How Do I Live Without You?
How do I get through one night without you
If I had to live without you
What kind of life would that be
Oh I, I need you in my arms
Need you to hold
You're my world, my heart, my soul
If you ever leave
Baby, you would take away everything good in my life
And tell me now,
How do I live without you
I want to know
How do I breathe without you
If you ever go
How do I ever, ever survive
How do I
How do I
Oh, how do I live
Without you, there would be no sun in my sky
There would be no love in my life
There would be no world left for me
And I...Baby, I don't know what I would do
I'd be lost if I lost you
If you ever leave
Baby, you would take away everything real in my life
If you ever leave
Baby, you would take away everything
Need you with me
Baby, cause you know that you're everything good in my life
Jean-Luc Picard awoke to the feeling that something was not right although, he didn't know how he knew or what exactly was wrong. He just had an overwhelming sense of wrongness. Picard opened his eyes and rolled over. A smile replaced the frown on his face as he saw the figure curled up next to him in bed. The woman's russet hair spilled over the pillow behind her and covered her sleeping face.
Picard moved closer and leaned over the sleeping woman. He pressed his lips to her bare shoulder, his lips trailing a path over the exposed skin, to her neck. The woman stirred and rolled over onto her back, as she did she lifted an arm to brush the hair from her face. "Mmm, good morning." the woman smiled and awaited his morning kiss.
Jean-Luc stared down at the woman in shock. She was not the woman who he had thought she would be. This was not the face of his dreams.
The woman's smile faded. "Jean-Luc, is everything alright?" she questioned. Her voice sounded strange to his ears, although he knew that it shouldn't.
Picard recovered his composure quickly. "Yes Megan everything is fine. But I need to go away for a few days so it's probably best if you went home." he finished with a pat on her blanketed thigh and a perfunctory kiss on her cheek before slipping from the bed and disappearing into the bathroom.
As the door closed behind him, Jean-Luc leaned against the door and buried his face in his hands. It all came back to him. Beverly Crusher was dead, and had been for the last three and a half years. That's what had felt so wrong. She shouldn't have died, it should have been her there in bed beside him.
He'd been devastated by her death and so, at the time he had not felt the wrongness of it. The deep depression that had followed had lasted until only a few months ago and then he'd felt the sense of wrongness but had passed it off as lingering grief. But as the months had passed the feeling had grown stronger each day until he could ignore it no longer.
Picard stripped off his night clothes and stepped into the shower.
When he exited the bathroom some twenty minutes later Megan was gone. He knew that he had been abrupt with her but perhaps that was for the best. Megan was a good, kind woman and deserved better than he could ever give her. He did not love her and knew now that he never would. That part of him had died with Beverly.
As he dressed his mind ran with a myriad of thoughts. But finally, as he stepped from his small house and moved up the walk to the road, he knew what he had to do for his own peace of mind.
He moved down the road to the small village where he served as an Ambassador. As he walked Jean-Luc moved past a small tree-lined graveyard. He paused in front of the iron gate then moved closer and entered. He walked down the row of headstones for several yards and stopped at one beneath a large flowering tree. He looked down at the inscription chiseled in granite and the grief welled up in him once more.
BEVERLY CHERYL HOWARD CRUSHER
October 13, 2324 - August 20, 2373
Beloved Mother, Friend and Lover.
For thy sweet love remembered
And if I lose thy love, I lose my all
Jean-Luc knelt and laid down the yellow rose that he had instinctively brought with him. Reaching out he rested his hand against the cold, smooth granite. Bowing his head he whispered.
"Bonjour mon cher. Je t'aime. I miss you so."
As he knelt by her graveside memories came unbidden to his mind. Images of Beverly as she had appeared to him before that fateful mission that had taken her life. She had smiled that ever beautiful smile and kissed him goodbye before stepping up onto the transporter platform. As she shimmered from sight she had blown him a kiss. And try as he might to keep the image from his mind, he could not help but remember how she had looked the last time he saw her.
Beverly's body had been brought home and since Wesley was not available the task of identifying her had fallen to him.
Jean-Luc remembered vividly walking numbly into the mortuary and standing beside the table. On that table lay a white shrouded body. The mortician pulled back the white sheet to reveal the still form beneath. Picard could still feel the invisible fist that had punched him in the stomach.
"Yes." he had mumbled, choking back his emotions "That's Beverly."
Her lovely face was cut and bruised but it was totally devoid of any color except for the purplish bruises and the pale blue of her lips. None of her warmth and vitality remained. All that had been Beverly Crusher, all that had first attracted him to her, her wit and intelligence were gone. Jean-Luc reached out and rested the back of his hand against her pale cheek. He exquisite ivory skin was as cold as marble.
"How did she...?" He asked quietly, raising his eyes to look at the mortician.
"Her windpipe was shattered, probably by a blow to the throat. There was also this..." the mortician said and pulled the sheet down further to reveal the ugly wound in her chest. There was no mistaking the markings of the wound. Beverly had been stabbed by a Klingon knife.
Picard shuddered and brought himself back to the present, pushing the unwelcome image from his mind. He rose to his feet "Adieu, cherie." he whispered as he moved away.
Leaving the cemetery he continued his journey into town. As he walked, Jean-Luc mused about the entirety of events that had very nearly destroyed his life and subsequently others as well.
Beverly's last mission was to have been a simple one. Starfleet had asked her to fill in for the CMO of the USS Atlantis, for two weeks. While delivering medical supplies to Sybex 3 Beverly had beamed down to oversee the distribution of those supplies. Sybex 3 was a frontier world on the edge of the Federation and was a port world where ships from both in and out of the Federation came to resupply.
At the time that Beverly's ship had been there, there was also a renegade Klingon vessel. They were wanted by their own government for crimes against the Klingon Empire.
Beverly unfortunately had been in the wrong place at the wrong time and because she had worn a Starfleet uniform she had died. The four Klingons had been sitting in a cafe near the Spaceport and had caught site of the blue Starfleet uniform crossing the street. They had followed her. It had been Beverly's misfortune to make a wrong turn and end up in a dead end street. The Klingon's had blocked her path and prevented her from leaving. She hadn't even had time to call the ship for help. Crusher had been quickly subdued and she was no match for the brute strength of four Klingon warriors. She had been swiftly and efficiently executed simply because she was a member of the Federation. Their intention had been to draw the attention of the Federation, whom they despised, and perhaps start a war. What they hadn't known, however, was that by the execution of this particular Federation member they would start a civil war on their own home world.
Upon hearing of the death of his former shipmate by four his countrymen, Worf had exacted his revenge. He had hunted down each of them and all four had died at his hands. They had no honor he had replied, for the attack on Beverly Crusher had been unprovoked and therefore was dishonorable.
Worf's actions had had serious repercussions back on the home world and had been the catalyst for a civil war. There had been many Klingons who had believed as the four warriors had. That the Klingons had grown soft during their alliance with the Federation and that they should return to the old ways, being adversaries and not allies to the Federation.
Picard shook his head. How many lives had that destroyed? Thousands had died before the civil war had ended- Worf and his son Alexander among them.
Deanna Troi, who had been engaged to marry Worf, had been shattered by their deaths. She had returned to Betazed and had not been heard from since.
Jean-Luc entered the embassy and walked down the hall to his office. His secretary smiled as he approached.
"Good morning, Ambassador."
"Morning Lyssa." Picard replied, giving her a small smile.
"Could you track down and call Professor Data for me. I need to speak to him as soon as possible. It's very important." he said as he passed her and entered his office.
"Sure, right away." Lyssa replied.
Several minutes later Lyssa's voice came over the intercom.
"I have Professor Data for you, Ambassador."
"Thank you Lyssa." Picard replied and activated his screen.
"Ambassador Picard." Data smiled "It is very good to see you."
"You too Data." Picard was still not quite used to the fact that Data now had emotions. "Data, the reason why I'm calling you is because I have a small dilemma on my hands that I need your help with."
"Sure Ambassador. What can I do for you?"
Jean-Luc explained to Data all that had been going through his mind of late, the sense of wrongness he felt about Beverly's death and all the events that had followed it.
"Yes," Data nodded "I too have felt the same sense of wrongness."
"Well I'm glad that I'm not the only one. My question is, what do I do about it?"
"Well, sir there appears to be only one solution. Go back and change the events that led to Doctor Crusher's death."
"Change the time-line? Data as much as I want Beverly back, you and I both know that the results of that could be catastrophic."
"Yes. But consider the fact that the time-line has already been altered by Doctor Crusher's death. Perhaps she should not have died if that is so then all that happened after should not have happened either."
"How can we be sure?"
"We cannot be one hundred percent sure but I will research this. I will meet you in two days to share with you my findings and discuss what should be done."
"Thankyou Data. I'll see you in two days then."
"Very good Sir. Goodbye." Data signed off.
True to his word, two days later Data walked into Jean-Luc's office. Picard led Data over to the chairs that sat in front of a large picture window overlooking a lake. Once they were seated, Data shared with Picard his findings.
"I am as certain as I can be that if we were to go back and prevent the death of Doctor Crusher that the timeline would then repair itself. Her death was the focal point of all the catastrophic events that followed."
"So, then we should go ahead and try and correct things."
"I believe so, yes. I should also tell you Ambassador that even if we go back and rescue Doctor Crusher from the Klingon attack, that does not mean she will not die at some other time in the correct timeline."
"I understand." Picard nodded.
"Alright then, I suggest we book passage to the Guardian of Forever. That would seem to be the easiest and most logical way to go back."
"Very well I'll have my secretary make all the arrangements."
Several days later Picard and Data stood before The Guardian of Forever. It was an arch, having the appearance of being cut from solid rock.
The ever present wind howled around them. As Data approached it, the Guardian came to life. The hollow center of the arch filled with a misty vapor and gave off a low pitched hum. Jean-Luc paced anxiously as Data queried the arch. The android turned away from the arch as the history of Sybex 3 began its run.
Upon seeing that his former captain was preparing to follow him Data put a stop to it. "Ambassador. It would be best if I proceeded alone."
"Because I would stand less of a chance of further polluting the timeline than you would."
"You're right, of course Data." Picard agreed.
"I shall return shortly." Data said and then he stepped forward to face the arch.
The images ran past at a pace that Jean-Luc could not comprehend but fortunately Data could. Suddenly the android stepped forward, leaping through the arch and disappeared from sight. The Guardian quieted and the mist dissipated. To Picard, nothing around him seemed to have changed.
Jean-Luc turned his back on the arch and was preparing to resume his anxious pacing when mere seconds later the Guardian came once more to life and Data leapt through.
"Data?" Picard questioned.
"It is done." Data said as he approached.
"But you left only seconds ago." Before Data could reply the Guardian intoned in a deep, rumbling voice.
"All is as it was."
Data turned to face Picard. "It would seem, Ambassador that the action we took was the correct one. We apparently restored the timeline to what it should have been."
"Then Beverly's not dead?" Picard asked quietly, not quite sure he wanted to hear Data's reply.
"As I stated before, Ambassador, I cannot say if her death came at a later date but I do know that she did not die on Sybex 3."
Jean-Luc merely nodded, he would have to be satisfied with that. Although a part of him felt that Beverly was alive he was not sure whether it was in fact the truth or just that he wished it to be so. Picard looked up at his former colleague and smiled.
"Well then Data, I guess we should be going. Thank you for all that you've done."
"You are most welcome Sir." Data smiled "And I truely hope that things work out the way you want them to."
All during his trip home, Jean-Luc did not want to check Federation records for Beverly's name for fear that he would not find it anywhere.
Walking home from the spaceport, Jean-Luc was filled with mixed emotions: hope that Beverly would be waiting for him and fear that she would not. He paused at the gate to the cemetery and looked down the row of headstones. He could not bring himself to go inside and confirm his fears.
Throughout all of Picard's entire Starfleet career he had been in numerous life threatening situations and he was not a man who was scared or frightened easily. But not having Beverly in his life scared him more than he could say. He had lived that nightmare for over three years and hoped that it would not continue.
Steeling himself for what was to come, Jean-Luc walked the rest of the way home. He stopped at the front gate and looked at the house. It looked the same as it had when he'd left. The same as it had when he and Beverly had moved in together four years earlier. The living room window was open and the lacy white curtains fluttered with the warm summer breeze. Flowers grew under the window and along the stone walkway.
Pushing open the gate, Picard walked up to the door. He paused before putting out a tentative hand and opening the door. Taking a deep breath and feeling like he was about to plunge head long over a cliff he closed his eyes and stepped inside. The door closed behind him and slowly Jean-Luc opened his eyes, looking around.
The relief he felt almost brought him to his knees. This was definitely not the same house that he had left. That house had been dull and lifeless. This place was a home, full of warmth and color...life.
A delighted squeal caught Picard's attention and he turned his head.
Running toward him was a small three-year old child.
"Papa, Papa!" the little girl called gleefully as she ran. She was dressed in a rumpled, well played in green romper and her russet hair was pulled up into two pigtails each tied with green ribbons.
Jean-Luc went down on his knees and held out his arms. The girl ran into them and he pulled her tightly to him. "You're home Papa." the girl said in French.
"Oui mon precieux fille." Jean-Luc whispered, trying to rein in the flood of emotions that he felt.
There was no mistaking whose child this was, Jean-Luc thought as he leaned back to look at her face. She had her mother's russet hair and delicate features and her father's green eyes.
"Where's your mamman Jannelle?" he questioned.
"She was talking to Auntie Dee..." the little girl pulled out of his embrace and ran back down the hall "Mamman! Papa's home, Papa's home!" she called.
Jean-Luc got to his feet, and leaving his bag where he'd dropped it he moved further into the house. Then, suddenly she appeared around the corner and once more Jean-Luc felt as though his stomach was around his knees.
Beverly stood before him very much alive and looking more beautiful than ever. She wore a flowered print sundress that left her ivory shoulders bare, her unbound hair flowed radiantly about her shoulders. Her hands rested on either side of her very pregnant stomach. "Beverly." he whispered softly.
"Hello Jean." she smile and moved towards him. "How did things go at Headquarters?"
"Fine" he muttered as he watched her cross over to him , only just now realizing that he was dressed in the uniform of a Starfleet Admiral.
Jean-Luc pulled her close against him and closed his eyes.
"You're home early." she whispered in his ear. She felt his nod before he pulled back.
"I finished early, and I missed my girls." His eyes caught and held hers then traveled the rest of her exquisitely chiseled features. He reached up to caress her cheek.
Beverly frowned slightly for she sensed something in him that she couldn't quite put her finger on. He was acting strangely. "Jean-Luc, is something wrong?" she questioned softly.
"No mon cher everything's fine, just fine." He replied with a tender smile.
With his fingers entwined in the silk of her hair, he drew her lips to his and kissed her very thoroughly. He heard her soft moan as he deepened the kiss, his tongue slipping past her parted lips to entwine with her own.
Suddenly, a tug on his pantleg brought him back to the fact that they were not alone in the room. He broke the kiss reluctantly and looked down at his daughter.
"Yes Jannelle?" he smiled.
"Did you bring me something Papa?" she asked, her green eyes eager.
Jean-Luc chuckled and reached down to pull the girl into his arms. "Well I don't know if I did or not." he teased. "Why don't we take a look in Papa's case and see what's in there."
"She finally fell asleep." Beverly said quietly as she stepped into the bedroom and closed the door behind her. "She just adores that bear you brought her. She wouldn't go to sleep without it." The woman smiled and crossed to the dresser.
Jean-Luc watched silently as she pulled a nightdress from the drawer and proceeded to get ready for bed.
"I talked to Deanna today, " Beverly continued as she pulled off the sun dress. "She and Will are expecting us for Jeremy's birthday next week." She finished as she pulled the light cotton nightgown over her head and it settled softly around her. "Apparently Lwaxana has a huge celebration planned. Nothing is too much for her grandson."
Beverly turned around when Picard did not reply. His aversion of Deanna's mother was legendary and she had expected some reaction. Beverly frowned.
"Jean?" she questioned as she crossed to the bed and sat beside him. "What is it?" she asked softly and caressed his cheek. "What's wrong?"
"The memories are almost gone now. " he said softly "If I didn't know otherwise I'd think that it had all been a dream."
"What memories? Jean you've been acting strangely since you came home. What's wrong? Is something wrong at Command?" she asked, her concern evident on her delicate features.
Picard turned to face her, his eyes taking in every detail. He reached out and brushed back her hair "This may be difficult for you to comprehend but the life I was living just yesterday is not what I'm living now. It was vastly different."
"I don't understand." Beverly said quietly and took his hand, interlacing their fingers.
Jean-Luc looked into her sapphire eyes, then he sighed and after taking a deep breath he told her about his life of the last four years. He paused after he told her about the incident on Sybex 3.
"I remember that day." Beverly said quietly. "I had taken a wrong turn and suddenly Data was there. He walked with me to the hospital and even stayed with me until I had beamed back to the ship. Funny, I never thought to question his presence."
"Data was there because he had gone through the Guardian of Forever and repaired the time line by preventing your death."
"I don't remember." she said with a frown.
"Because for you the attack by the Klingon's never happened. For me, those memories are growing fainter and are being replaced by other memories." He said quietly.
"There's something else, isn't there?" She said softly.
"Yes. After I went to the morgue... to identify you and the doctor explained what had happened." Picard paused and choked back his emotions. "He told me something else."
"Think?" he said quietly, looking into her eyes. "What else happened that day?"
Beverly thought for a moment then her face paled. "My God! That was the day that I found out I was expecting Jannelle."
"Yes. I lost you both." he said softly and tears fell silently down his cheeks. "I died that day. I couldn't go on. I didn't know how to live without you."
"Oh Jean." Beverly whispered softly as her own tears fell "My sweet Jean." She murmured and moved into his embrace.
His arms came around her and he pulled her tightly to him "Everything is alright now. I'm here and I'm not going anywhere." She murmured softly.
After a long moment Jean-Luc pulled away and looked down into his wife's sapphire eyes. Beverly read in the depths of his forest green eyes his love for her mixed with the raw anguish that this experience had caused him.
"Je t'aime." He whispered softly. "Je t'aime de tout mon couer." He reached out and traced her delicate features with a tentative hand.
"I love you ." Beverly echoed. She took his hands and pulled them from her face, guiding them to the curve of her abdomen. "I'm not going anywhere." She told him again. " We're not going anywhere."
Beneath the hands that she had pressed to her stomach, Jean-Luc could feel the restless movements of their child.
Picard lifted his eyes and forest green met sapphire. He pulled her tightly to him, relishing in the feel of her pressed close to him.
Soon, words and memories were forgotten as they loved each other.
Picard sighed as he drifted off into a contented sleep. His wife was curled up beside him, held close in the circle of his arms. As the haze of sleep clouded his mind Picard smiled and thought
~At last. I am complete.~
Never again did he want to be that shell of a man and Picard sent up a prayer of thanks to whatever Gods were listening that his life had been given back to him.