Title: Respectable
Author: Jrgnfly
Rated: PG
Disclaimer: Not mine but fun to pretend.

"Respectable." He spat the word and made a face. "Can you believe she actually called me respectable?" The Captain of the U.S.S. Titan tossed back his synthale in one large gulp and immediately gestured for another.

"It's not meant as an insult, Will. I think she meant that you've reached a respectable age." Deanna rested a reassuring hand on his forearm, smiling sympathetically.

"A respectable age? That's almost worse than `seasoned!'" He surreptitiously glanced around the lounge, where his birthday party was in full swing. Loud jazz music blasted through the crowded space, providing cover for his discussion.

"Considering how many times she's patched you up over the years, I'm sure Beverly was just expressing her amazement that you've managed to stay alive this long."

His scowl faded slightly and the lines between his brows smoothed away as he regarded the lovely visage of his wife sitting across from him at a table in the center of the lounge.

"Yeah, well I've had the best possible motivation." He took her hand in his, brought it to his mouth and brushed the gentlest of kisses over her knuckles; a tender smile on his face.

She inclined her head slightly but Riker didn't miss the soft pink blush that sprang to her cheeks.

"Be that as it may, I'd have to agree with her. A fifty year old highly decorated Starfleet Captain who also happens to be the most loving and devoted of husbands and a wonderful father of two certainly qualifies as respectable to me, Imzadi." She lifted her head and smiled at him lovingly. Her sense of him even in the jam-packed room was strong enough to tell her that for all his grumbling Will wasn't really as upset by Beverly's innocuous comment in the birthday greeting she'd sent as he'd pretended to be.

"Is that my wife talking or my ship's Counselor?" He tapped his fingers lightly against the new glass of ale he hadn't even noticed until now. Was his memory already fading, or perhaps his vision?

Deanna shrugged her slim shoulders and toyed with the last crumbs of the chocolate cake on her plate. Licking her fork a final time, she set it aside and gazed across the table.

"Whichever you'd prefer. It's really not that bad; turning fifty." And she'd love him forever, regardless of his age.

"You're only saying that because you're not there yet, Deanna." He slouched in his hair and raked a hand through his formerly completely dark brown hair. Each year more gray crept in until one day… Riker shuddered. He didn't want to think about that yet. Those twinges in his back certainly weren't helping him feel any younger either.

Picking up on his thoughts, Troi arched her brow, laughing at him.

"True enough. But when I reach my fifties, I assure you I'll be enjoying each and *every* minute of it. Her tongue darted out and moistened the corner of her lips flirtatiously. Then she winked at him.

Riker emitted a groan under his breath and rubbed a hand over his face. He'd almost forgotten that key difference between human and Betazoid females. He was sure she'd make sure he enjoyed every minute of it as well. Suddenly, getting older didn't seem quite so bad now that he knew Deanna's Phase would be waiting on the other side.

Ignoring the untouched drink still in front of him, Will rose to his feet and extended a hand to his wife. She accepted it gracefully and stood beside him, observing the raucous scene before them. Titan's crew were thoroughly enjoying themselves. Maybe they wouldn't notice if she and Will slipped away…

"You're right, as usual." His voice pulled her back to reality.

"I should make a recording of that sometime and play it back for you the next time you disagree with me," she said mildly, brushing a non-existent thread away from his collar and resting her fingers briefly on the four pips he'd once coveted more than anything else in his life."

"Very funny, Counselor. I guess there's nothing wrong with turning fifty. It is my birthday after all and I believe some celebrating is in order. Starting right now."

Faster than she could sense his mischievous intent, he abruptly turned and scooped her into his arms.

At Deanna's surprised shriek, all eyes in the lounge turned to see their Captain heading toward the doors, holding onto his struggling wife.

Feeling the heat of their stares on his back, Riker shifted against the doorway and addressed the crowd, hooking a restraining arm around Deanna's slender waist.

"Thank you all for your birthday wishes. It's not every Captain who's lucky enough to enough to be able to celebrate his fiftieth year with a crew like you by his side. The next fifty should only be so good."

His smile widened into an all out grin and he gazed lovingly at his squirming wife in full view of the room's occupants. Troi felt her face blaze hotly. Will never acted like this in front of the crew.

Listening to the muted whispers flying back and forth, Riker cleared his throat. "Please, everyone enjoy the rest of the evening. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm looking forward to unwrapping my present."

Troi flushed wildly at the sea of emotions washing over her in time with the cat calls and cheering following them out of the lounge. She waited until the doors hissed shut behind them before she yelled.

"Will Riker, I cannot believe you said that!" She pummeled her comparatively tiny fists against his broad chest as he strode towards the turbolift, chuckling at her outraged expression.

"Don't be upset, Deanna, it's my birthday."

Deanna made the mistake of glancing up at him and his sparkling blue eyes and still boyish grin captured her heart again for the millionth time.

Her anger and embarrassment dissipated into nothingness and she sighed. Winding her arms around his neck, she brought her husband's face down to hers.

The lift doors slid closed, hiding the couple from view.

"Respectable, my ass," she murmured against his lips before they claimed her own in an insistent kiss .

Will's laugh was lost in her mouth.

The End