Angelic Paranoia

Paranoidangel's Fanfic

Star Trek: The Next Generation

The Thing's The Play

Rating: Teen
Beta: Selenay
Pairing: Beverly Crusher/Will Riker
Summary: After Frame of Mind Will Riker is learning what is real, Beverly Crusher is figuring out what her feelings for him are, both while debating a 22nd century play.
Notes: Written for ariestess

"The war is over. The Romulans aren't a threat any more."

"According to the government. They weren't the ones out here on the front lines."

- The Romulan Influence, Act 1 Scene 2

"Come in." Beverly tied her robe as she approached the door, flicking her hair so it rested on her shoulders. Her smile slipped as the door opened to reveal her visitor was Deanna, and she pulled the robe tighter across her front.

"Were you expecting someone else?" Deanna's tone was innocent, but her expression told Beverly that Deanna already knew the answer to her question.

Not that it stopped Beverly from lying. "No, just surprised to see you." The trouble was Deanna was an empath and someone who knew Beverly well enough to know when she was lying even without her empathic abilities. All she had to do was look askance at Beverly for her to sigh and give in. "Okay, I was expecting someone else." She resisted the urge to say more in case it incriminated her.

"Will Riker." Deanna's tone was matter-of-fact.

Of course she already knew. Shaking her head, Beverly sank onto the couch. "How do you feel about it?" she asked cautiously. She and Deanna were used to discussing their relationships, but this one Beverly had kept quiet about.

"I'm happy for you." Deanna smiled and seated herself beside her friend. Despite her answer, Beverly couldn't help be skeptical. Something Deanna must have picked up on because she added, "You know Will and I are just friends. We have both had relationships with other people."

But Will and Deanna were more than just friends, even if neither of them were prepared to admit it. "I'm not other people." Which was why she hadn't mentioned to Deanna that her bed ever had a man in it these days. It felt too personal to be sleeping with your best friend's ex.

Deanna shook her head. "If you make each other happy then I'm happy too."

Beverly smiled, taking Deanna at her word. Even if Deanna didn't believe what she said, Beverly was sure she wanted to feel that way. Whatever the truth was, agreeing with her was the best option. "He does." She gave a happy sigh. "Things are simple with Will. We don't have any feelings to complicate anything, but we're there for each other when we need some…" She paused, considering the right word. "...stress relief."

"There's always the holodeck." Deanna grinned.

Beverly rolled her eyes. "You know the holodeck can't do everything."

Deanna's smile broadened.

And Beverly was most definitely not going to discuss what anyone got up to on the holodeck on that front. "Is that what you came to tell me?" she asked. "That you're happy for me?"

Deanna shook her head and sat up a little straighter. "I'm worried about Will and what he went through on Tilonus IV. He seems fine, but..."

Beverly nodded. "Physically he is fine. With his long term memory restored, he's a lot more sure of what is real." When he'd first arrived back on the Enterprise he'd been cagey and flinched when Beverly went near him. She'd had to show him exactly what she was doing before he'd even let her scan him. And then he'd insisted she heal the wound on his head before doing anything else.

It was only when he'd told her about his mind jumping between the realities of the Enterprise and the play that she'd understood his reactions. He was remarkably healthy for someone who'd been through what he had, but the emotional side was harder to measure. She wasn't sure that destroying the set would be the only therapy he'd need, no matter how much it might help for now. It was easy to see Deanna's concern.

"I haven't had much of a chance to speak to him." All Beverly and Will had spoke about since he left sickbay was the Frame of Mind set. He'd made it clear he didn't want help and she couldn't have watched without helping, so she'd left him to it.

She clearly hadn't soothed Deanna's concerns, because Deanna frowned. Beverly laid a hand on her arm. "I'll look after him," she promised.

Deanna gave a small smile in response, but didn't relax her posture.

Before Beverly could ask what else she could do, her door chimed. She stood as she called out, "Come in."

This time it was Will, who smiled upon seeing her, then gave a curious look at Deanna when she stood up too.

"I should go," Deanna said.

"Don't leave on my account." Although Will stayed by the door, looking unsure of the situation.

"It's fine." Deanna smiled at him and rested a hand on his arm on her way out.

Will took another couple of steps forward, his eyebrows raised.

"She knows about us." Beverly wasn't about to reveal Deanna's whole reason for being here. Will would only insist he was all right and didn't need a nursemaid, no matter what the truth was. "She says she's fine with it." Beverly didn't sound as sure about that as she'd intended to.

Will made a face. "Earlier Deanna asked me to come over for a nightcap and I knew she would get me to talk about it. I'm not ready yet." He ran a hand over his face. "I said something vague and..." He sighed. "I'm not very good at keeping secrets from Deanna. Even when I don't say anything."

Beverly nodded but was distracted by a scratch she'd seen on his hand when he'd raised it. She was certain he hadn't had it when he was in sickbay earlier. She stepped closer to take his hands and examine them. There were scratches and rough spots across both of them.

"I may have been a little enthusiastic with the set." He looked sheepish.

She gave a small shake of her head. "Sit down."

He did as he was told, while she fetched her medical kit.

"Maybe next time you decide to break up the set, you'll let someone help."

He smiled rather than answer and held his hands out. "Next time? You've only just finished one play and you're thinking about the next one already? Do you ever take a break?"

"Never." Though she smiled too. "I'm working with my acting class to perform a few scenes to their friends. As soon as they can agree on a play." She sighed, but her hand was steady as she ran the dermal regenerator over his wounds. "I'm sure I can find another play for my star actor after that."

He didn't say anything for a moment and she paused and glanced up to see him looking worried. "I think I need a break first."

She nodded and kept her tone light as she said, "Perhaps the next play should be a happier one. Then if you end up thinking you're living it, it won't be so hard." Healing done, she let his hands go and returned the tool to her medical kit.

"How about Romeo and Juliet? Famously has a happy ending." His eyes twinkled.

She grinned. "Or King Lear."

He stroked his beard for a moment before coming up with "Death of a Salesman."

"Oedipus Rex," she suggested.

He made a face. "The Romulan Influence."

She tilted her head. "I don't know that one."

"It's from the mid-twenty second century. The Romulan war is over but the crew believe the Romulans have infiltrated the ship. Typical alien paranoia for the era." He shrugged. "They all kill each other in the end."

"The USS Intrepid?" she guessed. She remembered hearing about it vanishing abruptly and its disappearance was still a mystery. She'd heard of more than one dramatization of what happened to it, based on the many theories that still abounded.

Will nodded and reached behind him for a PADD she'd left on the couch this morning. After a few taps he strode over to the center of the room and read, "'I have been betrayed.'" He raised a hand to his heart. "'My doctor a traitor; my tactical officer in collusion with him.'" Will put on a hurt expression and Beverly leaned forward, resting her elbows on her legs.

"'I die…'" Will dropped to his knees, pausing for dramatic effect. "'...with regret in my heart.'" He dropped back slowly, gurgling a little.

Beverly didn't wait for him to stop moving before picking up the pillow behind her and throwing it. It hit Will in the chest as he fell to the ground.

"You wound me," he said in the same tone he'd been using to act the captain's death. "Does my death displease you so?"

She rolled her eyes. "The dead should have the consideration to keep quiet."

He sat up and pressed a finger to his lips, his eyes smiling.

She couldn't keep from smiling herself. "All right, the part is yours." She stood to offer him a hand up, which he took. "Promise never to ham it up like that again."

He grinned and pulled on her hand to bring her closer and met her lips with his.

It wasn't as if she'd chosen to have this sort of relationship with Will, it had just happened. It turned out he was a good choice not to have made. He was a great kisser and a thoughtful lover.

Expecting that tonight he'd like some measure of control that he hadn't had while unconscious, she let him remove his uniform once he'd untied her robe. When they were both naked and in bed she ran her hands over his skin, relieved when she didn't find any other wounds. It wasn't always easy to switch the doctor part of her brain off.

He either didn't mind or didn't notice, because it didn't stop him from kissing her and bringing her mind back to other things. However, it clearly wasn't working quite so well for him, because after a time he stilled, a faraway expression on his face. She brought him back to her with a hand on his cheek.

"This is real, isn't it?" He looked worried as he met her eyes.

"This is real." She rubbed her thumb against his skin. "But I guess if I was imaginary I would say I was real."

He gave a wry smile.

If words couldn't convince him, perhaps something else could. She shifted her hips beneath him. "Would you feel like this if it wasn't?"

"It feels a lot like this in my dreams." He bent his head to kiss her shoulder.

She raised her eyebrows, but he wasn't looking. On purpose, she suspected. You couldn't control dreams, but she still wondered who was in them with him. Now, though, was not the best time to ask. Instead she gave another push of her hips and he obligingly returned to his previous rhythm.

Afterwards, lying with his arm around her, she asked, "Stay tonight, won't you?"

"Worried about me?" he guessed correctly, squeezing her shoulder.

"You were attacked, kidnapped and tortured. Although," she added, trying to lighten the mood, "that's not unusual for you."

He grinned. "Nature of the job. I am the one who gets the most dangerous missions."

"And I'm the one who has to patch you up." She reached out with a gentle finger to the side of his head, where he'd told her the neuro drain had been attached, although there was no sign of a wound. He winced and she frowned. "Does it still hurt?"

"No." He shook his head and she lay rested hand on his chest. "The pain was what told me nothing I was experiencing was real." He probed the same spot she'd touched. "Even after I thought I'd been rescued."

She leaned over to kiss his cheek. "Get some sleep. You'll feel better in the morning."

Beverly woke with a start. She peered into the darkness and saw Will sitting up, head in his hands and breathing heavily. "Will?" she asked softly. She sat up too and laid a hand on his shoulder.

"I'm fine." He dropped his hands. "Just a dream."

She shook her head. "More like a nightmare."

He sighed. "When I close my eyes I'm back in the hospital." He didn't look at her.

She squeezed his shoulder. "I think you should speak with Deanna."

"I will. In the morning." He shrugged off her hand and lay down, facing away from her.

However, she didn't think he was likely to go back to sleep so easily. Given her earlier visit, Deanna wouldn't be surprised to hear of his nightmare. Making a decision on his behalf, she climbed out of bed, asked the computer to raise the lights so she could find her robe, and called Deanna.

Deanna sounded sleepy, but said she'd come over right away, which they agreed would be easier than convincing Will to go to her quarters without a detour to his own. Will stayed in bed, feigning sleep, which Beverly took to mean he wasn't going to protest. It was only after she and Deanna had finished their conversation that he got out of bed, picked up his uniform and took it to the bathroom.

She let him go, and while they waited for Deanna, she picked up the PADD Will had discarded. It still had The Romulan Influence open on it and she scrolled back to the beginning to read the play.

She was only a couple of scenes in when Deanna arrived, in civilian clothes and her hair hastily pulled into a ponytail. While they were alone Beverly filled her in in low tones, although she wasn't telling Deanna anything she didn't already know.

Deanna looked unconcerned: professional, despite the nighttime house call. "Do you mind if we stay here, at least for a little while?"

"Of course not." If they'd gone to Will's quarters or Deanna's then Beverly would have spent the rest of the night worrying about whether Will was all right.

However, she was beginning to wonder if Will was planning on hiding in the bathroom all night. She was about to suggest to Deanna she go and fetch him when he emerged. Deanna led him over to the couch and Beverly returned to bed, taking the PADD with her.

Her broken night's sleep and the soothing tones of Deanna and Will's quiet voices lulled her to sleep. She woke before the simulated dawn had made it to full brightness with the PADD on her chest, having only made it through half the play.

She yawned and looked over to the couch to find Will and Deanna were still there. And both asleep, with Deanna using Will as a pillow and Will with a protective arm around her. Despite what Beverly had said to Deanna earlier, the sight made her a little guilty about having sex with Will. Moreover, it reminded her how much she missed sleeping with someone who cared about her without always involving sex.

Not wanting to wake them, she slipped into the bathroom to dress. When she finished she found she hadn't been quiet enough: Deanna had gone and Will was sitting up.

Beverly smiled at him. "You didn't have to sleep on the couch."

"I didn't intend to." There was an easy smile on his face as he stood, but there was a nervousness in his eyes that made her apprehensive. He took a deep breath. "There's something I ought to tell you."

She disliked the ominousness of his words, but Beverly managed to keep her expression neutral. All that poker playing paid off at times like this.

"I think I have feelings for you." He rushed his words. "At first I thought they might be memories of Odan's, but it's not the same."

She sighed. "We agreed not to include feelings in this." She waved an arm to point at nothing in particular.

"I know." He studied his feet. "I never thought I'd think of you as anything more than a friend."

It wasn't fair of her to blame him. It wasn't as if he'd purposely decided to feel something they'd agreed they didn't feel when they started all this. But it was too early in the morning to deal with. "I have to go. I have a meeting." She picked up her lab coat and walked out. She felt a little guilty at leaving him standing in her quarters, but was glad he didn't follow her.

It was early yet, but that meant she'd take the long route to Jean-Luc's quarters, which would give her more time to process what Will had told her. To Jean-Luc she wanted to appear normal - he was the last person she could talk to about it.

"Is everything all right?" Jean-Luc frowned. "You've been very quiet this morning."

Beverly smiled and sipped at her cooling coffee as if nothing was wrong, returning her attention to the here and now. "I've been reading a play set on a starship two hundred years ago. It's a little disturbing." She had been thinking abut it, since Will hammed up a few lines last night, even if it wasn't what was at the forefront of her mind. But this was something she could rely on Jean-Luc to be interested in.

"Oh?" he refilled his cup and she raised a hand when he waved the pot in her direction.

"The Romulans, or rather one of the many theories people had about them in the twenty second century, infiltrate the Intrepid and set the crew against each other." She placed her cup down and leaned forward slightly. "Everything that goes wrong on the ship, it's Romulans. Anyone appears to act abnormally, it must be the Romulans."

"And they're burnt at the stake?" Jean-Luc suggested, picking up the analogy and his cup.

She smiled. "More or less. I haven't finished it yet, but I don't think any of them are going to come out of it very well."

He nodded slowly. "A cautionary tale about mistrusting your neighbors or your friends?"

"I don't know yet." She leaned back. "Will said it was the former when he suggested it to me, but I'm not sure."

"Perhaps it's worth putting it on. Might give a lot of the crew something to think about," he said over the rim of his cup.

"Maybe you'd like a small part in it." She grinned.

"No, no." He finished his coffee and stood, picking up his empty plate and stacking his cup and saucer on it. "There are far better actors on board than I."

She knew he was trying to get rid of her before he ended up with a part, but she couldn't resist teasing him. "Perhaps the doctor. He dies early on."

He gave her a look, to which she grinned. "I'll let you know." She ignored his sigh and started clearing her end of the table.

Aside from dealing with a broken wrist and other bumps and bruises caused by an over-enthusiastic game of Parrises Squares by some off-duty crewmen, Beverly spent the morning in her office. She had time to finish reading the play, interrupted by a discussion over subspace with Dr Fernandez about the latest research on Serraimo's Syndrome.

She was absorbed in some research data when Deanna arrived. Beverly had to check the time on her monitor before agreeing to join her friend for lunch. "Anywhere but Ten Forward."

Deanna accepted that and led the way to one of the smaller lounges they didn't often frequent, keeping their talk to what they'd done this morning until they were sat at a table with their food. Beverly should have known Deanna had an ulterior motive. Neither of them had even taken a bite before Deanna asked, "So who are you avoiding?"

"I'm not avoiding him exactly." Beverly pushed her Altarian vege-ball around her plate, watching it intently, as if it was likely to come to life. "I'm trying to decide how I feel about him before I see him." She was certain Deanna already knew who they were talking about. Will's confession was unlikely to have come from nowhere. She'd bet a stack of chips he'd spoken to Deanna about this last night.

"What have you thought so far?" Deanna didn't ask who 'he' was, thus confirming Beverly's suspicions.

She speared a lettuce leaf and chewed while she thought about the subject she'd been avoiding all morning. Although Will had started out as a friend, their nights together had made it more than that. "My feelings are all mixed up with Odan's." Even though she hadn't seen Odan for two years, which was long enough for her to have put him out of her mind. He hadn't even come up when she'd first been involved with Will, beyond the strangeness of their first time together. Some of which could just be put down to it being their first time. But now it was different.

"Do you feel the same way about Will that you felt about Odan?" Deanna's lunch was still untouched, her attention all on Beverly. Which Beverly wasn't sure she was all that keen on. But she knew from experience there was nothing she could do to distract her friend, beyond causing a ship-wide emergency. And Jean-Luc would have something to say about that. And it wouldn't put off the inevitable conversation forever. Best to get it over with now.

"No," Beverly replied, in a firm tone. Of that she was sure. "With Odan it was that first rush of love where the other person can do no wrong." Right up until the point where it turned out Odan was hiding who he was. But that was in the past and was no use brooding about now.

Deanna nodded. "Maybe it would help if you and Will explored your feelings together."

"I'll think about it." Going from friends to more was a tricky proposition, even if they were sure they both felt the same thing. But then they had dipped a toe over that line, if not crossed it, when they'd started sleeping together. She sighed, leaning back in her chair. "Why does it have to be so complicated?"

"Feelings are rarely simple." Deanna picked up her fork.

Beverly sliced her vege-ball in half. "Give me a body any day."

Most of Beverly's afternoon was taken up by minor injuries caused by a small accident in the science lab. After dinner and her acting class she could almost believe that she hadn't been avoiding Will and she'd merely been busy. However, she knew she'd sleep better if she spoke to him tonight. Rather than returning to her quarters for a relaxing cup of tea, she headed to his quarters.

When she entered she found he wasn't in uniform and that blue really brought out his eyes. She felt under dressed in her uniform, even though it was what Will saw her in every day. Having removed her lab coat at the end of the working day, she had no pockets to stick her hands in. She stood in the center of the room, her hands pressed to her legs, not knowing what else to do with them.

"I'm sorry I left early this morning. It was a lot to take in." Unconsciously she raised her hands to her pockets. Upon finding none she dropped them again.

He nodded and leaned against his desk chair. "I understand."

Which should have made it easier to say what she needed to, but she didn't know how to begin. She opened her mouth, changed her mind, then ended up talking about another topic. "My acting class still hasn't decided on a scene they wanted to do, so I gave them The Romulan Influence."

He straightened up, brightening. "How did it go?"

"Terribly." She made a face. "The scene was a Mexican stand-off towards the end of the play. Except they couldn't remember who they were playing and didn't always point their plastic phase pistols at the right person." She sighed. It was the sort of evening that would ordinarily have led her to Will's quarters.

"I wouldn't have liked to have been there for the dressing down." He smiled.

"They won't forget next time." She wasn't about to divulge her secrets. At least not without bribery.

But he didn't seem that keen on knowing more and instead picked a PADD up from his desk. "I've been re-reading The Romulan Influence." He scrolled up through it and stood by her side, his arm brushing against her hip as he pointed to Act 1 Scene 11. "I thought this scene was interesting." He went on to read, "'You've been on the front line. You know how sneaky the Romulans are.'"

He angled the PADD so she could also read from it and jabbed his finger at the next line. It was Chief Engineer Commander Anna Byelev's part. She was talking to Harry Croft, the science officer, when they were both off-duty and in Croft's quarters.

Beverly gave Will an indulgent smile and read, "'I know. I remember. But Harry, the war's been over for a year.'" Getting into the part made her temporarily forget what she was here for and who she was with.

"'And what have the Romulans been doing in that time?'" The urgency of the scene came through in Will's voice. "'Re-grouping. Finding a new methods of attack.'"

She sighed heavily. "'Conspiracy theories. That's all it is.'"

"'Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't. We have to be on our guard.'"

"'How long have we served together? I would know if you were being influenced by the Romulans.'" She looked up from the PADD and met Will's eyes.

"'I would know too,'" he said softly, not needing to check the PADD for the words. He took her hand.

Being able to follow on from their exchange as Anna and Harry gave her the confidence to state how she felt. She kept his eyes on his as she said, "I can tell the difference between you and Odan. You don't sound the same or act the same. Or kiss the same way." Odan was as different from Will as Will had been in those few lines he'd read. "My feelings for you are separate from my feelings for Odan. It's not love, but it's more than friendship."

He smiled and leaned in to kiss her, but she stopped him with a hand on his chest.

"I'm not looking for anything serious." Serious always complicated things too much and this was already not as simple as it had started out being. Besides, she wasn't sure about getting too involved with someone she served with.

"Neither am I." Although his expression was serious. "Let's see how it goes."

She nodded. However, this time when he leaned in she turned her head. She hadn't finished yet and she didn't want to give him the opportunity to distract her. With her mouth close to his cheek she said softly, "You're wrong about the play. It's not about the post-war anti-alien paranoia of the time. It's a cautionary tale about trust."

"Even though the crew kill each other due to what they think is the Romulan influence?" His breath tickled her cheek before he moved to nuzzle at her neck.

Despite him knowing what it did to her she didn't let him sway her from the topic. Although she had to take a deep breath before she could speak. "They kill each other due to a lack of trust."

He stood up straight, shaking his head, and dropped the PADD back on his desk. He turned back to take her hands and attempt to lead her over to the couch. "Because they thought aliens couldn't be trusted."

She stood firm, not letting herself be moved - physically or in this debate. He stopped pulling, but didn't drop her hands. "The ship's doctor was an alien. So they killed him first. He was the one person who wasn't affected by the paranoia on board. If they'd let him live he may have proved the Romulans had nothing to do with it."

He slowly nodded. "Perhaps the author kept it deliberately vague so people would make up their own minds."

She tilted her head, acknowledging that possibility. Maybe they did need to do this play. However, she was prevented from saying so by Will swaying.

He let go of her to press one hand to his forehead.

She took his shoulder, steadying him. "Will?" His eyes looked a little glazed, but the pupils were even.

He frowned. "Just a bit of dizziness. It'll pass."

She wouldn't have taken his word for that on any occasion. But it was only yesterday that she'd examined him and found a slightly higher level of neurotoxins. At the time she'd put it down to the neuro drain and hoped it would improve on its own. At the time it had seemed like the best option, given the possible side effects of the medication needed to treat it. However, it also relied on Will letting her know if he felt ill. She wasn't at all sure this was the first instance of dizziness today.

"I'm going to need to get you to sickbay. Can you walk?" She wished they were in her quarters, where she had a spare medical kit. But she couldn't rely on guesswork, not when there was potentially something badly wrong.

"Yes," he said firmly. He let go of her and then nearly tripped over his feet trying to make his way over to the door.

She sighed. What was it about men that made them think they were tougher than they really were? She took his arm and he leaned on her. "How many other dizzy spells have you had today?"

"One or two." He looked guilty and with good reason. At least he was listening to her now and doing as he was told. Not that he had a choice. She would have pulled rank and ordered him to sickbay on a gurney if he hadn't been so willing to get there under his own steam.

He was still protesting when they reached the turbolift. "But I'm fine."

She rolled her eyes. "You're not fine."

He went on to prove she was right by being sick as they entered sickbay. She left a nurse to clean up while she pushed Will onto a bed, on his side in case he was sick again, and found a tricorder. As she suspected, his neurotoxin level had not decreased. In fact it had increased slightly. Probably due to the stress of keeping reality straight in his head.

"It's just as well this didn't happen on the bridge," she told him, pressing a hypospray to his neck. At least she didn't have to worry about the drug's affect on his long term memory, now that twenty four hours had passed since she'd restored it. "Next time, remember when I tell you to come to me if you feel ill, I say it for a reason." She left it there, not wanting to labor the point and rested a comforting hand on his shoulder. His color was already returning as the symboadretizine took effect.

"I feel fine now." He smiled at her.

She rolled her eyes. "You've cried wolf too many times. I'll be the judge of that."

He sighed and closed his eyes.

The dizzy spells would have taken a fair bit out of him, so she wasn't surprised he was tired. A little time was probably all that was required to make him actually feel better, rather than just insist he was. But then she'd thought that time was all he'd needed yesterday. She picked up a PADD and took it to the next bed, from where she could see his vital signs.

It wasn't the best time of day to do it, but she caught up on her correspondence anyway. She could leave Will to the gamma shift, but she told herself she was staying because he'd be a better patient with her. As a patient she cared about him exactly as much as she cared about all her other patients. Not even their friendship counted inside sickbay. At least, in theory. She didn't always find it easy to turn her feelings off like that. Especially straight after she'd confessed to having any for him.

Rather than dwell on it she sorted her messages and prioritized them. Judging by the requests from beta shift and the ETA of their arrival at Tau Galli Prime, tomorrow was going to be a busy day. She'd nearly come up with a to do list for the morning when Will opened his eyes and asked, "How long are you going to keep me here?"

She made a show of being interrupted: laying her PADD on the bed and picking up her tricorder. Then she took her time scanning him. She caught his eye when she closed her tricorder and he gave a look, which she ignored. His neurotoxins had fallen to almost normal levels and he didn't have any side-effects. He wasn't better, not completely, but he was well enough to be discharged. With monitoring. Although it was tempting to make him stay overnight to make the point.

"I'll sleep better in my quarters." He turned a pleading expression on her. "You can come and keep an eye on me."

She sighed. She did need a decent night's sleep. "All right."

He smiled and pushed himself up.

"Take it slow." She put an arm around him to help him up then left him getting used to sitting up while she collected a few useful things, in case he had a relapse in the night.

At least this late in the evening the corridors were largely empty and they had the turbolift to themselves, as they had on the way to sickbay. Not that anyone would have made anything out of Beverly supporting Will in either direction. But she wasn't sure she wanted anyone else on the ship knowing about their relationship. Not when it was so new.

While they were in the turbolift Will showed he had recovered by leaning closer to her, his breath ticking her ear as he said, "If you'd let me kiss you earlier, we could have been doing something more interesting than visiting sickbay."

She bit back a smile. "And I'd have left it to you to explain why we were both half-naked."

He tilted his head acknowledging the point.

"And you aren't well enough to be doing anything tonight other than sleeping." She jabbed him in the chest. "That's your punishment for not coming to me sooner."

"Yes, doctor." He leaned down to kiss her. They jerked apart as they reached deck eight and the doors opened. Although it turned out no one was there.

She did take his hand as they walked down the corridor to his quarters.

Once inside he sat on his bed with a sigh, confirming that he didn't feel nearly as well as he wanted her to believe. She started unbuttoning his shirt, but he took her hands.

"I can do that."

She stepped back and let him, removing her uniform at the same time. When she slid into bed beside Will she lay an arm over him. "Sleep, and you'll feel better in the morning."

He leaned over to kiss her on the cheek, before closing his eyes.

Although he fell asleep quickly, she lay for a while watching him. She realized the truth was she'd known all along what her feelings for Will were, but she'd been afraid to admit it to herself. Now they could start a new relationship without hiding anything.

"I'm sorry I ever suspected you. It's hard to know what the truth is these days."

"The truth is I'm Anna and you're Harry and even the Romulans can't change that."

- The Romulan Influence, Act 1 Scene 11