Never Been
by Kaite

It's never been Beverly. Not really, not in the way it counts.

He has caught her and let her go again, sitting quietly back as she murmurs apologies and finds excuse after excuse. This one didn't take no for an answer, and she wonders if perhaps things had been different...She knows that's not really how it was. She held Deanna as she cried and stammered out a vague description of what happened. Shinzon's body on hers, his mind in hers, in a way Beverly can only remember from a couple of blurry days, years ago. She didn't go on the away mission. She has not stood face to face with this monster in Jean-Luc's body. All she knows is the face on the viewscreen, the voice coming over subspace. He is an echo, a shadow. Spending so long living in dark places must have warped his pysche, lower even than the slave race who created him. Of all the hundreds of people on board, only she and Jean-Luc feel that cold chill when they look at him. Deanna would get a hint of it, if her mind hadn't closed down on itself. But to see that face, see that being who is Not-Jean-Luc but so eerie a duplication, is like looking at a ghost and a nightmare, rolled into one. She wonders what it would be like to see herself at that age -- still gangly, but growing into her figure, fresh-faced and falling head over heels with every man she met. Falling into bed with all except one of them. That was who Jean-Luc fell in love with all those years ago. She'd lied when she told him she had no idea. Her fair skin was never rosier than when she was around him, blushing at his presence, at the heated looks she pretended he wasn't giving her. She has left his illusions unshattered for so many years. If she came to him now, older and not much wiser, would he be startled at the distance between fantasy and reality? Would she? But no-one can put the clock back, not even the great Captain Picard himself. This man may look like the same arrogant young man who stiffly held the door for her, helped her into her coat as a flimsy excuse to give her back a quick caress, but he isn't. He isn't.

She traces the line of DNA with her finger as though tracing his skin. Two genetically identical beings. The same fingerprint,

(calloused, moving across her cheek)

the same eyes,

(hazel, glowing in the candlelight)

the same voice

(rich and intoxicating, like heady red wine. "Perhaps we shouldn't be afraid...")

Two different people. Worlds apart, lifetimes. Shinzon never met Jack, never met her, never gave up an eternity of warm beds for the cold metal of a starship. He isn't Jean-Luc. He's the `what could have been', the `what if'. Once she was all that, a myriad of unexplored possibilities that he got lost looking at. Now Shinzon occupies his every waking thought and he doesn't notice her even when she's standing right beside him. He sat in his ready room for hours, staring at the holo of his younger self. Jack took it, years ago. They'd been dating for about three months.

Jean-Luc, always so courteous, respecting her wishes. Moving back when she stepped away, playing by the rules she set. Shinzon of Remus took what he wanted, arrogantly presuming that he didn't even need to ask. His mirror image? It's no mirror Beverly's ever seen. Does Jean- Luc feel that way about Deanna too? He's looked at her in the past, everyone looked. After Kireel Odan left the Enterprise, even Beverly looked, wondered if there was something there she could be drawn to. It's all so much background noise to Deanna, but for Beverly, alone with Jean-Luc on Kes-Prytt, his feelings for her sang out loud and clear. What would she have heard if they'd stayed like that forever?

It's never been Beverly. Not really, not in the way it counts. This one didn't take no for an answer, and she wonders if perhaps had things been different...

"Transporter, energise."

Her mouth opens, the wrong name forming on her tongue, until his mouth turns into a sneer she's never seen before. "A messenger from Picard?" She's shy as a teenager again, even though his melodramatic clothes and imperial manners, the lack of hair, are at odds with the young man she remembers. "I'm not who you want." Her voice, harsh in the large chamber ("I swear, Doctor Crusher gets more shrill every passing year.") His mouth quirks, his voice is sneeringly sardonic. "No". "But -- I am who he wants." An offer he can't resist. He doesn't try to. The irony that she will give him what Deanna of all people refused to. "Tell me." And she does. It doesn't take long, and she is ashamed at the pitiful summation she can make of her relationship with the love of her life. He doesn't look impressed until she tells him of Kes-Prytt. Only then does he believe her, believe that she's here out of more than sick, morbid curiosity. Maybe he sees her as an olive branch, or as some kind of trade. A substitute for the woman he really craves, an insight into the mind of Jean-Luc Picard. Either way the idea of claiming her appeals. He can have something Jean-Luc wants. A trophy fuck, even at her age a notch in his bedpost. Something to boast about, to torment his icon with. If he does, she'll deny it. Jean- Luc will take her word over his anyway, and the odd bruise and scratch isn't that hard to replicate in this day and age.

He is lying there naked, wanting her and oh god, how often she'd fantasised about this. Sat with him, Jack and Walker, desperate to leave so she could imagine doing in private what she could never have done in reality. Out of habit, her hands wander between her thighs and begin...A flash of irritation and disgust in his eyes and he snatches her hand away roughly, putting it on his cock. "Don't do that." His mouth is hard against hers, bruising her skin. Hands moving quickly, earnestly. Unzipping, pushing aside fabric. His touch on her skin is unreal, her mind flits to one subject, then the next. Only his fingers pinching harshly against her nipple brings her to her senses. She doesn't know if her cry is of pain or pleasure, figures that after what he did to Deanna he can't distinguish the two anyway.

He fumbles, frustrated, breathing harshly, grazing his teeth on her skin. The blood in her veins turns to ice as she realises he never finished what he started with Deanna. The words come out on her exhalation. "Let me do this." Easing him down onto the bed, straddling him. He's so damn young. When she knew that Jean-Luc Picard, he was cavalier, sophisticated, sipping hot Earl Grey when all the cadets she knew drank bitter black coffee. She breathes in his scent, unfamiliar and alien rather than the light, spicy cologne she foolishly expected. It is a reminder that he is not who she really came for. She thinks to herself as a stranger's hands move across her skin -- He wouldn't do that. Or this. Or -- and then she stops thinking anything in particular, other than how strange this all is.

She pushes herself down onto him angrily and his fingers claw at her skin. For a moment she can't breathe, his heat, the fullness, taking her breath away. Warm, smooth flesh buried inside her, not the cool silicone she spent so many years getting used to. His skin is smooth and soft, damp with sweat. Unbidden, the name springs to her lips, "Jean-Luc!" He turns them, pins her beneath him and nuzzles her neck, nipping at her ear. His voice is lower, gruff, laced with a passion she has never heard. "Beverly" She comes with a ragged cry and for one moment wants to be nowhere else. When the blood stops pounding and her reason returns, she sees him clearly. Lying there, sprawled beneath her -- how had they twisted round again? She hadn't been paying attention, lost in her private fantasies. He forces his breathing to return to normal, sits up and pushes her away. He smiles, nastily. This man -- this boy - isn't Jean-Luc. If she were to ask Deanna -- a bitter smile twists her lips at the thought of explaining how it came about that she is sleeping with her best friend's' violator -- the counselor would tell her that this deflowered virgin was projecting his own shame and disgust onto her. Beverly thinks he might have a point. Her slim figure may not have been ravaged by age, but she is old enough to be his mother. He is younger than Wesley. His psyche may be warped, may be twisted beyond all recognition, but he is still little more than an adolescent. Even if he is a monster, she is so much worse. He is what his life has made him. Created to be used as a replacement for Jean- Luc Picard. Bile wells up in her throat and she backs away. When she tries to cover herself with the bedsheets, she realises they never made it that far.

She turns to look at the wall as she pulls on her clothes and summons up the will to get the hell out of there before another bright idea strikes her.

In a shimmer of light, she is back on the Enterprise, in her quarters as if she has never been away. She's half surprised to see her reflection in the glass, sillouhetted against the stars. Her face pale, her eyes empty. Exhausted. When the door chimes, she knows instinctively that it's Jean-Luc. He enters, all anger and energy, living off his nerves. She wants to go to him, ask him about his first time, if he looked at the woman afterwards and felt revulsion seeping through his veins. Or the time after that, and after that. She has never seen him, lazy and post-coital. Only imagined the warmth of his body spooning hers, his arms wrapped protectively around her. A flash of anger that he let her go so easily when he could have shoved her up against the wall in his quarters and made her forget her protestations. She knows he must have thought about it, jerked off angrily when she left him in favour of her own cold and empty bed. Even after he heard what happened to Deanna, his obsession that Shinzon was his mirror remained. She has pulled away from him so many times. Refused him. Rejected him. The look in his eyes that has haunted him ever since the blushing bride sat trembling and tearful on the edge of the bed has haunted Beverly, too.

Somewhere in the secret corner of her heart, Beverly is glad it has never been her.


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