Story: Impressions
Author: Deede
Disclaimer: Paramount owns them, not I.
Rating: PG
Distribution: Imzadi Everlasting, and BLTS are welcome to it,
if they really want it. Anyone else just ask. :-)
Synopsis: The Riker/Troi relationship seen through the eyes of
an outside perspective.


The first time I met Deanna Troi I was captivated.

I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was about the beautiful,
dark-eyed, recently graduated psychologist that solely grasped
my attention from the countless other Starfleet entrees I had
spoken with that day; yet there was something unique about her.
Something determined, something wise, something infinitely astute
- although she couldn’t have been more than twenty four/twenty
five at the time: fresh faced and eager, yet hardly naïve. For
some unfathomable reason I could gauge that much from her instantaneously.

She was young, but she was experienced. Not exactly jaded, but
knowledgeable - an apparent survivor who had seemingly garnished
the title after living through something in which she had had
no choice but to move on from. It was evident in her eyes. Evident
in the way they spoke of so much, yet screamed of so little.
A woman-child daring to ask the universe why, yet not entirely
dependent on the answer, as if she had resigned herself to her
fate. She didn’t blatantly display her strength of spirit with
bravado or immediate promises of unswerving devotion to Starfleet
the way her processors had just hours before her. But she did
meet my gaze directly, unflinchingly, and presented her desire
to serve as a counselor aboard a federation starship.

The interviews for incoming science officers were a standard
procedure. Decorum dictated that Deanna and I were to meet shortly
following her enrollment and that I was to ask her the same tired
questions that I had asked those before her… “Why are you interested
in joining Starfleet, Miss Troi?”

The answers I had usually received to that particular question
were as standard as the question itself. Yet, years later, it
was her answer I would always remember, even after thousands
of young faces had started to blend one into another throughout
the corners of my memory. 

“Because I have so much yet to learn,” she answered solemnly,
seriously. “More than I would be capable of being taught and
experiencing on my home planet. The universe is so large, I want
to understand it better.”

I admit I was taken off guard, not just at the uniqueness of
her answer but at the fervency for which she spoke. I truly believed
her when she said that she wanted to understand the universe,
no matter how lofty that goal may have seemed to me. I also knew
that whatever experience had put that ancient wisdom behind her
eyes had served to fuel the billowing fire of determination that
had driven her to pursue Starfleet as a career.

It dawned on me after she spoke, that she, like so many of us
with our gazes planted firmly towards the sky, had had a taste
of the unknown. That something or someone had planted the seeds
of exploration within her; had given her a brief glimpse of the
universe at large, yet had left her unfulfilled and longing for
more. I also knew that that experience had broken her heart.

There was a sadness to her that I hadn’t quite caught immediately,
but it was there nonetheless. Left alone and wandering, she had
chosen to forge her own path, as only a survivor could. But no
matter the respect I had come to have for her in such a short
time, I had a job to do.

“And how do you feel Starfleet can help you attain this goal
of yours?” I inquired, forging ahead.

She smiled then; a small grin really. Just a slight turning of
the corner of her lips that spoke of her wry regard for so obvious
a question, as if it amused her greatly. “Through exploration.
I want to learn from experience. To feel as well as think my
way through entirely new and different situations.”

I sensed immediately that there was more to the later part of
her answer than she was letting on, and I wanted desperately
to call her on it, to explore that aspect of her personality.
But that wasn’t what I was there for, nor was it relevant towards
the career I had a precognition would be great.

She had undeniable potential, regardless of what had brought
her to that point. To gain knowledge from life’s experiences
was a precious commodity for any soul. To willingly seek out
and embrace the journey that granted such wisdom: through heartbreak
and happiness, peaks and valleys - was even more dear.

“Well then, Miss Troi, I hope that the universe provides the
answers you seek,” I had told her then, offering her my hand
in genuine well regard, my words conveying the double meaning
I had meant to get across. ‘Pursue your future. Hold on to your
dreams. Continue to learn and grow and become whole with the
wisdom you gain.’

Her dark eyes had regarded me thoughtfully, and I knew then that
she had understood me well.

“I do too,” she responded, flashing that small, knowing smile
once more - her countenance serene, yet determined.

My grandmother used to claim that strength lie in overcoming
the impossible, learning from the past, while keeping a steady
eye on the future. After an exchange of no more than five minutes,
I wondered if I had witnessed that in the form of a petite half-human,
half-Betazed empath who had graduated with honors in her chosen
profession and who actively sought the unknown. Yet in her infinite
wisdom my grandmother had left something important out of her
teachings… sometimes the hardships we overcome convince us we’re
so strong, we forget to be weak when the occasion calls for it.

It would be six years before I saw Deanna Troi again, during
her early reign of service under the infamous Captain Jean Luc
Picard of the equally infamous starship Enterprise.

The Enterprise was orbiting a planet for which I was attending
a conference and out of profound curiosity I contacted Deanna
Troi and asked her to meet me for lunch.

If she was surprised to hear from me: the man who had interviewed
her for Starfleet yet had had no contact since, she didn’t show
it. In fact, her facial expression was a portrait of the natural
congenial greeting indigenous to her demeanor, and her body language
spoke of confidence and success. The years, as I knew they would,
had treated her well. Yet her eyes, ever large and unfathomably
dark, still told a story of love and loss, triumph and pain as
they lit with the fire of a search that was never ending and
a destination, off in the distance, that had not yet been reached.

“Have you come to understand the universe, Counselor Troi?” I
asked her after the initial small talk had commenced, and the
air surrounding us had become more comfortable and inquisitive.

She flashed me that same grin I remembered from before: wry and
knowing, amused in an ironic way that indicated that she knew
the punch line to a joke that was being told while the rest of
the universe resided in the dark.

“No, I’m still learning,” she said softly, her voice hinting
at a gentle laughter.

I could do no more than grin at that. Satisfied, in the very
least, that she was on her way… to what, exactly, I couldn’t

It was then her head shot up, her expression portraying a look
of anticipation just seconds before we both heard her name being
called by a tall, bearded man who had been making his way through
the crowd to our table.

The man came to a stop just inches away from where Deanna sat,
close enough to betray a sense of familiarity between them. She
smiled up at him, and he smiled back at her – their eyes, both
sets suddenly dancing and alive, met and held, and I knew then,
without a doubt in my mind, that the regard these two beings
had for one another was grand.

“Admiral, I’d like you to meet a good friend of mine, Commander
Will Riker, first officer of the Enterprise,” Deanna announced
formally, her eyes leaving her ‘friend’, however begrudgingly,
in order to introduce the two of us.

Like practically every Admiral of my trade, I had known who Commander
Riker was, if only by word of mouth, prior to that meeting. Young,
ambitious, steadfast and promising - very well on his way to
being Captain, if he’d only stop turning us down whenever we
offered him his own command.

I think it was that exact moment, with me sitting there watching
these two people interact with one another, deep feeling radiating
off of them in droves, that two things became utterly clear to
me. I knew then why Riker continuously turned down offers that
would remove him from the Enterprise, and it had nothing to do
with his career. I also knew that it had been Will Riker who
had given that brilliant, idealistic young woman who had sat
in my office years before and spoke of exploration, her first
taste of the universe. And that he, driven in his career like
a moth driven to a flame, had left her to explore what he had
introduced… alone. All of which led to the realization, years
later, when age had brought growth, understanding, and wisdom;
that he didn’t want to live without her.

Another look at the Counselor, catching her as the initial, uncensored
joy of the Commander’s abrupt entrance wore off and she schooled
her eyes to become platonically affectionate - much to the answering
brief, flickering dismay of his gaze - brought one more truth
to mind… In all the strengths she had learned: forging ahead,
moving on from the past, Deanna Troi had forgotten how to be
weak. It saddened me to realize that the quest she sought, however
grand and noble, would never be realized until she learned to
love anew.

How mysterious the universe, how ironic… That these two beings
could find something so rare and wonderful in youth, yet lack
the experience to appreciate it then. Only to be scarred when
fate placed them together once more, too weary to trust yet ever
searching for the fulfillment they had first known with one another.

Their story, untold, yet so clearly evident, moved me. It struck
a cord with the romantic part of my soul - the part that resides
in us all and allows us to cry at the birth of a child, and laugh
amongst the presence of friends; to share in joy with others
and search for a love unbidden and unrestrained.

Their journey was older than time itself, and indigenous to every
species, every culture. Love, understanding, companionship –
the essential drive within ourselves to find that soul who compliments
our own existence, who brings out the best qualities of all that
we are, and with who we can dance uninhibited.

How unfortunate it was that circumstances so often deluded our
thinking, holding us back from experiencing all the joy and pain
of life without the newness of discovery, and the continuing
potential of wisdom itself.

Years later I was to smile continuously on the day I received
a wedding invitation amongst my incoming messages. My heart filled
with the fate of two people I hardly knew, yet two people I would
never forget.

I was there, lost in a crowd of many, on the day they wed. Basking
in the love that was felt by all who watched two souls join so
willingly, so happily. He looked at her, and she looked at him,
and this time their gazes were uncensored, and uncontained. Every
so often they would touch one another in that way that lovers
do: a light caress of the hands, a brush of the hair, a warm
caress of the eyes; each stroke reaffirming a connection that
had always been, and would always be.

They had each learned to love again, the way only true survivors

When the ceremony was over I approached the blushing bride, still
exotically beautiful; still infinitely wise. A woman who had
discovered that sometimes the answers to life’s timeless questions
lie within the search itself.

“Have you come to understand the universe, Deanna?” I asked,
meeting those dark, knowing eyes for the third and final time.

“I believe I have,” she said with a smile that was neither wry
nor ironic, yet filled with the joy of exploration and the moral
of lessons well received.

“I knew you would.”

The End