Apologies and Forgiveness
Coda to Season 4 episode "The Loss". Takes place after the
episode's final scene in Ten Forward
Sept. 21, 2009
This story took the better part of a week to write, mostly because I only had small bits of time here and there to work on it. I had been planning on writing a coda piece to "A Matter of Perspective", which I am still planning on doing. However, this idea came into my head all of a sudden, so I decided to act on it.
This short work is a coda to "The Loss", the episode in which the Enterprise encounters two-dimensional life forms that unknowingly trap the ship in their wake as they head toward a deadly cosmic string fragment and cause Troi to lose her empathic powers.
(Humorous side note: On the 4th season DVD special features, Marina Sirtis relates that her husband saw this episode and said to her, "Honey, why is it that when Troi loses her powers, she becomes Marina?" LOL.)
At first, I couldn't come up with a title, so I was just going to call it "Coda to 'The Loss'". Original, eh? But then, as I was almost finished writing, I realized that there were a lot of apologies taking place, so I decided to call the piece "Apologies and Forgiveness".
The story starts off during the last scene of the episode "The Loss", in Ten Forward. The dialog is taken verbatim from the episode right up to the "Aristocratic" line. From that point on, it's my own work. :)
And now, I give you... "Apologies and Forgiveness".
Disclaimer: Paramount/Viacom/CBS owns all. I'm just borrowing.
"Apologies and Forgiveness"
Written by: Bryce Newall
"Apology accepted. Therapists are *always* the worst patients." Beverly Crusher smirked. "Except for doctors, of course." Deanna exhaled a small laugh and smiled at her. "Come by and see me at my office later, OK?" Beverly smiled warmly at Deanna, rose from the table and made her way to the door of the Ten Forward lounge.
Deanna watched her leave, then put her head in her hand and sighed. "I was so awful to her..."
"Well, you were just being human." Guinan, who had been standing next to the table with Troi, Riker, and Crusher, claimed the seat Crusher had just vacated.
Troi looked thoughtful. "I never fully appreciated how difficult... and how rewarding it is to be human." Her eyebrows rose slightly as she fixed her gaze on the El-Aurian. "But I had a lot of help. Thanks."
Guinan merely nodded, almost imperceptibly. "Now, is that Counselor position still open aboard ship?"
Troi smiled. "It's been taken."
"I just thought I'd ask. Better hours." She glanced briefly at Riker. "Excuse me." Guinan rose to attend to her other customers in the lounge. Riker watched her go, then turned his attention back to Troi.
Troi fixed her gaze upon him. "And you... Thank you for making me face my other half."
Riker grinned. "Frightening, wasn't it?"
"A little. You were right, though. There *is* something to be learned when you're not in control of *every* situation."
"Welcome to the Human race." Riker's hand went to her arm and he leaned in close to her. She felt his breath on her lips and almost returned his imminent kiss, but suddenly pulled back. Her expression grew serious.
"By the way..." she admonished, "the next time you call me 'aristocratic'--"
Riker's other hand went up slightly in a gesture of 'say no more, I understand,' then came to rest on Deanna's forearm. Her smile returned. He leaned in again, and this time she did not back off. He kissed her gently. Deanna felt a warm sensation in her mind as Will's love and concern washed over her. For a fleeting moment, she wondered what it would have been like to kiss him when her empathic senses were gone. What if, along with her empathy, her portion of their bond had been stripped away from her? Deanna suddenly realized she didn't want to even contemplate the possibility.
As Will pulled away, he sensed the stir in Deanna's emotional state. His hand still on her arm, he squeezed lightly and looked into the onyx orbs in which he could have so easily lost himself. "Deanna, are you all right?"
"Yes, I... I think so. My mind was just wandering. Will, can we go someplace a little more private?"
As they stood, Riker place his arm comfortably around the Counselor's waist. "Sure thing... your place or mine?" He grinned lopsidedly at her as they walked out of the lounge.
"Um... how about...neither?" The doors swooshed shut behind them.
"The Arboretum?" They both said in unison, then laughed as they realized they must have picked up on each other's thoughts without even being aware of it. Such was the nature of their bond, at times, it seemed.
Riker smiled. "The Arboretum it is." The arboretum was one of the most beautiful and relaxing places on the Enterprise, and both he and Troi had gone there on numerous occasions, together and on their own, when they needed time to think, or to just unwind. They knew the arboretum would be closed at this hour, but as senior officers, both possessed the necessary security clearance to override the lock.
The two officers made their way in comfortable silence. Upon reaching the door, Riker keyed in his authorization and the doors slid dutifully open, revealing the darkness of the Arboretum's night mode. "Computer," he called out, "one quarter lights." The arboretum was suddenly but gently aglow, revealing hundreds of beautifully cultivated plants and trees, a lush grassy area, and a small pond. Troi took Riker's hand and led him to a bench near the pond.
They sat, hands still entwined. Troi looked down, temporarily unable to meet Riker's gaze. "Will... I'm not even sure where to start--"
His other hand reached out to her, gently stroking the side of her face and lifting it so he could look her in the eye. "Deanna," he paused slightly, "I can't even imagine what you were going through. But I--"
Deanna jumped up suddenly and rounded on him. "No, Will, you *can't* imagine it! How could ANYONE possibly know what it was like? None of you have any idea of what it is to be empathic. The feeling of being able to sense others around you, sometimes even to know what another person is feeling before they do... and then for all that to suddenly disappear in the blink of an eye! Beverly said it would be like one of you suddenly going blind. Have you ever been BLIND, Will?!"
Riker just stared at her, taken aback by her sudden anger. Troi's chest was heaving from her emotional outburst. Finally, he spoke. "Deanna, as I said, I can't imagine what it was like for you. But I'm here for you, Imzadi, right now, and I think you should tell me about it. Might do you some good."
Troi's breathing was starting to return to normal. She looked at him apologetically. "I thought *I* was the Counselor here."
"Don't worry; I'm not after your job." His smile returned slightly.
Deanna sat down again and folded her hands in her lap, looking down, suddenly sullen. Will placed his hand on top of hers; she unfolded her hands and turned one against his, interlacing their fingers. "I'm sorry; I didn't mean to snap at you." She paused in thought, her dark eyes fixed on the ground. Will brought his other hand up to her face and brushed it gently. Deanna looked up at him, eyes glazing over slightly as the painful memories of her ordeal began to resurface. "'Frightening'... is... an understatement, Will. It was as if a part of me, part of my soul, had just suddenly been ripped away. Not just my sense of others around me, but my sense of myself, too... gone, just like that." She fought to restrain the flood of tears that threatened to spill from the onyx depths that were now focused intently on him.
Will let go of her hand and pulled her into his embrace. Losing the battle with her pent-up fear and painful recollections, she sobbed quietly, soaking the front of his uniform. He didn't notice the dampness, stroking the back of her head gently and concentrating on sending as much love and warmth as he could through their link. After a minute or two, she continued. "You know what the scariest part was, though? Even more than losing my sense of myself? The fact that I couldn't feel *you*, Will. I couldn't feel our bond at all. I wasn't sure if that would ever come back, and that scared me more than anything."
He gently brushed at the remaining teardrops with the pad of his thumb. "I know, Deanna. My sense of you was still there, but it was very weak. I was scared of 'losing' you in that way, too. I knew you were already frightened enough, so I didn't mention it at the time, but it was damned unnerving." He paused. "You know... what I said earlier, about equal footing and all that... I really wasn't trying to hurt your feelings."
"I know." A smile tugged at the corners of Troi's lips. "You
were just trying to give me a 'kick in the pants,' as it were. And you and Guinan
were both right -- I do have other abilities to rely on besides my empathy.
I guess I just wasn't thinking too clearly about it at the time."
"It's a good thing you came to your senses... no pun intended," Riker grinned. "You *did* save all our hides, after all."
"Me?" Troi looked at him incredulously.
"Yeah, you. Remember, you were the one who realized that those two-dimensional beings must've been acting instinctively. I don't think Data would've come up with that. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have, either."
Troi smiled as she recalled. "You should've seen the look on Data's face when I said 'we have to get two-dimensional.' It didn't even register right away, but I was thinking about it later, while he was telling you and the Captain about his plan to emulate the cosmic string's vibrations. It was like a small flicker of humor right in the middle of a grave situation... I was actually trying not to laugh." She looked down demurely. "I guess I kind of did save the day, didn't I?"
"I owe you one, Counselor. We all do."
She looked up at him and winked. "All part of the service, Commander."
"Sounds like you're feeling better already!" He stood, still holding her hand. "It's late... shall we?"
"Lead the way," she attempted an imitation of Picard's commanding tone, "Numbuh One."
As the pair emerged from the turbolift onto Deck 8, their hands were still joined. They headed down the corridor toward Troi's quarters, as hers were the first at which they would arrive. Upon their approach, the door sensors recognized Troi's biometric signature and opened automatically. They stopped for a moment; then Deanna looked up at Will. "Come in for a minute?"
A warm smile was Riker's response as he followed her in. As soon as the doors closed behind them, she turned to him and hugged him fiercely. "Thank you, Imzadi," she whispered against his chest, "for being there for me... even though it may have seemed like I didn't want you to be there."
Riker gently rubbed his hand up and down her back and neck. He kissed the top of her head softly and looked down at her face. Her eyes were closed; her long lashes accentuating her beautiful features. He felt her mind becoming calmer while he embraced her, and he sent all his love for her through their link. She smiled, eyes still closed, feeling his love and warmth, and sending her own in return. "I love you, Deanna," he whispered.
Her eyes opened and she looked up at him. "I haven't heard *those* words in a long time," she said wryly.
"I always have, always will," he replied, his own eyes closing as he continued to hold her.
"Stay with me tonight?"
His eyes flew open. "Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure. After what I've been through... what you went through with me... I really don't want to be alone. Stay... please?"
"For you... anything." He smiled broadly.
Will Riker woke with a start. His eyes opened, and the first thing he saw were quarters that were not his own. The next thing he realized was that someone was lying next to him. The events of the previous evening came flooding back to him, just as Deanna's presence filled his mind, and he instantly remembered he was in her quarters, and in her bed. He turned on his side and gently wrapped his arms around her still-sleeping form. She stirred slightly, and he could sense she was gradually awakening. He glanced at the chronometer and saw that he had almost two hours before he had to be on duty. He didn't know her appointment schedule for the day, but guessed it would start around the same time.
"Good morning, sleeping beauty," he whispered into her ear. She shivered as his breath tickled the side of her neck. She turned onto her back and looked up into his bright, blue eyes.
"Good morning, Imzadi," she replied softly, her voice cracking as she was still waking up. Will had always loved the way Deanna's voice sounded first thing in the morning.
He leaned down and kissed her gently on the lips. "Sleep okay?"
She smiled at him coyly. "Best night's sleep I've had in a *long* time."
He grinned. "You hungry?"
Deanna hadn't been thinking about food, but as soon as Will brought up the subject, she realized she was hungry. She had eaten very little the day before, and her body was telling her it was about time to rectify that situation. "Yes," she replied. "Starved, actually!"
Riker jumped out of bed, put on a robe, and hurried out to the living area. "One gourmet breakfast, coming up!"
They ate mostly in silence, but it was not awkward. Periodically, Troi's reaction to a particularly delicious bite of Riker's cooking punctuated the silence. As they finished up, Riker began gathering up the dishes to place into the recycler, and Troi was the first to speak. "Thank you, Will; that was wonderful. We need to do this more often. You really *are* quite amazing in the kitchen, you know that?"
Riker turned toward her and waggled his eyebrows. "That's not the only place where I'm amazing, my dear."
Troi laughed. "Where have I heard THAT before..."
Riker's expression turned serious. "Deanna... what I said to you last night... I meant it."
"What, that you'd do anything for me?"
He couldn't help but smile. "That, too, but I was talking about before that, when I said--"
"I know," she cut him off. She came slowly up to him, placing her hand against his bearded cheek. "I love you too, Imzadi." Wrapping her arms around his neck, her lips met his and their minds both filled with the warmth and vibrance of each other's presence. How long they remained in this perfect moment, neither of them were sure. But as their lips pulled apart, their gazes met and they both knew that they would have much to talk about during the next few days.
Deanna Troi was on her way to Sickbay. Will had left her quarters about a half hour earlier to begin his shift on the Bridge. Deanna's first appointment wasn't for another hour, so she decided to honor Beverly's request from the night before and stop by and see her. She was positively beaming as she entered the CMO's office.
Dr. Beverly Crusher looked up and saw a surprisingly happy and radiant-looking ship's counselor practically bounding into her office. "Well, good morning, Little Miss Sunshine!" Crusher teased. "You're in quite a good mood today. Feeling better after yesterday?"
"He loves me, Beverly."
"Yeah? So what else is new?" Crusher quipped.
"Beverly, I'm serious!" Deanna was still smiling like a schoolgirl.
"I know, Deanna; so am I. I think everyone on this ship knows how you two feel about each other."
Deanna's smile faded slightly. "I love him, too. I'm just not sure where our relationship will take us from here." She sighed wistfully. "He stayed with me all night."
Crusher's eyebrows rose inquisitively. "Deanna, did you two--"
"No! No, of course not. I asked him to stay because I didn't want to be alone. Nothing happened. But, I tell you, it felt *really* wonderful to just have him there. His presence was calming and reassuring. I'll tell you what I told him, too: I haven't slept that well in a long time. And then he made me breakfast this morning... well, made *us* breakfast, before he had to go on duty. You know, I've always felt comfortable around Will, but this time, it was different. More than just being relaxed around each other. I don't really know how to explain it better than that."
"Maybe no explanation is required, Deanna. Sometimes, things just happen for a reason. Or *don't* happen..."
"Sorry." Crusher was still smirking. "I think you should just let whatever happens between you and Will happen on its own, naturally. Don't force anything, but don't resist, either."
"You know, Beverly, if the crew complement of this ship ever grows beyond my capacity to handle it as the sole Counselor on board, I'm going to recruit both you *and* Will to be part-time counselors. You two seem to have a knack! Sometimes, I think both of you missed your calling."
Crusher grinned. "Tempting, very tempting. Are the hours any better?"
Troi laughed. "Guinan seems to think so. Better than bartending hours, at least." Troi's face fell as she remembered her conversation with Guinan, and her unfortunate encounter with Crusher the day before. "Oh my gosh, Beverly... I really owe you an apology. I had no right to talk to you the way I did yesterday."
Crusher blinked. She had all but forgotten about Deanna's angry outburst in Sickbay the day before, and how bad she had felt about her inability to help her best friend in such a time of need. The memory came slamming back, though, and Crusher nearly recoiled from it.
Troi felt her Crusher's fleeting reaction, and for the first time, realized just how much of an impact her harsh words had had on her best friend. No one deserved to be the subject of a tirade like the one she had displayed yesterday, especially not Beverly. Nor Will, for that matter. Tears stung her eyes, and she rushed to Beverly and embraced her tightly. "Beverly," she managed between choked sobs, "I'm *so* sorry..." She could say no more.
Crusher held Troi tightly. "Shhh, it's all right, Deanna. Really. What's important is that you're okay." Beverly knew that Deanna had been scared, possibly more so than ever in her life. She also knew that perhaps she should have gone to see Deanna sooner, and was feeling guilty about that. Maybe Deanna had been right -- if Beverly had come sooner, maybe she could have prevented her affliction in the first place. Despite the fact that Deanna was perfectly fine now, Beverly suddenly felt a woeful sense of inadequacy. Still holding Deanna, she felt tears welling up in her own eyes.
Deanna sensed the shift in Beverly's emotional state from compassion to guilt, and immediately knew what was transpiring in her friend's mind. Her own tears had ceased their downward cascade, and she pulled back from Beverly. She could see the pain in the doctor's expression, and locked her own onyx eyes on Beverly's now-tear-stained blue ones. "Beverly," she began, "what's wrong?" Deanna was sure she knew what Beverly's answer would be, and she was not proven wrong.
"I'm sorry, Deanna, I'm just... I guess... I felt so inadequate. Powerless to do anything for you. Maybe you were right, if I *had* come sooner, maybe you wouldn't have had to go through the hell you endured--"
"Beverly, it wasn't your fault. You had no idea what was happening to me, and even if you did, there would've been no way for you to prevent it. You certainly couldn't have prevented us from encountering those two-dimensional beings. You did everything you could, under the circumstances."
Crusher wiped away a few remaining tears. "Sorry, Deanna. Look at me..." she laughed ruefully. "I asked you to come by so I could check on you, and you ended up being the one having to comfort *me*."
Troi smiled and embraced her friend again. "Hey, what are friends for?" Crusher smiled back at her. "Listen, I'd better run, I have my first appointment in about 15 minutes. Want to meet for lunch?"
Crusher nodded. "You're on! See you then."
"Ok, see you next week, Jim?" Deanna Troi stood by the door to her office, bidding the day's first patient goodbye.
"Next week, yes. To quote an ancient Earth entertainment program, 'Same Bat time, same Bat channel.'" Troi laughed, even though she didn't understand the joke, and made a mental note to look up the obscure reference.
The doors closed as Jim left, and Troi returned to her desk to see who her next appointment was. Instead of a name, she saw the word "Cancelled". She touched the name on the screen, and saw that the lieutenant from Engineering who was scheduled to see her had been asked to perform additional duty that morning, and had requested a reschedule of her appointment to the following day. Troi checked her schedule and found she had an open slot at the same time the following morning. Tapping a few buttons on her console, she granted the lieutenant's request.
Deanna sat back for a moment to clear her mind. She felt Will's presence, even though he was on the Bridge. Although she could always feel him when he was close enough, she noticed that her sense of him was more keen since her encounter with the two-dimensional life forms. Perhaps, she reasoned, it was because she had lost her sense of everyone around her for those seemingly endless hours, and when they returned, they felt that much stronger. She decided to try something she hadn't done in quite a while.
//Imzadi, what are you up to?// She sent to him. She wasn't sure if she'd get a response, especially since he may have been involved in activities on the Bridge, but also because she didn't know if he still knew how to send to her, or if he could do it from a distance. She was, therefore, pleasantly surprised to receive a reply, and rather quickly at that.
//I'm basking in the wonderful feeling of communicating with my Imzadi,// he sent back lovingly. She closed her eyes and smiled. //Other than that, not a whole lot,// he continued. //We're just mapping a new solar system up here. Want to come up for a bit? The Captain's off in his Ready Room.//
Troi swore she could see him winking at her through their link. The corners of her lips turned up in a smile as she sent back, //Be right up!//
Not five minutes later, Deanna Troi emerged from the aft turbolift onto the Bridge. Riker stood and beamed at her as she came down the ramp to the command center. "Hello, Counselor, nice of you to drop in."
Data turned from Ops. "Greetings, Counselor," he said politely, then returned his attention to his station. Worf nodded at her from Tactical.
Troi smiled at all of them. "Thanks, I just had a break in my schedule and thought I'd see what kind of trouble you were all getting into up here." She grinned at Riker as he sat in the Captain's chair and she took her customary seat.
Data turned toward her, cocking his head. "Trouble? Counselor, we are not currently in any peril--" He stopped as he saw the smile on her face, thought for just a moment, then began anew. "Ahh... I see. Moderate sarcasm. Although I am familiar with the concept and have become more adept at recognizing the use of sarcasm, I have yet to master the art of using this particular form of humor." He turned back to the Ops panel again
Troi stood up and moved behind Data. Leaning over to him, she whispered conspiratorially in a voice just loud enough for Riker to also hear, "Don't worry, Data. Hang around this guy long enough," she pointed her finger back toward Riker's position, "and you'll catch on pretty quickly."
Data looked thoughtful for a moment. "Hmm." He responded, as he often did when faced with a new challenge. Troi returned to her seat, and as she sat down, she heard Riker's voice in her head.
//Ouch,// he sent, feigning insult.
//The truth only hurts if it ought to, Commander.// She put her hand on his arm affectionately.
//Well, here's a truth for you, Counselor, and I guarantee this *won't* hurt.// He placed his hand on top of hers, leaned over to her and whispered in her ear, "I love you, Deanna."
Her hand squeezed his arm as she whispered back, "I love you too, Will."
And at the same time, both of them sent to each other, //Thank you, Imzadi.//
= The End =