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[Deniaud/Salieri] Collaboration Log
Roots & Branches: Nonna’s Wisdom
She had slipped away while he was slumbering, careful to pull his heavy arm from around her waist so that she didn’t wake him. The floorboards had creaked with her steps, but still the security officer had only snuggled deeper under the warm down comforter as his head buried into her pillow. She had quickly dressed and slipped out of the cozy cottage-like house to take the aged myrtlewood steps to the beach. Her feet had sunk into the dunes before she reached the fine sand beach. Her eyes were focused on the ocean as she walked, her breath visible in the air.
A lazy haze was receding over the coastal range behind her. Marielle didn’t know how long she had stood at the very edge of the ocean’s reach under the approaching dawn. She was cold despite how she was bundled for the cooler temperature. She took a deep breath to fill her lungs with the crisp ocean air that mingled with the evergreens along the coastal range. Her chin tilted up, jewel green eyes reflecting the changing hues of the sky above her. There was a lone star that lingered despite the soft baby blue that coloured the atmosphere. She smiled at it before she turned her attention to the distant rock formation, which were blanketed by the misty fog.
It was cold, which was typical for the Oregon coast even during the summer months. She was glad she had taken the time to bundle up - dressing in black leggings, a long thick grey sweater that reached the middle of her thighs, and a green wool hat on her head. Long strands tickled her chin with the passing ocean breeze. Her fingers pulled at her sleeves to hide her fingers, and the research chief brought the covered digits to her mouth and blew warm air through the thick yarn. She covered her face briefly as she tried not to think about leaving the next afternoon. Their next stop would be vastly different from this paradise, and she considered canceling the trip to her family’s chateau. They could simply leave for the wedding from Gideon’s grandmother’s house. The thought was tempting. Marielle sighed softly as she peeked over her fingers, her face suddenly cold when the ocean air kissed her skin.
Treska Bacna Salieri trudged quietly along a wooden slat path, one mitted hand holding a thick woolen blanket close around her shoulders, the other gripping two mugs by the handles, steam rising copiously from the hot liquid. Her white hair was loose, hanging just past her shoulders, now apparent that it was thinning. She’d arisen not long ago and made her way to the balcony off her bedroom, only to spot Marielle on the beach. Bacna hurriedly prepared two mugs of Deka tea and threw the blanket over her back to join the young woman. “Soraya neryshu,” Nonna sang gently as she approached Marielle.
The physicist jumped, turning to look over her shoulder as Gideon’s grandmother neared. The intrusion to her solitude had been unexpected, but not necessarily unwelcome. She smiled warmly. “Soraya neryshu,” she greeted in kind. “I hope I didn’t wake you.” Marielle gladly reached out to take the tea offered to her, lifting the mug to her face to warm her skin. She hummed with the calm that took over her senses. “Thank you.”
“Nonsense,” she answered, smiling. “You’ll find as you get older that you wake earlier with each passing year.” Bacna stepped forward, standing by Marielle’s side as she nodded. A swift breeze picked up the tail of her blanket, causing the grandmother to closer her eyes and enjoy the salt air. As she sighed a steady released breath, Bacna turned her grin to the diminutive woman. “It’s beautiful here,” she commented before sipping from the near scalding tea.
Marielle hummed in agreement as she tentatively took a quiet sip. Earthy tones mingled with a sweetness over her tongue and she sighed happily into the steam. She lowered the mug and brushed back the flying tendrils of her hair as another passing breeze moved over the beach. The normally bubbly woman opted for silence when the words didn’t seem necessary, so she just enjoyed the sounds of softly crashing waves.
The silence wasn’t unwelcome as the two women enjoyed nature’s symphony. Bacna sipped again from her tea before looking up as a gull screeched overhead. “It’s a shame you’re leaving so soon. I’ve never seen my grandson as at peace as he is here.” Her dark brown eyes shifted from the sky to rest upon the petite researcher. There was an unspoken phrase within her tender gaze and soft smile. With you.
She glanced to her tea as she nodded without looking at Bacna, a small smile pulling at her features. “To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him as he is here,” she chuckled lightly. It was hard not to feel a bit sad. Gideon was far more relaxed. He was so regulation that Marielle wondered often if he understood the spirit to the rules he enforced. “He’s a different man in this place. I suspect it’s because of you, Ms. Bacna.” She took a quiet sip.
Chuckling softly into her cup as she sipped, the wrinkles around her eyes intensified. The Bajoran lowered the mug, pulling at one of the corners of the blanket that threatened to drift away from her body. “Oh, I’m sure there are many factors, Ellie, and I am only one.” She glanced toward the ocean, chin tilting up slightly as another breeze pulled on the loose strands of her hair. “I’m sure you know at least some of his history. Would it surprise you to know that I’ve never met any of his friends?”
Marielle hid behind her mug as she took a small sip of her tea. She thought on the question before she lowered her tea and stared out into the ocean. “I know what he tells me,” the diminutive woman revealed softly as she chose to avoid saying anything of his reputation with women. It caused her far more self-doubt than she cared to admit. She kept her eyes trained on the hazy horizon. “But, I have an inkling from time to time. Gideon doesn’t really seem to want to discuss it, and I respect his need for privacy.”
“Such a troubled boy,” Bacna began sadly. “Discarded by his parents, despised by his brother. Oh!” She interjected quietly, humming softly at a thought that caused her to shake her head. “And those stuck up Betazoids.” Her tone was tinged with disgust.
She released a quiet breath as she listened. Her eyes dipped into her tea. “I had some idea, but he doesn’t speak often of them,” she muttered quietly. Her head shook sadly. It was no wonder that Gideon never wished to speak of his family. For many of the same reasons, she hadn’t been entirely forthcoming about her own history. She was also rather certain that he wouldn’t understand. The half-Bajoran had all but written off his family, where she was inclined to hold to her own despite their disagreements. “I don’t know why some people can be so cruel,” the words tumbled from her lips softly before she could stop herself.
She sipped quietly, nodding. “There’s one in every family. Some are just more overt.” Bacna turned to look upon Marielle. “You’ve really done something to him, Ellie. I could never thank you for showing Gideon happiness.” The Bajoran smiled gratefully.
Blinking, Marielle turned her head to look at the elder Bajoran woman. She laughed awkwardly. “Oh no,” she waved her hand as she blushed, “you give me far too much credit. I’m certain he was all smiles before we became friends.”
Chuckling softly, the elder nodded. “Smiles, sure. Smiles are easy, child. Happiness is a truer measure.” Bacna hummed at her inner thoughts, an easy smile on her lips. She lifted the mug to sip quietly at her tea, nearing the bottom of the mug.
The researcher shrugged, though she smiled as she took a long comforting sip of her tea. “Petit a petit, l’oiseau fait son nid (Little by little, the bird makes its nest),” she spoke softly as she lowered the mug. Marielle turned to smile at at the old Bajoran woman by her side. “Old proverb. It speaks of patience and perseverance.” She shook her head as her eyes returned to the horizon, her ever present smile turning tender. “I’d like to think Gideon found the strength to find it himself.” Her mouth opened slightly as she considered the security chief’s mental and emotional state. ‘I don’t want to be responsible for his happiness.’ Her mouth closed as her thoughts took her to how he’d dealt with his inability to sleep since Malahakir. She had some suspicion that he still needed her presence to fall asleep.
Smiling, Bacna nodded. She sighed softly as the day began to warm as the sun slowly dissipated the lingering fog. “I think he always knew what he needed to do. Gideon needed a-,” she paused as her thought drifted, considering her choice of words. “A catalyst.”
Her face warmed with a soft blush and she looked at Gideon’s grandmother. “Perhaps,” her head bobbed once in acceptance of the unspoken compliment. “We’ll never know.” Marielle giggled softly. “For being part-Betazoid, your grandson is oddly tight-lipped about his feelings and his life. To this day, I have no clue what drew him to me.”
“I think it’s pretty obvious,” she replied with a motherly tone as Bacna smiled at Marielle, eyes twinkling with wisdom.
“Hmm?” Her laughter subsided to find the Bajoran staring at her with an odd look on her features.
Winking at Marielle, Bacna took the last sip of her tea, humming softly. The petite researcher only continued to stare at her expectantly. “You’re a treasure, darling. Beauty, strength, wit, humor.” The Bajoran elder hummed again as her fingers gripped the lingering warmth of the empty mug. “But most of all, you show him that he is worthy.” A sadness trickled into her features. She inhaled deeply, her eyes threatening to overflow as Nonna shook her head. She focused her gaze toward the distant horizon.
Marielle watched the older woman quietly, choosing not to say another word for a long while. Her gaze turned towards the ocean. “I wish he realized he’s worthy of so much,” she began softly. ‘Sometimes, I worry he expects me to make him happy. What’s going to happen when it all ends?’
“He had a miserable childhood- I wish I had been able to do more.” The elder Bajoran shook her head and kept her frown to herself. “He was thrown away, abandoned. It’s easy to feel disposable.” Bacna furrowed her brows as her eyes shifted over the ocean. She took in a deep breath and murmured quietly in her native tongue.
“I’m glad to have finally met you, Ms. Bacna.” She closed her eyes as the breeze whipped around them.
“And I you, Ellie,” she replied with a smile, her dark eyes finding Marielle.