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[Deniaud/Salieri] Collaboration Log
Roots & Branches: Meeting Nonna
Marielle felt the familiar tingle of the transporter dissipating as she materialized completely. The first thing she did was take a deep breath. The ocean breeze from an open window swept past her. The skirt of her dress whipped around her legs and tendrils of her hair tickled her chin. A hand came up to brush the loose strands back, jewel green eyes taking a moment to scan their surroundings as she remained silent. Her gaze drifted up to the man beside her, who looked around their surroundings with a peaceful expression.
Gideon opened his eyes as he materialized, glancing around as the tingle slowly left his limbs. He took in a deep breath, smiling at the salt air invading his senses. Humming softly, a grin tugged at his lips and he glanced toward Marielle. He nodded to her and opened his hand for hers, fingers interlacing the moment their palms touched. A serene glow lit his cobalt orbs as he stepped off the transport pad, leading the diminutive woman down the stairs.
She followed, her heels clicking on the stone steps, as she gripped her suitcase in her hand. The trip to Earth had been uneventful after their diplomatic mission to Nordlingen. The physicist only knew some of the technical specifics of their travel plans - they were heading to Nehalem Bay, a coastal city in Oregon, a state in what was formerly part of the United States of America. It was a quaint beach town that kept much of its old world charm but also revitalized by the influx of Bajoran art, skills, and faith. It had become a favourite spot for holiday attendees, who sought tranquility from their daily lives. Beyond that, Gideon had been quiet about what to expect. Then again, Marielle had come to expect that from the man. She discovered he was fairly tight-lipped about his family life, though she didn’t mind. She did the same with her own.
He smiled at the familiar sight in front of him. Memories of his childhood flooded his consciousness and his eyelids fell shut. Shaking his head and chuckling at something, Gideon squeezed Marielle’s fingers and looked to her, winking. He led them toward a row of shops on the right hand side. There was a cafe in the first window, a florist next door, then an herbalist shop. Next to last was a wine shop and finally a bakery. Another row of shops stood across from a dirt road leading out of the center of town. Directly in the middle of town was a small park with a gazebo on one side and a bandshell across the lawn from it.
As she often did, Marielle hummed softly as they walked together. Her shoulder pressed against his, her head sometimes resting against his upper arm as they took a sauntering pace. Her eyes drifted over the windows of the shops, and the petite research chief did her best to keep from letting go of his hand so she could disappear to stare at the wares. Emerald irises sparkled at the sight of the café and the florist. The blown glass shop on the other side was the most tempting, but she kept by Gideon’s side. Her chin tilted up towards the sky as the sun warmed her skin. It provided a stark contrast to the comforting chill of the ocean breeze.
Gideon approached the wine shop, smiling at Marielle as he reached for the door, pulling it open. The red bell tied to the door handle on the inside jingled softly. He placed his suitcase on the floor inside the door, motioning Marielle could do the same. The shop was narrow, wooden shelves along each wall with bottles upon bottles of wine lined up. In the middle of the shop were tables with wine glasses and tester bottles available in all varieties. There were no patrons in the shop and no keeper behind the counter along the back wall. The atmosphere in the shop was very rustic, with an eclectic bit of decor thrown in. There was a door leading into a back room that Gideon watched closely. “Soraya renga, (Good day.)” he called out.
Marielle had released his hand the moment they had entered the shop, and her suitcase was lowered to the ground at his urging. She followed a step behind him, her eyes scanning through the labels of the bottles they passed. Her hands clasped before her body, as it often did when she retreated to the more reserved version of herself. As he called out, she remained behind him. Her breaths slowed as she prepared for the meeting.
“Hanyu! (Hello!)” a feminine voice answered from the back. The voice was aged with wisdom but tinged with laughter. “Ah’no balchi! (I’m sorry!)” There was a shuffle of boxes across the wooden floor and then the owner of the voice emerged. She had white hair pulled into a ponytail at the nape of her neck with strands of dark grey here and there. Dark brown eyes surveyed the shop, finding Marielle first. Knowing the original voice hadn’t been female, Nonna smiled, the wrinkles becoming exaggerated laugh lines. Her simple golden earring flashed as her head turned to find Gideon. She stood about three inches shorter than the security chief, but had no problem moving quickly around the counter and throwing her arms around his shoulders. “Gideon!”
He laughed, holding the woman close as he kissed her cheek. The woman grasped his upper arms and pulled back, looking his over critically. Gideon allowed the gesture with a grin. “Hanyu, Nonna.” He slid his arm over her shoulders as he’d often done with Marielle, side-hugging her gently as he turned his grandmother toward the diminutive woman who hid behind him. “I’m sorry we came a little earlier than I mentioned, the timing just worked that way,” Gideon explained, continuing to speak in Bajoran. “But I’m pleased to finally introduce you to-”
“Marielle!” she interjected, pulling away from Gideon and walking the length of the shop to the woman in question. Nonna raised her hands.
The informality in which Gideon had greeted his grandmother surprised her, but she watched the interaction quietly with a smile on her face. Vibrant jewel green eyes met wise brown. With her hands clasped together before her body, Marielle bowed at the waist towards the elder woman. Her back was straight as she kept to the shallow bow, as she had been taught when greeting someone new. “Soraya neryshu, (Good morning.)” came the softly spoken and respectful greeting, the French accent blending well with the beautiful sounds of Bajoran vowels.
“Ah, splendid girl,” Nonna grinned excitedly and took Marielle’s hands from in front of her, leaning close to present her cheek. Marielle kissed her cheek then proceeded to do the same on the other side. “Sholey! (Welcome!)” The Bajoran leaned back, her dark eyes taking in the diminutive woman. She nodded with approval, winking over her shoulder at Gideon.
Marielle chuckled as her arms were nearly pulled from their sockets. Her eyes flickered to find Gideon grinning from ear to ear and suddenly his enthusiastic mannerisms made complete sense. She gave Gideon’s grandmother a shy, though no less than her usual, radiant smile. She straightened, finding herself looking up at the woman. “It is a pleasure to finally meet you. I hope we didn’t surprise you too badly, as pleasant as this may be.” There was a soft chuckle that followed.
“Nonsense,” Nonna chided softly, directing Marielle to sit at one of the bar-height tables. “You’re welcome any time, Marielle.” The Bajoran glanced at the wine bottles available and picked a sweet red as she turned three wine glasses over.
“Please. Ellie,” she giggled softly. “No one really calls me by my formal name.” The theorist slid onto her seat, her ankles crossing as her knees pressed together and fell to one side.
Gideon approached, taking the bottle from his grandmother’s grasp and uncorking it with ease. “Please, sit, Nonna. I’ll pour.” The elder smiled proudly up at her grandson and moved around the opposite side of the table, sitting across from Marielle. Gideon poured each of them a glass and stuck the cork back into the neck.
A smile accompanied her nod and Nonna accepted the glass from Gideon. “And if you’re uncomfortable calling me Nonna, Bacna will do,” she looked toward Marielle.
She nodded, a shy smile gracing her features as she took the glass from the security officer. “Ms. Bacna, then,” Marielle responded in kind. There was a beat of a pause as her smile grew bright, “Until we get to know each other a bit better.”
“As you desire,” she murmured with a playful glint in her eye. Nonna raised her glass toward them both, offering a toast. As they all followed suit, the Bajoran smiled. “Sholey il Musilla. Or Little Bajor as we call it.”
Gideon had taken the seat next to Marielle, right hand sliding down her back to rest on her waist. He was careful to keep his fingers out of Nonna’s sight, unsure of how Marielle felt about public displays in front of his grandmother right out of the gate. He raised his glass, gently clinking the rim against the others. “Voka a Bentel. (Walk with the Prophets.)”
The research chief stiffened under his touch, eyes flickering quickly to the elder Bajoran as her smile remained on her lips. While she’d never never had any qualms with public displays of affection while wearing her uniform and pips, it was a different matter altogether in regards to family. Whenever she’d met a suitor’s family, formality and decorum were considered a norm. She pushed the thoughts from her mind. It was clear that the relationship between Gideon and his grandmother were different and was far more like the one she had with her uncle. Her glass clinked lightly against the other glasses and the physicist giggled softly as her cheeks turned a soft shade of pink. “Ri ah’panyu Bajorai, (I don’t speak Bajoran.)” came her toast. It earned her a lovely laugh from the other two. Marielle turned her gaze to Gideon, a tender smile pulling at her mouth as her eyes brightened. “That’s the extent of what I was able to learn during our travels.” She turned to look at Nonna and took a small sip.
She sipped, hardly able to stop from staring at Marielle. Dark brown eyes finally moved to Gideon. “It’s okay. We can’t all know everything. Right, Gideon?” At his laugh, Nonna chuckled as well. “You two must be exhausted. I have several hours left here at the shop, why don’t you head home and I’ll bring home something for dinner.” The grandmother looked between the two.
Marielle smiled. “I’m actually quite alright,” she took a small sip before placing the glass on the table’s surface. Slender fingers spun the base slowly, her eyes flickering to Gideon, as if asking him if he felt the same, before they moved to meet Nonna’s eyes. “I’d love to help, if you need it?” She was unaccustomed to such warm reception upon meeting another family. They had been formal, done over dinner and with a great deal of aloofness. She made a mental note to warn Gideon of it as meeting her family would be far more cumbersome.
Nonna’s eyes lit up with delight and she clasped her hands together. “You are splendid, child. But no, no.” She shook her head and took another sip of her wine, smiling toward Gideon. “Take her around town. I think Deron has some Makapa fresh from the oven.”
Gideon smiled, nodding. “I thought I smelled it as we walked up.” He glanced at Marielle, tilting his head slightly at the wall adjacent to the bakery. “Deron has the bakery next door if you’re interested.”
It couldn’t be helped. Her eyes lit up instantly. “Pastries?” she asked expectantly, to which Gideon nodded. She released a soft squeak of delight as she instantly slid off the chair and grabbed his hand, fingers interlacing without hesitation. “You said the magic word!”
“Excellent!” Nonna laughed softly. “Take my sled if you need, Gideon. It’s around back. We close at dusk.”
Gideon laughed as well, tumbling off the barstool in feigned clumsiness. “Of course, Nonna.” The Betazoid mix smiled as he squeezed Marielle’s fingers, then led her to the front of the store.
She stopped suddenly, pulling him back towards his grandmother as she suddenly realized her rudeness. Marielle stood before the elder Bajoran. A tender expression filled her eyes. “If we cannot help you here, perhaps you’ll allow us to cook you dinner tonight?” she asked. “It is certainly the least we can do for your hospitality.” She released Gideon’s hand quickly and bent at the waist in a respectful bow. When she straightened, she looked to the half-Bajoran beside her for support.
He nodded, grinning toward Marielle before looking at his grandmother. “We make a killer ravioli.”
Marielle’s eye ticked. “We?” she teased as she turned to face the security chief, looking up at him challengingly.
Gideon scoffed and glanced apologetically. “Yes, we. You let me boil the water for the pasta. That’s helping.”
Her laugh rang throughout the shop and Nonna stepped forward, gripping Gideon by the forearm. “You’ve finally learnt to boil water! I’m so proud of you!” She reached up to pinch his cheek. Nonna was still tickled, the laugh lines etched deep into her bronze skin. “Yes, yes, fine. You can have the kitchen tonight, but tomorrow I am making foraiga.”
Gideon raised a brow, impressed. “Do you have it here now?” When his grandmother nodded, he returned the gesture. He looked at Marielle, grinning. With a wink, he looked back to his nonna. “I think it’s a deal.”