Set during the first season episode "Haven" during which Deanna Troi becomes set to fulfill a childhood arrangement of marriage.
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Deanna was getting married and there was nothing Will Riker could do about it. Since that box had arrived from Pacifica announcing her impending nuptials Will had done nothing but think about missed opportunities.
Years ago he had made the decision. More than anything he wanted to be a Starship captain. That time he hadn't really had to confront that decision head on. He'd simply failed to turn up on Risa and he and Deanna had drifted apart from that point on. Now he was losing her all over again and his resolve was wavering.
Deanna was going to marry a man to whom she'd been betrothed as a child rather than wait for him. Deanna was going to marry a stranger rather than wait for him. Deanna was going to marry and she wasn't waiting for him! Why? Because she believed:
"More than anything you want to be a Starship Captain."
Now he didn't really know what he wanted.
Deanna sat in her quarters wondering what on Earth she was being pushed into. She was only just starting to find her equilibrium with Bill-Will and now other ghosts of the past were coming to haunt her.
Deanna had only a few vague recollections of the betrothal ceremony that had taken place when she was tiny. She could remember her father's misgivings, her mother's insistence, a little boy that she had built mud pies with but who couldn't be persuaded to wear a cowboy hat just a few scattered images considering the importance of that day. Growing up she had basically ignored the bonding commitment. She couldn't really believe that her mother would force her into a loveless marriage when the time came, nor could she believe that there would be any objections on Wyatt Miller's part were she to have found her own partner. There was also always the chance he would have found his own wife, too.
Now it was time to make a decision. She had a duty as a daughter of the Fifth House. She also knew that arranged marriages resulted in very happy matches in both Earth and Betazoid culture.
In Starfleet she'd achieved more than most people her age. She was a Lieutenant Commander. She was counsellor on board the flagship. She'd travelled, met new races and explored places most people only dreamed of. Maybe it was time to settle down.
It wasn't as if she was adverse to the idea of marriage. Romantic that she was, life-long love and companionship were appealing ideas. For all she knew Wyatt could be her true soul mate. At least he would probably love her more than his career.
His career that was the real rub. Will Riker was still handsome, still charming, still the man she had fallen in love with all those years ago. But that was the problem, wasn't it? He was still the same man. The same man who had put his career in front of her love. They'd been on the same ship now for months and after an amazingly shaky start they'd started to rebuild their relationship into something special. A special friendship at her insistence as she couldn't bear being hurt by him again. She wasn't brave enough to risk her heart again lest Will smash it.
It was time to move on. Leave Starfleet behind. Leave the Enterprise behind. Leave Will behind. Walk into a future with a new love.
He'd been disappointed. Wyatt's first reaction to her had been disappointment. So much for moving on with a new love!
He was cute though, in a puppy doggish kind of way. A doctor a healer obviously a man who cared for others. Something to build on. Once he was over his initial disappointment it was obvious that they were in fact, well suited.
Their similarities were remarkable affectionate father, overbearing mother. Both in people professions. Both a bit bemused and excited by the adventure ahead of them. If it hadn't been for their respective mothers Wyatt and Deanna could have really looked forward to their wedding.
They spent one glorious evening on the holodeck sitting on a recreation of one of Betazed's more beautiful beaches. Deanna had chosen it as a place that she and Will had never been, a place for a new beginning. They had talked and talked and when it had grown late Wyatt had seen her to her quarters and kissed her in a way that made her spirit soar. Not since Will had she had to stop comparing Wyatt with Will! Will was the past, Wyatt the future. It was time to put the past behind her.
It was the hardest forty-eight hours of Will Riker's life. As First Officer it was his duty to facilitate the wedding, as a man he felt as though he was facilitating his own life-long misery. Initially he had hoped Deanna would come to her senses she was a grown woman who knew her own mind too well to slavishly follow an ancient custom. Now as the plans progressed and he saw Deanna and Wyatt growing closer and closer he could see that Deanna was once again slipping through his fingers.
The engagement dinner had been the final straw. Deanna and Wyatt looking so happy and excited, Lwaxana Troi and Victoria Miller squabbling and that infernal gong! Each ring was like a chime of doom. It was possible that he could have excused himself in a more diplomatic fashion but right now he didn't care.
He had fled to the holodeck, to an environment as barren as he felt. What could he do? He still couldn't honestly promise Deanna that he could put her in front of everything else and always be there for her no matter what. But Deanna deserved no less than someone who was willing to commit to her, heart and soul. He loved her but he knew from bitter experience that love just wasn't enough.
She walked in to the holodeck and was as beautiful as he'd ever seen her. She knew, too. She knew him too well for him to be able to lie. She knew how much his career meant to him. She knew how much she meant to him. She knew how deep his inner conflict went. Will wondered if that was why she had gone to Wyatt? Wyatt represented stability and security when all Will could offer was a chance in the future.
Then Wyatt had arrived full of life and excitement and he knew he'd lost her. Not even the empty desert could have reflected the desolation in his soul.
Wyatt had said goodnight so sweetly; Deanna's apprehension was melting away. After all they'd both had disappointments in the past few days. Wyatt had faced the reality that his future wife wasn't the girl he had dreamed of since he was small. She had Will who still couldn't commit to her more than his dream of Captaincy of a starship. The bond she was developing with Wyatt was more than that of disaffected lovers joining together she was truly becoming more and more fond of him.
Then Wyatt had left her. As soon as he had seen his dream girl he had obviously known what he should do. Wyatt had transported across to the Tarellian plague ship and found the woman he had drawn and dreamed of since he was tiny. His soul mate.
Deanna couldn't begrudge him. Wyatt had had the courage to follow his heart. He'd left behind his career, his home and his family all in one huge leap of faith.
Once she had been ready to give everything in her life away to follow her heart. She hoped Ariane treated Wyatt better than Will had treated her. It was some consolation to know Wyatt thought she was beautiful!
She was saddened Wyatt had been a wonderful companion but his heart was elsewhere. If she was completely honest with herself, though, she knew she was also relieved. If she had married Wyatt no matter how happy they were she always might have wondered what might have been. Now she was going to find out.
Time had passed and Deanna's sadness was lifting. Her friendship with Will was back to its pleasant equilibrium. The whole episode had somehow put up a barrier, though. Deanna knew that her caution in keeping their relationship strictly platonic was probably best for her. Will knew that no matter how much he wanted their relationship to progress he would have to one day face the reality that he might have to once again choose between Deanna and his career. Until he could convince himself that Deanna was the most important he knew it wasn't fair to try and pursue her more aggressively.
They knew each loved the other. They knew they might yet go their separate ways. It was easier to leave things in a comfortable limbo than to push the other too hard. They had already had two second chances. Being the bold optimists they were it would be hard to believe there wouldn't be more.