A Mutation to Remember
"You scared the hell out of me Deanna."
It wasn't a reprimand coming off his lips, in was a genuine release of built up emotion. It had been our first away mission apart with me leading the calvery and him sitting at the Captain's chair.
It had not gone well, on either end.
At the first sign of danger I had momentarily froze, my only excuse being the mind I had been up against had been intense, the emotion rebounding in my head running far deeper then anything I had ever experienced before.
And Will, who I know neglected his full attention to the matters at hand to monitor me in my first away mission, through a semi-meditative state had gone temporarily berserk when he had felt my own fear seep into me. His imbalance adding to my paralysis.
My sloppiness and his abandonment could have gotten us killed, could have got innocent bystanders killed. . .
But we had been lucky, and Geordi had stepped up where I had failed. Killing the madman, our target for assassination, before he ever reached the mass of abducted children I had somehow managed to throw myself in front before freezing.
The man, our mercy assisnation assignment, on some levels could have been classified a geniuses and although I do not feel bad that such a man, a monster had to meet a premmature ending, I feel for the waste of such a great mind. His capacity of emotions, even dark emotions, was unlike anything I had ever encountered and would truly turn any normal Betazed, an aficionado of the mind, positively green with envy. The levels of emotion the man exhibited far superior to anything even fantasized about.
But the man was dead. A mystery that would likely remain a mystery.
* * * * "Your bleeding."
Once Will had crossed the expanse of the room, in his customary two large strides, he had taken me under direct scrutiny, his eyes running across me from head to toe.
"Captain, I'm fine."
I cut him some lip with a glare. I love him, and he knows this, but we had made a deal, to ourselves as well as Starfleet that work would be work and our personal life would remain separate.
Needless to say I was shocked when Will telepathic words shot through my head.
<< I thought I was going to loose you.>>
His voice was raw and his emotions were heavy.
I really scared him.
I knew this arrangement was a bad idea.
Despite my better judgment, I let my head drop against his chest. Wanting his touch just as bad as he wanted to touch me.
Maybe he was right, I tried to convince myself, this was close. . . we can bypass formality for one evening.
"I'm fine Will. He was just. . .intense."
I felt Will's strong arms wrap around me and his nose bury in the top of my head.
His heart, even through the thickness of his uniform, could be heard. His rapid, abnormal heartbeat obviously not close to returning to its normal rhythm anytime soon.
"I knew it wasn't going to be easy. . .but damn I didn't know how hard sending you out there was going to be. Being helpless on that damn bridge is not all its cracked up to be."
I nodded mutely. When I had agreed to be his temporary first officer, we had promised each other that it wouldn't interfere with our personal life and it wouldn't, under any circumstances be longer then the two months Starfleet had promised it would take to find a suitable First Officer.
Who knew within the first week of his agreement of convenience would we be staring down a galatic madman.
"We only have seven weeks to go."
Meekly I look up at him, and despite the fear I sense, I hear a rumble of a chuckle well within his chest.
I love the fact that I can make smile under any circumstance. It's a special smile, that is only given to me.
"Number One, by the end of this your either going to be the death of me, or your going to agree to make this relationship more official."
I look up at his smirk, relieved to see that he is pretty much finding his way out of his shock.
"Captain is that a threat or a promise."
I cock an eyebrow and give him my cutest pout. Maybe we aren't being the best model of professional conduct at the moment, but by now if any of the crew isn't onto the fact that we are crazy about each other, they never will.
"That's a promise Deanna."
He drops his voice and liens his head towards me. We have been playing this game for a long time, upping the pot each time about who was actually holding this relationship from moving further. I always blame him, he always blames me. . .
I think he is going to kiss me so I lien a bit forward, anticipating the calming effect of those soft lips brushing against my own in their own electrifying intensity. But he stops an inch or two short of target, his eyes falling back to the bloodstain on my uniform, which up to this point I had put out of my mind.
"Is that your blood?"
I sense his tenseness coming back, his shoulders going ridged.
Truthfully I'm not sure if it my blood, but I know saying that would achieve the exact opposite reaction I am looking for. Honestly, the way those last minutes worked out, I am not quiet sure of a lot of things.
So as discreet as possible, I let my hand slide over my abdomen.
I wince as my hand grazes over my stomach.
"Damn it Deanna, you should have asked for a medic."
I see that look in his eye again, the look that warns me protesting to anything he is about to do or say would be futile. The look of the protector.
"I'm sorry. . .I guess the adrenaline rush of the situation got to me."
Looking back down at my hand, now covered with blood, I begin to realize this hurts, this hurts bad.
I feel my eyes begin to water with the rush of searing heat tearing through that spot. Its amazing how once one becomes aware of an injury like such, that the mind refuses to push past the pain.
I try to focus, both inwards and outwards to get a balance, push the pain to my subconscious.
But everything around me, including my knees begin to waver.
Faintly I think I hear him call to sickbay. The world before me spins to rapidly to be sure.
I feel him grab on to me, just before the world goes black
I can barely open my eyes. The pain is so intense. Shooting through my body, tracing through my veins with an agonizing preciseness.
>Take it slow<
A familiar voice ceases my effort to open my eyes. The voice's deep baritone stops my thought process completely.
I hear other voices from all corners around me. Distant voices that if I concentrate on I could likely put a face to, having done countless evaluations on them in the past. Voices that sound eager, and fearful. I could care less about the voices that fade into a musical lull in my subconscious. My mind set to the voice of concern, my Imzadi, a voice that has always brought me comfort, and a voice that I can't help but feel strangely clear, like a thought from my own mind.
Telepathy through our Imzadi link is the only logical explanation for >hearing the sweet sound of that voice. But it is an exact telepathy that doesn't fit Will's profile, and despite its comfort sounds strange.
"Dr. Crusher, I think she is waking."
Vaguely, off to my left in some distant plane, I hear who I believe a woman utter a name from my memory, Beverly. A cherished name of a cherished woman who hasn't been on the Enterprise for a very long time, having chosen to follow Jean-Luc and taking a promotion to head Starfleet's biological research institute on Earth, to be closer to the man she always loved and finally married.
"Deanna. . ."
It is Beverly. Eyes still closed, mind racing, I am almost sure it is Beverly. Slowly I try to open my eyes, disregarding the heavy, almost impossible weight each eyelid seemed to hold. Success. Everything is swimming as my pupils fight the bright florescent light. Faintly I think of Will, this scene reminding me of the last time we were together, my sudden inability to focus, vaguely remembering his arms wrapping around me.
"Beverly. . .Will?"
"Shhh. . . ."
I am relieved, although mildly disturbed to hear the voice of my dear friend. Something has happened.
"Beverly is my stab wound. . ."
My voice breaks off as my mind clears. My first thought is that the lights above me are not the lights of my beloved Enterprise. Don't ask me why I notice, but I do. Schematics of the ship are not my usual forte but I immediately know this is wrong.
"Beverly where is Will?"
Feeling brave enough I sit up. * * * * Beverly is not in the room. I rub my eyes. No one is around me, I am alone.
"Deanna, let me explain."
I hear Beverly's voice, and my head snaps behind me. This is not a normal sick-bay. Behind me is a full glass wall, behind the wall is Beverly, surrounded by nameless officer's I haven't seen before. Beverly, dressed in her research uniform with a standard medical PADD placed in her hands. Something is off. Beverly looks like Beverly, but feels . . .off. The twisted, formal look on her face not helping my perception.
"Bev where am I."
I am tempted to close my eyes and achieve the center of balance that I so desire, the balance I really haven't felt since the beginning of that whole away mission. But I am afraid for me. . .no Beverly is afraid for me. ><<Play it cool Deanna.
I heard Will in my head, then Beverly outside. The Will in my head sounded so knowledgeable that I actually relaxed and felt myself center. Felt him somehow help me achieve my center. The only logical explanation is that I am hallucinating.
"Sorry Beverly, I'm feeling a little disoriented."
Vaguely I brush the few stray strands of hair off my sweaty forehead. The temperature of the room is unusually high. I sense trouble Deanna. . .remain vague.My eyes blink in surprise, which I truly try to cover.
"Deanna do you remember anything?"
My first thought is to respond by stating I remember a lot of things. But that cocky, sarcastic statement is coming from a temper that is quiet unlike me, so much to (my?) dismay, I squelch the idea, opting to instead turn the tables back to her.
"Beverly is there a reason I feel like a prisoner?"
My voice surprisingly didn't appear rough, just curious. Yet, my words caused a noticeable flinch in Beverly's features, and arose the emotion of guilt. Guilt? As I analyze Beverly, a small part of me began taking a visual layout of the room, scanning from floor to ceiling. It didn't make sense. The fact that I not only was casing the room, I had a good idea the weak points I could take advantage of to route my escape. Shivering suddenly by the abruptness of my actions, I wrap my arms around myself. This is all very odd. I feel as if. . .unexplainably I feel as if I am operating for two separate people.
Shaken by my assumption, I look down and notice I am no longer in uniform. In fact, I am no longer in clothes. I am naked. No, naked would be the absence of everything and I do feel something. A transparent film of sorts covering my body in a sticky, gel. My hand test the substance, which seems to had adhered to my body as a second skin.
Beverly's voice sounds worried, which actually sets on my nerves worse then the precarious situation I'm in. I look up, dropping the piece of transparency I had picked at, feeling it rebound back onto my skin.
Without words I look at her. Her doctor mask has dropped and I see the friend who I spent endless hours chatting about unrequited love and debated the benefits of chocolate over sex. I see my friend who I would most undoubtedly give my life to save in the time of battle, and who I know would do the same for me. . . And because I feel we have bonded like only the best of friends could, I am sick by what I see in her eyes. A look past desperation, towards total surrender, a look focused on me. Desperate now, I beg her with my eyes to give me answers to all of these questions she must expect to be floating around my head. And Beverly, because she is Beverly does not need the words to know my request. Without even a breath passing between us, she turned to her staff and ordered them out of the room. There were some protest. Officers I have never seen before, shooting daggers with their eyes in my direction, angry at being denied a look. Other strangers, with PADDs and odd holographic cameras, snapping furiously at the turn of Beverly's back.
<I will defend you.>
Will's voice again. I would find it unsettling under normal circumstances, knowing inherently that it wasn't him using telepathy, but not knowing exactly what its origin was. However, I do not need to be a genesis to sense these are not normal circumstances. And, I can't help but feel a comfort that I am hearing his voice, hallucination or not. My hand begins to flex behind my back. One of my Imzadi's more notable traits that I hadn't been aware I picked up. Door finally shut, Beverly pulls up a chair to the glass that separates us and sits.
"I don't know where to start Deanna. . ."
Her voice, so authoritative only moments ago with a roomful of people, is now low and remorseful. Her eyes, big round and nearly weeping with a sadness she feels towards me. "Start at the beginning." Suddenly I begin to pace the expanse of the glass.
I usually don't loose my cool but her eyes drilling into me like that, like I was something to be pitied irked the hell out of me. Do I get irked?
"You look like Will." She responded lightly.
Hearing the name of my beloved Imzadi, brings my attention back to the matter at hand.
"Where is he?"
Carefully I watch Beverly bite her lip.
"He's sick. . ."
The word brings a lump in my throat. Suddenly the oddity of the situation does not seem so severe. The fact that I am naked behind a plate of glass with no answers, trivial to the words Beverly uttered. Will.
"What the fuck is going on?"
I barely can choke out the words without the rush of disgust pumping through my veins. The Earth slang, a swear word which I have thought on a rarity, much because Will likely said it, and never uttered, flies from my mouth without so much as a fleeting thought. I don't understand, I remember falling, but I do not remember anything else, anything wrong with him. I would have thought, being as close as we had become, one on almost every level, that I would have known.
I must look as panicked as I feel, because Beverly stature changed, she now felt even worse for me then she had before.
"There has been an accident. . .he should be fine."
Beverly sympathetically patted the glass where my forehead fell.
"Care to explain why am here and not with him."
My voice has become almost foreign to me. My mind working on two levels, a conscious level where my empathy reaches out to my surroundings, gathering my bearings. And then, a newer subconscious level was analytically going over everything remotely connected, not based on feeling. I was running scenarios, escape routes and various Starfleet protocol in my head at almost lightening speed, trying to deduce why I am >here. Strangely, right now I kind of felt like Will.
"Deanna. . .do you remember the away mission?"
"The away mission. . ."
that was the farthest thing from my mind at the current moment, but I nod anyway, not breaking my stride. "What happened?"
I love Beverly, but frankly this is the last thing from my mind, so I stop and turn to face her, my hands crossing over my chest.
"I can't help you unless you help me."
Her response startles me, disappoints me and angers me in one swift provably kick. I think it does the same to her because she shakes her head,
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to do that."
She does look genuinely sorry, so I imitate her shake of the head with my own, letting my anger subside. This is after all Beverly.
"So am I, you must be asking me this for a reason right."
I force a half smile on my face to lighten up the atmosphere.
"I'm just not my rational self when it comes to Will. You should be the first to understand that."
"Where were you born?
Perplexed by the sudden question, I answer without a blink of an eye.
Hearing the sound of Geordi LaForge pulled me away from my subconscious, where I had envisioned a Deanna dressed in nothing but a clear transparent gel. . .
Don't get me wrong, I will be the first one to admit fantasies about the love of my life entertain me through the darkest of times, but this was different, not entertaining in the least. Disturbing in fact, very, very disturbing.
"Captain, Dr. Crusher says you need to get up."
Feeling Geordi's light but persistent tapping on my chest begrudgingly pulls me away from my thoughts.
"Does Dr. Crusher know I outrank her?"
Opening one eye, I see a smile of relief break across my engineer's face.
"When has something so trivial as rank ever held any sort of grounds with Beverly."
Groaning I roll to my side, before attempting to sit up. I think at one point Beverly had been in the room and ordered me to take baby steps in any recovery actions. Either that or it was a dreams about babies. . .
"Sir you really had us scared. It we hadn't been within transporter distance from Earth, I really don't know what I would have done."
Geordi's voice suddenly stops, and as I finally manage to get adjusted to see him, I can't help but notice the utter horror painted on his face.
"Never mind Sir, your awake, I should go."
I'm still a little cloudy in the head, but Geordi's obvious lack of confidence makes me go over his statement in slow motion.
One doesn't become a Captain without obtaining the ability to call back conversations with split second accuracy.
One doesn't successfully manage to date a Betazoid without the ability to successfully read body language either.
"Geordi, if you were managing the ship, where was Deanna."
Upon my visits in and out of consciousness, I remember questioning Beverly about why I was on earth, in a sick bay, partially paralyzed. I thought she had said our good doctor had awoken and gave me a dose of something to knock me out.
I could swear she had said Deanna lead us to safety. Deanna. . . not Geordi.
"Captain I know that Admiral Picard and Dr. Crusher are anxious to see you."
Shuffling nervously from side to side I watch Geordi, Geordi who I didn't imagine capable of telling his superior, let alone his Captain a lie, avoid me, managing to look every which way but straight ahead.
I feel my stomach drop to my knees.
My beloved Deanna.
If anything happened to her, I can't possibly survive.
"Damn it Geordi, what the hell is going on."
"Sir, the Admiral."
"Fuck the Admiral."
I feel the blood rush to my head, which isn't helping my visual focus, but had managed to cause me to momentarily push past my foggy perception.
Anger and fear can be very powerful when need me. Out casting such things as decorum, respect and even common sense.
"Geordi if you think that was a request you can think again."
I try to lean forward to further prove my point, but only one side of my body seems to be responding to my request. The other side laying limp, unmoving, at my side.
"Mr. LaForge, you may be excused."
A voice from behind me, puts a restraining grip on my shoulder and pushes me back down onto the bio-bed which I laid, and helplessly I watch Geordi give me a sympathetic shrug before bolting from the room.
I am feeling my pulse increase, quite similarly to earlier on the ship, where I had been gripped with Deanna's fear and my own inability not to help her. . .
Strangely what I am experiencing now could be described as the very same deal.
"Will I think you will owe Mr. LaForge an apology."
Picard. Admiral Jean-Luc Picard.
"What is going on Jean-Luc. Where is Deanna and why did Geordi say he lead the ship. If I was in trouble she should have lead the ship.
My mind is racing a mile a minute. My life without Deanna. . .god I can't go back to life without Deanna, I just can't.
"Will your jumping to conclusions. If you give me a second, I will explain."
I vaguely hear Jean-Luc, and mindlessly I wipe away at the stubborn tears I hadn't realized had gathered in the corners of my eyes, but which pride would not allow to fall.
Jean-Luc was my idol in a lot of ways, the living model of everything my childhood hero Captain James T. Kirk had embodied, strong will, overwhelming compassion and an unwavering sense of duty to Starfleet and its prime directive. Working under Jean-Luc had caused me not only to respect the office of Captain, but to model myself into the kind of man I felt a Starfleet Captain should be.
But right now I didn't feel like a Captain, so I didn't pretended to make Jean-Luc proud.
I saw in Picard a flash of something that made me immediately know he was being brave for me, and failing horribly.
The words sent a chill down to my soul.
"No Will, no she's not dead."
Picard shook his head and although his words in themselves were a relief, I did not receive the comfort from them I had expected. In fact, because each word seemed so precisely articulated, so thought out before uttered, I knew he was hiding something from me. Something big.
Vaugely I felt the little hairs on the back of my neck raise.
"Sir. . .I'm sorry sir but we are talking about Deanna."
Feeling a little bit more rational, focusing on the fact she isn't dead and that's a start, I try to put my feelings, sometimes explosive, into perspective. I am usually never this disrespectful to a superior officer, to a friend.
"Sir, I'm sorry."
I reiterate my apology. Sometimes my actions, when emotionally driven, come before common sense.
I watch Jean-Luc nod, formally, with the corners of his mouth pulled back into a unreadable thin line.
"Will, Deanna has seemed to have developed a reaction to the wound she received."
Picard words again came out slowly, with his eyes focused at my wall rather then on me.
I watched him clench and unclench his fist.
"Sir, a reaction?"
Not wanting again a display of my neurotic side, I try not to let body anything read into the plain words of the man. I owed him that.
"Her body has developed a defense of sorts, I can't tell you the exact medical wording, but in layman's terms she has taken quite a shock to the body that could have killed her or made her stronger, and luckily her body choose the latter of the two options."
I hear Picard's words, lifelessly monotone, lacking the infliction you would expect from such joyous news. So like I refused to get mad, I refused to get joyous either. Bottling up my emotions inside of me with a titanium enforced cork.
My life has taught me more often than not there is a catch. There is always a catch.
"Sir," feeling a shadow has been cast in the room, I force my body to lien forward, catching the man's slight shoulder in a clasp of my seemingly good hand, "Sir you have to tell me."
I watch Picard's head turn, and his own hand reach up and pat my own, "Will I know I have to tell you and that is what makes this so hard."