November 21, 1998
All rights to Star Trek characters are owned by Paramount-no copyright infringement is intended.
Will Riker punched in a series of numbers on the door of Holodeck two. The doors swished open, revealing a black interior crossed with yellow lines in a grid pattern.
“Riker program 74721.”
“Program activated,” murmured the computer.
In seconds, a holographic jungle surrounded him. It felt humid, as though the hologram actually had temperature. Long, green vines huddled over the rainforest, and bright grass dripped with dew.
Summer on Betazed. He smiled briefly, remembering. Deanna had felt like heaven in his arms. It was as if they were in their own world, their own Eden. At the time, it seemed that nothing could’ve taken him away from her. Will grimaced slightly at the memories. Nothing except a drunken roll in the hay with Wendy Roper and a Starship named the Potemkin. The bitter hurt was still there, all of these years later.
Damn it, Will, get a hold of yourself. As he said that, two figures appeared. Two lovers, lying in each other’s arms. Deanna. God, how young and beautiful she was. Her soft, black curls, her eyes. Eyes the color of ebony, dark enough to drown in. As he watched, the holographic couple kissed. They were about to...
“Computer, end program!” His voice was hoarse with feeling, with anger and unshed tears. He still loved Deanna. Still wanted her. “Damn it!” he swore, and hit the door of the holodeck with his palm. It swished open, and Deanna Troi nearly ran into him.
“Well, here you are. I’ve been looking for you. We need to get those crew evaluations finished today.”
Her gentle face was like a balm to his soul, but he couldn’t talk to her now. Not after his experience in the holodeck. “I’m due on the bridge in five minutes, can it wait until tonight?”
“Certainly. Why don’t you meet me at my quarters around 1800 hours?”
He nodded, and walked away. Deanna stared after him, feeling touches of anger laced with a touch of sadness. Normally his emotions were in check, especially when he was on duty. But, now they were lingering in her mind, so strong that she knew something had happened. But what?
That evening, at precisely 1800hours, the door chimed. “Come”, she said. The door slid open to reveal Will. He was expected, so that was no surprise, but his attire was. He wasn’t in uniform, instead, he wore a dark black tuxedo, a white shirt and a black tie. Some unnameable, masculine scent drifted toward her. Exotic and musky. Very nice, she thought.
“Well, what are you doing in that get-up? You look like something out of a twentieth-century wedding magazine!”
His eyes lit up. “Oh, really? And, just what would you know about wedding magazines?”
Deanna blushed. “Well, on Betazed we do have a remarkable collection of holos from other planets. I picked up few things here and there.”
Will took a seat and crossed one leg over the other. “I bet you did. Looks as though we had the same idea, Counselor.”
He motioned to her outfit. For a Betazoid woman, it was definitely casual. For a Terran woman, it was black-tie all the way. Gossamer strands of royal blue velvet wrapped around her curvaceous figure in a flowing sheath. A golden choker and matching earrings winked in the light. Her hair had been let completely down, hanging past her waist in ringlets and dotted with sapphires.
“Hot date tonight?” he teased.
“You could say that.” Deanna grinned and was relieved that his earlier mood seemed to have passed. “Tell me, Will, why the dressy duds? All we had planned was to go over the evals and perhaps grab a bite to eat in Ten-Forward? Your message said to get “gussied-up”, whatever that’s supposed to mean.”
“For a someone who isn’t familiar with the term, you did a bang-up job, Counselor. Let’s skip the evals until later, right now I’m starving. And Ten-Forward is not what I had in mind.” Puzzled, she followed him out of the room and down the hallway.
Regrets, pt 2
Deanna followed Will until they were at the entrance of Holodeck 2. Will wondered if he was doing the right thing. All afternoon he’d had time to think about this, after all, there was nothing more pressing than a routine sensor-sweep to capture his attention on the bridge. During that time, he’d made a desicion. And it was too late to back out now.
The doors opened and Will called out, “Riker, program 82930.”
Immediately, a smoky jazz club appeared, one of his favorite programs. A quartet played over in one corner, and glamourous holographic couples filled the dance floor.
Deanna nodded, and they flowed across the dance floor in each other’s arms. “Will, about earlier today...”
“I know. I was rude, and I’m sorry. There’s something I’ve been dealing with lately, and I couldn’t talk to you then.”
Well, whatever was on Will’s mind, he seemed to be handling it alright now. The only emotions Deanna sensed were happiness and a certain nervous excitement. Whirling her over to a table, he gently set her down on a wooden chair. He motioned to the bartender and soon a large bottle of champagne appeared, along with two fluted glasses.
Filling them, he raised his and said, “Here’s to my Imzadi. My beloved.”
Deanna’s glass shook in her hand. Beloved? What in the world?
“Deanna, for months I’ve been trying to deal with this on my own. I’ve tried to keep you at arm’s length, as ship’s Counselor, my friend. But it’s not working anymore. What we began all of those years ago on Betazed, it’s still in here.” He pointed to his chest. “You’re still in here, Deanna, and no matter how I try to forget, you will always be there.”
She’d never seen him look so serious. His eyes filmed with tears, and her own welled up instinctively. “I’ve never stopped loving you. Not when I left you, not when you first came to the Enterprise, not now. Do you remember that poem I wrote to you on Betazed?”
Numbly, she nodded. “That was the first of many. I have a drawerful of them. Nights when I can’t sleep, or when I’m about to leave for an away mission, those are the nights when I turn on my jazz and write sonnets to the only woman I’ve ever loved.”
He was serious. All of the pent-up love, the hope, the nervousness-she could sense it all. “Will, I...”
“Don’t, Deanna. Don’t say anything. Just hear me out.” She nodded, and took a large swallow of champagne, hoping it would go straight to her head. “There were times when I thought I’d found another woman to love. Soren, maybe even for a moment, Ensign Ro. But what I felt for them was nothing compared to the feelings that you awakened in me. No one since you has opened my heart. Has gotten to know me completely. No one else sees behind my image; no one ever could. Except you.”
Deanna was crying openly now. The years seemed to recede, leaving them two young people in love again. She stretched out a hand to take his and he kissed it gently. “Deanna, for months I’ve been torturing myself. Replaying our past on this damned holodeck. But it’s not real. And it hurts too much to pretend anymore.”
She went to him and held him tightly in her arms. “Computer, end program,” she said. The scene dissolved, leaving them alone. The great Commander William T. Riker was crying, and for that, he deserved to be without an audience.
“I love you, Will. I think I’ve loved you since I saw you at Chandra’s wedding.” She stifled a giggle at the memory.
Will completely confused among a group of naked strangers. He began to laugh too, and soon they were laughing and crying together. “I want you back, Deanna Troi, and I’m not going to stop until you’re my wife.”
“Wife? You’re a fast worker considering we haven’t even had a real date in over fifteen years!”
Their eyes met and they both smiled. “As beautiful as you look tonight Counselor, I’d be happy to take you on a real date, as many as you want. But, you will be my wife.”
“You’re that certain?” she teased.
“I can’t live without you any longer. I won’t.” He looked so grimly serious that she burst out laughing.
“Alright, alright! I guess I’ll just have to marry you, Commander.”
“Now you’re talking!”
He took her into his arms. They kissed, and it was gentle, passionate and fairly bursting with the love they felt for one another. When they came up for air, Deanna said, “I think I’d like to see those programs of yours now.”
Will just rolled his eyes and kissed her again. This time, forever.