The Essence of Anger Part 14

The Essence of Anger Part 14

Status: Finished

Genre: Fan Fiction

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Fan Fiction

Summary

Same as Pt 1

Summary

Same as Pt 1

Chapter1 (v.1) - The Essence of Anger Part 14

Author Chapter Note

Same as Pt 1

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: July 03, 2013

Reads: 359

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: July 03, 2013

A A A

A A A

 

Beverly was heavily pregnant when the next odd thing happened with her partner. She was only two days from her due date and she and Jean-Luc had been down to sick bay to finalise the birthing procedure. Beverly had opted for an assisted delivery, although she did want to do some of the work herself. Their children would be present and she would utilise the birthing chair, rather than a biobed or the water delivery suite. Because of her age, it had been decided that should she encounter any problems at all, the baby would be beamed out.

It had been a very long day. Being so large and with the constant interruption of nocturnal toilet visits, Beverly wasn’t sleeping well and as a result, neither was Jean-Luc. Added to that was the very intricate and delicate negotiations he was embroiled in with yet another Federation world who were reassessing their membership. Jean-Luc was rising early; doing what he could to help Beverly with the children before spending not only all of his normal shift, but hours extra in his efforts to keep the recalcitrant world within the Federation fold.

So it wasn’t surprising that he’d dozed off on the one night he’d managed to get home at a reasonable hour. It was just after dinner and the children were off, preparing for their bath. Beverly had filled the tub and had come back with a naked David and Monique to get their father, only to find him asleep at the table.

David was climbing onto his father’s lap when the man’s eyes snapped open only to have him say curtly, “Qu?est-ce que vous pensez que vous faites?”

David froze, not fully understanding what his father had said. The universal translator had been turned off in their quarters so that the children could learn French, but neither was good enough quite yet. And there was his tone, which was cold and angry as was his expression. Beverly, however, understood every word.

“What do you mean, what the hell are you doing? He’s getting on your lap so you can piggy back him while you carry Monique! Their bath’s ready.”

He lifted David off his lap with obvious distaste, then turned his cold eyes on Beverly, saying tightly, “Vous madame, êtes-vous responsable des ces enfants...? Parce que je troure leur comprtement inacceptable!”

Beverly’s mouth gaped as she gathered their confused children to her. David said quietly, “Maman, what’s wrong with papa?”

Instead of answering the boy, Beverly stepped forward and grabbed Jean-Luc’s shoulder, shaking it hard while saying loudly, “Jean-Luc! Wake up!”

He glared up at her, snarling, “Lâcher une femme ou moi je vais...”

Anger warred with alarm as Beverly said loudly, “Unhand you or you’ll what, Jean-Luc?  Wake up, for God’s sake!”

The man suddenly blinked and looked around in confusion. “What? Where?”

Kneeling awkwardly at his legs, Beverly took his hands and said gently, “Look at me, Jean-Luc.” He did so and seemed to focus on her. “Beverly?” he said tentatively.

She smiled. “Yes. It’s all right, Jean-Luc, you were dreaming, that’s all.”

“I don’t...” He was going to say that he didn’t remember, but caught the words before they left his mouth. “Oh! Yes...” he said. “I was...”

“In France, obviously.” Chuckled Beverly. “And not at all used to children.”

Seeing the disconcerted look on his son and daughter, he smiled and opened his arms wide. “Seeing as how you’re both unclothed, I take it it’s bath time.”

Monique giggled and climbed up on one leg. David however was a little reluctant. “It’s all right, mon jeune fils, everything’s all right.”

Still not completely convinced, David nevertheless climbed up onto his father’s back, but as the man rose, hugging Monique, David whispered, “Papa?”

“Yes?”

“Can we not speak any more French for a while?”

Feeling a pang of deep guilt, but not remembering what’d caused it, Jean-Luc readily agreed. “Of course David. You let me know when you want to start again.”

“Thank you, papa.”

 

 

 

Later in bed, barely awake, Jean-Luc heard Beverly say, “That must’ve been some dream, Jean-Luc. I mean, asking David what the hell he was doing then telling me to unhand you and then asking me if I was responsible for the kids as you found their behaviour unacceptable! God, if you hadn’t been dreaming, I would’ve slapped your face.”

He swallowed to wet his suddenly dry mouth. “Yes, well that’s the thing with dreams, isn’t it? In any case, I’m sorry.”

“Mmm. ‘Night.”

“Bonsoir, maman.”

As he drifted off he didn’t realise he’d once again lapsed into French and called Beverly, mum. Fortunately  Beverly was already asleep.

 

 

 

 

The birth of their precious little girl was uncomplicated and Beverly was able to give as much input as she wished. Jean-Luc delivered their daughter under Selar’s watchful eyes while David and Monique looked on, David with mild disgust, Monique with excited wonder. The parents decided to name her Giselle.

Over the next few weeks, all went well, but on five separate occasions, fortunately each instance in his ready room while he was alone, Jean-Luc experienced more lapses. He only knew they’d occurred by the simple fact that he’d taken the precaution of placing a small, discreet chronometer on his desk and by merely glancing at it he knew instantly how much time had passed during each episode.

His fear turned to dread as she realised the lapses were growing longer. He knew he should do something...say something, but Beverly was so taken up with the new baby and the children were relying on him more and more as Giselle took up increasing amounts of Beverly’s time, he convinced himself that whatever it was, it would pass. No, no need to worry an already very busy new mother.

This type of denial, this self-delusion was uncharacteristic for Jean-Luc, usually a man to tackle most things head on but he’d been so affected by what Q had shown him, he pushed it all as deeply into the recesses of his mind as he could. If this...whatever it was had anything to do with that, he didn’t want to know.

Somehow he kept his growing problem hidden, but there were some close calls. His explanations, when he’d been discovered were becoming thin, his plausibility losing credibility. Now that Giselle was four months old, Beverly was back at work part-time and had reverted to her old self, sharp as a tack and less likely to be hood-winked. So when she tackled her partner and not very subtly over a report he’d been seen sitting in the forward lounge seeming ‘lost in thought’ Beverly was none too pleased.

He knew the futility of even attempting an excuse. Quite simply, he’d run dry. So instead he took Beverly’s hands and stared into her eyes. “Beverly, my love, we need a holiday.”

Wrong footed, Beverly frowned and said warily, “What?”

“You heard me.” He said with a warm smile. “Since Giselle’s birth we’ve been flat out, you with work and the children, me with work and doing what I can to help. Why don’t we take a break...a long break?”

“How long?” Beverly was still suspicious; Jean-Luc wasn’t exactly the ‘holiday’ kind.

“Five months.”

“Five months?!” Beverly almost shouted. “Jean-Luc...what the hell...?”

His enthusiastic expression sobered. “I’m tired, Beverly. With all that’s been going on with the council, then Giselle’s birth...” he sighed. “I’d like to get away for a while...just us as a family.”

“Well...” said Beverly, slowly warming to the idea. “It would be nice. When? When do you think we can get away?”

“Soon.” Jean-Luc said firmly. “There’re still some things I must do,” he made a vague gesture with his hand. “...to do with the council, but two, perhaps three weeks?”

“Okay,” Beverly agreed. “But Jean-Luc...this council business. Can you...will you...tell me about it? I mean the rumour mill is full of it yet you’ve chosen to say nothing, at least not to me.”

The hurt in her voice caused him physical pain. Taking her hands, He said softly, “Once we’re on holiday, I’ll tell you what I can, all right?”

Knowing he had gone as far as he could, or would, Beverly nodded. “Okay. So two or three weeks then? I’d best get busy tying up some loose ends.”

“Yes, me too.”

 

 

 

Two days later, Jeremy Lerinn made another call to the Enterprise. This time the man was in a far better mood.

“I had a very interesting call from Bacco’s secretary.”

“Really?” replied an intrigued Jean-Luc. “The Federation President’s private secretary called you?”

“Indeed he did. And guess what he had to say?”

“I’ve no idea.”

Jeremy leaned forward his dark green eyes twinkling. “The Tholian Ambassador wishes to meet.”

Jean-Luc had shifted forward in his seat too in an unconscious movement. “To what end?”

“Apparently things aren’t all that sweetness and light within the Pact. With the collapse of the Ereban situation and the weeding out of the traitors here, not to mention removing the teeth from section 31, the Pact has been effectively weakened. Those worlds that seceded? The ones the Pact hoped would join them? Seems quite a few are reconsidering Federation membership. And Ereban. They’ve made peace with their neighbours, Jean-Luc. We’re now looking at...well, maybe not exactly unified, but certainly a much stronger entity. I doubt anyone’s going to be forcing them into anything they don’t want without one hell of a fight. Of course the Pact knows this and it’s another loss to them. Now, as you know there are six core members of the Pact. The founding members are the Tholian Assembly. The others are the Gorn Hegenomy, the Holy Order of Kinshaya, the Romulans, of course, the Tzenkethi Coalition and the Breen Confederacy. Now as I understand it, the Tholian ambassador is representing five of the six, the odd man out are the Tzenkethis. They vehemently oppose any relations with the Federation.”

“And what of Ereban? Any contact?”

Jeremy shrugged. “No, but we’re hoping they’re not a lost cause. With their new-found strength and autonomy, they might, one day, forgive us, but my gut feeling is that they’ll sit pat for some time. They have the whole evolution thing to deal with first. Like you said, it’ll be at least two, maybe three generations until anyone knows what they’re going to be and I guess that’ll be the deciding factor. If they feel they can look after themselves, I doubt we’ll ever hear from them again.”

Jean-Luc sighed. “It’s such a pity you know, Jeremy. The Ereban are...or were a decent people...even given the obvious flaws in their society.” He gave Jeremy a piecing look. “And that’s not unique to Ereban, is it.” Jeremy had the good grace to look embarrassed.

“No.” He replied softly. “No, it’s not.”

 Jean-Luc frowned, doing his best to keep his frustration and anger at bay. “What’s been done to them...” he sighed again and decided to move on. Dwelling on things he couldn’t change helped no one. Jean-Luc’s fingers were rubbing his lower lip. He took a deep breath and changed focus. “And just what kind of relationship is the Tholian ambassador proposing?”

“Now that I don’t know, nobody does. I guess we’ll just have to wait and hear what he has to say, although I seriously doubt it’ll be the proverbial olive branch. More like a mutual non-aggression deal.”

“Yes,” agreed Jean-Luc wryly. “Until they can either recruit more worlds or come up with something that gives them the upper hand.”

“Uh huh. Anyway, this is basically a heads-up. All Starfleet ships have been notified that any Typhon Pact ship encountered is to be treated as a potential ‘friend’ at least not as an automatically presumed enemy.”

“Except the Tzenkethi.” Jean-Luc qualified.

“Yes, except the Tzenkethi.”

“Who we know next to nothing about.” Groused Jean-Luc. “God, Jeremy, we barely know what their ships look like, let alone what kind of weaponry they possess.”

“I know. As far as you space jockeys are concerned, you’re going to have to play it by ear, my friend.”

“Hmph!” Jean-Luc grunted. “Well I suppose that’s better than nothing.”

“It would be if not for one last detail.”

Sighing, Jean-Luc suddenly felt very tired. “And that is?”

“Marauders. We’ve had some reports, so far isolated, but growing that some of our ships have been harassed by marauders.”

“Presumably Tzenkethi.”

“Yep.”

“Wonderful.”

Both men sat in silence for a few long seconds before Jeremy said mildly,

“I saw your request for leave. Might be a good time to take it, Jean-Luc. Keep your head down until things settle.”

“I received permission this morning, Jeremy. Beverly, the children and I will be leaving in two and a half weeks.”

“Not a moment too soon. Well, I’ve got work to do. Enjoy your leave, old friend, you’ve deserved it. Lerinn out.”

 

 

Jean-Luc sat back, his mind turning over the situation. That was until he blinked and, disoriented, tried to understand why he felt cold and uncomfortable. It was the smell that gave it away.

With disgust and dismay, Jean-Luc looked down to see his trousers wet with urine. He gasped softly before grimacing. He looked at his little time piece only to see he’d been seated at his desk for over seven hours. The last thing he remembered was thinking about...what? With panic rising he struggled to bring to mind what he’d been doing.

He woke his monitor and said shakily, “Computer, display last use of this monitor.”

“Warning. The last use of that monitor was for a level 5 communiqué. Please input proper authentication current for level 5 encryption.”

It was the mention of the height of the security that brought the much wanted information to Jean-Luc. He sat back and sighed, then grimaced again at the strong, acrid smell and the clammy discomfort. He rose stiffly and went to his private bathroom, taking a quick shower and replicating a clean uniform. One final look at his chronometer told him it was very late. No doubt he’d have some explaining to do. He had, some time ago, agreed with Beverly that he would contact her if he was going to work late.

 

 

His quarters were in darkness when he entered. Having first checked on his children, he went into the en suite off the master bedroom to change, not wishing to disturb either the sleeping Beverly or the baby, still in the nursery. For reasons he would never discover, once naked, instead of putting on a pair of sleep shorts and going to bed, he went to the basin, picked up his isorazor and that’s where he found himself next morning with Beverly gently prising the device from, his fingers. He was shivering and had urinated again.

He turned his head slowly, looking at Beverly with obvious incomprehension. She somehow kept her alarm under control and said gently, “It’s okay, Jean-Luc. You’re okay.”

David, standing just inside the bathroom, said with fear, “It’s happened again, hasn’t it.”

Instead of answering, Beverly said, “Would you get my medkit and papa’s robe, please, David?”

The lad was just re-entering the en suite when the red alert sirens sounded. It seemed to bring Jean-Luc back, as he blinked and said curtly, “Report to your station, Beverly! I’ll get to the bridge.”

Before she could stop him, he was putting on the same uniform he’d taken off only hours before. He was out the door and gone in mere moments.

Will rose from the centre seat and pointed with his bearded chin at a small image displayed on the activated forward viewscreen.

“Can we identify it?” asked Jean-Luc curtly.

“No, sir.”

“I take it we’ve hailed the vessel?”

“Yes, sir, all that did was make it increase speed and alter course to intercept.”

“And there was no reply.”

“No, Captain.”

Taking his seat and gesturing for Will to do the same, Jean-Luc crossed his legs and gazed at the fast-approaching ship.

“You’ve read the intel on the marauders?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, it’s a good bet that’s...”

Will looked at his Captain to see the man was staring at nothing. Frowning and swearing softly under his breath, Will said quietly, “Captain?”

Behind him, at tactical, the lieutenant said tersely, “The bogey’ll be within weapons range in twenty eight seconds, Commander. Shall I bring our weapons on line, sir?”

“Just wait a minute!” barked Will. A little louder, loath to embarrass his Captain on his own bridge, Will said, “Captain!”

The lieutenant’s voice easily carried her growing alarm. “Sir, their powering up their weapons and they’ve locked on to us!”

With a last ditch effort, Will grabbed Jean-Luc’s upper arm and said loudly, “Captain Picard! Orders, sir?”

He’d waited a fraction too long. As the tactical officer reported, “They’re firing!” Will shouted, “Shields to maximum!”

Too late. The blast impacted on the secondary hull, shattering the duranium and ripping an ugly gaping hole.

“Evasive manoeurvres! Target that damned ship and give it everything we’ve got. Fire at will!”

The Enterprise took several more hits, making her shudder violently and yaw, but ultimately she out manoeuvred and outgunned her opponent. Dead in the water, the still unidentified craft sat venting drive plasma and listing badly. Will, wiping absently at a trickle of blood from a wound near his eyebrow, said grimly, “Open a channel. Hail them.”

“Channel open, sir.”

“Unidentified ship, you have engaged in an unprovoked attack on a Federation vessel. Prepare to be boarded. I intend to...”

The blast of total annihilation made everyone on the bridge squint to protect their eyes. The ship rocked violently as the shockwave hit them. In the sudden quiet, the young officer at the con said incredulously, “They self-destructed.”

“Confirmed, Commander.” Said the tactical officer. But Will had lost interest. He was kneeling beside the pone form of his captain, sprawled on the floor. Jean-Luc had been thrown from the command chair during the battle but had remained unresponsive. As Will called for medical assistance, tactical said quietly, “I have the casualty list, sir.”

Will looked up, his usually genial face grim. “Let’s hear it.”

“Thirty-eight injured, three dead. And Commander? One of the dead is Commander LaForge.”

Will’s eyes closed in wrenching pain just as the turbolift doors opened. Beverly hurried down to the deck in front of the command chair, fearing the worst. She breathed a heavy sigh of relief as her tricorder registered Jean-Luc’s uninjured state. He was beamed straight to sickbay.

 

 

 

It was several hours before Jean-Luc returned to his mind. At first disoriented, the calm, gentle pressure of a hand on his shoulder immediately calmed him. He knew that touch, he’d know it anywhere.

“Beverly.” He whispered.

“Yes, Jean-Luc, it’s me. Come on sit up.”

He did so, still feeling slightly disconnected, but aware enough to see the pain and sorrow in Beverly’s eyes. It was time, he’d vacillated long enough. Too long as it turned out.

“It’s Irumodic Syndrome, isn’t it.”

Taking a steadying breath, Beverly replied quietly, “Yes.”

“How far...how bad...?”

How she kept from breaking down she never knew, but she answered his questions. “It’s well advanced, Jean-Luc. The progression in the degradation of the synaptic pathways has gone beyond anything I can do to slow it.”

He took the news stoically, showing no outward sign of distress. In fact his next query was asked so clinically it was as if he was enquiring about someone else.

“I take it peridaxon would be of no use?”

“That’s taken as a palliative measure, Jean-Luc. It can’t slow or halt the degradation.”

There was a brittle silence before Beverly asked, unable to keep the hurt and anger out of her voice, “Why didn’t you tell me?”

At first he said nothing and Beverly feared he’d lapsed again, but when he looked at her she saw the light of intelligent recognition in his eyes.

“Fear, Beverly. Simple stupid, cowardly fear. I remember only too well the future Q showed me, what I became under the influence of this damned condition. When the first episodes occurred I denied them, I pushed them away, choosing instead to believe that it was due to Q’s latest ‘adventure’ with me that was causing it to happen, But as it continued to occur I knew.” he sighed deeply. “I wanted to protect you and the children, Beverly. Protect you from what’s to come.”

“Protect us?” Beverly snorted derisively, but then immediately softened her stance. “I’m as much to blame as you, Jean-Luc.”

He opened his mouth to protest, to deny her statement, but she held up her hand and silenced him. “No, I know it’s true and so do you, if you’re brave enough to admit it. I’m not only your life partner, Jean-Luc, I’m your doctor. Deanna was suspicious, so was Will and I admit, so was I, but we all gave you the benefit of the doubt and in doing so we let you down, my love. Instead of following SOP when there was any doubt about a crewmember’s ability to do their job...regardless of the rank and position of that person, we just carried on, business as usual. Oh yes, the Captain’s had yet another traumatic experience with Q! He’ll get over it, he always does. That, Jean-Luc was a form of betrayal. We all assumed you’d pick up the pieces as usual and carry on. I’m so sorry, my love.”

He took her hands and lifted then to his lips, kissing them tenderly. “If there’s been any betrayal, Beverly, it was by me. I should’ve come to you, at the very beginning; I should’ve let you know.”

“Yes, you should, but you didn’t so now we have to deal with what we have now.”

He smiled, trying to ease her pain. “But of course there isn’t anything to be done. Is there.”

“There’s ongoing research, Jean-Luc. Medical science does not stand still.”

He let that go, instead asking quietly, dreading the answers,

“I remember being on the bridge with a ship approaching on an intercept course which we were beginning to assume was hostile. What happened?”

Beverly’s smile was strained. “You’ve been through a lot, Jean-Luc. Why don’t you rest? We can talk about this later.”

He stared uncompromisingly into her eyes. “Beverly, I have maybe five minutes...perhaps ten, if I’m lucky an hour and then I will probably ‘lapse’ again. I need to know what happened and I need to know while I’m still sane.”

Swallowing, Beverly’s voice was monotone. “The ship turned out to be a marauder. They hit us before we could raise shields. There was a fire fight which we won. We’re at present on course for the nearest star base for repairs.”

“Tzenkethi?”

“We don’t know, although that’s the presumption, it was never established. Will had told them to be prepared to be boarded when they self-destructed. Obviously there were no survivors.”

Jean-Luc took a deep breath and said quietly,

“Damage? Casualties?”

“Once we got our shields up we didn’t take too much more damage other than what had been sustained in that first unguarded shot. They’d targeted the secondary hull. We have a fairly large hole there, starboard side; force fields are maintaining hull integrity of course.”

His dark eyes were intense. “Casualties?”

“Thirty-eight injured; some badly, but there were three deaths.”

His eyes closed as he lowered his head. “Who?”

“All were in engineering. Two ensigns, and a lieutenant commander.”

At that, Jean-Luc looked up, his face stricken. “No...” he whispered.

Beverly nodded, the tears she’d been keeping at bay finally escaping. “Yes, my love. Geordi.”

“Dear God...”

He was still holding Beverly’s hands and she brought them to her chest. “Jean-Luc, under the circumstances...”

When he spoke there was a remoteness in his voice that frightened the woman.

“I’m relieved of duty.”

“More than that, Jean-Luc. With the diagnosis of Irumodic Syndrome...”

“I’ll resign.” He then looked into Beverly’s eyes and said quietly, “I want you to leave me.”

Frowning, Beverly shook her head. “I’m not finished with my examination, Jean-Luc. I still have to...”

“No.” He said softly, but brooking no misinterpretation. “I want you to leave me, Beverly. Take the children and start a new life.”

Anger and terrible fear warred for dominance. “What the hell are you saying? Damn you, Jean-Luc! Do you expect us to just walk away, knowing what you’re facing? How could you even suggest something so grotesque, not to mention cruel?! How could I explain that to our children?”

With remarkable calm, Jean-Luc said quietly, “It is precisely what I’m facing that I make the request, Beverly. I seek to spare you and the children the experience of bearing witness to my eventual insanity, where I won’t recognise you or our children followed by my inevitable unpleasant death. You know my wish is for a medially assisted termination, but I know how you feel about that, so I can’t hurt you by doing the one thing that would save all of us the pain and anguish. So what does that leave me, Beverly? How do I, how can I protect you all?”

“We don’t need to be protected dammit! Jean-Luc I’m your life partner and David, Monique and Giselle are your children. Nothing changes that! The kids will understand because I’ll tell them. And no, they won’t remember the last bits, they’ll remember you well and strong, ‘cause I’ll make sure of it!”

“No doubt my most recent ‘lapse’ was the cause of the initial damage and...the deaths?”

“Yes, but...”

He shook his head. “Then there’ll be a board of enquiry, Beverly, most certainly followed by a court martial. Disgrace as well as losing my mind? How do you think our children will cope with that? You will, but will they? I doubt it, Beverly. Their lasting memories of me will be of an addled, confused and physically deteriorating old man who will very soon not even recognise them!”

“There’ll be no enquiry or court martial, Jean-Luc.” Beverly’s voice was soft and more tears flowed.

 “Why?” He whispered hoarsely.

“Because Command already knows. Will had to submit a report and there was no way he could hide the fact that you were on the bridge, but...”

“I was out of my mind.”

“The thing is, once he had to admit you were uninjured and conscious, therefore should’ve been able to command, they immediately insisted I submit my medical evaluation. I’m so sorry, Jean-Luc, I had no option. This wasn’t something I could hide until you recovered. I had to tell them of the diagnosis. Your...’retirement’ is effective immediately.”

They stayed in strained silence before Beverly said with some mild enthusiasm, “Let’s use this to our advantage, Jean-Luc. That leave we were going to take? Well, now we can please ourselves. No time limits, no restrictions. We can go wherever we want for as long as we want.”

“I think you’re rather conveniently forgetting a few things, Beverly.”

She flushed, knowing he’d caught her out. He stated the obvious. “First, you would have to resign. That’s unacceptable. Second, at some stage...and soon, I’m going to have to be in some kind of ‘care’ facility, you’re not going to find one of those on Risa or Pacifica, are you? And third, what about the children? Their schooling and sense of stability? No, my love. The idea of a break...a very short one has merit, but certainly not an extended one.  A few days somewhere quiet, but only if you can satisfy me that you and the children can cope when I...”

He gestured to his head and sighed. Beverly lifted his hand and kissed it, smiling, but her smile faded as she saw the light of intelligence and awareness vanish from his eyes. He’d ‘gone’ again.

 

 

 

The family left the ship two days later. At Jean-Luc’s request, during his lessening periods of lucidity, there was no event, no party, just a private ceremony of change-of-command leaving Will as the temporary Captain of the Enterprise, something everyone hoped would become permanent. Jean-Luc wanted to give his recommendation, but was unable to, being seen now as mentally unstable.

Having been given the use of a shuttle, the family travelled to a planet with the intention of staying four days. Then they would leave; their final destination Earth. In particular, Labarre, France. There Beverly had made arrangements for Jean-Luc to be installed in a specially fitted out section of the house and medical staff employed to assist Beverly in nursing him through his final days. His sister-in-law Marie had died only eighteen months previous and the vineyard was entirely Jean-Luc’s now. One thing he had insisted on was Beverly (if possible) keeping the vineyard running. As Marie had aged, she’d taken on a very good vintner-manager and adequate staff and the label was flourishing. Beverly easily remembered how fervent Jean-Luc had been during his brief lucidity in eliciting her promise to do what she could to keep the vineyard going. He’d confessed he’d taken the necessary steps to leave everything to her and their children, but ultimately the choice would be hers. If she felt unsuited or simply not interested, then by all means she and the children could and should live elsewhere, but he’d pleaded with her to keep the vineyard. It was his personal legacy to his children. She hadn’t hesitated in agreeing. In fact plans were already in place to situate a private clinic within the house. Once her dear Jean-Luc was gone, Beverly had decided to continue to practice, but what she didn’t tell her partner was that as well as run-of-the-mill doctoring, she was going to devote a lot of time and effort in research into Irumodic Syndrome. Somewhere deep inside Beverly she wasn’t going to let go. She would fight the damned condition to the bitter end.

As it turned out she never got the chance. On the second day of the four-day holiday, Jean-Luc had expressed a wish to take a short walk. It’s been snowing quite heavily and Beverly was at first uncooperative, refusing point-blank to let him out of her sight. But his gentle persuasion finally got through. It was his last plea that broke her walls.


© Copyright 2017 Heather Smyth. All rights reserved.

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