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[Deniaud/Salieri] Collaboration Log
Roots & Branches: The Admiral, Part 2
He was the eldest of the Deniaud twins, his appearance nearly identical to his brother’s. He sported more silver in his salt-and-pepper hair. The lines of his face were pulled up in happy wrinkles, the creases more prominent around the corners of his almond shaped eyes. His emerald hues were bright and flawless, the shade far darker than his niece’s. He was a tower of a man, his life in Starfleet giving him an athletic and lean build but time behind the desk had allowed a hint of softness at his sides. Alderic leaned back in his chair as he watched Marielle disappear into her room to answer a transmission. He swirled his glass of bourbon easily before taking a sip. The burn over his tongue was smooth, the earthy flavour.
Dinner had been pleasant. Per Marielle’s request, her uncle made cassoulet, a traditional French stewed dish of duck, sausage, and pork with beans and tomato. Warm crusty bread sat covered in a basket, pieces torn off during their meal to soak up the last of the sauce. Wine was shared and enjoyed. Their plates remained on the dining room table so that they could pick at the last morsels of bread.
Gideon sat back down after Marielle disappeared and he reached to refill his glass of wine. He had opted to wear the same tunic that he’s been wearing when they arrived, if not for the sake of putting on a facade that there hadn’t been steamy shower fun, then for the fact that it was one of his favorite shirts, the Bajoran design simple with three quarters length sleeves and a broad opening around his shoulders. It revealed the light lines of two of his many scars, a short line parallel to his collarbone that indicated a through and through wound, appearing both on his upper chest and his back. He watched Alderic for a moment before turning his gaze out to the skyline beyond the glass.
From his seat, the admiral could look out past the floor to ceiling glass windows. The stars were outshined by the scintillating city, the entirety of the San Francisco skyline just beyond the waters that surrounded Treasure Island. Lights outlined the Golden Gate Bridge. A soft halo of white eventually faded to the deep midnight blue of the evening sky. “So. How long have you and Short Stack been together now?” he asked without looking at the young man by his side. He lifted the glass once more and took a sip. His eyes drifted to the dots of flashing light over the water, ferries and private boats out to enjoy the skyline from their perspective.
Cobalt irises shifted to the admiral as Gideon briefly pondered attempting to read Alderic’s emotion. “It’s been near six months officially,” he murmured after thinking on the timeframe. He leaned back and adjusted his hips before lifting his glass of wine to sip.
He was quiet for some time. “That’s long enough to start thinking about the future.” He placed his glass on the table and shifted slightly in his chair so that he could look at the young half-Bajoran man by his side. “So. What’s the plan, hmm?” His eyes moved over Gideon slowly. Marielle’s less-than-subtle insistence in finding something that would allow the two men to bond only had Alderic curious as to why she was so keen on forcing a friendship. He had yet to make any real decisions about the security chief.
His brows furrowed and he waited several moments before turning his chin to regard the admiral. Gideon hummed quietly and spun the wine glass in his fingers. He bit his lip and shook his head. “El doesn’t know that I know about her obligations.” The half-Bajoran sighed quietly and lifted his gaze back to Alderic. “So my plan is to love her and- help in any way I can to keep her from being forced to marry someone she doesn’t love.” A thought came to him and he scoffed lightly. “She’s not the marrying type, after all.”
That had not been a response he’d expected and the eldest of the Deniaud patriarchy simply stared. “Where did you get that? Short Stack’s totally the marrying type.” Alderic couldn’t help but laugh. “If she told you and you believed her, then you’re an idiot.” He shook his head and took a moment to sip his bourbon.
‘Guilty,’ he grumbled to himself with a frown. Gideon hated being reminded of his stupidity and he hid the feeling with a long sip of wine. He wondered about the possibility of asking her to marry him but minutely shook his head. ‘She’d only see it like I was Adam trying to save her again.’ He silently cursed the medical officer for screwing things up so badly with Marielle.
“That being said,” he paused as he placed the glass on the table. “I haven’t seen her this happy for some time, so I hope it works out for you, kid.” Alderic grabbed the chair under him and turned so he could face the security chief. Once he was certain that he wouldn’t miss a single twitch of the eye, he leaned back and relaxed against the cushion of his dining chair. “So, I’m gonna ask some questions and you’re going to answer them.
Feeling the eyes upon him, Gideon dipped his chin a moment before looking up and turning his head to face Alderic. Once they’d held their gaze for a few seconds, the security chief straightened and turned his chair, not facing the admiral square, but mostly so. Turning one’s body square to another was often seen as an aggressive stance, a challenge. The half-Betazoid kept his features minimally jovial, his left hand holding the glass of wine on the table, his right resting on his thigh. He was trained specifically in negotiations, so he pulled from that background to present himself to the admiral as a non-threat, open to discussion, and friendly to approach. “Shoot.”
“Gideon Massimo Salieri,” the admiral started, his tone even. “Betazoid and Bajoran descent. Thirty years old. Blue eyes. Brown hair. Middle of three.” Alderic’s chin dipped as his eyes darkened and narrowed just slightly. His tone took on a stern and commanding quality. “In his youth, he was deemed a problematic child who was often involved in altercations and failed several years in his education. Upon entering Starfleet Academy, his attention moved from fist fights to women. There are several disciplinary notations in his file regarding actions deemed questionable of a Starfleet cadet.”
Gideon had nodded with each fact as Alderic stated them. He did not flinch when the admiral shifted gears and started revealing some of the unsavory aspects of his personnel file, instead inhaling deeply as he continued to affirm each point.
“He was assigned to the USS Prevailer, where he raised to the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade before he was arrested and forced into alcohol rehabilitation after an incident with then Lieutenant Trent Underwood over a woman. He was placed on permanent probation when his assault on Lieutenant Underwood resulted in brain damage. He was assigned to the USS Hermes after a demotion, where he had continued some questionable behaviour with women but no other incident was recorded. After several months of excellent service, he was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade. Soon after, he was promoted to Lieutenant and assigned to the USS Aldrin as her Chief of Security and Tactical. Since then, he has earned the rank of Lieutenant Commander and has most recently been invited to join Starfleet Intelligence.” He took a sip of his drink before letting the glass rest once more on the railing. “Did I cover the big ones, Commander?”
The security chief sipped his wine, using the opportunity to hide his surprise that Alderic knew of the invite to Intelligence before nodding again. The glass rested on the table, the stem settled between his middle and ring fingers. Gideon shook his head negatively. “While serving the Hermes, Lieutenant Junior Grade Salieri was integral in the protection of Queen Lila Kirk of Atlantis and the rescue of First Lieutenant Mariëlle Deniaud. He earned the Star of Caron for his ingenuity.” There were enough good points to overlook the bad ones, he hoped.
The admiral nodded in agreement. “He was also integral in the rescue of then First Lieutenant Mariëlle Deniaud on Malahakir at the power distribution center in Drikaana. After disobeying her direct order.” His voice had broke subtly, but emotion didn’t make its way into his tone.
Gideon dipped his gaze. He never felt he could claim being a part of her rescue. “The security of the mission was more important than her order, sir.” The Betazoid mix lifted the glass of wine to his lips, drinking deeply before he could look back at Alderic.
“It was,” again agreeing with the security chief. “But, I am choosing to keep your role in my niece’s rescue aside for the moment.” Alderic raised a brow as he continued to meet Gideon’s gaze. “Your standing record does not inspire confidence regarding your character, young man. Drinking infractions are rare and the level of rage you exhibited with Underwood is concerning. Short Stack is- She’s not- Anger can infect. I don’t want that around her.”
He nodded in understanding. “My mother is an alcoholic who wanted a daughter, not another son. The man who raised me has hated me for as long as I can remember but I never understood. My half brother fed off that hatred to terrorize me. I was sent to a reform school at fifteen and forgotten about.” Gideon tilted his chin and then shook his head. “These are convenient excuses, or unfortunate circumstances that could fuel any sane person to become what I was.” He’d waved his wine glass slightly, becoming slightly animated as most Italians do when they talk. “I think the most important thing is that I’ve changed. I learned from my mistakes and became a better man.” He sipped from his wine. “She’s witnessed my anger once and it was retrospectively justified.”
Alderic’s eyes fell to the wine Gideon drank before they returned to meet Gideon’s almost nonchalant stare. While he didn’t believe the Betazoid mix would have been afraid to meet him, the admiral had thought there would have been some natural nervousness. The ease of his demeanor had Alderic curious. “You an alcoholic, kid?”
His fingers retreated from the glass as if it were suddenly made of fire and he furrowed his brows toward the admiral. “No,” he answered quickly and with a shake of his head. “I could stop any time- I didn’t touch a drink for nearly a month after Malahakir, a couple weeks after Derna.” Gideon raised a brow in challenge. “Those situations would likely drive one deeper into a bottle, no?”
He didn’t look convinced, but the admiral said nothing. He nodded eventually, deciding that only time would really tell. There was no way of really knowing. His record spoke of an immature officer. Since leaving the Prevailer, Gideon’s record had been clean. “Alright. And this anger issue-”
“-only when El is threatened,” he interrupted. He clasped his hands in his lap to keep from reaching for the wine glass. ‘It’s empty anyway. I’d have to refill it. Just wait.’
Again, Alderic was silent as he took a sip of his bourbon. He thought on the answer as he stared at the security chief. “Exactly how many women are we talking about here?” he asked finally.
His shoulders slumped slightly and Gideon fought against his frown at the question. He grunted softly and shook his head as he considered how to answer without feeling like the manwhore he had been. “Too many,” he answered finally.
At the answer, Alderic’s calloused strong hands moved over his face roughly. “Augh. I was afraid you were going to say that,” he grumbled. “Kids?”
Muttering softly, Gideon shifted slightly in the chair to straighten his posture. “She’s smart enough to do the math in her sleep, she probably thinks it’s higher.” He shook his head, sighing softly. “No kids I’m aware of.”
His lips finally pressed into a frown for the first time that evening. “Have you warned her of that possibility?”
He shifted his weight in the chair, wanting to be done with this topic about ten minutes ago. Gideon shook his head. “Not explicitly, but again, she’s a smart girl.” The half-Bajoran sighed and stared at Alderic.
Alderic sighed. “You’re making a lot of assumptions here. You can’t just assume she’s figured it out because she’s quick. That gives you a chance to play the victim, as brief as it may be. And I’m not saying you would.”
“She doesn’t like talking about it, I’m not going to push it. It’s bad enough she feels like she has to compete with my ghost.” Gideon paused and frowned slightly. “I’ve always taken full responsibility for what I’ve done.”
“I can see that much from your record, but this isn’t about you anymore. Is it? Your past will follow you and now my niece is involved.” He sighed, his eyes moved to stare out into the skyline briefly before it settled on Gideon once more. “I can tell you love her. I see it whenever you look at her when she’s not looking,” he started softly.
“I’d do anything for her,” he said quietly, nodding in agreement at Alderic’s assessment.
“I know what that feels like, going from womanizer to not. I know because I was once like you. When you’re young and brazen, that conquest makes you feel more significant than you really are. Because for that moment in her life, you are all she wants. You matter, and that is the most thrilling feeling in the world. So believe me when I tell you that I know that you would do everything possible to avoid losing the one person who makes you feel like it every single minute of every single day.” Alderic’s lips formed a thin line as he took in a ragged breath. “I just don’t want her hurt. And, your history? It’ll hurt her. I had hurt the one person in my life who mattered, and I don’t want that for my niece.”
He reached to rest one elbow on the table and Gideon’s fingers played with the rim of the wine glass. His gaze lifted at the admiral’s statement. “What happened?” The question was cautiously asked.
With a soft sigh, he lifted the glass and took a long pull of his bourbon. His fingers moved through his hair roughly. “Emilia,” he offered softly as his gaze dipped. Alderic straightened and met Gideon’s eyes. “The details don’t matter, but- She stopped trusting me when we found out I had kids. She was never the same- I’ll go to my grave knowing that I was the one who killed her smile.” He shook his head and leaned forward, taking a final sip of the amber to empty the glass. “I was careful. I was so careful- Not careful enough. Eventually, probability wins out and you could have a kid showing up on your doorstep.”
Gideon raised his brows but remained quiet. There was a brief moment of fear as he considered that he could end up just like Alderic if he wasn’t careful with Marielle. The admiral didn’t seem put off in his marital status, but Gideon could only imagine how lonely it was. He’d been there before and he never wanted that isolation ever again. The security chief blew a breath through his lips, nodding at the similarities in their backgrounds. “It killed me- what happened with Tasse. Because I did almost ruin her.”
“I don’t drink alone. So I hope to the gods I’m not enabling you,” he muttered to himself. He grunted and reached forward, pouring out what was left in Gideon’s water glass into Marielle’s. He refilled his own glass with a modest level of amber before filling one for the security chief. “Damn Orions. The gods’ gift and curse to men throughout the universe.” Alderic lifted his glass slightly and tipped it towards the security chief before he took a sip. “I’ll only allow that mistake once. Next time. Leave.”
His frown deepened and he reached to take the glass. “I know,” he muttered. Gideon took a sip of the bourbon and hummed quietly at the warmth that snaked down his throat.
Alderic drank in silence with Gideon and he turned his chin when he heard Marielle’s voice echoing down the hallway from her room. He couldn’t help but chuckle as he heard the string of muffled insults. “She’s an odd one,” he murmured before lowering his glass to the table. “How’s the recovery after your last mission? Did your PTSD return with a vengeance? Able to sleep? Still taking the luenalin? You seeing that quack of yours- Oh, what’s his name? Vera?”
He shook his head and grumbled quietly. The half-Bajoran took another sip of the bourbon before setting the glass on the table. Gideon drummed his fingers on the wood. “Vaeros.” He lifted his gaze to the admiral. “Recovered fine, no PTSD, sleeping fine. Still using the luenalin rarely.” He decided against sharing that he slept well when it was beside Marielle.
Again, he didn’t seem convinced but there was no way of knowing the truth. “Bad things seem to be following you, kid,” Alderic muttered. “It’s bad enough to get captured and tortured once. You’re two for two in a year.” He shook his head and sighed. “Don’t know who you pissed off, but you should apologise quickly.” He took a sip. “I’m not convinced about you. You seem like a good officer, but you’ve got a lot of demons following you.” He shrugged. “Not my choice though- Short Stack likes you, more than that twat Adam, and I’m not about to get in the way. So as long as you keep her happy and safe, you and I won’t have problems. That clear?”
Gideon considered arguing, but felt that it wouldn’t do much good at the time. He knew about the demons and wondered why they were following him. ‘What did I do to deserve this?’ A soft sigh left his lips and he nodded his head. “Clear, sir.”
The admiral nodded, seemingly satisfied. He lifted the glass of amber and took a small sip. “Now. You’re about to deal with my brother and his family. If you have questions, I’ll do my best to answer. That won’t be a fun couple of days for you- Especially since she’s going specifically to, well- Apparently Short Stack’s regained some popularity.” Alderic grunted and took another sip of his bourbon.
Gideon sighed softly and shook his head. He felt some concern for the mention of Marielle’s popularity. “Why does she stay loyal her family so much with the way she’s treated?” His gaze lifted to the admiral. “Especially her father?”
He turned his dark jewel green irises onto the security chief by his side. “Do you know anything about her culture?” Alderic asked. When Gideon shrugged and shook his head, the admiral sighed softly. “Back in the day, family was the source of pride. It wasn’t about the individual, it’s about protecting and honouring the family. Much like our Klingon allies, just without all the pain sticks and death- Well, not anymore.” He managed a soft and sad chuckle before taking a sip of the amber and placed the crystal back on the table. “Basically, she loves her parents. No matter what she may want or believe, she will do anything and give up everything for the people she loves. Because that is how she was raised and what she believes is important.”
“So what happens when two people she loves pull her in opposite directions?” His fingers tightened around the crystal glass and he paused before lifting it to sip of the amber liquor. He grunted softly in appreciation at the taste.
The admiral hummed softly. “She does something stupid like run off and marries that dimwitted best friend of hers,” he murmured. Alderic shrugged. “She’s walking a fine line here. If she upsets Aubert enough, he could disown her. It’d kill her to lose family like that- Best you can do is convince my brother you’d be a solid choice. I keep hoping that’ll happen so that she wouldn’t have to deal with it.”
Gideon’s frown deepened and his chin dipped. “I have nothing to offer Aubert but Marielle’s happiness, but it’s apparent that means absolutely nothing to him.” His fingers traced the rim of his crystal before picking the glass up and taking a long drink.
“You need to decide if you want to stick around if she chooses family over you. It’s a damn possibility.” Alderic offered him a weak smile. “Until then, I’d suggest just enjoying your time together and watch out for wandering hands. Short Stack’s sisters always did like stealing her toys.”
He shifted in his seat and shook his head. “I’ll always be her friend first.” Gideon continued to play with the glass as he stared at the table. “She knows that.” He didn’t even touch on the comment about her sisters because he knew it wouldn’t be an issue.
“I’ve been gone for awhile and you haven’t even bothered to clear the table?” Marielle barely kept her amusement from her tone as she nearly skipped down the stairs and made her way towards the large dining room table. She stopped behind Gideon’s chair and her hands slid over his shoulders and down his chest. A kiss was lost in his hair. She smiled warmly as she looked down at him. “Has he been nice to you?”
“I’m always nice, Short Stack,” Aldric retorted with a belly-shaking laugh.
Gideon lifted his glass and glanced up to Marielle over his shoulder. “He made me start drinking again,” he mused playfully. His other hand lifted to rest over hers on his chest.
“Uncle Greg!” Marielle frowned at the older man, watching as he narrowed his eyes at Gideon. “I told you to be nice!”
Alderic stared at the security chief, a bit floored that the half-Bajoran had so easily convinced his niece. His gaze moved between Marielle and Gideon. “Are you kidding me? This is a joke right?” He threw his hand in Gideon’s direction. “I gave you my approval! I thought we were bonding!”
“Just for that, I’m going to make sure I’m annoyingly loud tonight-”
The admiral shot up from his seat, his legs hitting the edge of the table with a resounding bang. He yelped in pain, releasing a string of curses, as his knee made contact. “I’m going to go stay at Cordelia’s. I’ll see you two in the morning.” Alderic shot a glare in Gideon’s direction as he made his way to the lift. “Just leave the mess. Amy will get it in the morning.”
She giggled softly as she watched her uncle disappear once the doors to the turbolift closed. “That was fun.” The chief researcher straightened and went about picking up the empty dishes. “Good talk?” She made her way to the kitchen to drop the dishes into the recycler.
He stood and gathered some of the other dishes to help clear the table. A soft grumble left his lips before he nodded. “As good as an interrogation could be.” The half-Bajoran glanced toward Marielle with a small smile, the depth of his mirth apparent in his cobalt hues.
“Well. He didn’t just ignore you, so I’ll take it as a good sign.” She laughed softly and lifted her bare heels so she could kiss him on his cheek. “I’ll make it up to you,” she whispered against his jaw. “Sounds like we’ll have the whole place to ourselves.”
His arms slid over her sides and around her back as he embraced her close to him. Gideon’s chin dipped so he could whisper into her ear. “Hot tub.” His stomach fluttered with her giggle and he smiled when she slipped out of his grasp. The half-Bajoran picked up the bottle of bourbon and two glasses as he followed her toward the balcony. A low groan slipped from his lips as he was forced to watch her strip seductively along the way.