Rated:G No sex, no violence, not even a smutty thought ;)
Summary: What was Deanna doing after graduation and before the Enterprise?
Authors Note: This assumes that the position of Ships Counsellor was still very new when the Enterprise was being built. A far as the TV series is concerned this seems to be true however thanks to Tim Ryberg who discovered a reference to "Ships Counsellors" being around for about 40 years at the time of Relics in the Star Trek Encyclopaedia and the Chronology. Hence this may not be canon but, what the hey!, I enjoyed writing it. Hopefully this is a prelude to stories exploring how Bill the ex-boyfriend became Will the close friend and frustrated lover.
Time Will Tell
Deanna Troi had always been a rather unique individual, something that she had come to realise and cherish from an early age. Her birthright as a daughter of the Fifth House, her limited telepathic skills as a child, her powerful empathic skills as a teenager, her decision to renounce that same heritage and leave her home on Betazed for Starfleet all had marked her as different from her peers. Even her studies at the Academy had been different. Yes she had gone through the physical training (just ), passed the required crossover courses but she had been frustrated at the career paths open to her even within Starfleet. Anthropology was interesting but meant that she left behind those skills of a trained therapist she had honed whilst on Betazed, desk jobs in recruitment were similarly unappealing because of their lack of fieldwork. All in all not what she had hoped for as she had left the security of home for an "exciting" new life.
Deanna had exchanged her frustration for action when writing her graduate thesis. As it happened, her subject, "An Examination of the Role of Trained Psychologists in Starfleet and Suggestions for their Further Utilisation" had coincided with the initiation of Commands own pilot project in this area. Upon graduation she had been assigned to one of the first "trial runs" of being a "travelling psychologist" (Starfleet had yet to name the position formally) a ship following up on the explorations of some of the pioneering deep-space craft. Her skills both in helping with a First Contact situation and in assisting a crewman distraught over news from home had been most appreciated. For Deanna, it was wonderful to feel so useful. All her years of hard work and study were made worthwhile by the heart-felt "thank yous" of the Ensign and their Captain.
Although brief (a three-month tour of duty) at the completion of her mission Deanna had been promoted to full Lieutenant. Her mentor, Commander Richards a kindly human who had supervised her thesis, spoke of skills beyond her years as he presented her with her new pips.
"It will be good to have you back at HQ, Deanna your experience on that mission will be valuable to us."
"Back at HQ? I thought Id be sent out again. Surely you will need more information about the practical possibilities of travelling psychologists." Now that she had had a taste of true Starship life, Deanna was loath to give it up.
"No, no Lieutenant Troi. We need you here to help flesh out the ins and outs of the new position. Youre far too valuable to us on the Team to let you go to one crew and one crew only."
Deanna had accepted her posting with all the good grace she could. Sometimes, though, as she had sat through yet another discussion on "Ships Psychologist versus Ships Therapist" ("Who could believe that even naming the position could have such importance?" she thought wryly to herself) she longed to get back to a place where she was actually helping individuals on a day to day basis.
The discussions continued and she found herself more and more often playing mediator between the various factions in HQ, or even more frustratingly, between the esoteric civilian advisors and the hard-headed brass. Would those in the new positions be under the Medical chain of command or work independently? Should they have similar powers over psychologically unfit crewmen as the CMO did over medically unfit crew, or should they refer to the CMO? Primarily First Contact Specialists or crew therapists? Which ships needed them? All ships? Ships of a certain size? Ships on certain missions?
It had been so frustrating, but her hard work paid off as the role of "Ships Counsellor" (the term accepted by Starfleet) began to take shape. The problem was now finding qualified people to take on this role. While there were many qualified psychologists in Starfleet they were mostly settled souls with little field experience working in recruitment or rehabilitation. Those attached to anthropology teams were also less likely to be able to take on the therapeutic aspect of the Counsellors envisaged role. Several new ships were in the pipeline and established ships were about to leave on extended missions the Brass wished them to depart with Counsellors aboard. Finding suitable candidates had been left to Commander Richards and his team.
The group swung into action once more this time on a fully-fledged recruitment drive. There were applications from psychologists on Starbases, field Specialists from Star-ships even from a chaplain at one Outpost. The numbers with all round experience were, at the end of the day, painfully small.
Those who did qualify were summoned to Earth for formal interviews and simulations. Deanna again played an important part in the evaluations, sometimes of those whom, on paper at least, were far more qualified than she. A few were accepted about twenty or so but many were not.
Deanna had been selected to help train those who had got through the recruitment phase. At first she had been overawed at the thought of tackling those superior to herself, however she told herself (in her best imitation of her mothers voice) "You are a Daughter of the Fifth House of Betazed. That makes you as good as anyone in there." So buoyed she would walk in and begin another briefing.
Time passed and the first "graduates" were assigned to various ships as they left on missions to all parts of the Quadrant. There were the typical problems encountered when such a radical change took place in a Starships ordered environment. Crew were afraid to seek the help of the Counsellors lest it appear unfavourably on their Service Record, Bridge officers refused to include the new crew on Away teams and the Counsellors themselves sometimes found themselves traumatised by their experiences in the field. Deanna was occasionally allowed on brief First Contact encounters and was often occupied debriefing those who she had helped train. Basically, though, she remained desk-bound.
Occasionally when the paperwork was not able to hold her full attention her mind would start to wander to home her mother and Bill. It had been months now since she had heard from him, their communications becoming less and less frequent. After that first letter from him "delaying" their rendezvous on Risa nearly two years ago the First Officer of the Hoods letters were no longer the highlight they had once been. Each one seemed to be permeated with the coldness of space and each reply Deanna sent hardened her resolve to never be hurt like that again.
She still cried, sometimes. Earth could be a lonely place so many people distrusted her once they knew of her Betazoid heritage, not really believing that she could not read their minds. Occasionally she found her self looking skywards and wondering where Bill was, was he in danger, was he happy, had he found someone else ("Of course he has found someone else", she admonished herself, "and its high time you did too"). The curse of their relationship had been how well she had understood him. When they had been together Deanna had been able to silence any nagging doubts over his devotion to her as opposed to his devotion to his career. Now she knew that he did love her, just not enough to forgo that life-long dream. Deanna also knew that she could never allow herself to play second fiddle to a Starship. It was best they had parted when they had. But still...she missed him.
It was during one of these contemplations as she stood out on her balcony that her door announcer rang. Certain it was her next door neighbour popping in to borrow this or that, and grateful for any human company Deanna forced cheer in her voice:
"Come on in, Ill be with you in a moment."
She could hear the sound of her door swishing open as she made sure she was presentable as she turned to enter the flat she was surprised to find Commander Richards looking fit to burst. He was radiating excitement as if there was no tomorrow. Excitement and happiness.
"Great news Deanna! I couldnt wait till tomorrow"
Oh no, thought Deanna, Im not even safe here any more. Masking that thought with a smile, verbally Deanna greeted her commander with
"Welcome sir. Tell me all about it."
The great news was that a new ship, the new Flagship, no less, was to have a Counsellor stationed aboard. Word had just come through from HQ - keen for ideas as to the facilities required.
"It will be a huge job Deanna. Over a thousand people, including children, long missions and diplomatic duties. The Counsellor will be on the Bridge as well as working in an office."
"It certainly sounds interesting sir." Deanna was frowning inside (Argh more interviews, more courses I wonder who we can find for this one?)
She was surprised to find her COs smile widening even further. "I think youll find it more than interesting Deanna, working on the pride of Starfleet."
"Im sure it will be a challenge helping you find someone to fill the position." Deanna replied, politely.
"Find someone? What do you mean find someone? Ive found them."
"You have sir? Then why do you need my " Deannas voice trailed off as it slowly dawned on her what Richards had meant. "You dont mean me?"
"Im going to miss you Deanna. Why do you think Ive kept you with me these last couple of months? Surely you realised that there were those less competent than you getting placements? The Flagship needs the best Starfleet has to offer youre that person."
Deanna was overwhelmed she reacted the best way she knew how she hugged her CO, laughing and crying at the same time.
"Thank you, oh, thank you."
Richards hugged her back, he was genuinely fond of his protégé it was good to see her so happy. More often than not she seemed far more serious than was good for a young woman. He stepped back.
"One more thing. This position carries with it a promotion. How does Lieutenant Commander Troi sound?"
Deanna gathered herself together again. "It sounds just wonderful sir."
Now she was aboard the Enterprise. The Captain, gruff as he seemed, projected an air of confidence that she found settling. She was also pleased to note that he was more than ready to use her skills. Her bridge training had also been useful as the ship headed to Farpoint Station to pick up the remaining crew.
The remaining crew
Deanna wondered if she would have accepted the position if she had known who the First Officer was to be. She should have known, she supposed, that William T. Riker would have been amongst the candidates given his outstanding service record. The fact that he was the First Officer, knowing his skill and his drive, should have come as no surprise.
Bill would not have given up the job of his dreams, correction **had** not given up the job of his dreams, to avoid her. He obviously felt they could work together. Why should she, Deanna, be the one to again make the sacrifices? She had worked just as hard in her own way to get her job. A job she had dreamt of since graduation, a job she had helped shape and become reality. Only one thing marred her determination, one thought that kept rising to the surface over and over:
What would it be like serving with the man who had broken her heart?
Would they be strangers? Would they be friends? Could things even go back no Deanna! Dont you dare even think it. He hurt you once and he wont have changed
She was here now. She would make the best of things.
Only time would tell the rest.