Counselor Deanna Troi was sitting alone in her quarters. The thoughts of others were usually less intrusive here, but now they were nonexistent. There was nothing: no joy; no sadness; no sense of any of the over one thousand people who serve upon the Enterprise. Deanna got up and started pacing her quarters. How do people function this way? She asked herself for the umpteenth time. There was no way she could do her job; she had no choice but to resign. Gods, it’s quiet. She put her hands to her head and pulled on her hair, trying to get a sense of someone, anyone, on the ship. She couldn’t and finally slumped back into the couch.
Angry tears began to slide down her face. She let out a huff through her teeth. Aristocratic! He actually called me Aristocratic! How dare he. Troi clenched her hands into small fists. I lose my empathic ability and Commander Riker starts to call me Imzadi again and thinks everything can be solved with a simple hug.
The silence hit her once more. She couldn’t even pick up the calm everyone feels when they are focused on routine ship duties. Silence. All she encountered now was eerie silence and gave a sudden jump when her door chime rang. How do people live like this? “Come.”
And there in the open doorway stood the last person Deanna Troi wanted to see, Commander William T. Riker. “What do you want?” She huffed, giving him an evil eye.
Riker walked in with no invitation. “I told you I would check on you later.”
Troi stood up. “And I told you I don’t need your pity, Commander.” She said angrily. And she gave Will a glare that could have melted the titanium plate. However, Will didn’t back down; he took a tentative step closer to her.
“The Captain says you resigned.”
“Old news, Commander.” Troi huffed. “I gave in my resignation before you were here the last time.”
Will took another step closer. “That may be, but I wasn’t informed yet.” He reached out to touch Deanna’s cheek. She drew back. “Deanna. Imzadi please let me help. We can find a way through this.”
Troi let out a sarcastic laugh. “Help? You want to help me? You don’t know what I’ve lost. You’ve never had it to begin with. Yet the moment I lose my empathic sense, the high and mighty Will Riker starts calling me Imzadi and when the term of endearment doesn’t work he says I’m too aristocratic! Go help someone who wants your help.”
Will studied the floor to hide his amusement of Troi’s tirade. “Well” he said with a shrug. “If the shoe fits.”
“OOO” Deanna let out of clenched teeth.
Will looked up at Deanna. “I’m sorry. I’m not a very good Counselor.” He came nearer to her. “I usually listen to people very well, but when it comes to a diagnosis, I have horrible bed side manners.” Will pressed up against Deanna and wrapped an arm around her waist. “I tell people what I honestly think with no sugar coating. I’m sorry if you found it distasteful.”
Deanna had no choice but to look up at Will. “Distasteful? Try rude, spiteful, and a little arrogant, Commander.” She pulled herself from his grip and went over to the viewport. “I’m thinking of going home to Betazed.” She confided barely above a whisper.
Will walked up behind her and stared out at the stars. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
Troi turned to face him. “Why not? You don’t think you can let go of your precious Imzadi.” She shoved Will out of the way and walked across the room. “You know I can’t even remember the last time you called me that previous to this incident.”
Will looked down to the floor. This time feeling ashamed. He hadn’t called her Imzadi in a long time, and could not blame her if she could not see his sincerity now. He looked up at her. “It’s not that, Deanna. It’s just that if you think everyone on the Enterprise is walking on eggshells around you, imagine what it would be like on a world where they know what you have lost.”
“That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard. Betazoid physicians are more familiar with the Betazoid brain, and could probably heal me faster.”
Will walked up to her and held her in a tight embrace. “And if they can’t.” Tears began to roll down Deanna’s face and she buried it in Will’s tunic. “This is probably only temporary, anyway Deanna.” Will placed a hand under Deanna’s chin and lifted her head up. “You’ll be back to your old aristo…”
Deanna gave Will a wry smile. “If you finish that sentence, Commander” she warned.
Will stepped back giving her innocent puppy dog eyes. He went over to sit on her couch. “Really though, Deanna, stay here a little longer. This may all resolve itself or Dr. Crusher may find out how to fix it. She is working on the problem nonstop.”
Deanna sat herself next to Will. “I know. I’m just finding this all very hard. It is so difficult to see you here and not be able to sense you." She took a hold of his hand and brought it up to her forehead. “Not be able to hear your thoughts. It’s so quiet. I…” She didn’t know how to continue.
Will took the hand Deanna had placed on her forehead and ran it through her hair. “Rabeem” he said and leaned in to kiss her.
Troi gave into the kiss for a second and then gently pushed away. “I’m sorry. I can’t not when I’m so unsure of my own feelings. I don’t want to use our friendship as a crutch, Will.”
Riker moved away from the Counselor and exhaled loudly. He stood up and started to pace the room. Deanna watched until she could no longer take the silence. “I know I’m sending mixed signals. I’m sorry.” She stood up and went in front of Riker to stop his pacing.
Will looked down at her. “It’s not you. It’s me, right?”
Deanna laughed and looked into his eyes - nothing. She couldn’t even tell if Will was really upset or if he understood why she couldn’t think about them right now. “It is me.” She said softly.
Will caressed Troi’s cheek, giving her a smile. “Will you at least stay onboard the Enterprise a little while longer?”
“Sure.” Deanna replied, returning Will’s smile. Will bent down and placed a tender kiss on her cheek, removing his hand. “Thank you.” He whispered in her ear and then left.
Deanna stood there and watched Will leave. It was the only way she was certain of his absence. Alone again, the silence hit her like a battering ram. Well enough of this brooding. Troi thought to herself, and she too left her quarters unsure of where she was headed.
* * *
Counselor Troi found herself sitting alone at a table in Ten-Forward lounge and was startled once more when Guinan came up behind her. Gods, does everyone on this ship sneak around; she thought as she forced a smile.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.” Guinan said as she sat down.
“It’s alright. I’m getting used to it.” Deanna lied.
“I thought you might want to talk.”
“No thank you.” Troi said, picking up her glass. “I came here to be alone.”
Guinan glanced around at all the people in Ten-Forward. “Not the usual place most people go to be alone.”
Troi swallowed a sip of her drink. “I’m pretty much alone in any part of the ship, now. Or haven’t you heard?”
Guinan gave a knowing nod. “Yes. To your perspective I suppose you are.” And she placed her hands on the table, folding them in her usual manner when she was planning to stay and talk.
Deanna rolled her eyes. “Guinan I really.”
“I hear the position of ship’s counselor has opened up.”
Troi shook her head. “Why? Are you interested?”
“As a matter of fact, I was thinking people come in here all the time to talk to me about their problems. We El Aurians are good listeners.”
“I know.” Deanna said, getting irritated.
“Well I just thought, since I’m listening to people’s problems everyday, I might as well have a nice office to do it in.”
Deanna gave Guinan an incredulous stare. Then she picked up her drink, taking another sip. “You don’t really want the job.” She said and smiled.
Guinan returned Troi’s incredulous stare. “Have your empathic abilities come back?”
“No.” Troi replied shaking her head.
“Then how do you know?”
“I just do and I know what you’re up to Guinan.” Troi folded both her hands around her glass. “You’re trying to show me just because I don’t have my empathic ability doesn’t mean I’m not capable of reading people in other ways.”
“I am?” Guinan said, pushing away from the table and sounding astounded by Troi’s revelation.
Troi stood up. “Well I already figured that out for myself.” She informed the bartender and left.
* * *
The two dimensional beings were at home in the cosmic string fragment. They were at home: something Deanna sensed after helping Data realize they were headed towards it on instinct - like moths to a flame. As soon as the Enterprise was freed from their pull, Deanna’s abilities returned.
Instinct; Deanna thought to herself and smiled. She was sitting next to Will in Ten-Forward and noticed he was leaning in to kiss her. Wait a minute. “If you ever call me aristocratic again.” Deanna rebuked.
Will pulled away, raising his hands in surrender. Troi looked at him. Gods he’s adorable. Ah well Counselor, you only live once, better use some of those instincts you’ve learned before you forget how. She thought and placed her hand behind Will’s neck. She pulled him towards her again and placed a deep, sensual kiss on his mouth. Will was taken by surprise; however, he did not resist for long. The kiss lasted so long all heads in Ten-forward had turned and stared at the two senior officers.
Riker broke away from Troi. “I think it might be best if we continued this in a more private area.” He whispered in her ear. In acknowledgement, Troi stood up with Will, taking hold of the hand he offered and they walked out of Ten-forward together.
* * *
The door to Counselor Troi’s quarters hissed shut behind the two officers. Commander Riker came up behind Counselor Troi and wrapped his arms around her. For the first time in days, Troi didn’t give a startled jump; instead, she closed her eyes and took in a deep breath. They were no longer plain holographic images. There was actual living breathing people onboard with thoughts and feelings. Deanna released her breath slow and deliberate, focusing on the sole person in the room with her. She turned in his embrace and looked up into his eyes: “Wow.”
Riker brushed back a strand of her hair. “What?”
Deanna gave him a knowing smile. “You’re whole again.”
Will chuckled. “You mean I wasn’t a minute ago?”
Deanna shook her head. “You weren’t a day ago, to me anyway.” She said as she reached up and pulled Will down for another kiss. This time there were no curious onlookers to stop them; however, Will pulled away.
“Are you sure this is what you want, Deanna?”
Counselor Troi looked into Riker’s radiant blue eyes. They were no longer a pair of transparent marbles staring at her. She could now see and feel the concern he felt for her and for what she had gone through the past several days.
Deanna lifted a hand and pulled the stray hair on Will’s forehead. “Yes.” She replied and reached up to kiss him again. Maybe a demonstration would be more convincing; Deanna’s voice continued in his mind. And then Will felt her in a way he hadn’t for years.
If Will Riker was still worried Counselor Troi hadn’t fully recovered, she soon laid those concerns to rest as she explored parts of Will’s mind no one had been since they were intimate lovers.
Riker reached around Troi’s back, grabbing the zipper of her dress. He slowly slid it down her back and Deanna reached up to pull it off her arms. Then Will put one of his hands behind Deanna’s neck. Tilting her head back, he started to kiss her neck. Will unfastened her bra with his free hand while he kissed down her neck. He slipped the strap of the undergarment from her shoulder and then caressed it with his lips.
As Will adorned Deanna’s body with kisses, she began to undo the zipper of his uniform. Riker backed far enough away to allow his tunic to fall to the floor and then he reached down, pulling one of Deanna’s nipples into his mouth.
Deanna ran her fingers through the back of Will’s hair and closed them tightly as Will bit on her nipples. Will knelt down in front of Deanna and traced her soft stomach with his fingers followed by barely perceptible kisses. Deanna shivered from the sensation and melted to her knees.
Riker looked into her dark eyes and smiled. I haven’t forgotten what you taught me, Imzadi; resounded in Troi’s mind as Will guided her to lie beneath him on the floor.
Troi continued to gaze into Riker’s radiant blue eyes and smiled. “I can see that.” She said aloud as she reached up to help Will divest of his remaining uniform. In short order, they were both free of their clothing; and as Will entered the warm depths of Deanna’s body, she entered the scared depths of his mind.
The word Imzadi reverberated between their minds as the two lovers hit and surpassed their thresholds together.