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[Deniaud/M.S.] Collaboration Log
Roots & Branches: Unexpected Guest
Marielle stood quietly in the hallway as she stared at the large double doors that would lead her into the sitting room. She could hear the muffled voices of her father and his guest. Slender fingers toyed with the fine silk of her furisode, fingertips tracing the edge of the long sleeves that draped down her arms. Gold thread lined the painted silk, soft greens brought to life by the rich and dark plum silk. An ornate obi wrapped around her waist and was tied into an intricate knot that sat high on her back. The collar touched high along her neck but dipped ever so slightly at her back - not enough to be scandalous but just enough to give hint to the gentle curve of her neck. Her hair was fashioned up in an intricate mess of curls and thin braids. She toyed with the hinge of the fan that was tucked under her obi as she took several deep breaths. Whoever was beyond those doors was surely another one of her father’s chosen suitors for her. Quietly, she pushed herself into motion and knocked on the door.
“Ah. That would be my daughter,” Aubert lifted his chin to look past the trader kneeling across from him. He nodded once. “Come in, Mariëlle.”
She released a breath and pushed the door open. Slowly, she made her way towards the lifted tatami covered floor and left her wooden sandals to the side. Small steps carried her towards the low table and she lowered slowly to the floor. Her chin dipped slightly to her chest and she bowed in greeting to her father’s guest. When she straightened, emerald irises found themselves staring at a familiar pair of bright jewel green hues. Her mouth dropped slightly with her surprise. “Cassius?”
His smile could not be moved and his eyes twinkled with his delight in seeing the woman again. “Mademoiselle,” he greeted her warmly. Cassius Majors had dressed as if knowing what Marielle would be wearing. His grey suit was tailored to fit and a dark plum tie matched the hue of her furisode. He appeared at ease in the kneeling position, his jacket buttons undone to allow the silk to move.
“You know each other?” The patriarch’s chin turned as he regarded the trader and his daughter.
“I- Yes- Well, no.” She stammered pathetically as she continued to stare at the man beside her. A few blinks had her senses returning and she straightened as she let her hands settle high on her thighs. “I met Monsieur Majors just recently. He was conducting business on a planet the Aldrin was orbiting. He asked me to dance at the celebration held by the ruling monarch.”
He waited a moment before turning his chin to speak with Aubert. “We spent several hours at the market.” Fondness slipped into his tone as he returned his gaze to the diminutive woman. “I was going to contact you by subspace, but saw you were on Earth at the same time, so I thought we could meet again.” A wry smile threatened his features.
Before Aubert could respond, a knock on the door interrupted his thoughts. He straightened and lifted his head to see one of the many employees of the chateau enter. “Yes. What is it?”
“I’m sorry, Monsieur Deniaud. There’s a subspace transmission that requires your attention.”
With a sigh, the patriarch pushed back from his kneeling position and easily lifted to his feet. “If you excuse me, I must take this call. I’ll leave you in the capable hands of my daughter.” Aubert didn’t glance at Marielle, simply leaving without another word.
The trader didn’t bother to look after the patriarch, instead keeping his gaze locked with Marielle’s. Warmth moved through him as the familiar sensation of desire sprung easily in his core. Cassius subtly swallowed the swell of emotion and his smile became tender. “Hello again, Mariëlle.”
She watched her father walk away and she stared at the double doors for several long moments even after it had closed. Finally, she turned her chin and studied the trader by her side. Her head tilted to one side and while her smile was warm, her eyes studied him with renewed interest. “Hello again, Cassius,” she returned softly. “I don’t mean to be rude, but why are you here?”
His hand lifted from his thigh to wave dismissively. “Trade arrangements with your father, though I’m afraid he’s a bit expensive for my tastes.” He grinned as he studied the diminutive woman, his eyes not leaving hers though he took in her form in his peripheral vision. “I believe I’ll have to refer him to a colleague of mine with far more resources.” Cassius chuckled quietly. “So I thought to ask after you and not let the trip be a total failure.”
“So you’re the next one attempting to buy my life?” It was difficult to hide the accusation from her tone. Her expression remained pleasant but the sharpness in her eyes did not diminish as she watched his reaction. “Have you been following me? Stalking me? What sort of game is this?” She rocked forward as she prepared to push to her feet, her hands settling on the edge of the low table.
He reached out and gripped her arm, his fingers firm but not bruising on her kimono. “You have this all wrong, mademoiselle.” His emerald hues pleaded with her to listen. “I was simply in the area and already looking to establish trade here. I saw the Aldrin in orbit and naturally assumed.” Cassius released her bicep with an apologetic smile as his fingers brushed the silk to straighten any wrinkles he may have caused. “I asked to meet with you- I had no idea it would be this formal.”
Marielle tensed at his touch to halt her movement and she did not shy away from his gaze. There was a heat from his touch that was oddly comforting. Slowly, after a brief moment of debate, she lowered to kneel on the tatami mat. “I find your timing incredibly suspicious,” she muttered. Hands smoothed over the silk to remove any hint of wrinkles. “How did you know I would be home?”
“My assumption was confirmed when set up a trade meeting with your father and he said he could arrange a time between other negotiations regarding his youngest daughter.” A warm smile pulled at the corner of his lips. “I have a feeling he will be quite disappointed to learn how poor I am if your life is for sale.”
Her lips formed a thin line and she lifted a hand to wave dismissively in the air. “A simple hyperbole,” she offered weakly as an excuse. She wasn’t sure if she was thoroughly convinced of his explanation, but he was far more enjoyable company than she had anticipated. A small smile settled on her lips as her hands slid from her knees to settle on her thighs. “Well- I suppose then that our meeting is rather serendipitous. I had no idea how to reach you to thank you for the gifts you gave me.” At the thought of the glass ornament and the hairstick, her chin dipped ever so slightly and her cheeks flushed. “You spent far too much on a stranger, but they are treasured. So, thank you.”
His smile only grew and his features brightened upon seeing the color of her face. A soft hum rumbled in his throat and he dipped his chin slightly in acknowledgement. “Your smile, your company was thanks enough. There’s no measure of value for such gestures, so by my estimation, I spent far too little.” Cassius chuckled quietly and leaned toward her without knowing.
Her soft lilting laugh joined his rumbling chortle. “Still, I would feel greedy for not telling you that it was very much appreciated. I feel rather selfish haven’t not thought to get you anything.” She looked up at him after a moment and hummed in thought. “Though- Has my father spoken to you about the gala to take place in tomorrow?”
“It was mentioned, though I’m sure he intended to flaunt the reach of his own trade rather than entice me to attend.” Mirth twinkled in his emerald hues and his smile turned wry. There was an inkling of hope that Marielle would invite him.
She giggled and nodded at his statement. “Would you like to attend?” The diminutive woman smiled warmly. “I am sure my father’s friends would be far more amenable to working with you. His mind is- focused on other things. If nothing else, I owe you a dance. I believe ours was cut short.” Her lips formed a thin line as she thought on her pun and she groaned softly at herself.
He chuckled quietly and rubbed his palms gently on his silk trousers as he shifted with his nod. “I’m delighted at the prospect of another dance with you, Mariëlle. With joy, I accept and look forward to a proper dance with you.”
She chuckled and clapped her hands with her delight. “How wonderful! And I would love to introduce you to Gideon. I think you’ll get along rather nicely!” Marielle looked to her side and finally noticed the antique wooden box to the side.
Cassius hummed at the thought of meeting the man that he knew little of, but had grown to loathe. ‘He is weak.’ He silenced his inner voice to keep the rage that so easily consumed him from surfacing. ‘Just a few more months.’ His expression relaxed as he took in a deep breath and he dipped his chin before turning to smile at Marielle. “You are resplendent, mademoiselle. I look forward to the gala.”
She lifted her chin to look at him, unable to keep from blushing at his compliment. “You will save me a dance then?” The question was asked softly. Silently, she chastised herself for the fluttering in her stomach and reminded herself that she was not one to stray. ‘No harm in flirting,’ the devil on her shoulder whispered. ‘Don’t. You’d be upset if you found out Gideon flirted with someone,’ reminded the angel on the other. ‘Shut up! This is why you’re here! You’re supposed to flirt with the man your father hopes you’ll marry! It’s just a damn bonus he’s hot and well-spoken and intelligent-,’ the devil hissed with impatience. ‘And hot. Remember how you fell on top of him and you felt all those muscles?’ agreed the angel. ‘Mmm. Muscles,’ sighed the devil happily. Marielle shifted slightly, her face growing warmer as she battled with herself.
“You will be my first and my last dance.” He turned his wrist closest to her so his palm faced up and his fingers curled slightly. It was a gesture of desire that he often used - his hand open to her to show that he wanted her affection without obtrusively demanding it. Cassius smiled as he continued to watch her, silently thrilled by the rise of emotions he sensed from the diminutive woman beside him. ‘I could reveal myself tonight to her father and make an offer. But then the gala- After the gala.’ He bit the inside of his lip to keep from groaning with his growing need.
Her hand lifted and moved towards his palm without thought. ‘Stop. This isn’t fair to Gideon, and you don’t know him,’ she reminded herself. ‘Pfft. He’s probably out oogling women with Renard,’ scoffed the devil. ‘You can totally flirt,’ agreed the angel. ‘Cop a feel.’ She nearly scowled at how her inner thoughts betrayed her so easily. Quickly, she diverted the direction of her hand to his lapel and picked at some invisible thread. It was flicked to the side before her fingers smoothed over the silk of his suit jacket, her touch carrying a bit more pressure to feel the corded muscles hidden under the fine fabric. “Loose thread,” she muttered weakly and she was sure her face had turned a brilliant shade of red. ‘Holy crap. Muscles,’ cooed both the devil and angel of her thoughts.
He had been prepared to close his fingers over hers and a small smile pulled at his mouth. Cassius turned slightly to face her and dipped his chin to look over the suit he wore. “If I missed one, I’m sure to have missed more. Your eye is obviously sharper than mine.” He lifted his hands to spread the jacket apart and his gaze moved over his chest and torso in feigned search.
‘He’s giving you permission to just jump him!’ squealed the devil on her shoulder. ‘Do it! Doooooo it!’ cheered the angel. Marielle could only stare, her jaw dropping slightly as she watched the dress shirt tighten over his torso. Her imagination went wild, the door to Eros swinging wide open with such force that it slammed against the stone wall. How easily it would be for her to reach and pull the fabric apart. The imagined sound of buttons popping off the threads filled her ears. A soft moan fell from her lips. “Hot,” she whispered to herself. It took all of a fraction of a second to realize she’d given life to her thoughts and her hand came up immediately to cover her mouth as her eyes grew wide. ‘Merde! I said that aloud! Idiot! Quick! Think fast!’
“Hmm?” He lifted his chin with a wide smile, enjoying the emotions that swelled from the woman beside him. ‘Gods, you’ve been without her for far too long. I wish I could have a taste.’ His emerald became briefly hazy with his thought but a blink brought him back to the present. Cassius chuckled quietly and pulled his jacket together, buttoning the two fasteners deliberately.
“I- uh- Hot- tea?” she managed after a stutter as she watched his thick fingers work the buttons of his suit. Her face was warm beyond belief and her hand reached up to cover her cheek. There was nothing she could do about the darkness that moved through her jewel green hues. “I was wondering if you’d like some hot tea.” ‘Nice,’ both the angel and devil on her shoulders laughed mercilessly at her poor attempt.
He had to swallow his groan as the hues of his irises seemed to match hers. ‘Not yet, Gods, don’t ruin everything today,’ he pleaded with himself. Cassius grunted softly and quickly covered the sound with a chuckle. “Onegaishimasu, (Please.)” he answered warmly. The trader would have been happy to serve the tea himself, but he knew of the traditions that centered around their meeting. He watched her intently and with subtle adoration.
She was silently thankful for the distraction. He was proving to be far more of a temptation than she thought ever possible. It was an odd acknowledgement. Since Gideon, she found no one who captured her attention as deeply and as quickly as the security chief. At least, not until she happened upon the trader beside her. She moved with practiced precision as she began creating him a proper cup of tea. The near meditative state allowed her to pull from the depths of desires and she found peace in being in the moment with the man by her side. Silently, she wished that the half-Bajoran had an appreciation for such things. It would have been good to share such an intimate moment with him.