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[Deniaud/Salieri] Collaboration Log
Roots & Branches: A Cold Morning
Marielle hummed softly as she took a bite of the warm croissant in her hand, a wicked and proud grin pulling at her lips and a twinkle of delight sparkling through her emerald hues. Normally bright irises were unusually dark, though it certainly could have been the shadows playing tricks. The diminutive woman chewed quietly as she pulled the soft pastry apart, her eyes watching the steam rising to the air before she threw the bitesize piece into her mouth. She had spent hours in her bedroom with Gideon, and she had not bothered with their usual five minute break between rounds. She had started anew without so much as a word. She had her way with him on her bed, on her floor, against the window, on the balcony. She sighed happily at the memory. The rough stone had been especially delightful on her back, though her nails had left several sets of red trails on his back.
The security chief had taken just a few moments to clean up after packing, tossing on a fresh tunic and linen leggings before walking quietly down the hall. Marielle hadn’t been insistent on using a dermal regenerator on their wounds as usual, so Gideon left them as well, his hand reaching to rub his fingers on the bite marks left of his neck. He watched carefully for any sign of movement, still unsure about how to react if he met anyone. The Betazoid mix had no doubt word had gotten around, but he wasn’t sure there was any joy in so openly being part of Marielle’s supposed dishonor. She’d mentioned to meet in the dining room, so he turned the corner and stepped into the voluminous space.
She sat on the large mahogany dining table, the polish nearly shimmering in the sunlight that filtered through the windows. She was dressed in a simple cotton summer dress - a soft pale yellow with painted floral detailing. Thick straps kept her arm bare and the shallow sweetheart neckline was just modestly cut to hint at her cleavage. A red ribbon tied the soft waves of her hair in a low chignon at the base of her neck. Aside from the few scruff marks on the back of her neck, many of the bruises and scratches that marred her skin was well hidden by her dress. Bright pink flats covered her feet, which swung to and fro. She leaned back, placing her barely touched croissant on the perfectly laid out place setting to grab the small apple from the bowl of fruit.
Gideon cleared his throat softly, quietly glad that he wouldn’t yet have to face anyone other than Marielle regarding their shenanigans. The clacking of his dress shoes was muffled by the carpet on the floor and the Betazoid mix slid his hand into a pocket as he approached the table.
Smiling, she waved the shiny red fruit in Gideon’s direction when she spotted him. “Apple?” she asked sweetly before taking a bite. The sound, the snap and crunch, easily filled the dining room.
He hummed softly as his steps quickened, his hands pressing the table on either side of Marielle as Gideon pressed a brief, insistent kiss to her lips before pushing his tongue between her lips and pulling the bit of apple from her mouth into his own. He inhaled deeply as he leaned his head back to chew the crisp fruit. “Yes, thank you,” he murmured between chews.
During their kiss, her legs had parted for him. Her feet wrapping around each of his thighs as her free hand danced over his chest until her arm draped over his shoulder. “There’s more, if you’re still hungry,” she breathed out softly. As if to make her point, she took another bite of the fruit.
One arm curled around her lower back as his body pressed against hers, lips finding hers to steal the second bite of apple.
“You really should take that up to your room, Chaos.” Renard’s leaned against the doorframe. He was dressed in his usual fare, the button down shirt paired with black slacks. He had a wry grin on his lips as his vibrant hues swept over the couple.
Gideon let his cheek slide against hers so that he faced away from Renard. His heart had jumped in his chest, but the half-Bajoran did not move away from Marielle. He found the second bite of apple a bit harder to swallow. He straightened only slightly so that his other hand could gently caress her thigh.
Marielle had jumped out of surprise, but the tension in her body had eased almost instantly. She didn’t let Gideon get too far, her body pressed uncharacteristically possessively to his. Her head tilted back slightly, her arm remaining draped over Gideon’s shoulder as she turned her head to look at her brother. “Why? I think Auden would rather like a show from his whore of a fiancée.” The reply had been uttered without any malice. Marielle’s tone had been calm and even, the words spoken with a wintry detachment. She took a bite of her apple.
He finally lifted his chin, turning to glance at Renard to find a worried expression flashing in his eyes. Gideon inhaled gently, his irises turning briefly to Marielle, noting the lifeless expression on her features before looking again at Renard. He had a nearly identical expression to Renard’s in his own features as he frowned. The half-Betazoid still could not shake the idea that something was off.
The eldest of the Deniaud children watched his sister carefully and he remained silent as he pushed off the doorframe to make his way to the dining room table. He grabbed a pastry from the basket, his fingers pulling at the croissant to watch it flake under his fingertips. “Papa is expecting you. Auden is, surprisingly, still here.” Renard lifted his gaze to watch his sister’s reaction and his lips formed a thin line when he discovered none had been given.
She took another bite of her apple, humming as she chewed. Marielle slid just a touch along the table until her pelvis pressed against Gideon’s, her legs tightening their grip around his sides. “They’ll be waiting a while then,” she mused after swallowing her bite of fruit. She turned her head slightly, purposefully brushing her lightly painted lips against the shell of Gideon’s ear as she softly asked, “All ready to go?”
“Yes,” he answered thickly, clearing his throat as his fingertips curled against the small of her back. Gideon sighed softly, fighting the shiver that moved over his spine as her breath ghosted the sensitive skin of his ear. His irises remained on Renard, his heart still pounding in his chest.
Renard frowned, his dark green eyes flickering between Marielle and Gideon several times before they settled on his sister. He continued to study her carefully. “Go? I thought you weren’t leaving until tomorrow.”
Marielle turned to Renard, her shoulders shrugging. “Plans change,” she replied simply, her head turned as her eyes lazily swept through the selection of food. She placed the half-eaten fruit on the plate, and it rolled against the barely touched croissant. With a soft breath, she fell back languidly onto the table’s surface with her arms reaching far past her head towards the basket just beyond her reach. Her legs used Gideon as an anchor as her back arched in her stretch, her fingertips just barely hooking into the handle. With a sinful giggle of delight, she slid the basket towards herself before curling up towards Gideon. Marielle peered into the basket, pulling out another croissant. She peered up at Gideon through her dark lashes as a lazy smile graced her lips. Her fingers tore into the pastry, and she offered the bite-sized morsel to the security chief. “Bread?”
Gideon had watched with thinly veiled desire as she stretched in front of him, a slow breath blown from between his lips to calm the lust rising within him again. The half-Betazoid was drunk in her presence, though the offering of ‘bread’ instead of ‘croissant’ had him raising a brow. He didn’t hesitate, however, and leaned forward to accept the offered bite, his lips closing over her fingers to suckle the butter from her digits.
He had watched his sister carefully, the line of his lips turning down into an apparent frown. Renard watched Gideon, his nose wrinkling in disgust at how easily he seemed to be swayed by her actions. His rich green hues, which were normally the same shade as hers, settled on Marielle. “Qu’est-ce qui ne va pas, ma chouchouette? (What’s wrong, my little cabbage?)” he asked her softly.
She considered the question quietly, her eyes closing in time with her shrug. Marielle pressed a hand lightly on Gideon’s chest and applied enough pressure to push the half-Bajoran back. The researcher slid off the table, her hands lightly brushing over the fabric of her dress and her fingers moving to tidy up her hair.
He leaned back at her request, stepping aside when she insisted. “Mish aka golaya Bajorai?” Gideon glanced toward Renard. His concern had grown when the older Deniaud showed the same emotion.
Marielle hummed lyrically in response, the sound not really giving an indication to an answer. “I think I’ll say good-bye to Papa, after all,” she mused as a soft impish giggle tumbled over her lips. Her heels lifted off the ground, her lips finding Gideon’s easily. The kiss she gave him was nothing short of sinful, her tongue brushing over the seam before she nibbled lightly. Her eyes had remained open, dark hues watching the depths of his blue as she lowered herself to the ground. “The shuttle should be here soon. I’ll meet you outside. I shan’t be long.” She sauntered out of the room, her hips swaying from side to side for Gideon’s eyes as she exited the dining room. “Renard. Do make yourself useful and help Gideon.”
Renard’s head whipped towards the security chief as he glared at the Betazoid mix. “What happened?” he demanded slowly.
He was staring after her, his lips parted in shock before he turned to rest against the table where Marielle once sat. Gideon looked at Renard, blinking several times before he reached up to fold his arms over his chest. “It’s like a switch has been flipped,” he said quietly, brows furrowing in confusion. “I thought she’d made her decision, but-” The half-Betazoid’s gaze turned toward the hallway where Marielle had disappeared to. “Something’s off,” he revealed as he looked back at Renard.
“Your powers of deduction are inspirational,” Renard growled in annoyance. His hand moved over his face in frustration.
Gideon growled in return, his hands grasping at the edge of the table at his sides. “Fanculo, man, I don’t need you digging on my stupidity, too. I can’t get a read on her, it’s either everything or nothing.” Irritation seeped easily into his voice - he never enjoyed being reminded of his apparent idiocy. His mind was simply wired for tactics, not conversation.
“Come on,” he grumbled as he exited the dining room quickly, his strides long and steady as he led the security chief to a different wing of the chateau. After a beat, he asked a clarification. “What does that mean? Everything or nothing in reading her?”
He’d slid his hands into his pockets as he followed, his eyes focused on the carpet as they walked. Gideon shook his head. “Does she really know Bajoran, too?” The thought had been nagging him based on her reaction.
“What do you think?” Renard grumbled under his breath.
Gideon mumbled as well, shaking his head. “Well, I used to think I was a decent empath.” His jaw clenched as he looked up, cobalt irises scanning their surroundings before he glanced toward Renard. “It’s easier to read someone when you’re in contact, and lately, Marielle’s either been feeling everything possible or nothing at all.”
His steps slowed as they entered a hallway and he turned to Gideon and pressed a finger to his lips. Renard led him quietly, his footsteps muffled along the carpet. He turned left once they reached a door and his steps once hurried as he crossed one side of the library they had entered. Renard turned and pointed at Gideon. “Close that door.” He ran up the tightly curling staircase towards the second level and his hand pressed into the hidden panel to reveal the servant door that led to the hidden passageways throughout the chateau.
The security chief gently pulled the door closed, before following again in silence. He had a feeling of what they were doing, but did not question Renard. There was an inkling of dread that had his stomach tied in a knot. ‘I don’t know if I’m going to like where we’re headed.’
Renard waited for Gideon, the man waiting by the entrance. “I am assuming my sister snuck into your room while you were here?” he was unable to hide the smirk.
“Every night,” he admitted with a smirk to mirror Renard’s.
Chortling, the eldest Deniaud sibling led the way. “Unlike the other doors to the house, this one only has one purpose,” he explained softly. “The French rather liked espionage. They think it’s sexy. Papa does not know that we know of this one. Chaos and I stumbled upon it during one of our many games of hide-and-seek. We think he had it installed so he could watch his business partners when he left the room.” Muffled angry screaming, the voices distinctly two men, filled the quiet and dark corridor. Renard stopped by a wall and stared down into the office, his vision settling on the three occupants that filled the room next to the library. Their voices filled the space, their words echoing slightly in the dark.
Gideon stepped to the other side of the opening so that he could watch as well, also keeping Renard in his vision. He leaned his shoulder gently against the wood grain, his eyes becoming distant as he simply listened.
“I will not have such a woman,” growled Auden as he clenched his hands into fists at his side. He took a step towards Marielle.
“I told you,” she made a show of sighing softly, “that if you placed one finger on me, I would let Gideon finish what he started last night.” Marielle stared at Auden with an aloof, almost bored, expression. Her head turned once more to face her father. The researcher was seated demurely at the edge of the chair before Aubert’s desk, her knees pressed together in one direction while her feet were crossed at the ankle in the other. Her hands rested on her thighs, one on top of the other. Her posture was the picture of her upbringing - controlled and strict without room for mistake.
Auden stumbled back at Marielle’s threat, his heel stuttering mutely against the ornate carpet that covered the office floor. He glared at Aubert. “Do you see? Do you see how she speaks to me?!”
Aubert’s hands were clenched together tightly, fingers nearly white as he gripped his knuckles with the force of his rage. “You would defile yourself under my roof and you would show such disregard for the rules of this house,” he began calmly, his anger simmered under the surface. His tone was eerily calm.
Marielle pushed through the fear that he so easily inspired, her face remaining passive as she looked through her father. It was easier to pretend he wasn’t there so she could manage through this meeting. “I did,” came her detached reply. The diminutive woman turned her gaze towards Auden, a sinful smirk just barely pulling at the corner of her lips. “Seven times in three hours.”
The patriarch narrowed his eyes at his daughter, his hand coming up to silence Auden as the Indirian sputtered in an attempt to find the words to insult Marielle. Confusion and surprise easily graced his features as he studied the young woman seated before him. When her eyes focused to meet the sharpness of his green, almost black, hues, his brows raised in curiosity. “Do we have another Stevenson situation on our hands?” he asked her carefully. He readied himself to utter the threat. The idea that a glorified security guard for the Federation would place his hands on his daughter had him silently seething.
“No.” The researcher’s eyes dipped to her lap, her hands moving smoothly over the fabric of her dress to smooth out the wrinkles. “I am a brutally soft woman,” she revealed softly, “I do not care to have a repeat of that in my life.” It was the first instance of emotion touching her words. The moment was short-lived however, the cold calm returning once more when her hues lifted to meet her father’s gaze.
“So, it’s love then?” Auden taunted her as he laughed meanly.
“No.” Marielle let the lie slip past her lips easily, her expression detached as she kept her gaze on her father. “He loves me, yes. He told me so two days ago. He loves me, and that’s the beginning and the end of everything.”
Whispering painfully, Gideon clutched at his chest. “You’re a terrible liar, El.” The words were spoken with affection, though a sudden frown overcame him as he considered the events of the morning. ‘End of everything?’ The half-Betazoid panted softly, not understanding.
“That’s it then,” muttered Renard in understanding, his head shaking at his sister. “Fille stupide (Stupid girl),” he lamented sadly.
The half-Bajoran glanced over. “What?” Gideon furrowed his brows.
The only Deniaud son stared sadly at Gideon, his mouth opening to speak but then closing when the words seemed lacking. Renard simply shook his head and turned his attention back to the office.
Auden growled at the petite theorist. “I refuse to marry this woman. She is vile. Unworthy of my name and of my generosity. She is-”
“It’s shameful that you neither have the skill to speak nor the alluring voice that would allow you such stupidity,” Marielle turned her head slightly to address the man who was to be her husband. Her brow raised in his direction when he sputtered in response. “I will not marry you.” Her eyes moved to her father. “He is unworthy of me, and I refuse.” The physicist stood up, her head dipping once in deference to her father before she made her way towards the doors.
“Mariëlle,” Aubert called out to her as the diminutive woman’s hand had touched the door. “Are you forgetting your obligations to our family?”
Her chin lifted, her gaze settling on her father’s eyes. “Not at all, Papa,” she replied flatly. The emotion had been stripped away once more, leaving her gaze empty and her words even. There was no warmth, no sadness. Nothing. “I simply refuse Auden. Trouvez-moi quelqu’un que, je crois, est digne de moi et je ne me battrai pas contre tu. À la prochaine, Papa. (Find me someone who, I believe, is worthy of me and I will not fight you. See you later, father.)” And with that, she slipped out of the office in silence.
“What does she mean she refuses?!” Auden bellowed angrily, his arms waving around furiously in Aubert’s direction. He continued to bark out insults about Marielle, his face turning redder with each passing second as he realized that Aubert’s attention remained on the closed doors of his office.
Gideon watched Auden and Aubert for a moment. His jaw was clenched and his brows furrowed, his arms crossed over his chest as he considered what he’d just seen. ‘What does this mean? She said she doesn’t- but it was a lie. It was such a lie. She’s just going to hang onto me until then- Are we done? What happens now?’ He raised a hand to wipe his face from forehead to chin. ‘I should have known better than to come here.’ He knew he was hurting, but part of him figured he deserved to be used in such a way, as payback for all the women he’d known before. ‘This one was supposed to be real.’ The half-Bajoran moved without thought.
Renard moved quickly beyond the looking glass as he made his way towards the library. He sighed softly as he lingered beyond the hidden door as he waited for Gideon, his eyes searching the ceiling for answers it could not give. “Ah,” he muttered softly to himself, “nous sommes des lâches, non? Je voulais plus pour toi, ma chouchouette. (We are cowards, no? I wanted more for you.)”
The Bajoran mix appeared, walking past Renard with a slight nod as he entered the library, his hands shoved into his pockets. He didn’t notice as Marielle’s brother closed the door behind him. Gideon’s thoughts were a mess, he couldn’t pinpoint one for more than a moment before it led to another. He continued walking through the hallways, knowing that he was expected at the courtyard so they could depart for Somerset.
He stopped Gideon before they reached the door to the library, his hand lightly reaching out for his arm. Renard’s lips formed a thin line, his mouth opening and closing as he attempted to find the words. “She- I don’t-” he attempted but the words did not come as easily as he had hoped. The ambassador released a heavy breath. “Don’t let her do something stupid.”
The half-Betazoid watched Renard, brows furrowed slightly. “I’ll love her until my dying day. Protect her as best I can until she turns me away.” The words were spoken true, though heavy with realization that day would come. Gideon reached up his hand, shaking Renard’s quickly before stalking off down the hall.
She waited just beyond the steps at the front of the house. Her hands were interlaced behind her back, and her chin pointed to the sky. Her eyes were closed as she simply enjoyed the feel of the sun on her face. She took steady breaths as she ignored the steady powerful thumping of her heart against her chest. The sound filled her ears. Auden was one less worry. Marielle only needed to get through this final week. It would be five days. Five days with Gideon. The weight on her chest seemed heavier than normal, and she struggled to understand why it had suddenly appeared.
Gideon had detoured to pick up his duffel, slinging it over his shoulder as he approached the main entrance of the house. He paused on the inside of the doors, closing his eyes as he swallowed again the sorrow in his throat, forcing a smile on his face as he prepared to put on an act just as well as she was. The half-Bajoran pushed through the doors. “Your brother is quite a talker,” he stated jovially, chuckling softly at some presumed conversation between the two men.
Marielle straightened and she turned to look at Gideon over her shoulder. Dark emerald hues found the depths of his blue, nearly drowning in the brightness reflected by the sunlight. “That he is,” she agreed softly. The researcher waited as the security chief made his way towards her, and her hands easily slipped over his arms until they reached his hand as she moved to stand before him. “Our room in Somerset is cozy,” she smiled sinfully up at him. “Complete with a four post bed.”
It wasn’t difficult to fall back to what he knew, as if he hadn’t witnessed the woman in front of him casually tossing him aside. “Mmm,” he hummed in anticipation, his eyes twinkling as he smirked. Gideon leaned close, a soft growl rumbling in his throat as his lips played against hers. “I thought we had the whole cottage?”
“There’s a separate one that isn’t part of the manor,” she mused with a soft giggle. “I was planning on letting Lexie take it, seeing as she’s the bride. But, I think we can be allowed to be selfish.” Marielle lifted her chin as she caught the sound of the shuttle floating overhead before turning her attention back to Gideon. Her heels lifted high off the ground to close the distance between them, her hands finding their way to his chest to let her fingers tangle in the fabric of his tunic. “How hungry are you?” she asked softly.
He inhaled deeply, his eyelids closing as his forehead rested against hers. ‘Are we both really being selfish?’ Gideon let his hands wander up her back as he pressed closer. “Only had a few bites of apple for breakfast,” he admitted, grinning at the implication. “Two hours to Somerset?”
She chuckled, humming her affirmative as she watched the shuttle land. “But, we have a pilot,” she revealed with a pout as she turned to face him, her heels once more lifting to close the distance between their faces. “Unless you’d like me to dismiss him,” she whispered against his lips. “I wonder how well you’d be able to fly the shuttle with-”
“Wouldn’t want to chance it with you on board,” he answered sadly, despite the grin in his features. Gideon stole a kiss, smirking. “We were quiet the first couple nights here,” he offered with a raised brow.
“And, it’s a big shuttle,” she mused with a delightful twinkle in her eyes. Marielle stepped and turned as she heard the door open, her hand immediately reaching out out to grab Gideon’s. She led him inside, briefly smiling at the pilot as she simply motioned to the bag and the box she had left outside.
“I’ve heard that before,” he said wryly as he took her hand and followed her onto the shuttle. Gideon dropped his bag once he stepped on board.