Category : Various Text files
Archive   : SSN-9304.ZIP
Filename : SSN-9304.C4

 
Output of file : SSN-9304.C4 contained in archive : SSN-9304.ZIP
First Impressions

by Tracey R Rich
July 1988

Jean-Luc entered Antonio's, a restaurant not far from the
Starfleet Academy's London campus, and searched the dimly lit room
for some sign of Jack or Walker. He could not see them. However,
he did noticed the restaurant's owner and host, Antonio Martinez.
Antonio walked toward him, beaming. "Lt. Picard!" he called,
holding out a hand in greeting. Then he noticed the extra circle
at Jean-Luc's throat. "Ah, so it's Lt. Cmdr. Picard now." he noted
with pleasure.
Jean-Luc returned his smile and handshake. "Good to see you
again, Antonio. It's been a long time."
"What have you been doing with yourself?" the host asked.
"I spent a year teaching at the Academy on Alpha Centauri."
Jean-Luc replied, "They told me it was an honor and a privilege.
It was a bore."
"Most honors and privileges are." Antonio agreed readily.
"Mm. But I've finished with that. The Zephram Cochrane is
here on Earth for refitting, and I've been reassigned to her. I'm
meeting Jack and Walker here to celebrate. Have you seen them?"
"No, I haven't. And I wouldn't fail to notice two of my best
customers." It was not mere flattery. In their Academy days,
Jean-Luc, Walker and Jack had spent much of their spare time in
Antonio's. "Table for three, then?" Antonio asked.
"Four." Jean-Luc corrected, "I'm also meeting Jack's fiancee
tonight."
"Fiancee? Jack? Are we talking about the same Jack Crusher?
His ex-girlfriends could fill this restaurant. Several times
over."
Jean-Luc smiled wryly. "I think he's serious this time."
"So who is this girl?"
"Her name is Beverly Ferrin. She's a second year medical
student, went to school with Walker's sister Melissa. Other than
that, I don't know much about her."
Another group of customers walked into the restaurant.
Antonio looked across the room. "Your usual table is open. You
know where to find it. I'll attend to these people, and then we'll
continue our conversation." Antonio promised.
Their "usual" table was the one near the bar. Jack, the
ladies' man of the group, had always insisted on that. It gave
him a clear view of anything worth watching, he said. Of course,
those days were over. Judging by his letters, Jack was serious
about this Beverly woman. He had changed noticeably, become a one-
woman man.
Jean-Luc resented the unknown future doctor. She had changed
Jack, and Jean-Luc didn't want Jack changed. Jack, Walker and
Jean-Luc had spent the last 10 years exploring the galaxy together.
They were bold adventurers. How could Jack be bold and adventurous
with a wife at home?
They were all getting old and settled. Jean-Luc didn't want
to get old. He unconsciously ran his fingers through his thinning
hair. There was so little left, and what was left was beginning
to turn grey. He realized it was already too late; he was already
getting old.
Jean-Luc chanced to look up and noticed a woman sitting at
the bar. She had been watching him. It was easy to tell: she had
looked away suddenly, flushing, when he glanced her way. He took
a moment to savor her appearance.
At 22 or 23, she was nearly a decade younger than he. She
had long, strikingly red hair and deep sea green eyes. Jean-Luc
was instantly infatuated. He was also painfully aware of the
growing baldness that was threatening to take over his entire head.
He ran his fingers through his hair self-consciously and noticed
with some irritation that several strands remained in his fingers.
He looked away.
He wondered what this Beverly woman looked like. Neither Jack
nor Walker had sent any pictures, though Jean-Luc gathered that she
was an attractive woman. Somehow, Jean-Luc could only picture her
as a ball and chain.
Men changed when they got married. They became more private,
stopped associating with their old friends. After a year alone at
Alpha, Jean-Luc wanted everything to be as it had been in the their
days on the Cochrane. Jack, Walker and Jean-Luc: the Three
Musketeers. Inseparable. Now they were going to go their separate
ways, settle down, have children . . .
Children. Jean-Luc grimaced at the thought. They were loud,
messy, and rude. The proper thing to do with children, he thought,
was to lock them in a room until they were 18 and could act like
adults. Then Jean-Luc remembered some of his students at the
Academy. Okay, lock them up until they're 22.
Jean-Luc looked up again. He noticed that the woman at the
bar was still watching him. She didn't turn away this time, but
she didn't meet his eyes either. He tried smiling at her. She
returned a slightly embarrassed smile and looked away.
Antonio had returned with a glass of white wine. Jean-Luc
lifted the glass and swirled it, then sniffed the bouquet. He took
a small sip, then smiled. A fine French wine. "Thank you,
Antonio."
"I noticed you looking at the young lady at the bar." Antonio
said, "Shall I get her something as well?"
Jean-Luc considered. "No." he decided regretfully, "It's been
a long time since I've seen Jack and Walker. I won't have time to
give her . . . the proper attention."
Antonio laughed. Then he noticed some more customers at the
entrance. He shook his head regretfully. "Looks like it's going
to be a busy night." he noted, "I hope we'll have a chance to
talk." He walked to the door.
Jean-Luc noticed that the woman from the bar had picked up
her drink and was walking toward him. "Excuse me," she said in a
soft voice with an unidentifiable American accent, "Are you Jean-
Luc Picard?"
Jean-Luc looked up at her, surprised. "Yes, I am." he
replied, "Do I know you?"
"I'm Beverly. Beverly Ferrin. Jack Crusher's fiancee. May
I join you?"
She definitely did not look like a ball and chain. Jean-Luc
was momentarily at a loss for words. He gestured for her to take
a seat. "How did you know it was me?" he asked.
Beverly smiled. "You fit your description."
Jean-Luc ran his fingers through his hair regretfully. More
strands came out. Stop doing that, he told himself, you're only
speeding up the process.
"Oh! No, that's not what I mean." she said apologetically,
"Not the hair. Jack told me that you had a very powerful presence,
and that I would practically feel it when you walked into the
room."
Jean-Luc smiled. "I was involved in drama in college." he
said, "Shakespeare."
"That's what Jack said." she replied. She seemed to have run
out of steam. "You're not what I expected." she said finally.
Jean-Luc's expression invited her to elaborate. "I expected you
to be more . . . French."
"Mademoiselle, I am as French as any man need be." he assured
her, allowing a little of his long buried accent to creep through.
Beverly smiled appreciatively.
They had been talking for quite a while when Jack and Walker
finally arrived. With typically French expressiveness, Jean-Luc
embraced his two oldest friends warmly.
"I see you've met Bev." Jack said with a hint of excitement
in his dark brown eyes, "What do you think?"
"I think I envy you." Jean-Luc replied lightly, "If you
weren't my best friend, I might try to steal her away from you."
Jack and Walker laughed heartily. But Jean-Luc wasn't
entirely joking.

  3 Responses to “Category : Various Text files
Archive   : SSN-9304.ZIP
Filename : SSN-9304.C4

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