Beverly slowly entered her quarters, exhausted, depressed, lonely. Making her way to her bedroom, she began to unzip her uniform jacket, needing to be free of the constricting material. All she wanted was a long hot shower, then an even longer nap. As she passed the desk, she noticed the monitor's blinking light, stopped to activate the message and sank wearily into the chair. *Goddess, I miss you,* she thought, a tear slipping unheeded down her pale cheek, at the sight of Jean-Luc's face.
"Hello, Beverly. I'm sorry this can't be a live transmission. I miss hearing your voice and watching your eyes light up as you smile. I just miss you *period,* and Morgan, as well. How is my girl doing? Did she pass her spelling test? Tell her that her papa loves and misses her, okay? Um, the negotiations are going well. Mr. Worf and I should be able to wrap things up in another day or two. So I should be home in time for your next checkup." At this point, his voice grew softer, gentler, and his warm hazel eyes began to sparkle. "And how is little Rene? Has he kicked yet?" Bev's hand strayed to her swelling belly. "Are you still getting your morning sickness? I hope not. Well, my love, I must get back to the negotiating table, but I promise I'll be home soon. I miss you and I love you dearly, my Beverly." And he blew her a kiss before his face froze, signaling the end of the message. Beverly bit her lip, a finger tracing the image of his face, fighting not to cry. Jean-Luc had been away with Worf, mediating a boundary treaty between two neighboring planets for nearly three weeks. Three weeks that were killing her. They'd barely been able to celebrate their fifth anniversary before Admiral Nechayev called him away for the negotiations.
She'd been almost two and a half months along then, and had learned the child she carried was a son, a son to carry on the Picard name. Jean-Luc had been so happy, so proud, at the news, he immediately informed the entire ship that Rene Robert Picard would be born in only six and a half months. She'd never seen him happier, except perhaps for their wedding and the birth of their daughter. And he'd never been more tender at lovemaking than that night, expressing his gratitude that she take on another pregnancy at fifty, just so he could have a son to carry on his family name.
Beverly blinked, turned to see her nearly five year old daughter standing at her side, a fearful look on the small face. She smiled at the girl, hugged her close. "Cava, cherie. Mamman's okay, I promise."
"Yes, my sweet, Mamman's okay. I got a communique from your papa." She smiled as Morgan's eyes lit up, so much like her father's. "He said to tell you that he loves you and misses you."
Bev nodded. "C'est vraiment, cherie. How was school today?" Morgan looked away, a frown wrinkling her little face. "Morgan? Cherie, what's wrong?"
The little girl finally looked up at her mother, tears in her eyes. "I got three wrong on my test. I can't be Papa's girl now, n'est-ce pas?"
"No, cherie, you are still Papa's girl, no matter what. We are proud of you as long as you tried your best."
"I did," she replied, smiling, then leaned over and kissed Bev's stomach. "Allo, Rene. C'est moi. I hope you've been good today pour Mamman. You really shouldn't make her sick like that, you know. It's not nice, Rene, you should be ashamed, n'est-ce pas?"
Beverly smiled as she listened to Morgan's *conversation* with her unborn brother. She was always impressed by Morgan's bilingual fluency. And she knew Rene would be raised the same way.
"Who brought you home today, Morgan?"
"Came home by myself. Nobody was waiting for me."
Before Bev could express her concern, the door chimed. "Come in," she called, a hand on her daughter's shoulder. She smiled as Deanna walked in, flushed, a look of worry wrinkling the Betazoid's brow. "Did you forget you were to pick Morgan up for me today?"
Deanna blushed and sighed, sitting at the couch as Bev and Morgan moved to join her. She took Morgan's little hand in her own. "Will you forgive me, little love?"
Morgan wrapped her arms around Deanna's neck, and kissed her cheek. "It's okay, Danni." She turned to her mother. "Mamman? I would like to take a nap now, s'il vous plait?"
Bev smiled warmly, kissed her cheek. "Yes, cherie, you may go. Perhaps after your nap we'll go for a walk in the arboretum." She watched Morgan leave, a sudden pang of depression hitting her again, causing a heavy sigh. Her hands strayed to her belly, cradling, protecting the life growing within her. She was startled by the feel of Deanna's hand on her shoulder. Turning, she smiled at her friend.
"I'm sorry I forgot to get Morgan today," the brunette said softly. "I was...*distracted*."
"And just how many times did Will *distract* you today?" Bev asked playfully, grinning as Deanna's cheeks turned a dark crimson, then she sighed again. "Well, at least you've got someone to distract you now."
"He'll be home as soon as he can, Beverly. You know he'd rather be here with you, pampering you, spoiling you, just like he did when you were pregnant with Morgan."
Bev suddenly stood and began pacing. "Am I crazy to be doing this? By the Goddess, Deanna, I'll be nearly seventy when Rene enters the Academy, Jean-Luc nearly ninety. This is insanity, plain and simple."
"Insanity? Or insecurity?" came the soft reply. "Perhaps you fear Jean-Luc will never love you as much after this pregnancy? That he'll find someone else?" Bev wouldn't answer, wouldn't look at her. Deanna snorted softly. "You *can't* be serious, Beverly. Do you know how much he loves you? The intensity of his feels for you scare me sometimes. After five years of marriage, I'd think you'd know that."
"This is different, Deanna. You wouldn't understand."
Bev sighed, returning to the couch and curled her legs up under her. She stared down at her hands on her stomach. The silver of her wedding band glimmered through the tears beginning to fill her eyes. "I just -- things feel different now between us, like he's pulling away from me. There are days I have to practically beg him to just *look* at me."
"I can't believe that. Your husband loves you."
Bev snorted and stood. "If he loved me so much, he'd have declined this mission."
"What? An admiral tells him he has a mission to fulfill and you *expect* him to turn it down?"
Will Riker sat in the "big chair," silently brooding, waiting for this shift to be over and it had only started twenty-five minutes ago. If it were possible, he'd put someone else in charge and leave the bridge for a short visit to Deanna's quarters. If it weren't for the fact that the captain would kill them for it, he'd invite her to the Ready Room for a "conference."
"Am I to assume that your sigh denotes a mood of depression?"
"You could say that."
"Perhaps you could talk to Counselor Troi. She might be able to..." He cocked his head, searching for the correct idiom. "...*lift your mood*."
Riker smiled in spite of himself. Somehow Data always found a way to liven things up and thoughts of just how Deanna could lift his mood both thrilled and further depressed him. He sighed again, deciding to spend his shift thinking up ways for Deanna to help him out. He stood, clearing his throat. "Data, you have the bridge. I'm going to go check on the latest logs from Captain Picard in the Observation Lounge. Please don't disturb me unless it's crucial."
"Aye, sir," Data replied, moving to the command chair.
Will walked into the lounge and took a seat at the far end of the table. He activated the monitor and began reviewing the information the captain had sent.
Jean-Luc Picard stepped back from the table, sighing heavily, then struggled not to chuckle as Worf grumbled ominously. It had been a long day, but they finally had reached an agreement and would sign the treaty in a few hours. Then his required attendance would be ended and he could return to his pregnant and much-missed wife.
"Captain, with your permission, I will begin preparations for our departure," the large Klingon said, breaking into his thoughts. "I would like to run a diagnostic of the shuttlecraft before we leave."
"Very well, Mr. Worf."
The two men went their separate ways. Jean-Luc didn't even see the scenery he passed as he made his way back to his guest quarters. All he could see was his wife standing before him, arms open wide to hold him close. By the Goddess Beverly followed, he missed his wife terribly. It had been a long month without her, filled with such longings and depression. He glanced at the clock by his bed, made the time adjustments and smiled.
*Just a quick shower to freshen up before I contact them,* he thought to himself.
And for the first time in nearly a month, a smile brightened the face of Captain Jean-Luc Picard.