by Taylor Dancinghands

Disclaimer: As I understand it, some entity called 'Paramount/Viacom' "owns" the characters, features and ideas that make up the mythology known as Star Trek. I know I don't. Nonetheless, it is my steadfastly held opinion (backed up by a Mr. Henry Jenkins of MIT!) that the Star Trek Mythology has come to take a place among the mythologies of the new global folk culture -and as such I have every right to try my best to contribute something of my own to the myths and stories I love so well. As long as I don't try (goddess forbid!) to make money off of it.


The day was fair, the way clear and the ground was mostly level, which made it easier for Jean Luc to pick up his pace as he raced through the shin-high grasses and shrubs of the open meadow. It was still, however, not enough.

"Sir, the piranhabees are continuing to gain on us. We must increase our speed further." Data said as he ran easily through the grass along side him, effortlessly casting the occasional glance behind them without ever slowing.

"Data, I am no longer ... the cadet who won ... the Academy marathon ... at Delulin II." Jean Luc gasped out between breaths. While it could not be said that Data was not breathing heavily, as he was air cooled and did breath a bit more heavily when he exerted himself, he was most certainly not breaking a sweat. The same could not be said of Picard, though the day was cool with a light, chill breeze.

"Understood." Data replied. "I believe I may have found a refuge, approximately one hundred meters ahead. Until we reach it, I will try to place myself between you and the swarm."

Jean Luc felt a bit chagrinned, as it was he who had disturbed the nest of hibernating piranhabees while exploring the remote ruins they'd come to visit. He'd been having a splendid time on his archeological vacation getaway with Data until that moment, and it was just plain carelessness on his part that was to blame.

By now they had nearly reached the far side of the meadow and seemed, at Data's direction, to be headed towards a wooded hillside. Jean Luc tried to put aside the dismay that filled him, for surely the viciously biting arthropods would catch up with them when they hit the woods.

"Ouch! Hey! OWW!!" he heard from behind him. Evidently the vanguard had already caught up with them, and naturally Data's emotion chip was still running -they'd been on vacation, after all.

As the edge of the forest they were approaching came more clearly into view, Picard saw that a wide stream lay between them and the trees. Did Data think that the swarm wouldn't cross the water? That didn't make any sense. Now an additional feature came into view and a sound: the roaring of a waterfall, as the stream came down from the hills to their right in a broad curtain of water which fell into a pool at the top of the stream. Pulling up along side of him as they ran, Data indicated that they should head towards the fall.

"That is our refuge, there ... ouch! Get away, filthy ...!" he said, swatting at a piranhabee.

The sight of one of the hard shelled arthropods hovering near his shoulder inspired Jean Luc to a fresh burst of speed and he did not ask Data precisely what shelter lay in the waterfall, his trust in the android more than sufficient to belay any concerns that a there was a refuge there.

"Keep going!" Data shouted as he paused at the edge of the pool, and as the piranhabees were all but upon them he waded on in and saw that the water was fairly shallow. Where, then, was their refuge?

Jean Luc stumbled to a stop at the face of the waterfall as the full vanguard of the swarm struck them both and within seconds a dozen or more of the vile tempered piranhabees were on him and biting. Immediately occupied with trying to keep additional piranhabees from landing on him, while striking away the ones that were already busy inflicting multiple, painful bites, Jean Luc was taken utterly by surprise when Data grabbed him and shoved him into the curtain of water that fell from a rocky ledge many meters up.

The force of the falling water struck him like a blow and he might have fallen had Data not been holding him up. Before he had much of a chance to get over his surprise, Jean Luc became a ware of one immediate benefit of Data's action, for the deluge had stripped away nearly all of the biting creatures clinging to his body. In addition, the frigid water had the effect of numbing much of the pain of his bites. After a moment, though, he felt Data urging him to move, and at his direction Jean Luc stumbled forward and out of the water, but not into the piranhabee filled sunlight.

Shaking himself, and slicking the water out of his eyes with his hands, he saw that they were standing behind the curtain of the waterfall and in a narrow but high ceilinged cavern, leading into the hillside. Sunlight muted by the wall of falling water illuminated the immediate area, but above and behind them the passage succumbed to inky darkness.

"Well," gasped Picard when he had caught his breath, "This is a fine bit of geological good fortune. A perfect bolt hole!"

"Indeed." Data agreed. "Though we may have some wait before the piranhabees leave the area of the waterfall. They are, by report, most tenacious."

"Perhaps it's time to call up for a beam out, then." Picard suggested. When Data tapped his communicator, however, the happy chirp that would signal a connection with their ship did not come.

"Of course." Data shook his head. "This substrate carries several veins of deusexmachinite, which I am afraid is quite effectively blocking our communicators."

"Ah." said Picard, feeling around for a flattish boulder of the right height to sit on. "Then I suppose we'd best get comfortable."

Even as he made the comment, Jean Luc was beginning to see that this might me more difficult than he'd made it sound. He was cooling down fast from his long run and drenched in the waters of a mountain stream to boot. Even as he thought this he noted the sunlight filtering through the waterfall shifting, as the faint and unwarming light dimmed further still. He wrapped his arms around himself, finding no warmth in the sodden uniform clinging to his arms and torso, and shivered in spite of himself.

"Jean Luc, are you cold?" Data asked, stepping closer to lay a hand on his shoulder.

Picard answered with a resigned sigh, by way of retaining his dignity and Data stepped closer still, placing his own artificially warm body along side his captain's. Laying one hand on Jean Luc's forehead and another over his heart, Data stood still for a handful of seconds, then shifted his hands to take his captain gently by the shoulders.

"Your body temperature is declining much too quickly." Data said with concern, "and I am not certain I will be able to keep your core body temperature sufficiently warm to guarantee your safety."

There was real worry in Data's voice now, for they both knew that hypothermia was a serious threat. Picard, in spite of his increasing shivers, felt confident that they'd work out a solution, though, and tried to convey that to Data.

"We'll ... figure something ... out. Why don't you ... have a look around ... see if there's something ... we can use."

Data looked dubious, but seemed to see the sense of Jean Luc's suggestion, and reluctantly left his captain's side to explore further into the cave. Jean Luc was almost immediately sorry, for he missed Data's warmth the moment he was gone, but instead of calling him back Picard stood and began to move about, trying raise his own body temperature.

After a while he sat down again because he was shivering so hard that he was afraid that he would stumble and fall on the rocky, uneven floor of the cave. The shivering had largely abated by the time Data found him again, huddled in a rocky cleft away from the cold, wet spray, but he did not seem to have the energy to raise himself up anymore.

"No, no, Jean Luc you must stand." Data pled with him. "You must come with me or I must carry you. I have found a way for you to get warm."

"Not cold anymore." Jean Luc muttered, knowing that wasn't quite right, but it was all he could think to say. He didn't want to get up and he didn't want to be carried by Data.

"Jean Luc, you are hypothermic. You will die if you do not move." The undisguised anxiety in Data's voice had the effect of stirring something in him, and he made a valiant attempt to stand, which failed utterly.

"I was afraid of this." Data said, gathering his captain into his arms. "I am sorry I was gone so long, but I have found a source of warmth, and it is only a little further into the cavern."

Jean Luc had neither the strength nor the will to resist being lifted and carried in Data's arms, though some part of him resented powerfully the assault on his dignity. Being pressed against the warmth of Data's body, however, had the effect of waking his sluggish senses to some extent, along with his curiosity. The light had been steadily fading from the space near the waterfall and after only a few steps up the rocky slope and deeper into the cavern they found themselves in complete darkness. Jean Luc knew that this made very little effective difference to Data, who could easily find his way around using infrared vision, sonar, or any manner of methods, but his own senses, as limited as they were, still managed to tell him a thing or two about where they were and where they were going.

The echoes of the sounds of Data's footfalls told him that the cavern had grown broader and the ceiling higher, and a faint whiff of sulfur in his nostrils informed him of the very nature of the warmth that Data had found. Before they reached the source of this odor, however, Jean Luc found himself blinking his eyes to realize that there was now some very faint light in the cavern as well, emanating from somewhere ahead of them. A dozen of Data's footsteps later, the glow had grown to a light bright enough to read by in places, and Jean Luc could see the source of the light as well, in countless little clusters of a moss-like growth coating the cavern walls. Here Data stopped and set him down.

"The water in this pool is approximately one hundred and one degrees Fahrenheit, and it is the coolest one I have been able to find." Data explained, helping Picard remove his boots and socks, "But it will counteract your hypothermia most effectively."

Jean Luc nodded listlessly, and let Data ease him into the meter deep pool, uniform and all. He felt the heat of the surrounding water begin to penetrate his body almost immediately, and within minutes he was shivering violently again. Data knelt at the side of the pool and let his captain's head rest between his knees while he stroked his face until the worst of the tremors passed.

Eventually able, at last, to draw deep, relaxing breaths of the sulfur tinted air, Jean Luc began to feel himself again, and to take more notice of his surroundings. There was quite a dense concentration of the bioluminescent 'moss' immediately over the pool he lay in, probably because it thrived on the mineral laden vapors from the hot spring, and it illuminated all of their immediate surroundings with a bluish-green light, leaving the rest of the cavern obscured by darkness. Curious to see more, he moved to lift himself up, feeling Data's hands leave his shoulders as he did.

The chill air sapped the warmth from his sodden uniform instantly where it emerged from the pool, and Jean Luc realized that unless he wanted to go hypothermic again he'd be more or less confined to the heated pool until they could safely exit the cave and return to their runabout. He wondered how long that would be.

"Data," he asked, moving to a deeper spot in the pool where he could sit upright and still keep his chilled shoulders submerged. "You don't suppose that swarm has given up on us yet?"

"It does not seem likely," Data commented, standing to look back towards the entrance, "but I can check."

Jean Luc watched Data's silhouette as he made his way down the sloped passage towards the the pale triangle of the cave opening. In spite of a variety of discomforts -his soaked uniform chafed and tugged unpleasantly and the piranhabee bites on his arms and shoulders were really beginning to smart- Jean Luc found that he could not but take pleasure in watching Data move cautiously through the falling water at the cave entrance.

Spray flew out in every direction as the force of the water collided with the top of Data's head, yet he stood against that force without giving way in the least. Having spent it's force against the greater one of Data's strength, the water now turned to caress the android's body, flowing over his face and hair, drawing his uniform so close to his skin that the very contours of his synthetic flesh were revealed. And what pleasant contours they were, Jean Luc mused.

He continued to watch as his lover's body passed all the way through the fall, disappearing completely for a moment, and then he reappeared, rather abruptly, shouting and swatting at something.

"Out! Get out, you ..."

Jean Luc sighed and leaned back to rest his head on a smoothish slab of rock at the edge of the pool. Tapped in a cave by an angry swarm of piranhabees, and trapped in pool of hot water by the chill air and his wet uniform for who knew how long, assaulted in body and in dignity, Picard felt a fine mood settling in. The icing on the cake, naturally, was that he only had himself to blame for the lion's share of his complaints and therefore deserved to feel as rotten as possible. Jean Luc Picard had nowhere to go but down.

<*> <*> <*>

Data preferred to think that he would never, ever keep a secret from his captain and lover, but the moment he saw his captain, hunched miserably under the soft glow of the bioluminescent micro fauna, dripping wet and as disgruntled and out of sorts as Data had ever seen him, he knew that he would never, ever tell his love that his first reaction was very nearly to laugh out loud.

He loved his captain, though, and found it endearing when Jean Luc occasionally succumbed to self pity. It never lasted long, and Data truly enjoyed the challenge of coaxing him out of it.

Putting on his best solicitous nature, Data went to kneel by the side of the pool and gently lay a hand on his captain's shoulder.

"Jean Luc?" he inquired, "I am afraid that the piranhabees show no signs of departing. Are you all right?"

Jean Luc heaved a mournful sigh. "I'm warm enough at least, thanks to you, though I can't say I'm comfortable. It's more than a little humiliating to be stuck in a puddle of hot water while waiting for a swarm of angry arthropods to depart. And these bites are starting to itch rather dreadfully."

"Perhaps if I took your jacket away they would be less irritated?" Data offered.

Picard neither encouraged him nor objected, so Data took the initiative, leaning forward to carefully unfasten and peel away the sodden uniform jacket from Picard's torso. Jean Luc eventually moved to assist Data as it was needed, but he hissed in pain as the jacket was pulled away from his arms and shoulders.

"Oh dear." said Data with honest concern as he saw the ugly welts the piranhabees had left on his captain's arms. "I did not realize you had been bitten so many times."

Jean Luc shrugged, and then winced. "We had other concerns." he said, "And it's only a few bites."

A quick visual survey showed Data closer to a dozen, but he didn't contradict. Instead, he lifted the closer of Jean Luc's arms out of the water and began to gently kiss each of the painful looking bites, starting at the wrist and working inwards.

"What was I thinking, lifting that rock away from the side of that culvert?" Jean Luc grouched, not paying attention at first. "They warned us about this at the station, and I completely disregarded every bit of their advice ... What are you doing?"

Data paused in his pursuit, but did not relinquish his captain's arm . "Lacking any other first aid supplies, I thought I would try kissing them to make them better?" he offered.

Jean Luc gave him one of his long looks, of utter bewilderment steeped with such affection that it always made Data want to kiss him. Seeing no reason why he shouldn't, Data leaned sideways, out over the pool, to meet his captain's lips with his own. Midway through the maneuver, though, Data was struck with another inspiration. He allowed himself to overbalance so that he slipped off the edge of the pool and fell, landing with a splash in his captain's lap.

"Oops." he said.

"Damn you." Picard gruffed, with a twinkle in his eye, then broke out into a proper smile. "I can't stay sorry for myself for so much as a minute with you around, can I?"

Reflexively, Jean Luc had come to reach around Data where he lay in his lap, so that now the android lay cradled in his captain's arms, just as Jean Luc had lain is his own only a few hours ago. It dawned on Data that while he had, in his life, carried a number of people in his arms, for various reasons and in a wide variety of circumstances, he himself could only once recall ever having himself been carried -and certainly not by Jean Luc.

"This is a novel perspective." he remarked, gazing up at his beloved captain's face.

Rather than answering, Jean Luc bowed his head closer still and Data recalled that he'd been leaning in for a kiss when he'd interrupted himself by falling in the water. His captain's lips tasted of the sulfur tinted water, and of sweat, but mostly that indescribable flavor that was Jean Luc Picard, and to which Data had become to pleasantly accustomed. When their lips parted at last Data noted a mischievous gleam in his captain's eye.

"How do you propose we pass the time, then?" Picard asked, in a manner which told Data that Jean Luc already had something distinctly in mind. No reason to just give it to him, though, Data determined, if he wasn't going to come right out and ask for it.

"I would think you would find relaxing here in these hot springs a pleasant and enjoyable experience in and of itself." Data offered, stretching out to rest his shoulders against the rocky edge of the pool. "This would seem to me to be a natural setting of astonishing beauty, and I am, in fact, working on memorizing the contours and composition of these surroundings so that I may attempt to recreate it in the holodeck."

All of this was, of course, completely true, and Picard knew it, and knew he was being toyed with. Data could tell because his captain smiled as he leaned back himself, drifting towards an adjacent edge so that Data was no longer sitting in his lap, but their knees were crossed in the center of the pool.

"Well you're right about that." he remarked. "And we may be the first people since the ancient Athosians to visit this place. Still, if I'm going to fully enjoy the relaxing qualities of this natural wonder I'll want to get a little more 'natural' myself, won't I?"

Data clapped a hand over his mouth so that Picard wouldn't see his grin, though he knew he wasn't hiding anything. Truth be told, he always enjoyed the sight of his captain in his uniform under-vest. It highlighted the shapely muscles in his arms and shoulders, which Data found most aesthetically pleasing and dearly loved to caress. Now though, it seemed, he was going to get to admire a lot more of his lover's aesthetic qualities.

Jean Luc was attempting to shrug his way out of his open uniform in a casual manner -a task made difficult by the fact that it was wet and clung at every inopportune spot. Data let him muddle along on his own, figuring he'd ask for help if he wanted it.

When he finally disencumbered himself of his under-vest, Jean Luc paused to immerse his shoulders in the warm water again, and Data decided he'd done with being patient. His fingers craved to touch, his tongue to taste, and the object of his craving lay languorously before him in the water. Moving lazily, Data rolled to his side and pushed himself around the curved edge of the pool to lay along side his captain.

Jean Luc, of course, now seemed to be most absorbed by their surroundings, gazing up at the clusters of bioluminescent organisms which had formed above the pool.

"You know," he said "if you stare at them long enough, you can start to see recognizable shapes in the glowing bits, rather like finding shapes in the clouds."

"What can you see?" asked Data, who was not looking up at the ceiling at all but, with his head resting on Jean Luc's shoulder, was gazing at where his fingers were trailing through the sparse gray curls on his captain's chest.

"Over there," Jean Luc pointed with his right hand as the left was curled lovingly around Data's shoulders, "I can make out a horse's head ... and over there, what looks like a Klingon bat'leth."

"A bat'leth?" Data paused in his contemplation to cast his eyes upward for a moment. "I confess, I do not see these things, however there may be many similar features between that complex to our left, and a wiring diagram for type seventeen plasma manifold."

Jean Luc snorted and splashed a handful of water over Data's head. "I know perfectly well that you've got more on an imagination than that." he said.

"True." Data replied, lifting his head to shake it and fling away excess water, "but at the moment I am finding my imagination occupied with something other that the micro fauna on the ceiling."

"Are you?" asked Jean Luc, his gaze dropping back to linger on his lover's face. "And what would that something be, my love?" Data closed his eyes to feel one of his captain's fingertips tracing a line across his cheek.

"I find myself wondering what you taste like under water?" he said, eyes still closed, and then turned his head so that he could just brush Jean Luc's nipple, which stood just barely above the water's surface, with his lips and the very tip of his tongue.

Jean Luc drew a long, carefully controlled breath, stretching out his legs a little. "A worthy avenue of inquiry." he said eventually. "I'd be quite curious to learn what you discover."

"I should proceed then?" Data asked.

"Oh, I think you must." answered his captain.

Data grinned as he applied himself once again to the nipple, this time taking it into his mouth and sucking it, tonguing it, and pinching it gently between his teeth so that Jean Luc gasped deliciously.

His captain's hands were in his hair now, caressing and grasping in turns, and then moving lower to unfasten the neck of his uniform. Data did not interfere, neither did he assist. He had his own agenda. Having tasted both nipples to his satisfaction, Data continued to stroke and tweak them with his fingers while he moved to taste his captain's navel. Now, Picard's navel was a half dozen centimeters under water, but that was of no particular concern to him. What was of greater interest was how, having soaked in the mineral laden waters for close to an hour, Jean Luc's taste remained distinctly present and unchanged.

He was inclined to move lower, where the tastes were stronger still, when he felt Jean Luc's hands, clutching at the folds of his unfastened uniform, haul him back up out of the water for a sopping wet kiss. Data wasn't particularly bothered to have his agenda interrupted thus, and responded with gusto, grasping his captain's head with both hands as they kissed so that water poured out of both his sleeves and over Jean Luc's shoulders.

Jean Luc, however, appeared to have had an ulterior motive, for now, even as their tongues danced together, his hands were working, quite efficiently, at removing Data's uniform jacket and he decided he might as well cooperate. When he was freed of it, Data neatly flung the jacket out of the pool so that it came to rest over a nearby large rock. Now Jean Luc's mouth was on him again, on his neck and shoulders and moving over his arms while his could feel his captain's hands caressing his chest through the thin fabric of his under-vest.

Data basked pleasantly under these attentions for several moments, until he felt his captain move to unfasten his under-vest and then he remembered his earlier mission and drew himself away from his captain's eager fingers. Instead, he turned the tables by taking hold of Jean Luc's uniform trousers and tugging them over his hips, revealing that he had no other garments to remove. So his captain had evidently been in one of 'those' moods since he had gotten up this morning. The piranhabees must have been quite a let down, Data thought to himself, but he'd make up for it now.

Removing the rest of his captain's uniform and disposing of it in a like manner as his jacket, Data submerged himself completely (something that was easier to do because he did not float) and stealthily approached his captain's feet. Jean Luc jumped when Data licked the arch of his left foot and gave a little laughing sigh when Data began to suck the toes on his right foot. The sensation of his captain's voice vibrating in the water around him was a pleasant one and Data determined to provoke him into further vocalizations.

Running his fingers up the inside of Jean Luc's thigh while he continued to kiss and caress his feet achieved the desired results soon enough. The vibrations from his lover's moans of pleasure carried through the water of the pool and through Data's own body as well, stirring in him various responses, including ones which were making his own uniform seem just a bit less comfortable.

Slowly Data let his kisses wander up his captain's ankles, his caresses trailing from his muscular calves to the sensitive inside of his knees. He felt the waters move around him as Jean Luc sat forward to reach Data's face and hair with his fingers. Those fingers clutched at his hair when his kisses moved further up the inside of his thigh and when his hands reach around to cup and caress his shapely cheeks.

Never one to give in to ecstasy easily, however, Jean Luc had soon gathered himself enough to put his hands to work again,opening the front of Data's uniform and pushing the vest back over his shoulders. This time Data was altogether agreeable that Jean Luc should remove as much of his uniform as he could manage, as long as it didn't interfere with the kisses he was very much enjoying lavishing on the base of his captain's cock.

Having gotten Data free of his under-vest, Jean Luc turned his attention to his lover's now exposed torso, stroking his nipples and caressing every bit of skin he could reach. These sensations quickly destroyed any discipline Data had thought he possessed and he found himself moving, as if by instinct, to to take the thing he'd wanted from the beginning. The moment his mouth was on his captain's cock he knew he must have all of it and so all of it he took, into his mouth, his tongue caressing the length of it as he engulfed it.

Jean Luc gave a surprised and strangled cry, grasping a fistful of coarse sand and gravel from the bottom of the pool in one hand and a fistful of Data's hair in the other, and thrust his hips reflexively. In an almost automatic response Data pinned his captain's hips to the bottom of the pool with both hands and then moved his mouth up and down his cock once again. Jean Luc cried aloud again, arching his back as he moved his hands behind him to brace his shoulders.

As Jean Luc's groans of pleasure grew louder and deeper the sounds resonated in the water of the pool and in Data. The sensations thrilled him, as though Jean Luc's voice was causing the water in the pool to caress the whole of his body. It served as the perfect counterpoint to his activities with his captain's cock. The hard, hot flesh was the same temperature as the water vibrating all around him, and for a moment Data fancied that he was, himself, inside the heated mouth of some enormous, living being.

Jean Luc's hands were clutching at the back of Data's skull, well aware of the futility of trying to restrict the android's movements, but unable to control his response to Data's ministrations. Now Data increased the speed of his movements while at the same time reaching a hand between his captain's legs to caress his balls, and the ever so sensitive spots that lay near there. Jean Luc cried out loudly and Data knew him to be close to climax.

When his captain's body began to shudder rhythmically, Data matched his movements to that rhythm and moments later he felt the heated flesh in his mouth pulse in release, and savored the taste of his captain's ecstasy. When the last tremors had subsided Data relinquished his prize at last and pushed himself slowly to the surface of the pool, drifting forward to lie alongside his love again.

>*< >*< >*< >*<

Filled with the pleasant lassitude of afterglow, Jean Luc watched his love rise slowly to the surface of the hot spring, like some primordial creature, surfacing to lay in wait for it's prey. Eyes half lidded in relaxation, Jean Luc took in his 'frogs eye view' of the pool's surface and the creature approaching him, with a smile on his lips which widened when Data drew close enough, at last, to lift his head and greet his captain with a long, lingering kiss.

Taken in all, he reflected, this day was finally showing signs of being as enjoyable as the one he'd been expecting when he'd gotten up this morning. He gave all credit for this remarkable transformation to the beautiful, courageous and loving being who was, at the moment, nuzzling at the base of his throat with such contentment that Picard could almost swear that he was purring.

Never one to admit he couldn't give as good as he'd gotten, Jean Luc determined to pleasure his love in return. Taking advantage of the water's effect on Data's not inconsiderable weight, Jean Luc maneuvered the compliant android to sit in his lap. From here it was not too difficult to slide Data's uniform trousers down past his hips to where Data could easily kick them off the rest of the way, which he did. That left his lover in the dark colored, soft knit boxers he always wore, but Picard was content.

He knew of Data's 'modesty' programming, and the reason for it, and he found it charming, while at the same time respecting Data's feelings as authentic and sincere. It was easy to sympathize, as he'd been similarly inclined himself, until Data had lately reawakened in him a score of slutty vices he thought he'd abandoned with his youth. Hence his own lack of undergarments today, for instance.

He was feeling very slutty indeed as he momentarily followed his urge to put his mouth on every square centimeter of Data's perfect, smooth skin, starting with his neck and shoulders, which were now in easy reach. Data sighed and relaxed against him as Jean Luc tongued his nipples, and moaned softly as his captain's hand made it's way beneath the waistband of his shorts.

Jean Luc was not a bit surprised to find that Data was already hard, and he responded to the lightest of touches by stiffening further, pushing at the soft fabric of his boxers. Picard hummed in delight and licked Data's ear, which made him giggle. It was his left hand that was currently down the front of Data's shorts while the right was toying with his nipples, pinching and stroking first one, then the other. He'd found that if he tweaked them just so Data would make a hilarious little yipping noise that made him laugh and want to hear it again.

Jean Luc was having a delightful time occupying himself thus, but as he became aware of Data's toes digging into the sandy bottom of the pool between his own feet, he decided to cease his torments and bring him to release. Relinquishing Data's oh-so-responsive nipples, Jean Luc's right hand drifted down into the warm water again, caressing every bit of Data's silken skin as it passed, to find it's way under the waistband of his shorts in the back.

There were few things Jean Luc found more pleasurable than caressing Data's perfectly rounded ass, and cupping each magnificently formed cheek in his hand as he was doing now. Data was making soft little cries as Jean Luc caressed him, front and back, holding him cradled between his arms. Now his right hand made it's way between the cheeks to find Data's sensitive opening, and the lightest caress wrung a singing cry of ecstasy from Data's lips.

"Now I've got you." Jean Luc purred into his lover's ear. "Now you're mine."

Data gave an almost hysterical sounding little sob in response to this, or perhaps to the way Jean Luc was caressing the tip of his cock, or perhaps both. It was a sound which he recognized as a signal that the end was in sight. Curling his fingers around Data's very hard synthetic flesh, he began the rhythmic stroking he knew would send his lover over the edge. Concurrently, a single finger on his other hand gently nudged it's way past the tight ring of Data's opening, entering just far enough to stroke the one place that would send him straight into ecstasy.

Jean Luc moved with him as Data arched his back and thrust his hips upward, out of the water. Wrapping his legs around Data's, he clung with all his strength, knowing better than to oppose the android's. The resistance of the water surrounding them made this easier, so that he could continue to stroke Data's cock and caress him within as he clung.

Data's voice broke into an astonishing falsetto as he gasped and cried out his pleasure, rising nearly to the point of shrieks. The sounds echoed around in the cavern, making the space come alive with Data's voice. Clinging tightly to Data's spasming body, Jean Luc continued stroking, caressing, and reached his head around to nibble at the base of his lover's throat until, at last, his release burst upon him.

Data's shrieks of pleasure broke into gales of hysterical laughter, as he threw his head back and dug his toes into the sandy gravel of the pool's bottom. Jean Luc felt his lover's cock pulse beneath his fingers, felt the rush of ejaculate on his wrist, and knew satisfaction. Within his firm but gentle embrace Data tossed about and splashed feebly for several minutes, helplessly wracked by peals of laughter.

Jean Luc lovingly kissed away his tears of laughter as he withdrew his hands from Data's shorts to gently caress the length of his body. Data began to relax, at last, as his laughter slowly dissipated and Jean Luc let him slip off to recline by his side, one arm still encompassing him. Data continued to experience intermittent bouts of giggles as he turned to reach across his captain, to take him in his arms and kiss him.

There were a couple of false starts, for another peal of giggles swept over Data as his lips drew near, which prompted Jean Luc to succumb at last. In the end they gave up, wrapped their arms around each other and laughed their brains out for another few minutes. Eventually a different urge took hold of Jean Luc and he put an end to the Data's last few trailing chuckles with his own mouth.

It was a good long kiss, which served the purpose of grounding Data at last, and then the two of them lay back in the heated waters to listen to the echoing roar of the waterfall and the trickle and splash of the stream which fed the hot spring. Jean Luc hoped that Data would be able to faithfully capture the acoustic qualities of this cavern, as well as the visual and physical features of the holodeck program he'd mentioned earlier. He looked forward to visiting this place again.

After a while, Jean Luc found, to his surprise, that the water was actually warming him more than was comfortable and he cautiously sat back towards the edge, raising his shoulders out of the water. He quickly discovered that his body was now so warm that it created a sort of radiant thermal field in the air all around him, and that sitting up with his shoulders and upper body out of the water was quite comfortable. He could see a lot more of the cavern from this position, and glanced around curiously.

"Do you suppose the ancient Athosians actually visited this place?" he wondered aloud.

"I am afraid that it is unlikely." said Data, sitting up beside him. "Geological phenomenon such as this tend to be transient. It is doubtful that this cave was open during the period of the Athosian Empire, and in another thousand years the action of the waterfall will almost certainly cause the opening of this cavern to collapse. We may be the only sentient beings ever to have entered here."

Jean Luc took this in thoughtfully. It was easy to think of this place as having been intended for them alone, as foolish as that was. Still, he found himself enchanted by the idea that theirs were the only eyes that would ever see it.

"Let's not tell anyone." he said.

Data smiled in response, then cocked his head in that curious manner that told Jean Luc that he was harkening to some inner prompt.

"I am reminded," he said after a moment, "that the ship will send an automatic distress if we do not report in some time in the next hour and a half."

"Ah." said Jean Luc. "Perhaps the piranhabees have given up and gone home?"

"Not an unreasonable supposition." answered Data, rising, dripping from the pool. "I shall go and check."

He paused as he climbed out of the pool to gather his uniform, still sodden and now muddy, and regarded it briefly and distastefully. He then rolled it all up and tucked it under his arm, and made his way down to the entrance in his boxers.

Jean Luc felt his shoulders growing cold at last and so re-immersed himself in the heated water while he waited. He heard the steady roar of the waterfall disrupted by Data's passage and waited, but heard nothing more till he heard Data pass through again.

"They do appear to have left, sir." Data announced from the entrance. "Do you wish any assistance in returning to the entrance?"

Jean Luc had now climbed out of the pool himself and was regarding his own uniform with equal distaste. The thermal reserves he'd built up in the spring would keep him warm enough for a bit -warmer than if he put his soaking uniform back on. Still, he thought, he might be climbing out of a cave stark naked, but he had he pride.

"I believe I can find my own way." he answered as he rolled his uniform up, nowhere as neatly as Data had, and started on his way towards the cave opening.

Under the dim glow of the bioluminescent organisms near the hot spring, Jean Luc's eyes had become accustomed to low light, and he was able to see, just barely, the rocks and boulders he traversed. By moving slowly, deliberately and very, very carefully, he managed to make his way to the foot of the falls without so much as barking a shin on the sharp rocks. He saw when he arrived that Data had evidently gone through already and awaited him on the other side.

Bracing himself to stand against the force of the falling water, Jean Luc steeled himself and stepped in. He staggered only a little as the freshet splashed weightily over his head and shoulders, but he had forgotten about the water's temperature. His immersion in the ice cold water seemed at first to suck all of the air right out of his lungs and, staggering through to the other side, he found himself caught up in an enormous gasp which, seemingly of it's own volition, wrung from him an ear splitting shriek as it released.

When he became certain at last that his heart had not actually stopped and began to become aware of his surroundings, he found himself coughing and spluttering, standing in calf deep water on the other side of the falls. Data stood on the sandy shore only a few meters away, and he was laughing his head off. He'd even dropped his rolled up uniform in the sand, he was laughing so hard.

"I do not believe I have ever heard you make such a sound before." Data said when he finally could.

"You were making some rather *novel* sounds yourself, a little while back." Jean Luc replied, archly. While it was not out of the ordinary for Data to break out in hysterical laughter upon orgasm, some of the sounds he'd made just prior, Jean Luc had noted, were not from his standard repertoire.

Data nodded, conceding the point. "It is indeed fortunate that there were no carnivorous macro fauna residing in that cave, for we surely would have waked them."

"I thought you checked." said Jean Luc, looking up with mild alarm.

"Only in the immediate area." Data answered as he fished his communicator out of the bundle of his uniform. "The cave continued back into the hill for another several hundred meters, and I had a pressing time consideration."

Jean Luc Picard drew a long breath and shook his head. "I am not going to imagine what it would have been like to have some kind of giant cave bear descend upon us as we were ..."

"No sir." Data said. "Best not. Landing party to Calypso; two to beam up."