Too High a Price

Counselor Deanna Troi sat in her office, basking in its all too fleeting silence. The war between the Federation and the Dominion was finally over. Her job, on the other hand, was just beginning. There will be many officers who have lost loved ones to comfort, and those who have not heard from family members in a long time will be seeking solace.

Troi closed her eyes and exhaled slowly. She was grateful she had the opportunity to work near the people she held dear. Given the losses Starfleet had suffered she wondered how long she would still be able to enjoy that luxury. Good officers were going to be needed elsewhere.

Deanna took in a deep breath and released it slow and deliberate. How would I handle the loss of Beverly, Geordi, Data, Captain Picard, or… She shook her head. Stop it. She rebuked herself. No one person has the ability to control every circumstance, so worrying about such things is futile; Troi thought to herself. Therefore, you need to make the most of the time you have. At that precise moment her door chime sounded.

“Come” and the door opened at her command to reveal Commander Riker. Before he was able to say anything or even step into Troi’s office, she was up and holding him in a tight embrace.

“That answers my question.” Will said as he made Deanna step back in order for the door to close. Then he pulled from her embrace and lifted her chin to look in her eyes. “How are you holding up, Counselor?”

Troi managed a wry smile. “I’m alright. I was just thinking how fortunate I am.”

Riker walked over to the sofa and took a seat. He looked over at Troi, standing by the door. "You know it's possible to get too caught up in the emotions of others, and you’ve been awfully quiet, lately. Are you sure you’re alright?”

Deanna sat down next to Will and took a hold of his hand. “I know the war is over and we’ve won. It just doesn’t feel like much of a victory with all the losses we’ve suffered and the amount of people still unaccounted for.”

Will reached up with his other hand and caressed Deanna’s cheek. “Sometimes the price we pay for our freedom is extravagant.” He smiled. “How would we know how sacred it is without it?” He asked.

Deanna returned Will’s smile and allowed his feeling of well being to flow through her. “I don’t know.” She answered and pulled his hand to her lips, softly kissing his palm. “But I don’t want to lose you.”

Will’s smile grew larger. “I’m not going anywhere.”

Deanna placed Will’s hand in her lap. “You know what I mean, Will.”

Will looked down at the hand Deanna had wrapped around his and clasped it tighter. “We can’t predict the future, Deanna.”

Troi got up and walked over to the viewport. She stared out at the stars, trying to prevent the tears that were welling up from falling. “Knowing that and dealing with it are two different things. Especially when you have developed feelings for a fellow officer.” She said and shut her eyes tight.

Will walked up behind her and squeezed her shoulders. “Well then maybe you shouldn’t develop feelings for fellow officers.”

Deanna let out a small guffaw and felt a tear roll down her cheek. She turned around and looked at Will. Her eyes were still glassy; however, a small twinkle appeared. “And how, pray tell, do I do that, Commander?”

Will shook his head. “When I figure it out, I’ll let you know.” He lifted her chin once more and placed a tender kiss to her lips.

Troi pulled away and went over to the sofa again, keeping her back towards Riker. “Do you love me?”

Riker gave Troi’s back an incredulous stare. “You know the answer to that.”

Deanna spun on Will and shot him a fiery glare. “It’s not the same as hearing it, Will.”

Riker stepped up to Troi. “I love you.” He said and hugged her. Deanna’s tears began to flow freely. “Why did you say that.” She choked between sobs.

Will ran his hand through her hair and down her back. What he wouldn’t give to understand women better. “You asked me to.”

Deanna pulled away, sniffling, and sat herself on the sofa. “Yes. But now if anything were to happen to you, all I’ll be able to do is play this moment over and over, making me feel miserable.”

This time, Will came over and sat beside her, taking a hold of her hand; he said; “Deanna, would you stop with the what ifs. We can’t control every aspect of our lives, so why worry yourself about it?”

Deanna looked into Will’s eyes, her own still filled with tears. “You wouldn’t leave Starfleet if I asked?”

Will laughed. “No.”

“I didn’t think so.”

“Neither would you.” Will countered.

Deanna managed a small smile. “As if you worry about me so much.”

Riker gave her a look of loving concern. “Don’t I?”

Troi returned a look of puzzlement.

“Don’t you think there are nights I lie awake worrying about your safety and whether you will think something through carefully before acting?”

Troi shook her head in disbelief. “You never seem to...”

Riker let out a long sigh and looked down to take a hold of Deanna’s other hand. “I don’t talk to people about their feelings everyday; which probably affords me the ability to hide my own easier. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have any, Deanna.” He looked back up into Troi’s dark eyes. They were so beautiful and deep with emotion. Will knew he would never be able to express his emotions as readily as Deanna did, and he wondered if that was fair to her. “I do love you, Imzadi, and worry about you everyday. But neither fact will change who you are or the decisions you make, so I keep myself satisfied with the knowledge that you will do whatever you think is best. Whether that means your safe return or.” Will broke off, swallowing hard.

Deanna felt hot tears rolling down her cheeks again. She did not realize Will cared for her so much or trusted in her so deeply. She tried to give him a smile, but was too befuddled by his confession. "Thank you." She managed and felt Will wipe away her tears.

“Now if you don’t mind, I can only take so much of this touchy, feely nonsense.” He said, standing up. “And I’m supposed to be on the bridge, now.”

Deanna smiled up at him, already feeling better than a short time ago. “That’s alright. I have an appointment scheduled in a few minutes, and it wouldn’t be good if the person saw that the first officer was able to reduce the counselor to a blubbering idiot.”

Will returned her smile. “I won’t tell if you don’t.” He replied and leaned down to kiss the top of her head. Then he turned and left Troi alone in her office.

Troi walked over to her desk and grabbed some tissues to wipe away the tears. She knew they wouldn’t be the last where Will Riker was concerned, but knowing he shared the same concerns about her made her worries easier to bear.