An Unstable Factor

by D. Destiny

"Come in."

He sounds defeated, more defeated than I've ever known him to sound. I'm sure he knows who I am, after all who else would drop by in a time like this? I also know what he thought when the order came through, or what he's thinking now. And I can't blame him. The doors slid open and I step inside. His quarters are dark and quiet, much like his mind. Even though I have no reason to, I still hesitate.

"Counselor, have a seat." The lights flash on and my eyes fall on the man standing at the window. His feelings are very clear; they would be even for a non-empath. His attempt to hide his fury is very successful, yet not successful enough for me. The other emotions flow through me like boiling blood for he does not attempt to hide them. His self-loathing, resignation, guilt, defeat and even blame. Not on himself, but on me. I had expected no less, I had hoped though. The worse thing is however his doubt. He is doubting himself while he has not a single reason to feel that way. I wait for him to turn around and to sit down. He makes no move to do so, but I know he will. And thus I wait for that is part of my job.

After a while he turns around, runs a hand over his head and manages a slight smile. A smile that sadly enough lacks the confidence he usually portrays. He literally falls down in his chair as he begins to speak.

"The Neutral Zone, Deanna. The Federation is at war, and they send us to the damn Neutral Zone."

"So I've heard." His eyes lock on mine, my response confused him even angered him. But I stay neutral, for that too is my job. "You want to fight, resist." My pick of words doesn't surprise him, at least not in the way that he didn't expect him, for he did. He is surprised though that I used the word. Like I expected him to, he alters his position not yet willing to acknowledge what he already knows.

"Isn't that natural for a Starfleet officer?"

"Wanting to fight, running the risk to get injured or killed is never natural, Captain."

He smiles at my words, philosophy always attracted him. "But it is natural for one to want to protect that which he has build on for entire life?"

Now I smile, I hadn't expected any other answer from this man. "It is."

We regard each other for a few moment, giving him the time to reflect on the steps taken, giving myself the time to think about the steps to take. My decision is one quickly made. I take a deep breath, ordering myself not to become nervous.

"You're blaming me."

His head snaps up, what I see in his eyes is something I don't like. "No!... Yes... in a way."

"Captain, I understand. There's no need to feel guilty."

He shakes his head, as if to deny my words. "There is, Deanna. It's not your fault that we're stuck here. You've been an invaluable member of this crew. It is unfair of me to blame you." My eyes never leave his as he stands up and walks over to me.

"It is..." His emotions are almost touchable. His guilt, denial and anger are overwhelming. "...But it isn't more than human."

Immediately his features soften as he realizes the truth in my statement. "I am sorry, Deanna, but I cannot help it." When he sits down he takes a hold of my hand and squeezes it apologetic, I squeeze back and smile encouraging. Hoping to make him feel more at ease.


"Well... your reports were received by Starfleet Command two weeks ago. By now, they have reviewed them."

"And you think that I told them you were mentally unfit for battle?"

His guilt is growing, his anger and defeat is fortunately diminishing. "Well... yes. During your evaluation, you kept asking me about the Borg, the Cardessian, battles."

I choose to withdraw my hand and to stand up. My action makes him worried and scared. He thinks he has insulted me. "I did. It is my job to make certain that you can handle a battle. I asked you those questions a month ago, as I asked them seven months ago. The questions will be adapted every six months, but basically I have asked them sixteen times in the last eight years. And for as long as I am your counselor, I will continue to ask them."

He buries his head in his heads, silently agreeing with my words. "You're right, of course. And I know that, but still there is a part of me..."

"Captain, why do you think Starfleet Command has ordered us to stay at the Neutral Zone?" I sit down and once again lock my gaze with his. For a moment he looks away.

"Because they think that I won't be able to stay objective when I'm confronted by the Borg."

"What else?"

"I... I don't know."

"Why would Command think that you're not stable enough to engage the Borg?" It will take a while before he'll answer. Oh, he knows what he's going to say, he's simply too ashamed to say it.

"Because...your report gave them enough grounds."

"Would that be justified?"

His sigh is harsh and very audible. "Deanna, you're Starfleet's top psychologist. Of course that would be justified."


"That's not what I meant." I study his features, he looks more radiant than he did during the briefing. Rested surprisingly enough. The nightmares that bothered him do not seem to have affected him, but I know they have.

"Yes. Yes, they'd be justified. Hell, I don't even know if I can stay objective were we to engage the Borg. But the Fleet needs us. And if you suggest that I let Will take over command to fight this battle, then I will do so without hesitation. But this battle needs to be fought and won, Counselor, or there will be no future for us."

I smile, broadly and whole heartedly. His anger and defeat are gone, being replaced by pride, confidence and battle-readiness. He's talking again like the Captain we known and trust.

"Has it occurred to you that maybe Starfleet keeps you here because they fear that if you're captured, there will be no one left to fight them? That they will succeed in what they started at Wolf 357?"

He's considering my words, but I give him no time to respond. I walk to the door and open them. But before I leave...

"Jean-Luc..." My using of his first name draws his attention. "...My report never said that you weren't stable enough for battle. Nor did mine or anyone's mind on this ship ever believe otherwise."

The look on his face is priceless and possibly more important to me than the titles I've earned through the years. For he is, besides my Captain, also my friend.

"Thank you, Deanna. For believing in me."

I smile back and watch the doors close before I turn and head to my quarters to prepare myself for battle.

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What people are saying about this story:

From Tiger Girl:
Good work! This should have been in the movie!

From NixNivis:
This was a thing of beauty! It is beautifully written, and you've captured the characters of Troi and Picard perfectly. Wonderful!!

From Telana:
That's a nicely written story. Fits well in context too!

From nukerliu:
hmmmmm... interesting... i like...

From Oszras:
Awesome story line and great writing. You kept Picard and Troi's characters real. Again, wonderful writing!

From Kaitz:
Good story, good writing! :)