Beverly finally dragged herself out of bed, greeted by silence and peace. On the table, she found a single pink camellia resting on a piece of paper. Picking up the flower, she read the note left by her husband.
Morgan and I have gone to spend some
time on the holodeck, so you can rest.
Join us when you wake up?
I love you.
Then, she smiled, reading Morgan's carefully printed postscript -- *Je t'aime, Mamman.* She picked up the note, going to add it to the box of mementos she'd been saving over the past thirty years of her life with Jean-Luc.
"Selar to Dr. Crusher."
"We were wondering if you would be joining us for the staff meeting you'd called for?"
Bev looked at the chrono, realized she'd overslept. The meeting was supposed to have started thirty minutes ago. "Um, I'll be there in just a moment, Selar. I lost track of time. Crusher out." Quickly, she slipped into her uniform, sighing at its tightness. *Time to pull the maternity clothes out from the mothballs,* she thought to herself as she stripped off the offending clothing, slipping instead into a comfortably loose fitting shift. *They can be damned if I'm going to be uncomfortable during a meeting on my day off, even if I did call for it.* Raking her fingers through her hair, she ran off toward Sickbay.
"And if that's all, this meeting is adjourned," Beverly said nearly an hour later, fighting off a wave of nausea. Thankfully, people began to leave, going back on duty or leaving Sickbay. Bev made as if to go to her office, was stopped by a sudden wave of pain. She clutched the table, sucking in her breath, knuckles white with the strain.
"Doctor?" Alyssa Ogawa asked, suddenly at her side.
"I'm okay, Alyssa," Bev managed to get out, then lurched out of Sickbay toward her quarters.
"Catch me, Papa!" Morgan squealed, running across the field, simulated from Jean-Luc's family vineyard.
"Here I come," Jean-Luc called out, taking off after her.
"Ogawa to Captain Picard."
He stopped, bending over to catch his breath. "Go ahead, Nurse Ogawa."
"I think you should go to your quarters, sir. Dr. Crusher ran out of here just a bit ago, and she didn't look very well."
Fear gripped at his heart. "Thank you. I'm on my way. Picard out," he said, turned to see Morgan coming to his side. "Cherie, how would you like to go visit your tante Deanna?"
"Oui, Papa, and Oncle Will."
He smiled to cover his worry, not wanting to frighten his daughter. "Picard to Troi. Deanna, I need you to watch Morgan for a bit. Is that possible?"
"I'd be honored. I was just going to have some lunch. I'd love for you both to join me."
"We're on our way." He scooped up Morgan into his arms, quickly heading off toward the woman's quarters.
"Hello, Captain, Morgan," Deanna said as the door slid open.
"Here she is. Morgan, be good," he said quickly, kissing the small forehead, then left. It seemed time had stopped as he raced to his quarters. He entered his quarters in time to hear a cry of pain from the bedroom. "Beverly?" he called, running into the room to find her curled in a ball on the floor. "Beverly!"
"Jean-Luc?" She moaned softly as he took her in his arms.
"I'm right here, Beverly," he murmured, holding her close. The sheer intensity of his gaze seemed as if to will her to be fine. She forced her eyes to focus on his, trying to block out the pain. "Tell me what's wrong. Should we go to Sickbay?"
She shook her head, a touch of color returning to her pale face. "I think I'm okay now." But she didn't move to get up. She clung to him, knuckles still white and clutching at her sides.
"No, you're not," he said, scooping her up into his arms, and carried her out into the corridor.
"Jean-Luc," she protested weakly, but didn't try to fight him, as a wave of pain enveloped her again. It took all of her willpower to keep from screaming out. Instead she bit her lip to hold back the screams, drawing blood that tasted metallic and bitter on her tongue.
Jean-Luc burst into the door of Sickbay and set Beverly on the first biobed he came to. His eyes searched for and found the wide, comforting eyes of Alyssa Ogawa, who raced over to his side. "Help her," he begged, eyes pleading for her to do something to relieve the pain his wife was in.
She nodded and motioned to Dr. Selar, then pointed to an isolation room. Jean-Luc understood her intent and picked up his wife, leading the two women into the room. He set Beverly on the table, maintained contact by holding her hand. He watched as the two women began examining his wife, silently praying to his God and Beverly's Goddess for guidance.
Suddenly, Beverly screamed, another wave of pain lancing through her body, and doubled up. "No!" she cried. "Not now! Not again! Please, Goddess, no!"
Jean-Luc wasn't exactly sure of her meaning, but when he saw the grim looks on the faces of the other two women, he understood completely. And the tears began to course down his cheeks as he redoubled his pleas to the deities. *Please, let this child live. Don't take my son from me, from Beverly. I'll do anything, just don't let my son die.* And then he saw Alyssa coming toward Beverly, a hypo in her hand. Bev saw this, too, and began to fight.
"No," she moaned. "No, Alyssa, please don't."
"I have to," came the regret filled reply as the hypo hissed against Bev's throat, sending the sedative coursing through her veins. And seconds later, as unconsciousness claimed the woman, Alyssa turned to her captain. "Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
Numb, shocked beyond belief, Jean-Luc let her push him out of the room. He stood in the middle of Sickbay for a moment, dazed, uncomprehending of anything but the grief that had clamped around his heart. His son would soon be no more.
"And all I really want is some patience
A way to calm the angry voice
And all I really want is deliverance"
"Captain?" The sound was so distant, hollow in his ears. And then came the hand on his shoulder. It felt like another weight to be added to his burden. "Captain, it's Deanna. Please talk to me."
He looked at her dutifully, eyes dull with the pain of unshed tears. "Where is she?" he managed to rasp.
"Dr. Selar decided it best to keep Beverly in the isolation room for now. She's decided to keep Beverly overnight for observation, to make sure she gets some rest. Perhaps you would like to go and see her now? She'll still be asleep, but I think she'd want you there when she wakes up."
Jean-Luc nodded woodenly, once again staring at nothing. Finally, he whispered, "Were they able to save Rene?" Sorrowfully, Deanna shook her head, the tears slipping unheeded down her cheeks again. "Where's Morgan?"
"Will has her right now, sir. We thought it would be best if she didn't come down here. We didn't want to frighten her."
Again the wooden nod, then he stood and followed Deanna to the isolation room. They were greeted by a red-eyed Alyssa, who was monitoring Beverly's vital signs. Jean-Luc's eyes wandered from the monitors to the sleeping form of his wife. She lay there, unmoving, covered by a thin metallic silver blanket, the lines of fear temporarily erased from her face. Deanna gently pushed him into the chair by the bed, then left with Alyssa, knowing the man needed time alone with his wife, with his grief. He heard the door close, then reached out to caress the soft red hair, the pale cheek.
"Oh, Beverly," he moaned softly, a hand resting lightly on her stomach. It felt so empty already, even though she'd only just barely begun to show. And then the tears came, slowly at first, then like a torrential downpour. *This is all my fault,* he thought to himself. *I never should have allowed her to undergo this pregnancy. There were too many risks, we both knew that. Yet, just to please my wish for a son, for someone to carry on my family name, she took on this pregnancy, and now here she lies. And my son, he lies...where? In some waste receptacle? I never even heard his tiny heart beating.* A soft moan brought him from his reverie, but he couldn't bear to look into those blue eyes, tell his wife that their son was dead. *She's had enough of death in her life. Let her hope just a little longer....*
"Jean-Luc?" she murmured, but received no reply. Forcing her eyes open, she focused her eyes on the crown of her husband's down-turned head. She noted how his shoulders shook, knew he must be crying. But why? And why was she lying here in Sickbay? And then reality sank in, and she remembered...everything.
A hand strayed down to rest on her stomach, next to his, and she felt the emptiness within her. She felt the tears, but they wouldn't fall. She wouldn't let them. She had to be strong for her husband. He had wanted a son so badly, had been so happy that she'd given him one. Now that son was gone, and with it went the chance for another Picard male to carry on the family line. She had told Jean-Luc all of the risks involved in this pregnancy, all but one. The one that said this would be her last pregnancy *ever,* whether she bore the child or not. That was why she'd been so happy to learn she carried a son. What better way to end her childbearing years than with a son, a fine Picard heir? And now, that heir and any hopes of another one were dead, never to breathe a single breath, utter a single cry. *Damn you, Goddess!* she seethed internally. *Why did you have to take him from us? Why must you constantly torment me like this? Why must so much death follow me?* The pain of that thought nearly killed her. Yet another death to add to the already too long list of deaths in her life. Daddy. Momma. Jack. Her daughter. Countless patients. Odan. Nana. And now, her son. And in that moment, something changed in Beverly Cerridwen Howard Crusher Picard.