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[Deniaud/Salieri] Collaboration Log
Roots & Branches: Those Three Words
Gideon leaned back against the tall arm of the chaise, his dress shirt unbuttoned to the middle of his chest. He was slouched, legs spread as if he needed the wide stance to keep his balance. One arm draped over the side and the other rested on his chest, his hand held his forehead to prevent the room from spinning any faster. This was by far the most he’d had to drink in several years and Gideon remembered exactly why. After a failed attempt at explaining this to Marielle’s brother, Renard had just laughed and dumped the security chief on the chaise lounge and he had yet to muster the energy to move. His shallow breaths came steadily and his eyes remained closed against the imagined spotlight focused on his brain.
Marielle tiptoed down the servant stairs towards Gideon’s room. Her father had deemed the entire night a complete disaster. Apparently the trader had nothing to offer of value. Yet, even the resounding lecture and screaming fit he had with her did nothing to diminish the smile that was plastered on her face. Because the night hadn’t actually been a disaster. She found Cassius to be a rather entertaining guest and she fondly recalled the conversation they shared. She giggled softly. She had consumed a bit more sake than was deemed socially acceptable for a hostess, but she had fun pouring the warm rice wine for their guest. She had flirted freely as the night progressed, justifying it as innocent banter. It had left her wanting, however, so she searched out the half-Bajoran. She reached the door and leaned her head against the cool surface. The room was spinning slightly, and she lingered in place to prevent from tipping over. Like the previous night, she had wandered through the hidden passageways barefooted. Quietly, she tapped a knuckle against the door before sliding it open.
He hadn’t heard it. Or if he did, Gideon couldn’t find a method with which to respond. He took in a deep breath and groaned in immediate regret. “Il cazzo stavi pensando, idiota. (The Hell were you thinking, idiot.)” He felt like a slug as he waved his arms in front of him, believing that this motion alone would allow him to sit upright. Of course it didn’t work, and he blinked, brows furrowed as he thought he saw something move across the room. “Why can’t I get up.” He hiccuped and frowned at the taste of wine-flavored bile in the back of his throat. “Oh, yeah.” The Betazoid mix flopped back, humming quietly. “If the room would stop moving, that’d be great, thanks.”
“Gideon?” she called out softly. The room was dark, and it was hard to see. She emerged from behind the wall, her face flushed pink with the combination of joy and sake. Marielle turned, the hem of her silk robe floating with the speed of her spin, so she could lightly close the hidden door. The researcher trotted past the the faux French balcony, taking the time to open the doors. A cold breeze floated into the space, the soothing fragrance of lavender on its very breath. She hummed as she softly closed the doors to keep the warmth locked in the bedroom and made her way in the general direction of Gideon’s bed. Her hands were out in front of her as she took careful steps in the dark.
“An angel?” He’d heard his name called but failed in that moment to comprehend who it belonged to. “Prophets. Am I dead?” Gideon retracted his hand from dangling over the edge of the chaise, feeling his chest. His heart was beating. Or maybe that was his head throbbing. No, definitely his heart. It had been long enough since his last drink that his buzz had started to fade. The mental workout of conversation was enough to start sobering him up.
She giggled softly, stumbling a bit as she made her way towards his voice. “What are you going on about there, Gideon?” Marielle stumbled upon the chaise and fell forward, her head crashing against his. “Ow!”
“Now my head is throbbing.” The statement was accompanied by a lazy chuckle as he reached up to push Marielle’s hair back from her face. His expression brightened, almost cartoonish as he recognized the woman that had landed on top of him. “El! Are-”
“Shhh!” she covered his mouth with her hand. Her mouth brushed over his cheek as she whispered in his ear. “You have to be quiet.” Marielle giggled softly. “You might be the only guest on this floor, but the maids will sometimes make a round.”
“El!” he repeated in an exaggerated hush once she had removed her hand from over his mouth. “Are you okay?!” Gideon beamed as he nodded to show that he understood and look how well he’d lowered his voice! A playful wink found his features.
Marielle slipped off his lap, hands brushing over his arm, to his shoulder, leaping to the bed. Carefully she traced the edge until she reached the bedside table. A simple tap of her hand had the room in a soft glow. She turned and looked at him, laughing at the sight. She had shed the kimono the moment she got to her room. The dark blue silk spaghetti strap top and shorts was hidden under her long white silk robe.
Gideon winced, raising his free hand to covered his eyes against the offending light. “Why’re you laughing?” he whimpered. Other than his arms, he hadn’t moved an inch from where Renard dumped him.
The diminutive woman moved back to him. She stood before him, taking in his state of undress. She giggled again. “Did Renard drink you under the table?”
Once more adjusted to the low light, the half-Bajoran slowly opened his eyes. Cobalt orbs found Marielle and he gasped softly, facial expression full of wonder. “An angel! I knew it,” he slurred. “You’re beautiful sweet angel, but I have eyes for another. Shoo.”
She chuckled. “Do I dare ask about this ‘other’?”
“Not if I can’t ask you about the trader.” There were too many double negatives for Gideon to recall if he knew what he was trying to say. He grunted and shook his head. Renard had been particularly forthcoming in his state of drunkenness and spilled everything about what Marielle was up to that night.
Marielle tensed and took a small step back. “What?”
“Her name is Marielle, but I pronounce French horribly, so I call her El. L'amore della mia vita, il mio tesoro. (The love of my life, my treasure.)” A slow smile overcame his lips and the hazed expression in his eyes began to clear as cobalt orbs focused on Marielle. He’d stared at her in silence.
Her breath hitched at the confession, and a swell of emotions overwhelmed her. “You are most definitely far more drunk than I am.” Marielle sighed. It was hard not to hold back her disappointment. If he had fallen off the wagon because he wanted to bond with Renard, the researcher would never have been able to forgive herself. Though, on the more selfish level, Marielle was disappointed that her plans for the evening had been railroaded by her boyfriend’s night of supposed debauchery. The sight of him in such a state sobered her up fairly quickly. Her hands rested on the base of his neck, thumbs drawing gentle soothing lines over his collar bone. Quickly, she kissed his forehead. “Come on. I’ll take care of you.”
Humming softly, Gideon shook his head, grinning. “I’m not drunk, El.” The lie was easily told. The taste of liquor was far too sweet to refuse and Renard had bought drinks all night.
“Sure you’re not,” the engineer chuckled in feigned agreement. She determined it was the most likely reason, as the confession had been uttered by wine-numb lips. As she started pulling at his shirt, she decided she needed to find the proper revenge against her doting brother. “Come on. Let’s get you cleaned up. Shower. Water.” Marielle pulled at his hands, hoping he’d get to his feet. There was no way she’d be able to carry him.
He frowned a bit, brows furrowing as he resisted her pulls. Gideon sat up, pausing as his head swam a bit. “I mean it,” he said insistently. It was a natural thing to say, to proclaim his innocence. He hadn’t been openly drinking - since the party on Nordlingen. A quiet chuckle moved through him as he realized that everyone was sure to know, though Marielle hadn’t seen it. “I’m not drunk,” he softly sang.
“Let me get this straight. You were pretending the whole time?” She huffed when he didn’t move. Her hand falling to her waist as her hip jutted out to one side. “You mean to tell me you didn’t go hitting on women either? Because I’m pretty sure my brother would have used you as his wingman.” Marielle reached forward and her fingers brushed over the red lipstick that clung to the collar of his dress shirt. Her lips formed a thin line as her fingertips smudged the hint of red that clung to his skin. ‘I have no right to judge. I was no better this evening,’ she told herself. Though, there was a voice in her head that reminded her that her flirtations did not include Cassius’ lips anywhere near her body, save for the chaste kiss left on the knuckles of her hand.
He was blissfully unaware of the lipstick on his collar. “He used me but I was good, I didn’t touch anyone.” Gideon reached out as he looked up at Marielle. Taking her hand, he pulled her closer to settle next to him on the chaise. He wrapped his arms around her and leaned in close, nestling his face in the small of her neck. “Not pretending at all,” he assured her, trying to use her closeness as her unnecessary apology.
She released a soft squeak as she was pulled suddenly to sit next to him. Her eyes fluttered shut as his breath ghosted on her neck. She grumbled softly about unfair advantages and reminded herself that she was upset for more reasons than one. “I’m not sure what I believe at the moment,” she muttered, sighing softly when another brush of air moved over her skin. Marielle wiggled to get away, knowing she wouldn’t be able to stay mad if he kept her so close. “Exactly what was under the influence and what wasn’t?”
He didn’t keep her, though Gideon did his best to remain in some sort of physical contact. She always found a way to soothe him, even if just by the slightest brush of her skin to his. He decided against answering her question because he was going to have a hard time remembering. A smile pulled at his features. “You are an angel in my eyes, and the treasure of my heart.”
She got up instantly. A drunken confession was not exactly something she had expected that evening. ‘Tellement pour un bon moment. Merde. Bonjour mes doigts, mon vieil ami.’ “I’m awfully tired. I should get back to my room.” Her bare feet softly padded towards the hidden door quickly, her strides a near run.
“I love you.”
Marielle stopped, nearly stumbling over her own feet. Her back straightened as she tensed. She pushed a grin to her lips before turning to look at him over her shoulder. “Yup. Definitely drunk.” She forced herself to giggle. “I’ll leave you for the night. Sorry to have bothered you. I’ll see you for breakfast. We’ll do something fun in town, okay? You’ll need a tux, right?” she rambled poorly as she started running towards the hidden door.
He was standing, shocked at the reaction. It was a sobering jolt to his senses. Long jogging strides closed the distance and he reached out, his hand pressed against the door over her shoulder so that she couldn’t open it. “No, this isn’t how it’s supposed to go, El.” Gideon watched as she turned to face him, confusion and hurt evident in his expression.
She leaned against the door as she stared up at him briefly. Unable to meet his eyes, her gaze fell to his neck. Her chest heaved as she took deep breaths. “I should get back to my room, Gideon,” she whispered softly. Flutterings filled her stomach, and Marielle closed her eyes as she tried not to think of how close he was to her.
Gideon watched her quietly, unable to get a feeling of what was going on in her head. He frowned before sighing again. Still, he didn’t move his arm. “At least laugh at me and tell me how stupid I am for thinking I know what love could possibly be, El.” Her laugh could mend any wound, he knew.
The words stung. She so desperately wanted to tell him he wasn’t, that the words had lingered on the very tip of her tongue for months. But, life was going to be significantly more complicated for them both if she responded in kind. It was selfish of her, she knew, not to let him go. Her jaw clenched as she tried to control herself from saying anything she’d later regret, things that’d hurt them both in the end. Her arms reached out, hands sliding over his sides until the palms were flat on his back. Her head tilted up. “Kiss me, Gideon. Please.” The plea came in the form of a brittle whisper. She didn’t know what else to do but distract him.
He’d softened at her touch, arms lowering to embrace Marielle. Gideon watched her a moment before leaning in and placing his lips over hers. He pressed gently against her, willing the tenderness of his kiss to convey truthfully the extent of his devotion to her.
Marielle hummed at the kiss, her hands moving along his side until her fingers began to pull at his dress shirt as she undid his buttons. She nibbled at his lips as she grabbed his shirt and pulled him towards her so she could pin herself against the hidden door with his body. “Gideon, please.” Her voice trembled, the sotto voce plea filled with want and desperation. She needed his mind on other things, and she clung to the hope that her actions would do just that.
Gideon was pliable under her touch but there was a millisecond of delay in his reaction. His features were painted with doubt, but her voice pulled at him. He pressed against Marielle, his lips smothering hers as he finally relented and succumbed to her desire. Only the sounds of their joining filled the space. Every time he tried to say something, she silenced him with a kiss or a harsh bite that took his breath away.
She lost herself with him that night. There were no more utterings of hearts, or treasures, or of love. And, when she thought he had fallen asleep, Marielle slipped back into her sleeping clothes and robe. The hidden door closed with a soft click behind her, and she quietly wandered the hidden corridors and stairwells of the chateau for another hour or two to clear her head. By the time she had finally opted to return to her room, the night had started to make way for the sun. She collapsed into bed and curled into her covers, but even the aroma of lavender couldn’t soothe her.