ST:TNG #3—Bad Dream

In my novel,  The Jitters, Riker and Cabot are posted to the same ship their first year out of the Academy.  While on an Away Mission, both of them are captured and tortured by a race of creatures sadistic beyond even human standards.  Cabot’s career is sidelined for several years, but she eventually returns to Star Fleet.  She just comes back with more baggage.

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Jean Luc Picard, Patrick Stewart, Star Trek Next Generation, fiction

Rachel screamed—not a piercing screech that shot high over the night, but rather a low, guttural howl that barely rose up out of her bowels.  She threw herself from the pillow, from the nightmare, gargling a scream that would not break out of her throat.

Beside her, Jean-Luc was instantly alert.  “Rachel…” His warm hands groped for her in the dark.

She jerked away, still asleep, still fighting.  Air refused to enter her lungs.  If it did she would start screaming and never stop.

“Rachel.”  Jean-Luc’s deep voice wavered with concern.  A hard way to wake up.

She shuddered, finally knowing she was awake.  “Ooh.”  She wiped her arm across her face, threw the covers back and escaped.  “Ooh.”

“Are you all right?”  The lights came up enough for her to see the bedroom doorway.  “Rachel?”

She shuffled through Jean-Luc’s quarters, still not familiar enough with them to keep from banging her hip on the work desk.  The pain helped.

“What are you doing?” he said behind her.  “Where are you going?”

All warmth dropped out of her, and she started to tremble.  “Sorry.  B-Bad dream.”  She propped herself against the divan and clutched her elbows.  “Sorry.  I’m sorry.”

Lovely way to top off the evening, she thought.  The first night we find the time and the gumption to sleep together on the ship, and I have one of these.  Let’s not waste any time exposing all our warts, shall we?

Jean-Luc wrapped the warm throw from the bed around her bare shoulders.  His eyes were puffy with sleep, and a crooked crease from his pillow ran across one cheek.  Rachel groaned, touching the indentation in his face.  He must have been sound asleep.  How often does that happen?

“Go back to bed,” she told him.  “I’m all right.  I just need to let it… fade.”

He continued to watch her, his hands rubbing the throw over her arms and shoulders as she shivered.

“I figured this would happen sooner or later,” she said.  “I just hoped it would be later.”

“You have these nightmares often?”

She walked over to the food slot.  Yeah, can’t have sex without ‘em, at least not in my little corner of the psyche.  Welcome aboard, Captain. “Water, cold.”  She took three long gulps of the water and said, “Once in awhile.  Not often.”

“Come sit down.”

He settled her into the corner of the divan, then went to the food slot and ordered tea.  She watched his shoulders straighten as he adjusted his sleeping robe.  He’s wondering what he got himself into.  Smart boy. By the time he came back to her, she could look him in the face.

“I’m sorry,” she said, pulling her knees up to her chest.  Her toes dug into the crevice between the cushions.  “I’m all right.  Really.  You should go back to sleep.”

He sat beside her, watching her as he sipped the tea.  “I’ve had nightmares, too.”  The words came out of his mouth gently.  They formed a delicate question.

“I’m sure you have.”  Rachel finished off her water, then set the glass aside.

Jean-Luc settled back into the cushions.  “Every night for weeks after the Borg implants were removed—horrible.  I still have them on occasion.”

Rachel studied him a long time, weighing, debating.  She pulled the throw from her shoulders and covered her bare legs.  She picked at the tight weave.  She raked her hair with her fingers.

Finally, she stretched her legs toward him, her feet lightly touching his thigh, and said quietly, “Sex seems to trigger this nightmare.”

The teacup paused halfway to his lips.  He set it down.  “But, we were together on Gileád. . .”

“It’s not. . . consistent.  Counselor Troi might understand the dynamics better.”  She paused.  “You know about the incident on Daun Alba.”

“I know you were held captive—seriously hurt.  Your file doesn’t give details.”

Rachel nodded.  “That’s how they hurt me.  Mostly.”

Jean-Luc’s hand wrapped around her foot.

“Sometimes,” Rachel said, “it seems like all that never happened.  I go for months without remembering any of it.”

“Then something happens,” Jean-Luc continued for her, “a smell, perhaps, or the way someone’s words fit together —and it all comes back.  Unbidden.  Unstoppable.”

She nodded.  “And it clings.  You walk around for days knowing you’re supposed to be beyond the old fear, but there it is.”

“As fresh as when it first happened.”

They sat in silence.  The undertones of the engines thrummed beneath them.  Jean-Luc turned and slid his legs next to Rachel’s under the throw.  She kneaded his covered feet when they came into reach.

“Shall I start?” he asked.

“Are you sure?”

The cool recirculating air and the gray semi-darkness wrapped the divan in a protective cocoon.  Jean-Luc’s voice sealed it tight.  “I remember being led to an operating room of sorts…”

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