Heart to Heart
written by Andra Marie Mueller
Counselor Deanna Troi stood alone at the water’s edge, dressed in civilian clothes and staring out at the sea as the waves lapped gently at the shore. As the moonlight reflected off the water, it cast a glow around Troi as she mused over private thoughts. The silence was broken by the familiar hum of the transporter beam, and a second figure, also dressed in civilian clothes, materialized a few feet behind Troi. Already knowing who it was, Troi did not turn around and merely commented, “Good evening, Commander. How kind of you to join me.”
William T. Riker arched his eyebrows in genuine surprise. Troi had mysteriously lost her empathic powers several days ago, and thus had no way of sensing his presence. Knowing this, Riker asked, “How did you know it was me?”
Troi managed a faint smile. “I don’t need my empathic powers to know when you’re near, Will. I can sense your presence with or without them.”
Riker nodded in acknowledgment, then walked over to stand next to Troi. “Captain Picard told me you’ve given him your resignation.”
Troi shrugged. “There isn’t much use for a Ship’s Counselor who can’t counsel anyone.”
“Do you really consider yourself useless without your Betazoid empathic abilities?” Riker asked softly.
“Professionally, yes. “
Riker shook his head. “Deanna, you sorely underestimate yourself if you think your success as a counselor is based solely on your empathic powers.”
“I appreciate what you’re trying to say, Will,” Troi responded, “but I’ve made my decision. My career in Starfleet is over, and it’s time we all started to accept that.”
“What about us?” Riker asked.
“There is no ‘us’,” Troi shot back. “There hasn’t been for quite some time now. You made it perfectly clear when you left the Yorktown that the most important thing in your life was your determination to become a captain. “
“I lied,” Riker said simply.
Troi’s shock was obvious, and she took a moment to respond. “What?”
“Deanna, when I ended our relationship all those years ago, it was because I was afraid of my feelings for you. I loved you, but I couldn’t face that, so I ran as fast and as far as I could. But then I was assigned to the Enterprise, and there you were. All of my old feelings came rushing back, but this time there was nowhere to hide, so I had to deal with them. And do you know what I realized?”
“What?” Troi inquired shakily, making an effort to prevent the tears forming in her large, dark eyes from falling.
“I realized that I couldn’t hide anymore. No matter where I went or what I did, you would always have a part of me, the most important part: my heart.”
Riker’s remark shattered Troi’s control, and the tears she had struggled to contain began to stream down her face. Riker gently pulled her into his embrace and laid his chin on her head as she cried. After several minutes, Troi regained her self-control and pulled back. Riker cupped her face in his hands and, wiping her tears away with his thumbs, said gently, “Imzadi, I love you. Don’t give up on us, or yourself, without a fight.”
“So what do you suggest I do?” Troi questioned, standing quite motionless, her face still held between his hands.
“You once told me that the most important part of being a counselor was the ability to listen, not just with our head but with our heart. I may not be an empath Deanna but I know you, and I know you're scared. You're doing the same thing I did all those years ago; you’re running away from your fears. Well, take it from someone who knows: You can’t run away forever.”
Troi flashed him a faint smile. “For someone who prides himself on his abilities as a First Officer, you’d make a good Ship’s Counselor,” she teased.
“I learned from the best,” he responded affectionately.
Troi let out a small sigh and lowered her gaze to his broad chest. “I am scared, Imzadi, and I don’t know what to do.”
“Do what your heart tells you to do,” Riker answered simply. “It’s going to take time to adjust to your loss, Deanna. Don’t give up on everyone and everything you care about before you give yourself that time.”
Troi remained silent a moment, thinking. After a moment, she lifted her gaze to his face and spoke again. “That’s very good advice, Commander; I think I’ll take it.” Almost as an afterthought, she added, “Thank you, Will, for everything.
“You’re very welcome.” Slowly, he lowered his head and covered her mouth with his.
The next morning, Captain Picard was in his Ready Room reading when the door chimed.
Troi walked in and came to a halt in front of the Captain’s desk. Picard set down his book and smiled in greeting. “Good morning, Counselor. What can I do for you?”
“Captain,” she began. “I’d like to officially withdraw my resignation.”
Picard’s eyes widened slightly, the only indication of his surprise. “Of course, Counselor; consider it done.”
“Thank you, sir.” Troi turned to go, but stopped when Picard called her name.
She turned. “Yes, Captain?”
“May I ask what changed your mind?”
Troi smiled. “I had a heart-to-heart talk with a friend who convinced me that it would be in my best interest to remain on board the Enterprise.”
“It must have been a very good friend,” Picard prompted.
“The best,” Troi responded then exited the ready room. Picard stared at the closed doors for a moment, then said aloud to himself, “Well done, Number One.”