Within The Heart

By Stephanie

Pretend there is a disclaimer here. Really, there is one. It is just in a very small font and also in invisible type.

(This story doesn't deal with Riker and Troi but it does deal with Troi)

August 25, 2003


"Mommy, what are you doing?"

Lwaxana froze when she heard the little voice behind her.

"Daddy isn't going to be happy when he finds out you are going through all his things."

She turned to face the tiny, dark-haired child.

"It's okay, Little One. Your daddy asked for his things, so I am sending them to him."

Little Deanna went up to the box and peered into it.

"Does he really need everything?" She glanced up at her mother with large, dark inquisitive eyes. Inside the depth of those obsidian pools, Lwaxana could see the child sensed something wasn't right. She could feel the pressure of tears begin to build up behind her eyes and tried to keep them from spilling, but failed when they spilled anyway. She tried to turn away before her daughter could see them, but she realized she had failed when a little hand entwined into hers.

"Mommy, what is wrong? Where is Daddy?"

The sweet, little voice made her sob. She knelt down and pulled Deanna into her arms, stroking the child's long, curly dark hair. "Oh Little One," she choked out. "Daddy had an accident. He was hurt very badly."

She felt the small body pull away from her and she looked into the tiny face that stared back at her.

"Isn't he coming back home so we can take care of him?"

Lwaxana couldn't help but smile slightly over such an innocent question. She shook her head, cupping the child's cherubic cheeks in her hands. "No, Deanna. Daddy is never coming home."

A confused look came over the small face. "Why not?"

Lwaxana sighed sadly, more tears forming in her dark eyes. "He is dead, baby. We are never going to see Daddy ever again."

Huge tears filled Deanna's eyes and dripped down to her trembling chin. "No!" She screamed, backing away from her mother. "It isn't true! He is coming back! He is! Daddy would never leave me!"
Before Lwaxana could comfort the child, the little girl turned and fled from the room, sobbing inconsolably. She stared at the door her daughter had disappeared through then slowly turned back to the box, gazing sadly into it.

"Oh, Ian!" She exclaimed, a hint of anger and frustration in her voice. "Why did you have to leave us?"

All the loneliness, pain and anger she had kept pent up inside ever since hearing of her husband's untimely death, hit her all at once, knocking her to the floor in a sobbing heap.

When she awoke, it was morning. A moan escaped her lips as she moved her poor cramped limbs from the fetal position she had curled up into. The first thing her eyes focused on was the box, the box that held all of her husband's treasured possessions. There was something next to it. It was another box, but a little smaller. Lwaxana crawled the short distance to it and pulled the flaps open. Inside she saw a bunch of stuffed toys, dolls and colorful hair ribbons. Tears misted her eyes as she picked up a worn stuffed cat and pressed it to her cheek. It was Deanna's favorite of all her toys. Ian had given it to her when she was a baby.

Before she could place it back, she heard small footsteps behind her and turned to see a tousled haired Deanna enter the room.

"You think Daddy will like them, Mommy?" The child asked noticing the cat in her mother's hands.

Lwaxana held her arms out in front of her and Deanna came into them.

"I saw him last night, Mommy," the little girl explained. "I told him that I was giving him all my toys so he can remember me and he told me he could never forget me."

"Oh, Little One," Lwaxana began, tightening her hold on her daughter. "Daddy will always be with you, and he will always love you. You are his baby girl."

Deanna pulled back slightly and looked into her mother's face with wide eyes sparkling with excitement. "He said he would always be right here." A tiny finger pointed to a tiny chest, then a small hand pressed against a mother's breast. "And in here."

"Yes, baby," Lwaxana whispered against the soft, dark head. "He will always be within our hearts."