part 15

chapter 31

Will reported to the captain on the events and the situation, as it now appeared to stand. A team from sick bay was on it’s way to them. While they awaited the doctor, Gringbald asked that Deanna be allowed to sit by him. Will adamantly shook his head, “Why should we trust you?”

“Because Commander, I am using all my energy to hold this form just long enough to speak with my dear counselor.”

Riker looked at Data, who stood near continuing to monitor the alien’s health. Data agreed, “He was already in a weakened condition and could not survive another traumatic event. In short his system over loaded when hit with the energy from the phaser.”

Will glanced down at Deanna, unwilling to allow her to move from him. She smiled up at him, sensing his concern and desire to shield her from danger. She spoke quietly, “I feel his life draining away, there is nothing more he can do.” Will allowed her to move from the safety of his arms to Gringbald’s side.

Gringbald watched them as Deanna left the commander’s embrace and started toward him.  She stopped a distance away. “You must come closer if you are to hear what it is I am about to tell you.” He used little energy in speaking, those present could only barely hear his request.

She moved to sit beside him and waited. Gringbald was lying prone on his stomach; he stretched his arm so he could lay his hand on hers. “That is better, Deanna. Do you know why I picked you over Abeathdor, or anyone else?”

She shook her head, “No, why?” She looked around to see the attention of the others were on them.

He began to speak even more quietly; she had to lean down closer to his face to hear the words. “It has very much to do with the child. I heard of and later saw for myself how you treated her with affection. She was a total stranger, you knew nothing of her, yet you put her well being above your own. Yes, having your other skills were a part of it too. I didn’t lie to you about learning emotions.”

He paused drawing upon his last energy to continue, his voice now barely a whisper, “I need to tell you… you wanted to know the parentage of the child. What did you say they call her?”

“Her name is Solace”

“…an interesting choice for her. Her mother unbeknown to anyone now living….was …Yarmi, Abeathdor’s sister. The father was…is…what you see before you.”

Deanna gasped as she heard the words, she felt as though her heart had stopped beating. “How could that be? You have no emotions, why would you care about having a child? How could you father a child like her? How did this happen?” Her mind sought answers to endless questions; questions she could never have believed would need answers. The whole thing was bizarre, unintentionally she looked at Will, hoping he would confirm that the whole thing was a dream, a nightmare.

Gringbald squeezed her hand assuring her of the reality of the moment. “I don’t care. She was born deformed, unable to hear I had no time for that. I was content to leave her with a couple who took her as an infant. They knew no more than did anyone else as to her parentage. I wanted no part of her, until you became so interested in the life she had. You and I could have begun our own ruling dynasty that would have lasted for many years. Yes, it would take work, but I have men working on that right now, the science of the universe is quite remarkable, once you open the windows to the mind. Yarmi had a weak mind and feeble body, you would endure the procedures with little effort. What would be the final result would be superior to all of the rest of Prakal’s inhabitants, my longevity would have seen to that. You would have cared for and trained the heirs to the throne. They would have been beyond imagination, with your skills and beauty and my shrewdness and higher intellect.”

His ramblings were of madness and his words were a sickness, Deanna had to stop this dogma, she had to try and make sense of his entire mind numbing utterances. “Why are you telling me this now? It’s not because you care about the child.”  She felt the emotions of the people around her heighten due to her own reactions. They could not have heard most of the conversation or she would have felt the buffeting from the affect of his words, especially from Will.

“I am telling you this now, because I am dying and Solace has the claim to the throne as Yarmi’s daughter. You see, no matter what happens a piece of me remains. You may be the only one that will want her alive.” He stopped talking, the room became so silent that the only sound was the constant ambient sounds of the Enterprise engines.

Gringbald’s form began to fade as though fading out of existence, it suddenly glowed, the form taking on an almost flaming bat appearance, then as the glow dissipated, the physiognomy resembled a large dead bat.

Deanna continued to look at the form, not attempting to move away yet. Will stooped beside her, putting his hand upon her arm, he waited for her acknowledgement of his presence before helping her to her feet. He scrutinized her features trying to access her thoughts to the conversation with Gringbald.

Doctor Crusher and her team had arrived in the detention area in time to see the last moments of Gringbald’s life. She had watched in silence, until now. “I am not needed here. Deanna, come back to sickbay with me someone there needs you.” The doctor watched the counselor, curious and concerned about what she had just witnessed, she knew Deanna’s mask was covering something of importance.

Will too knew something consequential had transpired between the counselor and the alien. He watched her eyes trying to see how this information was affecting her. He had gotten pretty good at reading her, however, there were times when she pulled back into herself, closing the shutters over those windows into her soul. Times like this when she needed to find her own footing before she would be willing to open up to him.

Now she looked at him for approval to go with the doctor to sick bay. He nodded giving it, “I’ll see you later.” He saw her leave with the doctor; She was almost out of the room when she turned to look back at him. He caught something in her eyes, a reluctance. Whether it was a reluctance to leave him or to go to sickbay, he was unsure.

The doctor left behind her staff to collect the remains of Gringbald in the possibility that the new government on Prakal would request proof of Gringbald’s demise. She and the counselor had walked in silence back to sickbay. Beverly had stolen several glimpses of her friend, at first curious at the events that had transpired, but now with concern about the heavy silence and the haste to get to the child.

They entered sickbay to find Lwaxana sitting on the med bed trying to calm the dark haired child, whose voices had carried to them in the corridor. “Thank God, Deanna!” Lwaxana greatly relieved relinquished her place with Solace for her daughter.

Solace stopped wailing, startled by Deanna’s sudden appearance, her red tear filled eyes staring at the counselor. “I’m here now. What’ s the problem little one?” Deanna spoke softly to her. Solace had continued to whimper in a more childlike way, then the hysterical crying from earlier, she held on to Deanna so tightly that the small hands had a painful pinch hold on the empath’s neck and arm. “Everything is alright, shhh…what’s wrong?” All she could sense from the child was fear, a great consuming fear. Deanna looked over the child’s head to the doctor; Beverly had prepared a sedative and was waiting for Deanna’s nod to deliver the drug into the child’s system.

It took several seconds for the sedative to take affect. When Solace grew quiet, Deanna cradled her in her arms as she asked,  “When did this happen? I thought you said she had fallen asleep?”

“She was actually unconscious for only fifteen minutes, she was exhausted from screaming for the first twenty minutes when your mother brought her in her crying for you.” Beverly looked at Mrs. Troi.

“We were in ten forward with Guinan when she started pulling my arm to go. She kept repeating your name. I thought she just missed you and wanted to go back, then she began screaming. Guinan helped me get her in here. I tried to tell her I could sense no danger to you, but to be honest I couldn’t concentrate enough to sense you or to penetrate her emotions to reach her.”

Deanna nodded, “I tried too when Beverly first contacted me, but just like now, all I could sense from her was this terrible fear.” Solace stirred in her arms, she looked down at her, and the tears still hung to the long eyelashes. Deanna realized she didn’t care about the parentage, the child was an innocent who needed someone to care and love her. Solace opened her eyes to look at the counselor, she began to whimper again.

“Beverly, could she be ill, are there any sings that these could be symptoms of a lingering virus?”

“No, I checked when she was first brought in. Physically she seems fine. The only abnormalities are those brought on by her emotional state.”

Deanna held Solace against her. The child maintained her grasp on the counselor as she shifted her position to bury her head between Deanna’s neck and shoulder, transferring her hold to grasp a handful of hair.

Lwaxana moved to remove the hair from the small hand. Deanna softly stopped her, “It’s okay, I’ll take care of it” She kissed the child’s forehead while continuing to speak reassuringly to the little girl.

Beverly took Lwaxana’s arm to guide the older woman to her office, leaving Deanna alone to try to uncover the cause and learn the remedy for the small child’s dilemma.

When they were alone, Deanna tried again to understand through her empathic skills, what was happening with Solace emotionally. Again she ran into a barrier of fear she could not break through. She sat in silence holding, rocking and gently patty the child’s back. A tune played in her mind; her memory tried to match the tune with a place and time. Then it came to her, this was the beautiful haunting music the two young men had played in the glen for them. She had all but forgotten it, but it seemed her subconscious mind had logged it for her. She began to hum the melody, rocking Solace in time with it.

Deanna could feel Solace begin to relax; her hold on the empath’s hair had slackened. The small hand slid around Deanna’s neck, while the head felt heavier and heavier against her shoulder. After a while Solace sighed and brought both arms up to encircle Deanna’s neck. She continued to rocking and humming until she sensed the child’s fear abating.

She spoke as she continued to rock, “Sweetie, tell me what has happened. I want to help you but I need you to help me understand.” She waited for a response, she could sense that Solace was struggling with translating into thoughts the feelings that had overwhelmed her.

“Think it to me, I’ll understand.” Solace buried her head in Deanna’s neck. The thoughts came in the way of pictures. Pictures of the child being sent back to the planet, of Deanna in sickbay unconscious, of Solace standing alone reaching for someone. This came not as one clear scene, but from many bits and pieces, like many still holographs laid out on a table.

The counselor tightened her arms around the child. “I want you to listen to me, okay, this is important. I will not send you down to Prakal without me. If we go, it will be for a visit that is all. I will never turn away from you.” She pulled Solace from her neck to look at her and for the child to see the sincerity in her face. “You are part of my family now, I’m going to take care of you. No one is going to take you from me. Do you understand me?”

The small dark head bobbed, “Yess.” Deanna pulled her back to hold her, wondering how she was going to keep those promises, but knowing she was keeping them.

Lwaxana Troi stood in Beverly’s office watching her daughter with pride. “I was never able to watch Deanna at work. She’s quite good with people isn’t she?”

Beverly smiled, wishing she could record this to play for Deanna at a future time. “Yes, she is. She’s especially good with Solace. There seems to be a connection between them. Your daughter is a good ship’s counselor, believe me, she wouldn’t be aboard the Enterprise if she wasn’t”

“I know she did her job well, I guess I don’t always understand the job.”  Mrs. Troi turned to look at Beverly, “Do you consider yourself a good friend to Deanna?”

Beverly thought she had gotten used to Lwaxana’s brutally frank remarks, but the older Troi had always found ways of surprising those around her. “Yes, I do consider Deanna to be a dear and close friend.”

“Good, because if she is going to continue what she has begun, by daughter is going to need your support. I’ll let her explain the details when she is ready. I guess I’ll go to my quarters. I could use a rest after all that.” Mrs. Troi swept out the door and was gone.


   After returning back to their quarters they decided on hot chocolate as a treat for getting through a long and difficult day. In the short period of time it took for Deanna to retrieve the beverages from the replicator, Solace has curled up on the sofa and fallen asleep. She put the cups down and leaned over the sleeping child. One hand was curled into a fist; the counselor opened the hand to find the coveted wooden lightfoot.

“Come on, it’s time for bed.” She lifted the sleeping child and carried her to her own new bed. While she removed the shoes and blue jumper preparing to cover her, Solace began to stir, she opened her eyes to look up at her and ask, “Sleep in my bed too?”

“Wouldn’t you like to sleep alone in your new bed?” Deanna hoped she would at least try.

“Nooo!” Solace looked at her with the big blue eyes, Deanna sighed, knowing she couldn’t refuse her, not after the day they had had.

“Okay,” Deanna smiled, “let me change. Since you are awake now, how about putting on your own bedclothes. You can wear one of your new nightgowns, here they’re in this drawer.” She opened the drawer, then stood near the doorway to see if the child was going to change. She smiled as she watched Solace kick back the blanket and pad over to her chest and look into the drawer, choosing the blue silk nightgown similar to the one Deanna had.

When Deanna returned, she was pleased to see the little girl sitting in her usual cross-legged fashion waiting. She grinned when Deanna entered the room at seeing the counselor’s attire.  Solace stood on the bed for Deanna to see her new nightgown was just like the counselors. “How about that, my mother must have wanted us to look a like.”

Solace bobbed her head, still standing on the bed, she walked to the side to hug Deanna. It seemed she had put the fearful moments of the day behind her, at least for now. Deanna wished she could do the same. She sat up working on her report of the day’ events, trying to work on her report of the day’s events, trying to put into prospective what she had to do about the knowledge Gringbald divulged. She thought she had used all the scenarios that could have fit the situation. The reality was not one that she would ever have imagined. How could Gringbald have fathered such an affectionate child? How could a relationship with him have reached that conclusion? So many questions, so many variances on possible answers. She had been working for a while when she noticed Solace was no longer sleeping, but lying close watching her. “What is it sweetie?”

The eyes filled with tears. Deanna moved over to her pulling her close. “It’s alright, we’ve had a very long day. Things will look better tomorrow.” She hummed the melody that had helped calm Solace earlier. As she hummed she watched the child’s eyes grow heavy and eventually close, soon she was back asleep, Deanna carefully laid her down, then stretched out beside her. Solace once again curled up close after being covered. The chime sounded, Deanna managed to get up without waking Solace, went to her own room for her robe, before releasing the door.

“I’m sorry, did I wake you? The captain stopped back after you left. How’s Solace?”

Deanna ushered Beverly in, “I’m not sure how Solace is, because quite frankly, I’m not sure what happened. She seems as though what ever had happened had passed one minute, then the next she’s crying again. I was laying with her until she fell asleep.” Deanna brought two cups of tea back to the sofa with her as she talked. “All I feel for certain is that somehow Gringbald is involved. I believe he either manipulated me to react in a way that Solace could sense, or he directly manipulated her emotions, but how?”

The door chimed again, Deanna responded with, “Come in” knowing the new arrival to be Will.

“Hi, I’m sorry it’s so late. How is everything?” He studied her appearance, noting the sleepwear, disheveled hair, and the weary look in her eyes.

“I was just telling Beverly, right now things are quiet. Solace is sleeping, but what ever brought this on has not been resolved. I did manage a little communication with her.”

“Have you put together any information for the captain yet?”

“I managed to put together something, I’ll get it for you.” She went back to the child’s room to get the PADD she was working on.

He gathered the tea cups, with a glint in his eyes he returned shortly with three brandies. At the looks he received from the ladies, he commented, “I wanted you to try this, I think we could all use something a little more potent than herbal tea. Geordi has been working on getting this into the computer system for weeks, he thinks he has it now. This is guaranteed to lift the spirit and quench the demons.” He handed each of them a greenish colored drink. The two women waited for Will to take the first swallow before they put the glass to their lips. He sampled his with a large gulp, then he smiled at them. “Now that is what is prescribed after a day like today.”

The other two sipped their drink. Beverly looked as though she had been sucking an unusually sour lemon. Deanna turned to Will, “This is terrible! How could you drink this?” He had just drained his glass still smiling he went back tot he replicator and ordered a large glass of cold water and drank the entire glass before returning to the women.

“Since your both here, the captain has called a senior staff meeting in the morning at 0900 hours. I ‘ve talked with Guinan, she’ll stop by and give your mother a hand with Solace.” He sat with the PADD looking over Deanna’s notes.

It wasn’t long before they heard sounds from the back bedroom. Deanna has stood to look in on Solace when she met her padding out of the bedroom. Deanna went to her and picked her up, returning to the sofa with her. “Would you like to sit with us for a while?” she quietly asked the child. Solace nodded, but buried her face in the counselor’s neck.

Beverly touched the small forehead, then reached into her lab coat for her tricorder, after doing a check and reading the results she looked at Deanna, “Same as before. I think you both need some rest, I know I can use a good night’s sleep. Is there anything I can do for you before I leave?” The counselor shook her head. Beverly smiled, “If anything comes up and you want me, I’ll be in my quarters. Goodnight Solace.” She stopped to pat the child’s back, “Don’t hesitate to call if anything comes up.”

“Thank you Beverly, goodnight.”

Will walked her to the door. They talked a little before he returned to where Deanna sat with Solace. He reached down and gently gathered the sleeping child off her lap, holding her so that her head rested on his shoulder.

Deanna stood too; they walked back toward the bedrooms. He went in to the new room, laying Solace back in her own bed, he kissed her on the forehead, then stepped back to wait for Deanna to do the same. The blue eyes opened. Deanna spoke softly to her, “I’ll be back in a few minutes, okay?” The sleepy nod of the head was her answer.

Will raised his eyebrows in question. Deanna took his arm to walk with him to the living room. He stopped at the entrance into her room, “How long are you going to be able to keep this up?”

“What are you talking about?” She looked surprised by his question.

“You haven’t slept well for sometime. I can’t imagine sharing a bed with a four year old would be sleep inducing.”

“Are we talking about a four year old or a forty year old…” She smiled slyly at him, for once beating him at his own game. At his expression she leaned into him to lightly kiss his chin, “Actually, I sleep better than you think. It’s been a very hard day for her; it’s not a good time to start something new. We’ll be fine.”

“Where would she sleep when we get things straightened out and are together, whose bed would she be in then?"

Deanna smiled again at him, “Then, I guess she’ll be in our bed with us on days like today.”

“Let me assure you of one thing Mrs. Riker, it would not be very often.”

“Oh, you talk tough but you’re an old softy. She already has you twisted around her finger.” Deanna felt him chuckle in her embrace.

“She does, doesn’t she?”  He held her away to look at her, “Do you want to talk about the situation with Gringbald yet? I’ll stay as long as it takes if you want to go through this tonight. I know you needed some time to work through it, but I think we should discuss it. Are you ready yet?”

“Can you give me tonight to try to put it into perspective? If you come early tomorrow we’ll talk before the meeting.” Arms around each other they walked toward the doors.

“Very soon this will be a thing of the past.” Will smiled at her expression, “Saying goodnight like this. I’m not far away if you need anything.” They said their goodnights and Will left for his own quarters.

Solace was awake watching the doorway for Deanna’s return. “I thought you would be sound asleep by now. It’s been a long day, hasn’t it?” She got into bed then leaned over to cover Solace again. The child’s expression never changed, she never took her eyes off Deanna. The counselor stopped moving and looked closer at the child.  She reached out with her mind to try and get a sense of what was happening with her. The child was still fearful of something, but Deanna could not pin point the source of that strong emotion. She thought/sent < Come her little one, nothing is going to harm you. >

Solace moved quickly over to Deanna, snuggling close with her head on the counselor’s shoulder. “It’s okay things will look better tomorrow.” Deanna again hummed the unnamed tune that remained in her memory. She made a mental note to either get the name of the tune or better yet, a recording of it into the ship’s computer. She could feel Solace relax, as she stroked the small face and smoothed back the short curly hair. The trip to Betazed and the specialist was looking more and more like a necessity and one that should be initiated soon. She lay awake long after Solace had dozed off.

Deanna thought she heard a familiar voice calling her,  “Deanna, there…Ladies it’s time to get up.” She opened her eyes to see Will leaning around the doorway smiling. She turned her head to see that Solace had pulled the covers up over her head. Deanna decided to pretend nothing exceptional was happening as she talked to Will.

“Good, morning. You look like you slept well.” Deanna sent the thought to him to go on as though everything was as it should be. He understood, she could tell be his facial expression and the way his eyes went once more to the hidden child.

He walked over to the bed, “I’m sorry to get you up so early, but there is a lot to do before the meeting. Besides I like the idea of yours being the last face I see in the evening and the first in the morning, a tradition that is only beginning.” He sat beside her as leaned over to exchange a kiss. “How did you sleep last night?”

“Not as well as I had hoped. Neither of us got enough sleep.” She looked at the tiny mound under the covers.

Will looked too. “You mean there is someone else here? Where are they?” He moved around and pretended to look around the room hunting for someone. He swatted at the covers coming near but never touching the giggling blanket. Then finally pretending to accidentally find her head, he felt her face. “This feels like a nose, and this…Deanna I think I found a mouth!”

Solace jerked the covers down quickly, Will jumped back faking a startled look. The little girl laughed outright, it was the first time Deanna had witnessed a good outburst of frivolity. He sat holding his chest, telling Solace she had scared him. She walked across the bed to hug him, Will  squeezed her then held her back to look at her, “Wait, what is this?” he looked at Deanna, who was now sitting on the edge of the bed. “Do you two have the same night gown on?” He acted shocked.

Solace stood smiling and nodding her head, looking very pleased. “Yess, the same.” She went to sit on Deanna’s lap, “The same, right?”

Will laughed, “While you two ladies get dressed, I’ll wait out here with breakfast.” He patted Solace on the back and squeezed Deanna’s hand before leaving.

“What new outfit do you want to wear today?” They picked several that Solace wanted to wear, Deanna watched, as she couldn’t seem to make up her mind, “I’ll tell you what, you decide. I’ll go to my room and get changed.”

The counselor was in front of the mirror working with her long dark hair, when Solace came in and flopped on the floor, to sit cross-legged as was her custom. “Come here sweetie, let’s comb your hair. Let me see what you’ve decided to wear today.” Deanna waited for her to get up; she walked over to the counselor showing off a violet colored jumper. She had dressed herself and put the jumper on backwards. Deanna explained how to tell the difference between the back and front, then helped her correct it. “Good choice, that looks very pretty on you. Aunt Lwaxana picked out some very nice things for you to wear didn’t she?” Solace smiled, looking down at the outfit, running her hands over the front as though smoothing out invisible wrinkles. Deanna sat her up on the counter as she finished combing the child’s hair; Deanna watched their reflection in the mirror. Solace had her head down, her lips were moving. The empath knew the child was attempting to tell her something. She finished her hair, then turned the girl around to look at the mirror. She smiled at the reflection, then again moved her mouth, attempting to say something.

“Sweetie, I know you’re trying to say something. Just try telling me, I’ll help you.” Solace scooted off the counter top to look up at the counselor. Deanna kneeled on the floor in front of her, “If I hold you real tight, will that help?” Solace nodded, moving into the counselor’s embrace, the small arms around Deanna’s neck, as she whispered in her ear. Deanna smiled, “It’s okay, we’ll find something you can say. That is a hard name to learn. How about Aunt Troi?”

“Okay, let’s go get breakfast before Will thinks we went back to bed. Why don’t you go first and show him your new clothes. Solace looked at her closely before scampering off; Deanna sat alone for a few moments before following.

Solace chattered throughout the meal, the most effort she had made yet at speaking, the efforts were rewarded by the adult’s attention and evident pleasure with the child’s attempts. Deanna realized that Solace was a very intelligent child, capable of learning very quickly when encouraged. The door chime interrupted the meal. Solace was off her chair and headed for the door. Will looked amused as he commented to Deanna, “Table manners aren’t really all that important.” Solace returned holding Guinan’s hand.

Guinan turned down any offer of breakfast and added, “I spoke to your mother, she asked that you see her before going to your meeting this morning. That’s why I cam early; to give you some time with her before you need to meet with the captain.” Guinan remained standing, adding to her words for their need to make haste.

They stopped at Lwaxana’s door, the doors slid open before either of them had a chance to touch the chime. Deanna looked at Will, a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. She knew how much Will hated it when Lwaxana reacted to him before he had completed the word or deed.

“I had given up on a visit from you. I know that you job comes first, that and all the other entanglements you have now.” Mrs. Troi looked at Will as she completed her remark.

Deanna tried to smooth out the wrinkles of tension she was sensing. “I’m sorry we didn’t get here earlier Mother, but I think I made some valuable progress with Solace this morning.” She went to her mother to greet her a little more personably with a kiss on the cheek.  Mrs. Troi smiled and embraced her daughter.

“That is why we need to talk now. Please, both of you sit down.” She waited until they had seated themselves to begin. Lwaxana watched her daughter hesitate then choose to sit on the sofa next to Will; he put his arm around her. “I want to talk with you about the prisoner. I know how upset Deanna has been over that situation; you need to work this out before your meeting with the others. I also know how little the time is you have to talk things over, so I decided now would be a good time to work these things out. I knew you wanted to talk to me about Solace, and since these things are all tied together, we should discuss them now. Knowing Jean Luc as I do, I am sure these matters have not gone unconsidered by him.”

Lwaxana moved to sit opposite her daughter, facing them on the sofa. “Deanna tell me what happened with the being in the detention cell, I know some of it, but to put it into perspective, I would like to know the whole thing as you know it. Begin with what he wanted from you, and for what was he willing to exchange for it?”

“Gringbald had information he said we needed, in exchange for letting him die, or killing him.” Deanna paused not feeling comfortable sharing the information Gringbald imparted to he on the parentage of Solace.

“But, he gave you the information any way, because in a manner of speaking your people did kill him. Is that correct?”

“Yes, I suppose it is.” Deanna looked at Will; he was still bristling at the thought of having been manipulated.

“Let’s stop playing hide and seek, Deanna I know the information he gave you. I know you, I know you’ve been upset by it. I take it you haven’t talked to Will about it and the consequences of having that knowledge, have you?”

Will looked at Deanna, she glanced at him and would have turned away, had not the intensity of his eyes held her own. He answered, “No, we haven’t been alone along enough to discuss much of anything, but I believe since you have begun, Mrs. Troi, let’s discuss it now.” Will looked away from Deanna’s eyes to watch the agitated folding and steepling of her fingers.

She took a deep breath before beginning. Deanna turned to face Will, “You heard some of Gringbald’s proposition, what you did not hear was his final conversation. The final piece of the puzzle was the parentage of Solace.” She paused, seeing that she had captured the attention of her audience. Will waited to hear the results of her conversation. Lwaxana was monitoring their thoughts and emotions. Will stilled the agitated movement of her hands by placing one of his hands over them, and gently squeezing them reassuringly.  She took a deep breath, “Gringbald claimed to be the father of Solace.” She had uttered the words softly.

“What! How could that be? Who was the mother?” Deanna was concerned, Will’s reaction unsettled her, she grew uneasy with what that reaction could symbolize concerning their future.

She softly explained the connection with Yarmi. She spoke of Gringbald’s lack of feelings toward Solace, and that he had at one time wanted the child dead because he viewed her as deformed.

“That explains why she clings to you. She never had the security of a family; everyone she had grown close to was either taken from her or she from them. That is why she won’t let you out of her sight, she’s afraid she won’t see you again.”  Deanna was relieved at Will’s thoughtfulness. She looked at her mother for her reaction. Mrs. Troi was quietly studying the two of them.

Deanna continued, “That was apparently his terrible truth that would change our relationship.” She opened her mind to Will’s, a smile slowly appeared on her face. All she could sense from him was his concern Solace and herself, a flood of warm loving thoughts easily flowed from him.

Mrs. Troi wouldn’t allow the process to slow or stop, “What do you think happened earlier, when the child became so distressed. She was feeling abandoned by you then. Did you at some point feel disgusted by her parentage, Deanna, even if it were fleeting or perhaps more at the thought of Gringbald as a parent than at the child?” When Deanna sat quietly reliving the experience, Mrs. Troi continued, “There maybe another option. Dear, I thought about this a lot last night. Is it possible Solace was reacting out of fear for you? She may have overheard enough to know you were meeting Gringthing. The child lived on that planet where the entire population practically lived in fear of him. She has always been upset when you leave her sight. The whole episode yesterday may well have been from her fear of losing you. She didn’t know how to handle the intensity of it.”

Deanna was perplexed, “I know Solace is capable of understanding more than we may have originally thought. On the planet she was somewhat hindered by her lack of hearing, exactly how much she understood about the political atmosphere is debatable. I did not sense any communication attempts from her during the time I spent with Gringbald. I know I was greatly surprised by his information. I suppose I was feeling a lot of things. I wanted to believe he was lying about it. I have never changed by feelings toward Solace, not then and not now. You may be right though about the child having a problem dealing with intense feelings. Why not adults do!”

“Is it possible Gringbald was lying?” Will was still reeling with the idea of Gringbald as the child’s father. The same child who had somehow managed to wiggle her way into his heart.

“Why would he lie, what end would that serve? He was dying.” The three of them continued discussing the events of the previous day, and the part the child had played in those events. Lwaxana detailed some of the possibilities of the child’s skills and the consequences they may have. Again the necessity of the visit to Dr. Dinal was stressed and agreed upon by all three this time.

They came to realize they may be told to return Solace tot he planet. This was a heart rendering thought to all of them, particularly to Deanna. She had spent so much time, effort and emotion convincing the child of her security within their lives, now to have to reverse all of that would further traumatize her. More than that, Deanna had to face that fact that she had become too closely involved in a situation that required, no needed her professional abilities. Had she remained distanced and professional she would not have made those commitments and promises to a child she may have to send away. The part the worried her the most, in looking backward she could see no place where she would have changed what was done.

The time had come for the two officers to take leave of the older Troi and head to the meeting with the captain and the other officers. They arrived first in the observation lounge, Deanna went to stand before the windows looking out into the star lit universe. Will went to stand behind her, his hands on her shoulders. “We have to bring this up, with all the minds that will be in this room, if there is an option, if there is a solution, I have every confidence that we will find it.”

She put a hand on his, she was glad for his support. He leaned down to whisper in her ear, “Deanna, we will get through this. I promise you.” He turned her to face him, she looked up into his eyes and nodded. He hugged her to him.

The doors swished open, then shut, they moved from each other as Beverly cleared her throat. “Don’t tell me you’ve been barred from the turbo-lifts!” Then she saw the expressions on their faces. “What’s happened?” She walked over to join them at the window.

Will gave a brief summary of the parentage and the possible issues facing them due to it. Beverly shook her head, “That’s a bit bizarre, I’ll do a DNA test. We still have Gringbald’s remains on board. I’ll compare the DNA from Solace with that I also have Abeathdor’s medical records here from when we treated her.  I’ll run those too. At least we can determine whether it is the truth or not. Although after that..” She looked at them both, “Did you ever hear the saying ‘Ignorance is bliss’? Well, once the truth is known we would have the responsibility of dealing with it. I can’t imagine the captain forcing you to send her back, but again that may not be his decision to make. I guess the question is, do we really want to know?”

“I can live without knowing, the only problem with that is there will be physical and emotional problems surfacing for Solace as she grows, remember Gringbald was initially symbiotic. What would be best for the child?”

“Counselor, I’m sure you are in the best position to decide that.” Captain Picard stood just inside the doors. How long he was there or how much he had heard was unclear.

“Captain, there are some developments you need to be aware of, have you read our reports?”

“Yes, Number One, I have also just finished speaking with Mrs. Troi and Guinan. I believe we have an interesting day ahead. When the others arrive we will begin.” He turned to Beverly, “In the meantime Doctor, please begin the DNA test yourself.”

Beverly looked at Deanna, then nodded her acknowledgement to the captain and left for sickbay. The captain looked at the remaining crewmembers. He saw Will pull the counselor’s chair closer to his own, noticed his hand remaining on the armrest of her chair as his fingers slid around her wrist.

“Counselor, in talking with your mother, I’ve learned it has been suggested that the child be taken to Betazed for an examination by a specialist. Doctor Crusher agrees with the necessity of this examination. Do you concur?”

“In view of all the information we have been given, I believe that is what would be best for Solace.”

“We’ll arrange it as soon as I can do without you two. Unfortunately that may not be for several more days or a week. How soon do you feel she should be seen?”

“Captain, I think the sooner the better. Everyday something new seems to arise. Nothing, yet, that couldn’t be handled. In having her seen soon, we may be better equipped to anticipate these situations and deal more effectively with them.”

“Counselor, your mother and Doctor Crusher highly suggest not only your presence, but that you too undergo examinations by this expert. How long will you be gone for?”

“One week to ten days, Captain.” Again she avoided Will’s eyes. She didn’t want to go without him, but right now she saw little else she could do.

to be continued

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