A short piece of fluff.. inspired by Michele's request for "Hot Summer
Night" stories. no plot.. no sex.. some romance...


Deanna tried in vain to stop the barrage of words as they flew around her.
It was really an exercise in futility; she hadn't been able to get a single
word into their tirade. She was well aware of the tension between the two
men; it had been mounting over the past two days. Deanna sighed, and tried
to relax into her chair. She had hoped that both men would respect the
seriousness of the situation, and that the weight of their official duty
would hold them in check. She had miscalculated. Counselor Troi winced when
suddenly the words each man spoke turned nasty, and personal, no longer
pertaining to the issues at hand. It seemed that they had reached the point
where neither was willing to listen to what the other had to say.

"What in the hell do you mean by that comment? If we didn't give a damn
about your planet or your people we would have left here a long time ago… No
I take that back we would have never bothered with this pleasure cruise.
How did you ever get the title Chancellor.. win it in a poker game? Because
I have yet to see an inkling of concern or pity from you for what your
people are going through."

"You despicable…" Deanna centered and started to get to her feet. She had
hoped to smooth things over and get the two men back on track. She never got
the chance, as Chancellor Mallory shot to his feet, his face darkened by
anger. He turned to Troi and jabbed his finger in Riker's direction.
"This discussion is over! I've had enough of the games. If this is..
thing…is the best the Federation can send to work out an agreement with the
peoples of my planet and then I can only surmise that they are really not
interested in us at all." The Saurian 's red eyes seemed lit as if by an
inner fire as he remained glaring across the table at Commander Riker.

"Excuse me, Chancellor, perhaps this would be good time to break for
refreshments." Deanna's voice stayed low and even, she stood up slowly and
moved slightly to her left, a movement that put her between the two men.

Mallory's eyes narrowed, his lips turned down at the corners, giving him an
ugly sneering expression. "If you are the official keeper of this animal,
then keep him out of my way and out of my sight. When you are ready to talk
seriously come back without the Commander." He leaned in toward her to
squeeze her arm before glaring once more at Riker. "At lest you seem truly
committed to these talks and are civilized!" His expression, when focused on
Deanna became almost flirtatious. Deanna immediately felt the slap of Will's
anger from behind her. She did her best to ignore it.

"Chancellor, if you would like to freshen up, we could continue in ….five
minutes?" She smiled in an open and friendly manner. The alien bowed
slightly and walked from behind the table.

"As you wish… but I repeat.. have this … individual removed room this room
before I make my return." Mallory walked from the room with a ramrod
straight back.

Deanna watched him leave then turned towards the commander. "What on earth
is going on here.. are you deliberately trying to sabotage these talks?"

Will raked a hand through his hair and forced a quick deep breath. "That man
is an idiot..pompous and self serving… he's the one that is trying to stall
these talks not me!"

Deanna turned to look at him, "You egged him on."

"I did not. He hasn't been paying attention to the issues at hand since we
started. He has been ogling you the entire time, and you let him." It was
spoken quietly but the accusation was accented more by the calm reason he
refused the Chancellor. "He is nothing if not a dirty old man. Do you sense
that his interest in this relationship with the federation is sincere?" Will
stood in front of Deanna and watched as she considered his question.

"I had trouble sensing anything except the aggression the two of you were
intent upon throwing at each other. Will, if I can ignore him, why can't
you? What do we do now, he won't sit with you at the table?" Her eyes
pleaded with him to reconcile the differences with the other man, and she
could feel his resolve weaken slightly.

The door slid open as Mallory moved lightly into the room. "Now, as soon as
this man removes himself we can begin again."

"Just a moment Chancellor Mallory, I think that the commander needs to be
here for this. If we are unable to work this out between the three of us how
can we expect entire peoples to manage away their differences?" Deanna
looked the man in the eye, not allowing the slightest hint of a smile.

Mallory didn't waver… he shook his head. "No. He leaves now or we have
nothing more to say to one another." Mallory stood his conviction unchanged
by any argument they presented, his long arms dangling at his side, the
constant twitching of his fingers giving away his agitation.

Will frowned and got to his feet. He touched Deanna's elbow as he headed for
the door. When it slid open he motioned the security men inside, "Fine I'll
let the counselor handle the negotiations from here; but she will have
security with her or you can negotiate with Admiral Duchaney at his
convenience." Both Enterprise officers watched the fingers twitch faster as
the Mallory sat down, unhappily assenting to the latest development.
Will tried to convey his concern with the one long look, after seeing her
slight nod he knew she had understood.

Riker stepped out of the cool building into the heat of the midday sun, and
within minutes perspiration trickled down his back. His uniform was entirely
to warm for this planet's climate. As his eyes slowly adjusted to the
blinding light, he looked around not surprised to see very little activity
in the scorching heat. One of the Mallory's guards was walking toward him.

"Perhaps the Commander would enjoy a cold refreshment?" He held out to Riker
a metallic container. "You need not be concerned, it is what you would call

Will took the heavy container and sniffed the contents before drinking from
the narrow opening. It had no discernible odor, but still he rolled the cool
liquid around his mouth before swallowing. If it was anything but water,
they did a remarkable job disguising it.

"Thank you." Riker took in the appearance of the guard, noting the greenish
leathery skin and long flaps around his neck he tried not to be to obvious
in his observation. When he looked into the Saurian's red eyes he saw a more
direct scrutiny taking place.

"You find our planet uncomfortable Commander?" It was more of a condemnation
then a question.

"I have lived for the last several years in a climate controlled atmosphere,
but I've been to arctic as well as tropical planets." Will paused before
going on. "I'm sorry I didn't get your name."

"I am called Chamil."

Will extended his hand, "Thank you for the drink Chamil." He had just
finished speaking when a loud high-pitched sound tore through the air. No
sooner had Will looked for the source of the alarming sound when an
explosion vibrated the ground he stood upon to such a degree that it threw
him face down into the sand like earth. The acrid smell of burned materials
brought him instantly to his feet. The sight before him nearly choked him
with fear; the building the talks were held in was nearly destroyed. He ran
to the doors he had only a short time ago left through, he tried to pry his
fingers into the slight indentation left by the explosion, when that didn't
work he began searching for something, anything that would pry or blow the
doors open.

"Move aside Commander, I believe this will give us access." Chamil held a
phaser type weapon. The Saurian aimed at the upper left corner of the door
and fired. A long blue arc traced the outline of the doors. At once the
guard shoved Riker away as the doors fell forward toward them, throwing even
more sand into the air and Riker's face and lungs. He coughed and sputtered
but never hesitated in following the guard.

They carefully stepped over the doorway to find the interior of the room
devastated. "Deanna!" Will screamed. He felt her presence in his mind and
searched visually as well as hunting her through their link. A short
distance away a hand appeared through the debris, seeing it was a human
although masculine hand Will, dug through the splintered materials until he
was able to get most of the upper body uncovered only to find that the
security office was dead. Riker moved on, calling out her name again and
again. He turned to where he thought the Chancellor's office had been, and
caught a glimpse of a Starfleet uniform covered in the dust and debris that
had piled nearly three feet deep through out the room.

He stumbled over larger boards until he reached the body, "Deanna?" His soul
cried out for her answer as he began shifting the fallen beams and odd
materials away from the form he knew to be her, but another body also seemed
to be tangled up in the heap. Will saw that it was Chancellor Mallory, it
appeared that he had tried to protect the counselor, his body draped across
hers. Will noticed his skin color had changed from the green shading to
gray, he called for Chamil to help. Together they carefully moved Mallory to
an other spot where Chamil could work on him. Will quickly returned to Troi,
he gently turned her over to see that she was still alive.
Carefully he slid his arms under her to lift her from the death and
destruction that surrounded them. He walked slowly, cradling her against him
into the heat of the blazing sun. Easing her down on to the ground to look
at her more closely, he swallowed hard at the thought of losing her. Will
looked back over his shoulder at the sound of someone approaching, it was
Chamil, his red eyes were intent as he neared them.

"The Chancellor? And the others?" Will tried to sound sincere in his
interest when in truth his concern was solely upon the one person in front
of him.

"No. There is no other survivors." Chamil started back toward the building
stopped to pick up the item glaring at them with the suns rays reflecting
off of its surface. He returned to hand the metallic water container to Will.

Will tore a piece of material off Deanna's tattered uniform, wet it then
gently wiped at her face and neck hoping to revive her. He noted her arm was
twisted in an usual position and felt along the elbow knowing it was out of
the socket and would need immediate attention. As he was contemplating what
the best corrective measure to be Chamil was beside him noted the arm and
with speed and accuracy put the elbow into its natural alignment. Before
Will could utter a word the Saurian nodded and left.

Riker hit his comm badge, "Riker to Cousteau."

No reply from the shuttlecraft they had used to transport to the surface of
the planet. He repeated his attempt twice more before an answer wrapped in
static was finally heard.

"Sir..appears to be some kind of attacks…. Cousteau ..sustained …" the
transmission stopped.

"Damn!" He looked at Deanna, then around them searching for a safe place to
take her. In the distance he was several Saurian's moving at a fast pace
heading for the patch of wooded area just beyond the desert city.

He once more gathered her up into his arms to head toward the wooded area.
As he moved further away from the destruction of the building he again heard
the whine and subsequent explosions behind him. Riker turned, above the hazy
ripples of heat on the road he could see the smoke and clouds of dust and
sand over the city. He turned and continued on his way toward the woods,
hoping to catch up to some of the people heading that way to ask of a safe

Someone approached him from behind and began to pass him at a brisk scuttle,
Will called out to her, "Excuse me, where is everyone going?"

She stopped slowly, and cautiously turned toward him "You are a stranger."
She looked at Troi, "Your mate is injured. Was she in the Chancellors rooms?"

"Yes, she was attempting to mediate an agreement with the Chancellor when
the building was destroyed. Can you help me find a safe place until she is
able to travel back to our shuttle craft?"

"There is a secure zone ahead it is in Terra-incognita." She watched his
face waiting for any sign of recognition or dread. When none appeared she
continued, "You will be safe there from the fighting for a while." Again a
long pause before she tentatively asked, "Can you tell me was the Chancellor

Will nodded, "I was told he had not survived the attack."

She nodded a slight flick of the tongue as her mouth drew up in the corners
in an almost smile like behaviorism. "Follow me I will lead you in, after
that you are on your own."

"Thank you." Will followed trying to keep up with her pace, noticing that
heat had no affect on her, whereas he could feel rivers of sweat running
down his face, neck and the sides of his body with every step he took. He
looked down at Deanna noting her face was wet with perspiration and her hair
around her flushed face was plastered to it. He longed to be able to know
that the arm was the only injury, but doubted it since she had remained
unconscious through out the long and too hot walk.

When they first entered the area covered by trees the temperature seemed to
drop immediately, but the Saurian Will was following continued at her same
brisk walk, Will could hear the voice of others and felt they were close to
their destination. Suddenly they seemed surrounded by the Saurians.

Deanna became aware of the cool cloth on her face and the warmth of concern
as it wrapped securely around like a cocoon of protection. As her mind
neared consciousness she became aware of pain. Her right arm ached, her neck
and back were sore, but the presence of the man attending her and his warmth
helped her to slowly swim to the surface and open her eyes. Will was leaning
over her speaking in a soft voice allowing her the time to center and come
around. She looked up into his gentle concerned gaze.

"How are you feeling?" Will continued to smooth back her hair and lightly
hold her left hand.

"Sore. I'm trying to remember what happened. Where are we?"

"We apparently got caught in the middle of a little civil strife here in the
desert palms. We're safe here for now. The Cousteau is having some problems
communicating, but we can get to it as soon as you're feeling better." He
held back telling her why they were having trouble communicating wanting all
her strength to focus on her own recovery.

She nodded but watched his face, "Will, the Chancellor and Wilkes and
Harvey?" she watched him shake his head, "No.. they didn't make it. I was
wrong about the Chancellor, he saved your life."

The counselor took a deep shaky breath, tears were beginning to pool, "Why?
Why would anyone do such a thing."
She tried to sit up, but couldn't manage it, only then did she notice her
right arm had been immobilized. Deanna wrapped her good arm around Will's
neck as he helped her into a sitting position. she felt him beginning to
ease away from her but refused to relinquish her hold on him.


"Could you just hold me for a minute? Please?" Her voice wavered even as she
drew more strength from him.

He pulled her into a closer embrace his concern over riding his joy at
holding her and knowing she was alive and soon would be her vibrant self.
"It's okay. We'll be out of here soon. We'll stay put tonight and let you
get your strength back, and head back to the shuttlecraft tomorrow." He felt
her nod her head and her body gradually pull away to look up at him. Will
felt the pull of the deep dark eyes looking up at him, he forced himself not
to do what he wanted to do since finding her alive, instead handed her the
water container and aiding her to drink from the heavy receptacle.

"Will I need to tell you something…" She looked down, finding it hard to
face him.

"What is it Deanna?" He kept an arm around her supporting her in sitting.

"He.. You were right about the Chancellor, he had no interest in the talks
or the outcome. He was just … he wasn't protecting me.. he was making a pass
when the explosion occurred."

She felt Will gently pulled her into a hug, "The…bast.." He stopped, holding
back on all the things he felt about the Mallory as he looked into her eyes
and took a deep breath, "He saved your life, and that's the most important
thing to me right now." She relaxed in his arms feeling slightly less
guilty about questioning Will's behavior during the talks. She felt him pull
back to look at her, "Could you do with a little walk?" She nodded and
forced a smile.

They had walked around the area and finally settled down near the bank of a
slow moving stream. The sounds of night insects filled the air, with small
lighted flying ones skimming the water's banks, it seemed so perfect until
the next volley of sounds traveled across the flat desert plains to reach them.

<Enterprise to Commander Riker>

"Riker here, Enterprise we didn't expect you for another two days."

<We picked up an emergency signal from the Cousteau. We have made contact
with the Cousteau. Is everyone there okay?>

"Negative, only the Counselor and I survived the pounding the capital city
has taken, and the Counselor is injured."

<We will be within beam up in twenty-four hours. Can you hold out until then?>

"Affirmative Enterprise. Look forward to seeing you then. Riker out."

Will looked over at Deanna, "Well Counselor we have a bit of time to
ourselves, tomorrow we can talk to these people and get a feel for the real
problems here." She nodded and moved to lean against one of the large trees
near the water's bank.
She leaned against the broad trunk of a tree and began to slide down along
it's length in an attempt to sit, until Will wrapped an arm around her waist
to help ease her down. Deanna smiled up at him when he continued sitting
near her with his arm still around her and if anything perhaps holding her a
bit more snugly. They were facing the desert city and watched the cloud of
smoke and dust encircle it. Deanna couldn't suppress the shudder and
immediately felt Will's arms tighten around her. She shifted to lay her head
on his chest as she felt him stroke his thumb across her ribs. They watched
the sun set and heard the explosions rumbled through the air as the fighting
in the city became more powerful, the sky reflecting the explosions as the
dust clouds became a livid pink. Again Deanna felt a deepening dread for
those trapped in that area, in buildings just as she had been trapped and
hurt, she shuddered again.

"Dee, I was afraid this time things had gotten a little too close. I don't
know what I would have done if anything would happen to you." She felt the
warmth of his lips on her forehead.

She tried to smile, "I'm here, and so are you, imzadi" She could feel his
motions freeze, his heart seemed to pound faster, harder.

"Deanna, what are you saying?" His voice was slightly more than a husky whisper.

"Will, what do you want me to say? That I love you? You always knew that I
did." She spoke in the same quiet tones.

"Are you suggesting this time we change the relationship?" His hand that had
been soothing her hair slid under it to caress her neck. She could feel his
strength even in the gentle way he held her.

"Truth is eternal Will Riker, the truth is I love you and think that maybe
we've both changed and grown, maybe now we can do something more about it."
She tried to adjust her injured arm to touch him, but winced with pain.

"The truth is we decided to stick to certain limits even after the Briar
Patch mission." She didn't expect his reply and tried to move away from him
taking his stance on the discussion to mean he wasn't interested in the more
romantic relationship she had thought she sensed from him.

Will gathered her to him so that she was nearly sprawled across his chest,
he tilted her head back to look at him, there Deanna read in his eyes a
longing she had seen glimpses of throughout their relationship. This time
those eyes appeared more intent on a purpose.

She reached up to touch his lips with her own, her good arm moving from
around his waist upward until she could touch his face and hold him to her
as she deepened the kiss.

When they broke the kiss, Deanna looked into his eyes and asked, "Do you
want our relationship to change Will?" Again he pulled a little further
away than the mere millimeters they had between them. His eyes traveled the
entire expanse of her face and dipped lower for a moment as though in
thought. She held her breath hoping she hadn't misread him, that what she
had sensed from him was the same thing she had been feeling, when he finally
answered her.

"Deanna Troi, I've loved you from the day we met and times like this when I
think that I may never love you again, never hold you close to me, I think
of all the wasted time when we could have held each other and loved each
other." He moved her gently on top of him and lowered her mouth to his, ever
mindful of her injured arm.

Between kisses and caresses, his voice warm with emotion Will whispered,
"The truth is I was always afraid that if I did something to scare you away,
I'd never have another chance."

She pushed her self up off Will's chest and locked her eyes with his, "I'm
not that easily gotten rid of imzadi, I know what I want. Truth is eternal,
it is knowledge that changes. Truth is I've always loved you and now I know
I've always wanted you and I don't intend on changing that."

The end