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  First Lieutenant Gideon Salieri, Lieutenant Commander Marielle Deniaud, Commander Yari Nazir, Lieutenant Commander ShaeLin Rhaik, SD
 
Born with the Weakness to Fall.
 
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Born with the Weakness to Fall

The night had been very much a repeat of the night before.  Gideon managed to sleep for half an hour, maybe forty-five minutes before his memories rebelled and threw him into a terror.  He jolted awake several times, disturbing Marielle, before resolving again to remain awake.  His arms wrapped tightly around the diminutive woman and he was sure she couldn’t sleep, but her body was heavy against him.  ‘Dare I hope-  No.  It’s too soon,’ he lamented to himself as he drifted in and out of consciousness.  0600 didn’t seem to come soon enough, but the security chief resigned himself to the day ahead.  He gently eased out of the bed and pulled his uniform on.  He leaned down and kissed the physicist on her cheek before silently leaving her room.

He felt very much like a zombie, or what he would consider a zombie felt like, as he walked down the corridor.  Gideon winced to himself and redirected into the lounge so that he could replicate a cup of coffee.  His steps were quick so that he wouldn’t be late.  “I miss El’s coffee,” he mumbled as he picked up the mug and chugged at the dark brew.  The liquid was near scalding and he’d swallowed it too fast to be enjoyed, but it was the caffeine he needed.  The security chief placed the mug into the recycler and hurried back into the hallway.  As he neared the gym, he reached into his pocket and pulled out the hypoinjector that ShaeLin had given him the day before.  His eyes focused on the cylinder as he turned it in his fingers.

The security chief stepped into the gymnasium and lifted his gaze to search the space.  Once again, only the director was present.  Gideon frowned to himself and raised his hand to his neck.  The hypo was pressed against his skin and he shivered at the knowledge that he would be emotionally blind for the next day at least.  ‘This is so unfair.’  He dropped the hypo into his pocket and approached ShaeLin.  He nodded toward the Corolian and stopped a meter in front of her.  He held his hands behind his back as he waited for her order.

ShaeLin watched the security chief approach and she made him wait several minutes while she studied him.  The blonde woman thought back to the conversation she’d had with Nazir regarding the officer in front of her and the corner of her lip turned in a frown.  ~You have too much emotion to deal with,~ she chastised Gideon mentally.  The director shook her head and then lifted her hand to point at the treadmill.  “Fifteen minutes to loosen up.”

He swallowed a sigh and nodded his head once before turning to make his way to the aforementioned piece of equipment.  Gideon stepped onto the belt and tapped on the console to set up a program.  When the tread began to roll he eased into a jog.  ‘So I’ve already passed the weapons portion.  We did physical fitness earlier.  What else is there that requires me to keep taking the drug?’  His eyes focused on the wall but he wasn’t seeing the small porthole.  ‘Tactical side, I guess.  I can’t imagine how that would be helpful to be blind.’  He sighed with each breath that he took.  The running only seemed to highlight his exhaustion rather than loosen his muscles.

The Corolian walked heavily across the floor, her steps made with the intention of being noisy.  She frowned when it was apparent that Gideon had not heard her and she stood behind the treadmill.  Her hazel gaze watched his legs moving and she studied his stride.  When he had placed his foot, ShaeLin reached forward and grabbed his shirt.  She yanked hard and stepped aside as she threw him against the wall.  Her hand was on his throat.  “Pay attention to your surroundings!”

He stumbled and flailed to catch his balance.  The air left his lungs when his back hit the wall and his eyes focused immediately on the woman in front of him.  ‘Che cazzo!’  The security chief was surprised to say the least and his hands lifted to peel away her fingers from his neck.  “Co-”

“Don’t touch me,” she hissed as she pressed harder against his airway.  ShaeLin narrowed her eyes as she stared down at him, satisfied that he’d dropped his hands from her skin.  “You think too loudly, Lieutenant.  You’re being deprived of your empathic ability to get your head in check.”  She could feel her palm growing warm from his skin and the pulse under her fingers raced.  It was almost too much for her.  She glared and then released him from her grasp.

Gideon coughed and gasped for air as his torso fell forward and he held his throat in his hand.  His features were twisted in a mixture of fear and anger, but every thought that he had was quickly silenced.  The half-Betazoid straightened after removing the emotion from his expression.  He dropped his hand from his neck and shifted his cobalt gaze to the woman who remained hovering close to him.  There was subtle defiance in his features.

ShaeLin took a step back and then turned away from Gideon.  She lifted her hand and beckoned him to follow as she walked toward the raised boxing ring.  “Tape your hands.”  The director stopped at the table and picked up a roll of white tape.  She began to wrap it around her knuckles.

His mouth turned down into a frown as he walked toward the ring.  He watched as the Corolian ascended the steps and moved through the middle and top ropes to gain entrance to the squared circle.  Gideon shook his head to himself as he picked up the tape and started to wrap his hand.  He still took great care to silence any conversation that he tried to have with himself.  “I don’t spar with women without pads,” he stated as he lifted his chin to ShaeLin.

“Chivalrous,” she hummed as she stood in the ring, waiting for him to join her.  “My rules, no pads.”  ShaeLin motioned for him to hurry up.  “I understand you teach classes throughout the week, so you must be decent enough.”  The director arched her brow and smirked in a rare display of emotion.  “You’ll want to hit me, though.  I have all the advantages.”

Gideon sighed heavily as he climbed up the steps and then stepped into the ring through the middle and top ropes.  ‘I can’t read what her mind says she’s going to do so I have to read her body.’  The security chief winced and shook his head before he rolled his eyes to the ceiling.  “Devo sperare che tu non capisca l'Italiano, (I’m going to have to hope you don’t know Italian.)” he muttered to himself.  The Bajoran mix blinked.  ‘Dei sei un idiota.’  His lips formed a thin line as he cupped his left hand over his right and bowed to the woman.  He then squared up to her and took on a boxing stance.  

The pair circled and danced for several minutes without advancing.  ShaeLin was the first to strike with a feinted jab that turned into a right cross.  Despite Gideon thinking to himself in Italian, the Corolian seemed to be able to anticipate every one of his moves.  Within half an hour of the fight, the director had yet to be touched and the security chief had cuts on his face and both of his orbital sockets had started to swell.

“Stop thinking,” ShaeLin ordered him harshly.  “Even in a foreign tongue, you’re telling me what you’re going to do.  Silence your mind.”  She advanced on the security chief with quick punches and jabs.

Commander Yari Nazir had spent hours with the petite woman beside him.  He would have preferred to spend the time with her in his bed, but he couldn’t say he had wasted his day.  There was some pleasure in watching her lithe body move through the obstacles.  She had become increasingly haggard, her performance waning with each passing day.  The newly assigned researcher remained tenacious and stubborn despite how she continued to fail at each test.  There was no denying her brilliance, and while the beauty had some physical skill, it had become glaringly apparent that she required a significant amount of work to catch up to her more physically-inclined peers.  “I can’t use her if she’s slowing the others down,” he thought to himself as he continued to lead the woman down the hallway.  There were other problems, but there was one in particular that would prove difficult to correct: Mariëlle Antoinette Deniaud was a woman who was moved by her emotion and unwavering creed.  She was a dogmatic idealist, a true product of the Federation’s peaceful philosophy.  He would have thought it endearing if it wasn’t so damn annoying.  There was no room for such foolishness if he was to use her.

It was almost agonizing to walk and her movements were constricted to keep from moving with her natural languid sway.  Each breath pushed against her ribs and her muscles ached in protest.  The training session with Yari had been particularly brutal.  She had been required to retrieve a data port, but it had meant battling three giant Klingons who wielded their favoured pain sticks.  Unlike the other simulations, where she had failed time and time again, she had apparently passed on the first attempt.  It had required a torturous crawl through an enclosed and dark space, a slew of traps, and finally a match of three against one before she had to battle wits with the server to collect the data port.  Marielle had performed far more gymnastics during her fight with the Klingons, but the masses of muscle were slow to adjust to her twisting and flipping around them.  

He had directed them off the turbolift before they reached the medical deck.  It had become a bit of a routine after her training sessions.  The researcher required more tending to than the other engineers, which really wasn’t saying much.  Aside from K’hevok, the entire engineering department was lacking any physical prowess.  They were highly dependant on their phasers and it was a crutch he intended to remove.  Nazir’s hand moved behind his back and he glanced briefly to the one at his side.  “You hold the record,” he revealed with a wide grin.  “Our best was five minutes slower on her first time.  Think how much better you’ll be once you’re properly trained.”

She ignored his claim.  The researcher nursed the travel mug with both hands.  She made it a personal rule to avoid drinking the dark brew in the afternoon, but the lack of sleep the last few days threatened to overwhelm her.  The caffeinated beverage was nothing like she’d make - the replicated version lacked the esthetics that came with coffee - but it would do.  It was hard lifting the mug to her lips, her ribs complained at the motion.  Her nose wrinkled in disgust at the flat taste, but the brew would allow her to remain awake until she had been able to wear out the security chief during their nightly exertions.  She had to believe that their intimate moments eased the loneliness that had come from having his empathic abilities blocked longer than he had expected.  His nightmares continued without fail, however, and her sleep cycle suffered greatly while she cared for him - sleepily assuring him that he was safe and that she was present.  “Where are we going?” she asked, unable to hide the rasp of pain in her voice.

“A small walk.  Get those muscles of yours a chance to stretch before we see Doctor Milbourne,” the Angosian answered.  The hallway was filled with the sounds of sparring officers.  He glanced into each small gymnasium they passed, the doors left open so that superior officers would watch the exercises at surprise inspections.  The deck was dedicated to physical training.  Exercise equipment were housed in each room to allow for warm ups before the crew were forced into unprotected matches.

She grumbled in complaint.  She didn’t need to stretch.  She needed the pathetic excuse of a medic to heal the ache that riddled her body.  Even the slightest relief would ease her discomfort.  Nazir had forced her to change out of her dirtied uniform for some reason and had instructed her to at least appear decent.  Her hair was pulled back in a lazily gathered bun at the base of her neck and she’d washed her face clean of the dirt and blood that had clung to her skin.  The fabric of her uniform scratched at the burns on her back and sides.  There was some worry that she’d cracked a rib.  It wouldn’t be until she saw Cana Graves that she’d get the full report.  She’d sworn the nurse to secrecy.  She didn’t want Gideon worrying.  The man was burdened with his own training and mourning the loss of his empathic abilities.  Her pain was nothing compared to his, and she was more than happy to focus on his needs.  She’d give him that and more willingly.  She walked a few steps before she noticed the Angosian had stopped and she turned to join him.  “Why are you-”  The question died on her tongue as she looked into the room only to find Gideon sparring with his new director.  A delirious moan was bit back as she watched the half-Bajoran move.  ‘Merde.  Oubliez de dormir.’

As they continued to trade jabs, Gideon circled around the director.  He was able to dodge more punches than landed, but exhaustion was easy to see in his features.  His breaths were heavy and his reactions started to get more and more sluggish.  As he moved around ShaeLin, he spotted movement at the door and his head turned.  Cobalt found emerald and he found his lungs frozen.

She took advantage of the security chief’s distraction and she lifted her leg in a swift kick.  She watched as Gideon started to return his focus to her, but it was too late.  The top of her foot connected harshly to the most sensitive of the half-Bajoran’s body parts.  ShaeLin reached forward and grasped him by the ear as she leaned in and whispered.  “This will help you keep it down tonight.”

His body lifted slightly off the mat as he jumped back and his body fell forward.  One hand was cradling himself protectively and the other kept his face from impacting with the surface of the ring.  A strangled grunt eased from between his lips, but pain kept him from moving otherwise.  Gideon was sure tears had pooled in his eyes, but they were squeezed shut so hard that they couldn’t escape.  He was gasping for breath but he couldn’t force his lungs to expand.  “I was paying attention to my surroundings,” he retorted in a strained whisper to the question he knew was coming in a garbled grumble.

Her body reacted out of instinct alone, the searing pain to her side forgotten as her legs pushed into motion.  “Quelle bête pensez-vous que vous faites!?  (What the hell are you doing?!)” she exclaimed.  “Éloignez-vous de lui!  (Get away from him!)”  The ancient French dialect tumbled from her lips as it often did when raw emotion overwhelmed her.  She ran quickly up the stairs, the filled travel mug chucked at ShaeLin’s head to serve as a distraction, and immediately slid under the ropes.  She hurried to the prone security chief who was nursing the injury to his pelvis and she ignored the burn to her knees when she slid along the ring’s mat to reach him.  Her eyes watered without knowledge as each sharp movement to reach Gideon had her aggravating her own injuries.  She leaned protectively over the half-Bajoran, a hardened gaze leveling the counterintelligence director.  “Vous appelez cette formation?!  C’est de la torture!  (You call this training?!  This is torture!)”

The Corolian watched without expression.  Her gaze shifted briefly to Yari before returning to Marielle.  “I’ll overlook the fact that you attempted to assault a superior officer.”  ShaeLin stepped back and turned to head for the edge of the ring.  She climbed out of the practice area and descended the stairs.

Marielle straightened, again ignoring the nerve-numbing ache to her ribs.  “We’re the same rank!” she screamed after the apathetic woman.  “I don’t answer to you!”  Her patience of the director’s treatment of the half-Bajoran had reached its breaking point.   She took several deep breaths in an attempt to calm herself, her body trembling with each stuttering inhalation.  Adrenaline slowly receded and she became painfully aware of the injuries hidden by her uniform.  She quickly wiped the pool of tears away before she gave the man by her legs a small smile.  Her touch was gentle on his face as she pushed the wet strands of his hair from his skin.  “Gideon,” she called out to him softly in hopes of pulling his attention from his own injuries.

Speaking the words had given his lungs the jumpstart they needed to breathe again.  Gideon moaned quietly as pain lingered on his nerves.  Hearing Marielle’s voice was helpful to push through it, but he would have preferred to feel her kindness and concern.  “Ciao El,” he whimpered as his body began to shake.  He panted heavily as everything seemed to catch up to him at once.  Another groan tumbled from his lips.

Her eyes swept over his appearance.  He was disheveled beyond description.  It was clear that he’d been boxing with the Corolian for hours.  She leaned over his head and pressed her forehead into his temple, a garbled soft pained cry escaping with her exhalation.  Her eyes closed and she released a shaky breath.  “Allô Gédéon.”  The whispered greeting was so soft that she wasn’t even sure she’d spoken them.  She wanted to ask him if he was okay, but question seemed incredibly stupid so she simply remained by his side.  “I’m here,” she assured him.  It was all she could do.  All she could ever do since they’d stepped foot on Kupier Station.

The director shook her head toward the pair and stood at the table near the ring.  ShaeLin started to peel the white tape from around her hands as she turned to face Yari.

Nazir chuckled silently to himself as he shared a knowing look with ShaeLin.  He crossed his arms as he stood next to her and studied the couple.  “That was a low blow,” he chastised in teasing.  He kept his voice low so that only she could hear him.

She shrugged her shoulder and gave him a ‘so what?’ look.  “He’s handled worse,” ShaeLin murmured.  The Corolian switched hands and pulled at the tape over her knuckles.

“Though, I rather enjoyed that language.  Just rolled off her tongue.”  A Cheshire grin only made him look more devious as hunger sparked in his amber eyes.  “Bet that’d be fun in bed.  I’m gonna need to up my game,” he murmured to himself.  Nazir turned his attention to the pair, watching as Marielle and Gideon whispered to each other.  He could only assume she was attempting to provide some comfort.  “So you agree with my assessment?”

“He was starting to improve until she got here,” she agreed with a nod.  Like Nazir, the director kept her voice low to prevent the two subordinate officers from hearing their conversation.  “I’m keeping him blind until he learns to be emotionless.”  ShaeLin raised her brow toward Yari and then nodded toward Marielle.  “Good luck with that one.”

His lustful thoughts were easily replaced with his focus on their work.  Training the crew of the Aldrin was proving to be more cumbersome than he had thought.  They were a stubborn bunch.  He’d have to tackle the more promising officers.  “If I can get her to willingly walk away, it should be enough,” Nazir mumbled before shaking his head.  “So typical of a woman.  Brilliant until a man comes into the picture.”  The words were offered with a wry grin as he gave the Corolian a smug look.

Gideon wanted to reach out to Marielle and hold her against him, but he knew that this was not the time.  He was silent for several long moments as he worked to silence his inner thoughts.  “Thank you,” he said quietly to the diminutive woman.  He pushed his eyelids open and turned his irises to find her emerald.  “I owe you one.”  The security chief turned slightly and pulled up his legs so that he could sit up.  His hair was disheveled and his uniform damp.  Exhaustion created dark circles under his eyes, which were highlighted by swelling bruises and cuts.

The researcher sat up slowly, her movements controlled to lessen the pull to her injuries.  Her eyes narrowed at the counterintelligence director and the commander in the distance.  “Jerks,” she grumbled under her breath.  Her hands were light over his head and his arm.  “How about a shower?” she asked softly.  The concern was easy to read in her eyes.  She looked as haggard as the security chief, with matching dark shadows under her eyes and the pale complexion, but her exhaustion was forgotten.  Her only thoughts were on his well-being.  

ShaeLin watched in silence and then turned her gaze back toward Yari.  “Are you done with her today?”

“Unfortunately,” he sighed to himself.  He wouldn’t mind having Marielle all night.  He wouldn’t mind having a number of women of the Aldrin in his bed all night.  He turned to the counterintelligence director and grinned.  “She beat your time in the Sutton Camp simulation by five minutes.”  The mirth in revealing the result was hard to miss.  ShaeLin could easily run circles around the program now, but the Corolian’s first attempt had been pathetic at best.  The fact that the diminutive woman had done so well only hinted at Marielle’s true potential.  With proper training, the physicist could become a fine addition to their ranks.  His instincts told him that the same could be said of the half-Bajoran.  “Are you done playing with your toy?”

The director didn’t take the bait.  It was years ago that she’d completed the Sutton simulation and the result then was certainly not indicative of her skill now.  ShaeLin was sure she could shave five minutes off her own time in her sleep.  “I hadn’t planned to be, but if you can’t call off your dog, I suppose I have to be done.”  She hummed softly and turned to walk past Nazir and toward the exit.

“Oh, don’t be such a sore loser, Shae,” he called out to her.  Nazir turned to watch her leave, his head leaning to one side as his eyes took particular pleasure in watching the sway of her hips.  “There’s no need to be jealous.  You’re still our favourite prodigy.”  He had meant it as a compliment.

He was glad to see ShaeLin had left.  Gideon nodded toward the physicist and pushed to his feet.  He reached to offer Marielle his hand.  When she took it, he helped her to her feet and toward the stairs.  He didn’t miss the soft pained hiss that slipped past her lips or the way her body tensed to one side.  The security chief sat down on the middle rope and lifted the top one to allow her through.  He followed with ginger steps and quickly pulled the tape from his hands.  “Are you done today?”

Marielle took careful steps towards the executive officer and she stared up at Nazir.  She was too tired to glare, but she was a torrent of emotion.  Her eye twitched as she bit back the string of expletives that threatened to find her voice.  The researcher chose instead to turn to Gideon and to offer him one of her smiles.  It was not her normally bright and dazzling expression.  It was genuinely sweet with just the right touch of shyness, with a warmth that made one just a little bit more human.  “I’m done,” she answered him without confirming it with the Angosian.  It didn’t matter if the commander thought otherwise.  The ache in her ribs was ignored and she focused her energy on the security chief as they followed the commander to the habitat ring.


   
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