The three beamed back to the Enterprise with Gringbald. Will had Deanna and himself transported to Fallscity, where they would contact Rankeer and Lagi to inform them of Gringbald’s capture and the safety and well being of Solace and Abeathdor.
They beamed to the outskirts of the encamped waste people at the waterfalls. Will took Deanna’s arm as they made their way through the falls into the cavern. When they had come into the glen, Will stopped to turn the counselor around and look intently at her, “Are you okay? You haven’t said a word since we captured Gringbald.”
“A lot has happened, I guess I’m just trying to sort it all out. Will, I’m fine.” She squeezed his arm to reassure him or herself, she wasn’t clear on which.
“I told you this part was suppose to be the easy part.” He smiled down at her. His smile had a warmth she had come to love.
“Well it was a bit more frightening than I would have liked.” She paused, returned the intense scrutiny, then added, “You haven’t relaxed yet either. What is it that has you tense?” She watched his eyes; “It has something to do with us. With my MOTHER! What about my mother?”
Will’s eyes never left hers, and then they skimmed down over her stopping at the armband. “First, let’s get this off.” He removed the communicator from her arm, then discontinued the communication function. He smiled at her surprise. “We can use mine when we want to include the crew in our conversation.” He revealed his standard communicator. “I opted for the regular issue, there was no time for the doctor to plant the subdermal.”
She raised her eyebrows and smiled, “How convenient Commander. Now, continue, you were going to tell me why my mother has you tense… now.”
“When the captain met us in the transporter room before our beam down, he said that they had just received word that your mother would be making a visit. She was concerned that something had happened because you had failed to return any of her communiqués in the past several days. I’m concerned with her timing and our relationship. How do you think she’ll react to all the changes in your life.” Will held her, his hands on her shoulders feeling the skin bared by the outfit. “You ‘re freezing! You can’t continue to wear that, as much as I enjoy seeing it on you.”
He tapped his communicator, “Riker to Enterprise.”
“Go ahead Commander.”
“Beam to our location, one of the Counselor’s uniforms and two jackets.”
Will enfolded her within his arms trying to cover as much of her with himself as he could. “Does this help?”
“Mmmm” she snuggled into him. “Will, it doesn’t matter what my mother thinks of this situation. It only matters what we think. Believe me she’ll adjust. She’ll probably be thrilled that I’ve finally made a move in the direction she has been pushing me in for years. Then she’ll nag for grandchildren. Everything will work out.” To make her point she backed a few inches away to gaze into his blue eyes, reaching up she guided his face downward to allow her to demonstrate with a passionate kiss just how moot Mrs. Troi’s opinions in this matter were.
The uniform and cloaks materialized a few meters away to go unnoticed for quite sometime. Later Deanna emerged from the shelter of shrubs and pine trees to appear fully dressed in uniform. She had turned down Will’s offer of help, knowing she would never get to Fallscity that night.
They hadn’t gone far when Rimanai and Rankeer joined them. Rankeer was moving along with the aid of an artistically carved cane, which didn’t dampen his enthusiasm at seeing them again. Rankeer immediately asked for news of Solace. The counselor was thrilled to tell him of her good health.
“Lady, I don’t know what to say, you have been very good to us,” He dropped his cane to hug her, then he gave Will a bear hug.
“Please Rankeer, I’m Deanna”. She smiled waiting for Will to catch his breath before asking about the rest of the inhabitants of their make shift village.
“All is well here, we have begun to rebuild and heal. I apologize, in my happiness to see you and hear of Solace, I forgot my manners. Please, let’s go, you can see for yourself the progress we have made.” The rest of the walk was accompanied by Rankeer and Rimanai’s singing.
Lagi watched as the four made their way to the main house. She summoned those nearby to ready the table with drinks for their guests. She knew by their approach that this was the news that she had been longing for. It had been slow in coming, years had gone by. It would make the victory all that much sweeter, for her a victory from the life she had been forced to live, but more than that, it was a victory due to her endurance. There were many times she could have given up, left these young people to others to care for, but didn’t. This celebration would be for all of them.
She could hear the boys singing and behind them she could easily see the two from the starship with their arms around each other. As they neared, she could more easily recognize the commander and his wife. She went out to greet them.
“Commander, the return of you and your wife is good news in itself. Please come inside.” Lagi hugged Deanna, then with her arm through the empath’s, she led them up on to the veranda and into the large kitchen.
They entered the building and could feel the kitchen welcoming them with its warmth, both physical and emotional. Lagi ushered everyone to the table, where cups and plates were waiting. Everyone was seated before Lagi asked the two visitors for the news. “Please Lady, Commander, we know it to be good news that you have come to us with. Tell us, what has happened since we last sat here together.
Deanna looked at Will wanting him to tell the story. He told of Abeathdor’s aiding Deanna in helping him and the others get of the planet. He told of their returning to the palace to return Solace and Deanna. Then he related the recent entailing the removal of Gringbald and the death of Zylon, when he had finished there was silence.
Lagi left the table and returned with two large jugs. Deanna recognized the beverage immediately as Lagi began pouring. She was about to refuse when she sensed Will watching her with one eyebrow raised. She knew he was anticipating her refusal, so she accepted the glass, watching stoically as Lagi poured. When everyone had a glass filled with the drink Will toasted the return of the queen. Most glasses had been refilled a couple of times in celebration before the group began to break up. Lagi and Deanna went back out on to the veranda to talk. She told Lagi about the repair to the child’s ears and throat, and the positive prognosis offered by the procedure.
Will and Rankeer continued talking sitting at the table. Deanna watched through the door as Will refilled another glass of the brew. She smiled and shook her head, he couldn’t say he didn’t know what he was doing. Watching Rankeer and Will talk she began looking for resemblance’s between Rankeer and Solace. They both had dark hair, but other than that Deanna could see nothing else. The facial structure was completely different. Their eyes were not the same in either color or form. Rankeer had nice kind dark eyes, but not the large beautiful blue eyes framed by the long dark lashes that Solace had.
“Lagi, I have spent a lot of time with Solace. I see little resemblance between her and Rankeer. Does each resemble a different parent?”
“Please Lagi, call me Deanna. We are friends, please address me as my friends do.”
Lagi smiled, “Deanna, they have different parents. Rankeer’s parents found and took Solace in as their own child. We know nothing of her early childhood, or her exact age. She was found not long before Rankeer’s own parent’s died.” Lagi looked in at Rankeer, then added; “Rankeer has been trying to be both parents to her for a while now. You have grown attached tot he child haven’t you?” The other woman watched Deanna for her response.
Deanna spoke softly, “Yes, I have. She is quite a remarkable child. I believe she may also have some of those abilities we talked about. Where do you think she could inherited them from?”
Lagi sat quietly thinking for a while before answering. “It is said that one of the ancient royal families had special talents. That they had grown powerful by using them and they ha abused them to gain more power. They became heartless and cruel toward their subjects, who rose up and overthrew them. The family was separated one from the other, never to see each other again.” Lagi ended her narrative, glanced over at Deanna and shrugged, “It is a story, perhaps nothing more. I heard it when I was young, it is still passed down through families, although it has grown and changed with the years.”
Deanna smiled, “Many cultures have such stories. Some have been fantasies to explain an occurrence when the true facts are unknown or misunderstood or buried in ignorance. I guess we may never know the background of Solace. It is important to me only because I want to be able to help and understand her.”
“I’m certain you have helped her, Deanna.” Lagi again paused as though to gather her thoughts. “Perhaps, if it would be possible, it would be best if you would consider taking Solace with you. There is much more you would do for her, that none here could.”
“Lagi, I would not be truthful if I told you I had not considered the possibility. There are some issues that I need to address before I can do that. How would Rankeer feel about such a thing?”
Lagi shrugged, “He is young, he has dreams…he also has limitations. I think he would understand it to be in the child’s best interests.” Lagi watched Deanna look in at the commander and Rankeer talking, “Will the Commander oppose the idea?”
“No, I don’t think he would, but…” She choose not to finish the thought, instead moved on to another. “It’s getting late, excuse me I need to talk to Will about getting back.” She kindly patted Lagi’s arm before standing.
“Lady, is there a need for you to leave? You and the Commander can have the room upstairs tonight. You would honor us with your presence.”
“Lagi, that is very kind of you, however, we do have a meeting with our captain… and I promised Solace we would return tonight. I’ll see you again in the next couple of days.”
Deanna walked into the kitchen to where Will and Rankeer remained deep in conversation. She tried to get a sense of the emotions from the two. She sensed nothing out of line with the day’s events. The celebratory atmosphere had continued, although it was a bit subdued as the drink and the evening wore on.
She put her hand on Will’s shoulder. He looked up at her, “It’s getting late, Will, what do you want to do about tonight?”
He agreed that they should be heading back to the beam up site, as she stood to go Rankeer offered to walk them back. “That’s not necessary, Rankeer. Take tonight to think about what we discussed. I’ll get back to you tomorrow.” Will shook the young man’s hand, “Tomorrow, then. Goodnight, Rankeer.”
Commander Riker contacted the ship to inform them that they had finished and were heading back to the beam up co-ordinates. Will and Deanna left for the beam up site walking slowly, each lost in their own thoughts when Deanna reached for his hand. “You know, Lagi invited us to stay tonight, we would have our old room back.” She looked at him awaiting his response.
“Why didn’t we stay?” Again he raised the eyebrows thinking he knew her answer.
She stopped to get a good look at his face. “Because you had too much of Lagi’s brew and I wanted you to be fully alert and conscious for the occasion. We waited this long, it will not be lost at the bottom of one of Lagi’s jugs.” She got what she was watching for, his smile was huge and warm, even his eyes crinkled.
He held her against him. “How can I be anything else with you! If there is one thing I’ve learned from all of this - it is never take anyone or anything for granted. Do you know how long I’ve waited to tell you how much I love you?”
“Yes, and do you know if you had said those very words to me on the way in to Fallscity, we might still be there in that upstairs room right now?”
“And I thought you just didn’t want to take advantage of me tonight.” He laughed at the sight of her face, then pulled her into a tighter embrace.
They took their time getting back to the beam up site. Once they arrived there Deanna gathered up the clothes she had stashed earlier, then went to stand beside Will. “What were you and Rankeer discussing for so long?”
“What did you sense?” He asked as he again wrapped an arm around her waist.
She looked dismayed, “Will, I don’t ease drop into private conversations, unless there is an issue of life and death. I was concentrating on my own conversation with Lagi. I have learned to block out other’s thoughts. That would be a violations of privacy.”
“Rankeer would like to serve the queen when she is enthroned, if we can see that Solace would be taken care of. I gave him another option, to come with us and perhaps go to Starfleet academy if he wanted.”
She caught her breath, “How would you feel if I got Rankeer’s approval to take care of Solace?”
“I think if we do that, it should be on a permanent basis. Don’t you? That is if we can get the Captain’s permission, and of course set it up with Abeathdor and Rankeer.”
Deanna said nothing for a long time. Will smiled as he whispered in her ear, “So I can still surprise you. I like that.”
“Is that what you’ve been scheming? I knew something was up.”
“I didn’t want to say anything before I knew what the possibilities were of actually working it out. Rankeer’s request was perfect tonight.”
“Then the only one that may be surprised is my mother. OH, Will, she’s probably already on board.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to go back to take Lagi’s offer?”
She knew by his smile, he was joking, reaching up, she tenderly kissed his lips, “Thank you.”
He smiled again, “Anything for you.” Then tapping his communicator,
“Riker to Enterprise. Two to beam up.”
Doctor Crusher and Captain Picard were discussing preventative measures to be taken regarding the research center and those inflicted within it, when the two materialized before them.
“Number One, Counselor, it’s good to have you both back. Congratulations on capturing Gringbald. We have some unfinished business to clean up the debris left behind by his machinations. I’ll give you two hours to freshen up, and then we will meet in the observation lounge. Good work, I mean that.” His eyes held Deanna’s as he continued, “You both have some well deserved shore leave coming as soon as we can do without you.”
Beverly watched the captain praise her fellow officers, then after he had made his exit, she asked, “How was everyone in Fallscity? I wouldn’t mind returning there, now that the threat from Gringbald has been removed.” They talked as they made their way to the counselor’s quarters.
“Everything seems to be going well. The injured are all improving. Rankeer is using a cane to get around, but it isn’t keeping him from being mobile. I’d say everyone is doing very well.” Deanna paused, sensing Beverly’s apprehension, “Is everything okay here? How’s Solace?”
“Everything is fine. I wanted to talk to you two alone before you go to your quarters.” Now it was her turn to pause and gather her thoughts before speaking. “I’ve done some testing on Solace. The results are quite interesting. They show a lot of the same brain patterns as a Betazoid brain, indicating the potential for empathic skills. I also found a lot of activity in the cerebellum and cerebral cortex..”
“How do you think that’s possible? Her brother doesn’t appear to be
empathic, nor do any of the others in Fallcity. Could one child have those
kinds of skills and another not?” Will looked from the doctor to the empath
waiting for someone to answer his questions.
Deanna squeezed the hand he had wrapped around her shoulders, “Yes Will, that is possible when each child had different parents. Lagi brought some information to my attention that I wanted to speak to you about earlier. Rankeer’s family adopted Solace; no one seems to have any information preceding the adoptions about the child or her natural family. The possibility has certainly been evident of those skills, there have been times when Solace reacted as though she had sensed things; it may explain how she seemed able to pick up on conversations when her hearing was impaired.”
Beverly stopped at the turbolift to look at the other two, “Which brings me to the other subject. Deanna, your mother is here. She’s in your quarters now with Solace and Guinan. Everything if fine, I think you may be surprised.” Then under her breath, “I hope.” She continued looking at the empath even after the doors of the turbolift had opened for them, “Deanna, what are you carrying, is that the outfit you had on earlier? Can I ask why you brought it back, or don’t I want to know?” She glimpsed the smug look on the Commander’s face.
“Oh, I’m glad you reminded me, I nearly forgot, I need to give this back to Solace.” She searched in the folds of the material to find the small wooden lightfoot. It was perfectly plain she would not be giving a more definitive answer to the doctor’s question.
“Oh, I see.” Beverly smiled as she shook her head.
They talked about the inhabitants of Fallscity and the upcoming celebrations, speculating on the future of the people there. When they reached Deanna’s quarters, Beverly suggested Deanna wait a few seconds after she and Will entered. The doctor touched the chime; it took seconds for the door to open to a smiling child. Solace looked past Beverly to Will, she reached for him, as he lifted her up into his arms, her eyes traveled past him looking for someone else.
“What no hug?” Will teased. Solace smiled and obliged, hugging his neck. “That’s better, after all I did something special for you.” He reached around and motioned Deanna in. As she came up behind him, her slipped an arm around her to pull her into the child’s sight. “I told you I would take care of her!” Will told her as Deanna moved close to him. Solace easily moved from one to the other, like a little monkey going from limb to limb.
The child now enclosed her small arms around Deanna’s neck enveloping her in hugs and showering her face with little peck like kisses. She whispered, “Dee-ann”.
“You’ve been practicing! Very good.” Deanna squeezed her, then asked, “Who is this?” as she pointed to Will.
Solace mumbled something unintelligible but it had the distinct sound of Imzadi…although twisted and turned a little. Deanna smiled, “Let’s work on calling him Will, for now. Here, I brought your little friend just like I promised you I that I would.” She placed the little wooden carving in the child’s hand; she was rewarded by another hug. “Can you try to say Will for me, please?”
Solace happily nodded her head, “Yesss…Will”.
Deanna had forgotten about her mother for those first few minutes. Lwaxana had been sitting with Guinan watching the scene play out before them. The formable Mrs. Troi decided to now make her presence known.
She wasted little time in getting from the sofa to stand in front of her daughter. “Little One, you don’t look well. You are pale and obviously over-worked. I’ll speak to Jean-Luc about getting you some time to recuperate. I’ve been hearing all about your little escapades, and close call with death, this plague thing that nearly killed you! Honestly Deanna…” She swooped her daughter up in an undeniable embrace including Solace along with her.
Deanna tried to bury the annoyance that was creeping up on her, “Mother it’s good to see you.” She leaned over to kiss her mother’s cheek. To Solace she said, “Sweetie, now that you met my mother, should we tell her which one of us is ‘Little One’?”
Solace grinned and pointed to herself before hugging Deanna again. It would take more than that to daunt the ineffaceable Lwaxana Troi. “Yes, well for goodness sake come in and sit down. You’ve been very ill. I sensed you to be in great danger that’s why I came. I see I should have been here days ago.” She guided Deanna into the room firmly holding on to her daughter as she directed her toward the sofa, leaving Will in her wake
Deanna turned to include Will; he regarded her with raised eyebrows. She knew he would like nothing better than to make a quick escape. She though/sent, < Come on, you can help me get through this, you know moral support!>
Then she whispered to Solace to tell Will to come too. “Come Will.” She held out a hand to him to join them. Will chuckled as he took her out of Deanna’s arms.
Beverly and Will sat on opposite chairs flanking the sofa. The next hour was spent trying to keep Mrs. Troi in check. Beverly spent most of her time reassuring the elder Troi that her daughter was fine, probably tired but well.
Finally Guinan asked Will, “Commander, isn’t there a senior officers meeting tonight? You three are going to be late. I’ll stay and keep these ladies company. Mrs. Troi was about to tell me all about Deanna’s teenage years.”
“Thank you Guinan, we need to be there a little early the captain wants to debrief us on the last mission.” Will stood and waited on Deanna and Beverly, trying to make eye contact with the counselor, sensing her discomfort at the topic Lwaxana was about to discuss.
Solace had claimed Deanna’s lap and was not about to vacate it willingly. She appeared very put out when the counselor tried to explain why she was needed. When Deanna quit talking and looked sternly into the child’s face, Solace must have realized she was not going to get her way. She slid off the lap and went to sit between Guinan and Lwaxana.
“That’s a good child, Little One, Miss Guinan and I will keep you company. I’ll be here with you until Deanna returns. You and I will be great friends. You’ll get used to her leaving, (sigh) I know I have had to. Let me tell you about Deanna when she was a little girl…”
Will caught Deanna’s arm to lead her out when it appeared as though she would have liked nothing better than to stay behind. He found her rolling her eyes as they left her quarters to emerge into the corridor, “I don’t know whom to feel sorrier for, Solace or Guinan.”
“Guinan.” Beverly was smiling sympathetically at Deanna. “Solace is young, and she’s already endured much worse.” The other two nodded in agreement.
“Yes but with an evening of those stories, how will I ever be able to look Guinan in the eye again? It’s as though she has memories of me confused with at least half a dozen other young girls. I don’t know where she comes up with some of it. The rest, well, let’s just say she has mother’s unique prospective on past event.”
“I wonder if I should sit down with her and have a little heart to heart, she does have one doesn’t she?” Deanna looked at him quizzically. “Well, I think if anyone is entitled to know of your past, it’s me!” Will was enjoying the discomfort that the counselor was distracted by, he noticed Beverly was trying not to be seen with the smirk on her face.
The meeting began as they had all begun, with a summary of the latest events. The captain then filled them in on how the situation on the planet presently stood, describing the contaminated research center and its victims. The discussion was long and detailed resulting in a plan of action to be set in motion the next day.
Beverly was seated beside the counselor, she took the opportunity to
watch and note the behavioral changes in her crewmates. She had seen things
rapidly progress back on the planet, but here now aboard the Enterprise
it was like seeing the entire thing begin again. The small tender moments
now seemed exaggerated, as they were now incorporated into the commander
and counselor’s ordinary routines.
Whenever Troi and Riker were together in the same room, it was as though they were connected, and perhaps they were. There did exit the empathic link they had always shared, it was possible that the link had been fortified by the circumstances brought about on the planet. Their moods generally matched. You never had to ask one where the other was, all you needed to do was watch where their attention seemed drawn and there you would find the other. Their attraction was like magnets, they seemed to need to have physical contact, not the draped over-hanging on to each other contact, rather it was more casual- an arm against an arm, a hand against an arm or leg touching leg.
Now at the meeting Beverly observed at Will rested his right hand on the armrest of Deanna’s chair. She sat in her usual position with arms crossed, allowing her right hand to lay against Will’s hand. The doctor watched as he moved a finger along her hand, softly caressing it. Beverly allowed her mind to drift, tying in all the occasions that the two seemed to unconsciously show their deep affection for each other. She was abruptly brought out of her private meanderings by the Captain’s voice.
“Doctor, how would you suggest we go about stabilizing the risk of the contamination from the research facility?”
She caught Deanna’s quick look and sympathetic smile as the empath picked up on her discomfort at being found daydreaming. “ Captain, I suggest that we vaccinate all in the research labs and begin using the serum we used on the counselor on those infected. It would help if we could count on their medical people to help. As it is, I have no idea who the doctors are, except for the one Deanna met, and which doctors were not involved with the infection program.”
“Captain, perhaps Abeathdor could help with the identity of the man I met, the doctor in the palace who went by the title of Almoner.” Deanna looked at Abeathdor; the ruler had been sitting quietly, listening. “He said he was educated with you, that his family had served yours as your physicians.”
Interest shone on Abeathdor’s face, “I thought him dead! I lost contact with him during my imprisonment. Deanna was the only one I had any sense of, due mostly to her skills and empathy.” She smiled, “He is alive then, that is wonderful. He could be trusted above all others. He is a good man, his name is Nairma. If you can find him he would be an excellent choice in aiding my people.”
Deanna sensed the strong feelings for this man and wondered at the relationship the two might have share, now that their lives could return to some form of normalcy. “Captain, have we begun to secure the palace yet? That was the last place we knew Nairma to have been.”
Worf felt all eyes on him. “We have the palace secured now. A list of all found in the palace is being prepared. I will have the completed list before the night is over.” He looked at Abeathdor; “I would be pleased to go over the list with you, at your earliest convenience.”
The captain began assigning responsibilities to different crew members,
stopping as he got to the counselor and his number one. “I’d like you tow
to stay on board for now and rest. You have both completed your assignments
in a manner that requires commendations. Commander, Beverly and I will
see to the needs of the young man and the rest of the people in Fallscity.”
As everyone left the lounge, Will and Deanna stayed behind to speak with Abeathdor and the captain. Deanna has some questions regarding Lepton and the information he appeared to have about their communication. Abeathdor explained that when she was first held captive Lepton too have been a prisoner. They had been able to talk at times before he was allowed his freedom, up to this point she believed him to support her. Later, there were few occasions that she could sense him and his thoughts but could understand neither. That is when it occurred to her that he may have shifted his allegiance, and could no longer communicate clearly with her. His betrayal still stung, but she felt again only Gringbald’s masterful manipulations could have been responsible. Abeathdor considered that Lepton probably had no idea he was being used against her. That would explain Deanna’s inability to sense his double life.
Abeathdor had many question for the counselor. Some of the answers no doubt perplexed her. She finally thanked them all for their efforts. The manner in which this was accomplished was also their dismissal.
“I believe we have been royally thrown out.” Will tried to make light of it as they strolled toward the turbolift. “What do you think that was all about?”
“She’s trying to find her cabinet of officials and she doesn’t know where to begin. A difficult beginning, but because of her empathic skills, it wouldn’t be impossible. She’ll find those loyal honest people she needs.” Deanna took Will’s arm as they waited for the turbolift.
“Ah… our chariot awaits.” Will led her in, “My castle or yours?” He smiled down at her waiting to direct the computer for the turbolift to continue.
“Let’s go to mine, as much as I don’t want to face mother right now, I know it is only because she is concerned. And it would be rude to keep Guinan waiting any longer.”
When the they came to the floor the quarters were on, Will had the computer hold the doors closed, “A goodnight kiss now, I may be thrown out on my ear later.” He watched her face; she had a way of almost repressing a smile that he enjoyed. Times when she was trying to appear so proper or professional, he could sometimes break through that façade, and if he caught her off guard he would be rewarded with genuine laughter, that would begin in her eyes and on occasion nearly capsize her with it’s hardiness.
She looked into those blue eyes that crinkled when he laughed or was attempting to get her to laugh, she smiled, “Okay, just one. Before long we won’t be allowed in here without a chaperone. Her eyes twinkled as she flashed a rather mischievous smile. They were careful this time not to draw the attention of a previous time.
“We are expected down on the planet sometime later, so let’s enjoy the quiet time together while we can. I imagine you’ll be taking Solace down to see Rankeer?” Will spoke as they moved arm in arm down the corridor towards Deanna’s quarters.
“Truthfully, I haven’t decided to do that. I would rather bring Rankeer here. You did talk to him about the possibility of coming aboard, didn’t you?”
“Yes that’s one reason I would like to personally go back. Why are you feeling reluctant about allowing Solace to return for a visit? We’ll be with her. This way if all goes as we hope, she can say her good-byes and see the lightfoot before she leaves with us.”
“We don’t know if that will be the direction everything takes, and they are all good reasons for her to go back. Mine may not sound as practical. Will, we have no idea what she went through during the time she was taken from the glen until Gringbald returned her to me. I’m afraid for her, afraid of her reactions to those things that my trigger memories we have no knowledge of, I would like to work on that in a more controlled atmosphere.”
They had walked slowly enjoying the small moments of privacy they were able to steal. As they neared her quarters, Deanna’s arm around Will tightened, he turned to embrace her once more…”Well, it’s about time! Guinan has responsibilities to take care of, which are more important than baby sitting me.” Mrs. Troi stood in the now open doorway with her hands on her hips looking more than a little perturbed.
Deanna walked past her mother into the living room. “I’m sorry Guinan if I kept you from anything. You have been very gracious in your help with Solace. I know she enjoys your company.”
“Counselor, I would not be here if I didn’t want to be. I had a nice time with Solace and an interesting time with your mother. Please call on me anytime I can be of help. I truly enjoy spending time here. I think right now you people need some time to catch up, so I’ll say goodnight. Solace is asleep in bed.” She nodded her goodbye or was it run while you still have the chance to Will as she passed him on her way to the door.
The doors had no sooner closed behind the hostess, when Mrs. Troi began, “Okay Deanna, let’s talk.” She took her daughter by the hand to lead her to the table. She glanced over her shoulder, “William, either you are joining us or you aren’t, don’t stand there planning a retreat. Come or go as you wish.”
Will stood with a surprised expression on his face, looking at Deanna. She shrugged her shoulders, then thought/sent < You don’t have to be here for this, it’s up to you. >
He stood for only a second before joining the two at the table. Will moved quickly to hold Lwaxana’s chair for her. It was then her turn to be surprised. If she hadn’t been concentrating on Deanna she would have known that Will was trying to keep her on her toes. this time he wasn’t going to allow her to gain any more of the upper hand then she already seemed to hold. He was not going to force Deanna to stand up alone to her for them. He made that mistake once, and had been paying for it ever since. He watched the interaction between mother and daughter, know Lwaxana would use telepathy to speak to her daughter.
Lwaxana Troi sat looking intently at her daughter, “Alright Deanna, let’s begin at the beginning. Everyone is acting like I’m the bad guy. I want to know what it is that you’re holding back and everyone else is protecting. It’s bad enough that I learn you were at deaths door, what could be more frightening than that?”
“Mother, before we begin, I’m going to check on Solace. It would not be in her best interest to overhear any of this.” She looked at Will as she left the table. He remained watching as Deanna turned into the bedroom.
She stood beside the bed, watching Solace as the child slept. There were so many little things she had come to find endearing about this child. Not the least of these qualities was the fact that Solace seemed to have had an unquestioning trust for the counselor from when they first met back at Fallscity. Solace slept on what had been Deanna’s side of the bed, all the pillows either beside or under her. When Deanna leaned down to kiss the small forehead, two little hand caught her around the neck. Deanna looked closely at her; the small eyes were still closed. The counselor gently brought the hands from around her neck to lay them beside the child and cover her. She straightened and started concentrating on the small person; the child was still asleep.
< Mother, please bring Will in here with you.> she sent . Knowing her mother to be very advanced in her telepathic skills, Deanna thought that perhaps she would be able to tell if the child did in fact possess some skill of her own.
“Do you sense that she is sleeping?” Deanna stepped back to whisper to them.
“Yes, why, what do you think is wrong?” Lwaxana looked for the sleeping child to her daughter.
“Nothing is wrong. Beverly and I have thought at times Solace may possess some empathic abilities of her own. Let’s see if this happens again.” Once again, Deanna walked up to the bed leaned over the child and kissed her. At first nothing happened, then as Deanna straightened to stand looking down at her, a small had caught her own, holding it tightly. Solace turned on her side holding the hand against her, a smile appeared on the otherwise sleeping face
Deanna looked at her mother; Mrs. Troi was entranced by the child’s actions. She thought/sent < Slowly move away Deanna.>
Daughter slowly did as her mother requested. Lwaxana took her place standing where Deanna had been; she gently brushed the short curls from off the small face. There was no reaction. Mrs. Troi sat on the edge of the bed to pat the child’s back. No response. She moved away, signally Deanna to sit where she had been. Deanna sat on the bed beside Solace, the child moved over to the counselor lying close to her.
It melted Deanna’s heart, that the child had known her identity and moved to be close to her. Up to now she had thought it was purely by instinct to be close to someone. Mrs. Troi left the room, waiting outside for Deanna and Will to follow her. Will went to the bed, looking down at Solace and Deanna, he smiled holding his hand out for the counselor. She got to her feet looking into the blue eyes she thought /sent, < You try it, see if she knows you.>
He stooped down to kiss the forehead as Deanna had done earlier. A small hand felt his bearded chin, then nestled again by her own face. Deanna could sense how much this pleased him. She took his arm as they went out to join her mother.
“What else have you noticed?”
“Well there are many things that by themselves may mean nothing. Once you begin to look you see little things in everything she does. It begins to feel right that she has some skills herself. Beverly has done some tests which leads her to believe the capacity within the brain is there.”
“What about her family- any telepaths or empaths?”
“Her parents seem to have disappeared no long after her birth. She was adopted by a family when she was quite young.” Deanna went on to relate the child’s history, as they knew it.
Lwaxana looked thoughtfully at her daughter, “Give me some time to observe her. Will, Deanna let’s sit and have that talk. I need to know what’s been happening. I’ve been getting all kinds of thoughts from your friends.” Her tone had softened, as had her whole demeanor. She went to her daughter to look closely at her, “Dear, I am concerned about you. You look absolutely exhausted, and some of the stories I’ve picked up on scare me. You know, you are all the family I have. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t care.”
“I know Mother.” Deanna kissed her cheek. “I’m fine. Everything has worked out just fine. You have Will to thank for that.” She stood watching for her mother’s reaction, expecting a dour comment about why she would choose the choices she did. Mrs. Troi occasionally even surprised her daughter, she did so now.
“Yes, I’ve heard as much. I’ve learned it’s been a frightening experience for you both. Some of your crewmates feel a change in both of you has occurred. I’d like to know what all has happened.”
They looked at each other; neither knew where to begin. Deanna started
at the beginning, leaving out details involving Gringbald and his interest
in her. This was a topic she felt would be better told with the passage
of time. Not here and not now with Gringbald still being held on the Enterprise.
Lwaxana was impressed with Deanna’s enhanced skills. She also displayed an acute interest in the people of Fallscity, after Deanna described her visit there and later finding Solace in the research facility. At the learning of the child’s history, Lwaxana softened considerably, “That poor child, Deanna, I am so proud of you for helping her. Why don’t you come back with me to Betazed, where we can have Doctor Dinal examine both you and Solace? The child definitely should be tested. This doctor is a specialist, the top in his field.”
Deanna exchanged a look with Will. “That probably would be a good idea, but our work here is going to take a while longer.”
“How much longer, Little One? Are we talking days, weeks, what? Because if we are, that’s fine, I’ll stay and go back with you. I’ll help you with Solace until you are free to go.”
“No, Mother. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be. There is a lot to be done. I won’t tie you up indefinitely.”
“Deanna, don’t tell me they couldn’t get along without you now, that you are needed to save this planet!”
Will was dismayed, Lwaxana never failed to surprise him. He watched now as she belittled her daughter’s achievements, when only moments before she was commending those very actions. “As a matter of fact Mrs. Troi, Deanna did practically save this planet and without her aid, we would never have found Abeathdor or gotten back safely. It’s late, perhaps this discussion would be better left to another time.” He waited for a rebuff from the older Troi, but none came.
“Yes, well; you may be right there are other questions I’d like answered, one about your relationship with my daughter. Just how serious do you take it this time? But I sense this may not be the best time to delve into that.” She went to Deanna, hugged her again with a kiss. “It’s only because I love you that I interfere as Will thinks I’m doing.” She cast him a challenge, then when it was evident he was not going to pick up on it, “Goodnight dear, do try and get some rest. William, I expect you to watch out for her.” Lwaxana Troi nobly strode to the door and out into the corridor, leaving Will and Deanna in her wake, wondering about how the encounter proved too easy.
“Don’t look too relieved Will, I know Mother and it’s not over by a long shot. I expect her next move is to go to Captain Picard.”
“I trust the captain has by now come to know your mother. Are you okay?”
“I think so. Are you going now?”
“Do you want me to stay with you for a while?” He asked softly, noting the tired anxious eyes.
She smiled up at him, “Would you mind?”
Will moved to her, enveloping her in his embrace before leading her to the sofa, “What’s wrong?”
“I’m just feeling a little overwhelmed. Tell me what you think of the possibility of Solace having empathic or telepathic skills? Does that alter you decision to keep her with us.”
“When I look at her, I never think of that. She is just a little girl. It changes nothing in how my decision stands. It will make things a little more interesting for us, but I think we are both up to the challenge. Is that what is worrying you, you think that I’ll turn and run at the aspect of living with two women who can read my mind? Let me tell you, that is a prospect not just any man could take on…unless he finds himself unable to live without one or both of them.”
She smiled and listened to him talk about some of the changes he could foresee going on down on Prakal. He talked about the play Beverly was working on and the roles she was assigned to everyone. He talked because he knew she just needed his company now. She stayed close within his arms because she knew she needed his strength, and this was her way of absorbing it. When some time had passed he looked down at her to see she could barely keep her eyes open. “Why don’t we call it a night, since I’m off tomorrow let’s meet for breakfast together. I’ll see you around 0800.” He leaned over to kiss her goodnight, then held her face to whisper in her ear, “I’ll see what can be done about family quarters, or at least adding a bedroom on for now.” She smiled and nodded.
After Will had left, Deanna went back into the bedroom. She sat on the chair close to the bed to work on a report for the Captain on the day’s events. Something pulling on her foot woke her. She opened her eyes to see Solace had covered her and was attempting to take her boots off. “Sweetie, why don’t you jump back into bed. I’ll change and come to bed too.” Solace went back to the bed, sitting cross-legged waiting on Deanna to join her.
Once they had settled in for the night, Deanna asked Solace if she’d like a room of her own, one that would have her things in it and her own bed. Solace looked doubtful, Deanna sighed, that would be a battle for another day.
Her sleep was intermixed with her dreams, dreams of isolation and of being paralyzed with no will, strength or authority of her own. She dreamed of being smothered, when she finally was able to swim to the surface of consciousness, she found herself being held tightly by a small girl. She was wrapped around the counselor, patting Deanna’s back, consoling her. Deanna sat up to hold on to Solace as she moved. The child pulled away enough to look at the counselor’s face. Deanna was touched and concerned to see that Solace had been crying. “Oh sweetie, did I frighten you? I’m sorry. I must have had a bad dream. It’s okay now, let’s lay down and rest.” There was no reply. The child held on and buried her face in the counselor’s shoulder. Somehow they both fell back to sleep like that.
That is how Will found them the next morning. When no answer came to the chime, he let himself in. Alarmed that there was no sign of anyone he rushed into the bedroom. Once he had looked the situation over, he surmised that someone had had a rough night. He found the PADD Deanna had been working with on the floor beside the chair, sitting on the chair he began to read it.
He had just finished reading the report when he felt someone ‘s eyes on him; he looked up to see Deanna watching him read. He laid the PADD down and went to the bed to help lie Solace beside her. Then as Deanna got up, he raised his eyebrows at her sleepwear. On catching the emotion going through his mind, Deanna looked meaningfully at the sleeping child. The she looked down at the nightgown she had chosen, thinking she wasn’t fully awake and may have put on a different nightgown than the one she intended to wear. No, it was the simple white shift she meant to wear. She looked at Will and shook her head, unable to keep the smile from her face. Will said nothing, he picked her robe up from the floor at the foot of the bed he held it up for her to put on.
“You had better change then, I’ll get something from the replicator for breakfast.” He gave her another on of the mischievous looks hoping for a response. She responded, by going to him and wrapping her arms around his neck to deliver a surprising good morning kiss.
“You had better change.” He whispered into her hair. “Now, please.” She smiled, pulling away to find her way to the closet and bathroom. He watched her go, until she disappeared into the bathroom.
He had just set a thermos of coffee on the table when Deanna fully dressed and groomed for the day, appeared in the doorway. “That’s better, not quite so alluring. Who had the bad night? It appeared one of you did.”
“I believe it was me, I had a couple of bad dreams. I must have frightened her.”
“Was it anything like the ones you had down on the planet? Because if they were, I can understand Solace being frightened. Do you want to talk about them?”
“No, I think these were just the my mind playing back the day’s events. I think Mother may be right, an expert should see Solace. There may be things we could be doing to help her and by understanding her makeup better, we would be able to be more supportive and be better able to prepare her for what may lie a head. What do you think?”
“Does this have to be done right now? I think it would be better to let her come to know her and us now home here first. Then when she’s feeling more secure, take her off to a new place with doctors she doesn’t know to examine and test her. Aren’t you afraid that may trigger memories? Will talked softly yet his words were filled with a strong conviction.
Deanna’s eyes widened at the way Will was handling this, his words were loaded with turmoil, she didn’t understand where it stemmed from. “Yes, I am afraid of that happening, but then that may well be the best controlled atmosphere for it to happen in. A specialist would be there to help her and us deal with it.” She watched his expressions as she talked, because they often betrayed his immediate feelings, before he had time to refine and rethink them.
“Each of us needs to decide for ourselves what our priorities are, who or what comes first. Look at your time element, Deanna. How soon would you go to Betazed? Now? With your mother, because that is what she wants. Or will you wait to finish what we’ve begun on this mission?” He was referring to more than the planet Prakal.
“Wait! Before we go any further, you know what my feelings for you are; you never have to question that. After all, you took a lot of time working out your priorities. This is different; we are talking about another life that is dependent upon our decisions. We need to do what is right for her.” Deanna felt herself going on the defensive, suddenly she what this was all about Will was concerned that she was allowing her mother to make this decision.
“Deanna, I’m not questioning your motives. Just think about it before you follow your mother home. I told the captain, I’d log some bridge time this morning while he is down on the planet with Abeathdor. I’ve got to go.” He left his untouched breakfast, leaned down to kiss her allowing his lips to linger, before looking long into her eyes, his hand touched her cheek then without saying another word, and he left for the bridge.
She could see the regret in his eyes, she knew she has somehow let him down. A noise came from the bedroom; Deanna turned to see Solace standing in the doorway rubbing her eyes. “Come here sweetie, you didn’t have to get up yet, want to go back and sleep in this morning? I’m not going anywhere for a while”
She sleepily shook her head, and padded over to Deanna’s chair “Will go?” Solace asked standing at her knee looking intently into her face.
“He had to go to the bridge. Are you ready for some breakfast yet?”
Solace again shook her head, then made to climb on to the counselor’s lap. Deanna lifted her up to sit across her knees; the child leaned back to lay her head sleepily against her. They sat in silence for sometime before the door chimed. “Come in,” Deanna called almost defeatedly, she well knew the presence on the other side of the door. Even Solace seemed unwilling to face the guest; she made no attempt to answer the chime or even to lift her face from the counselor’s shoulder.
Mrs. Troi entered, “You two should have stayed in bed by the look of you. You aren’t getting sick again are you?” She touched the child’s forehead, then her own daughters. “You didn’t sleep well. What happened? Don’t bother trying to change the subject. I’m on to that little maneuver by now.”
Deanna’s first impulse was to suggest they get together later when she felt better able to cope with the delicate questions she knew were about to be asked. Then, she realized that there were few better equipped with the telepathic skills of her mother and that perhaps her mother may be in an ideal position to help her reason things out. The problem with that was that she would have to relay details that she had been unprepared to confide in to her.
The door chimed again. Lwaxana looked at Solace, “Little One, that would be for you.”
Solace glanced at Deanna, they were both smiling. “I think she means you this time.” Deanna glimpsed the child’s expectation as she went to answer the door.
Two ensigns stepped inside the door with their arms full of parcels. “Counselor, where would you like these?” asked the first.
She looked at Mrs. Troi, “Mother, what is this?”
Lwaxana answered the ensign, “Just take them over by the sofa, that will be fine young man. Is that everything?”
“No ma’am.” Two more civilians from the replicating center also entered
the quarters, laying their parcels next to the others.
Solace studied the whole proceedings wide eyed; unsure of what her part in all this was to be. Mrs. Troi took her by the hand to lead her to the many packages now stacked by the sofa. “It’s high time you have a childhood and all the trappings that go with it.” She stood behind the child, with her hands on the diminutive shoulders; “These are for you.”
Solace looked back questioningly at Deanna. The counselor was very touched by the thoughtfulness, albeit a little overdone by the look of the amount of packages. She went to kneel beside Solace, then with an arm around her, she encouraged her to begin to open the gifts, “Well let’s see what Mrs. Troi has brought for you.”
“That’s entirely too formal dear, we’ll have to find something else. How about Aunt Lwaxana?” Deanna raised her eyebrows, but kept her remarks to herself. She continued to sit on the floor beside Solace, handing her a box and watching as Solace opened it. The child looked at the contents unsure whether or not to touch them. The counselor removed the material to reveal the brightly colored outfit for a small girl. The next several packages contained other pieces of clothing. Solace was delighted with each one, wanting to wear everything. That is until they came upon the shoes. Deanna tried to put them on the small feet; Solace kept taking them off.
“What’s the problem, Deanna? Aren’t they the correct fit? I can have that corrected’
“I don’t think that is the problem, I don’t think she wore shoes a lot back in the glen. She was barefoot most of the times I saw her. I’ll work on it with her later.”
Aunt Lwaxana watched her daughter and Solace going through each package, she remained the onlooker, saying very little from her post on the sofa. When they came to the many toys that were intermixed with the clothing, the child could not decide whether to continue opening packages or to figure out the toy. Finally, all the packages were opened and lying scattered across the floor.
Deanna moved up to sit with her mother on the sofa. “Thank you Mother.” She embraced her and planted a kiss on the older Troi’s cheek. “I have been negligent.”
“No, you haven’t, you’ve been busy and trying to fill too many roles at once. Don’t look at me like that, I take a different prospective on things, that’s all. I’m allowed, I’m your mother.” Lwaxana put her arm through her daughters, “Come let’s go where we can talk.”
Deanna obediently went with her to the uncleared table. She began resetting it with fresh juice and coffee. They talked about Solace for a while before Lwaxana broached the subject Deanna knew to be on her mind. “Are you ready to talk to me yet? You’ve become very quiet, oh you never were a big talker, but lately…well let’s just say I know there’s something more.” Mrs. Troi reached over to put her hand over her daughters. “What happened on that planet? I know it has to do with Will. I could find out, you k now, but I want to hear it from you. This time let me decide about the parts that would upset me.”
“So much happened.” Deanna wanted to be unemotional in the retelling of their adventures, trying not to allow the parts that touched her show. “I didn’t tell you about the lightfoot, and how Beverly and I got caught…” She continued in the relating of the experiences of the trip down to Prakal, she had decided this time she would tell it pretty much as it happened. Mrs. Troi would know one way or the other regardless of Deanna’s wishes.
to be continued
here for part fourteen