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When You Smiled

by Catherine Ellis

Rating : Any age

Summary :This short story is set at the start of Season 3 of the TNG when Beverly has just returned to the Enterprise after a year away.



Picard gave a sigh of relief as the door of his quarters closed behind him. His duty-shift hadn't been particularly difficult - just busy. Even during lunch there had been a constant stream of visitors and reports to deal with. Not that a lighter load would have changed his behaviour; his strict rules of self-discipline didn't allow wallowing in personal issues while on duty. On most days such temptations never arose, years of practice had enabled him to push aside such thoughts for later consideration. By the time he reached the privacy of his quarters, what had seemed exciting or alarming five hours before would often have become a mere curiosity.

It wasn't like that today. The incident that had sparked an emotional response was still as intriguing now as it had been early that morning. The meeting of the senior officers had ended and his colleagues were leaving the Observation Lounge ahead of him. Dr Crusher had turned his way just she reached the door and given him a fleeting smile that was etched in his memory; even recalling the sight made his heart and his body react. He blew out a long breath and stroked a hand over his head.

"Computer - tea, Earl-Grey hot ... No, belay that, make it a glass of dry white wine."

The replicator obliged with a synthahol version of the real thing. Picard test-sipped the liquid then took the glass to the window and stared out.

"What the hell are you thinking of, Picard, She's your Friend's widow and one of your senior officers. You're just pleased she's back and that Pulaski woman has gone."

One part of his mind might have been saying these words, however the other part was remembering her smile and didn't agree.

"She's a beautiful woman, I'll admit that, but there are other attractive women on the ship. You enjoy looking at them without overreacting, surely you can do the same with Beverly?"

No he couldn't.

It wasn't the same. With the others it was purely physical, a brief dalliance would satisfy his need. He wasn't interested in an on-going relationship. That being the case he had reasoned 'why bother with a human partner when a hologram will do'. With Beverly it was different - he felt possessive about her, he wanted to please her both physically and emotionally and when she smiled at him that morning ... he'd believed she wanted that too.

He shut his eyes and let himself live in the fantasy. Beverly sharing his quarters, joining him at the end of every day; right now she would be in their washroom, he need only stroll over and she would instruct him to strip and join her in the shower. He lent his head against the window as the scene unfolded in his imagination.

"No! You mustn't do this." He snapped out of the reverie, spilling his wine as he jerked back to reality. "It was just a smile. You're reading too much into it."

He returned the glass to the replicator strode to the washroom where he cleaned the wine of his hand and washed his face with cold water. Straightening his jacket he checked his appearance in the mirror. You're a captain, behave like one. You promised your dead friend that you would never tell her you loved her."

True. But what if she loved you! What then!

"Merde!" He slapped his hand against the wall. How could he sleep tonight with these possibilities running through his thoughts? He should do what he always did when faced with a dilemma - seek more information. "Computer, where is Dr Crusher?"

+++

Ten-Forward was darker than usual enabling Picard to enter and stand inside without his presence being obvious. Beverly was with Will, Deanna, Wesley and Geordie at the brighter end of the bar. Picard shifted left a little to get a better view. Will was obviously telling one of his amusing stories. Jean-Luc envied the easy relax style Riker had with women - how many had he laughed into bed with him? 'Beverly wouldn't be amongst them', he told himself. They were friends but he was sure their relationship was more brother/sister than sexual. If she was smiling at Riker then it was nothing more than her pleasure at being with an old friend.

... And if that was the case with Riker why not the same with him? Wasn't he one of her longest friends? The memory of that morning's smile was getting blurred now. Watching her face across the room he couldn't be sure this wasn't what he had seen - the look of a loving friend.

"You old fool!" He looked down and rubbed his face with a hand.

"Can I get you anything Captain?" A waiter was suddenly at his elbow and a group of noisy ensigns chose that moment to come through the door. The light from the corridor shone briefly across his face.

"No, thank you. I think I will leave it for another night.

+++

For a moment Beverly thought she had seen Jean-Luc near the door, then decided she was mistaken. She hid her disappointment and smiled again, pretending to be interested in Will's lengthy story. As he talked on, her mind wondered to something that had happened that morning. She had been leaving the Observation Lounge and had turned to Jean-Luc - the brief smile he had given her had made her heart leap.

Had she been imagining things or was it more than a "pleased to see you smile"? The memory of his face had nagged at her all day. But what was the point in dwelling on it? Whatever Picard's feelings towards her she would have to wait for him to make the first move. She knew how awkward things would be between them if he didn't reciprocate her feelings.

'Get a grip on yourself, Beverly, you're reading too much into a simple smile.'

She sighed, gave Wesley's arm a quick squeeze and tried to concentrate on Will's anecdote.


The end.
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E-mail me at catherine_ell69@hotmail.com
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