By Carol Sandford


Chapter 20


When nightfall finally descended across their half of the planet, and when the last dying embers of the camp fires petered out to nothing more than a smouldering pile of ash, and when the residents each retired to their tents, Will and his team slowly and silently backed away and made their way back to their own craftily concealed shuttles, a trek that took them almost two hours, made easier by the coolness of night. When they had arrived it was in the burning rays of the morning sun.

The walk, even though it was relatively hurried, was guided with a sense of satisfaction. After observing the Sindareen for the entire day, watching them making plans, studying maps, and have the occasional punch up when tempers flared, it seemed that the entire raiding party was present; no more arrived.

So was that it? The Starfleet officers asked themselves over and over and continued to churn over the same question on their way back. Were any more coming? Was that just the first wave of a raiding party, or was that really it?

Relieved, and starving when they finally reached the sanctuary of their shuttles, the men soon made short work of the food rations allotted to each man. They had enough for three days, hoping that within two they would be be home on Betazed, back with their loved ones.

Now the immediate danger was over, Will allowed Deanna to fill his senses without guilt. Satiated with a full belly and a small snifter of whisky someone had passed around, Will stood, stretched as much as he could within the small shuttle's confines, and then stepped outside, letting his long body prop itself against the shiny hull and slide it down until he was seated on the cool, dusty earth.

Closing his eyes, he let her image swim before his eyes, smiling tenderly as he watched her drop the red dress to the ground, step out of it and kick it away. Licking his suddenly dry lips, he watched as she sashayed up close to him, as naked as the day she was born, walked straight into his arms, and straight into his heart. And then he began to kiss her, running his hands over every soft curve. As he slipped not only his hot tongue into the welcoming recess of her mouth, but the long, thick length of him inside of her heat, her whimper of submission and ecstasy splashed over his senses like a waterfall from heaven.

Will barely registered the movement as he heard Tang approach. He knew it was Tang purely by the way he huffed and puffed as he too shifted his ageing body down beside his. Without opening his eyes, Will smiled, gently tucking away his erotic fantasy for another time when he needed her. "You're getting old, Sergeant," he murmured so that those inside the shuttle couldn't hear the teasing.

But Tang had a smart comeback of his own, "I can still whup your ass, boy, make no mistake about that!" he said, good-naturedly.

Will chuckled at the image that replaced the one that he'd once more tucked away for safe-keeping.

"I'll keep that in mind next time your near enough to snag me, because you sure as hell couldn't out-run me," he bantered back.

"Don't be so sure," he retorted with humour, "I'm really the bionic man in disguise. Got me some jet-powered legs hiding underneath these pants, just saving them for just such a cause."

Will couldn't help himself as he roared with laughter, pushing himself back up to a weary stand, automatically turning to extend a hand to the man still seated.

Tang's humour vanished as he studied Will in the moonlight for a moment before suddenly beaming from ear to ear, reaching for the proffered hand and allowing Will to take the brunt of his weight as he heaved him to his feet, failing to hide the wince as his knees protested against the too short reprieve.

"Damn," he muttered with a smile, "Could've sworn I put my legs on this morning."

Laughing, both men entered the shuttle, flicking the switch to close the hatch as they did so. Looking around at the other three occupants who were already bunked down for the remainder of the night to get some sorely needed shut-eye, Will somehow felt better than he had done for some while.

Maybe it was because their enemy was just a handful of trouble that could be taken out with the minimum of fuss. And maybe it was because Deanna Troi had replenished his soul just enough to reinforce his love of life. And her.

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