Title: Beyond Farpoint
Fandom: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Pairing: Deanna Troi/Will Riker
Timeframe: Encounter at Farpoint
Characters: Deanna Troi, Will Riker
A/N: This is my attempt to fix the disaster that is the absolutely confusing history of Will and Deanna, and also bring in some of the other history of what was happening in the Federation at the time of them meeting. In homage to the original Imzadi novel, some elements of that story are being kept. Like the Xerx wedding. We're getting rid of the damsel in distress bullshit and accepting that Deanna is a fully realized human being before she meets Will Riker. Also, on an actual writer note, I don't write my installments in chronological order. So please check the series order.
Timeline Notes: According to Memory Alpha, Deanna Troi and Will Riker meet on Betazed in 2359, shortly after her graduation from Starfleet Academy. I'm making a small amendment to that timeline, putting them on Betazed together from 2360-2362, given that Memory Alpha's timeline for Will is not quite as specific. They are assigned to the Enterprise together in 2364.
Disclaimer: There was a time when Star Trek published fanfiction and they hired unagented writers. Those times are (mostly) gone. So here I am, making no money, and loving every minute of this exploration. But, that being said, if the powers that be would like to make my stuff canon, I’m always taking calls.
Summary: She had a feeling projecting Hey lover, I’m still soulbroken, are you? wasn’t really the best way to go about things.
The USS Enterprise
The first day aboard ship was always like the first day of classes. People filing aboard, duffels and packs slung over shoulders, trying to look like they knew where they were going even though no one could remember exactly what deck their quarters were on. There were long lines outside sickbay as people waited for their physicals. Chaos tinged with hope and excitement.
For Deanna, it was exhausting. Her mental shields firmly in place to avoid being overwhelmed at everyone else’s being overwhelmed, she moved carefully through the crowds, taking in the schematics of the ship that she’d already memorized. Her last posting had been along the Cardassian border, a fierce little ship of 200 people and a captain who had brought her on board for her diplomatic skills rather than her prowess with war-based trauma. Finally getting a chance to serve on a vessel of diplomatic and scientific exploration was an absolute joy and practically a vacation from the stress of border skirmishes. And that it was the flagship, the Enterprise, even her mother had stopped griping about her career choices and was bragging all over Betazed that her daughter was the chief diplomatic officer in Starfleet. Deanna had stopped trying to correct her. The only catch was having zero idea how to handle being around Will once he came on board. She’d known about his assignment to the ship for two weeks and she still had no clue. She had a feeling projecting Hey lover, I’m still soulbroken, are you? wasn’t really the best way to go about things.
Two field-work assigned cadets stepped aside as she exited the turbolift on deck 9. They snapped to salute and she acknowledged them with a nod of her head before making her way to her quarters. Had she been that green and terrified once? Oh, probably. Definitely. But their reaction to her uniform reminded her of the conversation she needed to have with Picard. Starfleet had optional uniform styles for certain positions, and Deanna had learned over her years in service and also her time with the hospital on Betazed, that people were more comfortable opening up to someone who didn’t look like their commanding officer. She’d wear it if she had to, but there were over 1,000 people on board and many of them were civilians and she needed to be able to work with all of them on equal footing.
Her quarters were already labeled and she pressed her finger to the button, triggering the default unlock. Once she claimed ownership, the lock would set to her fingerprint. “Lights!” She ordered as she stepped inside. The cabin flooded to Terran brightness and she blinked. “Computer, dim the lights fifteen percent and adjust to programmed Betazoid preferences.” Instantly, the lights faded to a glow rather than a glare, tinted pink rather than yellow. She let out a soft sigh of relief and glanced around at the senior officer cabin that greeted her.
Deanna was a light traveler. Life in Starfleet demanded no less. But, there were some specific items she hated to replicate and they were carefully packed into the three waiting small purple and gray trunks. Dropping the duffel that was full of her uniforms and case note padds onto the functional and guaranteed-to-be-uncomfortable couch, Deanna glanced at the chronometer above the replicator and did some math in her head. Her first shipboard meeting with Picard was in two hours, her physical in Sickbay in three. A full senior staff briefing would not happen until they picked up everyone else - including Will - at Farpoint station. But she still wanted to meet one-on-one with the department heads regarding her expectations of mental health support on long voyages.
First though, she had to unpack.
“Computer,” she spoke into the silence, her eyes on the dry dock clamps and the Utopia Planitia yards below, “can you play something …” she sighed. “Can you play some jazz?”
“Working.” Came the soothing voice of the Starfleet standard AI, which at times sounded far too much like her mother for her liking. “Select composer.”
Who was Will’s favorite? Oh, she needed not to do this.
“Cancel request, Computer.”
Unbothered, the computer clicked once and lapsed into silence. Deanna moved to her duffel to begin with the important things. She grabbed it, walked into the section of her quarters that contained her bed, and dumped the bag on the naked mattress. A standard insulated blanket was folded to First Year Cadet perfection on top of two standard issue pillows. Anything she wanted beyond the basics would be hers to replicate and if she wanted plants brought in, she could talk with the coordination team on the surface. Yes, she thought as she unzipped her duffel, if I don’t get some orchids and ferns in here, I won’t make it.
She reached for the uniforms in her bag and stopped short. In addition to the basics of what she had packed, the duffel held a couple of books, photos of her parents, and of course, him. Deanna picked the photo out of the bag, tracing her fingertips along the all-too familiar edge of his face. It had been taken shortly before he proposed, the night he told her he was being reassigned. She’d been in his favorite dress of hers - the teal sundress with the pink shawl. He’d been in a black suit with a blue shirt that brought out his eyes. By the end of the night, she’d been in tears, hating the nature of their lives. The next day, they’d hiked through the Jalara Jungle and he’d knelt before her and asked for her hand in marriage. I know I’ll never be worthy of you, Deanna … but I love you. I want to spend my life with you. After six months, I’m eligible to bring family on board and this isn’t the most romantic, but if we got married … She’d thrown herself into his arms, sobbing because her own orders had come and she was being sent to the re-commissioned Discovery, but if he wanted to try to make it work, they could.
Deanna was a big girl. She’d had lovers other than Will. She’d had her heart broken more than she wanted to admit. But, the way her soul had rendered when he had missed her on Risa still hadn’t completely healed. Gently, she placed the photo next to the bed. I really don’t know how we’re gonna handle this … but Bless the Four Deities … we’re going to have to.
The photo of her parents went onto the standard issue bookshelf by the desk, the books onto the desk for now, along with her PADDS. The three trunks that had beamed over contained, mostly, her off-duty clothes, her favorite shoes, and collections from her travels. The small Bajoran prayer wheel, the Andorian erotic art, the Vulcan tapestry, the painting of the stars she’d found in a small shop on Earth when she had dragged Tasha shopping after finals one day. Starfleet demanded efficiency and she was unpacked, had reclimated the trunks, and sent off her plant requests in less than an hour. She replicated sheets and pretended that the computer had in fact made a decent approximation to Betazoid cotton, and by the time she was set to meet with her new captain, her quarters almost felt livable. It would take time, but this adventure was worth it.
It still amazed her how many human Starfleet officers had no idea how to act around Betazoids. With Vulcans, they all snapped to their more stoic, logical sides. Around Andorians and Klingons, they found freedom in their more base natures. But telepaths scared them. Hell, telepaths scared her too, but she wasn’t about to lay that pile of insecurities at her new crewmates feet. Especially not with the introduction of this Q character into the midst of what was supposed to be a simple shakedown mission.
Picard was different than most of them. He’d asked after her abilities and wanted her to set boundaries for negotiation. I’ve never worked with any of your people, he’d said in a crisp accent she found almost comforting. But I know a number of my fellow captains tend to … use you .. for want of a better word.
She’d chuckled at the chagrin that covered his utter curiosity, but appreciated his question. He was right - all too often her people were expected to be the sensory chamber in the room, alerting to hostile actions and underhanded dealings. It was why so many Betazoids shied away from Starfleet service. If they were going to be put to work in negotiations, they might as well pursue other avenues. Picard’s honesty was refreshing.
Still, the natural inclination of humans to be scared of telepaths meant she found herself doing breathing exercises on the way to the turbolift to meet up with the captain, and, she knew, the new first officer. Deanna had felt her psyche change when he came aboard and it had taken every part of her training to keep from reaching out just to brush her soul against his. She still had no idea what to say, or even if he knew she was on board. Hi lover, are you still soulbroken? was really her preferred way of greeting him, and she’d decided she was going to project it right into his mind while looking into his eyes. Anger was currently winning her emotional debate and all of the counseling she’d allowed herself after he left her wasn’t helping right now. They’d loved each other for almost two years and he’d come to understand that he didn’t have to sacrifice his dreams to fall in love and then the minute he was confronted with having to stand up for what was good for both of them, he’d walked away. You are the most important thing in my world and if we got married ….
Would Picard care if she body slammed his new first officer into the deck? She’d changed her plans for him and passed up the offer on the Discovery so she could be on a ship closer to the Potemkin’s assigned routes. She could have been out in deep space, ahead even of the Enterprise on a mission of exploration, on a ship helmed by one of her own people. She’d taken instead the counseling position on the Miranda and spent four months being disrespected by the first officer before transferring to the Hawthorne.
But, the truth was, it was silly to be so upset. Will wasn’t responsible for her choices in relation to their engagement, nor was he responsible for her emotional state. Now, after their encounter with that Q being, everything right now should feel inconsequential. The problem was, she knew, that after watching what Q was capable of, she found herself frustrated at her own lack of power to control the matters of her heart. She was also pissed at the Betazoid tendency to rely so much on emotion.
There was a reason you spent six months training on Vulcan her subconscious teased her. Not just because it looks really good on your resume to have spent time in a Vulcan Monastery, learning the basics of their emotional control techniques. It had nothing to do with your teenage frustrations at being unable to process both sides of your psychic talents. She hated the logical, yet snarky, part of her brain.
The logical part of her brain, however, was completely crushed as she stepped off the turbolift. Deanna took a deep breath, put one foot in front of the other, and turned to face him. In a heartbeat, the anger wiped away, the pain welled up and she had to clench her fists to keep from running to him. The look in his eyes told her that he had been expecting her but, like her, he hadn’t known how to reach out.
Do you still remember what I taught you, Imzadi? Deanna projected. Can you still read my thoughts?
He paled and took half a step back and she knew he could read her still. Two years apart and it was like they were at the house at Lake El’Nar, sitting out on the porch, teasing each other with light touches in the mind as their connection grew.
The captain was asking a question, asking if they knew each other, and she wanted to warn him that she’d had a relationship with Will and she was still brokenhearted, but now wasn’t the time. Now was the time to be professional and logical and maybe she felt a bit better because Will was clearly having trouble breathing. Good.
I too could never say goodbye, Imzadi, she projected at him as they stepped into the turbolift. There was work to do, but she was going to make damn sure he didn’t forget where they’d once been.
The shock of seeing her still hadn’t worn off. He’d known it was coming. He’d read the manifest for the senior staff. He knew she was one of the most sought after diplomatic officers and counselors in the fleet. He’d felt her when he came on board. A stirring in his psyche that he’d assumed had faded away came to life as he stepped from the transporter pad. Watching her walk toward him on the bridge had almost killed him and it had taken every bit of control he could muster to not break with all protocol, walk to her, grab her and pull her to him.
I’m so sorry, Imzadi … he kept repeating, over and over, praying she couldn’t hear him.
What an idiot he’d been. What a damn idiot.
He’d felt her agony when he’d sent her into the tunnels under the Bandi city. He’d shared her rage when she’d been over on the alien ship. How could he do this? How could he send her into danger? This was why he hadn’t married her, right? Not because he’d convinced himself that he wasn’t worthy of a Daughter of the 5th House unless he had his own ship?
How the hell did he tell Picard about this? Did he bother? Did it matter? Would Deanna ever want to talk to him again? Under her reaching out, under the gentle caress of her mind against his, he could sense the anger and disappointment. Did she realize he shared it? Did it matter?
Yes, it mattered. It wasn’t just a personal issue but a personnel one. They had to be able to work together. So he stood in front of her quarters, wondering if she would even talk to him, working up the courage to just tap on the door chime. He knew she was inside, he knew she could sense him. She was making him work for it. Cautious, he pressed the button.
A few seconds went by before the door opened and she stood there, dressed for bed in a familiar nightgown. It was a comfortable, off the shoulder number that he’d always loved on her. Her hair was back off her face in a loose braid and all Riker wanted to do was exactly what he did.
He didn’t think. He didn’t breathe. He just reached out, stroked her cheek with his thumb, and leaned in to kiss her. Will expected her to punch him. Instead, she wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him into her quarters.
The kiss went on forever, building to the expected fever pitch of them on her bed, him between her legs, her hands tugging at the edges of his uniform. She pushed her hips up against him and in that moment, they broke apart and met each other’s eyes and the tension settled back into the room. Will felt the air leave his body and he leaned forward, keeping his weight on his arms. “Deanna …” he murmured.
“Damnit.” Her eyes filled with tears and she covered her face with her hands. “Damnit, I swore I wasn’t going to do this.”
“What were you going to do?”
She paused and a half smile quirked her face under her hands. She lifted her hands from her eyes and shrugged at him. “Body slam you to the deck, put my boot on your neck, and make you beg for air.”
The silence stretched before they both burst out laughing. Will rolled off of her, clutching his stomach, gasping for air. Their mutual pain dissolved into laughter as Deanna sat up and adjusted her nightgown. Will watched her as the moment passed and again they were silent, eyes locked. He reached over and took her hand, linking their fingers. “You really wanted to put your boot on my neck and make me beg for air?”
“It was a recurring fantasy after you broke my heart.” She shrugged.
His heart stopped for a moment and when he could think again, Will sat up and reached for her, but she pushed him back. “Deanna …”
He almost asked her to marry him all over again. He almost proved himself to be the idiot he knew he was. Instead, he lifted her fingers to his lips and kissed them. “You deserved better from me.”
“I think it was up to me to decide who I deserved.” She took a shaky breath. “I don’t know what it means for us, Will, to be here, serving together.”
“There are no regulations …”
“What? We’re brand new to a ship and going to just start all over again? Without understanding our new captain or crew? You couldn’t handle a relationship two years ago, Will. What’s changed? Other than I’m right here? What if one of us were transferred? What if …” her hand went back to her face and she swiped at a tear he knew she was embarrassed by. “Will, it’s been two years.”
“I still love you. I never stopped.” But even as he said the words, he knew that the love had changed. They hadn’t seen each other in years, he’d been willing to let the relationship fade. Jumping back in right now, it could spell the end of everything, and it didn’t change the fundamental truth: until he had a ship of his own, he wasn’t worthy of her.
“I love you,” she responded. “I never stopped.”
“But?” He knew what she was going to say. He knew she would be right. He knew that what they’d been about to do would ruin so much. But he missed her. He wanted her. He’d been with other people since her and no one had measured up.
“But what happens in the morning, Will? We go back to the bridge and go about our duties and …” she shrugged. “And then we just rotate around each other while we wait to figure out if Picard will approve of two of his senior staff being in a relationship?”
It clicked then that her arguments had nothing to do with starship propriety and everything do to with her fear of being hurt. He could feel the terror coming from her, feel the walls around her mind. She didn’t want to let him in again. She didn’t want to be hurt again. He didn’t blame her. So, he did the only thing he could think of. He stretched out on the bed and opened his arms and when she curled up against him, he cradled her close.
“I’m still angry,” she said, her tone low. “I know I was ripping your uniform off, but I’m still angry.”
“Can I ask a dumb question?”
He felt and heard the light ripple of laughter. “Of course, Will.”
“Why didn’t you tell me you were so angry? We kept in touch. I …” did he tell her he’d saved every letter? “I thought …” he sighed. “I thought you understood.” Had she though? Had she really understood why he’d suddenly broken off their engagement? He’d blamed his “career” but never expressed his deepest insecurities.
“Understanding isn’t the same as being happy, Will.” She pressed against him as he ran his fingers through her hair, twirling around a curl. “I got it. But we were together for almost two years on Betazed. I wasn’t some local girl fling.”
“And the minute I got out into space, I treated you like one.” He sighed, the weight of his decision hitting him. “Deanna … I’m sorry.”
How did he tell her? How did he voice it? How did he make her understand that he didn’t deserve her until he was captain of his own ship, but the terror of being offered his own ship was too much to comprehend? He wasn’t ready for it, because he needed her at his side and he hadn’t realized it until seeing her on the bridge and now, he just wasn’t sure what all of this meant for them. Because, what if she really didn’t want to get back together? He knew what he wanted.
“What is it?” Deanna sat up and moved to the edge of the bed, adjusting her nightgown as she did. “Will? Where did your mind go?”
Did he want to have this conversation here? Now? But if not now, when? He sat up, adjusting his uniform back into place, and stood up to move to the living space. She followed, her bare feet silent on the carpet. Ever graceful. Will sank into the chair and waited for her to sit - not on the couch as he assumed but on the low table. Their knees pressed together and he took her hands again.
Imzadi … he heard, clear as he had that last night at Janaran Falls. What?
I don’t deserve you …
Deanna’s eyes went wide and she extracted her hands from his. “What did I just say an hour ago, Will?”
“Deanna!” He stared at her and reached for her hands again. “I was a junior officer in love with a princess of Betazed.”
Her temper flashed. “You know how much I hate that.”
“You can hate it all you want, Deanna Troi. You might be a Starfleet officer rather than a diplomat or a politician, but you’re who you are. And I love how you reject it, how you joined Starfleet and want to do something different, but at the end of the day, you are a princess of Betazed and at the very least, you deserved a Starship captain.” He took a breath. “And I got up to the Potemkin and I got promoted and it hit me that …” he sighed. “That I could do more. I could be the man I wanted to be for you.”
“Why couldn’t we have gone on the journey together? Why couldn’t you have trusted me to be here with you?”
Well. She had a point.
“It wasn’t about trusting you, Deanna,” he sighed. “It was about trusting myself.”
“And what about now, Will?” He winced at the frustration and venom in her voice. “Now that you turned down a captainship to take the first officer aboard the Enterprise, what about now? Do you trust yourself now? You were going to take me to bed, but what about tomorrow morning? Would it just be tonight and then you wrap yourself in guilt, thinking that even now, you don’t ‘deserve’ me?”
Silence. How could he argue when she was probably right?
“Will, we’re going to be serving together for, I hope, a long time.” She paused and put her hands back over his. “And I don’t know what that means for us. But I do know that once, before we were lovers, we were friends. Maybe, that’s where we should start.”
He nodded, wishing she wasn’t right. Wishing she didn’t have a point. Wishing he hadn’t walked away from marrying her two years ago. “You have a point.”
“At least,” she stroked his cheek, “we don’t have to reforge the connection.” He took her hand and kissed it, but she had more to say. “Friends means friends, Will. You can have lovers, and so can I. We can have bonds with others.”
“That’s going to be hard.”
“I don’t think we can do anything half-way right now. I think right now, we really do just need to be friends. Eventually, once the wounds truly heal, we can talk about other things.”
She had a point. Again. He sighed. “Deanna … I’m sorry for not reaching out to you when …”
“It’s okay.” She shrugged. “I didn’t reach out to you, either.” A smile quirked her lips. “And I knew I was posted here before Picard ever decided on you.”
That made him laugh. He kissed her hands again. “I’ve missed you.”
“I’ve missed you, too.” She was quiet for a long moment and Will watched the thoughts cross her face. She stared out the viewport, searching for a distant star he knew she missed. A star that, truly, he missed too. “Two years,” she finally said. “In counseling terms, that’s nothing. Sometimes, a patient comes into my office and I know I’m looking at a lifetime of therapy and treatment plans with doctors. Every refugee I helped back home, even years in, they’re only just beginning their journey to being whole and hale. And every patient is different. What works for one, actively harms another. But two years ago, I was standing up to my family. I was ready to marry you, no matter what. I was listening to my mother and her struggles of what she went through when she married my father. Two years ago should be yesterday, but it’s a lifetime.” She looked back at him, her large black eyes pulling him in as they always had. “We’ve both lived a lifetime between that last kiss at the campus and tonight, here. I really do think that we need to get to know each other all over again.”
He nodded, taking a deep breath. “I agree.”
She reached out and stroked his cheek. “Even if things never go back to the way they used to be, I’m so glad we’re on this journey together.”
“You know,” he mirrored the touch on her cheek, “a certain psychology student I used to know would tell me that there is no going back, ever. We can only move forward and relationships grow and change. It’s how we adapt to those changes that matter.”
She laughed. “So, you were paying attention?”
“I had a very good teacher.”
A breath, a pause, a heartbeat and then he kissed her again, slowly, not pushing but not denying his desire to be with her again. But Deanna broke away first, her hands on his arms. “I think that’s the place to end it tonight, Commander.”
Will nodded, standing slowly. It wasn’t fair, but this was a moment of his own making. He’d created this. She would have been at his side already. His fear now ruled them, and rebuilding their lives was going to involve a lot of time and patience. But at least she seemed interested in starting somewhere. “Good night, Counselor,” he said, turning back at the door.
Sleep well, Will, he heard in his mind. She didn’t move, but her eyes were on him and he bowed his head, acknowledging her.
“You too, Deanna. You, too.” He stepped out of the cabin and forced himself to walk back to his own quarters.