"Dusk" (TNG, R\T, PG) 1\1
From: xmasfrog@aol.com (Xmas Frog)

Dusk: A Happy Li'l Vignette
Series: TNG (R\T)
Rating: PG
Copyrights: To Paramount, etc.
Author's Notes: A short sappy story just because I felt like it. ;o) Stir well,
serve chilled.

The coming night was spread out like a blanket of rich blue velvet. The
air was crisp and cool, hinted with the afternotes of a warm summer day.
Somewhere in the distance, a bird trilled in happy contentment. A contentment
Deanna Troi knew and shared. As if in agreement, a weeping willow in the vale
below shook its branches and dipped its head low. The cooling breeze that had
rippled around her passed over Deanna-- not quite chilling, but invigorating,
heightening the senses and bringing a fresh wave of euphoria as the zephyr
passed. She breathed in deeply, sampling the texture and scent of this flawless
dusk. The world was, simply and unequivocably, perfect.
Smiling quietly to herself, Deanna leaned forward against the wrought-iron
railing. She was in Italy, or at least the holodeck's representation of Italy,
enjoying the last chapter of her private dinner in the exquisite restaurant
behind her. The hills dipped directly in front of her, creating small valleys
filled with copses of trees. Brilliant wild flowers reflected the light of
stray moonbeams, took on an illumination that seemed almost ethereal. In a
gesture that seemed the most natural thing in the world, Deanna reached down to
take off her shoes. She dropped them on the stone patio, the sudden rush of
noise like a waterfall against the otherwise tranquil silence. It was good to
feel the cool surface of the flagstone against her bare feet. The contact with
the earth beneath her made Deanna feel as though she could almost melt into her
surroundings. . . . simply fade into the falling night's beauty.
She heard him even before he reached her, his own shoes click-clacking as
he walked toward her. A stray thought floated into her mind, from his. . . .
God, she's beautiful.
And she was. Will Riker felt his breath catch in his throat as he viewed
the vision of grace and elegance before him. A woman, slender and shapely, her
thick brown hair and loose white dress billowing slightly in the breeze. The
side of her face visible to him glowed in the semi-light. Shadows moved across
her back as the breeze riffled the high cherry tree behind them. 
He moved closer, stepping behind her-- she was still gazing out at the
valley. Could he reach this creature without it vanishing beneath his touch?
Tentative at first, Will let his fingertips graze her arm, finally placed a
hand on her shoulder. He pressed his nose to her hair, drank in the sweet scent
of gardenias that always seemed to follow her. Draping his arms around her
waist in an embrace, he shut his eyes and tried to convince himself that it was
all real.
Deanna smiled again, comforted deeply by the presence of her Imzadi. She
wrapped her arms around Will's, securing them. The blue of the dusk had faded
into a darker shade, and a few stars now glistened in the vast expanse above.
Turning her gaze upward, Deanna paused, and then spoke the first words since
she had been outside.
"What do you think of the stars?" 
It was an odd question, really. Fifteen or even ten years ago, she would
have expected an immediate answer from Will, something involving the words
conquest and a promise for greater ambition. As if reading her mind-- and
perhaps he was-- Will replied slowly. 
"You know, a long time ago, I would have looked at the stars and seen only
my future, my career, opportunities for exploration. But now. . . . now, I see
in them reflections. Reflections of people I care about, people who make me
happy and are happy themselves." 
This said, Deanna and Will lapsed again into silence. The crescent moon
hung in the sky like an unfinished gem. There was no noise, everyone else in
the restaurant had left and even the happy bird had decided to call it a night.
The stillness seemed fragile. 
"Are we up there?"
Will considered Deanna's question. He knew it was posed on some deeper
level. . . . something beyond the triteness of his explanation of the stars.
Slowly, surely, he turned Deanna to face him and gazed at her face for the very
first time.
Her brown eyes sparkled, and Will was sure that a man could get lost in
them any day of the week. Deanna brushed a persistent lock of stray hair from
Will's face, smiling tenderly. Will looked so peaceful. . . . as if the peace
wasn't just mirrored on him from the night, but came from deep within him. His
blue silk shirt hung loosely about him, accenting his body. She met his gaze.
Their eyes locked, fastened by some powerful force that had bound them together
all these years. The past, the present, the future. . . . all melted into one
glorious moment in which existed nothing but the night and the sweetness of the
kiss that followed. 
When it ended, if it ended, the two had become the same seamless soul that
had existed all this time and had once again emerged. They were the two young
lovers-- exuberant with the glory of exploration and the presence of each
other. They were two adults-- mellowed with the passage of time and
appreciative of life and its true gifts. They were Imzadi. Will took Deanna's
hand, and they set off down the path to walk through the valleys and see the
sky during the falling dusk.