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USS Aldrin Lounge


by First Lieutenant Gideon Salieri & Lieutenant Commander Marielle Deniaud
[Stardate ]

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Silence was a miserable companion.  Gideon had been withdrawn since arriving back on the starbase and no amount of banter with the Karmanori seemed to reach him.  He was listless and fidgeting, his eyes downcast and his shoulders slumped.  He jumped slightly whenever anyone addressed him, which only served to irritate him further.  The crew had moved to the mess hall for dinner, but the security chief remained in solitude.  ‘Never realized how much I rely on those stupid brain cells.’  He was attempting to disappear into one of the large armchairs while holding his head in his hands.  “I’m not gonna be able to sleep.”  He sighed heavily and shook his head.  “Just a couple more hours,” he murmured as he tried to talk himself out of his funk.

With the crew enjoying a well needed reprieve from their second crew-wide training session and their individual or department gatherings, the common areas and the hallways were quiet.  Mariele frowned as she walked the halls.  The security chief had been missing in the large mess.  He had seemed off - for lack of a better word - throughout their frozen prison.  She hadn’t had time to ask him about it since her own training pulled her away and she had hoped to inquire about his well-being at dinner.  When he didn’t show, it only had her grow more concerned.  He’d seemed unable to get over his supposed failure in the first session, and she could only assume that being picked to be in the prison had him thinking he was chosen for that failure.  The researcher turned the corner and entered the lounge.  She had been about ready to turn around and search the second common area until she caught the little hint of the back of his head.  “There you are!” she exclaimed.  It was easy to push joy into her tone despite her concern.

He was startled from his thoughts by her voice and he grumbled to himself before straightening.  The half-Bajoran turned and managed a slight smile as his cobalt found dazzling emerald.  Gideon focused on Marielle’s face and his jaw clenched as he was reminded of the void he felt from the engineer.  “Hey El,” he called to her.  He was unable to ascertain how she was feeling or if there was some deeper reason for her to search him out.  He found himself nearly paralyzed without the ability to sense her emotion.  ‘I hope she’s not worried.  I should have just gone to dinner.’  In truth, his stomach was in a knot and he didn’t imagine he could manage to keep anything down.

Her steps moved her deeper into the lounge.  She studied him briefly within the half second before her response, noting the slight slouch in his shoulders.  She smiled, warmth and joy easy to push to her features.  “Allô Gédéon,” she greeted.  When she reached him, her knee gently pushed against his knee.  “I didn’t see you at dinner.  Did your training session run long?”

“Ciao El,” he replied with another small smile.  There was some comfort in their normal exchange.  He shook his head and motioned to the chair beside him as he sat back to slump against the oversized recliner.  “No, just not hungry.”

She bent over at the waist and pulled at his hand.  “Then, let’s have you working an appetite,” she declared with a delightful giggle.  “You’ve been missing far too many meals in general.  Don’t think I haven’t noticed.”

His head tilted slightly as he looked up at her and regarded the diminutive woman.  After several tugs, he relented and stood up suddenly.  When she squealed softly and started to fall back, he gripped her hand to steady her.  Gideon grinned impishly and chuckled softly as he kept her fingers interlaced with his.  “What are you suggesting?”  He wondered what she was thinking of and it took a lot of effort for him to keep a smile on his features when he remembered that he had no way to know other than to ask.  ‘Can’t ask after knowing for so long.  Except I just did.’  The security chief fought to keep from wincing.

In that moment, Marielle was more than certain that something was most definitely off with the security chief.  She’d left it wide open for him to retort with his usual suave flirtation.  Gently, her fingers squeezed his and the researcher pulled him out of the lounge.  “How about a walk?” she asked him, keeping a smile to her face despite her growing concern.  “Training with Nazir and the others was exhausting, and I just need to clear my head before bed.”

Gideon bit the inside of his lip as he followed along.  ‘I think I missed something.  Of course I missed something.’  He managed to swallow his groan as he nodded in understanding.  “A walk is good.  Though you probably prefer jogging?”  He maintained his pace to stay beside her.

She sighed quietly and nodded in agreement.  “I rather would, but running on a treadmill makes me feel like a hamster.”  The revelation was added with a quiet laugh.  Marielle walked slowly as they moved down the hallway, her eyes staring out the row of portholes that lined the wall.  The asteroid field that surrounded them was fascinating to watch from time to time.  She kept her tone light.  She was well practiced in hiding her emotions, smiling despite how she didn’t feel like it.  It kept others at ease around her and allowed her to move past any of her emotional discomfort.

“I was going to head there later, maybe,” he mentioned quietly and with a frown.  His gaze flickered from her to the floor before lifting to the ceiling.  ‘Do I tell her?  I wouldn’t want her feeling badly about it.  It’s not her fault.’  The security chief squeezed her fingers gently and turned his chin to glance at the doors that they passed.

She stopped in front of a porthole and turned to sit on the large sill.  Her fingers released his and both her hands gripped at the edge.  Unlike most of the crew, the moment her individually scheduled training sessions had finished, the researcher headed straight for the common bathrooms to shower and change into the issued off duty clothing.  She hated the uniforms they were given, finding them lacking of any real warmth.  The off-duty outfit was no better, black pants and a black shirt, but it didn’t sport the same high collar.  Her hair was down, raven strands cascading down gently past her shoulders in carefree waves.  Marielle leaned back against the cold glass as she studied him.  “Maybe?”  

His hands moved behind his back and he wrapped the fingers of one hand around his other wrist.  Gideon dropped his chin slightly and his gaze averted to the deck.  Unlike the engineer, the security chief was still dressed in the cadet uniform and there was nothing put together about his appearance.  While he was presentable, he looked just as lost as he felt.  “Wear myself out,” he admitted softly.  He bit the inside of his lip to keep from frowning.  His shoulders lifted and fell in a brief shrug and then he shook his head.

Her head leaned to one side as she looked up at him and she remained silent for several long minutes.  “You’re handling it better than the others,” she revealed softly.  Marielle gave him a sad smile.  “As much as I missed watching you push your food around on your plate so it made it look like you ate, it was probably better you weren’t there.  The other empaths and telepaths aren’t doing so well.  There were more psychologists there than not.”

“They seemed to be doing fine,” he mused quietly.  

She shrugged.  “Esdan was hiding under the table and curling in on himself, and Thiross started four fights.  Jessie had to tackle her.”

Gideon chuckled quietly at the image and raised his brows a bit as he glanced up toward the physicist.  “I don’t want to sound like a barnacle or a creeper, but you help me sleep because I can focus on your emotions.”  He paused for the moment he would usually take to assess whether or not Marielle was indeed spooked by the revelation and grumped to himself when he was reminded that he couldn’t sense her.  “So, kind of back at square one.”  

The diminutive woman blinked and her mouth dropped opened and closed as she considered her comment.  Instead, she gave him a shy chuckle.  “My emotions?  I’d think that’d keep you awake, not help put you to sleep.”  She had intended to remain in the hallway, but his revelation had her springing to action.  The thought of him suffering because of his self-deprecating beliefs that he was a failure was heartbreaking enough, but she could only imagine how the loss of his abilities had truly left him alone.  She pushed to her feet and grabbed his hand, gently leading him down the hallway towards her quarters.  

“Not that holding you isn’t enough,” he quickly added as he thought that she might have been disappointed.  He grumped quietly to himself as he lengthened his strides to walk alongside her.  “I’d rather be busy with your emotions than mine,” he clarified.

“What are mine like?”  

Gideon squeezed her fingers and hummed as he thought about his answer.  “Right now, I don’t know.  And that bothers me a lot.”  He sighed and shook his head.  “When we’re on duty, you’re focused and excited.  Your emotions move just like your brain, faster than the speed of light.”  The Bajoran mix chuckled softly and turned his chin to look at the diminutive woman.  “When Erik’s around, you’re content and peaceful.  You seem to enjoy talking with him.”  His heartbeat increased as he thought on how her emotions presented around him.  “You’re happy around me, also contented.  There’s another hint of excitement.  You’re really serene when you’re sleeping.”  His cheeks and neck flushed with his last statement.  “Like a warm blanket.”

Marielle turned the corner and walked past the few doors that led to her quarters.  She pressed her finger into the panel, walked over the threshold into her small living space, and then stepped aside to allow him entry.  Once he moved deeper into the standard room, her fingers tapped on the side panel to lock the door.  She chuckled quietly and her chin dipped as a blush crept into her features.  “You always had me at a disadvantage,” she revealed as she made her way through the starlit living space to sit on the sill of the porthole.  “I can’t imagine what it’s like now.  I’ve only ever been alone with my own thoughts.  It’d be weird if I sensed anything beyond myself.”

After she passed him, Gideon walked behind her and turned to sit next to her on the sill.  His arm brushed her shoulder as he turned his head to watch her.  “You’re genuine.”  He nodded gently as if to reaffirm his sentiment.  “You’ve learned to be independent with your thoughts, to be yourself no matter who you’re around.”  His lip twisted slightly in an unruly frown.  “There’s disadvantages to being empathic, too.”

Her gaze swept from the richness of his cobalt irises to the space beyond the thick glass of the porthole.  There was no way to tell him that she wasn’t necessarily herself around people.  There were certainly instances when she wasn’t the woman she wanted to be and was more of the woman she was raised to become.  “I imagine it’s like Erik’s issue.  Too many voices?  Thoughts?” she asked as she turned to face him.  Her voice was soft, as if speaking loudly would break the calm in the darkness of her room.

He lifted one shoulder in a shrug.  “If I were stronger, maybe.”  The security chief hummed quietly as he watched her.  The dim light from the porthole highlighted the curve of her jaw and cheekbone while causing her hair to shimmer gently.  He leaned forward slightly before freezing and blinking quickly.  Gideon smirked at himself and shook his head before lifting his arm to drape over her shoulder.  “Based on history, I imagine you’re a little anxious right now.  But without sensing your emotion, I don’t know if you’d like to have my arm around you.”  He tilted his head slightly to see her expression.

She laughed easily and her head fell back with the force of her mirth, the back of her head making contact with the cold glass with a solid ‘THUMP!’  Another delightful giggle escaped her as she fell forward and rubbed the back of her head.  “Ow!” she exclaimed.  

Gideon chuckled at her antics and cradled her head with his other hand so that he could lean forward and kiss her hair.  “Are you alright?” he asked between soft laughs.  The security chief shook his head as he bent slightly to watch her for any indication of her pain.  His brows were raised with his concern, though he didn’t act further without knowing.  He kept his arm around her shoulder, but dropped his hand from her jaw.

“I’m good.  I’m good,” she insisted with another laugh.  Marielle straightened and smiled at him, her fingers still working out the soreness on the back of her head.  “But, I’m glad it made you laugh.”  Her hand slid from her scalp and she let her finger lightly tapped him lightly on the nose.  “Anyways, I was going to say that you haven’t been yourself since we got here,” she explained gently.  “It’s like you’ve been carrying some burden.  Losing a part of yourself is probably not helping you any, but I think you shouldn’t feel as if you’re unable to read others, especially me.”

There was a brief smile with her tap on his nose.  ‘I don’t think not reading people has anything to do with it.’  He bit the inside of his lip as he studied her.  His eyes narrowed slightly before he hummed quietly and shook his head.  “I’m not sure what exactly I expected from this place, from the captain.”  He sighed and slumped slightly.  “But I know I’ve been falling short.”

“Why do you think that?” she asked gently.  She was sure she had said something wrong regarding his empathic abilities.  ‘It was such a jackass thing to say.  Way to highlight that you know nothing about what he’s lost, Ellie.  Some friend you are.’  Marielle turned her chin and rested it on his shoulder so she could look up at him.  She worried her lower lip slightly.

“Well,” he started with a subtle wince.  “Nazir obviously has some expectations.  He visited both of us, so they must think we’re capable of something bigger.”  Gideon sighed as he frowned.  “But the jungle was a flop and now I’m walking around frakking blind.”  His lips pulled into a thin line as he shifted his gaze to look down at Marielle.  He took a few moments to watch the glint in her eyes before he leaned closer and placed a soft kiss on her lips.  “How did your training go?” he asked quietly to change the subject.

A hint of pink coloured her cheeks when he kissed her.  It was the first time since the kitchen they’d shared a kiss.  Marielle gave him a lazy shrug.  “Nazir threw me and the others into a holographic simulation for an hour, then he kicked everyone out and made me stay for another four,” she revealed softly.  “High stress and no-win situations for five hours.  What fun.”

He was sure he did a terrible job of hiding the surge of emotion that welled within him.  All he could envision was the commander constantly making advances on the engineer and the knot in his stomach only tightened.  Gideon grunted softly with his frown.  “That sounds terrible,” he murmured in an effort to mask his jealousy.  Subconsciously, his arm tightened slightly around her shoulders.

“It was,” she murmured.  “But, I didn’t really bring you back into my quarters so we can talk about my day.”

The security chief didn’t want to talk about his day anymore.  He didn’t want to talk about his week.  He just wanted something right to happen so he could forget about all the wrongs.  ‘See how this goes without knowing how you’re feeling.’  Gideon swallowed and raised a brow.  “Did you really want to talk at all?” he teased with a wry grin.

She giggled quietly and she playfully winked at him.  “Guilty as charged,” she whispered.  Marielle straightened and leaned her back against the glass.  “I’m not very good at helping others through their problems.  I always want to fix it and end up saying the wrong thing.  But, you mentioned how I help you sleep because you can focus on my emotions.  If you’re unable to sleep because you’re lacking your abilities, I’m pretty sure I could give you other things on which you could focus.”  The confidence in her voice disappeared quickly, replaced with a rare shyness that only came when she spoke to him.  “I mean-  If you want.  It’s not like that’s the only thing I can offer or that I think-”

“You help just fine,” he assured her quietly before reaching up to cup her jaw in his palm.  His body moved closer to hers as he pressed his lips to hers.  Gideon moaned softly at the hint of chocolate and coffee that he tasted in the brief kiss.  His nose brushed along hers gently and he lifted his cobalt to her emerald.  “Do you want?” he whispered.  His lips ghosted over hers.

Her hand reached up, fingers brushing gently along his neck. She was sure she had nearly melted at his kiss.  The warmth of his touch was enough to have her forget about the hell that was the frozen tundra of their training session.  “It’s not about me, Gideon,” she whispered in reassurance.  Marielle leaned forward and pressed a heated kiss against his lips.  A soft contented sigh mingled with her breath.  “Let me show you that you’re not alone.”

“È altrettanto da te come io, (It’s just as much about you as it is me.)” he murmured in argument.  It was spoken in his native language because he didn’t want to derail the momentum.  At the same time, Gideon had a feeling that Marielle understood him.  He pushed aside the argument and pulled the diminutive woman onto his lap so that he could hold her close against his body.  Their next kiss surely included fireworks.


   
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