Category : Various Text files
Archive   : SSN-9304.ZIP
Filename : SSN-9304.C5

 
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Perspective

(c) Tracey R Rich
July 1988

The hour was late, the cabin dark and silent, yet in spite of
those facts, Jean-Luc Picard could not sleep. The events of the
past few weeks kept flashing through his mind. Had there been
another way, Jean-Luc wondered. Could he have saved both Jack and
the Stargazer?
The situation replayed itself over and over, myriad variations
on a theme, yet never did both Jack and the Stargazer survive.
Surely there had been a way! But if there had been a way, Jean-
Luc had not found it. The Stargazer was safe, but Jack Crusher,
Jean-Luc's closest friend, was dead.
Jean-Luc had expected a simple mission, a shakedown cruise,
his first action as the captain of a starship. He had not expected
anyone to die. But Fate is capricious; she doesn't always follow
the plan. Suddenly and without warning, Jean-Luc had faced the
most difficult decision of his life so far: whether to expose more
than 200 people to almost certain death, or to allow his best
friend to die. He chose to save the ship.
Then came the seemingly interminable investigations.
Starfleet Command had called it standard operational procedure:
when a senior officer dies on a presumably safe mission, the
captain must submit to an immediate, routine enquiry. But to Jean-
Luc, it seemed as if every commodore and admiral in Starfleet
wanted to analyze his performance.
The board of enquiries finally concluded that Jean-Luc had
acted properly, had taken the only possible course in a difficult
situation. Jack was being touted as a Starfleet hero, sacrificing
himself for the good of the ship. Jean-Luc was due for
commendation. Yet Jean-Luc's imagination, the admirals spoke with
the voice of Shakespeare's Marc Anthony: "Picard says there was no
alternative. And Picard is an honorable man."
The admirals had also wanted to give Jack a formal burial in
space, as befits a Starfleet hero. But Jean-Luc did not allow it.
"Jack promised his wife that he would come home." Jean-Luc had
explained, "I'm personally going to see that he fulfills that
promise."
As he sat in his dark, silent cabin on his way back to Earth,
he wondered if he had made the right decision. How could he face
Beverly, knowing that he had caused her husband's death? Beverly
was a widow; her son--what's his name? Wesley--was fatherless, and
it was all Jean-Luc's fault.
I was responsible, Jean-Luc thought. A starship captain is
responsible for everything that happens to his ship and crew, and
no board of enquiries can convince me otherwise. The flashbacks
began again, over and over. He tried to imagine alternative
courses of action, but the scene always ended the same.
He did not sleep that night.

Dr. Gary Fischer was making his rounds at the hospital. He
expected it to be a long day. They were short one staff member
again. He looked up as he heard the swish of the door. Dr.
Beverly Crusher walked in casually, carrying her pocket-sized
computerized assignment list, commonly known as a "board".
"Bev?" Gary asked, clearly amazed, "What are you doing here?"
"I work here, remember?" she replied with forced nonchalance
as she checked the readings at the first patient's bed. "I know
it's been a while; I'm not surprised you forgot me."
Gary watched her. Her eyes were red and her complexion was
blotched. She had definitely been crying. Her movements were slow
and stiff and she seemed distracted. He had never seen her so
shaken. He knew about the death of her husband, the Starfleet
officer, but he wasn't prepared for the full reality. Gary thought
of Beverly as a tower of strength. He couldn't believe that
anything could so thoroughly shake the self-possession of the
tenacious Dr. Crusher.
"We weren't expecting you in today." Gary noted.
"People don't stop getting sick just because my husband dies."
Beverly replied. She tried to make the remark sound off-hand, but
it caught in her throat.
She was working on her second patient when Gary walked over
and pulled her board out of her hands. "Come on. Let's get a cup
of coffee. You look like you could use some." Beverly was about
to protest when Gary added, "I'm buying."
Beverly smiled slightly and agreed. Fifteen minutes later,
they had finished half of their coffee and Beverly was ready to
talk.
"I guess you know about Jack." she commented. Her pain was
evident, despite her attempts to conceal it.
"Yes, I heard." Gary replied gently, with the bedside manner
that made him famous.
"I don't know the details. Apparently something unexpected
came up in the Antares cluster. They say there wasn't any way to
save him."
"That's what they always say." Gary remarked sourly.
"Maybe." Beverly said thoughtfully, "But I don't think they're
lying. Not in this case, at least. Jean-Luc--that's Jack's

captain, Jean-Luc Picard--he was Jack's best friend. I can't
believe that he would--" She was silent for a moment, trying to
find a way to say it that wasn't too painful. "If there had been
anything Jean-Luc could have done to save Jack, he would have done
it."
"If you say so, Bev." Gary conceded.
"Starfleet command says Jack's a hero. They say he gave his
life in the line of duty and I should be proud." She didn't sound
proud. Beverly finished her coffee in silence, then reached for
her board.
Gary snatched the board back from her. "What do you think
you're doing?"
"I have to get back to work." she answered.
"Like hell you do. You're not even supposed to be here."
"What do you expect me to do? Sit at home and cry?" Beverly
snapped. "I've been doing that for three days; it's not going to
bring my husband back. At least here, I can do something
constructive."
"Bev, you've got to give yourself some time. You can't get
over this in a single day." Gary could see he was not making an
impact, so he tried the sure-fire criticism. "You know, you're
not helping your patients if you can't concentrate on your work,
Bev."
Beverly had to admit that he was right. Her concentration
was definitely waning, and she would do more harm than good if she
couldn't keep her mind on her patients. Nevertheless, she couldn't
bear the thought of spending another day at home crying. She had
to get out and do something constructive, get back into a daily
routine.
"I'll work on updating the records." she decided.
Gary saw the decisiveness in the lines of her face and knew
he would not be able to dissuade her. "Well, better you than me."
he conceded. Gary went back to Beverly's patients, and Beverly
went to the records office.

Jean-Luc stood in the background at Jack Crusher's funeral.
He tried to remain out of the way, unnoticed, but that was
difficult. He was wearing the dark Starfleet dress uniform
reserved for state funerals. It stood out noticably in the crowd.
He had carefully chosen not to wear the medal he had earned for his
conduct in the Antares incident, as it was now being called. He
didn't think it was appropriate to wear that one, since he had
purchased it with Jack's life.
As Jean-Luc manuevered himself in the background, he saw
Beverly. He couldn't help but stare at her. She was still as
beautiful as ever, despite the toll that mourning had clearly taken
on her. This is my fault, Jean-Luc thought. She caught his eye,
and he imagined he saw condemnation there. How could he speak to
her, after what he had done?
As he watched the body being lowered into the ground, he
wonered why he had bothered bringing the body home. He had fought
every admiral in Starfleet to make this service possible, but what
possible benefit could anyone gain from seeing a body buried? And
yet, oddly, he did feel somewhat relieved by the ancient ritual.
It was painful, of course, to relegate his closest friend to the
dust, but the healing process had begun.

Beverly saw Jean-Luc enter the funeral reception. She had
seem him at the funeral, hiding in the background, but she hadn't
gotten a clear view of him. As she watched him enter the room,
she was amazed by what she saw. He seemed years older than he had
a few months ago, when he and Jack had shipped out. Undoubtedly,
he hadn't eaten or slept in days.
"What's he doing here?" Carole Crusher whispered to Beverly.
Beverly turned her attention from Jean-Luc to Carole. Her
usual patience with her mother-in-law had worn thin in the last
few days and she responded with uncharacteristic harshness, "Jean-
Luc was Jack's closest friend. The least you can do is show him
a little courtesy."
"Courtesy? For the man who killed my baby?"
"I'm sure it wasn't Jean-Luc's fault." Beverly replied,
"Starfleet has completely absolved him."
"Mm. Starfleet always protects its own." Carole countered.
Beverly shook her head in frustration. "Mother, you're not
the only person here who's been hurt. I'm hurting, Dad's hurting.
Jean-Luc's hurting. And you're not going to help anyone by trying
to place the blame."

Jean-Luc didn't overhear their conversation as he innocently
walked up to the Crushers. He was clearly on edge. He had never
been very good at condolences. "Hello Carole, Theodore, Beverly."
he said softly. "I just wanted to say that I'm very sorry about
Jack's death."
"You ought to be." Carole replied coldly. Jean-Luc recoiled
as if slapped.
"Mother!" Beverly reproved.
Carole persisted, "Don't you know that it's not customary for
a murderer to pay a condolence call to the victim's family?"
"Carole, that's enough." Theodore Crusher snapped. "You'll
have to exculse my wife." he added to Jean-Luc, "She's very upset.
I'm sure she didn't mean what she said."
Jean-Luc could see in Carole's face that she meant every word.
Something in Carole's attitude pushed Jean-Luc just a little too
far and snapped him out of the self-pity he had been wallowing in.
"No, she's right. I am responsible." he said, but his tone was
defensive rather than self-deprecating. "I'm a starship captain
and I'm responsible for everything that happens to my ship and
crew. I was responsible for Jack's death, and I'll have to live
with that fact until the end of my days. But" he added
passionately, "I was not at fault." As he said it, he realized it
was true.
"What kind of nonsense is that?" Carole countered with
disdain, "Responsible but not at fault."
"I'm responsible, because I'm accountable for my actions and
my actions caused Jack's death. But my actions were correct. I
made the only decision a starship captain could make under the
circumstances." He paused, letting the words sink in. "I'm very
sorry that my decision caused your son's death. Believe me, it
hurts me almost as much as it hurts you. He was my best friend
and one of the finest officers I've ever known. But if I had to
do it again, I'd make the same decision."
Carole was clearly scandalized by both his attitude and his
tone. She ordered Jean-Luc out of the house. He complied.
Jean-Luc walked down the street away from the Crusher home
and headed for the nearest transporter. He had behaved abominably.
The Crushers were in pain, and he had thrown it in their faces.
He felt certain Beverly was cursing him.

Beverly wanted to run after Jean-Luc, to tell him she
understood, to tell him she believed that he had made the right
decision. She needed someone to share her feelings with, and she
had never been very close to Jack's parents. Admittedly, she was
not very close to Jean-Luc either, but she felt more rapport with
Jack's oldest friend than with Jack's relatives.
As Beverly headed for the door, one of Jack's friends
approached her to express his sympathies. She didn't know the man.
She tried to brush him off quickly without being impolite, but by
the time she was able to get to the door, Jean-Luc was long gone.

Jean-Luc arranged passage on the first starship headed toward
Orion, where he would rendezvous with the Stargazer. For the first
time since Jack's death, he slept through the night. The guilt did
not plague him as it had. He no longer blamed himself for Jack's
death. He recognized that he, like Jack, was a victim of
circumstance. He was ready to face the next challenge, stronger
for this ordeal. But of one thing he was certain: he would never
be able to face Beverly Crusher again.

  3 Responses to “Category : Various Text files
Archive   : SSN-9304.ZIP
Filename : SSN-9304.C5

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