We own nothing in the Star Trek world except our
imaginations. We merely borrowed a moment in their
time for our own enjoyment and not for profit.

This story is primarily *R* rated though there are a few parts that
are probably closer to NC-17. So if you are not old enough or feel
that you would rather not read this- please don't.

"Relishing life doesn't mean that you don't care or forget."

A PIECE OF GRASS IN THE JUNGLE

By  Twisted Sisters

 nightowl230@yahoo.com     spookysgirl@earthlink.net    dtroi57@cox.net  

 

Bungle in the Jungle   by Jethro Tull

Walking through forests of palm tree apartments ---
scoff at the monkeys who live in their dark tents
down by the waterhole --- drunk every Friday ---
eating their nuts --- saving their raisins for Sunday.
Lions and tigers who wait in the shadows ---
they're fast but they're lazy, and sleep in green meadows.

Let's bungle in the jungle --- well, that's all right by me.
I'm a tiger when I want love,
but I'm a snake if we disagree.

Just say a word and the boys will be right there:
with claws at your back to send a chill through the night air.
Is it so frightening to have me at your shoulder?
Thunder and lightning couldn't be bolder.
I'll write on your tombstone, ``I thank you for dinner.''
This game that we animals play is a winner.

Let's bungle in the jungle --- well, that's all right by me.
I'm a tiger when I want love,
but I'm a snake if we disagree.

The rivers are full of crocodile nasties
and He who made kittens put snakes in the grass.
He's a lover of life but a player of pawns ---
yes, the King on His sunset lies waiting for dawn
to light up His Jungle
as play is resumed.
The monkeys seem willing to strike up the tune.

 

Commander William Riker walked in to the quarters quickly locating the source of the loud voices. He cleared his throat several times before giving up on any hope of a subtle reminder of his presence. "Ladies, everyone is out in the corridor waiting. I've rung the visitor's chime twice, before letting myself in."

Lwaxana fixed him with a look that brought back old memories, none of which where pleasant. "Yes, William I know. Perhaps you could talk some sense into my daughter, you seem perfectly capable of talking anything else to her. This will give you a new, think of it as a higher goal to aim for."

Will was certain the heat from venomous glare was melting his pips, as Mrs. Troi swished past him, her outfit flowing behind her making him think of smoke from a fire. Will looked over to where Deanna stood watching her mother, he knew that look. "Ah, go ahead Mrs. Troi tell the others we'll meet them later."

Lwaxana stopped dead in her tracks to turn and look back at him. Will Riker had the distinct feeling he had just committed a sizeable error. Lwaxana spun to next fix her daughter in her sights, Will saw Deanna frown and return her mother's glare, he knew there had been some communication between them and was thankful that this time Deanna did not share the conversation vocally. Mrs. Troi scowled then turned and swept out the door. Almost making a graceful exit if it were not for her the tail of her gown getting caught in the door. The doors swished open, Mrs. Troi, gathered up the dress and the doors closed once more.

Deanna and Will looked at each other then both began to laugh, "What was that all about?" Will watched her gather her things up and put them in the travel case. She looked at her mother's things strewn all over the bed and chair, sighing she began to gather them up too.

"Do you really want to hear this?" Deanna stopped to watch his expression, noting his interest and sincerity. She met his eyes and felt drawn to them.

"You know I do." His voice softened, "I hate to see you at odds with Lwaxana, because I know how you hate it."

Deanna sighed and sat heavily on the bed. "She's upset because I straightened my hair and the color is different. She says I did it for you, that she knows your thoughts about women with long hair."

Will moved to sit beside her and touched a long strand of hair letting it run through his fingers enjoying the silky softness it offered. "I do like it this way. I love the way the light dances off of it and the way it lays on your shoulders." He gently moved it behind her shoulders while caressing the side of her neck. "Did you change it for me?"

"I'm glad you like it, but that wasn't the reason I changed it. Mother thinks I did it to spite her because she liked the curly darker shade. I think this is more manageable. She must have read your thoughts about it at some point."

Will leaned over to kiss Deanna's cheek, "Come on, let's have your things beamed back to the Enterprise. Then we'll meet up with the others."

The shops they passed were lined with colorful objects, most used for adornment. Will and Deanna laughed at the thought of actually wearing some of it, and yet the festive colors and designs drew them into one shop after another, soon the thought of meeting the others for breakfast was forgotten. Deanna pulled Will into one shop filled with what Will thought were outlandish outfits; a shaw in the window had caught her eye. Deanna found the color matched Lwaxana's outfit and the shaw would go perfectly with it.

"It would be the perfect peace offering. Since we didn't meet them for breakfast I need to have something to smooth things over." Will looked into her eyes, seeing the giving person he always loved, he nodded and smiled as they took care of having the shaw wrapped.

The two found the rest at the beam up site awaiting them. Deanna made her way over to Mrs. Troi. "Mother, I don't want to argue. Please. I found something I think you'll like." She handed out the package waiting for her mother to take it.

Lwaxana looked at into the expectant eyes of her daughter then pulled her into an embrace, "Little One, I donít want to argue either. What do you have here?" She opened the package with the enthusiasm of a child, then gleefully wrapping the shaw around her. "It's perfect, darling." She again embraced Deanna.

The rest of the crew watched, smiling indulgently. The Enterprise transporter chief 's voice was heard over the commander's comm link.

<< Commander Riker I need to ask that we beam up two groups. We are having some power fluctuations and donít want to overload the system.>>

"Understood, prepare to beam up the first group. Counselor Troi and I will follow when you're ready. Riker out."

 

 

Will paid no attention to the first group as they stepped onto the transport grid, instead his eyes were

squinted against the suns, and the halo that circled the once barren planet. Not more then ten years ago

this planet had been unable to sustain life, but with the efforts of some very determined terra-formers

the planet was now a thriving metropolis. Three satellites had been set into orbit around the once dry

planet, each emitting a constant hydro-pulse, a stream of water that hung frozen in the planets

atmosphere. The intense heat of the planets sun, slowly melting the ice, and reestablishing the

Condensation/evaporation cycle.

"Beautiful, isn't it Will?" Deanna stood in awe, the sun's rays playing against the steady stream of ice,

reflecting all the colors of the rainbow.

"Technology at it finest that's for sure." He observed moving his eyes from the lights in the sky to the

ones that sparkled through Deanna's hair. Taking her hand he maneuvered her onto the transport grid

what sounded like the distant rumble of thunder caused the earth to vibrate. There was little time

between the sound and the sensation he felt under his feet. The planet's anger becoming more intense,

throwing Deanna to the ground.

"Deanna!" He moved to her side, the change in the shadows pulling his eyes to the sky. The planet was shifting, the beam out point pulled directly below the halo.

"Enterprise...abort transport, repeat abort trans....." Holding Deanna tightly, his words were lost in the unfamiliar spiral of light that encircled them.

 

"Abort transport!" Captain Picard reiterated Commander Riker's order.

"It's too late Sir, the carrier wave has cut through the halo, the subspace signal has degenerated the transport pattern. I don't know where they are sir."

"Well I suggest you find them Mister ....." Picard barked the order, knowing his transporter chief would

be unable to follow it.

 

*************************

Will slowly came awake his head throbbing, his first thought was the climate control was malfunctioning, when hot humid air assaulted his senses. Slowly he opened his eyes, then quickly closed them again and raised his arm to shield them blocking out the bright light. After spending several moments Will was finally able to adjust to the light above him the source of the brightness appeared to be a sun, filtering through a dense canopy of high trees. He listened to the many sounds of life, insects, bird songs, and the rustle of wind through the trees, then moved his head to find Deanna lying on her side, her back to him. Will tapped his comm badge hoping to hear the tone that signified an open line, never taking his eyes of Deanna, he repeated the action twice more before deciding to try again later. He touched Deanna's shoulder, there was no response. He slid over to her, reaching to find a pulse at her neck, having found that he looked her over for any sign of injury. Deanna slowly turned in his arms, groaning. He began talking softly to her helping her to come around, "Deanna, take it easy and move slowly. I'm not sure where we are. Seems there must have be a transporter malfunction." Will watched as her eyes slowly opened and then shut again. He moved her to sit with her head against him, allowing him to hold her closely as she became aware of their surroundings.

"Transporter malfunction?" She whispered, moving away from him to look at the forest surrounding them. Will continued watching her, concerned at the time it was taking her to acclimate herself. She pulled at the neck of her uniform, "I could use a cold drink of water. I wonder where we could be."

"Do you sense any life forms?" Will had gotten to his feet holding out a hand for her.

She nodded, "There are many life forms near us, I would classify most of them as animal life."

"Most of them?" Will began peeling off the outer tunic, Deanna watched appreciatively as he continued until he was bare chested. Upon finding her watching and seeing her expression Will smugly asked, "Aren't you just a bit warm?" She nodded still watching him as he scanned the area around them. He turned to see her staring at him, "Deanna?"

Shaken from her thoughts the empath answered, "Yes, I'm warm."

"Then at least take your outer tunic off." She reached to unfasten the neck further then gracefully removed the garment. Deanna tied the sleeves around her waist freeing her hands. She looked to see what Will had done with his clothing. He had them gathered into a small crumpled ball clearly hunting somewhere to put them.

"Here allow me, Commander, she arranged them in the order that he wore them, the lighter form fitting shirt was laid inside the long sleeved tunic she reached around his waist tying the sleeves as she had her own. He left his hands rest upon her shoulders appreciating the soft feel of her under his large hands.

"We may need the clothing for later." Smiling triumphantly up at him, she noticed his eyes held her own.

"Or not?" He waggled a suggestive eyebrow, hoping to hide his almost primal feelings with humor. Letting his hand drop from her shoulder it slipped down her arm, lingering a little longer then he had planned. Clearing his throat, he stilled his unprofessional feeling, and turned his back to her, deciding it must be something in the air. He surveyed their surroundings, the dense green foliage went on for as far as he could see, looking past the canopy above his head the sun was dropping in the sky, and from what he could tell it seemed to be setting in the east. "I think we better find some kind of shelter Deanna, and water." She nodded up to him, running her tongue over her lips in anticipation of the concept of water. Will watched it stroke over her now glistening lips, "Can you not do that?"

Deanna laughed at the request, having no doubt what he was referring to his eyes fixed on her mouth.

"What's a matter Will, Jungle bringing out the animal in you."

He answered her barb with only a playful growl from deep in his chest. "Lets go." He took her wrist in his hand and pulled her further into the forest. Every vine, and plant he pushed out of his way in turn came back to slap her.

"Watch it Will."

He turned in time to see his last obstacle plummet her in the face. "Sorry....I wasn't thinking. I think I hear water."

She listened, but only the sounds of the animals and insects of the jungle filled her ears. "I don't hear anything."

"Well I do, can't you smell it?"

He was in motion again, this time keeping her by his side instead of close behind him. She didn't hear or smell anything, she hoped his mind wasn't playing tricks on him... But the thought of plunging into a nice cool pool of water inspired her to follow him blindly. It had been over an hour since he'd said he heard water, by now her shirt was pasted to her body by her sweat, her eyes stung from her body's salt as it dripped unrelentingly into her eyes. Swatting another bug from her face, she finally heard the rush of water Will had claimed to hear an hour ago. He stopped short, she continued walking, but was halted from moving towards the clearing in the forest by Will's insistent grip on her wrist. "What are you doing?"

He raised his finger to his lips to silence her, gesturing for her to stay put. She watched him as he moved through the underbrush, cautiously pushing the huge ferns aside, approaching the clearing with the skill of a panther moving in for the kill. Folding her arms over her chest she ignored his warning to stay behind, instead moving silently towards him wondering when Will Riker had been replaced by Will the jungle boy.

He slipped his arm under her hair, and cradled the back of her neck, his intense eyes never leaving the large winged creature that drank form the deep blue pool. "Can you sense if it's dangerous?" He softly whispered into her ear.

"I don't think so." Her whispered reply turning the head of the creature from the cool water to the four eyes that peered through the brush at it.

"Well I guess we'll find out now." Will said, rolling his eyes and pushing Deanna behind him.

The creature met Will's formidable gaze with dark gentle eyes of curiosity, Will straightened himself wondering exactly what he planned on doing if in fact this creature proved to be dangerous. The wings of the light leather skinned creature made at least two of Will, he was pretty sure if the creature had a mind to, he could destroy them with only a flap. The beast took a step forward, it's claws digging deeply into the ground. Deanna gripped Will's waistband tighter as it approached, a high pitched sound from the sky pulling all of their eyes upward. A larger creature, darker in color circled the oasis in the jungle, Deanna surmised it to be the mother of their curious visitor. Without ever returning it's eyes to Will and

Deanna, the beast leapt forward, taking off in silent flight. From their sheltered hiding place Will and Deanna watched the two until they disappeared into the sun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back on the EnterpriseÖ

"What do you mean you don't know where my daughter is Jean Luc? Where did you put her?" Picard cringed at the pitch that Lwaxana Troi's tone had now taken.

"Mrs. Troi, we are doing all we can to locate the Counselor and Commander. Now, please, allow me to get back to the business of doing just that." He nodded to Doctor Crusher to escort the irate woman from his bridge.

"Come with me Mrs. Troi, the sooner they get back to finding an explanation for the malfunction the sooner we'll have Deanna and Will back safely." Beverly firmly guided the older woman to the turbolift.

Upon the closing of the turbolift doors Captain Picard pushed thoughts of a distraught Lwaxana Troi as far away as he could, he did not need to dwell on the trouble that little scenario could cause. "Have you come up with anything?" His question directed to his second officer, and the chief engineer who stood looking over the android's shoulder.

"I believe we have Sir!" Captain Picard strode up the ramp towards the always optimistic voice of Commander Geordi LaForge. "According to the transport log Commander Riker and Counselor Troi were in fact enveloped by the initial transport beam." Picard moved his eyes to the screen the Commander was focusing on.

"Then where are they?"

"The first beam penetrated the hydro-pulse, distorting the carrier wave, and blocking the subspace signal from reforming. Instead of returning to the ship we believe it bounced repetitively off the ruptured hydro-pulse, creating several simultaneous beams. We believe the shift in the planet pulled it far enough away from the sun to halt the melting hydro-pulse, the beam meshing with the chemically instilled water around the planet and causing the effect you see here." Geordi pointed to the cylinder of ice that now hung in the planet's atmosphere.

"It looks like a giant prism." Picard noted watching the distant sun reflect off the crystallized structure. "Are you suggesting the beam itself as solidified?"

"That is the premise Captain." The android finally pulled his yellow eyes from the screen and focused them on his captain. "If the Counselor and Commander's molecular structure was able to withstand the beam backs, it is possible their essence is trapped inside the prism just as light would be."

"How do we get them out?"

"That is the problem Sir, without knowing if their molecules were projected into the other beams it would be unwise to attempt to break through it. I suggest we first try to determine the trajectory of the carrier wave, and the amount of degradation to the beam." Picard folded his arms looking between the two officers. "And how are you planing on doing that?"

"We think it would be possible to recreate the accident on the holodeck. If we could watch the bounce backs in slow motion it is possible we could tell if the Commander and Counselors signals could possibly still be intact."

Picard sighed then nodded "Make it so." His mind numbed at the though of facing Lwaxana Troi with anything except the most positive of outlooks.

 

 

 

Meanwhile at the watering holeÖ

 

 

 

Will stood watch as Deanna undressed to climb into the clear cool water. They were as cautious as possible when neither had a tricorder or any diagnostic tool to aid in determining the safety of the pool for drinking or bathing purposes. The amount of body fluids they were losing from the heat they needed to begin to replace the lost fluids soon. Will had strongly recommended that they not bath nude since they knew nothing of the pool or its natural inhabitants. When Deanna sensed his sincerity she agreed, but again found herself wondering about the source of Will's wisdom on this planet.

If he hadn't been so mesmerized by their surroundings he would have been more than interested in watching the effects the water would have on the pale pink cotton camisole and panties the Counselor had worn into the water. But it didn't look like they'd be going anywhere soon, he'd have more then enough time to enjoy that little moment. Sliding his tongue over the inside of his cheek, he sequestered his smile and the pictures that were floating through his mind.

This little plot of perfectly manicured grass seemed to be carved out in a perfect circle, hedged on all sides by the vast jungle. It just seemed too perfect to be a natural occurrence, he shook his head, Deanna's gentle splashing tugging at his attentions.

"Come on in Will.....it feels great." He raised an eyebrow at the invitation, one he couldn't think of any reason to refuse.

He smiled as he sat on the large rock overhanging the pool slowly pulling off one shoe then the other. Divesting himself of all but his black boxer briefs. He noted Deanna's eyebrows rise at his choice of undergarment and tried not to grin. He knew that look and her appraisal was one of satisfaction, the counselor was enjoying the sight and he knew it. Having watched Deanna swim in the area he knew the water depth would permit a shallow dive, he surfaced directly in front of her. Breaking the surface to look her in the face. Water rivulets running down his face catching on his eyelashes, his blue eyes sparkling with mischief and excitement. Deanna tried to back pedal knowing the dangerous twinkle in his eyes and the too wide smile spread across his face. He dove under the surface and pulled her under by her legs as she sunk from the force of his pull and came even to his face he pulled her to him to surface together. Will held her close as they broke the waters surface watching her emotions play across her face, he fought hard not to give into the feelings that were becoming harder and harder to ignore. Their legs continued to touch and rub against each other while treading the deeper water. Will began to tow her toward him as he moved nearer the shallow end of the pool. When he was able to find his footing in the calm water he pulled her to him, stirring up the mud from the bottom as he did. Her legs slid easily around his waist, allowing her to keep eye level with him. He smiled as he made use of the closeness, sliding his hands over her back and wrapping his arms totally around her to pin her against his body.

"Will, is this a goodÖ" her whispered entreaty was captured by his mouth. His answer was as silent as it was persistent, again and again he repeated his silent reply before breaking the kiss.

"Were you about to ask me something, Counselor?" The way he watched her with darkened still eyes, and the firm and yet gentle hold he held her with told her what he would have never explained.

She slowly shook her head watching the water droplets glisten in his beard as she gently caught the moisture she found there with her fingertips. Then sliding her arms around his neck she sought out the same area with her mouth, feeling his mouth at her ear and then moving over her jaw before coming back to her mouth. Will had begun to explore the soft skin beneath the camisole when Deanna squirmed, he smiled and began his exploration in earnest.

Deanna pushed him away, "Will! Stop pinching, it hurts."

He looked totally at a loss, "I never pinched you." But the old Riker smile slipped over his features, "But if you wantÖ" She broke away and started moving toward the bank, Will stood in the water watching her until he felt a sharp pinch. He looked down trying to find what caused the smarting bite when he heard Deanna scream and ran through the water after her.

When he got to her she had her back to him, he could her a harsh breathing and almost a sobbing coming from her. "Deanna, what is it?" He moved around her to look at her, she had the camisole pulled out and was looking down, she looked scared.

"Will, there is something biting me." She looked up at him, she was petrified. He pulled the garment out and looked in trying not to be affected by her exposed breasts.

"Deanna, let's take the thing off, I need to be able to get a better look. I think it's some kind of leech." He gathered the clothing article up and over her head in one smooth move. He moved her to face the dying suns light. "Hold still now." Will could feel her tremble beneath his hands as one hand rested on her belly, the other suspended above the slithery dark creature poised for his attack on the offending insect. It had come to rest on the underside of her right breast. Will lowered his hand, then quickly picked it off its spot and threw it on the ground, he gathered her in his arms.

 

She pressed tightly against him, for an irrational moment he held her there, appreciating the feel of her naked breast pushing against his bare chest. He got the feeling her thoughts were moving in the same direction as his, her breathing slowly increased, her hands now roved freely over his back.

"Deanna," He couldn't believe he was doing this, he was sure what he was about to say would throw cold water on what was promising to be a more than satisfying moment.

"What is it Will?" Her lips and her breath whispered over his chest as she spoke, he threw back his head in frustration.

"I really wish I didn't have to say this, but, but where there's one leech there's usually more."

"What!" The undivided attention she had been placing on his body now focused completely on her own.

He watched her as she stroked her hands over her legs and arms, searching her neck and her breast for any evidence of the evil little creatures. He was very sure if it hadn't been for the look of horror on her face, he would have found the whole situation very erotic.

"Quick, check my back!" She lifted her damp hair off her back, Will moved his hand over her neck, surveying every inch of her exposed skin.

"Stand still Deanna....they won't hurt you. Years ago they used creatures similar to these in healing."

She spun to face him, shock and repulsion blanketing her features, "That's disgusting!"

His amusement at her revulsion was evident in his voice, "They're only interested in your blood....in actuality your probably safer with them then you are with me. I think it was only the one Deanna, I don't see anymore." Raising a sinister eyebrow he grinned, "Now it's my turn...you check me." He opened his arms invitingly, and rolled his scantly clad hips.

"Your right, I think I'd rather deal with the leeches then an over zealous first officer. Turn around, I'll check your back only."

He obliged the order, Deanna running her hands over his legs and back, "Oh yea...right there, oh baby that feels sooo good." She rolled her eyes at his playful moans of ecstasy, slapping his back as a reward....."mmmm, I like it rough too, don't stop, harder baby."

"You're a sick and twisted man, Will Riker." She looked quickly to the ground as he turned to face her, hiding the smile on her face.

"But you like sick and ....." His words trailed off, he stumbled forward, Deanna stabilizing his footing.

"Will what is it?" She tightened her arms around his waist trying to keep him from falling.

"I'm not sure but I think I may have one of the little suckers on me. I felt something right before you screamed." He leaned against a large rock.

"Will, I didn't see anything." Deanna paused, her eyes grew large, "Did you look everywhere?" She looked down into his lap.

"Ahh, no, not every where." Deanna sensed the pain she heard in his voice was directed at what he might find more than the actual physical pain he was in.

"Okay, turn around and lower your pants, I'll check your backside." She admired the firm buttocks as he moved his pants away. Her eyes scanned his newly exposed skin, suddenly she saw something. "Will I think I found it." He froze, unwilling or unable to move. Deanna leaned nearer then slowly moved the black material down a little to expose the slimy long creature in the crease beneath his buttock. She drew back at the sight of it. Disgust and apprehension washing over her, "I found one, Will."

"You have to pull it off, Deanna." His voice had gone up a notch.

She swallowed hard, "Just pull it off, nothing special to worry about?" She heard him grunt, taking that as an incentive, she raised her hand hovering over the creepy crawler, counted to ten, closed her eyes and snatched it off him and threw it. Repulsed by the texture of the creature she quickly scrambled to the water to wash her hands then stopped, looking into the pool, she backed away from it and toward Will.

He was leaning heavily against the boulder his pants still where she had moved them.

"Are you okay? Did you look to see if there were anymore?"

 

He didn't look up at her right away, but continued to stare in horror at the lower half of his exposed body. Deanna followed his gaze, seeing immediately the source of his expression.

"Will, it's head has completely penetrated your ......."

"I'm well aware of that Deanna. I just need a minute, I'll get it out." She knelt in front of him, raising her eyes from the slimy leech that had apparently set up residence on the underside of Will's manhood, to Will's ashen face.

Chewing on her lip to keep from smiling, she reached her hand towards the squirming creature, Will flinching backwards, raising his leg to prevent her access, "Don't touch it!"

She jerked her hand back at the urgent request, "You can't just leave it there, and this is obviously very traumatic for you. Just one quick tug and I can get rid of it."

She watched him shudder at her suggestion, "I'll take care of it, don't touch it! This thing feeds on blood

Deanna, you touch it and I may add to it's supply."

It took her a minute to understand what he was suggesting, but as his words sunk in there was no hiding her smile, "Come on Will, this isn't sexual. How could you...."

"Trust me on this Deanna. I know my body, and a half naked, beautiful woman touches it, and it will...well you know what it will." He still held his hand, and leg protectively in front of his affliction,

Deanna rolled her eyes in defeat. "Fine, I'll leave you two alone to solve this problem."

She turned her back on him and retrieved her clothes from the side of pool, moving toward the outskirts

of their little oasis.

It was almost dusk, they had to find a place to settle for the night, she wasn't sure she wanted to be here at the watering hole after dark, it seemed the perfect place for the creatures she sensed in the forest to migrate.

A deep groan from Will, followed by some vile cursing suggested he had successfully removed his affliction. "Are you guys all right?!"

"Very funny Deanna. You know I didn't laugh at you when one of those things was stuck to your boob."

She turned to meet his cynical smirk, "Yes, and all three of us would like to thank you for that. Now if we could bypass our anatomies for a minute, don't you think we should be thinking about shelter for the night."

He curbed his next glib remark, realizing she was right, "I noticed the trees on the west side of this grove, they're huge. Maybe we could find an abandoned den to sleep in." His stomach rumbled, "And something to eat."

 

 

He finished dressing before taking her hand and pulling toward the part of forest he had spoken of.

Deanna looked in awe at the size of the tree trunks that lined this side of the watering hole, some of them she was sure were as big as the enterprise bridge.

"This is incredible." She whispered, running her hand down the smooth bark that covered the trunk of the trees. "These trees must be thousands of years old, I've never seen anything like this."

"It reminds me of......Ouch." He rubbed his head, unsure of weather to look up, to see where, or down, and to see what had just hit him off the head. He was looking up, squinting his eyes against the setting sun.

Deanna followed his eyes, "What is that?"

"A primate of some sort. Look out!" He called the warning, pulling Deanna out of the path of the round prickly object the creature was tossing at them. Will bend down and retrieved the small pod carefully, avoiding the spikes that covered it, a large grin spreading over his face. Deanna watched him as he ran his fingers over the seam of the spiny ball, pulling back the covering to reveal four small brown objects.

Pulling them from their cocoon, he put one between his teeth and bit down, the thin skin cracked under the pressure, revealing a small tan nut. He ran his tongue cautiously over it, taking a tiny bite, before popping the whole thing in his mouth.

"Try one Deanna, tastes like a chestnut." She eyed it skeptically before following Will's technique and popping the nut in her mouth. She turned up her nose almost instantly, but continued chewing, obeying her body's order to feed it.

He grinned at her obvious disliking of the food source..."They're better if there roasted, but beggars can't be choosers you know."

She nodded an agreement, eyeing the ground for more of the small pods, "Will, there are only the two, how are we going to get more."

He smiled shrewdly, "I think our little friend up there would be more then happy to help us, I get the feeling he would rather we left, so I say we stay and really annoy him."

Deanna had no time to ask what he was planning before Will started jumping around flailing his arms, and grunting at the monkey. At first the black eyes of the tiny monkey only watched, cocking his head as if confused, but as Will's grunting sounds increased the monkey proceeded to plummet the pods at him.

Deanna dodged the bombardment as best she could, unable to still her laughter at Will. He stopped only long enough to send her a reprimanding sneer, "You could help."

"I couldn't even begin to surpass your monkey imitation, I always knew sooner or later you'd show your true colors."

Consumed by his role, he grunted a response and untied his shirt from around his waist, "Gather the pods woman."

"I will if you pound your chest for me."

He raised his eyebrows, the monkey bored with the game scampered off through the treetops. "I don't think now is the right time for me to be fulfilling your primitive fantasies Deanna, but if you'd like to initiate a Tarzan- Jane scenario later *we'd* be happy to oblige." His demonic gaze moved down to his now well-hidden alternate ego.

 

After gathering as many of the pods as they could carry in Will's tunic, they moved a little deeper into the forest, neither of them wanting to wonder too far from the only source of water they knew of.

Will picked up his pace, falling to his knees in front of one of the larger trees, "This will work."

He pushed a clump of dried leaves and stick aside, his efforts rewarded by a hollow cavity in the tree.

"How can we be sure it's safe?" She surveyed the opening and the cavity in the base of the tree, there was more then enough room for the two of them, though she hoped it would only be a one night stay.

Will continued sifting through the dirt and debris he had cleared out of the way, "It's safe Deanna, this den is abandoned."

"How do you know?"

Brushing his hands together to remove the dirt that had accumulated on them, he gave her his attention,

"There's no sign of life, if this den were being used, there would be traces of animal droppings, and fur that had been discarded ....there's nothing."

She wasn't sure which of her feeling to move on, her revulsion that he'd been looking for feces, or her amazement that he would even know to do it. She decided neither one was that important, the forest noises were increasing, and the last of the daylight was slowly filtering through the trees.

Following his gesture for her to move inside, she dropped to her knees and crawled into the dark

cavern. The ground felt soft under her hands, the smell of rotting wood filled the tiny enclosure.

"Wish I could see." She turned towards the rustling sound behind her.

"Let's see if this helps."

She sat in the darkness wondering what he was up to now; this Riker of the jungle seemed to have quite a few tricks up his sleeves. She could hear him breathing, and could hear what sounded like rocks clicking together, "Your not trying to build a fire are you?"

"Not exactly, a fire in here wouldn't be too smart, just trying to give us some light." Almost before he finished his answer a gentle glow filled the inside of the tree, illuminating his proud smile.

"How did you do that?" She asked the question, and focused on the source of light. It was only a few rocks piled together but somehow he had heated them.

"With this." He held up the remains of a tiny sonic lantern, "I always carry this, never understood why until now. I just rerouted the power source to fuse the rocks instead of it's own reflector. See, these rocks are crystallized magnite, they're almost hollow, the electrical current from the lantern is trapped inside the crystals .... kinda like light trapped in a prism. By infusing the beam into the rocks I've managed to increase the light tenfold." The proud grin on his face hadn't faded at all while he explained.

"I'm impressed Will, I never knew you had so many hidden talents."

"This one is nothing, I have other talents that will be sure to amaze you." His promise started a current of heat to flush through her body, but before she had a chance to say a word he turned his back and sat cross-legged at the entrance. She stopped her imagination from speculating on what hidden talents he was referring to, and using their additional clothes fixed a place for both of them to sleep.

Settling back against the wall, she watched him, he seemed to be breathing heavy, and if it hadn't been such a ridiculous thought she would have sworn he was sniffing the air.

"What are you doing?"

He turned around on all fours to face her, his eyes dark and dangerously provocative. She sat perfectly still as he moved across the floor, his predatory gaze fixed tightly on her. He moved closer to her face, his hot breath burning across her flushed cheeks, grabbing her hair in his hand, he pulled her head back, racking his mouth over her neck.

"This is slightly Klingon of you, don't you think?" Her whispered words met with only a low growl, his hands leaving her hair and traveling roughly down the front of her shirt, stopping on her breasts, and forcefully kneading them, spiraling her now erect nipples through his fingers.

This was so not Will, but she found herself easily surrendering to his primal and powerful attentions. He moved his hands from her breast to the base of her neck, gripping the fabric of her shirt between them.....the shock she felt as he ripped her shirt from her body stifled by his warm mouth as it clamped over her breast.

The sensation of his warm tongue, combined with the gentle abrasion of his beard caused her to gasp slightly. Her cry pulled his attentions from her breast to her face, cradling it in his hands he pulled her lips to his, sinking his tongue promisingly into her mouth. She met his hunger with her own, her entire body quivering beneath his ravaging touch....Somewhere in the back of her mind, she heard him groan, his body pulling from hers, and falling into an unconscious heap beside her.

 

***

"Will?" She was sensing not only the absence of the previous passionate and highly sensual emotions but of consciousness. She leaned over him feeling his breath on her cheek; she slid her hand over his chest until finding a steady heart beat. Deanna pulled back to look into his unconscious face, "Okay Riker, I'll over look it this time, but don't ever think you'll be doing that again." She tried to pull the remnants of her shirt together then looked for the camisole but found it under Will's head. She had previously thought it would be cooler to wear just the shirt without the undergarment, it would come in handy now that jungle boy had destroyed a valuable piece of clothing. She found the site of the leech bite to be slightly swollen and a little itchy. Deanna looked over at Will curled on his side snoring, certain that his sites were going to be very sore. Seeing several of the unopened pods she gathered them up to sit against the wall of the enclosure, watching over the snoring man while chewing on the nuts until sleep overcame all her senses.

"Deanna, wake up." The empath slowly opened her eyes to see a tousled Riker kneeling over her.

"What is it?" Her voice was hoarse; she rubbed her hands over her arms noting a dampness to everything already.

His eyes opened wide, "What the hell happened to your shirt?"

Deanna pulled the edges together then crossed her arms under her breasts, her eyes blazed with the indignity of a woman left wanting. "Stop it, that's not funny."

"I'm not trying to be funny." Will sat back gingerly balancing on his heels, after rubbing his eyes he fixed a steady gaze on her, "What happened last night?"

Deanna snatched the camisole from under him pulling it unceremoniously knocking the commander flat on his tender most areas. She flinched with his pain, but didnít look back until she had left the night's sanctuary. Pulling off the torn shirt she slid into the undergarment then pulled the shirt on around it, hating to give up anything they had brought with them, particularly any article of clothing when there were no replacements was going to be difficult. She felt Will watching, Deanna turned to see him look at her, no longer the wild man of the jungle but the man she had always known.

"Deanna, what happened last night?"

She turned ready to shot off a quick jab, when she saw the look in his eyes and knew he had absolutely no idea of previous evening's events. "Tell me what you remember, Will?'

He leaned against the large tree, "I remember using the sonic lantern." He scratched his head, "I guess I must have fallen asleep."

Deanna cast him an icy look, "Yes, you certainly fell asleep."

Will tried to walk over to her, then stopped, "Damn it." He stopped placed a hand against the tree as he kicked off his shoes then removed his trousers. He stood up as he kicked the last leg off, catching Deanna's eye. "I can't stand the material in the crease of myÖ" he paused, then continued, "The leech bite. They certainly pack much more of a wallop then the earth creatures." He rubbed the place below his buttock.

Deanna sighed, "Let me take a look, you maybe getting an infection there." She stooped down, "Will, it would be easier if you pulled them down, the legs of your shorts are too long to roll up if it's already sore." She stepped back as he mumbled then lowered his pants. She didn't need to get close to see the red welt forming. "It's red and looks like it may fester a bit. How is the other area?" Deanna stayed where she was as Will slowly looked down then leaned his head against the tree. She could hear him gasping, "Are you going to be okay?"

"Yes." He straightened up and slowly and very carefully pulled his black underwear back up. "We should look for some green mud." He started back toward the pool.

"What! What for? Will, answer me what do we need green mud for." Deanna was running behind him, she stopped suddenly. This man is not the same man she left the Enterprise with the week before, not the same man she shopped with only twenty-four hours ago. She wanted that man back; this one was making her very nervous. Deanna went back to gather up all their remaining clothing, then went in the direction she had last seen Will heading.

He met her not far from the pool, "Where were you? Donít ever go off on your own here." He took some of the clothes from her, they bound them together, Will had her tie them around his back it looked comical but allowed them each the freedom of their hands. He gripped her hand firmly in his own and started back toward the pool. They walked around it several times before he found a patch of mud with a greenish tint. Will scooped a small amount up with a finger then held it up to his nose, "This is it." He reached down and this time used his hands to gather fistfuls up, looking around he frowned. His eyes finally coming to rest on Deanna, he scanned her up and down then finally stopping to look at her hips he grinned. She backed away from him, unsure as to his intentions. "Deanna, come here, we should have a supply of this for medicinal purposes."

"How do you know that? You're becoming more and more like a wild man Will Riker." She walked to him, wondering about this man. He reached around her then stuffed a handful of mud into each trouser pocket. Deanna closed her eyes in distaste, frowning as she felt the dampness soak through to her body. He pulled her close lowering his mouth over hers pulling her lips into his own, then repeating each kiss with more intensity than the one before. She felt his hand on her breast; he had worked it beneath the undergarment She pulled back, looking incredulously at him. "Don't start anything you are not going to finish."

He smiled impishly, "When have I ever done that? I put some of the mud on the bite for you. I knew you wouldn't do it on your own. By the way you are looking a bit wild yourself Counselor."

She looked down to see that she had mud streaked all along her breast. He did manage to get a smear on the bite. "Now would you be so kind as to return the favor? Get the back and I'll do the front." She watched as he again lowered his shorts this time to his ankles, Deanna eased her hand into her pocket and gingerly gathered the mud on to two fingers, then carefully smeared the greenish earth on the red welt.

"Does it hurt."

"No, not since I've taken the trousers off. I think it's itchy though. Want to scratch it while your back there." She could hear the chuckle in his voice.

"No, but maybe I can scratch.."

"I think I can take care of that, if you would be so kindÖ" He held out his hand for the mud.

Deanna smiled as she walked up to him. "Help yourself Commander, you put it there." She jutted a hip out to him indicating he should get it out of her pocket. He put his hand in, but was slow at taking it out. She turned to catch a leer on his face. She fumed, she would see that he got a taste of it back and soon if she could help it. Still frowning she moved ahead of him, "So now what Jungle Man?"

"We need to look for shelter, near clean water and a food supply. Deanna, would you mind if I took care of something first?" At her look he continued, "I need to tear the legs open on these pants, I can't stand the rubbing when I walk."

She looked at him in total disbelief, "Okay, but you would not have any protection at all the next time we bath."

He seemed to think about that, but then shrugged, "I'll think of something, but right now I can't take much more of this." He looked around him then finding something at the base of the tree he again gingerly stripped himself of the garment. Taking the jagged shell casing he began sawing into the seam when the tear was visible continued until the entire leg was now open, repeating the action with the other leg. Deanna stood back watching in wonder and more than a little concerned about the changes she had seen in Will.

Deanna snickered as Will finally had the garment back on. He frowned at her then turned the waist so that his back and front were now covered with a flap of material leaving the tears up the sides of his thighs to his waist.

 

 

She slid her eyes down the length of his body, paying particular attention to the slits in the sides of his new attire, "Doesn't provide much protection, does it?"

Turning his body to face her, the loose cotton opened slightly permitting Deanna a pleasant view of his well muscled buttocks, "Doesn't leave much to the imagination either."

He sent her a devilish smile, "I wasn't aware I needed to protect myself. If it's too much of a temptation for you, I can walk behind you." He waggled his brows, and chuckled to himself.

"Don't flatter yourself Commander, if you've seen one you've seen them all. Unlike the male of the species we are capable of viewing a man's wares without it stirring an immediate arousal"

Will clutched at his heart, appearing to be wounded by her remark, "If I wasn't so sore I'd be more then willing to prove that little theory false, Counselor." He continued his irritating chuckling, gathering up the bundle of clothing,

"Just wait until my 'wares' heal, I'm confident you'll eat those words." He lifted his loincloth and flashed his butt cheek, cringing instantly against the pain the movement of the fabric had caused.

The pain his arrogant display induced brought a smile of satisfaction to Deanna's lips, "I feel much better now, we can go."

He tagged along behind her, "Your so cruel Deanna"

 

It had been hours since they started walking, she was starting to question their decision of trying to find another water source. Her hair had been merely damp when they'd started on their little quest, now it was soaked, the excess moisture dripping down her damp camisole, amplifying the itch from the healing leech bite. Will seemed totally unaffected by the sweat that was dripping from his hair, rolling down his back and drenching the black cotton of his redesigned boxers. His tight little butt under the wet cotton had lost it's appeal to her, she was hot, tired, and beginning to lose faith in her guides abilities to find water.

He stopped abruptly, turning to face her, the dark predatory gaze burning in his eyes again. She raised her hand to his chest, stopping his ascent towards her, "Don't even think about it, Wi...." Her words fell off, she sensed the presence that stirred Will's sudden change of direction. He jerked her back into some thick underbrush, pulling her forcefully to the ground, burying them both amid the maze of thorn covered bushes.

"It won't come in here." He offered, before placing his finger to his lips to ensure her silence. She peered through the covering, doing her best to ignore the pain of the thorns that impaled her bare skin. Will stared intently through the brush, a tiny trickle of blood mixing with the sweat on his bearded face. She felt him stiffen, and followed his gaze, halting her gasp in her throat. She stared at the intimidating creature, a thick mane of black fur called attention to the almost glowing yellow eyes that seemed to have their sights set on something she couldn't quite make out. It moved cautiously forward, thick claws protruding from it's large paws, a low growl sounding from behind it's huge fangs. She jumped, the growl transforming into a loud shriek, the creature springing forward with a flash of it's dangerous teeth. The creature she hadn't been able to see before had it's surrender come without a struggle under the powerful jaws of the beast, without releasing it's death grip from the smaller animal it surveyed the area, and carried the poor animal deeper into the jungle.

 

 

Deanna's fear dissipated as she watched the creature disappear from sight, but the waning of her fear only refocused her attentions on the sharp pain of the thorns that had perforated her skin.

"Can we get up now?"

He was still for a moment longer, peering through the brush like a trapped animal, his eyes shifting over the vast expanse of trees. He moved his gaze to her, appearing to assess her injuries before helping her to her feet, "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine." He hadn't waited for her to answer he was all ready maneuvering her out of the bushes.

Brushing the dirt from her trousers she noticed the thorns had ripped several tears in her pants, the edges of the rips stained with blood. She turned her attention to Will, who she had just remembered was wearing far less then she was. "Oh Will, look at you!"

"There just scraps Deanna, I'm all right."

"Not in this heat there not, we have to get to water," She wiped a trickle of blood from above his brow with her thumb. "Can you smell any water?" She couldn't believe the question had left her mouth, and from the look on his face neither could he.

"What do you think I am Deanna, a bloodhound. I smelled it before because we were almost on top of it."

She bit back her urge to argue the point, they had not been right on top of it, and he'd heard and smelled it over an hour before she did. Instead she started walking in the direction they had been before their little encounter.

Another hour passed and not only was Will's butt losing it's appeal, but his aroma was becoming stifling,

"You smell terrible Will."

"I'm sure I do, but I don't predict "eau du Deanna" to be the scent of the future either."

The heat was pushing them both to the edge, instead of ignoring the typical Riker barb, the prudent thing to do, she pushed a little harder, "Are you saying I smell bad! Because I don't see any flies buzzing around me, like they are around you." He ignored her and continued walking, she shot in front of him blocking his path, "Well Riker, is that what your suggesting....are you saying I smell as bad as you!" She knew she was irritating him unnecessarily, but it felt good, at least she wasn't thinking about the heat.

"Knock it off Deanna, you're acting like a kid." Pulling his arm from the hand she had wrapped around it, he added.. "A dirty, smelly kid. And the reason there are not flies around you is because they probably all died in response to your stench." She opened her mouth to add another insult, the sweet smell silencing her intend. "Water!" They both uttered the revelation at the same time, moving as quickly as they could towards the source.

*****

Racing toward the sound Will faintly heard another softer noise and then he heard Deanna's groan, he turned back to see her on her stomach apparently tripped up by the tree roots that criss-crossed the path they were on. He doubled back, "Are you okay?"

"Fine." She gasped, "Just had the wind knocked out of me." Deanna began to get back up, when Will, with hands under her armpits hauled her up then swung her over his shoulder.

"Riker, let me down I can walk. Will, your carrying this caveman thing to far!" When she sensed he was not paying attention she looked down to have yet another view of his buttocks, appreciating the strong stride of the hairy legs as they moved back in forth within her vision. She propped her elbows on his back to keep her head from being bounced with each step, still watching the masculine legs, but letting her mind slow as she raised her eyes to look at the forest area around them. Taking in the warm shades of greens and the occasional bloom in the vegetation she felt lulled almost into sleep, when her personal transport came to an abrupt stop. It was then she heard the very distinct sound of water, she squirmed to be allowed down. Instead she felt hands on her legs, moving up to the waistband of her trousers.

"Will, don't you dare! Let me down. Please, let me down." He shifted her weight on his shoulder allowing him to undo the pants, then he began to wrestle them down. "Will, Imzadi, please don't. I didn't mean what I said before." She switched tactics plying his neck with kisses and caressing his back and shoulders before winding a hand around to his chest. He snagged the hand holding it and after capturing the other hand held them together in one of his larger hands, as he used his other to ungraciously strip her of her shoes and then trousers, before dumping her into the water. As soon as she felt the water close over her head she fought to break the surface and scramble out climbing on to the bank. "Have you forgotten about the leeches? What were you thinking of?"

"I was thinking it was time you were paid for your unkind remarks, Counselor. And way past time for a bath." He untied the clothes on his back, kicked off his shoes, and then dove into the water, the material covering his derriere flapping in the wind. Deanna couldn't prevent the smile at the preposterous view and thinking of what Beverly and their friends would think if they could see them, no one would ever believe it if she told them. Somehow she knew she wouldn't be sharing this.

"Will, get out of there, you have nothing covering your Ö"

"Relax Deanna. A leech lives in still water, not moving currents. Besides, that didn't prevent either of us from becoming a meal before, I think they look for the warmest point to attack. Come back in here, and cool off." He dove back under the water, and surfaced a little further away. Somehow the thought of the bloodsucker searching out the warmest body parts didn't make her relax, but only feel more tense at the chance he was taking.

She continued scanning the area; they were at the edge of a fast running stream of water. She inhaled deeply enjoying the scent, looking around her until finding the source of a sweet scent she spied a bloom, she leaned close to inhale it's perfume. She carefully plucked it from its stalk and carried it to the water's edge. Once there she touched the petals then rubbed the scented pollen between two fingers, watching and waiting for any reaction to the unknown plant. When she saw no reaction to the pollen, she gathered more of the plant blooms carrying them to the water she waded in with a handful squeezing them within her hands as she attempted to wash the stench from her. Will was further down the stream began calling for her to join him. She sensed a feeling of wonder and excitement nearly radiating from him as she began allowing the water's current to carry her down to him. He was standing on the smooth stones that covered the bank, when she waded out to stand beside him he pulled her to his side holding her there with an arm around her waist. She looked up into his face to see what had so captured his attention. The sight she saw nearly stole her breath away.

Around the next bend was a large waterfall, the mist from the water formed arcs of rainbows, the whole picture was as though it were the reflection cast on a still pond. The water was moving up the stones, and the rainbows arcs were tilted in a completely wrong direction. Deanna whispered, "How?"

Will shook his head, "I don't know. Where the hell are we?" he whispered as his eyes never left the scene before them. "Let's get our clothes and follow the water. I guess that would explain why the water was getting more and more shallow as we got nearer." They turned, Will kept his arm around Deanna, "Hmmm you smell great." He pulled her around to face him, then lowered his head sniffing her neck and shoulders.

"Then you're saying the stench is gone?" She held him back with both of her hands planted on his shoulders.

He grinned, "Definitely." Brushing her hands away to nuzzle her neck.

"You've become so much more romantic since we've been here Commander." She heard him mumble something into her chest soundly faintly like thank you. Before she could respond a moving dark shadow near the trees on the opposite side of the stream caught her eye. "Will, over there. Is that the same creature we saw earlier?"

 

 

 

He looked only for a second before releasing her from the snug embrace he had gathered her in, to latch on to a hand and begin running for their belongings. The stones digging into their feet did little to slow them as the memory of the merciless killing they had witnessed drove them on. Will swooped up the bundle of clothes stopping just long enough for the two of them to put their shoes on and scramble back toward the inverted waterfalls as fast as they could run. They stopped at the base of the stone out cropping, where Will pulled Deanna further into the woods again. She had no breath to ask him where he was headed for, but sensed that he was frantic to get them away from the unknown creature and seemed certain of the safety in direction he was leading them. He pulled up suddenly pulling her into his arms to stop her forward motion with his own body.

When Will was certain she wasn't going further he pointed down, the ravine was nearly hidden by the thick foliage whose canopy was so dense that little light penetrated down to them. She gasped as she looked down to a nearly one hundred meter sheer drop. They could hear the gurgling of a fast running stream, either another one or the same one meandering back from the waterfalls.

"Now what do we do?" She whispered, upon looking up at him she saw him scanning the trees above their heads.

"I think there is a way. Wait here." He took off at a jog through the trees, long after she could no longer see him she thought she could still hear him tramping down branches and snapping twigs. Deanna took the time to slip her trousers back on; it was then she realized just how shredded they had become from their jump into the brambles and thorns.

"Deanna!" She stood up upon hearing Will call her name, "Deanna, up here." She looked up at the tree to see him standing high up on a limb looking down at her.

"Will, what are you doing?" She was becoming very concerned with his behavior since their arrival, "What's gotten into you?" she asked too quietly for him to have heard.

"I found a way across." His voice carried down to her. She stood still wondering what he was about to do, Deanna watched as he wrapped what appeared to be a vine around his waist and again around his right leg, he swung down in all his male glory to land hard on his backside.

"Do you realize we don't have the entire supply of your green mud with us. Can you try to hold the injuries to a minimum? Please." She reached him to find his eyes slightly glazed over, "Will are you okay?"

"Ahh, yes. But I think that I'll need to find the added protection you had mentioned." He looked up at her then attempted a smile. "Give me your shirt."

"Why can't you use your own?" She clung to the torn edges unwilling to give it up.

"Because yours is the perfect size. I don't want to waste the cloth." He held out his hand waiting. Deanna shrugged out of the torn clothing handing it him. He handed her the rope he had just used to get down from the tree. She watched as he held the shirt gathering it into a wide strip, he caught her watching, "Excuse me Miss Troi." He walked a distance away she heard him mutter to himself. Ten minutes later he returned with a triumphant look on his face. "That's much better, remind me- we need to swab down with the mud once we get settled. Now if you'll hand me the vine back." Deanna looked down at the object he was referring to noticing for the first time it was indeed a still living vine.

"What did you do with my shirt." She looked closer at him then, noticed the ends of it tied around his hips, he had fashioned a more complete loincloth, and one offering the support and protection the flaps didn't. "Never mind." She sighed, so much for the shirt.

**

Deanna stood watching him measure out the vine tying knots in different places. "Okay, Deanna I need you to come here a moment." She walked to stand in front of him wondering what frightening experience she was in for next. He gently pulled her to him, keeping his hands on her shoulders he began to explain, "Now if we are to cross this, the easiest way would be to cross it one at a time."

Her mouth fell open as she turned to look down the ravine, "I'd really rather not. Is that the only way to cross it?"

Will tightened his hands on her shoulders, "No, I think we can cross it together, but I need to make some adjustments on the gripping and a couples of loops. To get an idea of how we can cross I need you to hold on to me as tight as you can." He pulled her to him, placing her arms around his upper torso while holding on to the vine with both hands. "I don't like that, I want to at least have an arm around you. Here lets do it this way: When I lift you, wrap your legs and arms around me. I saw a mother monkey and her youngster swing like this." Deanna didn't have time to fire off a remark before he had lifted her and held her to him. She wrapped her appendages around him, as he had instructed.

"Will I think this is not going to be as easy as it looks, we are both perspiring heavily, its going to be hard to maintain a hold."

He let go of his vine to hold her to him in a much more personal embrace. "I'd never let anything happen to you, you know that don't you?" She looked up to see the sincerity in his eyes, and nodded, as his mouth found hers pulling her from her fear and into the security he was offering. She eagerly accepted his tongue and his caresses until she realized they were being watched again. She stopped focusing on their mutual enjoyment of the moment and tried to focus on the watcher, the emotions were curiosity and jealousy.

"Will, we're being watched." He stopped his ministrations and looked around.

"Okay, this is what plan B is." He gathered some vine that he had tucked into their clothes pack instructing her to again wrap her self around him, he attempted to tie her to him. Then he put one foot into the loop he had fashioned in the vine and with the other foot pushed off. "Close your eyes, I'll tell you when you can open them. and hold on whatever else you do, hold on."

They swung out across the chasm. Deanna tried to enjoy the rush of cool air on her; the ride was over in minutes. "Hold on." Will shouted in her ear. As they hit the ground-hard, and rolled. Neither spoke for a while, they stayed on the ground where they finally had come to rest.

"Will, are you alright?" Deanna tried to sit up to look at him but couldn't break the vine. "Will!" she couldn't keep the panic from her voice when he didn't answer. She began to slide down his body, feeling the vine rasp her skin. Finally her face was nearly even with his stomach but her hair was so knotted and frizzed it caught easily in the vine.

"What are you doing? Trying to take advantage of me?" Will's voice was groggy but strong, the humor was very evident in it.

Deanna's voice was muffled against his stomach. "Can you get my hair out of the vine?" She heard his deep laughter echoing in his belly, "Will this is not a good time for a belly laugh, the vine is really pulling my hair." She felt his hand working through her hair, then a tug and the release from the vine. She sat up, relieved until she looked down at him. In his hand was some of the shell casing he had used designing his new apparel and a large chunk of hair- her hair.

Deanna ran over and grabbed the hair from him, "What made you do that. You had no business cutting my hair!" She slapped his hand after taking the hair from him, not once but as many times as she could until he stopped her by catching her hand in mid-swing.

"Deanna, it needed cut, it was completely tangled in the vine. The stuff hasn't been combed since we got here, it would have gotten buggy." He pointed to the hair in her hand, "What are you going to do with it, you can't glue it back!" He flinched as she threw it at him. "Wait, Deanna, come on. It has to be done. All of it."

She spun on her heel to face him. "Excuse me! You think You're laying one hand on me you can forget it, Commander." She turned and started toward the sound of water, moving briskly through the jungle and becoming soaked from the exertion. She was forced to stop by the iron grip on her shoulder.

"Okay, lets talk this out now. What is it that has you so upset? You know you couldn't leave it go like that. Mine is going to need shortened too. Without the amenities we've grown accustomed to the best we can do is to try and ward off other foreseeable problems."

She felt the fire drain from her veins, "You could have asked." Deanna watched as her response softened the look in Will's eyes, he brushed his hair back from his forehead then combed his fingers through his beard.

"I'm sorry Deanna, I should have asked." He touched the hair along her face where he had cut, "I loved it long, it will grow back once we're out of here, but for now we need to take care of each other." He gathered her into his embrace. "When we find a place for the night, you can cut mine. Okay?" She nodded the head that rested on his shoulder. "Come on, let's find someplace for the night, maybe there's a hotel of sorts somewhere near."

Deanna caught him looking at her and tried to fake a smile. He picked up her hand then slowly entwined his fingers with hers before continuing through the jungle toward the sound of water. It wasn't long until they came upon a stream they followed it for nearly two hours before both were stunned into immobility by the scene before them. There hidden among the trees appeared an entire village of caves layers of them going up the side of a vine encased gorge. The stream ran near the base of the gorge the cave entrances had coverings and propped against each was the method of arrival to that domain. From where they stood they seemed to be ladders comprised of tree limbs tied together with more vines.

Will's voice was barely a whisper, "Do you sense anyone?"

"No. I sense nothing new."

"Come on." He tugged her hand, first he wanted to check out the water supply, making sure it was the same stream they had drank from before. It had the stone covered bottom and bank, he knelt beside it, cupping his hands he brought the water to his face, after having smelled it he slowly sipped it from his hands before going back for more this time washing his face with the cool liquid. Deanna knelt beside him mimicking his method of drinking she too rinsed her face but more thoroughly than he had. "Maybe we'll find something up there to store some water in."

 

**

 

Will caught a dribble of water with his finger as it trickled off Deanna's chin, spellbound by her wet and tempting lips.

"What? Why are you staring at me like that?" Asking the question was only a stall; she recognized the look in his eyes, and the emotions that stirred inside him, both turning her own insides to jelly. "Maybe we should try to get up to one of the structures before we start another adventure."

"Thanks Deanna, but I don't think I'm up for anymore adventures." She was a little stunned at his comment, and said nothing as he helped her to her feet and escorted her to the ladder he had chosen.

He shook it, testing how sturdy it was before turning back to her, "I was thinking slow, and painstakingly gratifying for you. That is unless this fast and furious lifestyle has changed the way you like it."

His promise caused goose bumps to rise over her skin, it had been so long for them, but her memories had filled her fantasies for years. She watched his mouthwatering gaze move over her, stopping on her breast and the soft peaks that now pushed against the cotton of her camisole. He smiled broadly at the outcome of his promise, "Should I take that as a yes Deanna? Oh woman who is not affected by a man's "wares"" His alluring smile shifted instantly to an insolent grin.

Wrapping her arms around herself, she knew there was no way she could get him to believe she was cold and had been trapped by her own words. "Touchť, Riker....but we'll see who suffers the most painstaking pleasure?" She challenged his promise, trailing her finger up his chest and doing her best to launch a counterattack.

"I accept that challenge Counselor........Now...... the ladder." He moved his eyes up the frame work and

motioned for her to go first, he stayed one rung below her on the climb up, his hands gripping the railings below her waist.

"A little speed wouldn't hurt here," She turned around to look at him when he spoke, halting on the second to last rung. "Don't even think about it."

He looked up at her innocently, his face hovering behind her rear, "What?"

"I saw what you were going to do!"

"I think that was just wishful thinking Deanna. But, does this mean butt biting is off limits?" He bared his teeth and growled, pushing Deanna to move quickly up the last rungs.

She turned to scold him for making her rush up the ancient ladder, but stopped herself and returned his

playful smile. "No, don't give it up....just save it for later."

She was sure he would have at least one snide remark to add, to avoid them she pushed him through the

doorway of the dwelling.

They both stopped only a few steps into the enclosure, amazed at all the artifacts that still we're strewn

through the room. Pottery, and what Deanna surmised to be weapons leaned against the stone walls, a

fire pit at the center of the room, a smaller ladder then the one they had climbed led to a second story.

The room smelled of clay and leather, and she was sure she could still smell a whisper of smoke.

She moved a bit further into the room, stopped abruptly by Will's hand gripping her arm, turning her to him, and clamping his mouth over hers.

She struggled to speak against his lips, meeting his wide eyes with her own. She knew this man well enough to recognize a kiss of distraction when she felt one, and she was more then sure she could handle whatever he did not want her to see. Struggling against his forceful hold on her, she finally escaped his grasp, spinning to see what was behind her. She regretted her decision instantly, wishing she had allowed Will this chivalrous moment.

"That's the biggest snake I've ever seen!"

 

She inched closer to him, and pushed her way behind him.

"It was bigger when its whole body was in the room. I wouldn't worry about it Deanna, I'm sure he's more afraid of us then we are of him."

She slipped under Will's arm and watched the snake disappear out the small window, "I'm not so sure about that Will, if I'd seen him first I can guarantee you it would be my backside disappearing out that window."

"Well, he's gone now, so you can relax." He moved closer to the window to make sure it was in fact, gone, "He won't come back Deanna, I'm sure we scared any food away with our presence."

 

******

He moved his eyes to the sky, and the black clouds that swirled threateningly in the distance, "I'd say we've got an hour tops before that storm is right over us.... we need to get water and wood up here fast, that's assuming the flint by the fire will still ignite."

He had all ready released his hold on her, and was looking over the pottery that lined the walls, "We'll take these two down to the stream and fill them. You take these and put them on the ledge to catch the rain water, be nice if we didn't have to haul more then two up the ladder." She moved towards the containers he was referring to, and watched as he tied a piece of vine around the two jugs he had

chosen and slung them over his shoulders.

"You might want to anchor those pots with a few of those rocks, we have no way of telling how severe

the storms are around here."

He disappeared through the door, leaving Deanna behind. She hurriedly gathered the pots, and the

rocks, keeping an ever watchful eye out for any children or relatives of their earlier visitor.

Will was back with the water before she had finished cleaning the pots with a piece of his clothing.

"Come on Deanna, we don't have time for house cleaning, the wind is really kicking up out there." He

pulled a weapon of some sort from the wall, and disappeared out the door, "Don't kill anything Will, we still have nuts to eat." Her warning was met with only the creaking of the ladder outside as he climbed down.

She did as she was instructed and hurried down the ladder after him, curiosity over what her jungle man was up to now far outweighing her fear of the rickety ladder.

She stood at the bank of the stream, the wind increasing its intensity, the sky darkening over head,

"Will!" She called his name, but was met with only the rustling of the trees as they bowed their heads in response to the wind. Kneeling down she splashed water over her arms and shoulders, appreciating the cooling effect the wind and water had on her skin.

"Hey, I need you up top!" She raised her eyes to the voice, Will stood on the far side of the stream, an

armload of wood in his arms, and three fish on the end of the weapon he gripped in his hand.

"You managed all this in fifteen minutes?" He flashed a smile, his eyes twinkling in with pride.

"Actually Deanna, the fish were in a pool so small you could have reached in and taken them out with

your hand, but if you still have your heart set on nuts......"

The crack of thunder and lightening overhead pushed her out of her fascination with this new Will.

"I'll take it under consideration....what do you want me to do?"

He gave his instructions and before the first raindrop fell from the blackened sky they had managed to

pull Will's wood supply up to their temporary home.

Will tossed the wood beside the fire pit, knowing Deanna was scrutinizing his every move.

"Will, where do you think we are?"

He knew sooner or later there'd be a lull in their adventures, and she was going to ask him what he

thought, he was hoping he could have come up with another speculation before she had asked.

He continued to struggle with the flint and the smaller pieces of wood, "It's possible the transport chief

attempted to obey my order to abort the transport and rerouted our signal to another location."

He felt her hand slip around the back of his neck and massage it gently, "Possible, but not likely.... right?"

He put aside his task, taking her hand in both of his, "I really don't know what happened, I do know that the transport beam that enveloped us felt different, more kinetic."

He held her eyes, offering as much optimism as he could, "I'm sure the Enterprise is working on it right now, if anyone can figure this out they can. They'll get us home, Imzadi."

He could tell by the way she stared back at him, he hadn't fooled her with his attempt at what he really

believed to be false hope.

"I know you have a theory Will, just tell me."

He took a deep breath, the first officer of the federation flagship replacing the wild man she had become accustom to, "It seems likely that the transport chief would have tried to compensate for the degradation in the beam when it penetrated the hydro-pulse. If he initiated yet another signal, they may have bounced back on each other, changing the frequency of the subspace carrier wave.... if the simultaneous beams created a high enough frequency it could have penetrated the atmosphere." He was sure he was doing a terrible job of keeping the doom and gloom off his face, and out of his voice.

"What does that mean?"

"It's only a worse case scenario Deanna, transport carrier waves are not one of my strong suits."

He tightened his hold on her hands, wishing she wouldn't ask the question again, but knowing she would.

"Just tell me what that means?"

"It means we could be anywhere, Deanna.... any place....anytime."

****

She nodded her understanding of his words; a bright flash from the lightning lit up their cavernous dwelling to allow Will to see the apprehension in her face. He drew her nearer to him. "It will be fine. Data and Geordi are probably trying to repeat the entire procedure to learn our location. Let me get this fire started, we'll have our first real meal since we've been here." She nodded moving off to look out the doorway into the pouring rain.

The thunder and lightning seemed to have abated for the time, the fish was skewered and cooking nicely. Will looked around moving from one area to the other within the dwelling knowing that Deanna was not within their sanctuary. He went to the last place he had seen her, the doorway. His eyes opened wide at the sight before him, Deanna had stripped and was standing in the rain attempting to wash out the clothing she had on.

She turned to look at him, "It's one way to do laundry and bath without fear of blood sucking worms, bugs and other pestilence."

"But it does have an uncanny way of attracting first officers." Will grinned as he walked out to join her. Deanna teasingly backed away, just as she did her foot slid when the narrow ledge she stood on began to disintegrate. Will lounged forward grabbing her arms to drag her into the shelter of their new home. He held her close, whispering her name against her lips as the storm again picked up it intensity outside. Will felt her tremble as he slid one hand slowly down her lower back to hold her more intimately against him. The clothes she had taken off to wash in the rain fell from her hands to land on the smooth stone floor, while their lips continued exploring each other's flesh. A loud sputtering as the juice from the fish hit the hot stones below it brought them back to their predicament. Will turned to look at the fire, then looked down at the woman he held in his arms, "Let's eat, I think I'll remember where we stopped." Will kissed her passionately as his hands worked another magic all their own leaving no doubt as the activities he had in store for them later.

 

While Will finished preparing the fish, Deanna laid her clothes out to dry near the fire. She found Will's bundle and began going through them pulling out items and holding them out to inspect the damage done or just throwing them on a pile. When she came to his shirt that was worn under his tunic she checked it out, noting it was in relatively good shape she slid it over her head. Then gathering the rest of the clothing she went back out to the ledge to anchor the clothes down with rocks and then laid the ladder across them to further secure them. She entered another area of their lodging to find a stone shelf with small items set upon it, and many pots and containers. Deanna began to cautiously investigate being ever mindful of the last tenant they had vacated upon their arrival. She found a roughly formed comb made from a shell of some kind. Quickly she began to try and comb out the tangles in her hair realizing it was going to be nearly impossible, she again looked over the assorted items. A flat glass like stone with very sharp edges caught more than her attention as she moved her hand against it, the side of her palm began bleeding. Deanna picked the stone up to look closer at it; it clearly was a hand tool to be use for cutting. She continued looking, then finding the mustiness of the room too stifling she returned with the cutting stone and comb to the main room with Will.

 

She sat near to the fire pit watching as Will cut the cooked fish and put it on two small flat pieces of wood. Deanna couldn't help but admire the strong graceful stride as he approached her to hand her a board of fish. She watched the way his eyes caught the fire's light making them appear to have many golden specks imbedded within the blue. He smiled at her, tilting his head questioning her expression. Deanna shrugged, "I was just noticing how tan you're getting, it looks good on you."

"Oh, thought that it was the fish for a minute." She smiled at his words and thought to herself, it's a hunger all right Will. He sat close beside her, his leg warm against her own. Deanna had to concentrate on eating to keep from the distraction of his physical closeness. She looked down to see that she had actually eaten all the fish he had put on her board.

Will caught her staring at the empty plate, "Would you like more?" he had removed the "plate" without waiting for her answer, turning once more to the clay receptacle he had placed the remainder of the cooked fish in. Deanna watched the muscles dance across his shoulders as he retrieved fish for them both, he turned to see her eyes on him, and smiled at her. Deanna unconsciously smiled back at him compelled by his smile and the look in his eyes, she could feel herself drawn more and more to the inevitable conclusion that the physical nearness of the past days was leading them toward. The warmth in his smile as he placed the food in her hands drew her face nearer to him. the feel of his lips on hers in that moment was no surprise but the touch was electric enough to make her forget all about the meal and think of the way he made her want more than a kiss.

Will looked closely at her before resuming his place beside her, his arm touching hers, his leg nestled against her own. There was a sound of something falling outside their sanctuary, the prattle of the stones mixing with the hard falling rain. Deanna realized she didn't care what was happening outside of their small world. She tried to shake herself from the stupor she was falling into. "What was that?"

Will slowly moved away from her toward the doorway. "Looks like a small avalanche of stones, probably from one of the ledges above us. The rain is eroding some of the ancient stone." Deanna came to stand next to him looking out the at the rain and the colorful forest surrounding them. His arm encircled her waist drawing her close. He noticed the clothes she had put out for the rain to wash clean the mud and days of travel. Releasing her, Will started toward them, "I think they are as clean as they are going to get." She stood watching him a few moments before joining him to gather their belongings and return to the dry interior of the ancient dwelling. They laid the wet garments out to dry near the fire.

She was still on her knees laying the clothes out, Will had straightened and stood watching as she finished. Deanna looked at the leg only inches away from her, she saw the many scratches and scrapes through the dark hair, there were bruises beginning to form along his shin. Almost of it's own volition her hand touched the bruises and smoothed over the calve and up the knee. Her voice was barely a whisper as she asked, "Will do you think we should do something about all those cuts on you? We know so little about the area and have nothing to treat any infection."

"All we have is the green mud, I suppose we can use that. Where are your pants?" He took a deep breath as he watched her move away from him toward their clothing, and one of the jars of water. Then she disappeared into the other room to return with another shallow pot. He stood watching her set things near the fire, the interior of the dwelling now nearly dark except for the light from the fire. She poured a little water into the shallow pot then scooped out a large amount of the drying mud from the pocket of her uniform pants. She carefully mixed in a small amount of water until the mud formed a paste. When she had accomplished this, Deanna looked up at Will. She didn't need to say anything; he walked to her, and remained standing looking down at her head as she smoothed the green past over the marks on his legs. As she moved up his legs she noticed the shiver that he tried to repress, and smiled at the response while dipping her fingers into the mud to work on the scratches on his back.

"Turn around Will. I'll check the bite site and your back for scratches." He hesitated then slowly turned allowing her to slither the paste on him. Her senses told her he was becoming more and more interested in the more carnal desires that had been nearly overwhelmed her. Her movements over his back and shoulders were slow and sensual. She stopped applying the medicinal mud and just relished the feel of his muscular back under her hands, the feel of his ribs as she continued her exploration of his body around his waist.

"Deanna, you should have your wounds taken care of before the mud dries again. I think it loses it's potency each time we add water." Will turned toward her seeing the passion in her face, he got on his knees to reach into the pot and gather mud in his fingers and began working up her slender legs, caressing and moving slowly up to her thighs until she stopped him. He shook his head gathered more mud before standing, "I want to make sure that bite doesn't get infected." He smiled the Riker smile as she nearly stopped breathing then he lifted his shirt over her head. He held the shirt in his mud free hand, "My shirt never looked so good on a body." It lay forgotten on the floor as Will gently using his fingertips covered the bite mark on her breast. He moved a few inches closer until he could feel the tips of her breast on his torso and her warm breath on his shoulder, his mouth sought hers and upon finding it, held on to it with a desperation that shook both of them. His hands moved firmly over her ribs and up. He broke the kiss to lower his lips to the breast he had only moments before applied the healing mud to, he gently kissed the area and the surrounding areas, while both hands had moved to hold her to him one covering her bottom, as the other supported her shoulders. Deanna's breathing had become more ragged, her own hands continued the exploration she had begun earlier. On hand came to rest on the outside of what was once her shirt, but had only lately become Will's loin cloth. She felt something that her knowledge of the male anatomy and Will's in particular told her should not have been there. She concentrated and worked her fingers around it. Both of them were panting and trying to make the experience pleasurable for the other, but the odd shape kept her attention. Then she recognized the shape and had to refrain from chuckling. "Will that has to be uncomfortable, why did you put your comm badge there?"

He mumble while continuing to pay attention to her breasts, "The only place to put it." At that moment it made perfect sense to her. His ministrations had totally absorbed all thoughts and any other interests had dissipated from her mind, all that registered was his touch and his thoughts as they enveloped her senses.

She reached down to try and untie the wet loincloth, her former shirt, wet from the rain the knots would not work loose. She tried again on the other side but couldn't get that one loose either.

 

He lowered her to the floor and pressed his arousal against her own, she shuddered at the promise, momentarily forgetting her task.

"Deanna, I want you" His voice was thick and rich, his eyes veiled in passion. She raised her hips, moving them against him answering his want with her own. He moaned at the unspoken answer, leaving a heated trail with his tongue as it slid over her stomach, between her breasts, before probing into her mouth. A chilling breeze penetrated the open window combining with the heat of their sweat ridden bodies, the two sensations mingled over her causing her to shudder beneath him. Grinding herself more forcefully against him, her body screamed to be filled, she moved her hand down the damp skin of his back and again fumbled with her obstacle.

"Will."

"Is there something you want?" He pulled himself back from her, moving his hands to his loincloth, his

eyes still caressing her body. She closed her eyes, releasing a quivering sigh of anticipation, she almost

instantly heard the shift in his breathing, and the change in his emotions.

"Let me help you." She pulled herself out from under him and tried to untie the side of the loincloth he

wasn't working on.

"Damn it Deanna! I'll never get this thing off!" His voice had moved beyond frustrated, and was

teetering on the brink of hysterical.

He smacked her hand away, "I can do this." he shot at her with the voice of a punished child.

The more she watched him tearing at the fabric like a madman, the less disappointed she became, and

the harder it became not to laugh at him.

"Maybe we could cut it off." Speaking had been a mistake, her giggles of amusement skipped over her

words.

He pulled his attentions away from his plight, and glared at her through narrowed eyes. "And this is

funny, how?"

She tried to curb her laughter for his sake, but looking at him, hair tousled, sweat dripping from his

brow, only grunts of frustration leaving his mouth, twisted in anger, fighting it was hopeless.

"I'm sor..." She couldn't finish the insincere apology, her giggles had mutated into hysterical laughter. He held his stock expression and pushed away from her, "You have absolutely no compassion Deanna."

"Of course I do....I wanted to get lucky as much as you did."

He raised his eyebrows, her laughter so thick he thought maybe he'd misunderstood her, "Get lucky!?"

"I've heard you talking to Geordi, and Worf. That is what you call it, isn't it?" She replied shrewdly.

He shook his head, her insistent giggles were pulling his own mouth into a smile, "That's only used for certain experiences, I would never use it for you."

"Of course, you wouldn't."

She spied the cutting stone she had found in the other room, picking it up, she waved it in front of him.

"We could cut it off."

He swallowed hard before replying, "That suggestion was deliberately overlooked earlier Deanna, it wasn't that I didn't hear it."

She continued to wave the sharp stone in front of him, "Come on Will, you might get lucky."

He furrowed his brow, pushing her hand away, forcing her to put the stone down, "I don't think I've

ever seen this side of you before......You're a wicked woman." He winked at her, kissing the hand that

no longer held the stone. Will felt her jump, then looked followed her attention looking down, the cutting stone stuck in her thigh. He jumped up, grabbing the pot of water and the shirt she had been wearing. "It's okay, Deanna. I want you to sit back; now, kneeling like that will only increase the blood flow. Ready?" at her nod he helped ease her into a sitting position. He handed her the shirt, "Try tearing the sleeves off."

Deanna knew he had her doing it mostly to keep busy and not think about what Will was doing to pull the glass like stone from her thigh. She felt an increase in pain the moment he pulled the sharp stone from her leg. Will reached for the one sleeve she had managed to tear from the garment. He moistened it in the water before putting pressure on the cut, her blood quickly soaked through the material. Will took the shirt from her and shredded the other sleeve from it. "Lean into the cut, put as much pressure on it as you can." He watched her follow his directions before coming back with his outer tunic sleeves. He replaced the blood soaked sleeve with a fresh one, then took some of the mud paste to clot the wound, he wadded up the sleeve pressing it on the wound. Deanna picked up the shirt and slid it over her head, no longer feeling the warmth of his body but only the damp breeze blowing through the doorway.

Will took the sharp stone and cut the long outer tunic sleeve in half, "Deanna, let me slide this up your leg it will hold the padding in place." He gently lifted her foot to slide the sleeve up her leg to the wound; he adjusted the padding until the sleeve was snug but not tight on her leg. When he finished he searched her face, looking for any sign of reaction to the cut. She appeared a little pale with cheeks still slightly flushed, Will hoped it was from their previous activity. He moved to sit closer to her and pulled her into his embrace. "Well this certainly isn't how I planned to spend the evening. I thought you laid that thing down, how did that happen?"

"I picked it up to move it further away from us. I guess it slid out of my hand." She shrugged, "So much for romance tonight."

"Since when have you known me to be so easily thwarted when it came to romance?" He leaned down to lightly kiss her lips but lingered longer than he intended. "I need to clean up the bandages. You never know when we might need them."

"You're concerned that some animal or snake will smell the blood and come hunting?" She watched him as he turned to regard her.

"Well it's a consideration, but it will be a good idea to keep them clean and handy." He saw her shiver and frowned, going to the fire he picked up some of the clothing that had been drying there. He returned with her outer tunic to drape the warmed clothing over her legs. "I'll be right back, I just want to get one of the jugs collecting rain." Will sat near the door cleaning the uniform remnants of the blood making small talk about what they should try to do in the morning. He threw the cloudy water as far out the door as he could hoping the rain would dilute and wash away the tinted water enough to keep predators from their door. When he approached Deanna he saw she appeared to be asleep, her upper body twisted to allow her to lay her cheek on her arm while keeping her leg slightly elevated on the tunic that he had used to covered her legs.

 

********

Will knelt beside her, the newest bandage he had used was only lightly tinted with blood, indicating the bandages and green mud had done the trick. He brushed a wisp of hair from her cheeks and found himself smiling at the unfortunate turn of events the evening had taken. It was ironic really, he had always felt if they had ever had the time to be alone just the two of them, maybe they could get back to the way things were in Jalara. And now it was like they had almost come full circle, going back to identical, well minus a nut case Sindereen, circumstance, and yet they still couldn't get it right. Maybe there was something in the stars, some magical pull that would keep them apart until whoever controlled their fates make the decision. Kissing her lightly on her cheek, her skin warmed by the fire, warmed his heart. In that heartbeat of an instant he realized how sweet it would be for them when, not if, he was not going to consider that, fate finally smiled on them.

He stood up and moved towards the door, inhaling the sweet, slightly musty aroma of the freshly bathed jungle. He knew he wouldn't be able to sleep, so he settled himself on the ledge outside the door and stared up at the unfamiliar sea of stars. The sounds of the jungle awakening after the storm played like a lullaby, the stars overhead pulsing in time to the rhythm set by the planet. It was a perfect realm, there were those who would live, those who would die, all living with respect for this land that cared for them. Resting his head against the damp stone of the dwelling, he closed his eyes and allowed himself to become a part of it.

At first he thought he was dreaming, he was in that place that teetered on the edge of awareness, he pulled himself towards the snapping sound that flashed through his dreams. It intensified bursts of lights penetrating his closed eyes, intense colors painting shadows of light in his mind. Opening his eyes he strained them against the vibrant patterns of colored lights that streaked the sky and rippled the atmosphere. The lights stroked over the lush green jungle, touching its colors on the treetops, kissing their leaves with drips of reds and blues. It was the most incredible thing he'd ever seen, the aurora borealis, the closest thing he could equate it to, and that wasn't even close. It was more electric, as if each strand of color was charged with thousands of volts of energy, and was vying with the planet for dominance.

And as suddenly as the first snap had entered his dream, it stopped, the sky darkened, speckled with only the light of the stars. He stared back at the blackness, challenging it to betray it self again; he was met with only the star's twinkle of victory as they lulled him back to sleep.

He woke again to light that streamed through his eyes, but it was a familiar sensation this time, the sun's heat beating down on him before he squinted his eyes against it. He stood up slowly, his muscles protesting where they had been forced to spend the night. He rolled his shoulders and simultaneously rubbed his lower back, groaning at the pain.

Entering their shelter, he visually checked Deanna's bandage before moving towards one of the water containers and splashing some on his face. His thoughts filled his mind, replacing the focus he had placed on his badly abused body. He knew Deanna would be sore today, and walking anywhere was probably out of the question, but he knew he would have to venture out.... they needed food, more water, and with the way their lives had been going more green mud sounded like a good idea. Memories of the lights the night before also kept creeping into his mind, and the explorer in him was dying to find the source. He scratched his unruly beard, and wished for a razor and a toothbrush, and as long as he was wishing he decided a replicator would be nice.

He stood there for a minute as though the Gods of the jungle would fulfill his desires; a loud crack from the upper level jilted him back to reality.

He rolled his eyes to the ceiling, wondering if he really needed to investigate this new threat, he knew his body was shot to hell, in doing a mental survey of himself the big toe on his left foot was the only part of him that had remained unscathed. God, he'd even managed to screw up sex, that was the most painful so far, no, maybe not, he'd also manage to stimulate his partner into hysterical laughter with his attempt.

Shrugging his shoulders, he took the sharp stone and headed up the ladder, deciding that was rock bottom and whatever was banging around upstairs didn't stand a chance of outdoing that.

 

 

Will had no sooner cleared the top rung and carefully eased his weight on to the narrow ledge than the crashing of pottery jarred his senses, making him question his decision to take on the unknown with a single stone. He gathered his wits about him leaving the warm sun behind him he cautiously entered the darkened dwelling. The grating of pot shards being drug along the stone surface continued, Will stealthily followed the sound, moving through one cavernous room after another. He noted the litter on the floor, nut husks, greens and berry stains smattered throughout the dwelling. Finally near one of the windows that had been carved in the stone, Will noted a large bulky shadow. It suddenly stopped and sniffed the air, looking around knowing another presence was near. Will could see the animal using its sense of smell to try to locate the intruder, him. He stood still, trying to decide on a course of action should the being choose to be less than friendly. The cutting stone would be useful only if he could manage a well placed swipe, and after just seeing the formable size of the creature, it didn't seem a to be within the realm of possibilities. The creature started toward him, Will noticed the wings as it moved into the brighter part of the dwelling. It was the smaller winged creature that they had found at the water on their first day. One wing was pulled back as though broken.

Will slowly moved toward the creature, the animal changed it's attention from Will to look behind him. Will turned also to see Deanna standing behind him, "Will, he's hurt. I think there's something on his wing. Can you see what it is?"

"No, only that it appears to be bent back." He felt her move up beside him, he laced his fingers through hers, "What do you sense from it?"

"He's frightened and alone." Deanna spoke softly, removing her hand from Will's she continued to speak softly and slowly approached the creature.

"That's close enough Deanna, first rule of the jungle, never corner anything unless you're prepared to fight." Will followed her example of speaking softly, but the tone had a definite command to it. He watched, relieved that she stopped but put her hand out toward the creature. Will renewed his grasp on the stone poised and ready. The animal's nostrils flared but it stayed completely still, then lowered itself to the floor, from its lower position they could see the wing was indeed bent back the leathery skin stretched against the bony frame. Deanna spoke reassuringly to the animal as she and Will neared it, she gently touched the wing. "I don't see any open wound, Will do you think it's broken?"

"I don't know, I skipped the Academy's classes on alien wing repair." His words belied his actions, as he too carefully looked the animal over. "Deanna I think maybe the wing became inverted somehow, maybe during the storm last night. I maybe able to pop it back."

Her mouth opened as she looked at him. "Pop it back? Will what if your wrong?"

He picked the wing up gently. The creature snorted, but could do little else before Will moved his hand over the wingspan putting pressure on the structure of the appendage. They heard a snap, and a loud snarl from the animal. Deanna held her breath waiting. the animal jumped to its feet straightening out the wing. She threw an admiring look at Will, then froze as she saw the look in his face as the animal moved away from them and toward the back of the dwelling. They silently followed, to see that the back of this section had completely eroded away, giving them a perfect of a very large hole in the side of the canyon through which the creature had disappeared.

Sensing his thoughts and knowing him well enough to decipher the look in his eyes, Deanna stopped him with a hand on his arm. "No! I don't think itís a good idea Will, for one reason we don't have a source of light. We have no idea what we'll find in there, or if it's even safe."

**

He turned to look at her, "Deanna, I didn't say a word, but it's an adventure worth keeping in mind. I think we both need to heal and rest up a bit before we take that on. Besides it will give me time to look for a light source." Will tilted her chin up, "How's the leg."

"A little sore, but otherwise fine. The cut didn't go deep enough to damage muscle or nerve, it should heal." She looked up into his face. "Why did you come up here alone? What if that would have been that wild thing we ran across earlier, you wouldn't have stood a chance."

"It wasn't. I had to know how safe this place was. I think we should consider setting up residence here. until the Enterprise finds us. Here we're close to all the essentials for life, and it appears as safe as anything we've found so far."

She lowered her eyes not willing him to see the affect his words had on her. "Yes, you're probably right." She turned to go back down the ladder to the dwelling they had taken up residence in.

"Wait" he stopped her, "let me go down a head of you, just in case that leg give you any trouble."

Deanna looked at him then down at his shirt that she still wore, she raised her eyebrows at him, "Are you sure that's the only reason you want to be below me on the ladder?"

"Why counselor what else would I have in mind?" His eyes held the humor he fought to keep from his tone, "I'm tired of having my wares goggled at."

"Right, that's why you continue wearing the equivalent of an adult diaper!" Deanna did nothing to hide her mirth at his preposterous line.

"Counselor, you have a very cruel way about you lately. I understand that there is a psychological reason for that temperament." He began his descent down the ladder, stopping until she too began the climb down to the dwelling they were encamped in.

"And what would that be, Commander?" Deanna tried to concentrate on finding the rungs, but was having trouble concentrating on anything except Will's breath on her back as they slowly made their way down. She felt him move away as he stepped off the ladder, then felt his hands around her waist as he lifted her down the last two rungs.

Will turned her to face him, "Do you want to know what your problem is, counselor?" She couldn't answer but just stood looking up at him, watching him draw her to him, he lowered his head to whisper in her ear. "You're frustrated at not being able to get lucky with a man in a loincloth."

Deanna tried not to give into the laughter bubbling up inside her at his comment, but watching his face as he waited for it she let loose a hearty laugh. "You might be right Commander, but I remember I'm the empath and I know what you were feeling last night." She patted his thinly clad backside as she passed him to enter the dwelling. She knew he was watching her walk back so she moved her hips in a slightly exaggerated movement then grinned to herself at the emotions she felt from him. He may have thought she was frustrated but what she felt from him was more than frustration, the poor man wasn't going to be able to hold out much longer. Deanna found the clothes that were left to dry near the fire the night before, sorting through them, she found her uniform trousers, knowing Will was still watching her she slowly slid them up over her legs. She turned to gather his up and went to him. "I think you may want to wear these, or did you get your knots worked out?" Again fighting the smile, and working hard to maintain an innocent expression.

 

"Counselor, I had the 'knots' worked out on the clothing earlier, but somehow I have the feeling that is not what you meant. You know you are not the same counselor I knew on the Enterprise." He took the uniform trousers from her, but not before pulling her to him for a long kiss. "I think I'm not the only one with knots to work out.", he whispered against her lips.

She stepped back from him but her feelings were evident in her eyes, she knew from the smile on Riker's face and the emotions he was emitting were far from just those of making his point, but were in response to her own. Deanna took a deep breath and turned to gather up the water jugs he had tied together the night before. "I guess we need to replenish our supplies, and look for a source of artificial light if we are going exploring."

 

Deanna looked up from the pool of water she was knee high in, "Can't keep your pants on can you?"

"Just trying to keep cool and clean, Commander." Her eyes scrutinized him he had either not bothered to put his on or had already removed them. She strongly suspected he had yet to get back into them. "Your excuse is what exactly? You know if we ever get back to the Enterprise, I think that would not be considered a fashion trend."

"Hygiene Counselor, your not the only one that wants to clean up before starting out today. Deanna don't wade in over the cut in your leg. We have no idea what may be attracted by the scent of blood, even in the water."

She looked down into the water, scanning the area around her, no longer enjoying the feel of the cool refreshing water she moved toward the stone embankment, waiting until the water was slightly above her ankles before dipping her hands in once more before climbing out. She sat on the stones letting the sun dry the moisture from her limbs before sliding into her uniform trousers. Just as she began to move toward the trees to look for more of the nuts she felt a tickling inside her pant leg moving from the back of leg down behind the kneecap. She moved to get the pants off as quickly as possible, at the same time frantically kicking and moving the leg hoping to knock whatever it was out the pant leg. Just as the trousers cleared her knees she saw a large insect fall on to the stones.

Will had come running at the sound of her panic, "Its okay, its just a beetle. A really big beetle. I've never seen anything the size of that." He stooped to watch it as it ran for shade and safety under an overhanging flat rock. Deanna didn't say anything but was torn between crying and knocking Will on his backside for his nonchalant care for her but fascination with the creature. She sniffed back the tears while shaking the threads loose on the trousers before attempting to redress in them. Will looked up at the sound of the sniffling, "Hey, come on it was only a bug. It's only a beetle of sorts, they don't bite."

"No not the beetles you know about, but you have no idea about the ones here. I want to leave this place, I want to be back on the Enterprise." She didn't attempt to stop the tears this time, the frustration and continuing adventure from one moment to the other were beginning to wear on her.

Will pulled her into his arms comforting her. "It's okay, we can handle beetles and all the rest. " He held her tight against him. Deanna closed her eyes relishing the closeness, realizing that she had come to expect him to react in just such a way. She felt him squeeze her to him, "Okay now? Lets try and get some supplies gathered to take along with us into that hole."

She looked up at him, "Will, do you think thatís a good idea going in there. We have no idea what we'll find. What if we get lost?"

His voice softened as he answered, "We're explorers aren't we? How can we know that opening is there and not look into it. We donít need to go far, but I want to know if it poses a danger. We'll take all that we can and try to be prepared." She pulled away knowing they were going and no argument she could offer was going to make a difference.

 

*********

Deanna returned to their dwelling carrying a bundle of nut pods and a jug filled with a fruit she had watched some of the monkeys eat. Will was no where in the dwelling, she reached out with her mind hoping to get sense of him and hoping it didnít lead her to the large hole. She stepped out on to the ledge to look for him, after spotting him down under some trees she again climbed down the rickety ladder. As she drew nearer she saw that he was stripping bark from a large tree. The bark appeared to be coming off in large sheets, she watched as he laid the sheet down, then moved to a different tree using the cutting stone; she watched as he made a vertical incision from above his head down to mid calf then worked the bark loose.

He smiled at her, "I think I found our light. We can make torches from this bark, well it burns like we could." He grinned the boyish grin and shrugged, "I'm going to make a couple and give it a try before we go up there." He moved to where she stood, took her hand to show her what he wanted her to do. "Could you try rolling this bark at an angle, like this." He demonstrated by rolling the bark into a cone shape, then took a stick from a pile he had gathered, putting it three-quarters of the way down before continuing to roll the bark. The tying it closed using pieces of vine he had already cut. He handed it to her, pleased with his accomplishment. "What do you think?"

Deanna took it from him and looked it over, she saw that the wider part of the torch was the top and it narrowed nicely to fit on the stick. "Do you mind if I add more vine to it. I'm afraid of it opening while it's on fire."

Will smiled approvingly, "That's probably a good idea." He leaned over to give her a quick kiss on the cheek. "The only other item I want to get is more green mud to take. I think this bark can be peeled thinner we can use it to carry food and the mud. It wouldnít be as heavy or hard to manage if we need both hands. I'm afraid it won't work for water though."

 

 

 

By the time they had gathered all the provisions they would need for their exploration of the hole in the side of the cliff, the moon had crept silently into the sky, and the darkness had swallowed the last light of day. Will smiled at Deanna, she seemed so content, curled by the fire in the bed they had made from the large leaves of the trees outside. He had joined her twice trying to give into the sleep he was sure he needed, but somehow he kept finding himself at the doorway of their shelter, staring into the indigo sky, waiting for the lights he had seen the night before.

"Are you still thinking about those lights you saw?" Her voice was hazy with sleep, her eyes only partially open as she looked at him.

"I can't help it Deanna, I've been trying to recreate them in my mind all day. And the more I think about it, the surer I am they weren't natural."

She studied him closely, he knew she was looking beyond his words to what he was really thinking.

"You think it was the Enterprise."

He plunged his hands in his pockets and shrugged, "Probably just wishful thinking....but I sure would like to get another look at them."

She smiled understandingly, and patted the bed beside her, "Come over here, and we'll make our own electricity."

He raised both eyebrows, shocked and delighted by her suggestion, "Why Counselor Troi, I don't think I've ever known you to be so ......"

She completed his sentence, "Horny"

"Eager, I was going to say eager...and this new repertoire of colorful adolescent terms you've been using, well what can I say.... I'm shocked." He held a perfect look of disgust on his face, but he could tell she wasn't buying it, she slid her tongue over her lips, which still held her alluring smile.

"Just shut up and take me Riker."

At first he thought the crackle of electricity he heard was coming from inside him, but as Deanna leapt from her provocative pose on the bed and shot to the door, he knew it was more then his over stimulated hormones. He moved beside her onto the ledge outside the shelter, this was not the same phenomenon he had seen the night before, but something similar. The dark sky sputtered almost in protest, and as if a knife was being drawn from the heavens to the ground, one fine crimson line bled through the black, and suspended itself in the distance.

"Let's go.... We gotta check this out." He didn't allow her time for the protest he knew was coming, he just grabbed two of the torches, lit them and headed down the ladder into the night. An eerie silence had taken hold of the normally active jungle.... She held her torch tightly in her left hand, and gripped the waistband of Will's pants with the other. He was completely obsessed with his goal and there was no way she was going to allow his long strides to leave her alone in the blackness. The faint sound of buzzing they had heard upon leaving their shelter became louder as they grew closer to the slit in the sky.

"Shit!" The ground gave way under their feet, Will's colorful word, and the feel of her body hitting against the ground came almost simultaneously. "Shit, shit shit!"

It took her a moment to catch her breath after the fall, the drop hadn't been too far, but enough to knock the wind out of her when she hit the ground. Will was already on his feet, staring up the shaft they had plunged into, cursing the sky. She stood up on slightly wobbly legs, and brushed the dirt from her pants, "I'm fine, don't worry about me." Her cynical remark went unnoticed by her partner; he kicked the dirt wall, reiterating his sentiments.

"Shit, We'll never get out of here in time to locate the energy source."

She picked up her torch that fallen to the ground, and shined it around the narrow tunnel. "We may never get out of here at all! "She was beginning to think perhaps he had hit his head on the way down and any good sense she had accredited him with had been knocked out of his head.

He reluctantly pulled his gaze from the sky, and moved his torch around their surroundings, "Well, this doesn't look good"

She stopped herself from commenting on how not good it looked, instead trying to determine what was going on behind his distracted blue eyes, he saw something more in those lights then he had been willing to share, she was sure of it, and if they ever got out of this hole she was going to find out.

He walked around the walls of the enclosure, and then looked up at the trapdoor they had fallen through, "It's an oubliette."

"An oubliette ...Will an oubliette has only one way in, and I don't think we can go out the way we came in."

"Maybe there's only one way in, or maybe that's what they wanted whoever they held in these dungeons to believe." He moved toward the back wall of the enclosure and slammed his body against the rock; it crumbled away, Will tumbling through the opening. He groaned before looking up at her, he looked almost as amazed as she did. "I read it in a book when I was kid, I honestly didn't think it would work."

She returned his grin and helped him to his feet, he took her hand and led her down the narrow passage. The passage gradually widen, ahead of them she could see the walls of the tunnel had been hollowed out. She was temporarily relieved to get out of the tight fitting passage, until she realized what they had stumbled into. "It's some kind of burial cave." Will only nodded at her observation, shining his torch on the remains of the people who had once lived where they were now. He let go of her hand, and moved in on one of the skeletons,

"Look at that."

She had no idea what had fascinated him, her eyes drawn to the large, furry spider that crawled ominously out of the eye socket of the deteriorating skeleton. She gasped as Will moved his hand towards it, and moved further behind him when she realized the disgusting thing was even larger then

Will's hand.

"Be careful Will."

"Why, he's dead Deanna, I don't think he's going to fight me for it." He sounded confused as he reached his hand to the machete the dead man held in his bony grasp. With a quick tug he pulled it away, the old bones crumbling around it. "This could come in handy." He turned to her with a proud grin that faded as he looked at her face. He followed her gaze, his grin returning to his face. "It's only a spider, he's probably more afrai...."

She halted his words with an icy look and a finger of warning. "No he's not Will, I -am-more-afraid-of -him!" She punctuated each word with a sharp poke in his chest.

"Ok, all right....I'm sorry. But I don't get it."

She grabbed the waistband of his pants and pulled him away from the spider and further down the passageway. The air was stagnant in the tunnel, the whisper of fresh air that blew across their faces caused both of them to pick up their pace. Within minutes the two were standing in a circular room.....Deanna moved her eyes over the brightly painted murals on the walls, to the large jade alter that stood adorned with jewels that sparkled in the light that shown in from above. Will had already moved to the ladder, the newly risen sun shining through the opening.

 

**

"Deanna?" he stood ready to begin up the ladder.

"Will, don't you wonder about the people who made this, who lived in those dwellings and dug this place?" She stood before the murals, "The craftsmanship with the primitive tools we've seen is remarkable." Looking back through the passageway they had just come through, "Do you think they are all dead " When he didn't answer, "Will you should really look at these!" Deanna turned away from the elaborate drawings on the walls to the man who appeared to be ignoring her.

"Will, are you listening to me?"

She looked at him, he was half way up the ladder, carefully checking each rung before stepping to the next. The rungs creaked under his weight but appeared not to buckle at all as he jumped on each one.

"Wanna have sex Will?"

"Yea, yea, I'll look at them in a minute." She rolled her eyes at his response moving towards the jewels embedded in the jade altar. She ran her fingers over the sparkling gems; assorted blue and white stones glistened against the deep jade altar. One brilliant red stone took center stage, overshadowing all the others, she moved her hands to the stone, and it rolled under her touch. She wiggled it gently before grasping it in her fingers and pulling it from it's nest. She heard a tiny click before Will's ladder creaked louder, the rungs splitting in half sending him to the ground.

"Will!" Dropping the gem at her side she shot quickly to him.

"Will, I'm sorry, I think it was the stone." She stroked her hand over his face, but he laid perfectly still, eyes closed. Her emotions jumped into overdrive, panic at seeing him so still coursed through her body.

"Will, wake up!" She shook him gently, then more forcefully, each time calling his name and pleading with him to wake up. She leaned closer to his face caught off guard as his arms flew around her shoulders, his lips taking hers. Her first inclination to smack him was smothered by his hands as they slid over her body and moved teasingly over her buttocks and her inner thighs. With one forceful move he flipped her to her back and grabbed both of her wrists in his large hand, pinning them above her head.

"God, that was stupid Deanna" His face was set in stone, but the hungry tone in his voice betrayed his reprimand. He made no attempt to hide his arousal, but moved it against her in a tortuously slow spiral.

She moaned at the feeling, moving her hips against him, urging him to move faster. He moved his mouth over her, his tongue leaving a heated trail of goose bumps in it's wake. Stopping on the strap of her camisole, he took it in his teeth slipping the strap down her arm, his hand moving over her breasts, only lightly grazing her nipples, tantalizing them into soft peaks. Her shiver of pleasure caused him to release her wrists, her hands moved quickly over his sweat ridden back, dipping lower to push him more forcefully against her.

Deanna sought out the places that would make him tremble, and when he did, she swung a leg over his and pushed; reversing their positions as she tried to move things along at her own tempo. Will allowed it only briefly before he again found himself looking down to find her flushed and gasping. He pursued her tongue with his own, as his body moved against her tantalizing in its promise of release.

 

"I want you Will."

And as if her words had flipped a switch inside of him he moved off of her, running his hands over the length of her body, stopping to brush gently against her desire before unbuttoning her pants. She moved her hands to help, hoping he would use the time to rid himself of any barriers that might come between them. He seemed to pick up on her subtle hint, moving a little further away from her. She watched him through hooded eyes as he unhooked his pants, his chest heaving in anticipation; his eyes moving over her like he was an animal sizing up his prey. His foot moved slightly, the ground rumbling in response...There was little time to think before the floor opened beneath them swallowing them both in it's belly.

They fell for a distance; the earth becoming muddy as both rolled and twisted downward, the descent slowed as the fall became less vertical and more inclined. The thick mud they had found them selves in now began mixing with more and more water, they were on a fast slide unable to stop or slow, unable to do anything except continue in the race to whatever was at the bottom waiting.

The chute they had fallen into plunged them further downward, twisting and turning through the dark interior of the planet. The surge of water they rode on cradled them protectively, moving them safely past the jagged spikes of rock that reached out ominously towards the center of the slide. He had tried to grab her when he felt her skin whisk quickly by his, the force of the current pulling him from her before he had been able to reach her.

The ride ended as quickly as it began, Will plummeting hard into the mud beneath the incredible water ride. It took him a moment to get his bearings, he coughed the water from his lungs before crawling to

Deanna who laid quietly in the mud.

"Deanna!"

She turned slowly towards the firm hand that held her shoulder, choking on her words before sitting up

to face him.

He ran his fingers through his dripping hair, a sigh of relief escaping him as she smiled weakly.

"This is getting really frustrating." He said, looking upward and sending a silent threat to whatever god seemed so set on screwing the both of them.

She looked up at him and laughed shakily, "Loose your pants again Will?" No sooner had she spoken the words then a loud smack hit him in the back, nearly toppling him to the ground. He jumped looking for the assailant only to find the pants that were partially on when the ride began had come off and followed them at a more leisurely speed down than juggernaut they had traveled.

Will picked the trousers up trying to shake the mud and excess water from them, giving up after a few minutes then wrestled them up over his legs. He turned expecting to see Deanna with a smirk on her face and a comment on her lips but found she had walked a little further down the along the wall of their new prison. He moved up behind her, "What are you looking for?" His voice was soft as he pulled her back against him then cleaned the mud off her neck before leaning down to kiss it. "Deanna, are you finding it extremely difficult to think of anything but us lately?"

******

Deanna didn't answer, just leaned into the warmth of his chest, reveling in the press of hard muscle along the length of her spine. "Deanna? You okay? You hit the ground pretty hard and..."

 

"Shhhhhhh....listen.... can you hear it?" Deanna's voice was low and wistful, as she drew Will's hands forward to wrap his arms around her torso. The heavy weight of her breasts rested against his forearms, drawing a shaky sigh from both of them. Will swallowed hard over the lump that had suddenly formed in his chest. Looking downward, rather than where Deanna gestured with her chin, he had a tantalizing view of her chest.

 

"I...I don't hear anything sweetheart, I'm sorry. But the view is terrific from where I stand." Deanna shivered slightly in his arms as the timbre of his voice coupled with the wash of emotion he projected coursed over her empathic sense. She turned to look up at him, but before she could chastise him for not paying attention to what could be important, her emotions took control and she reached up to pull Will into a warm and searching kiss. Deanna let all thought of the mysterious music slip away as she slowly turned to nestle against Will's chest. Rationally she knew that making love right now was hardly the logical or practical thing to do...but it seemed that all of her senses were heightened, and a look or the slightest touch seemed to send her into a paroxysm of lust. She nipped at Will's lower lip as he lifted her off of her feet, his mouth drawing her into a deeper well of desire. Soft moans of frustration slipped from both of them in unison as the kiss became more frantic, more needy. Deanna drew her legs up and wrapped them around Will's legs; her embrace was suddenly more than intimate. Will pulled her tightly against him, drawing low whimper from her throat.

 

"Please imzadi? I need you..." she whispered, leaning in to spread heated kisses and trails of fire on his neck and ears.

Will groaned aloud and kneaded the firm roundness of Deanna's bottom. "I need you too...let's find a comfortable spot." Deanna didn't respond, just kissed the base of Will's throat, and nodded. Anticipation fueled Wills search for a smooth stretch of ground. He carried Deanna easily, trying to focus on the area around them, while she did her level best to distract him. Not that the fullness of her naked breasts crushed against his chest wasn't doing that effectively enough. Finally Will spotted a tree that strangely resembled a weeping willow, though this tree's leaves were a pale yellow. He strode toward it and bent

slightly to push through the delicate foliage. Beneath the tree, a layer of the softest moss he'd ever felt, grew in glittering iridescent profusion. It seemed a perfect cushion for the beautiful woman he carried.

 

"This is perfect, don't you think Dee?" Will asked as Deanna slipped slowly down the length of his body, having unraveled her legs from around his waist.

 

"Perfect." She said quietly, then dropped her pants.

Will's eyes narrowed to slits as they slid up and down over the length of Deanna's delicate frame. "Perfect." He whispered, reaching down to skin his own trousers from his fully aroused body. "No regrets?" Deanna shook her head.

 

"None. Now come here, Riker and kiss me."

Will took a step towards her, and reached out to cup a breast. As his warm palm slid over her soft skin, Deanna closed her eyes. A moment later, his free hand imitated the caress on her second breast "mmmmmm." Soft sighs filled the tiny refuge, until they were kneeling face to face on the mossy floor.

As Will eased Deanna to her back once again, a high pitched whine filled the air. "What is that?" They said at the same time. A loud crack of thunder followed, succeeded by a snapping, crackling bolt of pinkish lightning. The smell of ozone filled the enclosed space. Will looked up, only to find that the tree above them was on fire. "Let's get the hell out of here, the tree is on fire!" He shouted, grabbing Deanna's hand and hauling her to her feet. They barely cleared to foliage when the entire tree was engulfed in flames.

Will and Deanna stared in horrified fascination, as their perfect place was reduced to ashes before their eyes. "Good thing I don't believe in bad omens." Will whispered.

Will walked up to the area where they had stripped off their clothing, Deanna watched as he swore and stomped then, carefully picked up the black trousers, she heard "Damn" as he continued to look around then finding the second pair he returned to her. "I think maybe we should dress the best we can, under the circumstances." He looked at her and grinned, "I could get used to seeing you half naked, but maybe we should look for something for you, just in case the Enterprise works out the mystery and attempts to transport us back."

"You always were a gentleman, Will." She smiled sweetly as she took the offered trousers from him. She found her pants to have new holes but they still offered a token of protection. Deanna looked over to Will as he was finishing dressing in his. She had to garner all her self-discipline not to laugh out loud at his predicament. When he turned she had a fascinating view of one side of his backside. A long area on the same thigh had burned through exposing his muscular leg from knee to upper thigh. Instead of laughing she walked up to him to kiss his chin.

He smiled down at her, "What was that for?"

"For being so gallant, and because you're here. This would have been the most horrific nightmare had I been trapped here with anyone else. You've at least made it safe while still entertaining and as enjoyable as possible. Thank you." She reached to give him another kiss, but stopped, "That music, Will do you hear it?"

They both looked around, and noted for the first time that they were in the open, no longer in an underground cavern. Deanna held on to Will's arm, "Where are we?" They stood looking around them, noting the high cliffs on either side of them.

"I think we are in the ravine we crossed, before we found the stone dwellings." He turned to see the cavern they had come out from while in their more preoccupied state.

Deanna turned to walk back into the cavern, "Deanna?" She could feel him following behind her, noting his emotions flying from desire to concern. Once inside she stopped, letting her eyes adjust to the darkness before she began looking for something. Deanna looked around the small area, then back up at the chute they had entered by. "Will, does anything strike you to be a little strange about all this?" She turned to find him standing and quietly listening. "You hear it now." He nodded.

 

Will took her hand and lead her toward the musical sound. They entered several small tunnels off of the one they landed in, each slightly breezier than the last, each drawing them closer to the source of the music. The sound as the entered the next more open cavern was much louder, more melodious. They searched, hunting for the source when Deanna tugged Will's hand and pointed, "There- near the opening in the ceiling what is it, Will?"

"It looks like a wind instrument of some kind, like a pan flute. The sound is made when the wind hits the openings and travels the length of each pipe. See the different lengths produce different tones." Wills fingers closed tightly around her smaller hand.

"What do you think the purpose of it is? Surely the original inhabitants had a purpose for this?" She turned to look at Will, noting that his eyes kept falling far south of her face as she talked.

"If we look around, we may find something they were keeping hid. The flutes may have been used to keep others out, or protecting something considered sacred." His eyes moved once again from her face.

He caught her look, "I'm sorry guess we need to do something about clothes for you, I'm having trouble concentrating. You are very distracting, it was difficult before trying to keep my mind from undressing you, nowÖ" He grinned as his eyes slipped again from her face.

Deanna shivered as his erotic thoughts danced through her own mind, intensifying the feelings she would have succumbed to several times in the past couple days, had there not been interruptions stalling the inevitable. "Will, lets get this done and find our way back before we continue with what we would both like to do." She crossed her arms over her breasts, and walked away from him and into the ravine. She stood looking for anything she could use as make shift clothing.

"Here try these." Deanna turned to see to very large waxy looking leaves hanging in front of her face. "I think these should help. I'll look for some vine." She watched as Will went from tree to tree looking for the vine that seemed to flourish here. He found was he was looking for, she watched as he yanked and tore a large piece from the tree, waved at her before carrying it back.

Deanna took the vine and the leaves and began to try to wrap them both around her at the same time. She looked up to find Will watching with a grin on his face, at her glare the smile disappeared. "Okay mister fashion designer, how about some help, after all it's partially your fault I'm in the predicament."

His eyebrows shot up at her words, but he kept his remarks to himself as he moved to help. "Do you want me to hold the leaves in place?" He began reaching toward the coverings, his palms were facing toward her and the fingers were stretched outward. She knew if he "helped" like that it would never get done.

"No, I'll do that, or it will never work. Can you use the vine and sort of wrap it around me." Deanna watched his face as she asked, looking for a bit of retaliation but finding only his smile and the glint in his eyes.

A few minutes later the newly produced garment was wearable with only slight discomfort. Deanna avoided eye contact with Will; in fact, she avoided looking at his face completely. She did not want to see the ever-present smile and the way his eyes seemed to continuously danced down over her. Right now, there was nothing she wanted more than to be back on the Enterprise where this would have been a creative and exotic holodeck adventure.

********

"Dee, let's go back in. I know there is something more to be found in that chamber, perhaps something that could explain what we saw last night. If we find nothing else, I'd like to know where in the hell we are." She watched as he started back into the chamber they had found the wind pipes; as he walked she caught the flash of skin from the burned trousers, and suddenly felt remorse at her own indignity over the lack of proper clothing.

Deanna caught up to Will, sliding her hand in his and smiling up at him. He stopped to look down into her face, "What?" The question was asked softly as his hand squeezed her own.

"I just thought that we've seen more of each other in the past several days then in the entire time we've known each other. Will, I don't think I would have made it this far with anybody else." She watched his eyebrows hitch, "I meant that this has been frightening and dangerous, but you kept us both safe. I wouldn't have felt this safe and secure with anyone else." She chuckled at the turn his emotions had taken, lately there was one direction Will Riker had never completely strayed from, and she was finding it more and more difficult to control those impulses herself.

They entered the wind chamber the sound from the windpipes was louder than before. Will kept a firm hold on her hand keeping her close at his side. They scanned every nook and crevice until they found an odd oblong shaped rock. The rock was directly below the stone shelf where the pipes hung. Deanna watched as his right hand reached out to touch the rock, while the left hand let go his hold on her hand, allowing his arm to slide around her waist holding her in a tight embrace. She held her breath as she strained all her senses waiting for what would happen next, knowing that something must. Will's fingers touched the rock lightly skimming the surface then more slowly he allowed them to completely wrap around the rock. He stopped and waited, when nothing seemed to happen, "The thing is so smooth as though it had been used extensively at one time. What ever it does, it played a major part in some regular ritual this planet's inhabitants practiced." He paused keeping his hand on the rock; he looked down at Deanna, "Are you ready?" At her nod, he leaned down to kiss her deeply, as his right hand turned the rock.

They broke from their kiss at the loud thunderous grating, as the ground under their feet began shaking. Will released his hold on the rock to hold Deanna within tight embrace. When the ground didn't open beneath them they began to look around, the first thing that drew their attention was the wind had stopped and the windpipes were silenced. They withdrew from each other enough to look around them.

"Will, there!" he followed the direction of her look to find the entire wall to their left had moved forward. Leaving a passageway to the right of the wall. When he began to move toward the opening Deanna held back, her hold on him keeping him close to her. "Will, I donít know if this is a good idea. There must be a good reason that wall was there."

"Yes there probably was, but I think we need to know what it was." He pulled her along with him. "We may just find some answers to how we got here and where here is." At the threshold of the newly discovered passageway they halted. The air was thick with the scent of death and decay, and something else that neither could distinguish. Will looked at Deanna when she shivered, "What is it? Do you sense something?"

She nodded, "Yes, death. Will, this place is sacred. I don't think we should be here."

"Your right, we shouldn't be hereÖ we should be back on the Enterprise where we belong." He picked up a torch from a basket inside the doorway, knelt down on the stone floor to light it. The torch lit easily.

Deanna saw him look closer at the torch and sniff the material. Her senses confirmed what she already knew, "It's been put there recently hasn't it." The look in Will's eyes sent goose bumps along her arms, "Who do you think it was? We haven't seen any life forms that would have the capabilities to use a torch like this."

"No we haven't seen them, but how many times did you sense we were being observed. Let's find out what is going on here." Will started through the passageway, pulling Deanna along behind him. They stopped abruptly awestruck at the sight the before them.

The torch light revealed an ancient archive, the murals seemed to show the progression of a people from the simple hand prints done in one color to the more elaborate paintings using complex color mixtures and textures to describe a turn of events that appeared to be nearly catastrophic to that world. Will stood behind Deanna his arms around her waist as they moved around the room looking at the walls in more detail. At the first self-portrait of the alien population Deanna gasped, Will moved closer to the scene she pointed. It was of a being that appeared to change appearance; her finger pointed to the one scene that resembled the flying creature they had encountered twice since being on the planet. They moved further to see that it appeared that the creatures had begun living underground or in caves, while the numbers were diminishing. Will moved them along until they reached the center of the room where a single picture told the present history it was of the two creatures in flight a large circle drawn around them, with smaller symbols surrounding the circle.

"What do you make of it?" Will whispered in her ear.

She turned to look at him sadly, "I think they are alone now, they are the end of their race."

Will surveyed the rest of the chamber, seeing several crypt type objects he went to investigate. The covers were transparent allowing them to see the withered and beaten bodies of their race in death. Will felt Deanna's hand on his back as she quietly moved from behind him to peer into the containers.

"They must have died a horrible death, look at the wounds on the bodies and the wings seem different then the ones we saw." Her voice a hushed whisper, "Will, I don't think we should be here."

"Let's look a round, I want to make sure there isn't something here that would help us either get off this planet or survive being on it." He gently took her hand as they continued walking around the chamber. His torch's light came to rest on another oblong stone similar to the one in the wind chamber. He lead Deanna over to it and moved it much as he had the other one, with similar results the ground rumbled as the painted wall moved out. He looked down at her, "Do you sense anything?"

Deanna shook her head no, squeezing the hand the held hers as they again stood in the entrance to the second chamber. This chamber so different from the previous one, with cushions and the scent of spices filling the air.

********

Will stood just inside the entrance to the room, quietly enjoying the view. The room and it's lush appointments were beautiful, but nowhere near as beautiful as Deanna at that moment. He watched her, instead of inspecting the room they had just entered, using the moment to appreciate the joy that literally radiated from Deanna. Will smiled as Deanna ran her hands over the softest of silk cushions and sniffed the scents of an array of tall crystal decanters set out on a wide chest on the opposite side of the room.

She pulled aside a diaphanous green curtain and squealed in undisguised delight.

"A tub...oh great gods...a real tub!" She turned a wide, radiant smile on him, and Will couldn't resist grinning just as widely in return.

"You look like a little girl at Christmas time Deanna. it's only a tub."

"Only a tub....???" she was incredulous. "Will Riker that is as close to sacrilege as I have ever heard you speak. Now...I expect you to promise me that we'll at least stay long enough for me to make use of it!" She stood with her hands on her hips, eyes wide, waiting for an answer.

Will crossed his own arms cross his chest. "Possibly...what is it worth to you Counselor?" He quipped.

The dark glittering sparkle returned to her beautiful ebony eyes. "Not to worry Imzadi, I assure you that I'll make it worth YOUR while to let me bathe while we're here."

Will Riker felt a flash of heat, as the unspoken promise she offered, rippled it's way across his nerve endings. Damn! she was good at stroking his libido. "Well then I have no choice but to let you indulge yourself...do I??"

 

Again a radiant smile..."No...you don't."

 

Will bowed at the waist. "Before you take advantage of the facilities can I at least take a better look around?"

 

Deanna nodded..."Of course Commander."

Will once again took up his study of the room and his companion. Deanna had surprised him more than once since they'd become marooned on this

"planet" or whatever it was. She'd proven herself to be tough during the last few days, tougher then he'd thought she was capable of. She deserved a few uninterrupted minutes to enjoy soft cushions as opposed to hard ground, and to smell something other then a sweaty Riker, or a musty jungle. She really did deserve that bath. He couldn't help but return her smile as she flopped into the pile of pillows, and gestured for him to join her. Riker moved across the small chamber to stand looking down at her, marveling at how beautifully her exotic looks blended with the decor around them. He winked at her, still moving his eyes over the room.

"Nothing will happen Will, come on, sit with me." She reached her hand out as she spoke slipping it inside his torn pant leg and massaging his calf. He smiled down on her, using his best Starfleet training to avoid the temptation in front of him.

"We can't LET it happen now, Deanna." He continued to move his eyes suspiciously over the room.

"Now, commander. We're adults...surely we can resist temptation...we do deserve a few minutes rest....don't we??" She licked her lips and slid her hand past his knee concentrating her attentions on his inner thigh.

"Come on I'm serious Deanna." He shook his leg to stop her. "The only time anything bad happens to us is if we're trying to make love, maybe if we never touch each other again we'll be safe."

Deanna couldn't stifle her shout of laughter, "That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard Will. We weren't making love when we beamed to this place. Remember?" She raised an all knowing eyebrow.

"No, but I was thinking about it." A devilish grin played over his face, he plunged his hands in his pockets daring her to come up with a comeback.

"Will, if that were the case, we would both be serving on the Enterprise Z. I'm an empath remember, you think I don't know about your naughty thoughts."

He widened his eyes, doing his best to look as shocked as possible, "I can't believe you've been probing my mind just to satisfy your disturbingly high sex drive."

"I'd much rather satisfy yours." She whispered, draping herself over the tower of multicolored pillows.

He moved towards her again, bringing a smile to her face, and a sparkle to her eyes. Deanna frowned as Will reached past her outstretched hand to pull one of pillows out from under her. He turned it over in his hands, and punched it several times with his fists.

"Is this your new way of relieving frustration?"

 

Will sighed in disgust... "Deanna...seriously, there isn't a speck of dust in these pillows...none, and in a place like this unless they had been recently cleaned....and there's a freshness to the air...have you noticed?" His words trailed off, his eyes narrowing as they surveyed the tiny love nest they'd stumbled on.

Deanna caught a hint of anxiety in his voice, as a ripple of caution flowed through her empathic sense. Deanna inhaled deeply, closing her eyes at the sweet freshness of the cavern's atmosphere. Will was right...the air was fresher...not quite perfumed...but...she turned her attention back to Will. Deanna dropped her air of playful seductiveness and moved to his side, wrapping both of her hands around his upper arm, "What are you thinking Will?"

He looked into her wide dark eyes, eyes that were seeking his for a reassurance he wasn't sure he could give her. "I don't know Deanna, I just get the feeling that we're being maneuvered pushed in a certain direction. I can explain really, call it a hunch." He cradled his arm around her shoulder. "My hunches have been wrong before."

Resting her head on his chest, she stroked her hand over his stomach, "Not very often Imzadi...not very often." They stood quietly for several long moments, until Will stepped out of Deanna's embrace, to look down into her eyes.

 

"Deanna? Do you sense anything??? Any unusual emotions...anything??"

Deanna took a deep breath, and exhaled, her eyes focused on a point just over Will's shoulder. She expanded her senses outwards...searching the void for a stray emanation, looking for anything that might give a clue as to who, or what had brought them here. Will felt her body relaxing, gradually easing closer, until she was molded against him. "Dee? Are you all right?" he asked, his voice low and soft.

 

Deanna inhaled again, and refocused on his face. "Oh...yes...I'm fine, better than fine....Will there is a presence here....a gentle almost reverent presence...we're safe here, it...or they....mean no harm. "

 

Will looked skeptical..."Have you communicated with our captors? Do you know what is going on?"

Deanna shook her head..."No...it's just an intense feeling of peace...of good will. I think that it's safe to wait here until the Enterprise finds us." She hugged him tightly, laying her cheek against his bare chest.

"Imzadi? I feel safe now...here in this beautiful place...with you. Thank you."

 

"Thank you? For what?" Will asked looking down at her bowed head.

 

"Just thank you for being you, and for taking care of me." Deanna said simply.

 

Will squeezed her gently in return. "Hey you did as much to keep us safe as I did...but you're welcome."

Deanna raised her head, to meet his eyes. "I love you imzadi." She said simply. Will caught his breath at the look of love, laced with raw passion in her eyes.

 

"I love you too." He whispered, and then bent to capture her mouth in a kiss. The softest brush of her lips against his, brought every nerve ending in Will's body to screaming attention. He felt a sweet rush of longing, and hoped to god that Deanna felt it too. He was helpless, having no choice but to follow when Deanna parted her lips on a sigh and slipped her tongue into his mouth. She tasted so damned good, and the soft crush of her breasts, against his chest had him quivering. Deanna began rubbing herself against him, in a soft rocking motion. Will tightened his arms around the slenderness of her waist, and bent her backwards, enough to arch her back, and raise the swell of her chest to where he could easily reach it. Deanna's head fell back, breaking the kiss, allowing Will to press nibbling kisses, along the soft upper curves of her breasts. A long, low groan of pleasure filled the air.

 

 

 

"Will...I need you....I need you to touch me." Deanna whispered, twining her slender fingers into the thickness of Will's hair. He groaned in response, feeling as though his body were slowly being consumed by a sweet fire. Her scent, the softness of her skin beneath his lips was like a drug.

A drug that he was addicted to. Rational thought lost it's hold on him as Will raised his head and allowed Deanna to slide slowly down the length of his body. Her nails raked the bare skin of his back, then her hands slid around to rake upwards through the hair on his chest. She didn't speak, just leaned in and began nipping gently at his nipples, then soothing them with her tongue. Her skin was hot, her cheeks flushed.

~~~~ Touch me....whispered into Will's mind, inciting him to slide his hands upwards along Deanna's sides and around to trace the pearls of her spine.

"You feel incredible...so soft..." He whispered, as Deanna arched her back and brought her arms up to twine them around Will's neck. The kiss that followed was one of abandoned reason, of long held passions unleashed. Will delved deep, tracing the sensitive places in Deanna's mouth with the very tip

of his tongue, she in turn drew him deeper, dueling with him until she traced the same places in his mouth.

 

The kiss ended, and they drew back to stare at one another, panting lightly. Deanna reached down and loosened the fastener at Will's waist. He reached behind and tugged the tie that held her bodice in place and let the ends fall free. They stepped apart, and Will's eyes darkened as the primitive garment fell free, leaving Deanna's breasts bare. He licked his lips as she stretched and raised her arms, thrusting the perfect mounds out in an unmistakable offer. Will bent and placed a nipping kiss on each sensitive tip, then knelt in front of her. He grasped the fastener on her pants and tugged it down. When the edges parted, he slipped a hand in on each side, and pushed the pants aside, sliding around to cup her bottom. He kneaded the firm globes, and leaned in to press a wet kiss just below her navel, now exposed to his view. Deanna's hands gripped his shoulders, and she made small sounds of frustration.

"Dee? I want to go slowly...but..." Will looked up to find her staring down at him...

 

"No need...I'm more than ready." she whispered hoarsely. Will shoved her pants, along with her panties down to her ankles, and smiled as she leaned on his shoulder to step gracefully from the tangle of clothing. His hands came in along the inside of both of Deanna's legs, slowing only to brush across inky curls.

 

"Will." His name came out in a strangled gasp.

 

"Easy, imzadi." He whispered, getting to his feet, and tugging his own pants down and tossing them into the small pile at their feet. Neither of them noticed that the door to their chamber slipped silently closed and a soft current of freshened air began filtering into the room. Both were engrossed in the sensuous exploration of the other's flesh. Warm hands, and slick tongues tantalized hidden pleasure points. Soft sighs, and murmured encouragement filled the air. Pure pheromones mixed liberally with the fresh air, going unnoticed by conscious minds, and fed on by unbridled libidos. Will ran big hands over Deanna's body in long, but delicate strokes, calming and stimulating her as he brushed her breasts then trailed down to tease the damp secrets of her sex. She in turn used small hands to draw his velvet hardness to rigid attention, with small and tender movements. With a harsh indrawn breath, Will reached for those small hands and drew them away.

 

"Sweetheart, this will be over way too soon, if you don't stop."

 

Deanna looked as though she were dazed, standing flushed, and panting in front of him. Will swept her into his arms, and strode into the small bathing chamber. Small hidden lights were activated when he set Deanna by the huge brass claw footed tub. The room became a cozy haven, bathed in soft amber light. Water began streaming into the tub, activated by the stroke of a hand over the dolphin shaped spout. Steam began to rise as Will turned back and drew Deanna into his arms, to kiss her deeply once again. He released her to reach for a tall crystal flask at the back of the tub.

Deanna watched with half closed eyes, as Will's muscles rippled in the warm light. When the tub was filled, and the air was redolent with the scent of musk...he lifted Deanna into his arms and stepped into the heated depths. Will set her on her feet then eased his big body down to sit down at one end of the tub. He pulled Deanna, still standing, towards him, and spent long minutes kissing any of the satiny skin that he could reach.

He knew that she was close to release when at last, he helped her down into the water. She sat facing him, as close as she could possibly get, and held him tight. "You are the worst kind of tease, Will Riker....but thank god for that."

 

Will laughed quietly, then found his breath stolen as Deanna raised herself slightly, and with a swift sure thrust, took him deep within her. "Damn!" He ground out through clenched teeth, locking eyes with her as Deanna began to move...the tight heat of her, drawing him deeper with each rocking pulse of her hips. She had the most amazing muscle control of any woman he'd ever been intimate with... Deanna's soft chuckle ended with a low gasp, when Will grasped her hips and held her steady. He began a rhythm of his own; shorter, stronger and faster thrust drew them to the brink of shared passion. Will discovered that Deanna was everywhere at once, inside of him, around him, enveloping him in all that she was. Soon the room drifted into oblivion as sounds of pleasure, bordering on desperation filled the room. Kisses became hot hungry quests for satisfaction, Will's movements rapidly became erratic as Deanna at long last, opened herself completely. Will grabbed frantically for Deanna's waist and thrust her sharply downward, stilling her rapid movements and groaned hoarsely. His release came on the heels of Deanna's in the same instant as her thoughts, emotions and passions burst through the last barriers of his mind. Joined in every way imaginable, Will and Deanna rested, trembling while clasped tightly in one another's arms.

 

Will drew a long, shaky breath and cupped Deanna's face. He tipped her chin upwards to look at her. It was no surprise for him, to find tears sliding down her flushed cheeks. He smiled softly, and nodded...

~~~~ I know...I understand....finally...after all these years. And then he kissed her, allowing his own thoughts of love and tenderness to flow through her.

The gesture was returned almost instantly as Deanna pulled back and smiled in return. ~~~~ There was no way to explain...I didn't know how.

Will shook his head, and reached for a large sponge from the shelf behind the tub. With slow gentle strokes, he began to wash Deanna's back and chest. When he finished, she did the same.

Long moments later, they stepped from the tub, dried one another with bath sheets, and curled up amidst the soft pillows. The exhaustion that followed their intense passion, brought a sweet lethargy; weak muscled limbs gently entwined beneath a light blanket....and sleep.

 

 

Will Riker laid there for a moment in that wonderful place your body falls into after sex.....drifting between the conscious and the unconscious the sate feeling that engulfed him stroking lovingly over every nerve in his body.

A gratified breath left his chest as he admitted to himself his body and soul were satisfied, more satisfied then he could remember, but still an uninvited little voice kept crawling into the back of his mind insisting on interrupting his euphoria.

He tried harder to concentrate on the feel of Deanna's bare skin against his back, her warm breath as it released itself against the back of his neck, but it seemed no matter how hard he tried Commander

Riker was not going to allow Will Riker this perfect moment in time.

Releasing a heavy sigh he submitted to his minds questions about this utopia he and Deanna had stumbled into....the entire planet had proven itself to be comprised of only primitive life, aside from the skeletons they had uncovered there was no logical reason to believe anything else. From all they had seen on their little quest it seemed more logical that what may once have been a flourishing world had reverted back to only the most basic of intelligence's.

Pushing the light blanket off his nude body, he slipped out from under Deanna's arm and leg that were draped over his body, the fragile sigh leaving her perfect lips as he moved away from her almost enough to call him back to the pacifying feel of her warmth. He permitted himself only a moment to look down on her sleeping form before moving away, his curiosity over the unusual accommodations

they'd been presented with would never allow him to sleep.

He tugged on his pants as he moved towards the veiled room that held the tub, ignoring the exotic scents that floated on the air around him. Sitting down on the hard edge of the tub he rubbed his hand over the cold surface, accepting the fact that it was remotely possible this, no matter how elaborate it was, could have been used by someone on this planet. After all, he rationalized to himself, even the most ancient cultures had access to luxuries like this one, so even if they hadn't come across any natives to this planet, it didn't mean they didn't exist somewhere. That particular thought did nothing to settle his mind, if there was intelligent life here, now...why hadn't they made their presence known.

He moved his eyes over the room, the crystal decanters, the silken pillows, even the bath sheets they had used to dry themselves all out of place, but still he could accept them.....he guessed he could accept everything but this. He moved his hand over the dolphin shaped spout, it responded instantly to his unspoken command, filling the tub with steaming hot water. He recognized the dolphin as being native to earth, and though there were no other planets he had visited that homed anything exactly like the earth mammal, there were things that came close. But this motion sensitive device that triggered the water flow showed a technology above and beyond anything he had seen on this planet, it was the element that was keeping him from sleep, that and the cleanliness of this little haven.

He shot a disgusted look down to his stomach as it rumbled loudly, obviously it did not share his curiosity over there surroundings. Stopping the flow of water, he stood up and turned towards the exit from the little nook that held the bath, his exit blocked by the large basket of fruit that now stood in his way.

"Maurivian pears, now isn't that a coincidence." He mumbled the words under his breath as he reached down to pick up the basket. "Isn't it strange I was just thinking about these."

He eyed the fruit warily before setting it down on the small table in the corner of the room.

"So, is this how you got the name Love em and Leave em Riker?"

He stiffened at the remark, launching the most penitent look he could muster before turning to face her.

 

******

 

I 'm sorry Deanna, I just couldn't sleep." His whispered apology was followed by a soft appreciative

whistle.

"I think I could get use to naked being your attire of choice." His blue eyes followed the slender curves

of her body, as many times as he'd seen her nude, each time was just as provoking as the first. A quiver tickled over her body, her reaction to his enjoyment of her, only feeding the incredible desires he felt for this woman.

"What was keeping you awake, Imzadi?" She asked, her voice still laden with sleep sounded rich and enticing.

For a moment he only looked at her, her eyes dark shimmering like jewels twinkled an unspoken acceptance for whatever explanation he would offer her.

"What?" He shook his head, for a moment the inconceivable situation meant nothing, he found himself instead drowning in the perfection of it....of her.

"Maybe I should find something to wear." Her suggestion was shadowed with amusement at Will's inability to keep his mind on the matter at hand.

"Not on my account, I hope." He cleared his throat and pushed the strands of her dark hair that had fallen over the upper curve of her breasts behind her shoulders, "Maybe just something to keep your

hair back." The devilish glint in his eyes caused her to fold her arms over her breasts....Will continued grinning, shaking his head as she covered herself. "No, I don't like that look at all." He added.

"Perhaps not, but you seem to be distracted....you were about to explain to me why you couldn't sleep." She reached for one of the larger pillows that were strewn around the room, placed it in front of the source of Will's distraction and wrapped her arms around it tightly.

"Should I take that as a not so subtle hint that playtime has to wait?"

Ignoring his question her eyes moved to the large basket of fruit he had placed on the table.

"Where did these come from?"

Picking up one of the oblong pears he turned it over in his hands and eyed it warily. "Just something else to keep me from sleeping." Placing it back in the basket he added, "I'm going to suggest we don't eat them, at least not yet. There's something about this whole room that just doesn't sit right with me."

He wasn't surprised that she remained silent, of course she would, if anyone understood how important

it was for him to explain the unexplained it would be her.

"I'd like to get another look at the glyphs we saw on the walls earlier, maybe we missed something....something that might explain a technology that seems out of place here. Motion activated water facets, and magical baskets of fruit tend to bring out the skeptic in me."

She smiled and placed an understanding hand on his bearded cheek, "I'm not sensing anything Will, aside from the serene atmosphere in this room. And I'm not convinced it's coming from any one particular source." Tilting her head thoughtfully she continued, "It's more like this place has been infused with only the most tranquil of feelings. Maybe an echo of the people who once used this place, instead of a single consciousness'."

The frustrated frown on her face told him this was one of those situations where there were no words to explain what she was sensing.

"Are you coming with me?" he asked, in the hopes of dissuading her from concentrating any further on the feelings she was finding so bewildering.

She startled slightly as his hand came to rest on her bare shoulder, but the look of frustration in her dark eyes waned instantly as they met with his.

"I think I'd like to get dressed first...why don't you go on without me. I'll be fine here.... really. besides

I think I have an idea for clothing, something a bit more sophisticated then the leaves." She sent a sidelong glare to the large leaves she had been wearing to cover herself, before guiding Will towards the door with a tilt of her head.

He hesitated, ignoring her request for him to go. "I'm not sure Deanna, I think I'd feel better if I waited for you. Besides I like your leaves."

He wasn't sure why he had offered the protest, he knew Deanna well enough to recognize the decisions been made look in her face, aside from pulling rank, which seemed inappropriate at the moment he was certain there would be no wining this battle.

"Fine." He relented, "I won't be long."

After a few kisses, and several attempts to stall his leaving her alone, Deanna escorted him out the doorway.

She watched until the light from his torch disappeared down the corridor, just to convince herself that he wasn't lurking outside to make sure she was all right.

Stepping back inside the room she held up the burgundy pillow she had been using as her shield.

"Finally, something soft and silky against my skin."

She eyed the seams thoughtfully, attempting to gauge the amount of fabric she would need to create something to cover herself.

Gently pulling on the stitching, the sound of the seams submitting to her pressure came simultaneously with a wave of emotion that cascaded through the room causing her knees to give way.

It came and went so quickly her head spun with the effect, she was certain it wasn't Will, but somehow what had seemed to be almost a presence was obscurely familar......Something, or someone she had felt before.

A heavy sigh escaped her, the harder she tried to place the source, the more distant it became until finally even the emotions themselves faded from her consciousness.

She moved her eyes over the room, opening her mind and hoping whatever it had been would come back and try to communicate. But the room stayed silent, only the tranquil feelings that seemed to have embodied it before filled her mind...everything was the same, except....

She stood up and moved towards the shimmering fabric that was draped over the pillows she and Will had used as a bed.

"Where did this come from?" She was sure it hadn't been here before and conveniently the fabric was almost identical to the pillow she had planned on using to create her new attire. She massaged the rich burgundy fabric between her fingers, the soft silk slipped through her hands rippling slightly in response to the door that had opened.

"Sorry, I just wasn't comfortable leaving you alone."

Deanna kept her eyes fixed on the fabric in her hand.

"Deanna? What is it...where'd you get that?"

She only shook her head, not only confused by the fact that the fabric was just what she had hoped for but because the rich sea of burgundy was dotted with tiny black leaves.

"Don't tell me, you were just thinking about something similar to this?"

She finally lifted her dark eyes from the fabric to meet with Will's inquisitive expression, "I think we both were."

 

Will nodded, as he gently took the fabric out of her hands to let it glide over his arm, again feeling the desire he had been fighting to control become nearly overwhelming in its intensity. He swallowed hard before looking at Deanna, unsure how she was dealing with the electrical surges that seemed to be flowing between them. Her dark eyes seemed to beckon him nearer, his resolve to discover the source of the pleasures of their surroundings was beginning to dissolve. Will reached out to touch her face, softly tracing his fingers down over her cheekbone to her lips. She leaned slightly into his touch, parting her lips as his finger traced their outline. Will leaned down until he felt the warmth of her lips against his own, the soft material sliding from his fingers to the floor, freeing both hands to hold her to him. When the kiss broke he leaned his forehead against hers. "Deanna, I want this, but we have to find out what's going on here. We are being manipulated and we need to find out why and by whom." He felt her nod her head in agreement even as her hands slid down from around his neck to rest on his waist. He sighed, "I never thought I'd be resisting such a temptation with such a beautiful woman, my ultimate fantasy." He dropped his hands but continued leaning into her, not wanting to end the moment, yet knowing there was too much happening here that needed explaining.

 

"Deanna, are you sensing anything that is at all familiar to you?" he watched her face as she thought about what he was asking.

"Yes, there is a familiarity about this room in particular. An essence almost, light and nearly invisible but still I can catch the flavor of it. I think we've come into contact with these beings before. Will."

He saw the way her eyes lit up, the smile her lips painted, and again found himself nearly drowning in her sensuality. "Yes, Deanna."

"I think they want us here. Like this."

"No more than I want us here like this, but why would any other being want this for us? Are they gaining some perverse joy from watching. Are they feeding off our emotions?" The spell was broken, Will felt Deanna move away from him She walked behind him to pick up the beautiful material that he had dropped on the floor. He watched as she wrapped it around her and moved into the room with the tub. Will could feel the change in her emotions, and knew she was considering all he had said but was disappointed in the turn of events. He stood listening to the water in the tub splash, standing in front of the cushions that had so recently served as their bed and dropped back into them. The frustration of having the woman he had longed for right in front of him longing for him too, but under what circumstances? His thoughts were interrupted by Deanna's musical voice calling out to him.

"Will, if we are going to investigate this further donít you think you should find something else to wear too?"

****

Deanna looked up from her bath to see him leaning on the wall watching her. She feigned noninterest and continued with her scented soak. "I hope you donít mind, but I thought it may be a long time until I get the pleasure of a bath again. I'll be out in five minutes, Will." She looked up to see him watching her and she recognized the light in his eyes. He walked to the tub and picking up a sponge, after dipping it in the sudsy water he gently began working it over her back. Deanna closed her eyes as she hugged her knees then allowed her head to fall forward and rest against her knees. Her breathing slowed as she fought to relax and not think about the many strong feelings coursing through her body. She felt him slide in behind her and smiled at the realization that he was no more able to fight the gravitational pull they seemed to have, one toward the other, than she was.

"Do you realize your hair has grown back, and I found a brush in the other room." Will kissed the back of her neck where a few loose strands fell near her ear.

"Hmm, wonder whose wish list that came off of?" She smiled as she felt the kisses travel down her shoulder blades.

 

 

They had begun dressing, Deanna stood back to watch Will looking over clothing they had found beside the towels after they finally managed to untangle themselves enough to climb out of the water. His new attire was a white shirt with billowing full sleeves that tied at the wrist, light tan slacks, on top of the clothes he found a dark brown fedora and a whip. Deanna caught the look on his face as his eyebrows nearly disappeared into his hair. She couldn't maintain the innocent expression on her face as he stared at her. She quickly turned to continue devising her own sarong, noticing a beautiful brooch now on the stand beside the tub.

Will dressed but continued moving around the area picking up things and throwing the items into what used to be a pillow sham. He caught her watching him, "What Deanna?"

She smiled, "Will donít you feel a bit like we're ransacking the place? It looks like we were on a plunder and burn mission." Deanna surveyed the tossed pillows and strewn objects that littered the floor.

"I'm just trying to be prepared, if that's possible. We've been followed by wild creatures, served others our blood for a meal, slept in tree cavities, nearly fried by lightning, been tossed down mud shoots, the floor has opened beneath us. I donít know why I would think we need to be prepared." He looked at her in mock anger.

Deanna some how kept from smiling but the humor lit her eyes, "Yes we've done all that, and you've gotten us through it all with your jungle wisdom." She stood several paces away her chin resting on her finger as though deep in thought, "What I can't understand Will, is how does a man from Alaska come to have all this jungle wisdom?" She smiled and handed him the whip he had left behind then placing the fedora on his head, ignoring his frown.

"It's not necessarily 'jungle wisdom' Deanna, just the need to survive." He closed the distance between them, "And to make sure you remain healthy until we get back to the Enterprise." He pulled her into his embrace.

After several long minutes she pulled back enough to look into his face, "I thought you said no more of these encounters until we find out what's going on here. Not as easy as it sounds, is it Riker?" her words brought a groan from him as he lowered his head for one last lingering kiss before following the hieroglyphics through the other room.

They stood in front of the last scene, the one with that portrayed the last two living winged creatures. Deanna's hand found his as they tried to understand all that they had seen to this point. "Will do you think these creatures are somehow responsible for all that we have seen and been treated to in the last twenty-four hours?"

"My first thought is no, but then maybe they need something from us. You said the feelings you had sensed were familiar. Are they the same as the feelings you had when we met the first creature at the watering hole, or when we fixed his wing later?" Will turned to face her in front of the mural depicting their flight.

Deanna frowned, "No, not at all. I seem to have been in contact with the beings responsible for the other room and all its delights." She grinned at Will's expression, "Okay, the material delights. I think we have had contact with that being at some point in the past, but the feelings are vague enough that I can't remember the instance fully."

Will traced a finger along her face, "Is it possible the being or beings are deliberately hiding their identity from you?"

She shrugged, "Any being capable of providing all the fruit, food and wonderful accommodations for us and being capable of reading our thoughts and desires, is most likely capable of hiding their identity from an empath. Do you have something in mind Will?"

He squeezed her hand, "I was thinking of the elaborate reality Barash had created for me to remain with him on Alpha Onias III. He was capable of creating a virtual reality with the use of technology. Deanna, you met him we had him on the Enterprise for a short period of time until finding one other of his kind that had survived. Can you tell if itís the same type of being?"

She stood still almost trance like trying to replay that incident and the empathic memories that went with it. "I donít know Will, perhaps. But why, why would he or they go to this trouble?"

"Maybe to make us happy enough to stay here. The same reason he did it before, back on Alpha Onias."

*****

"Would Barash have caused the incident that brought us here too?"

Will shook his head, "I donít know. Why us, why here? Are all the other creatures on this planet another form of a virtual reality or flesh and blood reality? These murals and hieroglyphics are they depicting a real life or are they merely entertainment to keep us occupied." He felt her released his hand to slide her arm around his waist.

"Will, the life forms around us that we have encountered, I have been able to sense their presence, they are real. It is possible they too were lured or brought here, but they are real. My intuition tells me the life scenes depicted on these walls are also real. I wish we knew exactly what is being depicted, but it seems that our winged friends are on the edge of extinction. If we are reading these correctly."

He drew her closer to him, "I suspect we are reading them correctly." He leaned down to kiss the top of her head when he felt the sadness flow from her at the thought of the magnificent quiescent winged creatures. "It's nice sensing your emotions and thoughts again."

She turned to smile at him, "Do you notice that the more primal feelings we were having seems to abated to a more manageable level since we've left that room, Will? It's as though that room was created for a particular purpose."

"And that purpose would be what exactly?"

"Oh, probably exactly what we used it for, that's just my guess."

He kissed the tip of her nose, "I donít think we need that room. Seems we've had several different places weÖ" He stopped and looked down at her, "Guess maybe we did need it." The look on his face brought a smile to hers. He looked into her eyes, "But I think we can manage for now on, donít you?" Sensing the mood the conversation was taking he shifted slightly and began looking closer at the murals and the walls surrounding them. Will held the torch up higher scanning the ceiling, "See if you see any unusual creases on the ceiling or walls. I have a feeling there is more than one way out of here." The continued looking until suddenly Will stopped, "Look, there near the end of the second mural, it looks like itís a part of the painting." He quickly moved toward the spot, dragging Deanna and the pillowcase full of needed supplies behind him.

He ran his fingers over the crease in the wall, trying to pry his fingertips into the slight almost unnoticed disturbance. Deanna dropped the sack and did the same thing starting at the floor. "Will, here it feels like a latch of some kind. Its too far in for me to reach with my fingers."

Will dropped to his knees and tried to find the object Deanna had found. His fingers were larger and unable to penetrate the small crease far enough to locate the latch. He looked around hunting for a stick or anything that could be slid into the crease to touch the latch. He looked turned to look at the hand that rested on his forearm, then traveled to look at the dark imploring eyes. "Will, are you sure we should do this? I mean is this necessary?"

He smiled at her, "Hey, we've come this far, we might as well find out all the secrets these rooms have to offer. Deanna, don't tell me your tired of a little adventure, besides, if I have to wear this hat, I want a good story to tell to go with it." He pulled her to him to kiss her forehead, looking down at her the brooch caught his eye, "Can you hold your outfit up for a minute? Not that I'd mind if you wanted to go with the nature type look."

She looked down at the brooch, frowning. "I want it right back, Will. NO, I'm not bouncing around the jungle just to please you. Not while we are being observed by Ö who knows what." She bent her head and undid the pin, carefully handing to Will. He again pulled her to him this time his kiss was warm and sensual.

"I promise to give it right back." He turned back to the wall with the fastening lever gliding into the crease; he began sliding it up and down until he heard the click. Before he had time to think Deanna had snatched the brooch back and had it back where it had fastened back. "You're really set against that jiggling thing, aren't you?" He sent her a mock look of disappointment; Deanna's response was lost on the loud creaks and groans that splintered the air as the wall slowly fell forward. Will grabbed Deanna and moved across the floor away from what had been the wall. He looked for chains or rope that may have been lowering the door down, but could find nothing to explain how that wall slowly gave way. Holding the torch up high with one hand and holding firmly on to Deanna's hand with the other, he cautiously made his way to the large black opening.

He looked into the newly created void, feeling a blast of cool stale air hit him. "Come on, let's see where this goes." He turned to see her gather up the bag of things he had collected from their night's lodgings.

"I knew you were going to say that." She stopped at the edge of the floor as Will stepped on to the former wall. "There's nothing I can do to talk you out of this, is there?"

He grinned back at her, "Nope, come on. This is the last hole I'll drag you through I promise, Deanna" When she continued looking at him but not moving he added seductively, "I'll make it up to you."

The wall he was standing on began to move to return to its upright position when Will roughly pulled Deanna on to the moving wall and down into the void. Suddenly the surface they were standing on was swaying drastically, Will pulled Deanna to him and held on to her, just as they heard the wall slam shut behind them. He tried to get his bearing and find where they were. As he held the torch up he felt Deanna shudder. He looked all around them, wishing for the millionth time since they found themselves on the planet that he had a tricorder and a real light, anything except the torch he was holding. He heard Deanna whisper, "Just remember Commander, you are going to make this one up to me." He nodded but said nothing, they stood upon a swaying rope bridge, and as far as the light allowed them to see, there was no end to it. Underneath the bridge was nothing, at least thatís all he could see was an unlimited expanse of nothingness. On either side of the swaying bridge he could vaguely make out walls but they were so far out of reach, they would be of no help if the bridge gave way. He looked closer at the material that held their safety net together and swallowed, it was wood and rope, and both items were aged and worn.

*******

"Deanna walk behind me, walk where I walk." He held on to her until she stood directly behind him. He felt her grab hold of the waistband of his pants. "Can you hand me that whip, it's in the bag you've been carrying. I think I want it somewhere more accessible in an emergency." He felt her release of his pants as she handed him the whip, then just as quickly she had a firm hold again. He wanted a hand free to hold on to the rope guide along the side, after several minutes of trying to find the most logistically sound place he slid the whip down the side of his pants, leaving the grip sticking up far enough he could easily grasp it, if needed.

He slowly began to move across the ancient bridge, each step they took caused it to sway. He could feel Deanna's grip on his trousers take in more and more cloth making the pants more uncomfortable as he walked. Will could feel the tension begin to settle in his neck and shoulders after some time had passed. It felt like days since they began to move across the bridge, he continuously had to watch their footing and move to the side or warn Deanna to stop and watch as he would take large steps to bypass a missing piece of the wooden planks that served as the floor. Will would then turn and help her across, knowing how nervous the swaying bridge was making her, he tried to keep as serene as possible. After having several bad areas to skirt, they stopped to rest. Deanna moved up closer behind Will to rub his shoulders and neck for him. He took the time to look back and try to get an idea of how far they had traveled and how much further they had yet to go. Holding the torch up high, he noticed a swish of air across his forehead, he looked around him but could see nothing that would have caused the air movement. He began to move forward again, this time there was another swish, except he felt something more than air brush against his arm. He turned in time to see something flying toward them, in the torch light he could not discern exactly what it was, it was alive, of that much he was certain.

"Will, something just hit me in the back." Deanna's voice quivered.

"I know, I just felt it on my arm. I can't see what it is, let's try and keep moving." He felt the tug on his pants tighten and tried not to think about the discomfort as they continued the agonizingly slow progress on the bridge. The hits were coming more and more frequent he could tell by the grunts from behind him that Deanna was feeling them too and trying not to react. He stopped and held the torch a bit further in front of him when a small winged object swooped down toward the torch. He sighed, "Deanna I think they are just bats or something like them. The torch is probably attracting insects. They won't hurt you, try not to think about them." he heard her grind her teeth, knowing she would love to say something back he stayed quiet and continued one foot in front of the other. Feeling the air and the occasional touch of wings were becoming more and more distracting as the encounters seemed to be increasing, Will was finding it harder to keep alert.

*

<Disgusting, germ-carrying rodents with wings. > He kept his feelings to himself, thankful that the flame he was carrying was at least keeping them from flying into him. It was obvious from the jerks and flinches of Deanna behind him she was not being afforded the same luxury.

He kept his eyes optimistically forward, a glimmer of light in the distance caught his eyes and came simultaneously with Deanna's scream and the increased rocking of the bridge.

"It's in my hair!" Her mortified words and her release of her hold on his pants caused him to spin - around to her...His unthinking act was rewarded by the loud snap of splintering wood and a quick trip downward. Instinctively he dropped the torch he was holding, groping out in the darkness with both his hands and latching on to the swinging bridge with one hand.

He watched the lighted torch fall for what seemed an eternity before vanishing into the black abyss.

"Will!" Deanna's scream echoed through the blackness, her movements causing the bridge to swing more forcefully.

**

"Don't move Deanna." He was thankful for the cover of darkness, though he had tried to keep his urgency from his voice he was sure the look on his face was as close to panic-stricken as it ever got.

"Are you all right?"

"Oh yea, no problem, I just have to pull myself up." He grunted as he attempted to swing his legs around the edge of the rope that supported the sides of the bridge. He needed leverage and he knew there was no way Deanna would have the strength to pull him up. In the darkness it was almost impossible to gauge where the railing for the bridge was located, he knew if he could lasso the railing with the whip, he could pull himself to safety. And as if on cue the tiny glimmer of light in the distance increased as though a door had been opened allowing enough light to filter through the darkness to allow him to see.

"Well, I was really hoping this whip was added to my attire for other reasons. But I guess not."

"Will!"

He recognized the disapproving tone in her voice, but he was certain he would have no problem pulling himself up.

"I'll be fine Deanna...just stand very still, I've never used a whip for this purpose before."

Deanna's response stalled in her throat, the crack of the whip followed by it wrapping around the railing caused the bridge to sway more forcefully.

He hesitated for a moment before releasing his hold on the edge of the bridge and using both hands to hoist himself upward. He kept his hands securely around the whip handle until he was sure he was on somewhat solid footing, releasing a breath of relief he moved his eyes to Deanna.

"See, piece of cake." His unsteady grin did nothing to remove the look of reprimand in Deanna's eyes.

"I wish you wouldn't be so caviler about your well being. You could have been killed."

He helped her across the gap in the bridge his fall had caused, the arms she wrapped snugly around his waist contradicting the anger in her earlier comment.

"I'm fine Deanna." He kissed her hair, and squeezed her tighter before pulling back from her.

"Now lets see if we can get off this swinging death trap, solid ground is sounding really good to me."

Deanna sighed an agreement and resumed her position behind Will.

"Guess you could say we took the long way home." Stepping out of the cave Will recognized it as being the one the injured creature had flown into, the dwelling they had been calling home before they had ventured off in search of the mysterious lights stood before them.

"I'd like to go back to the dwelling and get another torch, I'd be interested in checking out this cave a bit more closely."

Deanna looked up at him through narrowed eyes she didn't have to voice what she was thinking he was more then aware. He had promised her the rope bridge would be their last journey into dark caves, but he immediately started devising a way to talk her in to going back.

Deanna folded her arms across her chest, moving her eyes from the top of his fedora to the tips of his boots, "Don't bother Riker, there's not a thing you can say that will make me venture back in there."

He released a heavy sigh and massaged his beard thoughtfully before moving closer to her, his approach halted by her hand against his chest. "Don't even try it."

"Try what?"

"Using physical closeness to persuade me."

"I wasn't, I just had a thought." He leaned towards her and began whispering into her ear; for a second he feared his attempt was failing but as he heard her breath quiver from her lungs and moved his eyes to see the flush in her cheeks his confidence and his whispered promises increased.

"So what do you think, sound like a fair trade?" He pulled back and waited the glassy look in her eyes causing a smile to break over his face.

"Hum?" The expression on her face shifting as she met with his satisfied smile. "That sounds all right, I guess."

The crack of arousal in her words only broadened his smile, putting his arm around her shoulder he maneuvered her towards the dwelling.

"I'm glad it's acceptable Deanna."

She looked up at him as they made their way towards the Kiva, "I don't suppose we could reverse the order in which we do these things.... maybe we could explore after?"

He knew she had picked up on the fact that he'd done more then stir her up with the mental images he'd tried to paint with his whispered words, he'd gone a little overboard with his descriptive adjectives and stirred his own wares, so to speak.

"Not sure I'd have enough energy to explore a cave after fulfilling my promises. I think we better stick to the original timetable." His disappointment crept into his words he was thankful when Deanna accepted his terms instead of pushing for the reverse.

 

****

He took the sack filled with his plundering away from her then pulled her close as they walked through the hole in the wall to check out the dwelling they had followed the winged being to. Will looked around the dwelling, he noticed several of the clay containers and other items that seemed too advanced for the surroundings. "Looks like someone has set up shop here." He began to move toward the area near the pit fire when Deanna pulled him back.

"No, come on Will, its getting dark, lets go down to our spot. I donít want to be caught here at night. Please." He still hesitated until he heard her next words. "Listen, I've done everything you asked, now I'm tired and want to just be with you and relax. We can come back and discover anything you want tomorrow." He heard the smile and the invitation in her voice. "As long as You keep your promise for later."

He leaned down to look into her eyes, "A deal is a deal. I have never gone back on my word. Have I?" he added the last when she blinked at his words.

"Well, I can think of once or twice." He watched her continue toward the exit to the outside, as she was about to descend down the ladder he caught up with her. "Deanna, let me go down first. That thing your wearing is not made for climbing."

He watched as she raised it above her knees to allow her limbs the freedom needed to climb down the rungs of the old ladder. Will grinned at the gesture then caught her looking at him shaking her head, "You act like you haven't seen legs before Commander, this jungle air is doing something to your hormones."

He pulled her to him, when he felt her responding he added, "It's not just my hormones that seem to be affected Counselor."

She grinned, "Itís a good thing too, or you'd be insane by now."

"Deanna, you really do have a cruel streak to you." Her laughter touched him, it was then he knew that for all the kidding and jesting they had been doing, they were closer now then they had ever been. Of course the on going intimacy was certainly a factor in their newer relationship. He had learned she was not made of glass and was more than capable of getting through the more deplorable conditions, even aiding him in getting through them with a sense of humor.

Will started down the ladder then waited for Deanna to begin when she was only two rungs above him he continued going down, tentatively stepping on each rung before giving it his full weight. When he was a only a few steps from the ledge in front of their dwelling he jumped the rest of the way, standing below her and admiring her form, he reached around her waist and lifted her down.

He carried her into the entrance of the dwelling to find someone or something had already been there and gone through the little they had. The clothes they had not taken were thrown around, as though someone had gone through them searching for something. The green mud they had left in the container was spilled on to the stone floor, and the fish bones from their meal were not strewn along the area. Will looked at the area they had arranged for bedding to find it was disheveled.

"Get the feeling someone is trying to get to know us?"

Will looked at her, surprised that she wasn't more upset. He eased her down to stand before him, "Yes, I get the feeling something is happening here that we are missing. Do you sense anything Deanna? Anything that would explain who or what we are dealing with?"

"There is no one here right now. However, I think we can count on running into them soon. It is too much to hope that this is all a coincidence. Will, do you think we're safe her tonight?"

"It's either here or we go back over the bridge to the tub and cushions." He smiled at the grimace on her face at the thought of crossing back over the bridge. "I think we'll be okay tonight. Let's gather some wood and see if I can catch a fish or two before it gets dark."

Later after the fire had been burned down to softly light the dwelling and their supper had been eaten, Will sat holding Deanna as they watched the night sky from the ledge outside the entrance to their dwelling. "I wonder if the Enterprise is any closer to finding out what happened?"

"The captain would never give up. Do you know how long we've been here?"

"No, I donít even know if their days would equal the twenty-four hour increments we use on ship. I've lost all track of time since we've been here." She could no longer fight the drowsiness that was overcoming her, as she slowly relaxed more and more into Will's arms.

Several shooting stars lit up the night's sky as though beckoning them both home, Deanna felt Will sigh and sensed his yearning to be back among the stars.

************

Will!" She called his name without opening her eyes and pulled the light blanket over her.

"Good morning!" His ardent greeting told her he'd been up for awhile she could almost see the grin on his face without opening her eyes.

"Morning.." She opened her eyes reluctantly slightly disappointed with what she saw, "Oh Will, you cut the sleeves off your shirt. Why did you do that, it made you look so...."

"Pretty?" Will cut into her observation.

"Sexy...it made you look sexy." She sat up and turned up her nose at the frayed edges of the once puffy sleeves.

"I'm sorry Deanna, but those big sleeves were getting in the way, made me feel like I should be out slaying dragons instead of guiding a beautiful woman through the jungle."

"Oh, it's all right, I guess." She sat up and scrutinized his mock look of apology.

"I kept the hat!" He winked at her as he pointed to the top of his head, "You like the hat."

She cradled her hands around her knees and rested her head on them a sly smile breaking over her face. "Mmm, I do like the hat. Maybe you should leave it on when you make good on all those promises you made last night."

His eyes widened, a brilliant smile crossing his bearded face, "You do have your share of fantasies don't you? I would have replicated a fedora years ago if I'd have known it had this kind of affect on you."

She looked away from the penetrating and suggestive eyes he held her with, doing her best to not start something she was sure he wouldn't finish until he had quenched his thirst for the adventure of the day.

"When do we leave?" She stared out the window, allowing her displeasure with what they were going to do sound loud and clear in her voice.

"Ah come on Deanna, we'll have fun!" He pulled the blanket off of her, his overzealous voice resounding through the room.

She raised a skeptical brow. "I'm sure, nothing more stimulating then a day in dark damp cave."

"I know exactly how you feel Deanna, believe me spending a day in yet another cave isn't exactly my choice of ways to spend the day."

She narrowed her eyes at him and shook her head slowly. "Have you forgotten I'm an empath....going back in that horrid cave is just as tantalizing to you as our plans for later."

He knelt in front of her, pushing her hair aside he nuzzled her neck gently, "Not quite, imzadi, not quite."

She raised her shoulder to stop him from exploring her further, the tender little kisses he was placing on what he knew to be her most sensitive places was making her resent the cave more then she all ready did.

"Knock it off Riker, or I'll take you right here."

"Your such an animal Deanna." He growled his response, flicking his finger softly under her chin he moved away from her and headed out the door.

"Where are you going!" She called after him.

He stuck his head back in the arched entry, "Away from you...you vixen!"

**

"I'm ready!" Will looked up to the doorway and the grim face of the Betazoid above him. "Here, we might as well eat breakfast before we endure more of your love for the underground." She tossed him two of the pears she had found in his sack of goods.

"Can't you at least pretend to be excited....You know the more we learn about this place the more likely it is we'll find a way home." He eyed her as he made his way up the old ladder, her meager attempt at a smile stirred his own distaste for their situation.

He hadn't wanted to admit it to her but his own frustration was dampening his optimistic outlook that the Enterprise was going to come through and get them out of here. He was tired of bugs, he was tired of sweating, but mostly he was tired of this nagging little voice that kept suggesting that somehow none of this had been a mishap. That it was all a carefully orchestrated plan to trap them on this unknown planet, to pit them against the elements leaving them with only each other to depend on.

Now if that same nagging little voice would offer an answer as to who or why he might be able to alleviate some of the knots that twisted in his stomach.

"Q!" The revelation fired from his mouth just as he stepped onto the ledge where Deanna stood waiting.

"Q?" Deanna's eyes darkened at the mention of his name.

"Why not? He's always telling us how primitive we are, this place screams primitive Deanna. And you know he's always had an obsession with human relationships."

"Will" Deanna stopped him with a gentle touch on the arm, "I know it's not Q I've been sensing."

He studied her for a moment giving her opinion a chance to settle over him before shaking his head.

"No offense Deanna, but if Q didn't want you to sense him, I guarantee you you wouldn't. Hell, we're probably the entertainment at the Q continuum bar and grill." He slapped his fist in his palm.

"Pervert!" He shouted to the sky before moving inside and kicking a water pot out of his way.

"Will, I really think your overreacting, your frustrated because we haven't found any answers......I know it's not Q"

Will continued sneering upward, "I had the power of Q Deanna, or have you forgotten. There's not a damn thing he's not capable of doing. You want a peep show I'll give you a peep show!" He shouted his promise to the unknown, grabbing Deanna and kissing her firmly.

"Will!" She struggled out of his hold, "Your acting like a nut!"

He squinted his eyes at her, it wasn't so much the comment she'd made but the laughter that had erupted with the words.

"You think this is funny?"

"Will your shaking your fist at the sky, your talking to someone who's not there. If there was any possibility it was Q that had caused this you would have given him just what he wanted."

"I really don't like the idea of being the source of amusement for a bunch of omnipotent being who have nothing better to do then watch us while they sip their ambrosia. Or is that another one of your secret fantasies counselor?" He raised a questioning eyebrow, hiding that fact that he knew she was probably right, and the smile that was threatening him.

The sound of shattering glass from the upper level of the Kiva stilled Deanna's retaliation.

"Something's up there." He followed her eyes to the ladder in the center of the room.

"It's probably Q trying to throw us off the track, make me believe that you were right all along."

"You could just admit it." She replied coolly.

"Nah, don't think so.....it felt good to yell like that though." He returned her smile, taking her by the arm they moved towards the ladder, Will still not completely satisfied that his suspicions about Q were completely out of the question.

 

They entered the habitat together cautiously, Will sniffed the air, "Deanna, do you smell anything unusual."

"Define unusual." She knew exactly what he meant. There was a definite odor that stung the senses. It was slightly familiar but much stronger now then in her memory, making it harder to define.

"If I had to name it I'd say it is resembles the stench from that replicator malfunction when Worf was teaching me the fine etiquette of eating gagh. The computer fried the things."

Deanna frowned, "I thought those worms were to be eaten live."

"They are, and if you thought they were disgusting fresh, you should have smelled them fried." Will smiled at her look..

She suddenly turned from him and looked toward the gaping hole into the cave, "I think we have company."

They moved slowly, stealthily toward the opening, all banter long forgotten. Will looked through the opening to find a glimmer of light off to the right. He looked around for a torch and again wished for the technology they seemed to left light years behind. He calculated the distance to the light and tried to see into through the darkness to find all the surprises, thrill rides and death traps that may be just waiting for the next victim; but could see nothing except the glimmer of light about 20 meters away. He looked over his shoulder to Deanna trying to decide whether to leave her to get a torch or have her wait for him while he explored in the darkness.

"No." Her voice was quietly firm and unrelenting in its tone.

"No what?" he knew by the look she shot him that Deanna had known what was going through his mind.

"We do it together or not at all."

"Alright, then let's look around there should be something in the den of thieves that we can use as a light." They searched through and around the debris that littered the dwelling, until Will pulled up a torch, a well made torch not at all like the simple primitive one he had fashioned. He lit it and waited for Deanna to join him in stepping back into the cave. He held the torch up to look around him carefully taking note of where the drop off into the abyss was and the ground that they would need to cover to reach the lighted area. Will reached behind him to take Deanna's hand, they began to make their way over the rocks and boulders that became their biggest obstacles to reaching their goal. The closer they came to that goal the more the odor began to assault them. The smell of burning hair and the stench he referred to at fried gagh became almost overpowering.

Deanna gagged once and fought to control the reflexive reaction to the repulsive scents that were closing in on them. She felt Will squeeze her hand as he let her know he understood her feelings. But he had no idea of the beings she was beginning to get a sense of, she knew that this encounter was going to be a most unique experience for them both.

******

After what seemed like hours, they finally reached the source of the light. It streamed from yet another crease in the far wall. Will held his torch up and began to look for a catch or even a rock out of place. Deanna studied the wall and the crack for a few seconds, then without a word, walked up to the crack stuck her hand inside. Will reached out, intending to draw her hand out of the dark crevice.

"No...it's all right..." Deanna murmured, her expression intent, "I think...yes..." She twisted her hand and pulled outward. Instantly, with a grinding sound...the wall began to slide open. Will gaped openly, how had she known? Deanna caught his bemused look as the torchlight exposed the wide eyes, and lopsided grin. "I guessed." she said then she shrugged and stood back holding her breath as they were immersed in bright light and strong putrid air. Several long moments passed until their eyes adjusted, to the drastic change in illumination. They stood side by side, blinking rapidly, not certain if they should accept what their eyes perceived....as real.

. The lighting seemed to have no source but illuminated every corner of the interior. The walls were an antiseptic metallic material and not of a natural substance like the cave they had just traveled through, however the onslaught to their noses was anything but antiseptic. In the near silence of this environment Will heard Deanna gag once again behind him. He turned to pull her along side of him as they both tried to acclimate themselves to this new atmosphere. Before them was a laboratory, the source of the odor and home to whatever had been tracking them. Will moved away from Deanna as he searched the area looking for the responsible party but finding no one. He slowed his steps as he began looking over the table, items were everywhere, he had no idea what he was looking at, nothing seemed familiar, that is until Deanna brought his attention to the side counter.

"Will.. Will!" her voice shook.

He quickly made his way to her and placed a firm hand on her shoulders. "Deanna, I'm right here, what is it?" He had no sooner asked when he felt as though someone had delivered a decisive blow to his stomach, "What the hell is going on here?" He reached to touch the items when Deanna pulled him back.

"I'm not sure what is going on, but I think until we find out more we shouldn't interfere here."

"Deanna, its us they are fooling with now. Look it is your hair, pieces of our clothing, green mud, fish bones, looks like soapy water." He stopped and looked at her, "Oh my god, you donít think that's from theÖ" He saw her face pale except for the darkening blush starting on her cheeks.

 

"Who? Why would anyone want to collect these Öthese Ö.." Deanna was having trouble articulating her thoughts. The items in front of her had completely shaken her.

Will understood completely and stared at the array before him; before moving further to the source of the stench. At the end of the long table stood large machine that was vibrating and humming had suddenly stopped leaving them in silence. Will looked through the transparent doors at the contents; several sealed containers were fastened into individual holders, it appeared the vibrations were the apparatus shaking them. "Deanna, look here." When he felt her presence beside him, he pulled her close to his side and pointed into the transparent doors. "Looks like we are a part of their experiment." He watched her face cloud with disbelief.

"Will, I want to be back on the Enterprise, this scares me." Her eyes widened as she observed the vials in the machine, a few strands of dark hair could be observed in one, bits of cloth in another and the third seemed to contain cloudy water. "What do you think they want with us?"

 

 

He squeezed her shoulders reassuringly, doing his best not to transfer his own revulsion at the situation to her.

"We'll get back to the Enterprise, don't worry." He whispered, continuing to stroke his hand over her shoulder. He had offered his touch to console her but the longer he stared at the pieces of their lives that laid strewn around them the more he wondered if maybe he needed her comfort more then she needed his. There was no doubt what was going on here and the thought turned his stomach, hell, he'd rather be the feature presentation at the Q continuum bar and grill then be a party to whatever was going on here......and he was damn sure whatever it was was exploiting not only he and Deanna, but their intimacy as well.

"Who and why would anyone do this." Deanna's wide dark eyes looked up at him imploring him to help her understand.

He drew in a shaky breath, he knew it was pointless to try and hide his feelings from her but for her sake he vowed he would try.

"Your not sensing anything?" He cleared his throat to hide the crack in his voice, again hiding the fact that more then anything right now; he would like to smash the machine in front of him depriving whoever or whatever from stealing the most precious things in his life.

Deanna's eyes were locked on him but he knew they were looking beyond him reaching for anything that would help them to put this unnerving feeling into perspective.

She tilted her head slightly her features taking on an expression unlike what he thought she should be feeling.

"Desperation"

For a moment looking into her large dark eyes he could almost feel the emotions she claimed to be sensing, but only for a moment, his own sense of desperation replaced the empathy he had allowed himself to feel.

He held Deanna's shoulders firmly, locking his deep blue eyes with hers, gently trying to let his feelings supersede the ones that she had absorbed herself in.

He waited until her eyes regained their focus before speaking again, still struggling to keep his own annoyance out of his voice. "You felt desperation, can you target the source, is it the same one we felt in the lavish room?"

"No.." Her eyes glanced around the room, he was starting to wonder if he'd misjudged her return to conscious thought.

"No...what?"

"No, it's not the same as the room.....the emotions are more concentrated, and much simpler."

He took her chin gently in his hand, forcing her to look at him instead of the disturbing surroundings. If there was one thing he wanted her to understand right now it was he was here and would never allow anyone to hurt her; or destroy what they'd managed to rekindle on this jungle trek.

"What do you think they want from us?" Her compassion for this unknown shimmered in the foreground of her ebony eyes, but behind them Will could see a haunting fear that tightened his heart in his chest.

"I don't know Deanna, but I'm sure as hell not giving them anything willingly!" He picked up a large heavy metal container and swung it through the air getting a feel for the effort needed to damage the large machine.

"No, Will. We can't just come in here and destroy things without understanding what's going on."

He looked at her incredulously, "Deanna, for all we know they may be cloning us."

She frowned at him, "I don't think that's the case, do you? Seriously? Why would they want that?"

He shrugged, "I don't know. Let's look around for some answers ..then I decapitate the machine." He looked down at her, "Stay close okay?"

Deanna smiled, "Is that an order sir?"

"Does it have to be?" He saw the twinkle in her eyes, "Let's just say that if you want me to keep my part of the bargain later, your going to want to be close at hand." He pulled her to him, "And I for one would hate to have to forgo on that part of the agreement.

Will watched her eyes smile knowing she sensed how much he was looking forward to the latter part of the pact. "Come on, let's see if we can find any clues for all this."

They had been walking around the workbench and long tables for sometime when Deanna called Will over to her. "Look at this." She was pointing to a graph and several notes done on a mirror type glass. The writing was the same they had seen earlier in the rooms hidden behind the windpipes. "I recognize DNA patterns when I see them. I believe this one is Betazoid and this would most likely be human." She looked at Will for his agreement.

"Then that machine is a DNA extractor. I don't mean to keep repeating myself, but what the hell is going on here. What are they looking for?"

Deanna clearly heard the anger in his voice and although what she was about to say was going to fuel

it she couldn't keep it to herself. "Perhaps the question may be: What do they need from us?"

"I don't give a rat's ass what they need from us!" He stared at her in amazement, "This scares the hell out of you and yet your asking yourself why." He drew in a few breaths releasing them slowly, calming the wealth of emotions that were raining now on him.

"Your empathy is one of the reason I love you Deanna, but there's such a thing as carrying it too far, sometimes you have to protect your own ba...." The shadow of a smile on her face caused his words to fall off.

"Am I that funny when I get angry?"

"No, I'm just glad to see you venting your own frustrations instead of trying to protect me." She stood on her toes and brushed a kiss over his unkempt beard.

"You know" He answered, wagging his finger in front of her face, "There are times I wish your degree

was in tactical engineering....anything but psychology."

"No you don't." She folded her arms across her chest and offered him a surreptitious smile.

"No I don't." He relented with a frustrated sigh, pulling her against him, more for his benefit then hers.

"But it would be nice to be able to act like jerk and not have to realize it every time."

"Oh believe me, you act like a jerk all the time." She pulled her head from his chest to smirk at him, but

Will's attentions were already diverted.

"Look at those footprints." He pulled away from her and squatted down beside the imprints he was referring to, "Tell me these aren't familiar ........I'd say we've found our smoking gun." He looked up at her, the knots in his stomach beginning to unravel.

******

 

Deanna stooped down to look at the odd marks, "Well, they aren't humanoid." When the truth dawned on her she looked quickly up at Will's waiting eyes, "Our winged friend, we saw these prints by the pond. Why does all this surprise me. We knew we were following one when we started here. But I never expected to see all this." Her look took in all the scientific hardware surrounding them. "Will how do you suppose theyÖ" She paused searching for the right words.

Will filled in the gap for her, "You mean without opposing thumbs how do they manage the intricacies of these experiments, whatever they are attempting?" She nodded. "There's one way we can find out, and that's to find our friends. You sensed their presence here before we entered, so it's safe to say we scared them off. Come on, let's follow the tracks." He realized he had snuffed the torch out earlier and went around the bench to retrieve it when he found the passageway through the wall they had entered through was now shut. Tight. He tried to find the hidden latch to open it just as Deanna had done earlier, but couldnít move the trigger. It appeared frozen. Deanna had moved up behind him watching him, she quietly laid her hand on his, when he withdrew his own she tried to move it as she had earlier. Nothing. She looked up at Will, he knew by the way her expressive eyes betrayed her failure that she was as surprised as he was.

"Now what?" Will groaned as he backed off from what had been their entrance in to the lab. He picked up the metal canister he had been practicing swinging and threw it across the laboratory in frustration. In the quiet of the sealed room the sound made from the metal canister striking and bouncing off the metallic walls was nearly causing audio overload in their ears.

Deanna glared at Will, as she lowered her hands from covering her ears as the echo had dimmed to where they could talk and be heard. "I take back anything I said about venting. One more exercise in frustration like that and I won't live to see you keep your promise for later."

Will shrugged looking only slightly penitent, before moving off to see what damage he had incurred to their new prison. Approaching the canister he noticed an odd glow coming from inside it, as though one of the hand lantern he had been wishing so valiantly for was on and waiting for him. He could feel Deanna close behind him, as they moved in on the odd greenish glowing object. They approached it from behind, to avoid the glowing end. Deanna moved off to the side then returned, tapping Will several times on the shoulder until he looked behind him. She handed him the piece of the canister that became dislodged after its violent toss across the lab. The curved piece of light metal had no rough edges but was seamed and had a small precut indentation that probably helped to hold it to the body of the container. So the force of the impact hadn't sheered off the side but merely dislodged the prefabricated opening.

Will slowly poked at the object causing it to roll toward them allowing them to get a quick look at the green glow. He sucked in his breath at what the sight. Deanna was looking around him trying to see what had caused the flux in his emotions. He could hear her too gasp, and felt her hands firmly holding on to his arm as he bent to get a better look at the odd sight before him. The pain in his arm increased as Deanna's head lowered to his, he could feel each of her fingers as the continued pressing down into his arm. He casually held her gripping hand with his loosing the fingers then pressing it into his own hand, doing it all without ever moving his eyes from the fluctuating green glow. Growing more and more mesmerized by the sight he eased down to a near sitting position pulling Deanna along down with him. He then slowly and carefully uprighted the canister watching the movement that altered the glow, with total immersion of all his consciousness. Together they watched as the scene before replayed over and over. Finally, Will stood and helped Deanna to her feet.

"Those creatures, the painting on the walls that we saw, they have some kind of morphing abilities." Will nodded at her statement. "Will, they are dying. Remember the painting. There are only these two. All this must be to try and find a way of maintaining the species, if not their lives."

"I believe we were suppose to find this holo-imager"

 

"I believe we were suppose to find this holo-imager"

Deanna's eyes were wide and glistened with unshed tears of compassion, in contrast Will's eyes narrowed as he gauged what Deanna had said.

"Deanna, if the winged creatures are intelligent enough to extract DNA, it seems to me they should also be intelligent enough to ask for our help." He brushed his hand over his beard and waited for Deanna's inevitable response.

"Isn't that what they're doing now? Maybe guiding us here is there way of communicating with us."

Will pushed her hair behind her shoulder and rested his hand on it, "Then why do they keep running away Deanna? " He shook his head, and let his hand slid down her arm before walking towards the vials on the table.

Picking one up he turned it in his hand, "I'm not an MD, but it seems to me there'd be a huge difference between morphing Pterodactyl and humanoid DNA. I'm not sure we'd be able to help them even if we wanted to."

Deanna's movements towards him were deliberately slow, the expression on her face far to pensive,, he was certain he wasn't going to like what she was going to say. "Actually Will, the reproductive process in a vast majority of life forms is similar. They may only be looking for the element they seem to be lacking."

He chuckled to himself, keeping his initial comment to her statement to himself. "I'm not sure any of it really matters right now. Unless we plan on taking a crash course in genetics, I'm not sure either of us is qualified to help them." A grin slid over his face, "Now if they need a lesson in technique, I'd be happy to oblige." It was his way of changing the subject and lightening the mood and from the ghost of smile she was trying to keep from her face it was working.

"Maybe we should concentrate on getting out of here instead." He waggled his brows, "Seems to me you've got a couple techniques coming if we ever get out of here."

"Mmm, that's right.....I'd almost forgotten." She replied, slipping her arms around his waist, the smile on her face dimming again to serious concern, "Just promise me if there is a way for us to help the creatures we will." He nodded an agreement, and reinforced it by pressing his lips against hers.

"See how the footprints end right there." He pulled away from her abruptly, oblivious to the look of surprise on her face.

"You were really centered on that kiss, weren't you?"

He had already squatted down beside the footprints, he slid his eyes upward to meet with Deanna's mock look of irritation.

"I was, " He cleared his throat, "I just can't seem to stop at only a kiss lately, I thought it best that I center on the task at hand. A beautiful woman like you deserves better then to be made love to in a dusty, smelly lab." He raised an innocent brow and flashed his best grin.

Deanna shook her hand, "You know I'm not buying any of this. You, Will Riker are a man obsessed."

He stopped running his fingers along the edges of the large flat rock the prints had lead him to, "A man obsessed with a gorgeous Betazoid." He grinned before returning to his attempt to move the rock from its groove.

"A man obsessed with dark, damp caves. I know you think that rocks going to move and present you with yet another obscure passageway to climb through. Here... try this." She handed him a large flat rod, scrunching her nose as with a little effort his theory became reality. She lowered her eyes into the dark crawl space his efforts had revealed.

"No way Will Riker! Walking through caves is one thing, I refuse to crawl in that muck." She folded her arms like a stubborn child and dared him to challenge her.

********************************************

This is disgusting! I can't believe I let you talk me into this!"

Deanna's muffled voice sounded from behind him, he continued crawling through the dense pocket of

mud, masking his own distaste behind his chuckle.

"I thought you liked mud baths Deanna?"

"That's clean mud.....this is, I don't know what it is...it's disgusting!"

"And I'm not exactly dressed for this either, "

He heard her once again repositioning her dress, a twinge of regret stabbing at him for making her

climb through this muck, dressed in a sarong.

"I'm sure it won't be much longer." He assured her, more for his own benefit then hers. Something was

definitely crawling up his pant leg, but reacting to it, or sharing the fact with Deanna was out of the

question. He grimaced at the feeling, as something with what felt like a thousand legs tickled its why

past his knee.

"How to you know that Will, for all you know this tunnel may go on for miles!" Her disgruntled voice

sounded in response.

The apology he'd planed on returning to her, stalled in his chest. The smell of dirt was being overridden

by the sweet smell of water, and the sound of its gentle splashing.

"SHHH!"

"Don't shhh me!" She snapped.

"Listen, do you hear it."

He didn't wait for a response from her, but crawled faster towards the sound....whatever was slithering

up his leg was now lost in the hair of his upper thigh, and getting far too close to his "wares" for

comfort.

He dove out of the tunnel, the glimmer of light that trickled into the cavern he'd come to illuminating a

pool of crystal blue water. He unhooked his pants and plunged his hand towards his unwelcome guest,

pulling it off him, he held it's slithering body in his hand for a second, before tossing it away.

"Your concern for my safety is overwhelming." Deanna spat at him.

"I'm sorry." He apologized, pulling his pants back up.

He watched her eye him suspiciously as he hooked his pants, and hurried to help her into the water.

"I'm not going to even ask, OK?" She said, arching a brow in amusement, "I think I'm becoming

accustom to you tearing off your clothes on a whim."

She submerged herself in the water without waiting for Will to respond. He watched the dirt and debris

free itself from her and float to the top of water, muddying the surface, and distorting his view of the

woman beneath.

Deanna surfaced with a splash, "I feel much better now." She said, sweeping her dripping hair from her

face.

"You look much better too." Will noted, watching a trickle of glistening water trail down her neck and

disappear between two perfect breasts.

He took a couple of steps towards her, appreciating how the now translucent fabric of Deanna's dress

was leaving nothing to his imagination.

"Not so fast jungle man." Deanna said, her hand shooting up to his chest to stop his descent, "I haven't

forgiven you yet. I'm afraid self gratification is going to be your lot for awhile."

He understood now why Deanna wasn't the strongest poker player in the world, she may have mask

her smile, but her eyes betrayed her, rich and dark, and certainly not suggesting he try self gratification.

"My woman." He grunted, grabbing the back of her hair in his hands and pulling gently downward on

it, forcing her head back, and giving him perfect access to her neck. He closed in on the white flesh, a

bit more forcefully then he'd planed, but after a moment of his tongue and teeth grazing across her

sensitive skin, Deanna's body relaxed under his assault.

"Such conviction," He whispered against her skin, trailing his lips up her jaw bone, setting in a course

for her lips. His hands slide down over the soft curves of her buttocks and pushed her against him. She

responded with a sigh of pleasure as his hand drifted below her buttocks and glided between her legs

teasingly.

"WILL!" Her relaxed and responsive body became tense as she pushed away from his advances and

pointed upward towards the back wall of the cave. He spun around, following her finger, catching only

a glimpse of the winged creature before it disappeared inside a doorway high up on the cave wall.

<Good thing this is cold water,> He thought to himself as Deanna slipped out of his arms and moved

towards the back of the cave. He splashed some of the chilling water over his face and followed

behind her.

He looked up at the perfectly carved doorway, running his hands over the jagged surface of the wall, a

grin spreading over his face. "I think I can free climb up there Deanna." He said, brows raised, waiting

for the inevitable protests.

"It's too high, and it's too dangerous." Came the expected response.

"I've been free climbing since I was ten, there's plenty of hand and foot holds....and it's not that high."

He added, coloring the truth a little. It was plenty high, and if he fell this shallow water would do

nothing to prevent his body from splattering all over the ground.

Deanna studied him, and then the surface of the wall, "Fine." She finally replied her surrender coming

as more then a shock to him.

"Really?"

"Yes really. Just be careful and promise me you won't forget about me down here if you find something

else that excites you." She replied ruefully.

"Never." He promised, kissing her on the cheek.

*******************************

He pulled himself up over the final ledge that led into the doorway, drawing a breath of relief deeply

into his lungs. He hadn't lied when he'd said he'd been free climbing since he was ten, he'd only failed

to mention that that was the only time he'd ever done it, the fall he'd taken then had broken his arm in

three places and fractured two of his ribs, and he'd promised himself he'd never do it again..

"I'm OK!" He shouted down to Deanna, "I'll be right back."

He waited for her to return his wave, before getting to his feet and moving into this new domain.

He took only a few steps through the darkness before bright sunlight distilled slightly by the water it

penetrated filled his view.

<I'm behind the falls.> He thought to himself, stepping carefully over the moss lined floor. It was really

quite beautiful, the sun that filtered past the pale blue water caused the crystals embedded in the walls

to sparkle with hues of pink and lavender, casting pearls of light on the deep green moss.

He breathed deep, inhaling the clean scent of outside air, instead of the dank, musty aroma of the caves he'd been traipsing through.

He ran a hand through his dark, unruly hair as he became aware of something else in this hidden cavern behind the falls. It wasn't something he could see or touch but more a feeling, increased energy maybe....the hairs on his arms tingled with the unknown current, his blood seemed to pump faster through his veins, his nerve endings responding more intensely to each splash of water that blew onto his skin. It was incredible, almost intoxicating, every molecule in his body overreacting to every sensation that came by him.

*****

Will stood allowing the water to bounce off his body in ways water never was intended to travel, it was though each droplet had more electrons than the water molecule, he was familiar with allowed. Each molecule discharging electricity as it collided with his skin. His imagination sped toward the sensual side as he nearly swayed in the inverted falls, his travels through the galaxy had provided many wondrous and highly psychosexual adventures but this -this was something that needed to be shared. He shook himself out of his daydreams and went about devising a method of getting Deanna into the falls.

Will entered the cavern and began scanning the pool of water beneath him for Deanna, he finally saw her sitting along the pool with her arms wrapped around herself. "Deanna, I'm throwing this vine down to you .. its already looped, all you need to do is drop it over your head and pull on it."

She looked up at him, "I'm not climbing up there Will Riker."

"Yes you are if I have to come down and sling you over my shoulder." He smiled, adding suggestively, "You aren't going to want to miss this, I promise you this is going to make up for all the caves and bugs."

Deanna remained sitting as she sensed his anticipation and erotic thoughts her own curiosity won over. She stood making her way to the steep cliff, hiking her sarong up to her thighs she pulled the material up above her waist as she slipped the vine down to her waist tightening it. She mimicked Will trying to find crevices to slip hands and feet in as the vine kept her from falling. As she neared the apex her foot slipped from its hold, her scream echoed throughout the cavern. She had no time to recover as Will quickly hauled her the remaining meters then pulled her into his arms and away from the edge of the cliff. He continued to kiss her face and neck, covering every exposed pore with his attention. Deanna pulled away a bit to look at him, she studied his face running her fingers through his beard.

Will pulled her against him and whispered in her ear, "I have found the perfect way to make up for all the mud I've drug you through, and you will thank me for it."

"You know, sometimes you are the most conceited man in Starfleet, and that's saying a lot." Her words held her amusement.

"But Ms Troi, isn't that part of the attraction?" This time it was Will that pulled away to look down at her. His eyes taking in the sarong that only barely hung on her frame and did nothing to curb his thoughts about the waterfall and the magic they could find under it.

"No, the attraction is the amusement you provide when you fall on your Ö " He stopped her verbal assault with a kiss that also stopped her mental processes leaving only one bodily function working overtime- that which was related to the circulatory functions. He could feel her heart race as he held her firmly against him, and knew by the way her body was reacting that if they didn't head toward the falls they'd be wasting precious moments. He pulled back to slide the vine down over her hips taking his time and enjoying every moment, making every movement, every touch an intimate caress. He picked her up and tried to make his way through the cavern.

Deanna's arms tightened around his neck, "Will is that the waterfalls I hear?" The thundering sound beginning to reverberate through the floor of the cavern.

He teased, "Do you want it to be the waterfalls?"

She looked confused trying to figure out what he meant by that lame line, then decided to play along. She coyly answered "Ah, only if it is all you have promised me."

They stepped out into the ledge, the falls a mere meter from them. Will slowly slid her down his body until her feet touched the stone floor. They could see the sunlit jungle through the curtain of water, the light dancing across their features as they both stood holding each other staring at the site before them. Deanna hugged him to her, feeling his warm flesh beneath the damp clothing.

 

********

Will looked down at her watching her hand caressing his chest as she looked through the water. Deanna smiled at him, "It's beautiful."

His mouth captured hers as he swung her into the moving water. Deanna gasped and struggled to regain her breath when she did she whispered against his mouth, "Is this what you promised?"

Will chuckled, "Do you mean the water or me?"

Deanna returned his kiss, "Oh, right now I think I mean both." She gasped as he moved her toward the section of the falls with the most water flow. The charged water causing their skin to become sensitized nearly to the point of pain, but not quite. Will quickly stripped the sarong from her, Deanna's own hands became busy with his shirt and trousers. Their movements were nearly frantic driven on by the constant surging of the water against them. Suddenly Deanna sagged against Will, trying to push back from him. He pulled her out falls and back into the cavern.

"What is it? Are you alright." When she opened her eyes she saw his concerned look, and wanted to reassure him.She rubbed her arms to dispel the chill that replaced the heated embraces she had felt only moments before. "I think it was just an overload. Too much stimuli at one time." She smiled a bit shyly at him.

Will's relief flooded his features as he gathered her gently to him. "I'm sorry.." he was stopped by her fingers pressing against his lips.

"Don't apologize, I want to experience the falls and you.. but I need to take it a bit more slowly this time if I want to come to the "full appreciation" of both." She used his shoulders to pull herself up to present him with a sensuously slow kiss. She pressed against him noticing that every breath changed the touch of his flesh against her own. Her hands longed to discover the rest of what she knew, and the voyage across his now bronzed body began without her consent. Her mind registered it all, memorizing the rises and indentations the subtle transformations the touch of hands or lips made.

 

Will whispered a question in her ear, at her nod he gathered her into his arms and back into the water. He went to the side of the falls where there was less water in motion. As soon as he stepped into it she felt the electricity flow between them and around them. Her body pressed closer to his as she wrapped her self around him, shifting her weight so that her arms and legs were firmly gripping him. Through their strengthening bond she could feel him reveling in the sensations that were overwhelming her. Will kissed her gently then more thoroughly, tasting her lips with his tongue, then encouraging her to relax and enjoy his and the water's ministrations.

They moved into the more steadily moving stream of the falls, Deanna gasped as the water hit her already sensitized flesh. She felt Will's hands slid down her body holding her to him caressing her every inch of the way, relishing her reactions and the returning favors. He gently explored her breast finding the proof of her arousal, she sensed his fight to continue at the slower pace, so Deanna herself began to speed things.

She continued to sense his restraint and to acknowledge his protectiveness she sent her love for him along the bond with some very erotic thoughts. Immediately things began to accelerate, the touches were more demanding more exciting more intimate. Deanna was gasping for breath as Will's flesh entered hers.

 

**************

 

 

 

 

Picard quickly checked his away team, he heard the groans as they felt the oppression of the heat and humidity. "Okay people let's get moving. Doctor, Data any signs of the commander and counselor?"

Doctor Crusher and Data had tricorders out each searching different directions for signs of the missing crewmates, both eventually coming to rest pointing in the same direction. "Captain, I believe we may have found them."

Data lead the way through the unrelenting vegetation oblivious to the heat his pace was too much for his sweltering crewmates. "Data would it be too much to ask for you to slow down? You may find the planet fascinating but if you slow down we may have the opportunity to at least look at it before we pass out from heat exhaustion."

"I did not realize you were having difficulty keeping up Doctor." Data stopped and waited for them his head tilted as he noted their appearance having gone from the crisp look and dry uniforms they left with; to the sodden uniforms and the flushed and wilted humans that stood before him now.

"Thank you, Data. Does your readings show the Commander and Counselor to be in any difficulty?" The Captain continued looking around the surroundings for anything that may prove of interest or explanation. He removed his outer tunic and stood in the lighter under shirt wishing they had taken the time to change into more appropriate clothing for this rescue mission.

"No sir the readings are picking up a form of electormagnetic interference that it unknown."

Suddenly they entered into a clearing with a waterfall across the stream. "I believe the Commander is straight ahead, sir." They all stood gazing around the ground near them, then across to the falls. Slowly each head raised to the falls themselves.

 

"That's incredible, I've never seen anything like it!" Beverly stood entranced by the sight ahead of her.

Data tilted his head continuing to look at the falls, "Doctor I should think you would be very familiar with the act of procreation."

The observation came about the same instant as the doctor and captain caught sight of the crew members they were searching for. Picard hit his com badge harder than would have been necessary, "Picard to Enterprise, I want uniforms for Commander Riker and Counselor Troi beamed to these co-ordinates immediately."

<Understood sir.>

Data continued to stare at the falls. Beverly nudged him, "Data, in human society it is considered rude to watch displays of affection."

He turned to look at her, "Does that apply to public displays also Doctor?"

"Only when the participants aren't aware there is any one to watch, I suppose. I'm sure the Counselor was too.. ah.. preoccupied to sense our presence, Data."

Beverly couldnít resist a quick glance at the captain, knowing that he was uncomfortable with any public displays of emotion much less seeing two of his senior officers involved in the act of copulation. Picard stood as though he was studing the jungle behind him as a botanist would study an unusal speicman the captain continued in his surveliance of the large tree he know faced.

Data broke the silence, "Captain, perhaps the Commander should be hailed. It is apparent they are as yet unaware of our presense. Would they not be gratified to know that a rescue team has succeded in locating them?" Data was again watching the couple in the falls.

Beverly followed his gaze, "I'm sure they will Data, however I think now may not be the best time to ahÖnotify them of our presense, and I donít suppose either are wearing a comm badge." She couldn't keep the humor from her voice, but did see that it was not shared by the scorching glare from the captain.

The uniforms materialized beside them, Picard looked at Data "Are they still occupied Data."

"Yes sir, it appears they have succeded in .."

"Data! Please no details. I think we have an idea of the events. Lets just, relax and enjoy the surroundings. I want to learn more about those waterfalls when the commander and counselor have a.. joined us." Beverly began taking readings from the local plants and animal life in the trees near them. She had containers beamed down to place samples of berries, nuts and flora in for more extensive research aboard the Enterprise.

She barely heard the captain mutter under his breath, "Now I know why he doesn't want me to lead away missions." She had to turn away when she could no long hold back a snicker. She knew the two were in for some explanations.

"Doctor when we have our counselor and commander back on the Enterprise I want a full evaluation of them."

"As is the norm under such circumstances sir."

 

**********

The trio continued to sit around the pool of water, Beverly had taken off her boots and was cooling her self as much as was decently possible. She too had stripped off the outer tunic, and continued to splash water on her face and arms to keep cool in the planet's tropical climate. She looked up at Data, who had imitated their need to escape some of the heat, his pant legs were rolled up as he sat beside the doctor with his golden toes clearly visible through the clear cool water. "Data, have they finished yet?" She tried to hide the frustrated boredom from her tone, but could tell by the way the Captain turned to look at her she had failed.

"Doctor, if you are referring to their second climax since we arrived, the answer would be yes." At her movement to get out of the water he hastily added. "However, they have commenced on what appears to be another interlude and have apparently decided that the previous position could be improved upon by.."

"Thank you Data." The Captains tone would normally have left no room from more discussion on the subject.

"Captain, may I ask you a question?" Data sat with perfect "at attention" posture.

Beverly heard his sigh and grinned keeping her eyes averted from them she heard the captain mutter, "Go ahead Data."

"The human ability to achieve multimuple sexual encounters is somewhat misleading is it not?"

Beverly tried to cover her laugh with a cough, but knew she failed when she heard: "Mr Data perhaps that is a question that Doctor Crusher could help you with."

She shot a look at the captain to see the near smirk on his face, and decided to play her own form of his game. Beverly smiled sweetly at the android, "Yes, Data you are correct. You simply cannot judge all human male's sexual prowness by Command Rikers."

 

 

 

 

Beads of cool water fell against Deanna's heated skin, intensifying the contractions of pleasure that flowed over her. A final shudder from Will caused him to fall limply on top of her, his hot flesh stilling the cooling tantalization of the falls.

"I love you Imzadi."

Will's vow spoken in broken breaths, his chest still heaving heavily against her own.

The energy of the falls, mingled with the emotions that pulsed from Will's mind, playing havoc over her, enticing her arousal for him not to diminish, but heighten.

She sighed heavily, knowing the physical impossibility of Will being able to reenact their previous several lovemaking sessions. Her nails slid over his back, an immediate smile of surprise gilding over her as she felt him harden against her.

"Will!?" She gasped on an anticipatory breath.

Will grinned down on her, indigo eyes drinking in her features, "Maybe we should bottle this stuff and take it home."

In the instant she allowed herself to laugh at his wish, a vague sensation pulled at her mind.

"Oh Gods!"

She pushed him unceremoniously off her, fleeing into the cavern behind the water.

Will laid stunned and annoyed for a moment before calling after her, "Deanna, what's going on?"

<It's the captain!>>

The warning sounded in his mind, simultaneously his eyes drifted to the base of the falls.

"Holy shit!" He mumbled under his breath, wondering whether he should join Deanna in fleeing to the cavern, or speak to the six eyes that appeared to be on him.

"It's good to see you commander."

Captain Picard's greeting carried past the splashing falls, pulling him to his feet, astutely aware more then his body was standing at attention.

"Like wise Captain," He answered, spying Deanna's sarong, grabbing it and quickly covering anything that could stir uncomfortable questions from Commander Data.

He smiled sheepishly at the captain and the android, narrowing his eyes as they fell on Beverly crusher, "Do you mind Beverly?"

"I'm a doctor, Commander." She returned, tossing her hair indignantly behind her shoulder.

"A doctor with a grin like the Cheshire cat." Will snipped, unable to hear what Picard was saying to her, but extremely grateful when whatever it was caused her to turn away.

"Are you both all right?" Picard shouted.....Will amazed by the somber expression his captain was holding on to. He wasn't so sure if in finding his first officer with his pants down he'd be able to hold on to the same composure.

"Yes Sir,"

He cleared his throat, even in this completely uncomfortable situation the pulsating water of the falls was waging a war on his hormones.

"I'm sending Commander Data up with uniforms, we can continue this after you're attired."

Either Picard was very observant, or was running out of self composure, either way he was being relieved of this nightmare of a predicament.

He watched Data scale the falls in seconds, two crisp uniforms draped over his shoulder.

He tightened the material of the sarong around him as the android's golden eyes dropped from Will's eyes to his evident erection.

"Did you not achieve satisfaction sir?" Data tilted his head, "Our tricorder scans unequivocally showed that ejaculation had been achieved."

Will's cheeks flushed red, his body burning with embarrassment, he was very thankful the captain and the doctor had moved far enough away not to hear Data's observations.

"It was our objective to allow you sufficient time."

"That was very,.....thoughtful of you Commander." Will replied dryly.

By Data's blatant remarks it was evident he had deactivated his emotion chip, Will almost wished he hadn't. It was a vengeful thought he knew, but to see the android pitch a tent in his shorts, to be blunt, was a most satisfying picture to him right now.

"I am finding Counselor Troi's attempts to hide her nudity most perplexing. Her species is quite comfortable unclothed, and yet she was the one to flee."

Will took the uniforms from Data's outstretched hand, hoping this would be the last of the androids annoying question.

"Maybe she didn't want you to see her boobies." He grinned and slapped the confused android on the back.

"Ah, I see," Data replied, appearing to process the information, "And yet you did not mind exposing your pe....."

"I think this discussion can wait until later, Mister Data." Will intercepted the remark, stepping back into the cavern.

He looked at Deanna and rolled his eyes, her cheeks still pink with embarrassment.

"Is it because you are well endowed that you are comfortable displaying you......."

"I said later, Commander!" He barked back at Data, catching a glimpse of the smile that threatened Deanna's lips.

Will flopped his head forward and freed an exasperated breath, "Why do I just know I'm going to be reliving this moment over and over for the rest of my life."

 

**********

Data continued to follow Will back into the cavern where he handed Deanna her uniform, she stood her uniform gripped tightly in front of her body, Data following every movement curiously. Deanna managed to convey to Will her discomfort, he grinned before turning "Data, wouldnít this be the ideal place to get a reading on the falls, Iím know the captain is going to want to have more information about the formation of such a natural wonder."

Again the tilt of the head as though there was something the android found more perplexing about Will's behavior. "Actually sir, I believe the doctor is fascinated by its affects on the human anatomy. She appeared most intrigued by the possiblity either of you being capable of being mobile after spending time in the falls."

"Oh, no! Data how long were you down there?" Deanna felt Will's disapproving look, she knew this may tear off the floodgates holding back all Data's questions, but she wanted to be prepared for what awaited them when they met with Captain Picard.

"Exactly four hours forty five minutes and fifty six seconds since our arrival on the planet, however we were within viewing distance for three hours and twelve minutes." He tilted his head as he saw the information was not pleasing news to either of the two officiers standing in front of him. He noticed the Deanna's shudder, "Counselor, perhaps you would feel warmer once clothed in your uniform."

"Data, most women prefer to dress without an audience." Will suggested as he moved the andriod towards the falls.

As Will turned to go back to her, Data watched, "Commander would it not be appropriate then for you too to wait until the counselor is dressed?"

"Actually Data, since we've been here alone and I think she feels safer with me nearby, besides I believe you could say we are mated, in which case my presence is appreicated when ever the counselor is in a state of undress. Once youíre done with the reading you can go down, we'll meet you down there."

"Commander, I'm under orders not to leave you two alone for any length of time. If I were to leave I would be seriously compromising that order."

Will shrugged, feeling his shoulders sag as he reached Deanna's side. "I think we are in for it. We'll never live this down. Never."

Deanna stood watching as Data moved off a bit to study the falls. She then turned her attention to the man in front of her, "You realize that you may have done some of that damage yourself? However, I think you should inform Data that I need to be present for you too!"

" I can't think of many things I'd appreciate more, Deanna."

Once they had finished dressing Deanna moved closer to Will, "Think you better check on Data, he just turned his emotion chip on and the feelings I sense are similar to what we have been feeling." She tugged his arm before he headed toward the falls, "Will, tell him to turn the chip off. Order it if you need to, otherwise we may have a real problem. Apparently Beverly and the captain havent noticed anything yet."

"Great all I need now is an aroused android." Will started toward the falls, stopped in his tracks by the sight of the naked golden body in the stream of the falls. "Data turn off your emotion chip and come get dressed."

"Sir I felt that perhaps empirical research would enlighten me on the extent the inverted ionized falls played on the sexual energy displayed by you and the counselor." Data moved back away from the falls dressing methodically.

Will smiled, "And you have concluded?"

Data completed putting his boot on his foot before answering. "I found the sensation of the falls to be titillating, arousing, erotic, stimulatingÖ"

"Yes, Data all of the above." Will felt Deanna hand on his back as she joined them. "I believe we are ready to face the firing squad now Data. We'll follow you down."

 

Will," Deanna pulled gently back on his arm and watched Data begin his climb down from the falls,

"Don't laugh at me."

Will nodded doubtfully.

"Is Data the same color all over?"

He was glad he hadn't actually promised, because the serious look on her face, combined with the

question, drew a chuckle from him instantly.

"Is this something you've wondered about for awhile, or are you just warm for anything with a.."

"I'm sorry I asked," She cut him off, arms folded defensively across her chest, "And for your information it only just occurred to me when you said he was naked in the falls."

"Are you sure Deanna?" Will smirked, "I hear he's been programmed in multiple techniques."

"That is correct Commander, and with the activation of my emotion chip I am better able to calibrate motion and pressure to ensure a more fulfilling climax for my partner. I have also found that I myself derive satisfaction from ....."

"That's great Data, but I think maybe you should keep your sexual activities to yourself." Will cut off

Data's elaborate story, "This was a private conversation between myself and Counselor Troi."

"I apologize Sir, but as your discussion did involve my anatomy, I felt it only fitting that I should explain the newest benefits I can offer."

Will noted Deanna's cheeks flush again, and from the crooked smile Data was donning, and the way he was ogling Deanna, it appeared he'd neglected to turn off his emotion chip.

"I'm going to suggest you keep your chip off while we're on this planet Data. It has a way of stripping people of self control."

The brows Will waggled at Deanna, deepened the shade of crimson in her cheeks.

"But I am finding it to be an extremely sensuous experience. May I help you down from the falls

Counselor."

"Down boy," Will grinned, intervening before Data could take Deanna's hand, "Lets make it an order

Data, no chip on the planet."

Data's dizzy grin fell from his face, a moment later replaced with his usual unemotional expression.

"Let's go." Will guided Deanna, and fell in behind Data.

"Sharing sexual encounters is inappropriate?" Data raised an inquisitive brow, Will nodded.

"Yet I have overheard you and Commander LaForge discuss ensign Murphy and her ability to give the

bes......"

"New orders, mister Data, no talking either." Data fell silent, Will shrugged to Deanna, pulling up an innocent grin, "The best massages, that's all it was Deanna, and I'd almost forgotten about it..them."

"I certainly hope you come off more convincingly then that when we speak to the Captain."

"I don't think I'll have to explain anything to the Captain." Will helped Deanna to the ground and tilted his head towards the Captain and Beverly.

"What are they doing?" Deanna whispered, squinting her eyes against the sun.

"I don't know, but maybe if we hang back here long enough, they'll continue with it, and you and I won't look as much like over sexed teenagers."

 

---

 

TBC....