Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek: The Next Generation or any of its intriguing characters. Please don't sue me or steal my story. Thanks!

NOTE: This is another story from my woefully ginormous Unfinished Stories pile...to which I am constantly adding and subtracting. It's such an awful mess in there. I accidentally bumped into it last night when I was digging through some research stuff on my computer and ended up getting all absorbed in dusting it off and tidying it up, filling in gaps and working out an ending. I probably shouldn't have, given everything else I have to do (including sleep), but I did and here it is and I just hope you like it! :)

Often Wrong

By Rowena Zahnrei

Part One

How had it come to this?

Noon sat in the cramped shuttle with his folded hands pressed to his mouth, fighting to control his breathing, to force his swollen eyes to stop streaming those hot, stinging tears...

The reddish dust from the cave stained his wife's pale face, her torn and bloodied clothes. It clung to the sweat on her forehead, dulled the shine of her tousled auburn hair.

He'd tried to wipe it off. First, he'd set course and engaged the autopilot, but right after that... He'd curled her onto the shuttle's narrow cot, shallowly inset into the wall, dug out the first aid kit, and done his best to dress her wounds. But there were so many…not just cuts and scratches but gouges…fractures… And what could he do? What the hell did she expect him to do?

Circuits, he could deal with. Tritanium alloy, duroplast sheeting… But torn flesh and broken bones…? The awful, metallic scent of her blood as it seeped into the thin mattress…

The sight of her injuries had made him sick on the floor and, when he'd finally climbed to his knees, he was shaking, his hands trembling too much to do more than cover his restive wife with a blanket. That's when he'd thought to dampen a towel with disinfectant and clean her face…she'd appreciate that when she woke up, that he'd cleaned her face…but he only succeeded in smudging the clay-like dust, leaving long streaks across her cheeks and temples.

Noon's shoulders shook, his throat choked by a sob that was almost a laugh. Those streaks… They made her look like a kid who'd gotten into her father's shoe polish. Just a silly, innocent little kid, napping on the couch…

Not a woman who had just escaped the wanton destruction of her planet, her colony, her home…

Their family

She was too young to be facing this. Too young to be tied to someone like him. Her mother had been right. Their marriage had been just another terrible mistake. What had she been thinking anyway, this brilliant, beautiful young woman, binding her life, her dreams, to such a selfish old fool? What was he, but a thoughtless, middle-aged failure who had always been so wrong, so terribly, fatally wrong…

Why should his wife pay for his mistakes? His arrogance? Why should his sons...?

"It's my fault, Julie," he whispered against his fingers, his bloodshot eyes wide and just a little wild. "I'm the monster. Me. Just me, OK? But, you have to wake up, now, darling. You have to open your eyes and talk to me. You know it's no good to leave me alone with my thoughts…please…"

A shudder ran through his wife's fragile form and she moaned. Noon surged closer and took her hand, squeezing it between his own.

"No...! No, no, you can't leave me, Julie," he choked, "Not now. I promise I'll fix this, somehow, I just… Oh, God…"

How had it come to this?

To Be Continued, Some 26 Years Earlier...

I have a few more chapters of this story done. If you like this part, I could put another up. Let me know! :)