Authorís note:  Warning!  This is the 1st of the "Circle in the Sand"
trilogy, but it covers three different romances.  The first story is
Paris/Torres, the second is Carey/Wildman, and the third is
Janeway/Chakotay.  Each story is complete in itself, however, and can be
considered separate if necessary.  This takes place after "The Gift", so
it is out of canon.  This was inspired by the Belinda Carlisle song, but
the song doesnít relate to this much besides sharing the title.

Some Things are Forever
by Cheile
(Part 1 of the "Circle in the Sand" trilogy)
 

        Captainís log, Stardate 51079.5.  *We have detected an unusual energy
signature on a nearby uninhabited M-class planet.  Lieutenants Torres
and Carey theorize that it could be useful, with even a possible way to
harness it for backup power.  Since this is also a scientific matter, I
have asked for Ensign Wildmanís assistance.  The four of us, Commander
Chakotay and Lieutenant Paris are beaming down to the planet to see what
we can find out.*

        Once the hum of the transporter beam had died away, the group got out
their tricorders and began to scan for the energy.
        "Not a very cheerful place," Tom remarked.
        His point wasnít too far off.  Far away were the gray rise of
mountains, but all around them was simply the dry, cracked ground of a
burning desert---no plants, not even a creosote bush.  The sun shone
above, but it was merely warm, not stifling hot like they had expected
it to be.  And all the time, there was a soft, barely noticeable humming
sound.
        "No wonder there are no lifesigns," Samantha said, pushing her blond
pageboy out of her eyes.  "Nothing would want to live here."
        "Can you tell where the energy signature is coming from, Chakotay?"
BíElanna called.  "I canít get clear readings."
        Chakotay turned in a slow circle, tricorder upraised.  "It seems to be
coming from all around us."
        "Do you think itís in the air, then?" Samantha asked, but no one had a
chance to answer her before they heard Joeís cry.
        "Hey everyone!  Come have a look at this!"
        They walked over to where Carey was.  Carved into the desertís surface
was a wide circle with unusual, intricate markings within.
        "What in the galaxy is it?" Tom said.
        "I donít know."
        "Do you think that there were people here centuries ago, but they died
out?"  Chakotay was asking the whole group, but his eyes were on
Janeway.
        "A possibility, Commander, but wouldnít there have been some kind of
evidence of a civilization?" Kathryn answered.
        "True," Joe mused.
        "What I wonder is what the drawings mean," Tom said.  He stepped near
the edge, tricorder at the ready.  BíElanna knelt and touched one of the
designs near the outer edge of the circle.
        "Whoever did this must have been talented," she said with some awe.
"Look at the detail in these carvings."  Her eyes darted to the center
carving---which strangely resembled a heart in the shadow of a
bird-looking creature.
        Tomís gaze moved to the heart and bird as well.  "Would you look at
that."  He straightened up.
        BíElanna rose.
        They both stepped inside the circle.
        The second they did, the humming sound turned into a wild shriek and a
fierce wind began to blow.  Sand flew up around them, blinding everyone.
        "Get down!" Chakotay hollered above the roar of the wind.  He pulled
Kathryn down under him, shielding her.
        When the sandstorm finally subsided, Chakotay got to his feet and
helped Kathryn up.  Joe and Samantha were ten feet away.  The circle was
nowhere nearby.
        And Tom and BíElanna were gone.

        Dazed, BíElanna climbed to her feet, and looked around.  Tom wasnít far
away and she was right next to the circle.  But the others were gone.
        "Joe?  Sam?  Captain?" Tom called.
        "Chakotay!" BíElanna yelled.
        Their only answer was the echo.
        "Now what?" Tom asked her.
        "I donít know."
        "We should figure out what happened to the others."
        But as far as they could see, there was no sign of their fellow
crewmembers and their scans revealed nothing.
        "Now what?" Tom asked again.
        BíElanna shook her head again.  She couldnít look at him.  For some
reason, she couldnít meet his intense blue eyes.

        (Several hours later)
        "Donít tell me weíre stuck here!"
        "íLanna, donít blame me.  I wasnít responsible."
        BíElanna took a deep breath and tried to calm down, still avoiding
Tomís eyes.
        *Fear will be driven away by love.*
        BíElanna jerked her head up.  *Who said that?*
        *Fear will be driven away by love.*
        Her gaze drifted toward the center carving in the circle.  The birdís
shadow falling over a heart.  It couldnít have any meaning---could it?
Was the drawing a representation of her fear of allowing Tom to love
her?
        She hadnít told him.  She never knew how to say it.  She would have it
all planned out---and then he would turn those blue eyes upon her---and
she would lose all her nerve.
        Was this a test of some sort?  If she finally got the courage to tell
him, would that be enough to bring the others back?  What would Tom say?
        "BíElanna---you okay?"
        Once again, she found herself drowning in his eyes.  But she had to
tell him---for the others, for their safety, but especially for herself.
He had to know.  Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes and whispered
the words.
        "I love you."
        Tom blinked, shocked.  "What?"
        "I love you," she whispered softly.
        Tomís eyes gazed down into hers.  He drew her close and leaned down to
kiss her.
        The wind began to pick up.  She wrapped her arms around him as the kiss
deepened.  He pulled her closer against him.  They clung to each other
as the sand began to whirl around them.  As the world faded away---lost
in the sandstorm, the only thing they knew---the only thing
familiar---was each other.

        Samantha turned as she heard the whirling again.  The sand began to
blow.  She ducked down and shielded her eyes with her hand.
        When at last the sound died away, she realized that they were back
where they started.  The circle was there.  And so were Paris and
Torres, holding each other close.
        "Tom?  ĎLan?  You two okay?" Carey asked.
        "Weíre fine," Tom said, smoothing BíElannaís tangled hair.  Not caring
that the others were around, he touched a soft kiss to her brow ridges.
She blushed slightly, but then touched her hand to his cheek.  They
gazed into each otherís eyes for a long moment, then looked toward the
circle.
        The picture had changed---to a silhouette of two people---holding one
another.
 

Legal B.S.  Paramountís characters, Belindaís song, my story.  See,
Paramount, Iím not stealing, just borrowing.  Copyright December 16,
1997, by Cheile.  Comments and *nice* criticism to cheile@hotmail.com