Small Comfort
by The Enigmatic Big Miss Sunbeam

"I thought you didn't dance."

"On special occasions," he says and moves beautifully against her.

She feels his body throbbing.

She swallows.

And his face moves in very close to hers. His breath is warm. "I don't think I told you. I'm glad you're back on the Enterprise. I missed our friendship."

He smells like wine and nothing else. Together they move with the music. The palms of his hands are rough and dry and warm against hers.

She ducks her head a bit. "I did too."

He brushes against her, and she knows what she thinks she feels. And her ears ring. She never dreamed this might happen: the music is overwhelming, the wine is overwhelming, and all she has to do is wait.

All she has ever had to do was wait. Wait on Jean-Luc to get over Jenice or the Enterprise or Jack or all the other things that interrupted the present tense that she, woman, lived in. He lived in the future and the past, but she occupied the very second they were in.

And now it seems as if she might learn what that second would be like if Jean-Luc gave into time and drowned himself in her immediacy.

They are moving around and around.

And his face, his face as noble as a rock carved by slow-moving time and nature, moves towards her and she is patient, and then his lips hover near hers and she is waiting and there it is, fantasized a thousand times and now upon her lips: him.

And she kisses back as if she could press herself all the way into him.

And he pulls back.

She swallows. "Jean-Luc, if I didn't know you better, I'd think you were playing games with me."

He breathes out. "Are you sorry you came tonight?"

"I didn't say that."

"Good." He smiles. "Because I'm glad you did." There is the briefest shift in the air. "But perhaps we should call it a night."

She can only follow his lead. He shows her to the door.

"Good night."

She finds herself breathing in the hall. What was he . . .

She walks to her room in a daze. His lips still seem to be touching her lips. Every other second she stops and lets her heart pound.

The engines of the Enterprise hum. She blushes. And closes her eyes. Tonight she could drug herself into a false tranquility. The medical records can tell her how.

She enters her quarters. Because of what has happened, it is almost unrecognizable.

She stands there. Trying to place who she is now in the room.

The door alert sounds. She turns.

And he is there. A slightly glowing figure standing in her doorway.

"I've rethought this," he says.

He is toying with her, but she's so grateful she says nothing, only steps forward.

"Beverly, I don't know what I was thinking of. I do very much want to be with you." And he steps inside the quarters. The door closes with a soft hiss.

She makes no movement; she waits, that's what she does best.

He pulls her to him. His flesh is like warm fluid iron, very lovely.

Then he places his thin lips on her curved ones. "Beverly," he whispers.

She leans toward him and he breathes in through his nose and they are kissing. She is damp everywhere in his love.

And his hand moves to her blouse and, after a moment of massaging her shoulders, he unfastens her buttons. She breathes out a little bit. His hands are on her bare breasts and she can sense the relaxed pleasure he feels in their soft roundness. The palms of his hands are rough: a man's hands. She feels the swirls of his fingertips making sleepy circles on her flesh.

He breaks the kiss to taste her bare shoulder.

Her hand runs across the fine arc of his skull.

She feels like dancing.

A whole life is being introduced to her in this second; she will never be the same, she will be his flesh forever as this starry night spins into eternity.

He is holding her arms and looking deep into her eyes. She kisses first one cheek and then the other. And gazes back at him. They say nothing. There is no need for words.

And with a certain movement, satin as a dance step, they move to Beverly's bed. His hand moves down the soft curves of her body taking her clothes away as it moves over her. And then he leans back on his knees and makes himself naked in the starlight.

He touches the firm tip of her breast as if it were sacred. They breathe out together, and he swoops down and takes her in his wet mouth. Her body moves against him helplessly. He is between her knees; she feels his aching and awakened flesh and he is poised at her opening.

He covers her mouth with his.

She moves ever so gently against him. Wanting this more than she has ever wanted anything.

Oh, she is his, all his. And now he is buried in her, his breath hot against her neck, and she shakes uncontrollably in the moment. Together they are liquid dance.

And he draws his breath in and moves again and again against her, beating the firm base of his body against her, and she sighs.

He makes no sound other than his heart and his breath.

She sighs with him.

His hand is holding her long hair in his and he is whispering "Beverly, Beverly" and she is touching his shoulders and her body bucks back and

it is not Jean-Luc. The thought is sudden ice in her brain.

This is not Jean-Luc. This is not Jean-Luc's way. To be so giving and needy, to surrender so easily into her flesh.

She gasps. And the figure with her murmurs, "Beverly."

This is not Jean-Luc.

She puts her hands on his shoulders to push him away.

He murmurs "Beverly" again.

Starfleet slips in: whatever it is with her, it wants her to believe it is Jean-Luc.

And she is not in a position to defy it.

Her only advantage is to play along.

She remembers to move. She gasps again as if enjoying this.

The thing that is not Jean-Luc pounds against her. It is clear that it doesn't know that she knows. It cannot know, nothing could know, how well she knows Jean-Luc.

The thing that is not Jean-Luc is groaning.

Not Jean-Luc but very like.

It would not be wrong to love this creature a little, for Starfleet, for the real Jean-Luc wherever he is. For herself.

She opens her knees further. And the Jean-Luc thing gasps.

"More," she whispers, confident now that it's not Jean-Luc.

Oddly confident.

"This is what I need," she says to it in a rough sweet voice.

"Oh, yes."

"Jean-Luc, we should have been lovers years ago."

"Oh, I agree."

Not Jean-Luc but an incredible simulation. She opens herself more and more against the being's battering beautiful flesh.

"Jean-Luc, fill me again and again."

"Darling!" it says. It knows its script.

A double pleasure. Learning about it, the Jean-Luc thing, and . . . the secret pleasure of what is between her knees. The obedient creature wants to be Jean-Luc for her, and that thought makes her begin to collapse inside and she is almost numb in her convulsing and she makes a little scream and the Jean-Luc thing is coming inside her, he knows what he is doing, Jean-Luc or no, and they throb against each other and she clutches him to her as if to bring him all the way in.

They lie in the sensation.

"Jean-Luc" she says with perfect confidence in its not-Jean-Luc-ness. "That was wonderful." She is almost giddy with the excitement of its not being Jean-Luc; that what they have done doesn't matter. She will sort these emotions out later, this tango in the dark with a beautiful stranger, male, female, human, alien. This unanswerable stranger.

But the exciting thing is her own indifference.

If it were Jean-Luc, the full tide of her love would paralyze her; she would be too flooded with fear and love to feel the simple pleasure of cells. But this creature. . .

"I need my sleep, darling. I've the busiest schedule possible tomorrow."

The agreeable Jean-Luc thing cannot possibly know her as well as she knows him.

"I thought I'd stay. I thought you liked me full of surprises."

Pity, something she could never feel for Jean-Luc, creeps in. "Jean-Luc, be full of surprises tomorrow."

"Very well, dearest," it says and kisses her hands.

In the exercise room, Beverly leans against the firm little bridge that is Deanna. They're both quite limber.

"That ended well," Deanna says brightly. "And I know the whole crew is grateful to you for your insights into the alien presence. You helped save the ship." Then she pauses. "Beverly, how did you know?"

"Deanna, how did you not know?"

Deanna gives her a look. It is clear what Deanna is thinking, is reading.

"Was it good for you too, Beverly?"

"You can't read my mind and tell?"

"Now you're scaring me." They smile at each other. Women together on the great frontier of love.

"Deanna, it was . . . a useful learning experience."

"That's what we women always tell ourselves." They smile at each other.

Suddenly Beverly's eyes are burning. "It certainly is pretty to think so," she says.

The End