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Of Wedding Plans

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Title: Of Wedding Plans
Author: vegawriters
Series: Imzadi
Fandom: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Pairing: Deanna Troi/Will Riker
Rating: Teen(ish)
Timeframe: Pre-Canon
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: The first time I kissed your father, Little One, it was like my heart and my mind wrapped around every part of myself … I never wanted him to stop.

Betazed, 2360
Four years before Encounter at Farpoint

 

The Ambress gardens at the J’Nal Temple were really Deanna’s favorite spot in the entire city of Rixx. Nestled behind the modest building that housed the ancient order of priestesses devoted to the Four Deities, there was a slope of well-cultivated wildflowers and a stone path that led down, away from the temple, to a shaded arbor. Arched trellises covered in climbing vines and sweet smelling morning blooms offered privacy within the garden while flowers bloomed at the feet of the statues to the deities.

For Deanna, her honoring of the deities was less about a devotion to Gods she wasn’t quite sure she believed in, rather she appreciated the focus in her meditation rites, and what it meant to center herself in the physical, the psychic, and the spirit. She knew her empathic and telepathic abilities were a part of the natural evolution of the Betazoid brain, knew that different chemicals and hormones interacted in her body to craft the connection to another person, or sense their emotions. It wasn’t magic, it wasn’t mystical. Still, the traditions of her people, of her faith, they were part of her and she always felt closest to herself when sitting on a woven mat at the feet of the deities, her mind open to calm.

Today, however, she could only stare longingly at the entrance to the gardens, trying to focus on the quickly approaching wedding of her best friend and cousin, and dreaming of sitting there with a handsome junior officer with an honest appreciation for the dream of changing the world.

Chandra was a daughter of the 3rd House. This meant political egos, diplomatic invitations, and making sure that the seating charts for the ceremony, the reception, and even the parties were in perfect order.

Promise me that for my night before, it’s just us …

Deanna blinked and looked over at Chandra, who was pretending to care about her mother’s seating arrangement. Betazoid weddings were, in practice, very simple ceremonies. Born from the ancient tradition of two souls bonding together with nothing left between them, the bonded party went naked. The guests, honoring this, also disrobed for the ceremony. Each bonded stood with one other as a witness, and the vows were simple. A promise to be honest, to care, to be open. Unlike with so many other wedding traditions, there were no elaborate speeches either. From the ceremony, people dressed again (because pomp and circumstance meant fashion, always) and the party began until the bonded chose to leave.

Unless, of course, you were a child of one of the ruling houses. After helping Chandra with her plans, Deanna was sure the only way to truly survive was to elope.

I promise. We’ll go hiking up by the falls and toss rocks into the water. Just us.

A wave of relief hit Deanna. Thank you. If I have to smile at one more politician …

Deanna chuckled and turned her attention back to the plans, trying not to check the chronometer on her wrist. It wasn’t that she was in a hurry to slip away, but William Riker had asked her to dinner to discuss the situation regarding the Bajoran population, and she wanted to fix her hair and change before she showed up at the Starfleet campus.

Wear the teal blouse with your black skirt. Chandra’s voice dragged her back to the moment. The low cut one. And your gold necklace.

Chandra! We’re having a --

Don’t even try to justify it. And I demand details tomorrow.

Deanna glared at her friend but any response was cut short by a glare from Chandra’s mother, whose expression reminded them that she could read their thoughts as well. The cousins, properly chastised, turned back to the seating chart.

***

The comm chirped and Riker reached to tap it, frustrated with the interruption. There was a hiccup with the security training in the southern quadrant and he was having trouble understanding exactly why the assigned officers couldn’t sort out the snafu. It wasn’t crucial, but it was a headache that had kept him busy for most of the afternoon.

“Yes?”

“Sir, Lieutenant Troi is here to see you.”

His heart dropped. He’d forgotten all about their dinner and his thinly veiled excuse to see her outside of their morning runs. “Yes, send her in.” Suddenly, the headache with the security training could wait.

The door to his office slid open and Riker had to remind himself to breathe. She was in a form fitting teal sundress, with a bright pink wrap draped loosely around her shoulders. The dress fell to her ankles, showing off simple but elegant sandals. Apparently, she’d understood all too well that work was just an excuse.

“Deanna …” he breathed out, trying to find his bearings. Her black hair tumbled around her shoulders, secured with one of her jeweled headbands that he was starting to think were meant to denote her status. Every so often, it hit him that he went jogging every morning with royalty.

“I’m sorry I’m late. I had a meeting run long.”

There it was, right along with her musical accent that he’d heard from a few of the higher ranking government members and some of the staff at the Embassy, was a wisp of something he couldn’t place. A feeling he’d come to associate only with her. Will shook his head and stood, adjusting his uniform. “I lost track of time myself.”

“You look busy. Do you need a moment?”

“No.” He locked his console. “Actually, this would be a welcome break. I can finish this later.” He paused. “Will you give me a moment to step into my cabin and change, though. I feel woefully underdressed.” Unbidden, a fantastical thought of standing next to her before the captain of a ship, him in his dress uniform, her in a wedding dress, raced through his mind. He tamped it down before she could read it and reminded his romantic side that they were friends and she was royalty.

“Of course.” She stepped back. “I’ll wait in the gardens.”

She followed him out of his office and Riker didn’t stick around to watch make her way out to the embassy gardens. In his cabin, he stared helplessly at his casual clothes, but didn’t want to take the time to replicate anything, so he yanked on a pair of black pants and a blue tunic. Remembering at the last minute to jam his communicator in his pocket so he could be reached, Riker hurried out to find her standing in the heart of the roses, her fingers trailing the silken petals.

It was silly, really, this crush he had. He had no idea how long he’d be assigned here and she was completely out of his league. Their morning runs consisted mostly of comfortable silence or her explaining some random bit of Betazoid history. He barely knew her, but it didn’t change that when he was around her, he felt … different. And it was more than just libido.

Seeming to sense his presence, she turned and smiled at him. He held out a hand and she took it, easily tucking her hand into the crook of his arm. It was almost old fashioned, and he stood just a bit taller as they walked into the evening streets of Rixx.

“There’s a Bajoran restaurant I’m pretty fond of,” she said, pointing with her free hand down the hill. “If you’d be interested.”

“Sounds lovely,” Riker said, letting her direct them. In truth, he just wanted to be near her.

They walked in companionable silence down the now-familiar streets. Truthfully, Riker preferred Rixx to the other cities. The amount of off-worlders meant there was more noise. So much silence was unnerving. They passed the market place and Deanna paused at an open tent, her fingers stroking a ruby red pendant. “It’s lovely.” Riker couldn’t stop the thought of her naked, wearing only that, while he rubbed oil into her alabaster skin. She turned, raised an eyebrow, and resumed her place at his side. “Don’t apologize,” she said before he could voice the words. “I’m flattered.”

He wanted to ask if she felt the same way, but nerves had him tripped up. Still, the look on his face made him wonder. “How could you tell exactly what I was thinking?”

“I couldn’t,” she smiled and disengaged herself from him so they could enter the restaurant. “But I got the gist.”

He chuckled, reminding himself about Betazoid honesty, and followed her to the host stand. A tall, thin Bajoran woman with curly black hair and dark skin greeted them. “Hello, Deanna,” she said, the universal translator not quite keeping up with her thick accent. “Welcome.”

“Kevran, this is Lieutenant William Riker. He’s currently the commanding officer of the Starfleet crew. Will, this is Halor Kevran. She owns the restaurant.”

Riker didn’t miss the look of frustration that crossed Kevran’s face when Starfleet was mentioned. But, it passed quickly and she smiled. “Good to meet you, Lieutenant. I hope you’ll try the Hasperat. I have to replicate some of the ingredients, but I feel we’ve made a suitable version here on Betazed.”

“Thank you for the recommendation.”

“The patio, Deanna?”

“Please.”

Riker followed the women to a small table on a secluded patio. Around them, the night blooming florals were emerging from their pods and the air dripped with scent. Riker glanced down at the menu, glad for the English translations underneath the Bajoran script. Could Deanna read Bajoran, he wondered. What struck him though was the similarity in the Bajoran and Betazoid language. “Can I trust you to order?” He asked. “I have no idea what I’m looking at.”

She smiled and set the menu aside. “Of course.” A tall, lanky Bajoran came to take their order of salad, Hasperat, and Tuwali pie, along with a bottle of Betazoid Spring Wine. When they were alone again, Deanna leaned forward a bit, her hand on her chin. “We’re in a bit of a quandry, aren’t we?” She asked.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, are we here to really talk about the Bajoran situation, or are we here because it’s useless … what is it you humans say? Beating around the bush?”

Riker blushed. “Deanna …”

“Will, I didn’t say yes to dinner because I wanted another endless round about on the Federation’s absolute incompetence with the Bajorans. I’ll have that tomorrow morning, as will you. I’ll be confronting the Diplomatic Corps again about it, and again, and again. Maybe, just for tonight, we take a deep breath …”

She trailed off as their wine arrived. Once the server vanished back into the kitchen, Deanna took Will’s hand. “Maybe we take a deep breath and admit what’s really going on here.”

Oh dear God he loved a forward woman.

“Okay.” Riker took a swallow of the sweet wine and tried to appear calm before the smile on her face reminded him he could just be honest. “I thought when I first saw you, I was interested because you are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”

“Thank you.” There was no ducking the compliment, and no questioning either. He took a breath and continued on.

“And now that I know you, I’m even more interested. But I didn’t want to disrupt the friendship we’re building.”

She smiled and reached across the table, touching his hand. “I’ve never understood the idea that lovers can’t also be friends.”

“Is that what you want, Deanna? To be both?” Riker couldn’t feel his legs.

“I think ...” she quieted as their salads arrived, but Riker couldn’t focus on food. “I think it’s something I’m definitely interested in exploring.”

Silence hit the table, hard, and he could only meet her eyes. She offered a small smile before reaching for her wine glass. “Say something, Will.”

“I think I’m glad I asked you to dinner.”

That broke the tension and she laughed softly. He wanted to grab her hand and race out of the restaurant and back to his cabin and get her naked. Instead, he decided to act like a grownup. He squeezed her hand and then focused on dinner. “So,” he asked. “Why psychology?”

Deanna smiled and tilted her head. “Why operations when you are so clearly on a command track?”

“I asked first.”

***

She shook her head at him, but answered his question, trying to push aside her need to ditch dinner and drag him out to Lake El’Nar. There was a transport pad pretty close by. “Honestly, because it’s what my people do. We’re diplomats, Will. We’re psychologists. I just happen to really love it.”

“Did you have anything you wanted to be when you were little?”

Deanna chuckled and flashed back to her disastrous dance classes. “Well, let’s not go there.”

He grinned. “No, really.”

“Only if you tell me what you wanted to be first.” The server brought the main course and Deanna poked at the hesperat but was far more interested in the man across from her and his bright blue eyes and the way his emotional state softened when she said she was interested in a relationship with him.

“You’ll laugh.”

“I promise I won’t.” She could imagine laughing with him, teasing him, but never mocking him. Not truly.

“I wanted to be a jazz musician,” Riker said, a light blush rising to his cheeks.

“Jazz?” She searched her mind for the term and suddenly was awash in almost-forgotten tunes and walking into the living room to see her mother in her father’s arms, dancing. “What brought you to Starfleet then?”

Riker shrugged. “Honestly, I love to play, but I’m not that good. I realized that if I did it for a vocation, I’d probably stop loving it.”

“I’ve love to hear you play.”

“You don’t even know what instrument I play.”

“I’d still love to hear it,” she responded, her voice even. This had gone from a dinner meeting to a date and she was trying not to be nervous. What if suddenly, she wasn’t interesting to him? What if it really was all about work?

But a gentle calm moved through her and she looked back into his eyes. He was smiling. “The trombone.”

“The what?!” She giggled. “What even is that?”

“I promise, I’ll show you.” He took a bite of his own dinner. “So. You.”

She groaned. “I wanted to be a dancer, actually. But it truly was not a strength of mine.”

“I don’t believe that, but all right.” He chuckled and poured them each more wine.

It was surreal, to be sitting here like this. Deanna didn’t date a lot when she was home. Betazoid aristocracy wasn’t as rigid as some royal structures, but it was still something that hung over every interaction. She understood now why her mother had so adored her father. Will was aware of her place in Betazoid society, but he really didn’t care about it.

“Your father was from Earth, right?”

She nodded, flooded with fresh pain and a reality that she was looking into the eyes of a man she wanted to get to know very well, a man who could easily follow the same path as her father. “He … was a Starfleet officer. An engineer, actually. He died when I was seven.”

“How did he and your mother meet?”

She blushed. “It was at a reception on Earth. Mother was representing Betazed for something and, according to her, there he was. She never looked back.”

“How did that go down with the 5th House?”

She knew the question about about more than getting to know her. He wanted to know how he’d be received. He wanted this to be serious. Deanna let out a slow breath. “My grandparents were horrified at the dilution of the bloodline, but they cherished me.” The server took their empty plates away, Deanna paid for the meal with a thumbprint to her credits account, and it was just them and their wine and she wanted to stay under the flowers forever. “The truth is, some people will care, Will. Some people won’t. All that matters is what we want.”

“Well, right now,” he took her hand and they rose from the table, “I’d love to walk you home, Ms. Troi.”

“It’s a long walk.”

“It’s a beautiful night.”

It was so easy to fall into his emotions. She tucked her hand into the crook of his arm and they walked, taking the long way down to the bridge across the river. They slowed to listen to a busker and Deanna leaned against him, ignoring the second glances from those around them. “This reminds me of a place in Paris,” Will said.

“I went there a couple of times when I was at the Academy,” Deanna said, turning her head so she could look up at him. He was so tall compared to her. “You’re right. Rixx is very similar. It rains more there.”

Will laughed. Deanna closed her eyes, listening to the music and feeling him breathe next to her. Unhurried. Unworried. Right now, they were just two people out for the night, enjoying themselves.

They stayed, listening to the music, for at least twenty minutes before the busker took a break. She felt Will move and opened her eyes, falling back into step with him. “Where are you from? Back on Earth?”

“Alaska. A city called Fairbanks.”

She shook her head. “I’ve never heard of it.”

“I’m not surprised. Alaska’s right up near the top of the world, really. It’s not exactly the biggest tourist destination. Which, for the record, was something I liked about it.”

“And, I’m betting, a hard place to be a jazz musician.”

They both laughed. “You aren’t wrong,” he said.

They turned slowly back toward the Embassy and Deanna knew it was more logical for her to leave him at his door, but she didn’t want the night to end. “Do you miss it up there? In Alaska?”

“I do. But so far, Cyndriel is a pretty place to be.” Her heart skipped a beat and as they walked, she leaned into him.

The Embassy loomed before them and Deanna sighed. “I suppose, really, I walked you home. And as much as I appreciate your offer, it is late ...” She could feel his struggle about the end of the night. She shared it. So when she leaned up to kiss his cheek and instead their lips met, Deanna didn’t pull away.

The first time I kissed your father, Little One, it was like my heart and my mind wrapped around every part of myself … I never wanted him to stop.

It was just a kiss. But Deanna didn’t want to stop. She didn’t even care about what came after kissing - although she knew that would be stunning as well. No, she just wanted his lips on hers and his arms around her and it took every bit of strength to pull back and catch a breath. “I should go,” she murmured.

Neither of them moved. Neither of them wanted to go.

“Come in for a nightcap?” Will’s voice was soft, his hands on her back. Deanna wanted to. Oh, she wanted to. Instead, she kissed him again, put her hands on his chest, and stepped away.

“I have an early class and tonight has been emotional. In a good way. I’ll see you tomorrow morning, for our run?”

The euphoria that washed over her almost knocked her over. “Yes, I’ll see you then.”

Deanna stepped away, glad for the chance to walk home alone. She needed to calm down before being interrogated by her mother. “Good night, Lieutenant.”

“Good night.”

She knew he watched her walk away. It took everything in her power to not turn back.

***

The chime on his screen, signaling someone wanted his attention, was beeping just a bit too early for Riker’s liking. He didn’t want work calling him away from his morning run with Deanna. Really, he’d wanted her to stay last night, but she had been right. It was good to take it slow. Still, he was due to meet up with her in twenty-five minutes. Frustrated, he tapped the console, and came face to face with a pair of obsidian eyes and a mess of curly, black hair. She looked frustrated. “Hey …” he cleared his throat. Trying to appear not at all like he’d been ready to chew someone out. “What … tell me you aren’t cancelling?”

“I didn’t want you to wait and then I wasn’t there.” She leaned back from the screen just a bit and over her shoulder he could see hints of a palatial bedroom. “I have the worst reason ever, too.” He realized now she was not at all dressed for a run. Droplet pearls hung from her ears and her hair was pushed back with a white, jeweled headband. When she leaned back, he could see she was wrapped in a dark blue satin robe.

“What’s wrong?”

“My best friend, and cousin, is getting married in three days. Chandra Xerx. I’m … the equivalent for Terrans is, I believe, the Maid of Honor.”

Riker paused. He’d heard the Betazoid staffers discussing the wedding. “It’s the event of the season, apparently.”

“Good, you have heard about it. Because I had worried with the change in administration that Starfleet wouldn’t have been told and suddenly all the admirals would be showing up.”

“Well, I …”

“Damnit.” Deanna sighed. “Shara forgot to give you the invitation. Probably on purpose. But that isn’t the point. Well.” He held back a laugh. She was cute when she was flustered. “Look, my whole point is that while I’d love to go on our morning jog and possibly spend a bit more time engaging in our … activities … from last night … I have to have breakfast with the bride’s family. It’s … what would Terrans call it? Like your rehearsal dinner.”

Will clamped down on the hope that she’d ask him to be her date. Did Betazoids even go to weddings with dates? What were the traditions? Damnit. Apparently, though, he was expected to be there. Well, now he was going to spend his morning researching Betazoid wedding traditions and customs all so he could first, not offend his host planet, and second, hopefully not offend Deanna’s family right out of the gate.

“Well,” he said with a sigh. “I’m sorry we don’t get to see each other this morning.”

“I’m sorry I forgot about it. But last night had my full attention.” She reached out and touched the screen. “I truly enjoyed myself.”

“I did too.”

A noise over Deanna’s shoulder caught her attention and she turned and then looked back at the screen. “I need to go. I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”

“I’ll hold you to it.”

Deflated, Riker disconnected the screen. He’d go for his run, get to his office, find the invitation Shara had to have left, and figure out all appropriate attire. He wasn’t going to screw this up.

He hoped.

Standing to run, the console chirped again and Riker plopped right back into the seat, hoping like hell it was Deanna. Instead, the face of Admiral Dylan Hopper appeared. Riker almost bolted from his chair. Instead, he swallowed his nerves, trying to appear like he hadn’t just jumped out of bed to go for a run with the prettiest local girl he’d ever met.

Was she still classified as a local girl if she was a Starfleet officer?

“Admiral!”

“Lieutenant. At ease.” The man chuckled. “I just wanted to warn you, because I suspect no one has. It’s always fun to play the trick on the new guy.”

And then he got it. Deanna’s call, for as much as it was a cancellation, was also a warning. She’d known Shara wasn’t going to tell him about the wedding. She’d known he was about to be caught flatfooted as a bunch of Starfleet and Federation types beamed down for the day. He wondered, for just a second, how often in the future Deanna Troi was going to save his sorry ass.

“Oh,” he smiled. “You mean the upcoming nuptials of Chandra Xerx. I wasn’t aware you’d be attending, Admiral.”

“There’s a full contingent beaming down in two days. Check in with the civilian staff at the Embassy to make sure they are ready. Starfleet personnel will be staying aboard ship save for those who request shore leave.”

“We’ll be ready, sir.”

“Good! Good. Captain Decker and I are looking forward to seeing the work you’re doing. See you in forty-eight hours, Lieutenant.” The screen cut dark and Will raced to change from his jogging clothes to his uniform. Forty-eight hours to get the campus ship shape. As he tugged his uniform into place, Riker sat and activated the console, something in him clicking.

“Computer, what are appropriate Betazoid wedding customs?”

When his request was answered with not only a list of the secular and religious rituals, gifts given, and pictures of naked attendees, he shrank back in his seat.

Naked.

Of course these telepaths with nothing to hide also went naked not only to their own weddings but to the weddings of friends and diplomats. Naked. And he would be standing there, surrounded by his commanding officers and Federation delegates and they would all be naked.

Naked.

God, was Deanna going to warn him at least?

Naked.

Will dragged himself from the chair, washed his face again, and headed over to the offices. Forty-eight hours to get everything inspection ready, and prepare a new copy of his report on the Bajorans for Starfleet. He was going to take the Admiral over to the hospital. He was going to make someone see what was going on. The Betazoids were trying, but this had to be stopped out there, on Bajor.

Deanna would have to wait. At least until tomorrow.