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[JL Deniaud/Salieri] Roots & Branches: At the Ocean's Surf

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by Lieutenant Commander Gideon Salieri & Lieutenant Commander Marielle Deniaud
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Stardate: 1612.11
Roots & Branches: At the Ocean’s Surf

“We’ll be back by dusk!”  Gideon stepped out the front door, waving to his grandmother as he rushed to join Marielle.  She waited for him in the hovercar, not surprisingly having taken the driver’s seat in his absence.  He chuckled and shook his head, maneuvering around to the passenger side as he dropped into the seat.  The Betazoid mix had quite an adventure planned for them and was eager to get the show on the road.  “Sure you want to drive?” he asked Marielle before he turned, double-checking everything he’d already packed into the car.  They had a picnic basket for lunch, folded wetsuits in one duffle bag and another with towels and a change of clothes for each of them.

Her fingers drummed on the steering wheel.  “Of course I want to drive,” she wrinkled her nose at him.  “Even though this really isn’t driving.”  The researcher sighed softly at the thought but pressed on to say, “Besides.  Narrow mountain roads?  Needs a woman’s touch.  Men just charge on ahead without finesse.”  Her hand gathered her hair in one hand while the other brushed over her neck to collect the loose wavy strands before tying her hair into high ponytail.

He nodded in agreement as he turned back to face the front.  “I just thought you might like to enjoy the view.  I’ve seen it.”  Gideon stuck his tongue out at her and tapped the dash in front of him.  “Let’s go, then, Finesse.”  He leaned back, left arm stretching to rest against the back of Marielle’s seat.  The air was sharp with the winter weather, but the sun warmed them if they bathed in its rays long enough.  It’d been an unusually dry cold season, but it was a welcome reprieve.  He was dressed in khaki slacks and a long sleeve button up dress shirt.  The light blue color nearly matched the hue of the clear sky.

Marielle chuckled as she slipped the black sunglasses from the top of her hair to cover her eyes.  “See.  There you go.  Charging ahead without so much as an appreciation of what’s ahead of you.” The physicist chuckled as she teased him.

Rolling his eyes, he smirked at Marielle.  “I know what’s ahead of me.  I’ll appreciate when you start this thing and drive.”  He laughed as he flinched aside, sure he was about to get a punch in the shoulder.  But, the researcher, who only rolled her eyes at him from behind the black shades.  Gideon returned his hand to the back of her seat and reached into a compartment in front of him, pulling out a pair of sunglasses for himself - gold rimmed aviators.

With a simple press of the button, the hovercar silently lifted a half meter or so from the ground.  Marielle groaned.  “That was not satisfying at all.  I shall call this hunk of junk, Bob,” she muttered.  “Bob, you have disappointed me.”  Another quick swipe along the console and the hovercar was off, moving over the roads smoothly and without much direction from her.

“I think this is Joe, actually,” Gideon mused.  “And let’s not mention your disappointment to Nonna, hmm?  She was very kind to let us use the car today.”  He grinned, tearing his gaze from the thick trees as they passed to look upon Marielle.

“And, it is no reflection on your Nonna that Bobbie-Joe is less car and more mindless automaton,” she replied without looking at Gideon.  They flew between the shadows as the hovercar glided along the curves of the road.  The ocean was to their left, the sheer coastal range directly to their right.  “I will say this.  I love this place, but everyone drives on absolutely the wrong side of the road around here.  It’s entirely aggravating.”

He scoffed, shaking his head in feigned offense.  “Not our fault you grew up backwards.”  Gideon shifted his hand to rest on her shoulder, fingers walking up the curve of her neck to pinch her jaw lightly.  The forest passed quickly as the car hummed along the paved road.  Breaks in the treeline offered brief glimpses to the ocean, whitecaps appearing frequently.

With a few simple touches of the console, her hands came off the wheel after a turn and she sighed sadly.  “See.  This is just wrong.  I shouldn’t be able to do this,” she muttered with a pout on her lips.  The hovercar followed the curve of the road, the speed constant and far too slow for Marielle’s liking.  The researcher turned her head to look for the ocean between the trees.  They had travelled only ten minutes, but already it seemed as if they had entered an entirely different area.  Gone was the salty ocean air, replaced by evergreens and earth.

“We’re coming up on Cannon Beach,” Gideon explained.  He leaned forward, his gaze watching the left hand side of the car to spot the coastline and her eyes followed the line of his vision.  “A long long time ago, a ship sank further out on a hidden shoal and one of its cannons washed up on shore.”  He smiled at Marielle before returning his gaze to the natural wonder.  “It was still in a museum in town, but they’ve been worried about it deteriorating for a while.  Hopefully we can still see it.  Also, way further back in time than the cannon, volcanic activity deposited basalt rock on the beach, it looks like a stack of hay, so naturally it’s called Haystack Rock.”  He pointed toward the north, hoping that they may be able to see the prominent landmark between a break in the trees.

Marielle chuckled softly, her smile growing as he told her of the upcoming sites.  She turned to face him.  Having the computer drive the hovercar allowed her the benefit of enjoying the scenic drive.  “So that’s what you’ve got planned today?” she smiled at him.  The security officer had been oddly tight-lipped about the day.  “Because it sounds lovely.”

He smiled proudly as he gazed upon her features.  “That’s just the beginning,” he teased, winking as his cobalt orbs twinkled with mirth.

“I would have been happy to stay in Nehalem Bay, you know.”  She chuckled at him as she settled back into her seat and looked up at the sky.  She saw blue without a hint of clouds.  “I know you miss your grandmother.  It would have been perfectly all right for us to spend today with her, especially since we’ll be leaving tomorrow.”

Gideon smiled tenderly, his heart warmed as Marielle spoke fondly of his grandmother.  “Yes, and we’ll spend the evening with her.”  He nodded and glanced back toward the ocean.  “I had some quality time last night.  We talked for a few hours.”  The security officer winked in Marielle’s direction.  “She suggested this.”

The chief researcher chuckled.  “As long as both of you are sure.  Family is important,” she told him.  “I just wanted to make sure you had enough time with her.”  There was a pause as she looked out into the ocean.  “I was actually thinking you’d like to stay here a few more days.”

His features glowed at the idea and Gideon nodded.  “That would be fantastic, El,” he began.  “But like you say, family is important, and we’re scheduled to go see yours.”  His hand wandered again to her shoulder, knowing that her family was a bit of a sore spot.

She hummed at his words.  “I know.  I was actually thinking you’d like to stay here with your grandmother while I go visit my family,” she gave him a small and quiet laugh.  “It’s pretty boring at my house.  We could just meet up at the wedding.”

“Is that it or would I embarrass you?”  Gideon teased with a wink.

“You will arrive in your destination in five minutes.”

Marielle sat up as the computer interrupted their conversation.  A few delicate taps of the console, and she regained control of the vehicle.  “Where am I taking us?” she asked as she moved through the narrow road that ran through the small town.

“Mmhm,” he hummed in reply, shaking his head slightly before turning his eyes to the town they entered.  “Left, there,” Gideon pointed.  “There’s a stair down to the water.”  He turned to the right, glancing over the buildings as he looked for the museum.  After spotting it with a grin, he returned his attention to Marielle.  “I packed a lunch or we could try the cafe next to the museum.  Best fish and chips ever.

She stepped out of the hovercar the moment they stopped, stretching her arms high above her to release the pull of tension along her back.  She pinched at her sunglasses and pulled them from her face, blinking to adjust to the glare of the sun, so she could take in the town.  Marielle had dressed in a white summer dress with thick straps and a crocheted empire waistline.  The seasonal floral pattern was painted on like watercolour, mixing in shades of blues and purples.  The hem brushed just past her knees.  She had opted for purple flats for the day, which only highlighted her height difference to the security officer all the more.  A wool sweater gave her enough warm to combat the cold.  She said nothing as she took in their surroundings.

He stood at the hovercar, reaching into the back seat to pick up a light brown leather jacket for himself and the folded woolen blanket he’d brought along for Marielle.  Gideon draped the items over his arm and walked around the front of the hovercar to join Marielle.  

“I’m not entirely sure I’d trust your opinion on fish and chips,” she finally mused with a sly tone.  Marielle slipped the sunglasses back on her face and lifted her hands in offering to see if she could carry any of the items in his arms.

Gideon shook his head in denial and motioned toward the boardwalk.  “You trust my opinion on wine,” he retorted as they walked along the wooden slats, approaching the staircase.  The Betazoid mix offered his elbow in support as they began descending to the beach.

“Wine is completely different. Anyone can do wine,” she explained.  “Fish and chips is a completely different matter.”

“Well,” he replied in a huff.  “I’ll get the fish and chips and not share.”  Gideon turned his nose up slightly.

Marielle only laughed at him as she walked beside him, her hand nestled in the crock of his elbow.  Sometimes, she wondered about the man by her side.  When they had first met and while they were just friends, Gideon had been smooth in his approach.  He oozed bravado she didn’t really understand.  But, the man by her side was often silly and quite prone to overacting.  Her head shook at the observation and her eyes lingered on the beach as they stepped foot onto the beach.  Immediately, she reached down and removed her flats, wiggling her toes in the fine sand.  The sensation made her giggle softly with childlike joy.  She hummed at the river that flowed between the beaches and met up with the ocean.  Her eyes followed the strait as it cut through the beach and headed towards the coastal range.  “What’s that?”

He left his tan deck shoes on his feet.  They were meant to get wet.  Gideon’s gaze followed Marielle’s line of sight and he nodded toward the clearer water of the strait.  “That’s Ecola Creek.  It cuts through the beach there on the way out.  Water’s warmer than the ocean and only a foot or two deep.  There’s usually a lot more people here.”  He’d glanced around, humming to himself.  “Might be too early.  But then they don’t know what they’re missing.”  He winked, raising his brows to Marielle.

She looked up at him and smiled.  Whenever he was like that, it usually meant some sort of fun adventure.  “Lead the way,” she chuckled softly as she walked beside him.

And so he did.  Gideon lowered his hand to lace his fingers with hers.  He walked at a slow pace so that when something caught his eye, he could motion with their joined hands, pointing with his finger as he explained a small cluster of rocks there and the building that perched over the bank of the strait there.  Questions were answered with a fantastic story as they made their way to the northern end of the beach.

Marielle smiled as she observed the man closely, silently chuckling at his zeal.  He was so different here that it shocked her.  Her head nodded with every shared bit of information regarding Cannon Beach and she laughed as expected to the stories he told.  The walk was pleasant, her feet adjusting to the chill of the ocean on wet sand.  The haze of the early morning fog was finally starting to roll away.  Whenever she looked back on the direction they had travelled, her eyes would naturally fall to the formation in the distance - the two imposing volcanic rocks that stood on the beach.  She could see why Gideon loved the ocean if he lived in a place where this was his playground.

“And this,” he began as they neared their destination.  “Is the cove.  Now, this place is special because in a few hours, it’ll all be underwater.  The tide comes in and just swallows it.”  Gideon watched Marielle’s reaction a moment - watched as her eyes focused to the far end of the beach and traced the rocky cliffs in search of this cove - before he stepped past the first of the large monoliths.  Sure, the sight itself wasn’t very spectacular, but the excitement was more in the exploration.  “Here, against the face, see the mussels and barnacles?”  

Her fingers traced over the shells carefully, fingertips barely grazing over the surface.  Green eyes moved over the cliff face as the entire surface was covered with mussels.  She followed his lead along the cliff face, wading into the water.  Her nose wrinkled as cold water surrounded her legs up to her calves.  It was almost nerve numbing cold, but at least the adjustment was quick.  Her fingers were still entwined with his, and she let him lead her out into the ocean.

“Here’s a fun story,” he began, finding a place in the cliff that jutted out slightly.  Gideon glanced to the researcher as he started the tale.  “Oh, can I carry you?”  He grinned a bit sheepishly as he saw the expression on her face.  “Sorry, El, I’m used to it.”

Marielle blinked at the offer and she laughed at him.  “Gideon, I’m a grown woman. I think I can handle a little cold water.”

He shrugged.  “I just didn’t even think to warn you.”  He brought her hand up to his lips and kissed her knuckles.  The blanket and jacket he carried had almost been forgotten in his other arm.  “We could head back.  The tidepools are similar with the crustaceans and mollusks.”  She only squeezed his hand and shook her head in response.  “C’mon, piggy back ride.”  Gideon winked and offered her the garments in his hands.

She only rolled her eyes at him and lightly pushed him.  “Come on, Gid.  It’s not much further, right?”

Humming, Gideon nodded and pressed on.  The water soaked into his khakis, darkening the fabric much higher than was actually wet.  “But that rock back there is where I got the mark on my knee,” he explained.  “Sliced it up pretty bad-”

Marielle hissed at the story.  “That doesn’t sound fun at all,” though she paused so she could give him a wry smile, “though clearly you lived so the story has a happy ending.”

He chuckled softly, nodding.  “Clearly.  It was fun beforehand.  Nonna had a fit and I couldn’t surf for a few months after.”  Slowly they trekked to the end of the cove.  The water level dropped gradually until they ended up on a sandbar, surrounded on three sides by the tall cliff face.  Gideon turned, facing the ocean.  “There,” he breathed, motioning with a tilt of his chin.

She followed his line of sight.  A serene smile graced her features, and she pulled away from Gideon as she moved ahead of him.  Water splashed as she followed the remaining stretch.  Wading soon turned to walking as she took her first step onto the pristine beach.  It was clear that not many ventured this far out, though perhaps any sign of human exploration was simply washed away by the tides.  Green eyes followed the lines of the cliff face, watching as dried salt marked the height at which the ocean could reach.  It was well over five meters.  “Wow,” she breathed out softly.  Her head leveled as she walked along the cliff face to stare at the mussels and the abalone shells that sparkled.  Seaweed and kelp clung to some surfaces, wet as if it had just washed ashore.  She turned to find Gideon watching her and she smiled at the security officer.  “Are you just going to stand there, or are you going to come and join me?”

He blinked out of a daze, grinning as he chuckled and quickly moved to join her.  “I was content to watch you,” Gideon admitted.  His blue eyes settled on Marielle a moment before turning to explore the abundance of sea life.  He reached up to press gently against the partially open shell of a mussel.  It’s strong tongue poked out briefly before the creature retreated into its refuge and clamped the shell shut.  He grinned as memories flooded back, chuckling.
The cove was small, so it didn’t take her long to enjoy the sight of life clinging to the rocks.  Marielle moved to the center of the cove, taking a moment to look out into the vast ocean.  There was another rock formation, much larger and flatter than the haystacks in the far distance.  The surface was covered thick in white because of the gulls that used it as a home.  Her hands moved to smooth out the back of her dress as she knelt down on the dry sand before falling to one side.  Her legs pressed together as they swung out in one graceful movement and her knees pulled to her chest.  She smoothed the thin layers of her skirt over her knees, wrapping the cloth of her skirt around her legs for modesty and warmth.

“Oh!” he exclaimed as he saw her on the sand.  “I have a blanket, silly.”  Smiling, Gideon stepped closer and let the blanket and his jacket drop to the sand as he lowered into a cross-legged seated position next to her.

Marielle looked up in time to see him take a seat beside her.  She chuckled.  “I’m fine, Gideon,” she assured, though she did take the blanket and covered her legs.  Her chin rested on her knees, and the researcher watched the waves quietly.  Her eyes closed as a passing breeze cooled the touch of the sun.  It was such a peaceful place, and it almost seemed like a crime to break the quiet with idle chatter.  Her eyes closed as she listened to the waves and the call of the gulls.  The mixture of evergreen and salt lingered in the air and whipped around her with every passing breeze.  She opted to stay in that moment, not wishing to think of what lay ahead of them.  They’d be staying with her family for three days, and the thought of the visit made her uneasy.  Then, it’d be four days with Alexia’s wedding, and that event had her stomach churning for different reasons.  In retrospect, she realized they should have probably ended their holiday at Gideon’s grandmother’s home, where it certainly felt like they were on holiday.

He’d sensed her desire to enjoy the serenity around them, so Gideon remained quiet as he pulled his knees up, wrapping his arms around the outside and holding his hands in front of him.  Blue eyes scanned the area, stopping on spots that brought back idle memories of his early teen years.  A haphazard smile remained on his features as Gideon leaned back, releasing his knees to bring his hands above his head and fold on the sand to form a pillow.  He lifted his chin, eyes rolled up to study the black wall above them, dotted with sea life.

“It’s nice here,” she hummed as she exhaled, delighted at the calm that surrounded her.  “I could sit here for hours and just listen to the ocean.”  There was a beat of silence as her eyes finally opened and her focus lingered on the far horizon, still hazy with morning fog.  “Thanks for sharing it with me.”

His head turned so he could look up at Marielle.  Gideon smiled before returning his gaze to the nearly cloudless sky.  Cobalt orbs followed a small flock of gulls coasting on the breeze.  “I’m glad you like it,” he said quietly.  It wasn’t long before he continued, almost rambling again.  “This whole area is so much of who I am.  I felt like I could show you something that I may not be able to explain.  If that makes sense.”  The Betazoid mix blinked and raised a brow toward the diminutive woman.

Marielle released a quiet near-wistful sound in understanding, something between her usual melodic hum and a thoughtful sigh.  “I do,” she watched the birds flying and listened to their calls.  “It’s a wonderful gift, Gideon.  Thank you.”

Smiling wide, there was nearly a quiver of excitement that coursed his body, but Gideon chalked it up to a shiver at the cool breeze.  “I’m glad you like it, El, but we’re far from done.”  He pushed himself up and propped onto his elbows.  Fingers poked at the fine sand.
Raising a brow, the researcher turned her head so she could look at him over her shoulder. “What do you have planned?

“Well, we can only stay here for another half-hour or so before the tide starts coming in.”  He paused, raising a brow toward her.  “Unless you want to experience first hand how I sliced my knee.”  Gideon frowned, shaking his head as his lips mouthed ‘no’ to her.  “So we could head to the other side of the creek and check out the tidepools or head back up and walk the town.”  He watched her reaction quietly, fingers still manipulating the sand.

She tilted her head towards the sky and closed her eyes as she enjoyed the warmth of the sun.  “Let stay here just a few more minutes.  But it sounds like we can do both?  See the tidepools and then have lunch in town?”

Nodding in agreement, Gideon replied, “Of course.”  He grinned as the sun painted her features with a warm glow.  ‘How did I even manage this?’ he asked himself, his inner voice wondrous.  Before meeting Marielle, Gideon was sure he was destined to have a revolving door of lovers, but never experience love.  It had taken Nonna quite some time to show the young Salieri that he was even capable of emotion other than anger and rage.  He’d never have guessed his walled heart was capable of what he felt for Marielle.  Gideon sighed softly at the thought.

Giggling softly, Marielle reached her arms up towards the sky and fell back to rest her back against the warm sand without a second glance behind her to ensure she wasn’t landing or a rock or a shell.  She’d pay for it later as the fine grains stuck to her dress and her hair, but there was freedom in the choice.  There was quiet and calm in the cove.  “I think I love it here, even if people do drive on the wrong side of the road,” she chuckled lightly as she adjusted the blanket over her lap and reached her arms over her head to rest on the sand.

He laughed at her comment, rolling toward her and adjusting his elbow to hold his chin in his hand as he gazed down at Marielle.  Gideon’s free hand rested on the sand beside her arm, a finger raised to caress the tender skin but stopping before doing so.  “You’re welcome any time,” he said tenderly, echoing his grandmother’s sentiment.

   
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