**Two weeks later**
"Beverly, I must admit you are doing wonderfully," Deanna said as they sat down in Ten-Forward after yet another counseling session. "We have delved into a lot of territory today."
"Why do I sense a 'but' coming?"
"Because there is one. There's something more that you won't tell me, and it's something that bothers you a great deal. You know you can trust me, Beverly, both professionally and personally."
"I'm okay, Deanna, really," she said, evading the question, hands nervously raking through her hair.
Deanna placed a hand on Beverly's, stopped her. "Talk to me, Bev."
Beverly sighed heavily, looking down. When she looked up at Deanna again, there were tears in her eyes. "I don't want to upset you before you go on your trip with Will. This is important to you, and I don't want to ruin it."
"You won't ruin it, Beverly. And if I don't know what's going on, then I'll be even more worried about you. Please, just tell me what's going on."
Beverly looked down at her hands laced around her pulled-up knee, watched them trembling. She trusted her best friend implicitly, but was unable to discuss this with her. "I don't know how to tell you this."
"Just start at the beginning and tell me slowly. If you would be more comfortable somewhere else, we can leave here." Bev nodded, still looking down. Deanna stood, offered a hand to her friend, then led the woman out into the corridor. They made their way to an empty conference room and Deanna locked the door before sitting next to her friend. "Talk to me, Beverly. Let me help you with this."
Beverly's knuckles were taut, white, with the strain of tension. Her voice was low when she spoke, and it quavered with emotion. "Jean-Luc doesn't care about me anymore. All he cares about is a son to carry on the family name. It's as if his firstborn son and his daughter mean nothing to him. Wes has already said that he would willingly change his name to Picard, but Jean-Luc said no. And Morgan, my poor baby. He expects her to be as perfect and as highly motivated as Wesley. Deanna, I don't even know my own husband anymore. This is not the man I married, the man I've loved for thirty years. Part of me thinks that Rene was taken from me as a form of punishment from the Goddess."
"Beverly, you know as well as I do that the Goddess is not vengeful like that. You were destined to marry the captain. Something isn't right about all of this."
"Of course something's not right. My husband is a bastard!" Bev exploded, standing to start pacing again.
"That's not what I meant, Beverly."
"If it's true, then why was he crying and waiting to see you two weeks ago? Why has he tried to do everything and anything for you these past two weeks? Beverly, he loves you, he wants you to be happy and whole again."
"So he can get me pregnant again. All he cares about is a son to carry on his name. Do you know what his first question was to me when I woke up after the miscarriage? He asked if I thought he could see the receptacle they'd put Rene into. Nothing like 'How are you feeling, Beverly?' or 'Can I get you anything?' or even 'It doesn't matter, I still love you.' No! He wanted to see the bloody remains of his damned precious son!"
Suddenly, she crumpled to the floor, great sobs wracking her body. Deanna was immediately at her side, taking the distraught woman into her arms, trying to comfort her. "It's alright, Beverly, let it all out." Over and over, without stopping, the soft litany continued on for over thirty minutes. All the while, the Betazoid's mind raced. Finally, the wracking sobs subsided to silent tears, but Bev didn't loosen her grip on her friend. "May I ask you something?" Bev nodded. "Did you ever tell the captain you can no longer bear children?"
"He doesn't need to know."
"Beverly, whatever else he may have done to you, he is still your husband and the father of your children. He does deserve the right to know." And then something occurred to her. "This is why you were so worried that he'd leave you, because you can't have any more children." Bev nodded, sniffling back a sob. She forced the woman's blue eyes to look into hers. "You're a coward, Beverly Picard. Do you know that?" Before Bev could reply, she continued with her diatribe. "For years now, I have watched you and the captain sidestep the reality of your situation, in favor of some grand romantic fantasies you'd created. It took your grandmother and a vision from the Goddess for you to finally admit your feelings for the man. And then you married him, had his second child--"
"Third." It was so soft, Deanna almost missed it, but for the guilt emanating from Bev.
"Third? *Third?*" Deanna stood up, began pacing herself. "By the Goddess, Beverly! I don't even know you anymore. What happened to your second child? Was that the girl you said was Jack's? The one you miscarried the night you'd learned of his death?" Beverly shook her head. "Then when?"
"About six months after Jack's death. Jean-Luc came to see how Wes and I were doing, while the *Stargazer* was back at Earth again. It just happened. He was gone the next morning. Neither of us spoke of it again. We both just attributed that night to mutual grief over Jack. I miscarried two months later, a tubal pregnancy. I never felt it was the right time to tell Jean-Luc about it."
"And what was this child? You were far enough along to find out." Beverly didn't answer. Deanna knelt in front of Bev, forced her head up to gaze deeply into the tear-filled eyes. "Your tears won't affect me anymore, Beverly. Answer me. What was this second child of his that you miscarried?"
"A son," she whispered, her body shaking again as she tried not to submit to the tears again.
"And were there others?" Bev nodded. "How many? And how many of them does he know about?"
"Only one other, a girl, and he didn't know about her either."
"Of course not. If he did, you'd have to have told him about his other son. And, of course, you couldn't do that, could you? Then you'd have to admit to lying to him, face his anger, perhaps lose that safety you've come to share with him."
"Why are you doing this to me? What do you want from me?" Bev screamed at her.
"I want you to face the truth, Beverly. Accept that you and your husband are *not* perfect, nor have you ever been."
"But I can't do that," Bev wailed, curling into a protective ball on the floor again. "If I do, I may lose him."
"You never had him. All you had was a fantasy, a dream of what you thought was perfect. And now that fantasy has begun to crack, and you want to place all the blame on him."
"That's not true."
"Isn't it? It seems to me that the lion's share of the blame should be placed on your shoulders, yet you want to place all of the blame of this current situation on your husband. You can't tell him about the miscarriages because he'll get mad at you for withholding it from him. You can't tell him that you can't have any more kids because he'll leave you. You can't be honest with him about your grief for your son's death because you think he grieves more than you do. You won't even allow yourself to grieve for your son. You'd rather be angry with your husband because he *is* grieving for Rene, grieving enough for both of you."
"Did you know that Will and I had to explain your miscarriage to your daughter? Your husband was too distraught to do it, and you were too damned stubborn to even notice how scared your daughter was. We were up all night long, trying to explain it to Morgan, trying to reassure her that the Goddess wouldn't take her away from all of us. I love Morgan as if she were my own daughter, but damn it, Beverly, she is not my daughter. She is *your* daughter. *You* should have been explaining this to her, not me."
"I didn't know how...."
"Liar! You knew how, you were just too damned afraid to explain it to her, to let her see that you were grieving, to let her see that you were human."
Before she could continue, Deanna was cut off by the door sliding open. Both women looked up to see Jean-Luc and Will standing there. The captain spoke first. "What in the hell is going on here? People can hear you screaming nearly twenty metres away."
"Why don't you ask your wife, sir?" Deanna said, looking pointedly at Beverly. "I believe she said she had something to tell you, didn't you, Beverly?"
Beverly looked up at Deanna, pleaded with her eyes. "Don't do this, Deanna. I thought you were my friend."
A heavy shudder ran through the petite Betazoid's body, and all of the anger seemed to dissipate. She knelt in front of Beverly, stared into the fear-filled blue eyes. When she spoke, her voice was low, tinged with regret. "I am your friend, Beverly, and I am your counselor, as well. If you want your marriage to continue, if you want your daughter to be emotionally healthy, you need to do this. The two of you have a lot of things to resolve right now, and I think this is the best time to do it. Will and I leave tomorrow morning for Betazed. Lieutenant Randall is an experienced empathic counselor. She has offered her services while I'm gone. I want both of you to go to her, talk to her, *work* with her." She paused for a moment, leaned in to embrace her friend, whispering so that only Bev heard her, "I'm sorry I was so harsh with you, Beverly, but I needed you to see what you've done to yourself. You need to be honest with your husband, about *everything.* And you need to reevaluate the way you both treat Morgan. I really want you to work while I'm gone. When Will and I come back, I want my best friend to greet me, the best friend that I've shared everything with over these past twelve years. Will you promise me that you'll at least try?"
"I'm scared, Deanna. What if he doesn't--"
Deanna hushed her with a finger over her lips. "No negative thoughts, Beverly. There are things he needs to be honest about with you as well. He is just as afraid to tell you those things as you are to tell him yours. Just promise me you'll try. I've already received his promise to try."
Beverly looked over at her husband, then back at Deanna. She tried a faint smile. "I promise I'll try."