MESSAGE IN A SHIP IN A BOTTLE (double drabble)

A captain cannot appear vulnerable to his crew, so Picard goes the only place he can. He's gone there thrice a week since the countess died in a tragic and carefully programmed accident--or since the Borg incident--depending upon how one counts. Moriarty gets off on power, so Picard lets him think that it's his idea--that Picard is being forced, that it's painful and humiliating.

Well, two out of three ain't bad.

Sometimes Picard cries while being strapped and sodomized. Sometimes he waits until after; either way is just as good.

Mechanically, Picard tells himself it's only a hologram; that nothing unreal should make him feel these things, should be able to strip him down to the quivering, beating, pathetic raw soul of a naked child that it does. He's raised the program intensity level four times, to ensure that it still will.

Unlike the unreal Borg nightmares, which accelerate uninvited.

He comes here, you see, because here when it's over or when it's too heavy or when he is just goddamned tired of the grief he can simply say "Freeze program" and "arch" and it all goes away.

Unlike the Borg nightmares, which he assumes never will.


"I offer you the chance to touch what Sarek shared with me."

The good of the many justified much, and the fate of two races hung on Spock's self-appointed mission. While Picard turned his thoughts to Sarek, Spock infiltrated elsewhere.

In the days to come, Picard would not understand the memories that seemed like dreams or the dreams that seemed like memories. He would not understand the nightly sticky sheets or the daily obsessive thoughts--feelings--for a man he had barely know.

He did know that he would lie to Starfleet, break orders--anything--to keep Spock living free.



"Don't fuss, Jean-Luc. I told you to be ready at 2100 sharp, and that one dresses for dinner with the Lord High Reagent of Jernaria IX.  And not those stuffy uniforms of yours--something with some panache."

"Don't you notice something--missing?"

"Ah, yes, the cravat.  There you go.  Mon Amour, you are the epitome of distinction itself."

"I meant--lower down."

"Oh, no.  You won't be needing pants tonight.  Didn't I tell you who the current Lord High Reagent of Jernaria IX is?  Or what it is that he's planing to eat?"

"Oh, Q!  Oh--  Oh, mon Dieu!"


Julian exited the bathroom. "We still doing lunch?"

"Sure." Miles didn't turn.

"Are you going to tell Keiko?"

Miles shrugged.

"I'd like to know if I should avoid her … or arm myself."  Julian tried a laugh.  "Never know; she might understand."

"That would make one of us." The words fell out bitterly.

"Miles …" Julian touched his shoulder.

"It's all so screwed up.  I love her so much, but at this point, I'm not even sure that matters."

Julian leaned down for a kiss. "Love matters.  It might be all that does.  Talk to her." Julian smoothed his uniform and left.


"If anyone needs me, I'll be in holodeck four."

Bleep.  "Holodeck four is occupied by Doctor Crusher."

"Fuck!"  Riker swore and locked himself into the nearest bathroom.


"Kamala, how can you let yourself be given to men? It's no better than prostitution," Beverly sighed into her eyes.

"What  am I really giving?"  the simulation answered. "Only a facade. I could never love a man like I do you. Bonded or not, they'll never have the part of me that you have."

Beverly reached for the illusion, but prostitution with a hologram suddenly seemed even worse.

"Computer, end program and delete."


Despite the circumstances, Julian had to laugh.

"What can you possibly find funny?" asked Erzi as they examined Jadzia's effects.  After selecting what he wanted, Worf had given most to Erzi.

She was Dax now.

"This video: it's mislabeled--in an…amusing way." The label on the chip read, "Jadzia and Kira: Our Fist date." The addendum "and only!" was squeezed in in red.

Erzi's eyes unfocused "No, I remember that; the label's right." She put the video someplace safe as Julian tried and failed to recover his aplomb.

She was Dax, but she sure wasn't Jadzia. She would call Kira--soon.


"It's a shame that uniforms changed," said Kira.  "That's stunning on you."  The old-style unidress clung to Jadzia in all the right places and the tease of the red miniskirt was driving Kira wild.   She reached out to cop a feel and her hand decided to linger.   "Soft too." Kira's breathing thickened as she nibbled Jadzia's neck and fondled her ass.

 Jadzia shrugged away.  "Bad news: this goes back to supply.   I just stopped in to take it off--sorry."

Kira found the shoulder seal and slipped the fabric down.  She cupped one breast and sniggered, "Don't be. I'm not."


"And that's how I ended up here, Captain.  Now will you please help me? Obviously, I can't reach the control console, and the computer won't take a verbal life-support override except from command."

Picard regarded him wryly. "Computer, cut ventilation return pump in holodeck one."

Geordi sighed in audible relief and removed himself from the little hole in the wall.  Painfully, he tucked himself back in.

"But I don't understand, Mister LaForge.  Surely with your visor, you could see where you were--aiming."

Geordi flushed.  "Holoimages are okay, I guess, but for sensation, there's nothing like the real thing, baby!"


Tasha climbed off and whooped. "That was great!"

Data lay flat on his back. "What happens next?"

Tasha fondled his ear. "A little cuddling, a little pillow talk--you could tell me you love me." Playfully she nipped at his neck.

Data cocked his head. "That would be a lie. I have no feelings for you at all."

Tasha dropped her hands. "Fuck."

Data paused and processed. "When I volunteered, I was anticipating copulation only. Perhaps you would prefer a human partner for this?"

Tasha rolled over. "It doesn't matter. You are fully functional; that's exactly what they all say."


Jadzia started to the door signal.  There was only one person--in this phase, at least--whom she cared to see; she knew it would be him.

Benjamin entered.  "Welcome home, old man.  You okay?"

"Fine.  It didn't harm me--at least the way you mean."

"Don't presume to guess what I mean."

She fell into broad arms that leapt to catch her.  "Benjamin, I loved him so."

He clutched her tight. "To all things, there is a phase. Deral will be back."

Yes, but even with the famed longevity of Trills, she would not be there to see him.