Title: Is It Too Late?
Author: Christal

William Riker, first officer of the flagship of the Fleet, promoted for his
exceptional valor on the Nervala IV situation, on the path to becoming the
youngest Starfleet Captain, was lying down on the other side of the wall.
Though in reality he was merely five feet away, it seemed like five
light-years. She couldn’t believe that this was happening. It shouldn’t have
happened. How had they even found her?

Will was pensive, troubled. He seemed to be the only person she could sense.
She was so numb, outside and inside her mind. She could sense his inner
struggle to cope with the situation at hand. The news had come so suddenly
that not even she had been prepared. From the shock she received, she could
only imagine what he was going through.

//Why didn’t I just tell him? He had a right to know. We may no longer be
lovers, but as my friend he deserved to know. I was a coward. I though
perhaps if I had kept it a secret it would be kept locked far away, that it
couldn’t touch me. How could they understand anyway? Even now in society
it’s starting to become considered an old and pointless tradition. Had they
known, they would have thought less of me, regarded me with less respect for
following such primitive customs. How could he understand? //

She stopped packing and put her cheek against the wall, tears slipping down
her face. “I’ll never be the same again,” she realized, “From now on I’ll be
spending the rest of my life with a stranger, sharing my bed with someone
who isn’t my Imzadi.”

She let the tears come, not even bothering to wipe them away. They fell onto
the wall and trickled down. Later she would have to put on a visage of
happiness to appease everyone. Later she would have to set her mind and not
allow the tears to slip past her defenses. But for now, in the haven that
was her quarters, she was free to let her emotions take over, to get out the
frustration and desperation she felt. She walked over and fell onto her bed,
and slowly the emptiness took over again. She could feel it seeping into her
body, invading and conquering. It permeated throughout her whole being,
demanding to be allowed at her soul, her willpower. One minute she felt like
giving in and accepting her fate, the next she wanted to scream no, I won’t
let you win; he still loves me, he’ll stop this.

//But what if he doesn’t? I could have stopped this, but I haven’t. They
can’t force me into this marriage, but then what would it look like to
everyone back home. I will have disgraced the family name, mother would
become a laughing stock, we could even be stripped of our titles. I can’t
take that kind of a risk, not unless I was absolutely sure. If only he would
say something, give me some sort of sign. I could only defy my customs for
him; surely he knows that. //

The doorbell chimed, it was time. “Come,” she sighed.

“Little One! Why aren’t you ready yet? The ceremony is in an hour. I know I
said you should make an entrance, but being too late is just abhorring.
Deanna? Little One, are you all right?”

Deanna forced a smile, //might as well start now, it will make things easier
for her and everyone else. // “Yes mother, I’m fine. Just nervous I guess.

//Nervous, hell I’m practically at my wit’s end. Will he say anything? Will
he even go? Oh please don’t let his stubborn pride get in the way, // she
silently prayed as she starting packing again.

Lwaxana grabbed her hands and smiled, “Why don’t you let me do that. Go and
take a nice hot shower to relax. It will do you some good.”

Deanna had to smile at that, her mother, always looking out for her. “Thank
you,” she whispered.

As the hot water ran down her tensed muscles, Deanna’s thoughts ran rapid in
her mind. She tried to think of the upcoming wedding ceremony, she should be
happy to have someone as kind and loving as Wyatt for a husband. Any woman
should be so lucky. So why did she feel as if she were the unluckiest person
in the universe. Her thoughts drifted to Will, her Will. Well not hers
anymore, but she had hope that one day…

//I have to keep him out of my mind. He’s just making things worse. //

She tried to think about her future life with Wyatt. //Why? Why does it have
to be this way? Why me? Why now? I’m twenty-eight years old dammit, why did
they have to wait so long to trap me? //

She stopped herself. Trap her? Is that the way she was feeling? She had to
be reasonable. //Of course I’m not being trapped. I’m my own person, and if
I’m going to be married in half an hour than it will be by my own decision.

“And his…” she whispered to herself as tears silently slipped down her face
and mixed with the water.

Deanna walked into her bedroom and slipped on her robe as she sat down to
fix her hair. She looked at her image in the mirror, a pitiful plea in her
eyes begging her to just tell him how she felt.

//Maybe if you hurried you could catch him in his quarters and let him know
how you feel. He’s feeling the same way; he just needs that extra push. //

She looked past her image and found her mother staring at her wearily, with
a frown on her face. No, that was simply out of the question.

//He’ll come through though; I know he will. But is it too late? //

Ten Forward was a very lovely site to behold. Lwaxana had done a marvelous
job with the decorations. Deanna still couldn’t believe that her mother had
‘compromised,’ as she put it, so that both Earth and Betazed cultures were
respected. As she walked through the doors all eyes were on her. Naturally
she wasn’t embarrassed, though she could definitely tell Wyatt was all too
eager for the ceremony to be done with, but she felt humiliated when she
found Will’s eyes. They begged her, pleaded with her not to go through with
this. She felt his stare more intently than any other there. She smiled at
Captain Picard as she came to rest at Wyatt’s side.

Picard smiled back, and began, “Family, friends, and loved ones. We are
gathered here this evening to rejoice in the most joyous expression of love,

Deanna zoned out for a bit. She needed to retreat to her inner self and
collect her thoughts and emotions. Now would not be a good time to fall
apart. Her mind drifted to Will. Was it too late? Could he still stop this
in time? This far gone would she be able to let him stop it? She tried to
center herself, thinking of relaxing waves crashing upon the shore of a
beach as white as know. She felt a little better. She brought herself back
to the ceremony. Yet something was wrong.

“Do you Wyatt Miller, take Deanna Troi of the Fifth House of Betazed, to be
your wife? Do you promise to keep and cherish her in sickness and in health,
through the good times and the trying, till death do you part?”

“I do,” Wyatt answered, smiling. The smile deeply troubled her. Why couldn’t
she care this much for him? Why couldn’t she be at least a little happy? As
she waited for the captain to ask her the same question she felt her throat
tightening and went back to her shore with the waves. Only the waves were
bigger, crashing loudly upon the shore.

“… do you part?” the captain finished.

Her gentle waves were turning into a violent storm. The waves pound upon the
sand, trapping it beneath their foamy crests. Deanna swallowed, was it too

“I do,” she answered, making sure not to make eye contact with Wyatt,
fearing he’d see the turmoil raging inside of her.

The storm was blasting away at her willpower, screaming for her to run, run
away from the biggest regret she was about to complete.

And then she heard the Captain say, “If there is anyone here who feels that
these two should not be joined, let them speak now or forever hold their

The sea churned and frothed as she held her breath to see if he dared.

And then her world crumbled into a bleak place filled with disappointment,
and grief. A place she would never fully come out of. A place she would now
call home. But still was it too late?

“I now pronounce you man and wife. May I present to you, Mr. and Mrs. Wyatt

With that Deanna’s world turned gray and colorless. Everything seemed to
loose it’s luster, it’s vitality… it’s life. As she and Wyatt walked back
down the aisle together, she stole a glance at Will. She saw a mirror image
of her own face; hidden grief, denial, and the last lone tear allowed to
slip away over the other.

William T. Riker, first officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise 1701-D, promoted
for his exceptional valor on the Nervala IV situation, and the love she let
slip through her fingers was several light years away, and moving farther
still as the shuttle craft silently guided Deanna and her new husband
towards their new life. She barely noticed the stars streaking by; they were
dull gray lines. The smile had slipped from her face long before, and she
wondered if it would ever return.

Wyatt was oblivious, still in a whirlwind from the reception afterwards and
looking forward to the upcoming honeymoon. Deanna retreated back into
herself, and found the remains of a beach that had been taken in the wake of
the previous storm. As she closed her eyes she walked through the ruins,
knowing that the beach had been destroyed, maybe for forever. But one thing
stayed with her,

Was it too late?