**the next afternoon**
Beverly sat in her room, waiting for Jean-Luc to come get her for their counseling session with Lieutenant Randall. She'd overheard Wes's advice to his father the morning before. When she'd asked him about it, he said it wasn't the time to tell her yet, that they would discuss it later. The stubborn Howard streak in her decided to be a bit devious and make him discuss it this afternoon in this session. He'd had a full day to prepare himself to tell her, and she knew that once it was brought up, Randall wouldn't allow it to be let go, just as she'd "forced" Beverly to finally divulge the details of her abuse at Jack's hands. Whatever it was, Wes had seemed insistent that Jean-Luc tell her about it.
Before she could think about it anymore, she heard the soft knock at the door. "Come in," she said, knowing it was her husband. She was surprised to see Morgan bounding in. "Morgan! Cherie, what are you doing here?"
"Papa said I could come walk you to your 'pointment."
"And where are you going to go then, cherie? With your auntie Deanna?"
"Uh-huh. She's gonna take me to the holodeck to hear the music again."
Beverly smiled, knowing that meant Deanna would be using her Singing Skies program again. Deanna had been slowly training Morgan to use the telepathic abilities she'd been born with, knew that it would better help in her magickal training. "Oh? And are you hearing the music, cherie?"
"Uh-huh. It's so pretty, Mamman. I wish you could hear it."
"Soon, my sweet, soon," she said, then smiled. "And I have a surprise for you, cherie."
"A surprise? What kind of surprise?"
"You can't get it till after Mamman's appointment tho'." The little girl's face fell into the familiar pout she used when trying to get her way. Beverly smiled at the effort. *She reminds me of what Nana said I was like at her age.* "That pout won't work this time, cherie. Only your papa and I know about your surprise, and we promised not to give it to you till after the appointment. But, I tell you what. We'll let your auntie Deanna come with us to get it, okay? I think she'll like it, too."
"Beverly, you didn't tell her what her surprise is, did you?" Jean-Luc asked, walking in.
"Of course not, Jean-Luc. I can withstand our daughter's pouting spells a bit better than you can. I'm surprised you've lasted it out so well."
"I do have *some* control of myself around that Howard charm, you know," he replied, smiling broadly at the two redheads.
Beverly giggled and stood to go into his arms for a gentle hug. "I suppose we should get going. Sarah will be upset if we're late."
"Yes," he replied, picking up Morgan into his arms as they walked out of the room, then out of Sickbay. "And we have a lot of things to discuss today." When she tried to press him for details, he replied, "You'll see when we get into Lieutenant Randall's office."
They made their way to the office, then waited for admittance. Walking in, they found
Deanna talking to the lieutenant. She held her arms open to scoop up the running, giggling Morgan into a fierce hug.
"How's my Morgan?" she asked, smiling broadly.
"Good. Mamman says I have a surprise after her 'pointment."
"You do?" Deanna asked, quirking an interested eyebrow at her friend, who simply smiled in return.
"Uh-huh. And she said you can come with us to get it. Can we go listen to the music now, Danni?"
Deanna nodded, letting her down. "Good luck today, Beverly. I'll see you both in an hour?"
Beverly nodded, smiling as Deanna and Morgan left. She turned to sit on the couch, expecting her husband to join her. He sat next to her, an arm around her shoulders, almost as if protecting her. She snuggled into him, feeling safe and comfortable.
"So, Beverly, how are you feeling today?"
"Much better. I had a nice talk with Deanna last night, and a wonderful goodbye with Wes yesterday morning. I don't feel as badly now."
"So I sensed. You think your suicidal thoughts have disappeared now? That you're no longer a threat to yourself?"
"I think so. I was desperate the other day. I didn't know what else to do. I don't feel that anymore. I feel better now, because I have my family's support and love. They need me, and I need them," she said, then paused, eyes clouding over. "Besides, I don't ever want to put Morgan through something like that again."
"How did that make you feel to learn she'd seen your attempt? You knew she was going to be home, didn't you?"
"No, I didn't. She was let out of school early. I thought...I thought Jean-Luc would be home before her."
"So you wanted your husband to find you dead?"
"No, that's not what I meant. I didn't consciously plan to kill myself." Another pause, and she shuddered as she remembered. "The dreams were so real, I thought they were really happening. I didn't want to feel that again, I just wanted it to stop. Jack was telling me to kill myself, he was telling me how worthless I was. It was just like our marriage was. I honestly thought I was married to him still, and I didn't want to deal with all that pain again, I just wanted it to end. And then I heard Morgan's screams and Wesley yelling for me to stop. I opened my eyes, saw them standing there, horror-stricken, but before I could do anything, I passed out. When I woke up in Sickbay to see them standing there, and Jean-Luc, I thought it was a horrible nightmare. I didn't want to see them, didn't want them to see me. I was so ashamed of what I'd done, to them, to me. I felt unworthy of their love and concern."
"And you feel differently now?"
"I still feel guilty for what I've put them through, but I'm beginning to deal with it now, with Jean-Luc's help."
"That's good. I see that you both are more comfortable around each other again, too. It's a good sign."
Beverly smiled, leaned a little more into Jean-Luc's body, feeling safe and secure in his presence. That devious little Howard grin found its way back onto her face. "You know, Sarah, Jean-Luc told me he has something he wants to discuss with us today. Do you think we should discuss it now?"
Jean-Luc shot her an exasperated look and sighed explosively. "Damn your inquisitiveness, Beverly."
"So you *do* have something to discuss?" Sarah asked, sensing the shift in emotions in him.
He nodded. "Tho' I'd rather have eased into this my own way. But I know that Howard stubborn streak of my wife's, and I know that I won't be able to keep this from her much longer."
"What is it, Jean-Luc?" Bev asked as her husband stood and began pacing.
"It's not anything I really wanted to tell you, but I suppose I must. And it's only fair of me to tell you this since you've told me so much that you wished I didn't know."
Now Bev's brow wrinkled in worry and she stood to go to his side. "Jean-Luc? What is it?"
He turned to face her, took her hands in his, kissed her lightly before leading her back to the couch. She sat down, fear now filling her eyes, and stared up at him. He tried to smile, tried to allay her fears. "Just listen to what I have to say before you do anything, okay? Listen to *all* I have to say, Beverly, please?"
"Of course, Jean-Luc," she murmured, staring up into his warm hazel eyes beginning to cloud over with intense emotion.
Abruptly, he pulled away from her, began pacing at the far end of the room, as far away from her as he could get, wringing his hands in a way that terrified his wife. Finally he spoke, but wouldn't look at either of the women. "Do you remember when you told me about Jack's abuse of you? My reaction to it?"
"Yes. Jean-Luc, what's going on?"
The words came out slowly, but built up in speed till they fairly tumbled out of his mouth. "A while back, nearly thirty years ago, we are all on the *Stargazer*, having a drink in the lounge, all of the senior officers. It was after a recent visit to Earth, and we were regaling each other with tales of our leave exploits. We were all rather inebriated, and began talking of women, as we were wont to do from time to time, especially when imbibing. Jack was the drunkest of all of us, by far, tho' I wasn't far behind him. We were all laughing and discussing our various conquests, and Jack was very quiet. Then suddenly, he started talking, very quietly at first, as if to himself, but he grew louder and louder. The things he said.... Beverly, I swear to you, I thought he was just babbling in his drunken stupor, I never thought to take him seriously. I only wish now that I had. I could have prevented so much from happening...." He stopped then, back to her, shoulders shaking as he began crying.
Beverly stood, went to his side immediately, took him into her arms, trying to comfort him. "What do you mean, Jean-Luc?" He simply shook in her arms, his tears soaking her shoulder. "Come on, Jean-Luc, you can tell me. It's all over now, Jack can't do anything to us, remember? Just tell me what he was talking about." She had an uneasy feeling she knew what he was going to say, but hoped she was wrong. "Please?"
"He started talking about Wesley, how proud he was of his son. Then, suddenly, Wes wasn't his son, but 'Beverly's bastard,' and he was saying how he'd forced you to stay married to him under threat of losing Wes and this mysterious lover of hers. He swore up and down that you were still with this mysterious lover, and how could you do that to him with his friend. Then...."
"Then what?" Bev demanded softly. He shook his head. She raised his head, forced his eyes to meet hers. "Then what, Jean-Luc? Tell me."
"He started talking about how he'd punish you and this lover of yours. How he'd beaten you into submission, but not enough to reveal you were still with this man. He described in vicious details what he'd done to you. Then, as the room was totally silent, he laughed and told us how he'd gotten us all with another story, that he really couldn't be like that. Then he promptly passed out. Pug and I helped him to his quarters. No one ever spoke of it again. For a fleeting moment, I thought he was serious, but then I thought of our drunken states and dismissed it as some dark fantasy of his. The next day, he made some vague comment of hoping his tongue didn't get him into any trouble. No one said anything, just let the whole incident pass."
Beverly let go of him and backed away, the look in her eyes indeterminate. Fury, fear, relief, disgust -- all vied for attention from her. Tears slid down her cheeks silently. Her fists clenched and unclenched futilely at her sides. She stopped, having backed into the couch. Reaching behind to steady herself, her hand landed on a small pillow.
"I'm sorry, Beverly. I wish I'd gone with my first reaction and done something about it. I could have gotten you out of there, away from his anger and wrath. I just didn't know what to do. I was afraid...of everything, of your love, of my love for you, of my friendship with Jack, of the possibility that what he said was true. I didn't know what to do. I'm sorry, Beverly, I'm so sorry."
And then the pillow landed flatly against his face with a dull thud, followed by another, then suddenly her fists were striking at him, at any part of him she could reach. "Bastard! He confessed to you and you did nothing? You let him continue to hurt me? Rape me? Do you know how often I dreamed you would come and rescue me from his abuses? Did you not notice the silent pleas I gave you every time you visited? Did you not care?"
"I cared. I just didn't know what to do. I'm sorry, Beverly, please understand that."
Her fists kept hitting him, tho' with less and less force as her tears overtook her. Finally she collapsed against him, his arms wrapping around her, holding her close. They stood there for what seemed an eternity, just crying and holding each other, letting out the pent-up emotions of nearly thirty years of pain and suffering at the hands of a man who'd supposedly loved them both. Finally, Jean-Luc lifted her head, eyes searching within the blue pools of hers for some sign of forgiveness. After a long moment, he found it and, sighing thankfully, leaned down to kiss away her tears before pressing his lips to hers. The kiss strengthened their commitment to each other, made them realize just how much each had suffered in an attempt to protect the one they loved.
Finally, Bev found her voice. "I love you, Jean-Luc. I nearly lost you so many times, I can't live if I lost you again."
"Nor could I. You are the star by which I steer the ship of my life. No matter what we've done in the past, let's not ruin our future over it. Okay?"
Bev nodded, then as one, they remembered Sarah, turned to face her. She still sat in the chair she'd been in, and they noticed a stray tear slipping down her cheek. She cleared her throat. "I can see that we have found a good basis from which to work on to stabilize your marriage. I think we've done enough for today. I'll let you know when I want to see you next, both together and individually."
"Individually?" Jean-Luc asked a bit nervously.
"I sense there are some issues here in both of you that need to be dealt with separate from each other. Granted, there will be more of that with you, Beverly, as we work through the years of abuse you suffered, but both of you need a little help in relating to each other without these constant turmoils. We can work on that individually as well as together."
Bev nodded, squeezing her husband's hand tightly. "She's right, Jean-Luc," she murmured.
"I know," came his soft reply.
Smiling, Sarah led them to the door, watched them leave. Slowly, the couple made their way to the holodeck where Deanna and Morgan were. As they stood outside the door, Bev leaned over and kissed his cheek. "I'm not really mad at you, Jean-Luc. I know why you did what you did. You thought you had no other choice, just as I thought I had no other choice. We did what we did to survive. We can't be angry about that."
Jean-Luc pulled her into his arms for a sudden, passionate kiss. "Now I remember why I loved you so much all these years. You're so compassionate, so strong, so beautiful."
And then the door opened and Morgan scampered out, stopping at the sight of her parents kissing, and giggled. "Papa is kissing Mamman! Silly Papa!"
"Silly, eh?" he asked, scooping up the squealing girl in his arms to kiss her soundly on both cheeks. "Who's silly now?"
"C'est toi, Papa! C'est toi!"
"It looks as though your session with Sarah went well," Deanna said softly, walking out of the holodeck. She noticed the tears still slipping down both sets of cheeks, but said nothing. She could sense the love emanating from the couple again, and knew that things were going to be okay again.
"Yes, it did. Thank you for watching Morgan," Bev replied, smiling broadly as Morgan kissed her father's nose.
"And my surprise maintenant, Mamman? You promised I could have it after your 'pointment."
"That we did, didn't we, Jean-Luc?"
"Yes, we did. Shall we go get it, cherie?"
She nodded her head eagerly. "And Danni, too?"
Deanna smiled, linking arms with Beverly. "And Danni, too." As they went on their way, Deanna looked at Bev questioningly. "Are you okay? I sensed some pretty strong emotions coming from both of you a little while ago."
"We're fine. Jean-Luc admitted to suspecting Jack's abuse of me, but never did anything about it before."
"Why not? I'd think he'd have done anything to save you from harm."
"Jack confessed it while incredibly drunk. Jean-Luc simply thought he was babbling. I understand his reasons for not doing anything. It's okay."
And then they were at their destination. "The nursery, Papa?" Morgan asked happily.
"Yes, cherie. Your mamman and I have decided that you are old enough and responsible enough to have your own kitten, just like your tante Deanna's. And since the kittens are from her cat, we will let her help you pick out your kitten."
"C'est vraiment, Mamman?"
"Yes, cherie, c'est vraiment. Go find your kitten."
Morgan took Deanna's hand in hers and ran into the nursery, saying, "I know just which one I want, too. 'Member, Danni?"
Deanna, giggling herself, said, "Yes, love, I remember."
Jean-Luc took Beverly in his arms, holding her close as they watched Morgan pick out her kitten. She brought it over to them for their approval. It was a tiny kitten, most assuredly the runt of the litter, and solid black except for a small white ring around one ear. "I want this one."
"Are you sure, cherie?" Jean-Luc asked. "There are other kittens there still."
"I'm sure, Papa, and I already know her name."
"What is her name, cherie?" Beverly asked softly.
"Rene, just like my baby brother's. See, she has a little halo, like an angel, just like Rene."
Tears filled Beverly's eyes as she knelt down to take Morgan in her arms. "That's a wonderful name, cherie. I think Rene would be proud."