By Carol Sandford


Chapter 02


The distant chirp of something living stirred Deanna's frazzled brain enough to rouse from her deep sleep. She tried to move but found herself pinned down, her back and buttocks half buried within the sand beneath her. Initially Deanna panicked thinking Will had collapsed, but as she tentatively moved, Will's disgruntled snore released a sigh of relief from her.

She hated to move Will knowing that he was exhausted, mainly from doing his damnedest to keep her alive. She freed a stiff arm enough to raise it to his face, tracing its outline tenderly, "Will. Will, wake up, its time to move on. Will."

Deanna gasped aloud when she felt herself pulled against his body, his arms enfolding her, intent on not allowing her to move away,his murmur raspy, "Stay here with me, Imzadi."

Pushing firmly against his powerful chest, Deanna spoke louder, using her authoritative tone to waken the seemingly drugged man. "Commander Riker! I need you to wake up, we have to go. We have to reach the rendezvous point by tomorrow. Commander!"

Deanna watched as Will struggled to break through heavy fog of sleep as well as the sticky and crusted mass that had built up across his eyes, his body's own defence mechanism to protecting the delicate orbs beneath. Deanna tenderly brushed the spiky clump of dusty hair away from his forehead silently urging him to push through and emerge. She'd never wanted to see his sky blue eyes more than she did right now.

"Come on, Will."

Will heard the tenderness in her voice and wanting desperately to see the smile that he knew was upon her face. Lifting a heavy arm, Will grasped a piece of his shirt and dragged it across his eyes, wincing at the scratchiness beneath and above his eyelids. But eventually, little by little, Will managed to open his eyes wide enough to focus on the woman before him wondering if he would ever welcome a more beautiful sight than Deanna Troi bathed in the moonlight and within his arms with a smile so tender and sweet it brought an incredible dry and painful lump to his throat.

"Are we still alive or have I died and gone to heaven?"

Deanna chuckled hoarsely as she pushed herself into a wobbly sitting position, "If this your vision of heaven, then may the Gods help us."

Will grimaced as he too moved his stiff body to sit beside her and linking his hands around his knees as he viewed the expanse of desert before them. "After today, I'm not even sure if I believe in a God. I don't believe for one minute that God would have tormented us in that way just because we accidentally missed the transport. I thought he was a little more forgiving than that."

Deanna moved to sit beside Will, seeing what he saw as he continued to look into the distance. She gasped in awe at the vista before her. The sand that not so long ago was burning holes into he soles of her feet now shimmered with the rosy glow of the setting sun that was still slowly disappearing on the horizon creating a weaving dance of lights as they bounced off the dune tips.

They watched the sun's final descent in revered silence before realising that they were now sitting in muted darkness. With a huge sigh Will pushed himself to a stand and stretched his large hand out for Deanna to clasp. With an equally reluctant sigh, Deanna allowed herself to be hauled upright and by mutual consent, their hands remained linked as they began the long haul towards the settled sun.

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