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Stating the Obvious

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He says: Counselor? What do you sense?

More than once, I've wanted to say: Well, Captain, he just called us 'Earth scum' and threatened to blow us to pieces… so, I'm not entirely sure. What do you sense?

I've never actually said that, or anything like it. It's only a passing fancy.

Perhaps it was because the creatures we met on the Farpoint mission so engaged my empathic sense, just as the captain was getting to know my abilities, but sometimes I think he believes I'm a psychic rather than an empath. It's not magic, what I do, and although it comes naturally, it's not easy.

I thought about explaining this, in the first few weeks as we all got used to working with one another – I thought about telling him that it was unusual for a counselor to take this many bridge shifts, that my empathic sense becomes less useful at long range, and some races I can't read at all. I thought of telling him to trust his own senses – if you think they're hiding something, they probably are.

But then I thought – he's the captain, and what's more, he's the captain of Starfleet's flagship. If he wants things done a certain way, then Deanna Troi is not the person to tell him otherwise.

So I set to work. If the captain wants my insights, I should make damn sure that I have some, even if they are only the most obvious. I studied the psychology of the races whose minds were closed to me, learned the nuances of their body language and facial expressions. I can't sense a Ferengi's thoughts, but I can still tell you what he's thinking. I practised extending the range of my abilities, and focusing more tightly on deception, doubt, anything that could affect a mission. Sometimes I give my patients exercises to help them articulate their emotions – I do them myself, too, so that I can more precisely explain my impressions to the captain.

Still, most of the time it makes little difference. Most of the time all I can do is confirm what he already sees. And I know it doesn't help much. But I also know that, once in a while, I can tell him something he doesn't know, and it can change the whole course of the mission. And those are the times that count.