**one week later**
Beverly was instantly awake, pain slicing through her as a handful of hair was ripped from her head. She bit her lip to keep from screaming, from waking her sleeping son, then groaned his name softly, only to receive a stinging backhand to the mouth. She tasted the blood where her tooth had bitten into her lip.
"Please, Jack," she managed to whisper. "I'm sorry. It was an accident."
"An *accident*? You call moaning your lover's name an accident? I don't think so, Beverly. You know what else I think? I think you're still fucking him. You are, aren't you?"
"No, Jack, I'm not! Only the one time, I swear it!"
And another backhand. This time Beverly felt the bone in her jaw snap, and stars swam before her tear-filled eyes. She thanked the Goddess she had access to the med labs and could heal this on her own. The less people knew, the better for her son.
"I swear it," she managed to force out before the pain became too great.
Jack's response was to smash the antique lamp against the wall above her head. And then came the piercing wail of her frightened six-month-old son. Jack pulled her up by the hair, shoved her toward the door. "Go shut your bastard up."
Slowly, she walked out of the room, forcing herself not to flee her husband. Entering the nursery, she closed the door, locked it out of fearful habit, then grabbed the hidden medkit from the changing table. Scooping up her son, she huddled in the corner, cradling him close. The nearness of his mother calmed the baby almost instantly and he began nuzzling her in that way that said he was hungry. Fumbling with the buttons, she opened her top, offered him what he wanted before setting to fixing her broken jaw. A calm descended over her as her son nursed, the pain reduced to a dull ache now.
Beverly woke with a start, eyes darting about for signs of Jack. It was almost as if she was back in that space, that frightening time of anger and pain. It took a long minute for Bev to realize it had been just a dream, longer yet to calm her wildly beating heart. Sighing heavily, she turned over and cried herself to sleep, trying to forget the memories, to focus on happier times, happier thoughts.
The toddler rose up on unsteady legs and took a few slow, awkward steps. Beverly watched him, eyes bright with delight, but wouldn't say a word for fear of scaring him. Wesley was finally walking for his father -- well, the man he knew as his father. Wes made his way carefully toward the couch, arms outstretched, a huge grin on his face, following the man's soft encouragements. As he reached the couch, he lost his balance, fell forward into the suddenly open arms, beamed and cried, "Dada!"
Jack smiled, chuckled. "Well, old friend, it seems my boy's taken a liking to you."
"Ah, yes, so it seems," came the reply as Wes climbed up into the man's lap to reach for his rank pips.
"Isn't that wonderful, Beverly?" Jack asked, smiling, though the look in his eyes nearly killed her. "Little Wesley likes Jean-Luc."
She forced a smile to her lips, as she stood to pick up her son. "Yes, it's wonderful, but I should be getting him down for his nap. Will the two of you excuse me?" The men smiled, nodded, and she left the room, going up to the nursery. She closed the door and walked to the rocking chair. Slowly rocking her son to sleep, she sighed heavily, fighting back tears. "Oh, Wesley, that wasn't a smart thing to do. I know you didn't mean to do it, but it really caused a lot of problems for Mommy."
"Mama," the little boy cooed sleepily, snuggling closer.
"That's it, baby, go to sleep," she murmured, cheek resting lightly on the crown of his head. Her eyes closed and she nearly fell asleep herself, reveling in the quiet calm of the late afternoon sunlight.
"Put him in his crib and come downstairs, Beverly," Jack said softly some time later.
"Hmmm?" she murmured, waking slowly.
"I said, put him in his crib and come downstairs, Beverly. Now." His voice was a bit harsher, more demanding.
Instantly she was awake, startling her son, who began crying a bit. "Shhh, Wesley, it's okay. Mommy's here. Go back to sleep, baby." Finally he fell asleep again and she gently placed him in the crib before following Jack downstairs again. She put on a smile, expecting to greet Jean-Luc again, but found the living room empty. "Where's Jean-Luc?"
"Of course you'd wonder where your lover's gone, wouldn't you? Interesting how little Wesley walked to him and called him 'Daddy,' instead of me. Must mean that the two of you are sneaking around on me again, hmmm?"
Beverly cringed at the cruelty in his voice. She knew what was coming, backed away just in time to miss the fist aiming to slam into her stomach.
Bev moaned, tossing and turning, trying to release herself from the memories. She curled into a ball, arms wrapped about herself in protection.
"Wes, honey, how would you like to make a message for Daddy again tonight?" Beverly asked her five-year-old son.
"Can we, Mommy?" His eyes were bright as he looked up from the paper he was coloring on. "Now?"
Bev chuckled at her son's eagerness. "Not yet, sweetheart, after supper, okay? Finish your picture and you can show it to Daddy in your message." He nodded, bending his head over his creation, concentrating again. She smiled, ruffled his hair softly. "I'm going to go to my bedroom for a minute. I'll be right back, okay?"
"Okay," he replied as she stood and left.
Bev walked into her bedroom, trying to decide what to wear for this message. It was such good news, she knew Jack would love it. Just as she decided what to wear, she heard the chime of the bedside terminal, an incoming message. She ran to activate it, believing it to be Jack. Instead, she saw the somber face of his captain. "Jean-Luc? What are you doing contacting me? Where's Jack?"
"Beverly, I'm afraid I have some bad news for you." It came out slowly, softly, as if being pulled from his very soul, and his eyes were filled with unshed tears. That sight forced her to sink to the bed, dread filling her. "I wish I knew a better way to say this, but I don't. Beverly, I'm calling to inform you that Jack is dead. He was doing repairs to the hull of the ship when it happened. The only comfort I can offer is that it was quick and painless. We are en route to Earth now, to return his body to you. We should be arriving home in thirty-six hours, the funeral will be in two days. I've taken care of all the arrangements already for you, according to Jack's wishes. I am truly sorry, Beverly." And then his face was gone.
Beverly sat there, in shock, numb beyond belief. This couldn't be happening, it just couldn't. How was she to tell Wes that his father was dead, never to return? And what about the daughter she carried within her womb? Jack's true firstborn? The little girl would never know her father. Beverly curled up on the bed, arms wrapped protectively around her belly, trying to shield her daughter from the pain she felt in her very soul.
Further tossing and turning wrapped the blankets about her sweat-sheened body, trapping her even more. The memories wouldn't stop, they just kept coming and coming, pounding at her fragile psyche. The longer she remained as she was, the further she was reminded of the futility of happiness in her life. She was forced to relive Jack's funeral and burial, her subsequent miscarriage that night of Jack's only child, the further deaths of each of her miscarried children, the loss of Wesley to the realms of Travelers, the deaths of countless patients and colleagues, Odan's death, Nana Felisa's death, the loss of the *Enterprise-D*, the countless fights she and Jean-Luc had had. The list went on and on, showing her the failure she'd become.
Moving by memory, she turned without fully waking and took out the small ornamental, but extremely sharp, knife in her bedside table, a gift from one of Jean-Luc's many successful archaeological digs. She caressed the polished ivory handle, pressing its coolness to her heated brow for a second to steel herself, then opened her eyes to watch as she pressed the razor-sharp blade to the tender flesh of her inner left wrist, the sound of Jack's voice goading her on. *Go on, Beverly, do it,* his voice hissed in her ear, as if standing right next to her. *You never deserved to live anyway. I should have killed you when I had the chance. Do it, Beverly. DO IT!*
Morgan walked into her family's quarters and looked around. She'd been released from classes early today, and knew her mother was supposed to be home. Deciding her mother was probably napping, the little girl quietly entered her mother's room, planning to wake the woman. Instead, she found her mother sitting there, running a knife across her wrist over and over again, blood all over. "Mamman! NO!" Morgan screamed, rooted by fear in her place.
And behind her, she heard another voice. "Mom! Don't!"
Beverly watched with an oddly detached delight as the blade made a series of crisscrossed lines across the taut skin. With each pass of the blade, Jack's voice grew softer, still goading her on. She didn't even notice the pain as it sliced into her skin, or the bright red blood oozing down her arm to her lap. All she knew was the release, the peace of finally being free. And then, she heard the voices. Looking up, she saw the horror-stricken faces of her only living children as they stared at her from the doorway. And before she could do anymore, say anything, she passed out, swallowed by the blackness of unconsciousness.
Wesley was pulled out of his shock by the piercing screams of his little sister. He pulled her into his arms, turning her face from the sight of their mother on the bed. "Crusher to Transporter Room Two, beam my mother directly to Sickbay, it's an emergency!" he bellered, holding the girl close until their mother was gone. Then his attention returned to the little girl. Kneeling in front of her, he said, "Morgan, look at me. It's me, Wes."
"Wes? Mamman? She is okay?" She tried to turn to look at her mother, but he wouldn't let her.
"Morgan, listen to me, listen very carefully," he said, forcing the girl's eyes to look deeply into his own. "You didn't see that. You came home from school and went to your roo-"
He was stopped by a hand on his shoulder. "You can't do this, Wesley. It is not your place to remove this memory from your sister's mind."
Wes noticed that Morgan had frozen in his arms, knew that his mentor had pulled them out of time, suspended it for a bit. He looked up into the eyes of his mentor, confused, frightened, angry. "But I have to. I can't let Morgan remember seeing our mother try to kill herself. It will traumatize her for the rest of her life. Please, let me do this."
The Traveler sadly shook his head. "I'm afraid I can't let you do that, Wesley. It is part of Morgan's destiny to have seen this, just as it was part of yours to come here when you did. Upon waking, your mother needs to know that Morgan watched as she tried to take her own life. It is very important that she know this, as it will stop her from trying again. Don't remove the memory, Wesley, don't change the way this must be played out."
And then, time was reinstated, and Wes found himself comforting his very frightened sister. He knew his mentor was right, but it still didn't feel right to him. "Crusher to Captain Picard."
"Wesley? Is that you?"
"Dad, I think you'd better go to Sickbay. Mom just...she just tried to kill herself. She looked pretty bad, I'm not sure she's gonna make it."
"Where is Morgan?" The man's voice was faint, as if a part of him had died.
"I've got her. Go make sure Mom's okay. I'll take care of Morgan."
**Meanwhile, on Betazed**
Deanna and Will were snuggled together under the blanket, basking before the fire in the afterglow of their lovemaking. Only two more days were allowed on this vacation, and they intended to make the most of them. Will moved to bring Deanna atop him, allowing her the opportunity to take control of their intimacy this time. She sighed deeply as she felt him fill her yet again, constantly thrilled by the intensity of emotion sex brought out for them. In the back of her mind, she heard an odd noise, but ignored it, focusing her attention instead on her Imzadi.
"Little One? Will?"
Deanna felt Will's erection wither within her at the sound of her mother's voice. She groaned inwardly, hoping it was just a figment of their imaginations, sending erotic thoughts Will's way to regain his erection.
"Oh, thank the four deities I've found you both," came Lwaxana's voice again, right above them.
"This had better be good, Mother," Deanna warned through tightly clenched teeth.
"I swear, I wouldn't have interrupted you like this if it wasn't crucial."
Reluctantly, Deanna rolled off of Will's body, laying next to him to look up at her mother. "What is so important that you had to interrupt us, Mother?" she asked impatiently.
"I just received word from the *Enterprise*. They are on their way to pick you both up. Dr. Crusher has attempted suicide, and nearly succeeded."
At those few, simple words, Will and Deanna felt their world crashing down around them.