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  Lieutenant Commander Marielle Deniaud & First Lieutenant Gideon Salieri, SD
 
[JDL Deniaud/Salieri] The Sensor Array
 
Login [Deniaud/Salieri] Collaboration Duty Log
Stardate: 1707.27 [27 July, 2017]
Sensor Array

He’d been sitting in the small room for several hours, frustrating himself with the simulations on his PADD of how his proposed updates would affect the overall power flow through the ship. Gideon had finally relented and called engineering, requesting some assistance with how his changes were affecting the pull on the warp core. The security officer had only hoped they didn’t send Tasse Mero again. Just the thought caused a few more drops of perspiration to form in his hairline. He reached up and wiped his face with the sleeve of his tunic. He dropped the PADD onto the console to his right and pushed himself to his feet, groaning first at the ache in his muscles, then the sharp pain in the back of his head when he hit a low bulkhead. “Cazzo,” he hissed as he rubbed the sore spot and he stepped out of the room so he could stretch further in the hallway.

Her hands were wrapped tightly over the handle of her toolkit as she mentally prepared herself for what was required of her. It was bad enough that she’d have to endure the confined spaces of the ship’s inner workings, but she was going to have to work with the security chief after the bumbling dinner with the half-Bajoran. What she believed was a simple meal between friends was apparently far more and she was still trying to come to grips with what that meant. She turned the last corner of her destination and her steps stuttered on the carpet as she caught sight of Gideon in front of sensor array control room. Quietly, she took in a breath and made her way towards him, mentally forcing her steps to be easy. She considered a greeting. The usual greeting in French seemed wrong considering what had just happened the night prior, but calling him by his rank seemed even worse. “Hey,” Marielle settled on simplicity.

Gideon lifted his gaze as he turned to face her. He bit back a frown as he straightened and pulled his shoulders forward to ease the tension in his back. It was odd not hearing the cheerful French ‘Allo’ from her, or seeing the bright smile that radiated through her whole body. The security officer nodded in response while he considered what to say. ‘She’s hung up over last night, obviously. Dammit, Gid, you’re useless.’ He swallowed a disapproving groan as he pushed a grin to his features. “Hey there,” he greeted the engineer. “Good to see you.”

She held the toolkit in front of her as she neared him and nodded. She gave him a small guarded smile. “So, you sent a request to engineering?” Marielle turned her head towards the sensor array control room. The doors had remained open since he kept within the range of the door’s proximity sensor.

“Yeah,” he answered with an exasperated sigh. Whether it was for her or himself, he didn’t know. “I’m trying to update the external sensors and I’m pulling too much power from other systems.” Gideon lifted his arm to motion her into the control room, then stepped in after she’d passed him. “Need an expert to find where the drain is.”

“Do you have your algorithm handy?” she asked as she stepped into the small space and easily walked under the low bulkhead, not even bothering to duck. She kept her eyes trained on the console as she focused on her breathing. The room was significantly larger than where they’d need to venture, but it was still a small space - one that was only made smaller with his presence. She wasn’t sure if she’d be able to handle the onslaught to her senses. The security chief had an odd influence on her. He easily made her mind muddled. Already, she was surrounded by the fragrance of his aftershave.

He was reaching for the PADD on the console, completely oblivious to the low bulkhead he’d just smacked minutes ago, resulting in another contact with the metal. Gideon stopped in his tracks, raising his hand to his temple as he growled quietly in frustration. He stood in place as he fought the urge to shout a couple obscenities, choosing instead to hiss at the now stronger throbbing in his head. Finally, he ducked down and fell into the seat behind the console.

Marielle jumped at the sound of skull meeting metal and she looked to him with some concern. A delightful giggle escaped her at the sight of him rubbing his head. It was a bit comical seeing the man struggling with his height. More often than not, she was the one who suffered for it - though her issues were usually meant needing a ladder. She hid her growing mirth behind a cough. “What have you tried?” There was only one seat, so she remained standing and tried not to think of how the confined space forced them into each other’s personal bubbles.

Gideon picked up the device that he had been reaching for and lifted it toward the engineer. After she took it, he tapped at the console as he brought up the information he’d been using to work with. “I’ve gone through six variations of the update and the result is similar each time. At the power up of the array, there’s an overload to the warp engines, nearly shutting down different secondary systems.” Once he had everything pulled up on the console, Gideon stood and motioned toward the engineer to take the seat. “If I change much else in the updates, I may as well not even push them through.”

She placed the toolkit on the far corner of the console. Her eyes swept through the data on the PADD, her head leaning to one side as she read through the proposed changes. Marielle hummed softly to herself. Her thumb swept over the glassy surface of the device before she fell onto the seat. Her head turned from the console to the PADD as she compared the proposed changes with the simulated results. “We’ll make it work,” she soothed confidently without looking up at him. “I think there’s something off with the math.” The engineer continued to look between his proposal and the simulation results, both hands swiping over the glassy surface of both the device and the console.

“Non sarebbe una sorpresa, (That wouldn’t be a surprise.)” he muttered to himself as he watched her work. The idea had been to update the sensor array in order to extend the range of their scans, but also to focus the sensors in order to better isolate the changes in space that occurred with cloaked ships.

“Okay. I see it,” she announced as she looked up at him. The engineer offered the PADD to Gideon while her free hand danced over the console surface. “You forgot to carry one of the functions,” she revealed with a wry grin. “Let me change the simulation parameters and see how it looks.”

The security officer took the PADD from her and turned it so that he could look at the equation. “It was too heavy,” he grumbled in jest. Gideon moved his fingers over the surface of the device as he watched the numbers change with the corrected algorithm.

She couldn’t help but laugh softly as her hands moved over the console. “Bro, do you even lift?” she teased brightly.

“Bet I can lift more than you,” he snapped back playfully, inwardly laughing at their easy banter. It always soothed him to hear Marielle laugh.

“That’s fine. Muscles look better on you than they do on me anyways,” she laughed softly as she shook her head. Her hand paused as Logos instantly provided her with an image of herself with Gideon-sized muscles. The picture was so ridiculous that she couldn’t help the bright peal of laughter that erupted from the very depths of her soul. “Oh gods, I’d never fit into any of my clothes. My poor dresses,” she managed through her mirth. Marielle shook her head, the movement meant to shake away the image from her imagination.

“Did you really just- Like put your head on my body or something?” Gideon nearly sputtered at the idea, his hand coming up to stop the eruption of laughter that threatened from his gut. He envisioned Marielle as a taller muscled woman and shook his head. ‘That’s almost kind of hot,’ he thought to himself as he envisioned the engineer being able to actually fight him back.

She continued to laugh, the warm and vibrant sound easily echoing against the bulkhead that surrounded them. It made her aware of the enclosed space of the control room again. Her hands continued to move over the console to keep her mind occupied. “So fixing the equation fixed the algorithm,” she began as her laughter eased into a soft controlled chuckle. The engineer turned slightly to face him. With the PADD still in his hand, she pulled the corner down and stared at the surface. Her finger swiped over the information until she located the particular error and pointed to it. “By not carrying this monomial, it changed the permutation,” she explained. “I fixed that and now the simulation indicate that there shouldn’t be more than a five thousandth percent drain on the power relay system. That’s well within the allowed standard deviation.” She turned to face the console and pointed to the results as the computer ran another test.

His laughter had died pretty quickly after Marielle started talking about monomials and power drains. He found that he was easily overwhelmed by the numbers. Gideon chewed lightly at the inside of his lip as he lifted the PADD once again to stare at the equations.

“Next step is to do an actual test.” Marielle’s hands moved over the display as she pulled up the schematics of the Prometheus-class starship. Her fingers met before swiping out to enlarge three points in the ship. “We need to change the flow of power in these three junctions, however, so that we can run a viable simulation.” The engineer’s finger hovered over the glassy surface as she drew a line to show the flow of power.

“Shouldn’t we try it in the holodeck, first?” He stepped closer in order to stand beside Marielle and he looked over her shoulder at the console display. Gideon’s eyes drifted between the three junctions she’d highlighted, frowning to himself as he noticed that all of them required climbing through the Jeffries tubes.

She shook her head. “The power flow trial won’t harm the systems. It’ll just emulate the flow of plasma so we can catch any real hiccups. No point in running a simulation based on a data test. It’ll give us the exact same result. Might as well just go straight for the physical one so we can catch anything the algorithm can’t. First rule of engineering - not everything goes by the numbers. Ship’s got a mind of its own, and you can’t always depend on math alone.” Marielle smiled up at him. “After that, we can do a formal test after approval from, well, me.”

The security chief shrugged as he relented. The device was powered down and held under his arm as he leaned against her inadvertently. Gideon quickly straightened, an apologetic look quickly replaced with one of pain as he smacked the back of his head on the bulkhead a third time. “Cazzo!” he hissed as he hunched over, holding his head. ‘Questa è la terza volta cazzo, stupido pezzo di merda paratia. Chi diavolo ci ha messo che in ogni caso? Masochisti niente!’

Marielle giggled softly as she stood up and easily avoided the low hanging bulkhead. With the security chief bent over, she didn’t have to reach far. Mindlessly, her hand found the back of his head, fingers easily sliding under his palm as her fingers rubbed soothing circles. “You’re making me feel really good about being short,” she revealed with a lilting laugh.

He’d remained hunched over for several moments, his eyes closed as he appreciated the feel of Marielle’s fingers over his scalp. Sure, there was some pain, but the tingle that accompanied her fingertips through his shorter hair was nearly euphoric. Her laugh pulled him from his sensory bliss. “Glad I can help,” he murmured through clenched teeth, a soft grunt escaping his throat before he made his way out of the control room. “I’m going to remember you said that,” Gideon warned her as he straightened slowly.

The engineer watched him as he pulled away, her hand still hovering in the air. Clearing her throat, she reached for the toolkit and followed him out of the small control room. She hadn’t realized how heavy the air had been until she was out in the hallway, where she took several quiet deep breaths. “Whew,” she released almost silently, her eyes closing briefly. “Okay. I’ll start with the sensor calibration in Alpha.”

“You have time to do this now?” he asked casually. Another wince caused his eye to twitch and he groaned quietly, raising his hand to his head again. “Penso che ci sia alcune viti allentate, (I think there’s a few screws loose.)” he grumbled. The half-Betazoid could sense her simmering anxiety and he thought he could use his headache as an excuse to give her time to relax.

She continued to giggle at him as she took a few discreet deep breaths to fill her lungs and shake off the anxiety that had lingered at the very edges. “Might as well get it done, yeah?” she smiled up at him as she began walking towards the turbolift. “I should be able to get it done in two hours.”

Gideon sighed quietly as he nodded to himself and headed after her. ‘She said ‘I should be able to get it done,’ does she not think I’ll help?’ His brows furrowed as his longer strides let him catch up to the engineer easily and they rode the turbolift together. There was a silence between them that he couldn’t put words to. It wasn’t uncomfortable, but it wasn’t easy, either. “No reason to put it off,” he agreed despite his pounding head.

She exited the turbolift with him, the toolkit swinging in her hand. They made a quick detour to the Alpha section warp core for a second engineering toolkit, which Marielle gave to the security chief. “Ready for a crash course in engineering?” she asked as they made their way to the proper junction. The diminutive woman stopped in front of the jefferies tube hatch and stared at it with trepidation.

“Sono un terribile studente, (I’m a terrible student.)” he bemoaned quietly as he held the toolkit. His gaze shifted toward Marielle and he pushed aside his own thoughts, stepping up next to her and resting his hand on her shoulder. It was a brief touch with a gentle squeeze as he then reached for the hatch and pulled it open. Gideon ducked inside and set the toolkit and the PADD on the floor before reaching out of the hatch for the engineer to follow. “Ma io vedo l'ora di insegnarmi. Dai, (But I look forward to you teaching me. Come on.)” he soothed her quietly.

She chuckled nervously as she gave his palm a gentle squeeze in thanks before releasing her hold. “Move out of the way,” she instructed as she pushed her toolkit in front of her. “I’ll lead the way.”

“I almost wish the computer picked up Italian,” he grumbled to himself as he sat back and let Marielle move ahead. When she moved forward, he picked up the toolkit and the PADD, holding them in one hand as he followed.

As long as she kept moving, Marielle felt like she could easily escape the anxiety that chased after her. She crawled quickly down the long narrow path towards the proper junction. Normally, she kept her time in the jefferies tubes to about thirty minutes. Short spurts with a focus on her duties allowed her to function. It’d be a challenge with two hours crawling through the inner workings of the ship. The knowledge was enough to make her shudder. “What’s your favourite colour?” she asked when the silence was too much for her.

The question was a bit odd, but he could tell it was asked out of anxiety. “Can’t really say I have an all time favorite,” he started, deciding to ramble in order to fill the silence. “Red is always a strong choice, but not bright red, more of a mahogany or maroon.” Gideon hummed quietly as he considered more. “The blue of the ocean always draws me. I know you said blue was quickly becoming your favorite color. I don’t think you really said why, or what color it replaced.”

She crawled out of the jefferies tube and stood up, her hand pressed into the wall as she took a quick breath. “Red like my ribbon?” she asked she made her way to the proper panel and removed it from the wall. There was a light tremor to her hands. “I need you to watch the phase variance while I adjust it. Tell me when it reaches point zero four.” She opened the toolkit and pulled out the spanner.

He’d waited for her to move out of the access point before crawling forward and pushing slowly to his feet. He turned his gaze upward to ensure that straightening wouldn’t result in further damage to his already tender skull. Gideon returned his focus to Marielle and made his way to her in a couple steps. “Yeah, like your ribbon,” he agreed quietly as he shifted to the toolkit. He stooped as he set it on the ground and opened it up, picking out the diagnostic tool and powering it on. “Go ahead,” he said to let her know he was ready.

There was a gentle hum from the device in her hand as she kept her focus on the plasma conduits. “It’s my favourite colour,” she started after some silence. The junction was large enough for her to believe that the walls weren’t closing in on her, but it’d only get worse as they moved throughout the ship. Marielle took in a deep breath, filling her lungs with the scent of his aftershave. It calmed her enough so she could focus. “The burgundy, I mean, of my ribbon.”

“It’s a beautiful shade on you,” he said, still trying to fill the silence. “Just enough purple undertone to bring out the green in your eyes.” Gideon kept his eyes focused on the device as he watched the readings. He eventually dropped to his knees and sat back on his heels instead of remaining stooped.

“You think so?” she asked softly. A small smile tugged at the corner of her lips, and she found herself feeling rather pleased that he had paid that much attention to her eyes. She reached into the panel, her tongue sticking out slightly as she pulled at the far switch. A quiet hum filled her ears to indicate that the change in polarity had occurred. She returned to working the scanner over the conduit.

He hummed in admittance, nodding to himself as his gaze remained focused on the engineering tool. “Yeah,” he agreed again when he realized that Marielle probably hadn’t seen him nod his head or heard him. “I’d say the green of your eyes is my favorite color, but there’s too many shades. Bright emerald with forest green and a couple mint or sage flecks in them-” Gideon bit his tongue as he became aware of what he was saying.

“Never knew you paid that much attention.” She chuckled softly as her cheeks turned pink. “How are the numbers?”

A subtle streak of red creeped from his neck to the tips of his ears and Gideon was glad that his face was hidden from the engineer. “Ah, point zero two,” he informed her after clearing his throat.

“Oh this is going to take forever,” she lamented as her forehead fell forward. Marielle shuddered slightly as a soft pathetic whine escaped her. “Uh- Favourite food?”

“No, wait a minute,” he raised a hand and glanced up at the diminutive woman, his chin tilting as he studied her. “What about the blue? When we had steak after the hockey game, you said blue was becoming your favorite color.” Gideon grinned lopsidedly as he beckoned her to elaborate. “Like bleu rare? That’s not even blue.”

She couldn’t help but laugh at the joke, her eyes focused on the pulsating hues of the conduit as she worked the spanner over it. Marielle licked her lips lightly as she tried to think of the right words. ‘Blue. Like your eyes.’ The blush darkened. “No real reason,” the engineer lied. “Just reminds me of the ocean.” That much was at least a truth. His eyes did remind her of the bluest of ocean waters, stunning in its vibrancy yet oddly frightening in its depths. She was sure she could drown in them if she failed to look away.

‘You’re so cute when you try to lie to me,’ he thought with a soft chuckle. “We should go back to the island some time,” he offered as he glanced back down at the diagnostic tool.

“I’d like that. It’d be nice to see Red again.” She rolled her head from one shoulder to the other as she tried to shake off the tension that strained at her muscles.

‘She thinks my horse is sexy,’ Gideon hummed to himself as he shook his head. ‘The Italian Stallion.’ The thought of his past persona brought a frown to his features as he quickly focused on the readings. “Point zero three five,” he announced quietly.

“Je vais mourir ici (I’m going to die in here),” she muttered to herself as the walls seemed to creep closer with each passing second. Marielle shook her head as she took several deep breaths. “Favourite food. Please.”

“Mmhm,” he considered the answer. “Rigatoni stuffed with hamburger, bacon, sausage, peppers and onions, with a mushroom and onion marinara sauce. Thick Italian bread absolutely slathered in garlic and oregano, paired with a bold Cianti.” It was a dish that was made only several times growing up, for his birthday. When his mother remembered. He blinked out of the trip down memory lane and focused again on the device in his hand.

The engineer couldn’t help but laugh softly. “That is very specific,” she turned to look at him while she continued to work the spanner over the conduit.

“Point zero four.” He glanced up, meeting her eyes briefly before she turned to the panel.

She shut off the spanner quickly and immediately reached to the back to switch the power flow once more. Even faster, she returned the panel cover and threw the spanner into the toolkit. “Let’s go,” she murmured anxiously as she moved into another jefferies tube tunnel. The engineer crawled as quickly as she could, ignoring the way the metal flooring dug into her knees and the palm of her hands.

Gideon was a bit surprised by her swift movements, though it passed when he recalled that her anxiety was probably through the roof. He quickly returned the tool to the kit and snapped it closed so that he could follow her to the hatch. “Next two should go quicker now that you know how much to adjust, right?” He tried to encourage her.

“Same amount of time and smaller space,” she told him as she crawled as quickly as she could. “Beta Vector will be the worst, so at least I can look forward to not dying in Gamma.” Marielle tried to laugh off the panic that overwhelmed her. Her arms ached, but she did not relent on her speed. “So rigatoni.”

He followed her, giving her a bit of space as she tried to play down the deep breaths she was taking in. Gideon returned to his chatter to help ease her nerves while they made their way to the next open space. “Yeah, it was something that took a lot of time to prep, so it was only made for special occasions. Which was when I requested it for my birthday.” The security officer dropped the PADD from under his arm, reaching to pick it up quickly. “I know you like a good butter seared steak. Is that your favorite?”

The next junction was much smaller than the previous one, but she’d been prepared for that. She sat on the floor as soon as they exited the tube and took in several strained breaths. The air stuttered as she released it. Her fingers gripped the panel as she yanked the cover off the wall. “I just like food,” she revealed, thankful that Gideon was speaking to her. It wouldn’t keep the panic at bay forever, but it gave her something else on which to focus. It’d allow her the chance to do her duties like a normal officer. “Sushi for Japanese food.”

“Hmm, don’t know a thing about preparing sushi. Can’t say I’ve ever tried it,” he admitted a he knelt again, opening the tool kit and pulling out the diagnostic tool once again. Gideon hummed as he noticed that he hadn’t turned it off in his hurry to follow Marielle. “What about Italian? Something maybe I could impress you with sometime.”

“Cacio e pepe,” she answered quickly as her shaking hands pulled the spanner out of her kit. She adjusted the device to compensate for the variance in power before using it over the conduit. “And a traditional lasagna, not with ricotta but the bechamel sauce.”

“No ricotta?” he asked incredulously, shaking his head.

“Ricotta is the Americanized version when immigrants arrived in the country. True Italian lasagna is made with a bechamel sauce and topped with pecorino.”

Gideon whistled quietly as he chuckled softly. “Don’t mention that to my- To Giancarlo. He would flip a lid.” The security officer considered trying to make a lasagna with the different ingredients as Marielle suggested.

“Food history is really fascinating,” she shrugged. “It grows and evolves with the people. I love it.” Marielle chuckled through her anxiety. “It’s telling of the society as a whole, of the challenges they faced. How things changed through time.” She continued to work the spanner. “Tell me when we reach point zero one five.” The engineer leaned her head to one side. “Like, Nutella. It was a hazelnut spread that was fairly popular in European countries in the twenty-first century. It only came into existence to deal with the shortage of cocoa during World War Two.”

“Point zero one five,” he told her with a glance. “I wonder how much was changed with the third world war. That one was pretty devastating.” His gaze moved over the engineer to be sure she wasn’t on the brink of a meltdown. It was pretty tight in the space, but he didn’t have the same claustrophobia as Marielle did. Briefly, he wondered how small the gamma vector would be.

The engineer reached into the panel’s depths and felt for the switch that’d change the polarity of power flow. “They had to change the sugar ratio to deal with the hazelnut shortage.” Her hand moved out once the familiar hum filled her ears and she moved the spanner over the conduit. She leaned her forehead against the edge of the panel as her eyes closed. Her hands shook desperately and she shut off the device when she found it difficult to control the flow of energy. Her eyes squeezed shut as she imagined an open field. The darkness behind her eyes only seemed to exacerbate the issue. “Je ne suis pas enfermé ici. Ce n’est pas le même chose. Ce n’est pas le même chose. Ce n’est pas le même chose. (I’m not locked in here. It’s not the same),” she muttered to herself.

Gideon shifted so that he was kneeling next to Marielle, his arm draping gently over her shoulders as he held her against him. “Sono qui per te, (I’m here for you.)” he whispered quietly. “Non lascerò nulla ti faccia del male. (I won’t let anything hurt you.)” The security officer rubbed her shoulder carefully. “Hey, El. I remember this one time I was helping my nonna bake a cake. She told me to grab the container with the sugar and bring it to her. Well, there were two containers with white granules in it, so I just brought the first one I could reach. Nonna was going on and on about this recipe from her grandmother, a delicious, rich baya cake. So when she’s done mixing the batter, she poured it into the pan and put it in the oven and gave me the bowl and the spoon to lick. I was so excited for it, I actually licked the bowl instead of using the spoon to scrape the baya from it.” The half-Bajoran glanced down at the engineer, hoping that she was able to pull out of her anxiety. “The look on my face after a few tastes must have been something, because Nonna immediately took the bowl away and took a taste from the spoon and she started howling with laughter. I mean, absolutely lost it.” There was a brief pause as he chuckled. “It’s a wonder I never took up baking when I so easily confused sugar and salt. There was no salvaging that cake.”

She blinked at the story and simply laughed aloud. “I think everyone’s done that at least once,” she managed through her pained laughter. “I mean- I haven’t.” The engineer gave him a pathetically poor excuse of a wry grin. Quickly, she nodded and went back to work. Marielle leaned into him as she turned on the spanner and went back to work.

“No baking mishaps at all?” Gideon pulled the diagnostic in front of him, propping it against the wall so that she could see it as well. Still, he kept his eyes trained on the readout as the phase variance increased slowly.

“Oh plenty,” she revealed as she worked the device over the conduit. “But, never confusing salt and sugar. Grains are different.” Marielle took a moment to look at him. “Besides, I flavour my salt. I can always tell the difference.”

“Well,” he started after smirking in her direction. “I think if I’d been smart enough to taste the white stuff before having Nonna add it to the batter, the whole fiasco could have been averted.” Gideon winked as he smiled brightly. “But then I wouldn’t have an embarrassing story to share.”

Marielle chuckled softly. “Your grandmother sounds like an amazing woman.” The engineer eased against him as her shudders calmed enough for her to function.

“I know you’d like her,” Gideon revealed confidently. He was steady where he knelt so that the engineer would have his stability to fall back on. He could swear that he felt his heartbeat against her shoulder. His gaze drifted back to the diagnostic tool before she could say anything else. “Point zero three.”

“Oh thank the gods,” she muttered to herself. “I’m so frakking glad we don’t have an A.I. on this ship.” At the memory, Marielle shuddered suddenly and she dropped the spanner. Her hands came up to cover her face. All those months crawling through the jefferies tubes because she had violated the ship’s trust. It all came back, crashing into her relentlessly in a raging storm. Marielle leaned forward as she curled in on herself. “Je serai bon. Je jure aux dieux que je serai bon (I’ll be good. I swear to the gods that I’ll be good),” she murmured. “Je serai bon. Non, je t’en prie, Papa. (No please, papa.)”

He quickly picked up the spanner, his other hand tightening on her shoulder as he moved with her. “Hey, hey, what’s- El.” Gideon frowned as he set the spanner down again and tried to bring her up into his arms. “Ah, merda,” he muttered as he pressed his head against hers so that he could whisper in her ear, singing quietly. “Like an unsung melody, the truth is waiting there for you to find it.” He would attempt to pull her out as she had done with him before calling on Erik to help. “It’s not a blight but a remedy, a clear reminder of how it began.”

His voice pulled at her. “Ask me something. Anything,” she muttered through the panicked haze, her plea uttered with near pained desperation.

A selfish question pushed first to his mind, but he quickly decided to follow their conversation from earlier about favorites. “What’s your favorite animal?” Gideon asked quietly, his arms tense around her, fingers still gripping her shoulder while his other hand rested on the back of her head.

“Hummingbirds. They make me believe fairies are real.” She leaned into him, her hands moving from her face and settling on his arms. “Yours?” The question was asked softly. Marielle took in deep breaths as her fingers tightly gripped at his uniform sleeve.

“Ah, horses, I guess. Cats are too finicky and other animals just seem like pests. I mean, like mice and crows.” Gideon rambled again to keep her mind thinking.

“Another. Ask another,” she muttered as she felt herself easing out of the panic. Her head shook slightly as she pulled away from the memories of her previous post.

“Favorite color, favorite food, favorite animal, uh,” the security officer struggled to come up with another question. “Who’s your favorite singer or band?”

“Oh so many,” she muttered. “Pink Floyd. Led Zeppelin. Uh. Hozier. Joe Cocker.” Her breathing slowed, her body eased. “Uh. Marian Hill. Prince. Vance Joy. X Ambassadors. Glass Animals.” Music. She could do music.

He nodded, brows raising at her choices. “Which song by Pink Floyd?” The band had roots all the way back in the twentieth century, but its legacy lived through the years. There was a record for most covered song of all time that belonged to the psychedelic funk band.

“Time,” she answered easily enough. The engineer straightened briefly and took several more breaths. “Hey You. Another Brick in the Wall.” She gave a weak laugh. “I pretty much love everything. Music and food. No favourites. Pretty pathetic, huh?”

“Nothing pathetic about that,” he soothed as he turned to look down at her, his hold relaxing a bit as she seemed to ease out of the anxiety. “Just shows you’re open minded. Kinda sexy, though it doesn’t help when trying to plan a dinner or something.” Gideon gave her a teasing look before winking at her.

She laughed despite herself or the thoughts of the odd dinner date - which she hadn’t realized was a date - they shared. “How is that sexy?” she asked before turning her attention to the panel. Marielle returned to her work as she blinked away the panic that lingered in her limbs. ‘I can do this. This is easy. This is work,’ she thought to herself. ‘I’ll have to talk to Erik about getting this fixed. This is pathetic- an engineer who can’t deal with being in the veins of her own ship. This won’t do if I’m supposed to be part of some strike force.’

He lifted the spanner for her, chuckling quietly when she took it. “Being open to new things is- Adventurous. Leaves plenty of opportunity to experience everything instead of being stuck with the same thing day in and day out.”

She smiled at the explanation. “Thanks, Gid,” she managed as she worked the spanner over the conduit. “I don’t think I could do this without you.” She took several deep breaths. The thought that they could continue being friends despite the weirdness over dinner made her heart swell. There was comfort in his presence, an easiness to the banter and the discussion. That realization alone made her happy and it was enough to push past the panic.

He smiled and nodded as he whispered, “Anytime, El.” Gideon squeezed his fingers against her shoulder once again before releasing her completely. He reached forward and picked up the diagnostic device. “Point zero three five.” He lifted his gaze to the engineer again.

“Almost there,” she muttered. “Favourite scent?”

“Oranges,” he answered easily, smiling as a deep breath reaffirmed the amalgamation that was intrinsically Marielle. A soft hum rumbled in his lungs as he leaned toward the engineer again. “And vanilla,” he added quietly. The security officer chuckled quietly at the raised brow he received from the diminutive woman and he shrugged in response. ‘Her favorite scent is the ocean. She’s such a beach babe, it’s cute.’ He considered suggesting that they take a break before moving on to the gamma sector, if only for a liquid shot of courage. In the end, they simply moved on to the next junction, chattering easily about their favorites of everything.





Copyright 2017. All works involving Mariëlle A. Deniaud and Gideon M. Salieri, including character biographies and published stories, are the property of the United Space Federation and its author. It cannot be reproduced, imitated, and copied without written permission from the authors. All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction using aspects of the Star Trek universe as created and copyrighted/trademarked by Gene Roddenberry, Paramount, and their affiliates.
   
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