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Daphne Moon had always had trouble with the natural empathic talent that was supposed to come to Betazoid women like herself. She wanted to be good at it more than anything- her mother had always used her stronger powers for malicious reasons, and Daphne in turn aspired to use whatever she would develop to help others. Her grandmother had even said that the Moon women were going to be noted in historical records for their unique mental advancements. The elder was convinced they could pick up on little things that even the most trained of their species could not. Of course, Grammy was wrong about most things, but it still gave Daphne hope that someday she would be that girl in the books.

To her resignation, however, she never quite got the hang of even the basic abilities. Even as she grew, she was constantly getting her thoughts mixed up, and when she wasn’t she had trouble mentally reading any emotion that wasn’t already staring her in the face.

At first, these problems were blamed on her loud older brothers who were constantly roaming the house and contaminating everyone’s minds. Then the school counselor told her that her parents’ shaky relationship was to blame, and later, the fault shifted solely to her mother’s sour attitude. But she had moved out as soon as she was old enough (though that didn’t stop her from receiving a sea of angry transmissions from her childhood home), and yet still found herself unsuccessful. Even months of training sessions and study didn’t seem to help.

Eventually, Daphne realized that she would just have to settle for a more realistic dream. ‘Helping people’ was broad and childish, anyway. After college, she distanced herself from the Betazoid culture she had tried so desperately to cling to and instead focused on adapting to a more human way of life. Most people already assumed she was at least half-human, so she figured it wouldn’t be much of a stretch.
It was still difficult at first- for a while she kept trying to guess people’s thoughts purely out of habit- but unlike her empath training, it eventually paid off. Those mismatched snippets of feelings still wove through her mind at times, but they only got easier to ignore, and eventually being surrounded by the full gamut of powers she had missed out on didn’t bother her in the slightest.

However, with this choice came a flurry of occupations coming and going, as her new philosophy didn’t entirely work with Betazed’s way of life. But she didn’t mind the instability. The only question was whether it was because she was truly figuring herself out, or because she didn’t want to grapple with where her life was going.

Really, though, things weren’t that bad. She might not have had the fairy-tale life she dreamed of, but she was still positively affecting the world in other ways. She took on every job with a smile, she had a handful of friends, and all things considered, learning how to solve problems and forge relationships as humans would was surely something to be proud of. But something was still missing. She had long since put dreams behind her, but as time passed, she knew she would never be entirely happy staying where she was. There had to be a happy medium.

That’s when she decided to move to a space station. She figured the best way to let herself grow and to feed that desire to help was to go abroad, not just to another country but outside the planet amongst countless species, beliefs, and dreams all intermingling. Not only that, but she’d have even more distance from her headache of a family- her old counselor would be proud of her, she thought. Truthfully, she was a little afraid that this move was just an attempt to prove to Mother that she could make something of herself- that maybe all this time she had been incapable of making any decision solely for her own sake, and she would be forever seen as a spineless underachiever running away from her problems.

God, how could she pride herself on learning to perceive things about other people’s lives when she didn’t even know where her own was going?

And on top of the personal baggage…what about war? There were rumors of Federation conflict circling most of their properties. She could find herself in a situation she was entirely unprepared for, and her dreams and impulses would end up killing her.

But another part of her fought back, wise to the excuses.

There were always a million reasons not to do something. If she wanted to be there for others, that was her prerogative. It was, at its furthest, Grammy Moon’s love for her granddaughter. Not a mother’s scorn.

And there were always rumors when it came to the Federation. Everyone knew that. Besides, the bases themselves were well-prepared and attacks on them, especially successful ones, were almost unheard of. Sure, it might be scary, but now was as good a time as any, and she knew she would regret not taking the chance.

-

Aboard Starbase 93, Daphne realized she was an outcast in both worlds.

Her true nature was even more hidden now, that was for certain. It was only after she would go on a rambling story about how her mother would read her thoughts during supper that others would notice her pitch-black irises. It was nice, not being expected to be the empath or the mind-reader. But she didn’t really fit in with humans, or anyone else for that matter, either. Her anecdotes usually only gained her confused looks, and the Starfleet officers assigned to the station would suddenly end up busy upon her approach, faces glued to PADDs.

The saga of her employment wasn’t faring much better. She had transitioned to a steady career in physical therapy both out of necessity aboard the station and her own ambition, and she was good at it. Great, even. But most of the crewmen she was hired to help let her go quickly, and once her name gained recognition sometimes it would be weeks before she would even get an offer at all. She supposed she didn’t take on the cases to be liked, but she couldn’t help feeling like maybe her fears had been right after all.

When she heard about an accident that had occurred in her new place of residency, her first thought was perhaps a selfish fear that her new home was in jeopardy. She had no idea it would be the start of yet another new chapter- though not in a way she had ever expected.

Apparently, the (now former) chief constable aboard the starbase had had an unpleasant run-in on the job. Severe phaser injury, she had overheard a crewman say. The CMO had patched him up fine, but he would require further care to make sure things stayed that way. Daphne quickly responded to this call- she assumed it would be yet another swift termination if she even got the job at all, but work was work and she wasn’t in any position to argue simply because of morals.

She had never been more thankful for that desperation.

Her interview was certainly not perfect. She was the last one in, and the constable’s exasperated son, Frasier, seemed to have free reign over the questions. Of course, like most Federation men, he hadn’t been too keen on her eccentricities, even her most professional responses evoking sharp intakes of air. But Martin, the client himself, was a good man- and most importantly, he liked Daphne. Those eccentricities transformed into charm in his presence… unless he was watching a game and didn’t want to be disturbed.

And so, father’s word overruling son’s, she got the job.

It was certainly the best case she’d had yet. Finally, she had found a place she could say she belonged! Martin wasn’t one for sap, but she knew she had found a family, too. Even Frasier was growing to respect her. It couldn’t be more perfect.

-

One quiet afternoon, the doors to the Crane quarters slid open, and a young man in a science uniform stepped in. Daphne assumed this was the brother Frasier had mentioned a few times in passing, but she knew nothing about him besides the teal fabric signaling his profession. She had never even seen him around the station- for a while she almost believed Frasier had been making him up. But here he was in the flesh, talking of favors and reservations and-

They made eye contact as he passed by, and suddenly he seemed to stop in his tracks. Frasier rushed to his sibling’s side and gestured politely in her direction.

“Oh, Daphne, this is my brother Niles.”

“…You’re Daphne?” Niles said, passing Frasier and offering her a hand. His eyes were a soft blue, focused gently on her own.

“Yes, I am. It’s nice to meet you!”

“And I you,” he cleared his throat and paused for a moment as if regrouping his thoughts, which were silent to her at this moment. “Um, if I might ask, are you from Betazed? I’ve always wanted to travel there.”

“What?” Daphne really didn’t need to ask. She had heard him. But the response remained, reflexive and empty.

“Oh, I apologize if-”

“No, you’re right! I’m sorry, I’m just not used to people figuring it out. How’d you know?” She waited for him to explain that he was pulling her leg, that Frasier had relayed the information- Daphne hadn’t spilled out all of her winding backstory just yet, but ‘where are you from’ had been first on Frasier’s defensive questionnaire and if anyone had reason to blab about her, it was him. Niles had already known her name, anyway.

“Those black eyes.”

Oh.

“Usually people just see them as really dark brown.” She smiled.

“Well, I have an eye for...” He trailed off, realizing what an awful pun he had just made. “Sorry. that was bad.”

“I’d say you do. Not many people pay attention when it comes to me. You see, I’ve got this nasty habit of getting everyone’s thoughts all mixed up.” It was funny- she already felt close to the other two men who occupied the room, but this was the first time she had felt so bold upon meeting someone.

“I doubt that will be an issue here. Frankly speaking, these quarters are a bit single-minded.”

“Then I’ll cross my fingers you don’t have anything to hide, Dr. Crane.”

And with that, Frasier pulled the lieutenant back into their high-class bubble, leaving Daphne to her devices. She didn't have anything more to say, but she wished he could have stayed a bit longer if only so they could lock eyes again. As she mulled this over on the way back to her own room, a wave of emotion suddenly tugged at the back of her mind like a thought held in the middle of the night. She couldn’t put a name to what the feeling was, per se, but it was there, stronger than she had ever felt before. Her worldview was shattered in an instant. She stood there in shock, a hand to her temple, but when the men asked her what was wrong she simply dismissed it. There was no use when the sensation was already indescribable.

Fighting to retrace her steps, she looked out the door to make sure no one was walking by and throwing her off.

There wasn’t.

And Frasier and Martin had been pursuing their usual routines, mentally quiet and very distinct. So that only left…

But as soon as the thought occurred, she turned to her left and saw the constable’s dog had recently begun a staring contest against a portrait of Dr. Crane (the other one). She didn’t have much experience with reading pets, but she knew they had very passionate feelings in all regards. If this was how she responded to them, maybe she could be a pet psychic on the side and have the best of both worlds.

She would have to figure that part out later, but the thought made her smile. It was, after all, the easiest explanation to accept.