Counselor Deanna Troi sat staring out of Ten-Forward's large viewport, lost in thought. It was nearing the Terran holiday of Christmas, and she could vaguely remember celebrating this, before her father died. There was a picture deep in her mind of a tree trimmed so heavily she was sure it shouldn't remain standing. Underneath that tree brightly wrapped and ribboned boxes sat on display for weeks before she could actually open them.
She could remember how excited she was to wake up every morning. She would dash down the stairs and right into her fathers lap. It was always the same. Even before she said good morning, she would ask if it was Christmas yet. He would laugh that special laugh of his, the one he only laughed for her and tell her no, it wasn't Christmas yet.
Then finally Christmas morning would arrive, and suddenly there would be twice the number of presents under the tree. Her father had explained patiently every year, that Santa had left them. She didn't quite believe him though. Her mother would always make this face, that told her, her father was teasing her. She sighed deeply, and sipped some of her steaming hot chocolate.
Eewww! It was cold. She sighed again and rose. Evidently she'd been sitting here longer than she thought. She knew, from several crewmembers that the holiday of haunica had just ended. In fact, she had been invited to several private celebrations of that holiday for the first time this year. She'd accepted and found that although she did not understand the subtleties of what they were honoring, she had enjoyed herself and had learned a little more about her friends and crewmates.
Coming up shortly, others would be celebrating Christmas and she knew it was one of Will's favorite holidays. In the past he'd gone to great lengths to get gifts for each of his friends that reflected both the giver and the receiver as well as the friendship between them. This year, she wanted to do the same. She'd gotten all but one person taken care of. She had only one problem left with this; one major problem. She had *no* idea what to get him.
He always seemed to know exactly what to get her, both the gift he intended humorously, and the one meant seriously. She wanted, somehow, to show him it was appreciated.
Returning to her seat with a fresh cup of cocoa, she resumed staring out at the stars, no closer to a solution.
"You seem very...lost."
Deanna's jerked her head up to stare at the woman standing next to her. "Hello Guinan," she said, smiling. "Join me?"
"Don't mind if I do." Guinan said, seating herself across from Deanna. "Seems you have a lot on your mind."
Deanna shook her head. "No, actually, I've only got one thing on my mind."
"Oh, really." Guinan said suggestively.
"I can't figure out what to get Will for Christmas."
"I see. Have you had this trouble before?"
Deanna frowned. "No, it's just that this year's special."
"What's so special about it?"
"It's our first Christmas together in...forever."
Guinan tilted her head to the side and smiled at her Betazoid friend. "But you've celebrated it together for the last several years."
"It's not the same thing."
"This is the first Christmas since we got back together as a couple. I want to get him something that shows him how much I love him, something that really...." Deanna shrugged her shoulders and threw her hands up. She couldn't think of the right word she wanted. "fits."
"Don't you show him that everyday?"
"Well, yes," Deanna answered. "It's just that he's been so down for the last month. I wanted something that might bring him out of that."
Guinan was quiet a moment as she too stared out at the stars. She turned back before continuing. "Seems to me, you're problem may lie in the fact that you're trying to put too much into one little gift," she said quietly and rose, leaving Deanna to ponder that, alone.
*Now what was *that* supposed to mean?* she thought with pursed lips. Then suddenly the perfect idea hit her. She grinned and downed what was left of her Cocoa in one long swallow. She had a lot of work to do before the party tomorrow night.
Deanna felt like she was going to explode with excitement. She finished wrapping the gift she'd been working on for the last three months, but it was the *other* present that had her humming. She just knew he'd be delighted with it. For a while she hadn't been certain she would finish it on time, but she'd managed to put the final touches on early this morning. It would be the perfect answer to his recent pensive mood.
She glanced at the chronometer as she placed the bow dead center of the package. Oh no! She was going to be late. She hurriedly picked up her packages and practically ran out the door.
Will Riker paced his quarters. With each pass he cast a nervous glance at all the brightly wrapped gifts sitting on the low table. Of course there was only one he was worried about. He couldn't believe he was doing this. He took a deep breath, desperately trying to calm his racing heart. Dropping down into the lounge chair he buried his face in his hands. 'Get a grip on yourself! You're panicking man!'
"Damn right!" he told himself. Rising, he squared his shoulders, gathered up the gifts and strode out into the corridor. Now was not the time to lose his nerve. He could face down a Romulan warbird, but had trouble facing the petite Betazoid that held his heart in her hands.
The senior officers gathered around the tree that had been placed in Ten-Forward. Most of the gifts had been handed out, but Will had stated early on that his gift to Deanna was to be the last one of the evening. Will's emotions were running high, and he was very antsy about something.
She was dying of curiosity about what could have him so nervous, but each time she'd tried to ask he'd shushed her most pleasantly. Her fingers traced her lips absently as she thought about the last time he'd done it. Mischievously she thought about asking again. She liked his method of sidetracking her. However, she lost that train of thought as Data picked up the her first present for Will.
"This says it's for Will Riker," Data said and handed it to the commander. "From Deanna."
All eyes turned to the two of them and Will, drawing out the suspense, decided to open the card first.
With mine own hands I've made, this gift of warmth and love. Your second gift I'll deliver later. Enjoy, Deanna
Will's eyes lit up, as he set the card aside and carefully opened the package.
Beverly ooo'd as Will revealed the quilt within. It was obvious that Deanna had spent a great amount of time and effort into it. The stitching that held the tiny individual squares together were tiny and done by hand.
Will unfolded it, so all could see the beautiful pattern she'd created. A background of Jungle surrounded a waterfall, and hand sewn at the base was a single word.
Tears welled in Will's eyes and he didn't care who saw them. He turned to his Imzadi, the holder of his soul, and felt himself descend into peace. Everything was as it should be. "I love it, and I love you." He leaned toward her and kissed her lips, putting all his love behind the simple move.
The entire room remained silent throughout, held spellbound by the magic of love. Will pulled back and then reddened as he noticed they were still the center of attention. "Well, Data, how about we move on to the next gift."
"Commander, the only remaining gift is yours to the counselor."
Deanna grinned and reached out. Data obligingly handed her, her long awaited surprise. She laughed lightly as she realized that Will had also written a card. Mustering every ounce of self control she had, she followed Will's example and opened it first. Her heart skipped a beat as she realized he'd written her a poem, only the second one he'd ever given her.
My Imzadi, my soul.
Through many obstacles we've found our way, to this place where our love and friendship does hold sway.
Were it in my power I would give you the stars, but I have only my love, which I give to you freely. Forever and eternity are not enough time, to show you the joy which can always be ours.
Accept this gift in the manner it's intended and forever and always will be our goal.
With trembling fingers Deanna pulled the wrapping paper from the gift, but she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that no matter what he'd gotten her, it could not compare to the beauty of the poem he'd written for her.
She gasped. She was wrong. She brought startled eyes up to meet Will's and found to her surprise that he was on bended knee in front of her.
"Deanna Troi, would you do me the honor of becoming my wife and making the happiest man in the universe?"
She couldn't speak. Tears of joy streamed down her face and closed off her throat. She nodded and Will reached out with a hand that trembled as much as hers still did, and slipped the solitaire diamond ring onto the third finger of her left hand. They stayed there in that position for long moments, neither of them willing to move. Until a discreet cough and a hand on Will's shoulder made him turn.
Captain Picard stood behind him, smiling a slightly lopsided smile. "Thank you Number One."
"For what Sir?"
"For requesting your gift be given last. *That* would be a hard act to follow."
A ripple of laughter spread through those present, and everyone began talking at once.
The Christmas party went far into the night, but it did so without two of its senior officers. Deanna leaned over to Will early in the evening and whispered in his ear. "You ready for your second gift?"
Will grinned crookedly. "Most definitely, Imzadi," he said leaning in and kissing the base of her neck.
Deanna giggled. "That's not a gift. That's dessert," she said, rising and holding her hand out to Will.
Will sat back laughing heartily. "Lead on," he said with a grin. He grabbed hold of her hand and allowed her to pull him out of Ten Forward.
Deanna wordlessly led him down the Enterprise corridors. Will tried several times to get her to give him a hint of what mischief she had planned, but each time she simply smiled and shook her head.
Sighing in good natured defeat Will lapsed into silence and contented himself with the feel of her hand in his. This night couldn't possibly get any better.
Deanna stopped and faced the holodeck door. "Computer, run program Troi-beta 45."
"A holodeck Deanna?" Will said suggestively. "That has *so* many possibilities."
Deanna smacked his shoulder lightly, laughing. "You've got a one track mind Will Riker."
"I do when I'm around you," Will murmured softly in her ear.
Deanna blushed, but smiled happily, wriggling out of his arms to look at him.
"Program running, enter when ready."
"Close your eyes."
He did so, then reopened one half way.
"No peeking," Deanna said, taking both his hands in hers and backing into the holodeck.
Once the doors closed behind them, she drew him to the middle of the warm room. Something smelled very familiar. "Okay, you can open your eyes now."
Will slowly opened his eyes and peered around him. His eyes widened and his jaw dropped. The small room was darkened, lit only by the roaring fire in the old fashioned fireplace. The walls of hand chiseled wood logs, added to the cozy atmosphere. Will slowly turned in place, taking in the entire scene.
In one corner was a real pine tree, decorated with tiny blinking lights, popcorn chains and apparently hand made ornaments. Beneath it, nestled amid angel hair were brightly wrapped gifts. Along one wall were pictures drawn in crayon, obviously the work of a very young child.
Deanna watched him take in his surroundings then walked over to the shuttered window, and eased open the shutters. Outside, the snow was falling in furious swirls as it was buffeted first one way then another by the gusts of wind. She shivered just looking at it, suddenly very grateful for the roaring fire.
She turned her attention back to Will. He was staring at her, tears in his eyes. "How?" he whispered.
"I contacted your father and he sent me the holovid of your last Christmas all together."
Will walked to the window, wrapping Deanna in his arms when he reached her. "When I was still at home, every year on Christmas Eve, I would watch that holovid, trying to remember what she was like. I never could, except for a flash here and there of her face looking down at me. And her scent. To this day I can remember the perfume she always wore."
Deanna nestled deeper into his arms listening to him reminisce.
"I haven't seen it since I left for the academy. When I left home I was angry, and wanted to leave *all* of my past behind, and that included the dream of a mother I couldn't have. This year, I wanted to see it again, but didn't really have the nerve to ask my father for the vid." Will pulled back far enough to look at her and traced her cheek with the back of his fingers. "How did you know?"
"When I called him, I didn't know about the Christmas Vid, what I had wanted was to recreate your childhood home. It was his idea to send the holovid."
Will's eyes widened in mute surprise and he pulled Deanna back into his arms. Moments later he murmured almost too softly for her to hear. "Maybe he was paying attention all those years."
Deanna smiled and pulled Will over to the fur rug in front of the fireplace. They cuddled together, their backs leaning against the couch, for long peaceful moments.
Finally Will pulled away and lifted her chin with his hand. "Thank you Imzadi. Now, instead of reminding me what I cannot have, this will always remind me of us and of the future."
Leaning towards each other, their lips met softly, gently tasting each other. The kiss was full of promise, the promise of a future as yet untold.