It’s been a long fifteen years since TNG first aired. In “Encounter at Farpoint,” most of the bridge crew were kids in their early- to mid-twenties. Geordi, Tasha, Deanna, and Worf started out as lieutenants– only one rank up from ensign.
The characters we saw each week were always professional and capable officers, but their personalities changed drastically over the series. Riker came to realize that advancing his career wasn’t the only worthwhile endeavor in life. If you recall the pilot, you’ll remember Troi’s faux pas while on duty, leading us to believe that serving on the flagship of the fleet was new to her. In this story, I’m assuming that the Enterprise was Troi’s first deep space tour.
This story picks up directly after the first season episode “Angel One,” the first episode after the pilot to acknowledge the Riker/Troi relationship. At this early stage of the game, the writers were still toying with the idea of putting Riker and Troi together. The idea never panned out and was abandoned (until Insurrection) by the second season, leaving plot holes and inconsistencies. Why did Will and Deanna seem to be headed towards romance in the first couple of episodes, but by the second season were just friends? What happened to change their interests in each other? “Angel One” could have been an opportunity for the writers to give the fans answers to these questions.
“It’s All Fun and Games ‘Til Someone Gets a Broken Heart”
I can’t believe it, Deanna thought as she finally reached her quarters. She had felt like the mission would never be finished; her quarters had seemed twice as far from the transporter room than they used to be. He had been there, walking behind her. Deanna hadn’t said a non-work-related word to Will – Commander Riker— since that— that president-woman, that tyrannical, egomaniacal . . . Deanna’s thoughts dissipated and she sighed. I won’t think about this right now, she decided. I’ll just shower and go to bed. I have bridge duty in eight hours. I’m a Starfleet officer on the flagship of the fleet now; I can’t behave like a love-lorn cadet.
Determinedly, Deanna put her feet in motion towards the shower, pulling off her shoes as she went. “Compartment three-c open,” she told the computer and obediently her shoe-compartment hissed out of the wall, allowing her to throw her boots into it. “Compartment three-c close,” she commanded.
“Unable to comply,” the computer responded.
“Why?” she snapped.
“Compartment blocked,” was the reply.
Deanna glanced at it. One of her boots had landed askewed and was peeking over the top. Feeling her throat tighten and anger build in her chest, Deanna went into her sonic shower and let the damned drawer remain agape.
Deanna leaned against the closed door took a breath. I will not cry over a jammed compartment. I will shower and go to bed.
She undressed, leaving her clothes in a heap on the floor, and loosened her hair from its severe upsweep. The cut ends of ebony curls brushing her shoulders still made her back feel bare, exposed.
As she picked up her brush and untangled a few snarls, an idle memory came back to Deanna. Sitting in the transport full of other new Enterprise crew, she was surrounded by women whose hair was coifed in short, functional bobs. None of the other women wore their hair like Deanna’s, in the hip-length, unruly style that was popular on Betazed. It was the first time in Deanna’s life that she felt . . . simple. Hayseed. Someone on the transport asked me if Betazed has an agricultural-based economy. Deanna’s first stroll through the Enterprise had been a trip to the salon.
Deanna extinguished the unpleasant train of thought and stepped under the sonic-emitter.
We walked in and that president came out of her bedroom. Around the curtain I could see a man there on the bed, but I didn’t know it was him. The last person in the world I expected it to be was Will.
Deanna grabbed a glittering, iridescent washcloth from where she’d hung it after her shower last night. She stared, transfixed, as sonic vibrations turned circles of red cloth to blue, the color expanding as more sonic waves assaulted it. The last time I used this, my entire life was different. Deanna stared until the entire cloth had been corrupted.
That look on his face . . . when she, Data, and Tasha walked in on him and that president, the sudden shift in Will’s emotional “aura” was almost tangible. His face was a portrait of apology—But not remorse, she thought. There hadn’t been a drop of remorse at all. Though he was decent enough to regret hurting me. Even when the away mission suddenly began to crumble before them, Will’s ice-blue eyes captured hers.
I hate this, she thought. I want to go home. I wish I had never applied to the Academy, and never heard the name “Will Riker.” She smacked the square labeled “Shower Off” so hard her palm smarted. Her skin immediately missed the soothing, vibrating sonic pulses.
Blinded by tears, Deanna stumbled into her bedroom and smacked her shin on the gaping compartment 3C. She cried out, more in frustration than pain, and fell like lead onto the bed. Deanna pulled her knees to her chest and gripped her throbbing shin. She didn’t suppress the sobs wracking her body.
“Computer, time,” she asked. Her voice sounded low and raspy.
“The time is oh-two-hundred.”
Deanna groaned. I’ve been lying here for hours. I need to sleep. Please let me sleep! she begged her body.
She rolled over once more, kicking her bare legs free from the entangled covers, and folded her arms over her face. “This is pointless,” she muttered. “Computer, music off.” The music she’d turned on an hour ago had failed to relax her and instead made her feel maudlin and lonesome.
She reached for the PADD containing the Jane Austin novel Captain Picard had recommended to her. If there’s anything that will make me sleepy . . . . Deanna turned on her side for ease of reading and turned on the PADD’s “glow” option so she could read with the lights off.
But her eyes kept jumping over the screen. The reflection of the stars zipping past the window behind her, lined from warp, was far more interesting.
Resigned, Deanna closed her eyes, weighed the positives and negatives, and made her decision. “Computer, location of Commander Riker?”
Deanna could sense from the turbolift that Will, too, was awake, and his thoughts were in as much tumult as hers were. She took guilty satisfaction from knowing this.
As she approached his door, her hand paused over the door chime. Do I really want to do this? She wondered. The alternative, of course, was to allow the awkwardness that had choked the rest of the away mission to continue on the bridge tomorrow, except elevated to twice as agonizing.
When Will finally responded to the door summons he was wearing pajamas, an open robe, and a startled expression. “Deanna,” he said.
“May I come in?” she asked.
“Um,” was his response. “It’s a little late. Can this wait until tomorrow?”
She stared at him pointedly, with composure she only wished originated from within. “You can’t sleep either,” she informed him.
Will paused, then bobbed his head. “Come in.”
“Thank you,” Deanna answered primly.
Before the door had shut behind her, Will started to speak. “Um, look, Deanna, I know what you saw looked bad. I –”
“Look, Will . . . save it. All I want from you is an explanation.”
Will padded barefoot across the room and settled into one of two facing armchairs. He gestured Deanna to the other one. “What do you mean?” he finally asked.
Regrettably, Deanna accepted his invitation to sit. “Why did you do it?” she demanded. “What did it mean?”
“Why does it have to mean anything?”
Deanna sagged into the utilitarian-made chair. “You can’t be serious.” What is he feeling? I can’t get a single clear reading from him.
“Deanna, what I did with her didn’t mean anything.”
“It didn’t mean anything,” Deanna repeated incredulously. “She was nothing to you.”
“Right,” Will answered with relief.
“Then how do I know that what we did last week meant anything?”
“And then he said, ‘maybe it didn’t,’ ” Deanna relayed to Tasha.
“Oh, Deanna . . .” Tasha said as tears welled in her friend’s eyes. “You don’t need that, Deanna. No one needs the Will Rikers in the world. I know it’s hard to believe sometimes, but there are men out there who wouldn’t put you through this torment.”
“No, you don’t understand, Tasha. He isn’t . . . he isn’t always like that. There’s more to Will than just being a starhop.” She invoked the term commonly used for heartbreakers.
“Look, I know Will can be charming and interesting, but he betrayed you,” Tasha insisted.
“He didn’t mean to hurt me,” Deanna protested, “he thought that that one time was, as he put it, ‘a couple of old friends saying hi.’ ”
“Reminds me of some men I’ve known,” Tasha murmured. “Sounds like he didn’t want to consider that it might have meant more to you. Because then he’d have to take some responsibility.” Despite her camaraderie with Riker, Tasha’s voice dripped with disdain.
“Probably,” Deanna conceded. “I’ve known Will for years. He was the reason I left Betazed and transferred to Starfleet Academy against my mother’s wishes.”
“Deanna,” Tasha interrupted, “do you seriously believe that if you had never met Will, you never once would have contradicted your mother? And you owe Will Riker something for that?”
Deanna’s eyes widened; her lips parted. “I do not believe that at all! He supported me through a difficult and tormented time in my life. He encouraged me to make decisions that contradicted my friends, my culture, and my mother.”
“Does that mean you are going to forgive him and try to make it work?” Tasha demanded.
“No,” Deanna replied. “Not at all. I just . . . I think what I want is not to cut Will out of my life completely over one incident. I think what I want to tell him is . . .” she paused, seeking the words.
“ ‘Let’s just be friends?’ ” Tasha prompted.
Deanna smiled and nodded.