fingers, and caught her eye.  “And we’ll want medical personnel as well.”

“Of course.”  

“When do they arrive?”

“In fifteen minutes.”

“Alright, Data.  Troi out.”   She tapped her comm badge again.

Beverly sat up in bed, visibly annoyed.  “He calls you before he calls me?  It’s not as if I have a sick bay to prep or anything.”

Deanna kissed her on the cheek.  “I’m sure he already called Nurse Ogawa and told her to start preparing–”

Beverly’s comm, sitting beside Deanna’s on the nightstand, burbled cheerfully.  “Data to Doctor Crusher.”

Deanna smirked.

Beverly arched an eyebrow and answered.  “Crusher.  Let me guess.  You need me in Shuttle Bay 3.”

Data paused awkwardly.  Deanna punched her shoulder.  Beverly had a sudden look of mischief in her eye.  Deanna just shook her head.  She could turn her mood on a dime, and thank god for it, because Beverly’s bad moods could chafe at the back of Deanna’s neck like sandpaper.  The doctor’s sudden playfulness took shape in Deanna’s belly, warm and a little itchy, but not unpleasant.

“Er, yes, that’s correct,” Data confirmed, sounding surprised.

“Counselor Troi alerted me to the situation,” she explained breezily, that devilish little smile playing around her lips.

“I see,” Data answered, his tone sounding like he clearly felt he was missing something.

Alerted me, Deanna thought, stifling a chuckle.  As in, I was in bed with her when you called two seconds ago.

“I assume,” she went on sternly, “that you’ve already contacted Nurse Ogawa in Sick Bay and instructed her to prep for their arrival?”

“Naturally,” the android responded, sounding as close as he ever came to offended.  Which was not terribly close, but close enough for Deanna to hear it.

Satisfied, Beverly nodded.  “Good.  I’ll coordinate with her and meet the team in the shuttle bay in fifteen minutes.”

“Very good, Doctor.  Data out.”

Deanna pursed her lips at Beverly.  “You know, that wasn’t terribly discreet.”

Beverly’s eyes twinkled.  “I know.”  She sighed and stroked her fingers lightly over Deanna’s cheek.  Beverly Crusher wasn’t an empath but she could certainly read the concern on her girlfriend’s face.  “But I’m getting a little tired of sneaking around.”

Deanna nodded.  “I know.  I am too.  And we need to talk about it.  But... not now.”  She threw off the covers, and felt Beverly watching her appreciatively as she slid into her uniform.  “And stop staring at my behind,” she scolded over her shoulder, giving her a playful smile.

 

*****

 

It was the kind of job they were made to do together.  Their complementary skills -- physical healing and emotional healing -- went hand in hand; they helped each other to determine when a wounded body was ready to talk about its suffering, or when a wounded soul was ready to accept treatment for its physical damages.  Trauma victims like refugees were often so frightened and distrustful that they would refuse necessary treatment because they feared it to be a trick, a mockery, an attempt to inflict more damage.  In the case of the Cardassians, many of the Bajorans in their camps had been experimented on and had to be guided back, with much hand-holding, to allowing anyone with medical instruments within ten meters of them.

It was some of the most draining work there was for Deanna, because she had techniques for blunting the impact of difficult emotions, but in order to help the suffering, she had to minimize her use of them.  But Beverly was there, and even when the stress levels were high, she had a level head, a calm surefootedness that Deanna was able to hang onto.  It kept her steady through the waves of fear, pain, and loneliness that she waded through, waist-deep, in a room like this.

After working for nearly an hour with one particularly traumatized Bajoran child, Deanna was physically shaken.  She managed to make her way over to Beverly, who was treating a woman with a leg injury sustained running during their escape attempt.  Beverly finished setting the bone and instructed Nurse Ogawa to administer hydropropolene and place the leg in suspension and monitoring, and then turned to Deanna and took her hand gently.  “Are you alright?”

Deanna nodded, but she could feel that the color had drained from her cheeks and if she were any shakier, she knew she’d have to sit down.

In the background, Nurse Ogawa began executing Beverly’s treatment plan while Beverly took Deanna’s arm, gazing at her with concern.  

She had no basis for comparison for what it would be to live without it, because she had always felt other people’s emotions, but she found in her life that she gravitated toward the ones whose emotions felt good in her body.  Joy was joy and was always recognizable as joy, but Captain Picard’s joy felt different from her mother’s joy.  Captain Picard’s felt like trumpets blaring in her chest; her mother’s felt like confetti tingling in her extremities.  Anger was anger was anger, but Geordi’s anger felt like coals in her stomach, while Worf’s anger felt like needles in her feet.  And love was love, but heaven knew that everyone’s love felt different, and it was Beverly’s love that felt best.  Beverly’s love blazed like sunshine, it was as sustaining as air, it was a bubbling spring alive in her, from her gut to the top of her head.  It was solid as earth and felt substantial, like she could hold it in the palms of her hands and feel its weight.

She needed it now.  She needed it to right herself.  Beverly’s hands held her under her forearm and she leaned down, touching her forehead to Deanna’s.  “Are you alright?” she asked, and she was not only asking as the chief medical officer, but as the woman who loved her as fiercely as anyone ever had.  Deanna knew that, because she could feel it.

Deanna shook her head.  “I’m sorry.  That last one took a lot out of me.”

Beverly continued to hold her arm.  “Can I do anything?”

“You’re doing it,” Deanna answered.  Just standing in Beverly’s presence, having her touch, and feeling her care and love focused directly on her was replenishing her reserves.  

“I know these are difficult for you,” Beverly whispered gently.  “No one will look askance if you need to take a break.”

Deanna shook her head.  “No, I’m feeling better just standing here with you.”

Beverly put a hand on Deanna’s shoulder.  “This patient doesn’t seem to be as bad as some of the others,” she told her hopefully.  “She may not need much.”

“Thank you,” Deanna whispered.

“Nonsense,” Beverly retorted, though her tone was soft.  “That boy wouldn’t have let us treat him if you hadn’t gotten through to him.”

Deanna stayed close enough to Beverly to feel those warm surges of affection and concern, coursing through her, finding her strength in them.

“I love you,” she whispered in Deanna’s ear.

Deanna smiled.  “I know.”

“Even empaths need to hear it.”  Beverly gave her a wink.  “Are you alright?”

Deanna nodded.  “Yes.  I think I can keep going now.”

Beverly moved on to the next case, a young man with some burns from an energy weapon.  

Deanna sat down next to the woman's bed and looked at her gently.  "How are you feeling?"

She looked at Deanna with an almost-blank expression.  "Better now that my leg is set.  Whatever she gave me for the pain is pretty good."

Deanna smiled.  "Yes, she's one of the best medical chiefs in the fleet.  But that wasn't what I meant."

The woman looked quizzical.

"My name's Deanna, and I'm the ship's counselor.  I usually help with the emotional side of trauma in situations like these."  She glanced at the glowing screen above the woman's head and caught her name.  "Binda," she pressed again, "we've gotten the overview of events from some of the others in your group, but is there anything about your experiences that you want to talk about?"

Binda shook her head.  But after a long pause, she added, "I lost my husband, but that was almost a month ago."

Deanna said, "I'm sorry," and meant it.  The woman’s grief didn't feel fresh, but it was undeniably there, and strong, even muffled as it was. Bajorans did stoicism like few others; they were not cerebral, like Vulcans, who did their utmost to not appear to even have emotions, but rather, they let you know that they were bearing their pain but not letting it stop them, and they tended to be rather proud of it.  

Binda gave her a sad half-smile.  "I've had some time to get used to it.  He tried to escape in a small scouting pod to go get help, but they blew him out of the sky,"  she sighed. "You're very lucky to have your wife with you.  You seem like a good team, just like Joren and I were."

Deanna's stomach dropped through the floor. "I beg your pardon?"

Binda gestured toward Beverly, who was treating those burns two cots down.  "You and the doctor, you seem very... well matched.  More than just loving each other, you work well together."  Seeing Deanna's stricken look, she frowned.  "I'm sorry, I wasn't trying to be rude.  Did I offend you?"

Deanna slowly realized that she was referring to Beverly as her wife.  That a perfect stranger looked at them, at the way they interacted together, and did not even question her assumption that they were a married couple.  She'd recognized the bond they shared as being similar to the one she'd shared with her husband.  Her head started to ache.

"No," she said, giving her a tense smile, "not at all."  She paused awkwardly.  "How did you conclude that we were married?"

Binda shrugged.  "I have nothing to do but sleep, and watch the room.  And there is never a moment where you both don't know where the other is.  I've seen you a couple of times know what the other wanted without  either of you saying anything.  And, also..." She smirked a little.  "The ‘I love you’ kind of gave it away."

"You heard that?"

"Well, saw it," Binda chuckled.  "I can read lips pretty well.  You learn all sorts of unusual skills fighting in a resistance."

Deanna cleared her throat.  "If.... If you're alright, I'm going to step out for a break.  I’ll check on you a bit later."

*****

 

Deanna managed to go back and see the few remaining refugees before clearing the rest of her schedule and retiring for the night.  

Beverly was still down in sick bay, and Deanna had to remind herself that Beverly's job, no matter how challenging and how much of herself she gave it, was not going to drain her in quite the same way that Deanna's job did to her.  She heard from Beverly a little later; she was meeting with the captain to brief him, and assured her that she could speak for both of them, since she knew without being told that Deanna was too wrung out.  She thanked Beverly, and crawled off into a sonic shower, where she stood leaning with her forehead against the wall, letting the pulsating waves drum through her body.

She asked the replicator for a hot chocolate, curled up in a chair with a blanket, and closed her eyes.  Their stories were still banging around in her head, their emotions, still sticking to her nerves, though not as badly as before.

Her comm badge chirped.  "Ogawa to Troi."

Deanna sighed heavily.  "Troi.  Go ahead."

"I'm sorry to bother you, but we have a distraught female patient here, and... And she keeps insisting she wants to talk to, uh... Doctor Crusher's ... um, wife?".  An awkward pause.  "Do you know what she's talking about?"

Deanna sighed again.  "Yes, I believe she assumed me to be the doctor's spouse, for some reason.  She seemed too exhausted for me to bother with that conversation."  A tiny lie.

Ogawa clearly swallowed a chuckle.  "Alright, well, Mrs. Crusher, the patient Jai Binda is looking for you."

 

*******

 

Binda was sitting propped up in her cot, weeping.  Ogawa had tried multiple times to offer her a sedative but she refused it.  “I don’t need drugs,” she said raggedly.  Her eyes lifted when Deanna entered the room.

There it was, she thought, feeling Binda’s grief twisting knots in her gut.  There was the sadness that she’d not allowed herself to feel until now, the pain and emptiness of Joren’s absence.  She knew that if she suddenly had Beverly taken from her, it would feel no different.  She approached cautiously.  “Binda, did you want to talk to me?”

Binda looked up, her eyes rimmed with red.  “I’m sorry, Deanna, I know you’ve had a very long day, but I... “  She broke down for a moment.  

Deanna placed a careful hand on her back.  “It’s alright.  You miss Joren.  You didn’t leave yourself room to feel that while you were still captured, but now that you’re safe...”

“That’s part of it,” Binda sniffled.  “But seeing you and the doctor today, it reminded me so much of Joren and me.  It reminded me of what we had even before the war, and then during it...”

Deanna wrestled for a moment, wondering whether she would ease or aggravate Binda’s grief to explain to her that she and Beverly were not married, or whether it was even relevant.

“It’s going to take time, Binda, to get used to living without him,” she soothed after a moment.  “And you should leave yourself the room to feel grief like you do now.  It’s not only normal, it’s necessary to heal.”  She put an arm around her and let her sob on her shoulder for a while.

She tried to blunt the impact of Binda’s sadness on her, but Deanna was too worn out to hold up very well.  Once she had gotten Binda calmed enough to sleep, she stumbled from sick bay,  and dragged herself back to quarters and collapsed on the bed.  A few moments later, the door chirped.  “Mmmmph?”  was the best Deanna could manage.

“It’s Bev.”

“Come in.”

Beverly found her sprawled face down on the bed, and without another word, settled in beside her and placed an arm around her waist.  She immediately felt that warmth, that wellspring, that bottomless sunshine that was Beverly’s love.  She felt it course through her frayed nerves, mending them, felt it breathe across her skin.  

Beverly Crusher wasn’t an empath, but she didn’t need to be told that Deanna needed to have her hair released from its pins, needed to be gently undressed, needed to be quietly held.  Deanna was so much smaller than Bev that she was almost always little spoon, and she lay for a long, silent stretch with Beverly’s long frame curled around her.  Deanna felt herself ease into her, relaxing, healing.

“I love you,” she sighed after a long while.

“I know.”  She could hear the smile in Beverly’s voice.  

“Can we be closer, please?” she asked.

Beverly shifted in the bed and scrambled out of her uniform, and then settled in again, this time skin to skin, stroking the thick, dark waves of Deanna’s hair.  Deanna could see in her mind the sight of their hair, black and crimson, mingling on the pillow.  It felt like home.

They had never had to confess their love to each other.  Deanna had felt it growing, from the time it was a tiny little glimmer in Beverly’s heart, and Beverly knew that Deanna felt it growing, because they were close enough friends that she already knew that Deanna experienced everything else she felt.  Even when it was small, so small that Beverly didn't even register its presence, Deanna had felt it, and even then, it had felt good.  And Deanna was always drawn to those whose emotions felt good in her body.

She felt soft kisses on her bare shoulder, the back of her neck.  Beverly's long, sensitive fingers gently tracing her waist, her hip, down to rest on her thigh.  The physical comfort blended so seamlessly with the emotional; when Beverly was wholly focused on Deanna and curled up naked next to her, as she was now, summer took hold of her insides.  The bright warmth in her chest, the mellow green of new grass in her lungs as she breathed the doctor's scent, the cool bubbling feel of clear water rushing up from her toes to the top of her head.

At length, she spoke.  "How long has it been?"

"What?"

"Us.  How long has this... have we...?"

Beverly smiled.  "Depends on how you count it, but it's been six years of friendship, about a year of wanting more, and then nearly another year of ...having it."

Deanna thought.  It had been a long while of knowing each other before their love had grown into this.  A long time of learning each other's strengths and weaknesses, a long time of discovering when to reach out and when to back off, a long time of unconsciously molding themselves to fit each other.  Beverly had been reluctant to follow where her feelings had led her at first; it wasn’t that she took issue with same-sex relationships in the abstract, not any more than she did interspecies relationships.  It simply didn’t fit with her self-image and the way things had always been for her in the past.  But Deanna had been patient, meeting love with love and feeding it, knowing that what was growing in her friend’s heart would soon enough become insistent upon itself.  And what a return for her investment; what a beautiful thing they’d grown.

"Why do you ask?”

Deanna turned over on her other side to face Beverly, and smiled tiredly at her.  “Because Jai Binda thinks I’m your wife.”

Beverly was confused.  “Jai Binda?  The patient with the broken leg?”

Deanna nodded.  “Yes.”

“Why?”

“Because she was watching us all day today in sickbay.  She said we reminded her of the way she and her husband used to interact before he was killed.”  Deanna smiled and, with a bit of effort, raised her hand to tangle it in Beverly’s crimson hair.  “So much so that she didn’t even ask if we were married, she simply assumed it.”

Beverly cleared her throat.  “Well, that’s a bit awkward.”

Deanna nodded again.  “Yes.  I... didn’t bother to disabuse her of that idea, though.  It seemed that being reminded of him was something she needed to go through.”

Beverly looked at her a long time.  Deanna could feel the sway and pull of feelings that her lover was sorting through, and let her take a moment to sift through them.  

“Do you suppose the rest of the crew is simply being polite about this?  I really thought we were being pretty discreet.”

Deanna shook her head.  “I don’t think they are.  I think that they simply know us a certain way and that it’s never occurred to them to see us differently.  Any small evidence we might leave doesn’t compute with how they know us, so they simply dismiss it."

"Except Guinan."

"Except Guinan."  Guinan was the only one aboard the Enterprise who was aware of their relationship, a secret she could be trusted to keep but didn't think she should have to.

Beverly thought this over for a moment.  “Why have we been keeping this a secret, again?”

Deanna sighed.  “We’re senior officers.  We don’t want to appear compromised.  You needed time to incorporate it into the way you thought of yourself without having to field a lot of questions from other people that you couldn't answer.  I had concerns that it might be difficult for Will to accept.  We had plenty of good reasons.”  But her tone hung at the end of that sentence.  She wanted to say more.

“But?”

“But a complete stranger looked at us today and read us like a book.  Not just that we were together, but that we … do you know what she said?”

“Tell me.”

“She said, there’s never a time when you and I aren’t aware of where each other are in the room.  That she saw us many times know exactly what the other wanted without saying anything.  That it was more than love, it was… we were a good team.”

Beverly went soft … her eyes, the feelings that flooded into Deanna’s chest, became incredibly soft.  “We are,” she whispered.  “And I don't want to hide it anymore.”

Deanna kissed her, and their bodies melted together.  “Are you sure? I don’t want you to do something you’re not ready for.”

“I can’t imagine my life without this,” Beverly murmured between kisses.  

“I can’t either,” Deanna agreed.

“I want to dance with you in Ten Forward,” Beverly went on, her hands sliding up Deanna’s back and tangling in her thick, black locks.  "I'm tired of Guinan giving us that look when everyone else is dancing and we're not dancing together."  

“I know."  Deanna kissed her again.  "I want you to be my date at weddings."

“I'll be your date at weddings.”

“Thank you.”

“But not Betazoid weddings because I’m not fond of being naked in public.”

Deanna laughed, throwing a leg over Beverly’s hip and sliding herself closer.  “Fine.”

“I want a picture of us together on my desk.”

“Yes.”  Deanna felt flooded with relief, with joy, and anxious excitement.  And only half of it was hers.  "You know what else I’d like?  I’d like to wake up next to you every day."

"Every day?"

“Every day.”

“Sounds good,” Beverly agreed.  "And breakfast together."

"Breakfast," Deanna concurred, kissing her again.  "And vacations.  I want shore leaves together.  Somewhere romantic, like Castra."

"Oh, goodness, yes.  I even," Beverly said, mischief in her tone, leaning in for another kiss, "want to tolerate your mother."

Deanna laughed.  "No, you don't.  But I appreciate the thought."

They stopped, realizing they'd gotten carried away.  "Do you really want to move in together?" Beverly asked.

"Of course.  I wouldn't have said it if I didn't."

Their kisses became deeper, and Deanna felt that low flame kindle in her stomach, the feeling of Beverly's desire rising in her.  Her hands knew the spot on her lover’s lower back that got sweet sighs when it was stroked, and her mouth knew the ways that her neck and breasts enjoyed being kissed.  She could feel before Beverly spoke what parts of her were craving a touch or a kiss.

It almost seemed unfair that anything she did to give her imzadi pleasure was reflected back to her in her own senses, but when she expressed this, Bev just laughed.  “Don’t you think it works just the same for me?”

“Well, no… you don’t have the same empathic abilities, and…”

"If you think I don't get pleasure out of pleasing you, you're out of your mind."

“I didn’t say that, I know you do,” Deanna objected, “it’s just–”

She caught her breath as Beverly eased a leg in between Deanna’s thighs and pressed against her sex, pressing softly, moving easily back and forth until she got a quiet little moan from her.

A pleased, naughty, tender grin.  “See? I don’t need to be in your head to enjoy what that does for you.”

Deanna flushed and kissed the doctor warmly, and lay still for a moment while those sensitive physician’s hands roamed her body and gently stroked her tender places.  Their two bodies rearranged themselves, moving against each other until they found that soft rhythm of shared pleasure, hands roving each other’s skin, kissing with intensity that ebbed and flowed.  Deanna knew when to push forward, and when to wait, when to press in, when to ease off.  It was their favorite way to make love; side by side, face to face, evenly matched, able to stroke each other’s face and hair, look in each other’s eyes.  

“Imzadi,” Deanna whispered, holding back her own climax until she could feel they were both close.

“This is perfect,” Beverly sighed, “it’s perfect.”  

They finished together in a symphony of tremors, Deanna feeling the waves of mirrored affection, passion, satisfaction and love washing back and forth between them.  She always felt as though she would drown when they came together, feeling her own orgasm, and Beverly’s, and Beverly’s thrill at watching her… It was almost too much to fit in her body, her nerves, her heart.  But it was too good.  She would never trade it.

They nestled together in the bed and drew the thin blanket over themselves.

"There are a few conversations, private ones, that we both need to have," Deanna sighed after a long quiet and a few sweet, gentle kisses. She was thinking of the captain, and of Wesley, who had not been seen in some time, and Will Riker, her friend and former lover who had never quite gotten over her, despite the fact that his first love would always be Starfleet.

"But," Beverly added, "they'll happen.”

 

****

 


“You could have told me that you weren’t married,” Binda scolded Deanna as they sat together at the bar in Ten Forward.  Will and a few of the guys and gals from Engineering had put together a six-piece jazz combo and they were in the far corner by the window, swinging a fierce little number that was tearing up the floor.  It had been a week since they picked up the refugees and Binda was beset with cabin fever and hobbling around the ship.

Deanna smiled with a little embarrassment.  “It didn’t matter at the moment.  And you weren’t wrong about the way we feel about each other – we just aren’t married.”

“Yet,”  Beverly interjected, finishing a tumbler of whiskey sour and tugging at Deanna’s hand.  “Come on.”

Will hadn’t been sorry to hear about their coupling, and was in fact thrilled to see the look on Deanna’s face when she talked about it.  He’d always felt somewhat guilty that he hadn’t been able to give her the kind of commitment she deserved, and was pleased that she had been able to find it in someone else, let alone someone he approved of so highly.  “It makes so much sense,” he’d exulted.  “I’d never have thought of it before, but there’s something kind of right about it.”

Guinan leaned across the bar.  “Come on, Counselor, I’ve been waiting a year to watch you two cut a rug.”

Deanna smiled and set down her wine.  “Alright, alright.”  

And then there she was.  There they were.  In the midst of an uproarious knot of Starfleet crew members letting off steam together.  Beverly was one of the best dancers on the ship, and she really knew this music, so as long as Deanna relaxed and followed her, they were by far the hottest couple on the floor.  She was aware of a few surprised looks but certainly no consternation, and after a year of going out of her way to pretend not to wish she was out here with her flame-haired imzadi, here she was. 

“See?”  Beverly whispered into her ear she spun her around easily and then drew her back in.  “Nobody cares.”

The band kicked into something slow, and a petite, dark-skinned girl from Security got up on the microphone.  She sang in a low, smooth alto, a very old song that Deanna was sure she’d heard before:

“At last…. my love has come along,
My lonely days are over
And life is like a song
At last...The skies above are blue
My heart was wrapped up in clover
The night I looked at you…”

 

Deanna caught Will’s eye over Bev’s shoulder.  Above his puffed-out cheeks and his lips that were puckered against the trombone, his eyes twinkled at her.  She knew what he was saying, This one’s for you.

She closed her eyes and rested her chin on Beverly’s shoulder, relaxed against her warmth, swayed with it.  “What did you mean, yet?” she asked as the band pulsed away, slow, muscular, and sexy.

“I think it’s pretty clear what I meant,” the doctor murmured back, drawing her closer.

They were quiet for a long moment, moving together, guided by the music, and Deanna awash in that feeling, that moment of sparkle and glow and breezes and green grass taking hold of her insides.  

“You know I want to,” Bev added after a moment.  “I know you can feel that.”

“I can.”

“Well?...Do you?”

It felt easy.  It felt comfortable.  It felt right.  These were the arms she was meant to be in.  This long body was the one she was meant to be wrapped in, this woman’s bright eyes and brisk humor and quick temper were the sparks that lit summer in her soul and were meant to keep it there.  “Yes, I do.”

 

“...I found a dream, that I could speak to
A dream that I can call my own
I found a thrill to press my cheek to
A thrill that I have never known...”

 

“Then… let’s.”

Deanna nodded.  It was still strange to be out in public as a couple but she didn’t care.  She tilted her head back, stood on her toes, and leaned into a sweet, warm kiss.  They were grinning against each other’s lips in the middle of the dance floor.

“Do you think we’d be here right now if a perfect stranger hadn’t looked at us and seen us for what we were?”  Beverly asked.

Deanna smiled.  “I don’t know.  But we should invite her to the wedding.”

 

“You smiled, you smiled
Oh and then the spell was cast
And here we are in heaven
for you are mine...
….At Last”

 

As if it had been politely waiting for the final notes of the song to stop ringing out, Beverly’s comm badge burbled cheerily at this moment.  “Data to Doctor Crusher.”

She tapped it.  “Go ahead, Data.”

“We’ve encountered a damaged single-occupant Cardassian scouting pod with one Bajoran refugee aboard.  He appears to be in very poor condition.  May I have him beamed directly to sick bay?”

“Of course, Data.  And… I’m with Counselor Troi, I’ll bring her with me.”

“Very well, Doctor.”

They looked at each other and sighed.  “Duty calls,”  Beverly remarked dryly.

“Duty calls,” Deanna agreed.  They made a good team.  A great team.

 

****

 

Chief Medical Officer’s Log

Stardate 41244996.03

21:23h - Bajoran patient recovered from Cardassian scouting pod.  Few injuries, but badly malnourished and space-sick.  Patient reports hiding in a the pod for almost a month, trying to wait things out in an asteroid field near the Cardassian outpost he’d escaped from,  moving his damaged craft through the floating hunks of rock slowly enough to avoid attracting attention from the Cardassian fleet.  He’d nearly been discovered countless times.  Patient is exhibiting symptoms of starvation and stress including loss of weight and muscle, and presents as slightly delirious from trying to stretch out the water supply in the pod to last far longer than it was meant to be stretched.  Under the circumstances, he’s surprisingly lucid.  And most importantly, he is alive.  According to his own somewhat broken reports, which are corroborated by the pod’s navigational systems, by a stroke of luck, the fleet had been mobilized to engage somewhere in the Mutara system and he was able to get out of sensor range and send out a distress signal, which the Enterprise had picked up.

His name is Jai Joren.