Deanna Troi stood on the jutting edge of a rocky outcropping, idly brushing back long hair from her face as the jungle breeze swirled lightly through the open glade around her. It was heading into high summer here now, and her skin was damp with perspiration and the rising steam from the Falls that rolled across the deep lake in front of her. She came here often, always alone and always without mentioning it to her mother. Lwaxana Troi would not approve of her daughter's excursions, of that she was sure.
The breeze picked up, touching at the edges of her long dress: with a tired sigh, Deanna tucked her skirts into one hand and started back up the bank of the lake. The jungle still called to her, for a myriad of reasons she could hardly put words to herself, and the Falls was a beautiful place to rest without going far enough to get lost. She could reach here and be back at the city within a day, with still enough time to sit and contemplate her thoughts. It gave her a place to be alone, to relax enough to drop the shields she kept around her mind from day to day in the mentally-charged atmosphere of the city, and to finally indulge those thoughts which, although they might be tolerated now, were much better avoided in her mother's presence. Thoughts of finishing her degree, of Starfleet, of the exciting galaxy waiting for her... and most of all, of the young lieutenant whose all-too-brief visit had finally opened her mind to the many possibilities that now lay before her.
Lwaxana would insist that dwelling on such things was pointless, of course. That was a large proportion of the reason Deanna found herself out at the Falls so often these days. The place was her refuge, a wonderful escape from the confines of the Troi mansion which still threatened to suffocate her with exhausting regularity. She had begun to understand, very quickly after Will's departure, why she had spent so much of her life obeying her mother's every thought - because it was simply too draining to do otherwise. She had thought, or at least hoped, that things between them would change after their dramatic confrontation, but Lwaxana was still the artful master of the brush-off when it came to discussing Deanna's wishes. And with Will gone back to his freedom among the stars, the months that passed had seen Deanna slowly fall back into her mother's orbit. Her psychology degree would keep her planet-bound for another two years at least, and Lwaxana was nothing if not persistent when it came to what was 'best' for her daughter. She still believed Deanna's thoughts of Starfleet to be an idle fantasy; or, at the most, a notion that could easily be remedied by the constant reminder of her social 'obligations'. Truth be told, all Deanna was reminded of was her constant need to scream whenever she set foot in her mother's house.
She reached the top of the outcrop, turning once more to look back at the Falls behind her as she shrugged her bag onto one shoulder. The sun was beginning to touch the trees on the far side of the lake, although the jungle would not lose so much as a few degrees in heat when it did finally set, but it did remind her of the time. There were classes tomorrow, and if she were late enough to worry her mother there would be no end of it for at least a week. Wondering if anything in her life would ever be done without the constant hovering presence of her mother's psyche, Deanna let out a deep sigh and started along her well-worn trail back to the city.
It wasn't that Lwaxana really intended to make her unhappy, she reasoned with herself as she walked. It was simply that she believed so solidly in her own happiness that it seemed impossible to her that Deanna could want something so different to what her own mother had given her. And Deanna was as sure as her half-Human talents could make her that Lwaxana still blamed Lieutenant William T. Riker for her newly-discovered wanderlust.
The thought of Will gave her such an odd sensation for an
instant that she paused in her brisk pace along the path, glancing around
quickly as if she might see him stroll out of the bushes to take her in his
arms. It was a strange, almost primal feeling, there and gone so quickly that
she had barely enough time to register it, but the sensation still shook her. It
had not been a feeling of alarm, or surprise, but more gentle than those sharp
emotions... there was a distinct warmth, a closeness she should never have felt
with him so far away. There was a definite, tangible sense to it that could not
be ignored, and despite her destination and the 'obligations' awaiting her
arrival, Deanna Troi found herself smiling all the way to her mother's door.