Disclaimer: Still in place....they belong to the mountain people at paramount, not me....

R/T  who else??


She stood there for a moment, watching him. Not sure whether to wake him up or not.

And then as though he recognized something, a silhouette of a body standing in the room, Riker sat up quickly and focused his eyes on her, not sure if he was dreaming or if she was really standing there.


"Hi." It was all he could think of to say; it sounded lame even to him. "Are you okay?" He asked, it was another stupid thing to say, the words were out of his mouth before he realized it. She was anything but okay.

"I will be…in time." She stood there and looked at him through big sad eyes and it tore his heart out just looking at her. She looked like a frighten broken child, so petite, so small so…helpless. All he wanted to do was reach out and hold her; save her from the pain and hurt, he knew she was experiencing.

"Can I fix you something to eat?"

She shook her head no.

She walked over and touched his arm, so softly he barely felt it. "I’m so sorry, Bill. I’m so sorry." She was the only one that called him that and it tore at his heart now. God he wanted so badly to save her. But he couldn’t make it right, he would never be able to do that. She took his hand and gently placed the diamond engagement ring in his palm, closing his fingers around it and he suddenly had visions of the closing of their future together. She reached up and kissed his cheek lightly, and then quickly turned and walked away.

"I love you." He said to no one in particular. Suddenly fear gripped his heart as tight as he was gripping the ring in his hand, as tears began to form in his eyes. The tears were the realization of the possibility that he may never see her again. And suddenly the strong, proud, handsome, and young Lieutenant William T. Riker didn’t think of Starfleet as the number one thing in his life anymore.




"Well you’re certainly not dressed." Deanna stated, as she entered the room and noticed Will Riker sitting on her couch.

Riker looked up at her and smiled. "Just thinking what we went through to get to this point in our life."

Her eyes glittered with amusement. "Is that all?" Walking over to him, he laughed as she fumbled with his blue terrycloth robe. He was going to throw it in the trash, but she begged him for it, after she had purchased him a new one for his birthday. She was freshly showered and she looked like a little girl in his huge robe, and it tugged at his heart. She had an uncanny ability to pierce his heart in so many ways. He couldn’t hide the smile that began to spread across his face. "Well, we were both stationed on the Enterprise, we’ve been serving together for over ten years and here we are."

"That’s not what I’m talking about."

"I know." She said rolling up the big heavy sleeves. "It’s just too late to get into deep conversation. We need to get dressed for the ambassador’s dinner."

"Your mother…."

"She’ll be there." Deanna answered before he finished his question.

"She appeared to be upset last night. What was that all about anyway?"

"Nothing really." Deanna shrugged, not wanting to open that can of worms. She would tell him later. "Mother just needs to sharpen her claws from time to time."

"As long as she sharpens them on your butt and not mine." Riker watched as Deanna’s eyes grew wide at his words.

"Believe me. No one’s hind-side is safe when it involves My mother, Commander." Deanna stood on her tip toes and kissed him on the cheek. "You really should go to your quarters now and get dressed."

"I remembered the first time you did that."


"Kissed me on the cheek."

"When the crew members lost their memory?"

"No…. Before that."

"My, my you are sweeping through the cobwebs of your memory aren’t you?"

"Do you remember?" He asked hopefully.

"The first time I kissed you on the cheek?" She restated his question, and then she smiled and answered simply, "No."


Deanna shot him a look; she knew what he was talking about. They had both experienced pain and heartache that terrible morning. And it was such a long time ago, for some reason he felt the need to talk about it, but she had no desire to. At least not now. "I need to get dressed now, Will." Turning she walked out of the room, "And you should too."

~ ~ ~**~ ~ ~


Deanna answered the door in a blue silk floor length gown, and a sapphire necklace with matching ear-rings.

Riker gasped at the sight of her. "Wow." He stated in wonderment, "Deanna, you look absolutely stunning."

"Thank you, Commander." She smiled, happy that he was pleased with the way she looked. Although she sensed he would be. "Shall we?"

Riker extended an elbow towards her and she gladly reached for it. They entered the turbo-lift and Riker commanded, "Ten-Forward." Both stood beside each other, with Deanna’s arm entwined in his as the turbo lift doors hissed shut. "You look a hell of a lot better than you did when you kissed me on the cheek that morning."

Deanna turned gracefully and looked up at him, her eyes searching his, "Will, for some reason you feel the need to discuss this…this part of history in our lives."

"I guess I do." He said looking down at the ground, in true little boy fashion he shined the top of his boot with the back of his pant leg.

"Stop that." She scolded softly.

"Sorry…It’s habit, I guess. It’s just that when I see you like this." He directed his admission towards the way she was dressed. "Suddenly I feel as if my attire is inadequate. You make me feel like I’m dressed in nothing but tatters."

"Now that’s an image. Will Riker dressed in tatters." She teased as she squeezed his arm affectionately wanting to lift his uneasiness, as they walked towards ten-forward.

His face turned to stone and she knew he wanted to speak serious. They stood outside of the ten-forward doors. "Deanna, when you left that morning…."

He was interrupted by the sound of the doors hissing open and a room full of voices as they cheerfully greeted the couple.

"Little One" Lwaxanna said as she approached her daughter with open arms, embracing her lovingly. She glanced at Riker and stated flatly, "William." She purposely grabbed Deanna’s arm, "Deanna, darling there’s someone I want you to meet." She said as she herded her daughter off, away from her escort. Deanna’s head snapped back towards Riker her eyes filled with helplessness. Riker simply nodded curtly, letting her know that he would rescue her from the clutches of Lwaxanna Troi soon.

Inhaling and exhaling deeply, he stepped into the lounge and walked towards the bar. "Scotch." He ordered twisting his body around he noticed the group of delegates as they danced, laughed, and desperately attempted to make cordial small talk. Standing there he sipped his drink. His eyes widened at the sight of Deanna, she was talking to a man, no doubt that her mother had introduced her to. Damn he thought, Lwaxanna is still at it. Hadn’t Deanna told her time and time again that she was happy aboard the Enterprise, and she had no desire to settle down in the way her mother wanted her to? Even so, Lwaxanna was full blooded Betazoid; she had to know how he desperately wanted to rekindle their relationship.

"Quite some crowd." The voice of a woman was heard Riker looked over and there stood a woman in a red velvet dress, much like the one Deanna was wearing only with a lower bodice. Her skin was golden, and her hair was a dark brown, that was adorned with jewels of some sort. Riker quickly scanned her body with his eyes, and didn’t find her to appealing. Her nose was pointed, and she had just one front tooth that stuck out just a little too far. But worst of all, when she smiled she showed too much gum.

"Yes, it is."

"She’s beautiful isn’t she?" The woman observed as she nodded towards the dance floor.


"The woman in the blue silk dress, and her mate. They’re like watching royalty." She smiled revealing too much of her gums.

Mate. The word hit him hard, causing him to snap his head towards the dance floor. Deanna was dancing with the same man that she had been talking to earlier. He was quite tall, and very regal in appearance. The way he held himself had somewhat of an aristocratic charm. Deanna definitely didn’t look like she needed rescuing. She would say something and then throw her head back slightly and laugh, apparently this shined and polished lout had a sense of humor, one that caught her attention.

For the rest of the evening Riker watched the dark eyed Betazoid. Deanna whispered something in the Beverly’s ear and they both laughed. She smiled loving toward Worf, and they spoke for a while. She danced with Prince Dance-a-lot five times and with the Captain once. She thanked Data, when he handed her glass of wine, smiled and nodded towards Geordi, and totally ignored Riker who was standing up at the bar, altogether.


~ ~ ~**~ ~ ~

"Come in." Riker said, already knowing who it was.

"You left early."

"Yeah." He said pretending he didn’t give a damn what she did.

"You’re angry."

"A little." He admitted, knowing it wouldn’t do any good to try to fool her, but he’d be damned if he told her just how angry he was. "I’m glad you enjoyed yourself." Deanna watched as he placed his dress uniform back in his closet. "What happened to Prince Dance-a-lot?"

"He was… How do I say it? He was a.....…. A dud."

"Really?" he smiled at that and turned around to face her.

"Very much so." She answered. "All he was interested in was Mother’s wealth and social status."

"You’re mother will have to go back to square one in her search to find you a husband."

"I’m sorry, Will."

"Sorry? For what? For practically ignoring me for most of the evening, you certainly don’t need my permission to dance with other men, Deanna."

"That’s not what I’m talking about."

"Enlighten me, Counselor."

"I was afraid."

He recognized the pain in her voice and responded immediately. "Afraid?" he asked, "Of what?"

"Of the one thing that always frightens me…our past." she looked up at him with sad eyes, and his brain flashed back to that morning all those years ago, he waited for her to finish her sentence. He knew she wanted to say more. "But mostly I suppose I’m afraid of us."

"Deanna, I would never…" he wanted to say hurt you again, but she cut him off.

"I know." She interrupted in a voice more stern than she had intended. Deanna wrapped both arms around herself and turned her back to him, not wanting to see his eyes, not wanting to melt under his influence. "But when you were talking about the first time I kissed you on the cheek, it frightened me. I thought that I had left all of that hurt behind me. It took me a long time to get over that incident. And I wasn’t sure I wanted to relive it again."

She turned around and their eyes locked, "I suppose you’re vice is wiping the top of your boot on the calf of your pants leg and mine is to run away and pretend it never happened. That’s what I did that morning…I ran away to the security of my mother. Just as I did tonight." She chuckled slightly at herself, without humor. "Mother, that’s why she was angry with me last night…she told me I would have to face the ghost of my…of our…" she amended, "past." She admitted. "But, I didn’t want to. We had closed the door on the past." She looked up at him, hopefully, "Hadn’t we?"

"Deanna that morning." Riker began.

"Will." she protested in a whispered voice.

"Deanna, I have a wound. You have a wound. Wounds that we’ve covered up with bandages and pretended didn’t exist. After all these years that wounds… those unattended… hurts… haven’t healed. They’ve become infected, under all of the bull shit lies we’ve used as bandages. If we are going to make it. We have to give those hurts some fresh air and allow them to heal."

The was a pause of silence between the two, giving her time to absorb what he had said. "I asked you to be my wife. To spend the rest of our lives together, to someday have a family."

"You didn’t mean it." She whispered.

"Like hell, I didn’t…I meant it." He argued, taking one giant step towards her. "My heart wanted it so desperately…."

"Will…no you didn’t." She protested, "I sensed it. I felt it. You wanted Starfleet, not me. All you wanted, all you desired was to captain a starship."

"That’s not all I wanted, Deanna. I wanted you. I wanted us."

"Really!" She almost yelled. "You sent me a message and told me that you weren’t ready for commitment, and you cancelled our rendezvous on Risa. You’re career took priority over our relationship. Over me!" Deanna paused for a moment to gather her thoughts and compose herself. "And why am I so angry? This is water under the bridge."

"It was so crazy. I took other’s advice, and called off the wedding. I knew it was wrong, but I felt as if…what people were telling me was true. I was young, I had my whole life ahead of me, and I psyched myself to believe what I was doing was right."

"I went to Risa anyway…. I don’t know why I did. I thought I could move on and never look back, but." He admitted to himself as well as to her. "I couldn’t. I found myself constantly haunted with the visions of you walking into that hotel suite and that look on your face, in your eyes."


"I went to Risa too…." Deanna admitted. "I suppose to say goodbye to what could have been. I walked in and you were sleeping. I debated on whether to wake you up or not. I was hurting Will." Her bottom lip began to tremble as she fought back the tears that accompanied the painful memories. "I was hurting so badly." She inhaled deeply and exhaled slowly. "I kissed you on the cheek for two reasons. One was being. I knew that if I allowed you to hold me, I would never want you to let me go. And the other being, it’s a Betazoid tradition, much like human traditions, when saying ‘goodbye.’ To wish some one safe journey until we meet again."

"You knew we would meet again?" He asked quietly. She sensed his amazement, and the hopefulness in his voice.

"I wasn’t so sure at the time…but mother was."

"Your mother?"

"Mother is very wise, Will." He sensed that her spirits were raising as the corners of her mouth began to curl up in a smile, "In her own…way."

He recalled. "I learned a valuable lesson that day." He half-heartedly laughed, "Advice…if you don’t live it. Don’t give it."

"I suppose that’s true." She agreed, not knowing what else to say. Deanna stood silently for a moment, clasping both hands in front of her she suddenly felt awkward. "I suppose I should go."

"Yeah, it’s getting late."

Deanna smiled curtly, turned and walked towards the thresh hold of the door. She raised her hand to hit the door panel, and then slowly lowered it; and then turned as if she had forgotten something. "Remember when you asked me to marry you?"

"Like yesterday." His face the reflection of pleasant memories.

"Good. Don’t ever do it again." She stated flatly, she whirled around, hit the door panel, and was gone before he could respond.

~ ~ ~**~ ~ ~


Riker reeled from her words. Breathing in deeply he exclaimed in anger, "Like hell you say." He dashed through his door and down the corridor, buzzing his next door neighbor.

"Come." She called out, the door hissed open and there stood William T. Riker, his face masked with anger and confusion. Deanna on the other hand was calm and serene. "Oh hi, Will. I’m just getting ready to have a cup of hot chocolate. Would you like to join me?" She asked just a little bit too chipper.

"What the hell do you mean don’t ever do it again?" He was livid, his jaw set.

"Well, it means…simply what it implies." She answered calmly taking the cup of hot chocolate out of the replicator. "Don’t ever do it again." She sipped a drink and then placed the cup on the table. "I really need to go change now, excuse me or a moment."

She started to walk around him, but he grabbed her arm stopping her. She glanced down at his hand on her arm and then back up at him and then back at his hand. "Why are you stopping me, Commander?" She asked not intimidated by his actions at all.

"Will you marry me?" it was a question, but it came out more of a demand.

"No." she answered politely. "I need to change now. Would you please release me?"

He let go of her arm and she proceeded to walk towards the bedroom. "Why the hell not?" he demanded, speaking to her back as she walked away. His eyes glittered with anger.

"Betazoid tradition forbids it." She answered casually; she hit the door pad and was swallowed up by the closing doors to her bedroom.

Deanna emerged from the bedroom minutes later in that overly large blue terry cloth robe, that she loved so much.

"What do you mean, Betazoid traditions forbid it."

"Well, when a male…. Human or any other species…asks a young Betazoid female for her hand in marriage and the ceremony for some reason is voided…. Then he is forbidden to ever ask for her hand again."

"You’re half-human, Deanna." Riker argued. "Your father was human."

"That is beside the point."

"So you’re telling me Wyatt Miller can never come back on his claim."

"I doubt if Wyatt would ever want to, but if he did. Yes, that’s what I’m telling you. Really, I thought you had studied the Betazed culture. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to you, Will."

"Okay…. What about Worf?"

"What about Worf?"

"He can’t ask you to marry him again."

"Honestly, Will." Deanna sat down on her sofa and tucked her feet underneath of her. "You make it sound as if I’ve refused thousands of proposals." She looked up at him and tilted her head slightly, "And for your information, Worf never proposed to me."

"He didn’t?" Riker seemed shocked by this revelation.

"No. He didn’t."

"Okay, forget Worf. What about…" He paused momentarily to think of someone. "Thomas Riker! Yeah, Thomas Riker. Do these bizarre regulations apply to him too?" He knew he had her now. "He proposed twice as I recall."

His question made her look at him. She’d never thought of that. Thomas had proposed twice, hadn’t he? How come she hadn’t thought of that when he proposed the second time, but Thomas was Will then…. So therefore…. "Thomas, only proposed once. He and you were the same person the first time; he was you then…. You weren’t the same, well you were…. But…" she sighed, "I’m beginning to confuse myself."

"You’re confused!" he mocked her.

"Thomas, well…he’s wasn’t Thomas then, he was Will…I mean he was you, but his name then was Will…so theoretically Thomas only proposed once."

"All right, if Thomas can ask you to marry him, just because he simply changed his name…Then by all means Counselor, call me George and say ‘yes to my proposal."

Deanna laughed at the him, and saw that he wasn’t amused. He face straightened and she took on a serious gaze. "Mother would never recognize our marriage, Will." She informed him standing to her feet.

"What the hell does your mother have to do with this?" Riker exploded. He regretted the question the moment it left his mouth. "I’m sorry. Forget I said that, all right?"

"It’s forgotten."

"First Wyatt Miller. Now this. For a peaceful society Deanna. Your home world sure has a lot of laws. And all of which is unfair to the common male, human or otherwise."

"It isn’t unfair, Will."

"Oh yeah. I just told you that when you showed up on Risa, it ripped my soul apart, I stood there and cried like some forlorn child after you left. What the hell good did it do? I always wished we could be together again. I strive for that goal. I knew after we served on the Enterprise together, that we would somehow get back together." He was angry and on a roll, and definitely venting; releasing frustrations of twenty years of self castigation. He didn’t know it, but Will Riker was healing. "I thought of you constantly. You haunted my thoughts and my dreams both at day and at night. I love you Deanna, I always have, and I never stopped. Now, I ask you to marry me again, and you say…There’s no way…. No way we can go back in time and fix our mistakes." He inhaled. "Well, there’s no way I’m going to let you go…not again. I’ll marry you in an earth ceremony, or a Klingon ceremony or hell, even in a ferengi wedding! I don’t care…. But I do…. I want us to be married Deanna."

"You cried?" She hadn’t heard a word he said beyond his admittance of his own tears. It was hard for her to separate the strong, noble William T. Riker from the desperate little boy that stood in front of her now. He was scared…frightened of losing her again.

"Yeah…." He admitted in a hushed whisper.

His voice rose and he sounded determined. Taking her firmly by the shoulders he announced. "I meant it damn it! I want us to be married."

She did something unexpected; she turned and took a sip of hot chocolate. "It’s cold."

"What in hell is it with you and that cup of hot chocolate? I’m talking matrimony, Miss Troi. You know…. Engagement, wedding…. HUSBAND!"

"I know you are, and you’re making a big deal of something that really isn’t."


"Fine. Then say you’ll marry me."

"I can’t do that…I would never dream of hurting mother by not having a traditional Betazed wedding. She is after all, a daughter of the fifth house…Holder of the sacred chalice of Rixx and both of us know the rest of that one liner, don’t we?" she smiled.

"I’m serious…. Do you mind?"

"Will, there’s no way we can be joined in wedlock. The ceremony wouldn’t be recognized by the Houses…" She glanced down at her now reheated cup of hot chocolate and then back at him, "unless…."

"Unless? Unless what?" He asked urgently.

"Unless, I propose to you."

"You’re kidding, right?"

"No, not at all" She answered calmly. "It is basically a female dominated society."

Without hesitation Riker answered, "Alright. Yes. I’ll marry you."

Deanna chuckled. "Shouldn’t you wait for my proposal?"

"You’re going to ask me aren’t you?"

"What I am going to ask you to do is to leave so that we both can get some rest."


"Good night, Will." Deanna raised on her tip toes and kissed him on the cheek. "Lights." She called out leaving a more confused than ever first officer standing in the dark.

Deanna Troi had a smile on her face that she couldn’t wipe off…. And slept with it all during the night.

~ ~ ~**~ ~ ~


"You’ve been offered the USS Titan, Will." Picard said, from behind his desk. He wasn’t too enthused about it, after all Commander William T. Riker had been offered so many ships during his time aboard the Enterprise it was becoming old hat between the two of them. "It sounds like an outstanding opportunity." Picard added for good measure, knowing that Riker would more than likely refuse the promotion, just as he had done in the past.

Riker stared at the oval fish bowl that was embedded in the Captain’s wall and then slowly turned around to face his commanding officer. Everything flashed through Riker’s mind at once, the time he had served on the Enterprise, his time with Deanna and how they had come so far, through good times bad time, and alien influences. Deep within him he wanted this ship. He had always dreamed of being Captain. But he didn’t want to leave the one driving force that kept him alive.

"As much as I hate saying this I must." He deadpanned the Commander. "Take the Titan and take her with you."

"Her, sir?"

"Good Gods man." Picard snapped abruptly, slapping his hand on his desk. "Don’t be a dullard."

Riker looked at him confused, his head tilted slightly.

"I see…." Picard stated calmly. "That I am going to have to spell this out to you." Walking around his desk with both hands clasped behind his back, he reminded Riker of a Gestapo General. Bending down slightly Picard did something he had never done before; he got only inches from Riker’s face. "Marry Deanna and take her with you." He stated as if he were talking to a child.

"Marry?" Riker gulped, sinking back in his chair. "It’s…. Its…a little more complicated…." Riker fumbled with the words. "The Counselor… I mean…Deanna, she and I are…."

"Playing cat and mouse…" He deadpanned, the first officer. "Although, I’m not quite certain as to who is the cat and who is the mouse in this little sport the two of you have participated in for the past twelve years."

"Sir, I’m… You’re…No disrespect, sir…but…" Riker began to nervously shuffle in his seat.

"No…Lwaxanna Troi and I haven’t been comparing notes." Picard finished the sentence, wanting to add a bit of humor to the awkward conversation. "Will…." He said, using a fatherly tone. "There is only one thing that is better than being in charge of one’s own ship."

"And that is?" Riker asked reluctantly, not knowing what his Captain was going to say next.

"Being in charge of one’s own heart."

Riker stared at his Commanding officer for a brief moment. Jean Luc turned and sat back down behind his desk and studied the COM in front of him. He raised his head slowly. "I trust that you will give me your decision within the next seventy two hours." Picard glanced back down at the COM in front of him. "That will be all, Commander." He said soberly, indicating that this conversation was over.

Riker stood to his feet and nodded curtly, turned and walked out of the Captain’s ready room, only to be greeted at the thresh-hold by Deanna Troi.

She smiled and nodded in the most professional manner. "Commander."

"Counselor." Riker stated with the same professionalism, as he let the small Betazoid walk around him.

"May I have a word with you, Captain?" Were the only words Riker heard before the door swished closed behind him.

~ ~ ~**~ ~ ~


"It is the custom of my people, Captain." Deanna concluded after telling Picard the marital rituals of her home world.

"So am I to take it, you must ask him for his hand in marriage?"


"Please and tell me if I’m over stepping some boundaries here but, the man apparently wants to marry you, Deanna."

"Oh I know he does." Deanna agreed.

Picard honed in on the ships counselor, his eyes full of confusion. "So why don’t you ask him? He won’t accept the Titan without you, surely you’re aware of that."

"I think he needs to accept the Titan, Sir. And I would be honored to go with him to serve upon the Titan. Not that I’m eager to leave the Enterprise, mind you."

"I’m aware of that Deanna." Picard smiled.


"There are no buts……you simply ask for his hand in marriage…. It isn’t complicated. You needn’t fear rejection, I’m sure Riker will accept."

"Oh he’ll accept the proposal…." Deanna agreed. "It’s the other thing that he may find difficult to accept…in which case he may refuse."

"Deanna, we seem to be talking in circles."

"If we get married, he’ll take on my name, Sir."

"He’ll what?!"

"To put it bluntly. He refused to marry me. The only people that can actually cancel a wedding are the parents of the groom or bride." Deanna explained. "Will refused to marry me. He jilted me at the altar, and because of that he’s forsaken the right for me to share his name, he’ll have to share mine, Sir. After the ceremony." She concluded in a quiet tone. " He’ll be Mr. Troi."

"I take it he isn’t aware of this."

"No Sir." Deanna admitted. "That part… I left out." She said with a twitch of her nose.

Picard rubbed the top of his bald head and let out a long sigh. He pinched the bridge of his nose as if he were thinking. "Deanna under the advisement of your captain, I would conclude that you--- leave that part out--- for the time being."

"Time being, Sir?"

"Yes. Time being. I’ll tell him in a nice, subtle…. Man to man way. A way that I’m sure he’ll understand."


~ ~ ~* *~ ~ ~

"You have the bridge, Mr. Troi." Picard declared as the doors to the turbo lift closed. All he could see was the look of shock on Riker’s face as his first officer’s jaw dropped to the ground.

Riker turned to see Deanna holding her head in her hands, as she turned red with embarrassment, wishing she could crawl into a hole somewhere. "Oh gods…he calls that subtle."

"Deanna?" Riker asked in confusion. "Why do I feel like he wasn’t joking?"

Turning his head towards his fellow crewmates, Picard sighed a sigh of relief and spoke triumphly. "Mr. Data. Mr. Worf. Man to man, it’s the only way."

"Sir?" The huge Klingon stared at his Captain with innocent confusion.