"Come on, Will, blow out the candles, unless of course now you‘re REALLY old you haven‘t got enough puff anymore!"
The roar of laughter rocked the room and even Will laughed along heartily, glancing around at the group of people that surrounded him, wishing him well. Friends, each and every one of them.
His Captain, a man that Will could only look up to and admire, and admire he did. Jean-Luc Picard was Will‘s ultimate aspiration, his life‘s goal. His life. But more than that now, William Riker wanted to be just like his mentor. Once Will had wanted to rule the universe, to be the best Captain that ever was, but no longer. He‘d learned a long time ago that there could be no better Captain than the one that stood before him; Proud and sincere; A good friend. The best.
His eyes rested briefly on the woman beside him. Her blue eyes alight with merriment and mirth, and it hadn't taken Will long to know that Beverly Crusher was the instigator behind this surprise party, she usually was. She liked nothing better than being in the middle of chaos, especially when she had created it, if only to laugh at the end of it all. Will also mildly wondered if she created these small society meetings so that she could put the Captain in an atmosphere of neutrality, the only place where he seemed to let down his guard, even if it was only briefly, but it was usually long enough to satisfy her craving to see the real Jean-Luc Picard.
Geordi‘s enormous grin lit up the room, the light bouncing off his visor adding to the illusion that he was larger than life. Hell, Geordi La Forge WAS larger than life and Will was immensely proud of the Chief Engineer and what he had achieved in his life and the friends he had made along the way, everyone of which admired and adored him as much as he.
But no one adored him as much as the android standing beside him with a tight-lipped easy grin, his yellow eyes taking in everything he saw, intent on learning everything and anything. Everything that could and would make him feel more at home with his fellow man. Will wondered how long it would be before Data finally realised that he was home, and that he was one of them, he always was and always would be. Data was a very special person.
Will smirked at the giant man trying to hide behind his fellow crewmates, clearly not comfortable being there, but knowing he was part of the family, one way or another. Worf, Klingon warrior, true friend and caretaker, the only man that Will could trust to take care of the woman beside him. The one woman that meant the world to Will. The one woman that he would love, ever love or want to love.
Will‘s eyes rested on her a little longer than the others as he watched her laugh up into Worf‘s face at the joke that Geordi had just emitted. The spark of envy that flitted through him was so brief it was barely noticeable to all those others that surrounded him, urging him on to blow out the forty plus candles upon the huge cream cake. Taking a deep breath, Will‘s eyes met hers as he prepared to blow, making the wish as he did so. Seconds later with a raucous round of applause, Will made short work of the numerous candles, watching with satisfaction as the plumes of smoke rose from the extinguished flames.
Will sat quietly, the music gently soothing him as he let the evening‘s events slip through his mind, leaving him with a deep sense of well-being. The door‘s chime surprised him, but he was unsure why. He knew that she was on the other side, but the question was why. She had only left him some thirty minutes or so ago, Will could still feel her lingering chaste kiss on his lips; the kiss of a friend. Beverly‘s kiss had been slightly more exuberant, no doubt to stir up the Captain a little more than anything.
But none of that mattered now as he came to a stand and prepared himself to come face to face with the woman of his dreams. The woman of his wishes. Will didn‘t hear the hushed husky thrill in his voice as he answered the chime, "Come in."
She stepped through the doors basked in a halo of light from the corridor behind. It outlined her willowy figure, hiding her features in the shadows as she stood in the centre of the room, only lit by a soothing amber glow from a single lamp.
Will was unsure of her intent, not wanting to be presumptuous, or forward. Nor did he want her to see his need. His quiet ‘Hello‘ he hoped was neutral, but he‘d forgotten his eyes, and his heart. Will Riker might just as well had spouted his undying love out aloud for what good his pretence at being otherwise had done. Deanna Troi read him like an open book.
She stepped towards him, her eyes never leaving his, "Hello Will, I‘ve come to make your birthday wish come true."
Will‘s eyes dropped to her mouth and then lower before coming back to rest upon her ebony eyes once more. "How do you know what I wished for, its supposed to be secret."
She made another step towards him, bringing him within an inch or two from her. She looked up into his face; a face that mirrored her desire, "I know all your secrets, Will, and I know what you wished for tonight. I‘m here to grant you that wish."
Will held his breath, "You are?"
She stood on tiptoe and touched her lips to his, "I am."
Will lifted his arms and rested his huge hands upon her shoulders, the question in his eyes hovered between them, "Tell me...tell me what I wished for tonight, Imzadi."
Deanna placed her small frame against his larger one, circling his waist with her arms, her tiny smile lighting up her beautiful features as he continued to look into his, "You wished to be surrounded by your family and friends for your next birthday." Will gasped with surprise. It was true, it was what he had wished for; to be in the same place surrounded by the same people, his family and friends. But Deanna continued talking over his scattered thoughts,
"You will always have your friends, but in order to have a family, Will you have to create one, and to do that you have to have a relationship. I want to be your family, Imzadi. I want to make your wish come true. Marry me, Will."
And in that moment as Will swept Deanna up into his arms, he realised that this was what he had wanted all along. Everything he had ever wanted and desired was here on this ship and in his arms. Wishes did come true after all.