Standard disclaimer: Paramount owns the universe.

Author's note: This story takes place sometime after "All Good Things..." but before "Star Trek: Generations".

Star Trek - The Next Generation: A Thousand Miles (MF)
by Melissa Zander

Love is a funny thing.

Imagine, if you will. Man meets woman. Woman and man are enormously attracted to each other. Woman starts seeing man's best friend. Woman and best friend marry. They have a son. Then, best friend is killed. Man brings best friend's body home to woman. They mourn. Twenty years goes by. Man and woman meet again. Over the next few years, man and woman sort through their feelings of the past, and become best friends. Simple, right?


Man has, through the years, harbored a deep, passionate love for woman, but will not tell her. Woman, through the years, has discovered that she is in love with man. Again, like man, says nothing. They hide overwhelming feelings for each other through the ensuing years of friendship, fearful of furthering their relationship. Thus, enormous amounts of tension develop. And still, they hide. Confusing, wouldn't you say?

Frustrating, as a matter of fact.

Situations, however, do change.

* * *

*Great. I've done it again. This just won't do at all. . .*

Beverly Crusher sat up in bed, the last vestiges of perspiration clinging to her over-warm skin. The dream had been too intense... Too real. The worst part about it was, these dreams happened with alarming regularity.

*Of course, dreaming about Jean-Luc Picard isn't a terrible thing...*

No, it wasn't. But the _content_ of the dreams is what bothered her. Graphic, passionate, and extremely erotic. The result of repressed desires, fears... and love.

Yes, love. The worst part of this whole dream thing. Every dream she had forced her to confront her feelings for a certain captain, and the intensity of those feelings shocked her even more than her dreams.

She sighed, trying desperately to shove aside the feelings the night's dreams had brought forth, but not really succeeding. *I might as well get up. No point in trying to get anymore sleep. Besides, I'd have to get up in an hour, anyway...*

* * *

She rang the door chime for the third time. Now she was getting worried. Just as she was about to use her medical override, the door opened, revealing a sleepy, disheveled, robe-clad Jean-Luc Picard. He squinted at Beverly for a moment, then grunted and gestured for her to enter. She did so, cautiously.

"Rough night, Jean-Luc?" She mentally slapped herself. *Oh, sure, Beverly, you're one to talk about rough nights...*

He tiredly rubbed his eyes, his mind finally coming online. "Couldn't sleep last night. I think it was about an hour ago when I finally dozed off." His gaze shifted from her face to the floor. "I had too many things on my mind, I guess."

*I'll just bet you did, Jean-Luc. The same things that were on _my_ mind.* But she didn't say anything. Of course she didn't say anything. She never did. Neither did he.

She smiled at him, and gave him a helpful shove in the direction of his bedroom. "Call Will. Tell him you're not going to go on duty until this afternoon, and then go back to sleep. You can't function on an hour's rest." Just as he was about to protest, she added, "I could make that an order, Jean-Luc."

He bristled slightly at that remark. "Fine. I'll go to bed like a good boy. No need to pull rank on me, Beverly." Then he smiled slightly. "But I'll meet you for lunch when I get up this afternoon, to make up for breakfast."

Impulsively, she leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. "It's a date. See you this afternoon, Captain." She fled his quarters before she could do something
that wouldn't let him get any sleep at all.

He stood, rooted to the spot, the skin of his cheek burning where she kissed him. The nerves of his body were in overdrive, and his libido was doing around warp 9.

Now he'd never get any sleep.

* * *

So absorbed was she in her work that she didn't even see him standing in her office doorway. Picard took the opportunity to watch her for a moment. *So beautiful,* he thought. *I wish I could...* He pushed the thought aside. He promised himself after KesPrytt not to force the issue. If she just wanted to be friends, well, he would live with that. He didn't have to like it, though. It was hell being in love with your best friend and not able to do anything about it.

Just then, she looked up and saw him standing there. Her face immediately broke into a smile. "Been lurking in my doorway long, Jean-Luc?" she asked teasingly.

"Me? Lurk? Beverly, I'm hurt. I have never lurked in my life. Starship captains do not lurk." He stepped into the office and stood in front of her desk in his most captain-like manner.

"All right. I apologize. You weren't lurking." She paused, her eyebrow arching mischievously. "You were skulking. My mistake."

He circled around the desk and grabbed her hand, hauling her to her feet. "Well, then, Dr. Crusher, I guess I don't need to feed you, do I? I mean, if you're going to abuse me all through lunch, why should I bother?" His eyes glinted with humor, and the hint of a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth.

At the mention of food, she perked up. Immediately trying to look contrite, she said, "I'm sorry, Jean-Luc. It will never, ever happen again." It might have worked, too, had she not suddenly burst out laughing.

Her laughter was infectious. His body quickly began to shake with laughter. He loved this good-natured teasing they both took part in. It was one of those things about their relationship that he would never sacrifice for anything.

He pulled her around the desk and out the office, still chuckling. "Incorrigible woman. I'll never figure out why I put up with you. . ." he muttered.

She slipped her arm through his as they strolled through the corridors to Ten-Forward. "Because without me, your life would be dull, boring, predictable,

Their voices trailed off down the corridor, still tinged with humor.

* * *

*Her hands fanned across his chest, circling around him and pulling him close. He lowered his mouth to hers, wondering if this was a dream.

Her lips were warm and trembling beneath his, and it seemed so real. _This can't be a dream,_ he thought.

His body eased onto hers as the softness of the bed enveloped them, and the softness of her lips carried him away...*

He sat up in bed, breathing hard, sweating profusely. *Damn, not this again...*

He angrily swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood up, and padded out to the living room. "Tea, Earl Gray, hot," he ordered the replicator. But when it came, he had no desire to drink it.

Muttering a curse, he stalked back into the bedroom, threw on a pair of gym shorts and shoes, and headed for the gym, hoping to tire himself out so he could get some dreamless sleep.

* * *

*His mouth came down, hot and wet, upon her naked breast. Her hand reached around the back of his head, pushing his mouth further onto her breast, a moan escaping her throat. He was only too happy to oblige her needs, as their arousal grew with each caress of his lips...*

Beverly jerked abruptly out of sleep. She stared at the darkened ceiling of her bedroom, willing her heartbeat to slow, her breathing to calm. They did neither.

Frustrated, she got out of bed and went into the bathroom. She went to the sink and splashed cold water on her face, then groped for a towel. She studied her troubled countenance in the dimly lighted mirror. *You look like hell, Beverly,* her mind told her. *When in hell, look like it.*

She wearily crawled back into bed and closed her eyes. Sleep refused to come, however, as thoughts washed over her in waves.

*Fool, he was sitting right next to me, practically offering himself to me. And what did I do? I kept all my self-righteous, holier-than-thou fears intact and left his quarters. I left him. In more ways than one. Sometimes, he drifts off into thought, and when I ask him, he looks away, refusing to look me in the eye. I know what he's thinking. It's the same thing that crosses my mind every time I see him.*

She shifted uncomfortably to her side.

*The man is in love with me. In deep, passionate love with me. I know it, he knows I know it. And still, he makes no move. He's probably terrified I'll reject him again.*

That thought brought her restless fidgeting to a standstill.

*And would I? Oh, Lord, I don't know. I love him so much it hurts. But what if something happens? He gets hurt, or killed, and winds up in my sickbay. Could I handle it?*

The answer came swift and sure.

*Yes, because I love him. That alone would be enough. It's foolish to remain friends because it's safe, just because, if I let myself love him the way I want, I might lose him. One day in his arms would be worth a lifetime without him.*

Where had that come from? A lifetime of indecision, solved by a sleepless night thought session?

But it felt good. It brought a measure of peace that she hadn't known for years.

She rose from her bed and checked the chronometer. 0130. *He's probably still awake, if he's been having nights like mine.*

"Computer, current location of Captain Picard?"

"Captain Picard is in Gymnasium 7."

*The gym? What's he doing there?* She thought a minute, then figured it out.

And off she went, hurrying out of her quarters.

* * *

A loud, angry grunt sounded through the gym as Beverly entered. There, weight lifting, was Jean-Luc, wearing nothing but shorts and shoes, sweating profusely and muttering curses under his breath. He hadn't seen her come in, so she took the opportunity to watch him for a while. The play of his rippling muscles as he pushed his body to its limits entranced her. *He's so beautiful,* she thought.

He set the weights down and reached for a towel, mopping his face with the soft, cool fabric. He looked up to see Beverly standing in the doorway, watching him as he had been watching her the day before. He smiled.

"Been skulking there long, Beverly?" he teased.

She shook herself out of her reverie and smiled back. "No, actually, I'm lurking. Hope you don't mind." She walked over and sat down on one of the benches. He stood before her, mildly confused as to why she had shown up here at 1:30 in the morning, in nothing but a nightgown. He draped the towel around his neck. "What's wrong?"

She looked slightly uncomfortable, and shifted her gaze to the rack of weights off to his right. He knew her too well. Far too well.

"What makes you think that anything is wrong?" She knew that wouldn't work, but she had to try.

"You don't usually walk around the ship in the middle of the night, wearing only your nightgown, just to visit me in the gym." His eyebrow rose slightly.

She shook her head. "And you're usually not in the gym in the middle of the night, looking as though you'd like to throw one of the weights through the wall. So I'd say we're both having problems."

He snapped the towel off his neck and threw it on the floor. "All right, Beverly. What exactly is it that you want from me? I'm completely out of ideas." His eyes flashed with anger, boring into her.

His anger was contagious. She leapt to her feet and stood nose to nose with him. "What do _I_ want from _you_?" she shouted. "I want _this_!" With that, she reached a hand behind him and roughly pulled his mouth down to hers.

The kiss was savage in its intensity, robbing them of their very will to breathe. When she broke from him, she whispered harshly, "I want to know how that feels for real, not just in my dreams! I want to be able to sleep in peace at night, without your voice and your hands and your mouth and your body invading my dreams and making me wish for it to be real! That's what I want!"

He stared at her, angry and aroused and frustrated. Without warning, he captured her mouth for another kiss, as searing as the first.

"And I want to know how _that_ feels! I want to have your body pressed against mine, and your voice whispering my name in passion as we make love! I want to know it for real, not as a dream, dreams that have been plaguing me for over twenty-five years!"

Her hands were still gripping his arms with a force that shocked her. She let go and slipped her arms around him, pulling him roughly against her. His mouth crushed hers, his tongue forcing her lips apart and thrusting hard and fast inside her mouth. Her tongue clashed with his, as this battle waged onward between them.

He pulled her down to the ground, mouths and tongues and hands conflicting, fighting the fight of a lifetime, accomplishing nothing but the slight relief of emotional and sexual tensions.

His hard, warm body covered hers as the kiss made their breaths grow ragged, and their limbs still gnashed together. His grip on her hands pushed the backs of her hands above her head against the floor, as his knee forced her legs apart and pressed high against her, adding another measure of relief.

She thrust angrily up against him, working through frustrations and tensions a quarter century old.

Eventually, slowly, the anger slipped away. The tone of their kiss changed. The war ended, truce called, peace began.

He released her hands from his tight grip, and they now came up and caressed his muscled back. Their tongues ceased battle, now taking the time to lavish and explore.

They soon became aware of the almost imperceptible vibration through the floor of the ship's engines, as their senses became fine-tuned to their environment and to each other.

Beverly pulled away and whispered, through slightly swollen lips, "Jean-Luc, take me to your quarters. Now." He pressed one more kiss against the warm skin of her neck and nodded.

Standing, he helped her to her feet and clasped her hand tightly as they exited the gym.

* * *

The doors to Jean-Luc Picard's quarters slid closed barely in time to cover the reckless, insatiable kiss that consumed Beverly and Jean-Luc the moment they stepped foot inside.

His thumbs hooked on the straps of her nightgown, drawing them down her arms, allowing the gown to drop into a satiny puddle at her feet. His lips caressed her collarbone, and his tongue darted into the hollow of her throat. He could feel her pulse throbbing beneath his lips as he trailed them down into the valley of her breasts, wetting the delicate skin there. Beverly's fingers grazed the short fringe of hair at the back of his head, drawing them over and around his scalp, thoroughly distracting him.

Blindly, they backed into the bedroom, Beverly collapsing onto the bed as her legs bumped up against the edge. Jean-Luc lowered himself on top of her, and his mouth began again the journey he had abandoned moments earlier.

An uneven breath escaped her throat as his lips covered her rosebud nipples, drawing them out with a gentle clasp of teeth. The movement of his mouth on her breasts sent shockwaves rolling across her inflamed nerves.

His warm, wet mouth continued its journey south, his tongue dipping into her navel. From there, he made a cool, wet trail to her soft feminine curls, which he kissed lovingly before moving on.

Beverly was drowning in an ocean of sensations, when the tidal wave hit as Jean-Luc touched her intimately for the first time. As he stroked her, his tongue washing over her delicate softness, he could feel her coming closer and closer to the edge of fulfillment. Not wanting that to happen just yet, he backed off, and slid back up her body to her hungry, waiting mouth.

As they kissed, Beverly, with a devilish arch of an eyebrow, reached between them, taking him in hand. His body immediately grew still as her hands stroked him, changing pace ever so gradually until a groan of delight escaped from his lips.

He tensed, and she stopped, knowing he was at his limit. His eyes snapped open, looking into her very soul as he captured her mouth for a kiss that was no more than the touch of his breath upon her lips. "I love you, Beverly," he whispered.

Her arms tightened around him, her eyes squeezing shut before she began crying. So long, so long had she waited to hear those words form this man. "I love you, Jean-Luc," she whispered back, in a voice roughened with emotion.

His eyes closed, savoring the sound of those words. All these years, and he had finally heard them. Heaven had nothing on the being that was Beverly Crusher.

His lips met hers as he entered her in one long, smooth stroke, finally joining their bodies as one, much as their souls had been seamed together years ago.

They began to move, each the perfect counterpart to the other. He drove into her with an intensity neither had known, as she rose up to meet him with equal passion.

When the first of the tremors started, their kiss broke as they both concentrated on what was about to occur, the muscles in his arms straining as he braced above her, her legs gripping him harder below.

Beverly's arms tightened around his back as the first of the waves washed over her, her cry soon echoed by his as their fulfillment spilled forth, two bodies and souls now one forever.

* * *

Jean-Luc tenderly pulled the covers up over them, then wrapped his arms once again around Beverly's warm body. She snuggled closer to him, taking his hand in hers and lacing their fingers together.

He sighed in contentment. "I love you..."

Her sigh matched his. "I love you, too..."

And so they slept, secure in each other's arms, their dreams only bringing happiness, not pain.

Man and woman, together at last.


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