USF Personal Log
 
USS Aldrin Lounge image
Born with the Strength to Rise.

USS Aldrin Lounge


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

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The moment Commander Nazir finally left them on the habitat ring, Marielle took in a quiet and long staggering breath.  The air seemed far more fresh without the Angosian, but she was sure it was simply because she found herself tense whenever he was present.  Since their arrival on Kupier Station, she had started to question whether or not her earlier assessment of the new executive officer was wrong.  Her gaze returned to Gideon, finding him sullen after his match with ShaeLin Rhaik.  She offered him a gentle smile as she led them to the common lounge.  Her eyes swept over the space and she spotted Cana Graves with a couple of the Karmanori in one corner.  “Stay here.  I’ll just be a minute,” she instructed of the half-Bajoran before moving into the lounge.

Gideon lifted his gaze and looked over the lounge as Marielle walked away from him.  His shoulders slumped forward and he was glad to remain behind.  The security chief had found it difficult to interact with anyone while he didn’t have his empathic senses.  He stood just inside the doorway and leaned against the wall with his hands in his pockets.  His chin rested on his chest as he stared at the floor in front of his feet.  Even though he was no longer in training, the Betazoid mix was actively trying to silence his thoughts.

Thankfully the space was nearly empty.  She was sure most were in individual training sessions.  She looked around at the small gathering.  Cana Graves, Ryan Winnetka, and Rico Suave appeared to be having a light lunch.  “Hey guys,” she greeted softly.  Her eyes lifted to watch the recording of their last training session.  The medical emergency had caused some ruffled feathers, but at least they hadn’t been cold.  

“Hey Ellie,” the three of them greeted in unison.  Ryan smirked gently and his brown eyes glanced around to find Marielle’s shadow.  “Sal still in training?” he asked just before he spotted the security chief.  The junior officer raised his brow as he looked back toward the physicist.

“He’s done for today,” the researcher asserted.  It was hard to keep the frown from her face.  “I have a favour to ask.”  Her eyes settled on Cana.  “I need some contraband.  I need my lavender lotion from the Aldrin.  It’s in a small blue bottle.  And-  The luenalin.”

“I want my booze, but I can’t get to it,” she informed Marielle with a raised brow.  She hid her concern well.  The sleeping agent was one of Gideon’s staples in his medical record.  No one questioned his use of it.  Although they had no idea what he had endured, the results of his torture had been enough of a clue.  

At the mention of the sleep aid, Winnetka motioned toward the half-Bajoran.  “Should I go talk to him?”  The Chicago native had to smirk at the juxtaposition.  Just weeks ago, Marielle had been upset that Gideon talked to him about everything and she knew nothing and now it seemed to be the other way around.

Marielle considered the question.  She turned to discreetly look at the Betazoid mix.  She knew he was still without his empathic abilities.  He had revealed that the counterintelligence officer had essentially sought to punish him for whatever weakness she deemed present in his character.  She knew that he was hiding because the silence was overwhelming.  The loss of his abilities left him vulnerable and uncertain of himself.  If she needed to play the buffer until he found himself again, then she’d willingly take on the burden.  “Maybe later?” she finally answered with a sigh before turning to face the group.  “It’s been a bad couple of days-”

“Not according to the noise complaints,” Rico muttered under his breath.  He pouted into his glass of water.  He wondered when Parvenu Nobody would be free to join him, the researcher's training taking longer that day than normal.

The physicist fought the urge to lean over the table to slap the Brazilian man, instead focusing her gaze on the nurse.  “Come on Cana.  I know you can get it for me.  Please?”

The brunette hummed in thought and raised a brow.  “What do I get out of it?” she finally relented.  She really didn’t want anything in return, but there was a reputation she needed to maintain.  Her contact on the station could easily get the lotion.  The bottle was small enough and would be easy to hide.  The sleeping agent was a whole other matter.  They were regulated to a general pain suppressant and the typical regenerators, which recorded which drugs were being used.

“Me not shutting off the hot water to your quarters when we get back on the Aldrin,” Marielle retorted, unable to hide the bite in her tone.  When the three looked at her in surprise, she sighed and shook her head in apology.  “Please?”

Cana chuckled as she pushed to her feet.  “I’ll do what I can, but no promises.”  The nurse circled around Marielle, pausing briefly near Gideon as she made her way out of the lounge.

The researcher sighed and roughly moved her hand over her face, hissing at the ache in her ribs at the sudden movement.  “Do you mind watching the showers for an hour?” she asked Rico and Ryan.  “Make sure no one goes inside while we’re in there?”

The junior officers glanced at each other and then toward Marielle.  Rico wrinkled his nose in disgust and shook his head before yelping quietly when Ryan smacked him on the shoulder.  Winnetka nodded in agreement.  “You let me know when I can come talk to him.”

“You can do that now.  I’ll make sure the room is clear and ready.”  She gave him an appreciative smile.  “Thanks you guys.  I owe you.  Just lead him to the shower room 1-A in half an hour or something.”  Marielle turned and made her way to Gideon, her body stiff to keep the ache to a bare minimum.  The researcher leaned over and whispered in his ear, informing the Betazoid mix to remain, before disappearing.

Rico whined softly.  “I miss Parv.”  He watched as Ryan walked away from him and toward Gideon.

The security chief had closed his eyes with Marielle’s whisper and nodded in agreement.  He was relaxed against the wall but looked up when he heard footsteps approaching.  Gideon sighed softly and nodded toward Ryan.  “Hey,” he greeted quietly.

“Hey Sal,” Winnetka replied with a small smile.  He reached out and clapped the chief on the arm.  “Heard it’s been rough.  What kind of Hell are they putting you through now?”

His smile was strained but he nodded toward the junior officer.  “Still without my empathic sense,” Gideon revealed quietly.

Ryan wrinkled his nose.  “What the Hell for?”

“Too much emotion.”  Gideon grumbled quietly as he shifted against the wall.

“And how does beating you help with that?”  The junior security officer motioned toward the cuts and swelling bruises on Gideon’s face.

The half-Bajoran shrugged his shoulders in response and frowned as he turned his chin to look out the door.  “What’s El doing?”

Ryan shrugged in return.  “Let’s go find out.”  He glanced over his shoulder toward Rico and nodded his head to beckon the junior officer to follow.  The Chicago native motioned Gideon to join him as the three walked out of the lounge and toward the common shower area.  He forced a slow pace to give Marielle the time she requested.

“She does too much,” Gideon murmured quietly.  “I’m not this needy.”

“You’re really going to complain?”

He shook his head in denial.  His eyes were trained on the carpet as they walked and the security chief was still mindful to silence his inner monologue.  “Prima lo faccio, più presto lo riceverò, (The sooner I do this, the sooner I get it back.)” he mumbled to himself.  Gideon shook his head again.

Marielle stood outside of the shared shower room and glanced down at the blue bottle that Cana slipped into her hand.  She silently marvelled at how the nurse was able to get the item.  “I owe you one hell of a carrot cake,” she sighed with relief.  It was hard not to feel a bit disappointed that a vial of the sleeping agent did not accompany the familiar bottle of lotion.

The nurse chuckled softly, though the sound was lacking any real joy.  “Couldn’t get the luenalin,” she lamented.  “Sorry.”

The researcher shook her head sadly but an understanding smile warmed her weary features.  She had known it had been far too much of a request, but it was hard not to feel crushed.  It was easy to see that Gideon was feeling the strain of his training.  The lack of his empathic abilities was wearing thin on his psychological well-being.  Her own exhaustion aside, Gideon was suffering and she only wanted to ease the growing stress he was experiencing.  “This will be more than enough,” she assured her brunette friend.  She adjusted her stance and hissed at the ache in her ribs.

Cana frowned.  “Did you get a chance to get to medical today?” she asked softly.

“No,” she revealed, also keeping her voice low.  “I’ll be fine though.  I’ll take care of it once I can get him to sleep.  I’m hoping this will help.  We’ve got that group session soon.  He needs his sleep or he’ll never get any.”  The bottle was slipped into her uniform slack pockets.

Her mouth opened to ask a question, but her lips closed when she spotted the three security officers turning the corner.  Cana easily pushed a devious grin to her lips and nudged the researcher with her elbow in teasing.  It was a move she immediately regretted when she heard the yelp of pain in complaint.  “Sorry,” she apologised softly.

Marielle pushed away the pained expression and lifted her hand to Gideon when he neared.  When he took her hand, her fingers interlaced with his.  “Just an hour, probably less,” she assured Ryan and Rico as she gently pulled the security chief into the shower room.  A billow of steam escaped when the doors opened for the couple and was trapped once they closed.

His jaw dropped to say something as he looked over his shoulder toward the three that remained behind.  Gideon blinked and returned his gaze to the diminutive woman.  “What’s going to take an hour?”  The ache in his face had subsided to the point that he no longer recognized that he’d been in a boxing match.  The sharp pain in his groin was simply a dull throb.

It had been easy to prep the space since no one had been in the room when she had first entered it to prep for his care.  The common shower room was empty, the air heavy with humidity.  Scalding water continued to spill from the showerheads and steam billowed to gather at the ceiling.  Along the far wall, one of the eight soaking tubs was filled to the brim with a soothing hot temperature.  One of the provided medical kits sat at the foot of the tub.  Two towels and a clean set of off-duty clothes were folded on a bench by the wall.

“Just give me a minute.  I’ve got to turn off the water,” she informed the security chief as she released his hand.  “Go on.  I’ll meet you by the tub.”

“I can help turn off the water,” he insisted quietly as he lifted his hands to pull at the zipper of his uniform.  Gideon turned and stepped toward the nearest shower.  As he neared the steaming water, he became light headed and groaned quietly to himself.  He quickly turned the water off and steadied himself against the wall as he moved to the next shower.  “Potrei dormire qui, (I could sleep in here.)” he murmured as the steam overwhelmed him.  

Marielle turned in time to see him staggering a bit.  She chuckled quietly.  “I really have this.  Go by the tub before you collapse and I have to call Rico in here to haul your ass to my bed.”

“I’d be okay with that,” he retorted with a sigh.  It felt like the heat was draining him of what little energy he had left.  Gideon shook his head as he turned off the water.  He decided that he would let Marielle finish with the rest and he made his way gingerly to the tub that had been filled.  “What is this?”  The shirt was pulled from his shoulders and he hung it on a hook by the bathtub.

Although she had given herself a dose of the pain suppressant during her prep of his bath, it took considerable effort to appear normal as she turned off each of the showerheads.  Her body was growing more stiff with her injuries.  She filled her lungs with shallow breaths but was careful not to move whenever dark dots threatened to overwhelm her.  “It’s a bath, silly,” she chuckled quietly when she turned off the final showerhead and made her way towards him.  She knelt down and opened up the medical kit, picking up the pain suppressant first and pressing it against his neck before kneeling down to return the device to the kit and picking up the regenerator.  Her movements were controlled to keep her torso from twisting too much.  “Haven’t you ever had a bath?”

He blinked as he watched and barely flinched when she administered the hypo to his neck.  Gideon watched her carefully before moving to unfasten his belt and slacks.  “Sure I have, but no one’s ever drawn me one like this.”  He shook his head and stripped the pants and boxers from his legs.  The security chief tenderly stepped into the bath and then lowered to sit down.  He was careful not to splash the water, but the heat nearly made him pass out as he eased into it.  The half-Bajoran groaned quietly and leaned back.  “You joining me?”

She watched him.  It was hard not to smile at how he seemed to relax for the first time in days.  “Maybe,” came the easy response.  Normally she wouldn’t have hesitated, but her detour from the medical department would mean that Gideon would see the bruises and burns on her body.  “I want to make sure you’re relaxing first.”  Marielle leaned over the side of the tub once he settled in the water, her hand reaching for his chin so that she could turn his head towards her.  Flawless emerald swept over his face and she was unable to hide her frown at seeing the cuts and bruises that marred his flesh.  “She did a number on you today,” she murmured as she switched on the device and began to run the regenerator over his cheek.

His eyelids fell closed as he rested the back of his head on the lip of the tub.  His jaw clenched briefly before he sighed heavily.  “I think too loudly.”  The security chief released another heavy breath as he felt himself sinking further into the water.

“Says the woman who’s beating you for fun,” she quipped before she could stop herself.  Marielle bit her lip and shook her head as she reminded herself that such words were less than helpful.  Her eyes remained on his face, watching the beam of light knit the cuts on his skin closed.  “Does-  Do you need the regenerator for-”  It was hard not to giggle like a prepubescent girl.  It was so odd to have to ask such a question and she felt silly about it considering what they’d been doing for several nights.  She cleared her throat and attempted again.  “Does your crotch need the regenerator?”  She couldn’t stop the shy soft laugh that punctuated her question.

Gideon opened his eyes and shifted his irises to look at Marielle.  The corner of his lip turned up in a slight smirk at her giggling.  He wished that he could feel her mirth as he was sure it was thick enough to drown in.  “Maybe,” he answered to mirror earlier response.  His hand drifted to his groin to test the tenderness of his sensitive parts.  “I think just a kiss would make it better.”  Cobalt studied her features.

She chuckled and shook her head at him.  “If you’re making jokes, you’re clearly more than fine.”  Marielle dropped the hand from his chin and her fingers flicked water at his face.  Her eyes swept over his face in examination.  It appeared as if the regenerator had done its job, so she dropped the device into the kit.  The researcher shifted slightly along the tub until she was kneeling above his head.  “Sit up just a bit,” she instructed as she reached to the floor and grabbed the small bamboo bath ladle she had replicated earlier.  The bowl was dipped under the water and lifted.  She reached forward, her fingers placed lightly under his jaw and his head tipped back, before she began to pour the water over his hair.

He sat up as she instructed and rubbed his hand down his face to clear the water she had splashed at him.  His eyes closed when she poured the water onto his head.  “How has your training been going?” he asked quietly.  Gideon felt incredibly selfish with as much attention Marielle was showing him, but he had no way to know if she felt the same.  His brows furrowed slightly and he grumped quietly to silence his inner thoughts.  ‘Penso troppo forte.  Senti troppo.  Come può essere una cosa negativa?’

She repeated the process until the soft strands were soaked.  Her hands directed him back to rest against the edge of the tub and the bath ladle was placed on the floor so she could pick up the bottle of shampoo.  His question had her pausing mid-reach.  The days where she had to train with the other researchers were not bad.  They were often put into simulations where they were forced to problem solve situations that suddenly appeared.  It was the individual training sessions that were brutal.  They involved obstacles that had her questioning her resolve.  Each previous failure had threatened to chip away at her self-esteem and her confidence, but she had somehow managed.  Marielle could tell she was reaching her limits, however.  If she had more sleep and didn’t have to worry about Gideon’s well-being, she was sure she could endure.  She felt her exhaustion at every moment, and it was enough to have her question her resolve.  Her fingers curled around the shampoo bottle, the subtly fragrant soap pooling in her palm.  “They’ve been fine.  They’ve been nothing like yours,” she answered with a small reassuring smile.  The lie was offered for his benefit.  There was no need to have him worrying.

Gideon had opened his eyes to watch her when she hesitated to answer him.  He watched her expression as she went through her thoughts and he frowned slightly.  Without his empathic sense, he had no way to tell how she was feeling and he had to simply believe that she was telling the truth.  “Ora è il momento migliore se tu lo farai, (Now’s the best time if you’re going to do it.)” he mumbled as his frown deepened.  “I’m glad to hear that,” he spoke louder to her.  “This hasn’t been anything like I thought it would be.”

It was easy enough to work a lather through his hair.  Her fingers were heavy against his scalp as they moved in soothing circles.  She hummed softly in agreement.  Her eyes remained focused on the movement of her fingers through the shampoo covered strands.  “I’m choosing to believe there’s a reason for all of this,” she murmured.  Her fingers slid down the back of his head and she began to massage the back of his neck.  The pads of her fingertips were strong yet gentle against the tension.  She ignored how the cuffs of her uniform sleeve soaked up the bath water.  

He lifted his arms from the water to rest onto the lip of the tub.  His chin had dipped into the water when her massage helped to relieve the tension in his neck.  “I’m not sure I want to be part of something that requires I be a mindless husk.”  The words were spoken softly and nearly absorbed into the water.  The air was warm enough that he could keep his arms out of the water and remain comfortable.  His fingers curled against the porcelain.

Her head leaned to one side as she continued to work the shampoo through his hair.  “Don’t be a mindless husk,” she whispered.  “Our strength comes from our individuality and our emotions.”  She dipped her hand into the water to rinse the lathered shampoo from her fingers then turned to pick up the bath ladle.  He seemed to relax finally so she didn’t want to make him move.  The bowl was dipped into the water and she poured water over his hair, careful to keep it from spilling over his face.  With his head leaning against the back of the tub, water flowed over the strands and soaked the front of her uniform.

His eyes remained closed and he swallowed against the constricting feeling in his throat.  “Se mi avesse detto cosa volesse essere, potrei farlo.  Non faccio i giochi, (If she would just tell me what she wants me to be, I could do that.  I don't do games.)” he murmured as he frowned.  Gideon sighed quietly and pulled his arms back into the water.  “Thank you,” he said to her genuinely.  He was thankful for her attention to him despite the guilt he felt for taking all of her time.

Her brows furrowed at his words, but Marielle said nothing.  She simply continued to wash the shampoo from his hair, her fingers gently working the tangles from his strands.  She pressed a tender kiss into his temple.  “Not done yet,” she whispered into his ear.  “Let’s get you out of here.  I’m sure Rico and Ryan are tired too, and I’m asking a lot.”  She pushed to her feet carefully and chuckled slightly at how the front of her uniform was soaked.  At least the walk to her quarters would be quick and she wouldn’t be forced to endure the fabric sticking to her skin for much longer.  Her boots clicked on the tiled floor as she made her way to the towels and his new clothes.  She returned to the side of the tub, standing far enough to allow him space when he chose to finally leave the depths of his bath.

“Where were you headed when you got to the gym?” he asked as he lifted his head from the edge of the tub.  His movements were lethargic but deliberate as he gripped the sides and both pushed and pulled himself to his feet.  Gideon glanced toward her and took the offered towel.  He stepped gingerly out of the water and then wrapped the terry cloth around his waist.  Once it was secure, he reached to take the drab off duty clothes and draped them on the hook for him to change into once he’d dried off.

“Medical,” she offered simply.  She caught a hint of him but her gaze quickly lifted to meet his eyes.  A hint of a blush settled in her cheeks.  The researcher lowered to gather the uniform and undergarment around the tub.  They were soaked by the water.  “Nothing out of the ordinary,” she assured.  She glanced into the depths of the bath and stared at the plug at the very bottom of the tub.  She knew the reach for it would be painful.  A silent complaint and a string of expletives ran through her thoughts.   

Again, he had to go on her word.  Worry moved through him but he pushed it aside as he had to believe that she was telling the truth.  Gideon followed her gaze and turned, reaching into the water to pull the plug before she could move to do the same.  He set the rubber stopper onto the lip of the tub and then pulled the towel off of his waist to dry off.  The half-Bajoran hadn’t missed how she blushed at seeing him naked, though that thought amused him greatly.  “You can leave the uniform, I’ll get it.  You’re not my maid.”

She chuckled and smiled in appreciation.  “I know I’m not.  I don’t do this for anyone, so stop complaining,” she giggled softly at him as she loosely folded his dirty uniform and draped them over her arm.  Socks were tucked into the boots and the pair of black shoes were carried in her other hand.  She turned and her steps carried her to the door.  She gave him privacy to change as she waited.

“That wasn’t a complaint,” he grumbled to himself as he reached and picked up the shirt to pull it over his head.  “If I was to complain about something, it would be that I feel like I’m being needy of you and I’m not usually like this.”  Gideon shook his head and frowned as he pulled on a pair of boxers and the lounge pants.  His feet were left bare and he rubbed the towel over his hair once more before dropping it into the recycler.

“If you were remotely needly, you have every right to be so,” Marielle assured him as she remained facing the door.  His muttering had carried easily on the heat of the steam.  She stood just outside the proximity sensors so that they wouldn’t open.  “I know it’s been a tough couple of days.  I’m just doing what I can to help.”

Gideon blinked and his head snapped toward the researcher, his eyes wide.  “I didn’t-  I’m-  Uh.  I didn’t think I said that so loud.”  His cheeks flushed and he dipped his chin to hide his shame.  The security chief shoved his hands into his pockets as he walked toward her.

A soft lilting laugh filled the steam filled room.  She turned enough to look over her shoulder, the movement stuttering with the sudden pull to her muscles.  “You’re awfully adorable, Gideon Salieri,” she assured him.  She hugged his clothes to her chest before stepping out into the hallway.  The assault of fresh air was a relief but also dizzying.  She took in a deep breath without thought, a sharp hiss of complaint tumbled from her lips before she could bite her tongue.  Her body swayed slightly to the side.

The teasing comments from Cana Graves, Ryan Winnetka, and Rico Suave were silenced immediately when they caught sight of Marielle and Gideon.  The fact that the security chief was in off-duty clothes and the researcher was still in her uniform only further had them questioning exactly what had happened inside the privacy of shower.  They had expected the familiar noise that resulted in the hilarious complaints, but there had only been silence.  The couple had been in the common room for much less than the hour the researcher had deemed necessary.

Gideon had been ready to address the three that were waiting for them, but Marielle’s distress had his attention focused on her.  His hand rested on the small of her back and he looked down at her with concern in his features.  “You okay?”

She jumped and hissed at the ache that radiated from the sudden movement.  “Fine,” she muttered.  “Just tired.”

“Yeah, now it’s my turn.  Go to your room,” he ordered her gently.  Gideon turned around and made his way back into the shower room, where he stooped to retrieve the medical kit that she had used on him.  The security chief quickly made his way back out into the hallway.

Cana kept close to Marielle, her hand gentle on the researcher’s elbow.  She kept her voice low.  “We should get you to sickbay,” she whispered.  “It looks bad this time.”

The researcher shook her head.  “I’m fine,” she asserted as firmly as she could.  Marielle straightened and pushed a smile to her features.  “Don’t be ridiculous.  You’re just jealous I get my hands all over him.”  The tease was meant to ease the tension she could see in Cana’s eyes.

He caught up to them and looked over the others before his gaze settled on the physicist.  His brows raised at the quip and he glanced toward the nurse before motioning toward Marielle to continue down the hallway.  “She doesn’t need to be jealous, she has Ryan’s hands all over her.”  Gideon looked between the the three of them, sure to give Winnetka and Suave looks of appreciation for watching the door for them.

“Not an image I wanted,” she laughed carefully.

“Like we want the image with all that moaning and groaning we hear,” muttered Rico.  The words were given in jest, his tone light to keep the worry from his voice.

Gideon could only offer a smirk at the tease, but his eyes were glossed with worry.  He nodded toward Cana and gently took Marielle by the elbow to push her into motion.  The couple moved through the corridor in silence.

Her hand pressed into the side panel and Marielle stepped inside her quarters the moment the doors slid open for her.  She sighed happily upon stepping into the dark room, the shadows pushed by the dim light that reflected off the asteroids that surrounded the station.  “You should go rest on the bed,” she instructed him with a tired chuckle.  “I’m not quite done with you yet.”  Marielle made her way to the recycler and dropped his uniform into the station’s automatic laundering station.  She disappeared into the closet to change out of her wet uniform.

He set the medical kit on the desk and pointed toward it.  “Only if you use that first.”  Gideon lingered for a few moments before he could no longer deny the exhaustion that he felt.  His steps were heavy as he made his way to the bed and he knelt onto the mattress before twisting and falling back onto it.  The security chief groaned quietly and then relaxed completely onto the bed.

It took far longer than she had anticipated to change into the black off-duty clothes.  Reaching her arms over her head had proven to be difficult as the pain suppressant began to fade in her system.  When she stepped out of the small space, her eyes fell on the silhouette of the security chief on her bed.  She couldn’t stop her smile as she made her way to him, the small blue bottle gripped in her hand.  One knee pressed into the mattress before the other.  “Shirt off and roll over,” she commanded with a whisper.  All thoughts to her aches and pains were ignored.  She’d deal with them once he’d fallen asleep.

His response was given in a heavy mumble as he lifted his shoulders enough to pull the t-shirt from over his torso.  Gideon let the shirt fall to the floor and he rolled over to his stomach as ordered.  He turned his head to face her but his eyes remained closed as he spoke again.  His words were still thick and unintelligible.  His breaths were deep as his body slowly shut down.

Marielle straddled his behind.  Her fingers worked the screwtop to the blue bottle and the lavender lotion pooled in her palm.  She rubbed her hands together before placing them on the corded muscles on his back.  The first sweeping motion of her palms were light as she spread the lotion over his skin.  The aroma of lavender hit her senses and she couldn’t help but sigh with pure contentment.  It was her favourite scent, one that reminded her of the lavender fields of her home.  She swore she had been transported to her bedroom and was staring at the rolling hills of purple.  The second pass of her hands were heavier on his flesh.  Her thumbs kneaded the corded muscles in his shoulders, under his shoulder blades, and along his spine.  

He hummed in appreciation and turned his head.  One eyelid popped open and his iris wandered and strained to find her over his shoulder.  Another string of slurred words tumbled from his lips before his eyelid fell shut.  His arms were lax at his sides with his palms facing up.  ‘I hope this is what love is.  I love this.’  Gideon silently chastised himself for thinking aloud but he pushed the negativity away with a small smile.

As she had suspected, the bath had served to ease much of the tension in his muscles.  Her warm hands continued to work every knot, fingers moving in purposeful circles over each thick ball of tension she found on his defined back.  Her own breathing was quiet, her teeth smashing into her tongue to keep from crying out whenever the ache in her ribs was too much.  She silently lamented not being able to put all her strength into Gideon’s massage, instead choosing to use a layering of smooth touches to work out the tension in his back and arms.  The researcher kept to her work as she felt him relax completely under her touch.

It was enough to feel her tender touch.  Before he knew what was happening, his body gave up on the waking world.  Gideon fell easily into a shallow slumber.  The massage was continued in his subconscious and soft contented moans accompanied each deep breath.  The lavender certainly helped soothe him.

She carefully leaned over to one side to study his face.  His breaths were long and heavy, and it appeared he’d actually fallen asleep.  A small yet tender smile pulled at her lips as she studied his face.  “Apres la pluie, le beau temps (After rain comes sunshine),” she promised him with a whisper, kissing him lightly on the cheek.  The researcher slid off his body and she finally let herself feel the pain that riddled her body.  Her bare feet were quiet on the carpet as she padded to the medical kit on the table.  She settled in the chair.  She took in a breath as she stilled herself.  The kit was opened, the pain suppressant removed and pressed against her neck.  She waited a moment before gingerly pulling her shirt over her head to leave her in her lace undergarment.  Black burn marks marred her sides, red coloured her once pristine skin.  The bruising wrapped over her torso.  Marielle sighed as her fingertips gingerly pressed over the tender and swollen flesh.  She was thankful for the shadows so she wouldn’t have to stare at the latest injuries, thankful that Gideon was asleep and wouldn’t fuss.  With another sigh, she grabbed the regenerator and went to work.  The researcher was mindful of every noise from the man in her bed.  She worked quickly so that she would be done before he was pulled from his slumber by the nightmares that would undoubtedly come.


   
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