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[JL Deniaud/Salieri] Music Database on Shuffle: Long Way Home

USS Aldrin Lounge


by Lieutenant Commander Gideon Salieri & Lieutenant Commander Marielle Deniaud
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[Deniaud/Salieri] Collaboration Log
Stardate: 1612.16
Music Database on Shuffle: Long Way Home


Honey child, you're a long way from home
And you give just as good as you're gettin' now
But be careful, you don't reap what you sow
Well honey child, you're a long way from home


The formal dining room at the manor was significantly smaller and less ornate than the chateau, but it was no less beautiful.  The room could easily seat twenty around the solidly built rectangle mahogany table.  The cream coloured walls reflected the soft glow that emanated from the two wrought iron chandeliers that hung from shallow vaulted ceiling, darkly stained support wooden beams added depth to the lines as they ran along the width to join at the points.  Two arched doorways ran along one length of the room, a long buffet matching the style of the dining room table sat in the center.  Rich burgundy curtains framed each of the three tall windows that ran along the other length of the room, narrow china cabinets placed between the windows.  One end of the dining room sported a large and tall fireplace, the other a gallery wall of paintings and a shorter version of the same buffet.  The modern lights had been dimmed to an intimate level, and a collection of cream coloured column candles of different widths and heights provided most of the illumination for their meal.  The fireplace, which was only used during the winter months, had long been cleaned and the pillar candles that sat on the tall candle holders in the firebox were lit.

The three childhood friends and their respective partners took up the fireplace end of the dining room table.  Alexia Hopt, the science officer of the USS Fragglerock, and her husband-to-be Randall Blaise, the science crewman of the USS Nysa, took one side.  Adam Stevenson, Chief Medical Officer of the USS Integrity, took the head of the table.  Marielle and Gideon took the other side.  Their shared dishes sat on the table within their reach, some plates picked clean and others with carrying less than a serving.  Individual plates were pushed away from the group to give them space.  Wine bottles were uncorked on the table, three empty and the fourth ready to be shared.

Gideon hummed softly as he sipped from a glass of red wine.  The dinner had been boisterous between the three friends, with the groom and Gideon sharing looks from time to time as they both felt like outsiders.  His eyes had roamed the intimate space, constantly watching everyone.  The Betazoid mix found he drank less in unfamiliar settings to keep his wits better about him.  It was proving helpful at the moment as Adam attempted to bait him, but the security chief easily deflected.  He kept his knee in contact with Marielle’s, needing the physical touch to keep from disappearing.

Marielle lifted her wine glass and took a long last sip to finish her wine.  The glass was placed gently on the surface and her eyes sparkled as she watched as Adam filled her glass.  Her fingers lightly dusted over her mouth as a tingling sensation overwhelmed her lips.  She gave him a lazy smile as she pulled the glass to herself by its base as she lifted her glass in his direction in thanks.

“Ah!  There she goes!”  Alexia laughed loudly.  “She drunk!”  

The theorist wrinkled her nose in her best friend’s direction.  “I am certainly not drunk,” she countered with a pout before taking another sip of her wine.  With the meal finished, she didn’t care to deal with decorum.  Marielle looked at the morsels left on centrally located plates and picked up a small kalamata olive between her slender fingers instead of using the serving spoon.  She plopped the morsel into her mouth.  

Gideon shook his head in disagreement with Alexia.  “She’s not on the table, yet,” he reminded the bride-to-be.  Watching Marielle share looks with Adam throughout the entire evening had been difficult and he was having trouble keeping a smile on his features.  The half-Bajoran was sure to keep his emotions in check because he didn’t want to give the Betazoid medical officer the satisfaction of riling him.

At the security chief’s words, Alexia cackled loudly.  Her face was flushed with wine.  She waved her glass in Gideon’s direction while her head remained on her fiancé’s shoulder.  “I like you.”  She turned to look at Adam, rolling her eyes when she found the man staring at Marielle.  She sat at the corner closest to Adam, though her best friend had sidled his chair closer to the researcher when she had sat near the other corner.  Alexia sat up and simply kicked the man hard under the table.

Adam yelped when the ball of Alexia’s foot hit his shin.  He leaned over the table, his head nearly bumping into Marielle’s, to rub at the new sore spot.  “What the hell, Lexie!  What’s the big idea?”  Sitting up, he shot the science officer a dirty look before he looked at the savory morsels left to pick.  Mindlessly, the medical officer picked up a cherry tomato that had been stewed with the whole sea bass and offered it to the chief researcher.

She giggled as she propped her elbow on the edge of the table, her chin resting on the fleshy part of her palm.  Her fingers brushed against his as she took the offered fruit and plopped the bite into her mouth.  “I’m still amazed all three of us decided to arrive a day earlier than expected,” Marielle laughed softly before taking a sip of her wine.  The glass was placed on the table’s surface, and she languidly traced the geometric pattern of the wood that had been created under the varnish.  “What are the chances of that?”

The medical officer laughed as he leaned towards the physicist, his shoulder and bicep well within the confines of Marielle’s personal bubble while his forearm rested flat on the table’s surface.  His hazel-spackled blue eyes searched the serving dishes once more, plucking out a small cube of feta and offering it to his former wife without looking at her.  “I don’t know why you’re asking us.  You clearly already calculated the odds.” he mused, his eyes sweeping once more over the serving dishes while her fingers took the offered morsel.

Gideon leaned back against his chair, inhaling deeply as he watched Marielle and Adam from the corner of his eye.  His hand drifted from his lap to her thigh, gently squeezing the flesh of her leg before leaving his fingers there.  It was his jealousy flaring, he knew, but he had no place telling Marielle how to act with her friends.  He just wished it didn’t bother him so much to see Adam still fawning over her.  He recalled Renard’s words to him after being so affected by Cassius’ attention and he wondered if he would be out of line by saying something.

“I have not,” Marielle argued as she took the small broccoli floret that Adam offered.  She threw the vegetable in her mouth and her eyes lifted to the ceiling as she chewed.  

Alexia laughed as she watched the researcher.  “If she didn’t before, she is now,” she mused before taking a sip of her wine.  She watched as Adam offered yet another bite off their dinner, this time the cube of bread that had been part of the panzanella salad, as he searched for more tiny morsels and as Marielle placed the offering into her mouth while she calculated the numbers.  The action had no amorous intent; the two weren’t even looking at one another, even at the exchange.  Their hands didn’t fumble, simply reaching out naturally to find the other there for their fingers to meet.  She’d only had that sort of connection with one other person.  The science officer quietly drank the wine in her glass until it was gone and turned to her fiance to ask for another glass.

A rare companionable silence surrounded the three childhood friends.  Marielle lifted her wine glass and took a sip in between taking the offered morsels that Adam provided.  Her eyes remained trained on the ceiling as she considered the numbers.  Adam’s eyes continued to move over their dishes as he picked at the smaller bites of food he could feed to Marielle, his thoughts wandering from possible locations and activities for Randall’s party to the order of viruses he needed to make in the morning.  Alexia fell into a position much like Marielle’s, with her chin on her open palm while her elbow was propped on the table.  Her thoughts wandered as her fingers played with the stem of her filled glass.

He sighed softly as he lifted the glass of wine to his lips, sipping gently.  Gideon supposed he should be thankful that Marielle seemed to revert to the person he’d fallen in love with while Alexia and Adam were present.  Not that he didn’t appreciate the woman she became when they were alone, but it was all physical then.  There was no emotion anymore.  ‘She’s just using me.  Why would there be emotion there?’  His gaze drifted to Randall across the table before dipping down to his empty plate.

“About one-to-thirty thousand,” Marielle offered.  She straightened, letting her forearm fall onto the table to give her elbow some much needed reprieve as she took a sip of her wine.  It was only then that she looked at Adam when he offered her a small shrimp from the paella.  She gave him a dazzling smile as she took the small curled pink morsel and placed the shrimp into her mouth, her lips closing before she pulled the tail away with a bit of a flick.  The researcher was clearly proud of herself.

Alexia laughed brightly.  “I can’t believe you actually did the math.  You are such a nerd.”

“Really?” Adam interjected as he looked at the brunette, his sardonic smile soft in the glow of candlelight.  “Have you met Maddie?”

“Hey!” Marielle picked up two whole kalamata olives from the serving dishes and threw one at each of her friends to punctuate her sentence, “Not.  Nice.”  She uttered it with feigned annoyance.

The science officer stood up quickly when the olive bounced off her forehead and fell into her wine glass with soft splash.  “You want to go?” she challenged as she reached for the serving spoon and scooped up rice from the paella.  The annoyance apparent on her features were only betrayed by the slight twitch of her mouth when she nearly smiled.

She had reacted as she caught Alexia standing.  Marielle’s knees pushed her chair back as she stood up and she lifted her wine glass, ready to throw the sweet red if the science officer so much as twitched.  “Bring it.”  There was no weight to her challenge, especially when she had to bite back the giggle that wanted to tumble from her lips.

Gideon’s muscles tightened as the tension in the room multiplied, though there was more of an underlying joviality that kept him from actually reacting to the tossed warnings.  He simply lowered his hand onto the top of his wine glass, palm covering the rim so that any thrown food wouldn’t land in his drink.  His cobalt gaze watched the three friends quietly.

Adam had done the same, jumping up nearly a microsecond after the women were already on their feet.  His arms were stretched out towards each of his best friends.  “Whoa.  Whoa.  Ladies,” he attempted to calm them down.  “We do not want a repeat of the Battle of Breading.  Do we?”

At the mentioning of the memory, all three friends stared at one another for a breath before their combined laughter filled the dining room.  Adam’s set the pace with an easy smooth adagietto while Alexia’s spirited staccato added depth and Marielle’s sweet lilting mellifluous melody added harmony.  Both Alexia and Adam picked up their filled wine glasses.  They continued to laugh, speaking over one another as they leaned over their table to let their glasses clink over their meal.  

The security chief relaxed, his hand smoothing over the bulb of his wine glass to lift it and take a sip.  Gideon released another quiet sigh as his hand returned to Marielle’s thigh, he still felt like an outsider, unwelcome in this aspect of her life.  His gaze drifted between the others at the table, suddenly desiring his own company.  He pushed the thought aside as he took another sip of wine, leaving the glass on the table.

Alexia fell back into her seat as she drank her wine as the other two mirrored the action.  She leaned over the table, her finger lazily moving over the rim of her wine glass.  “They still talk about it,” she chuckled as she shook her head.  Her light hazel eyes focused on the security officer by Marielle’s side.  “Your girlfriend was a wild child.”

“Still is,” Gideon managed with a smile directed toward Marielle.

The sound of his voice had Marielle blinking and she realized that she hadn’t heard him speaking for some time.  “Honestly, Finn had it coming,” Marielle informed the bride-to-be with a wry smile.  She turned to look at Gideon from over her shoulder, her eyes dark as they focused on him.  “Finn Denes was the tall, dark, and handsome who asked me out on a date and never showered.  Apparently, one Rose Munrose was jealous that someone,” the researcher paused, her voice sang the word ‘someone’ to indicate she knew the guilty individual, “had informed her that Adam was planning on asking me out on a date.”

The science officer released an uproarious peal of laughter that had her clutching her side.  She bent over the table, a hand flatly tapping on the table’s surface while the other steadied the glass by holding the base under her fingers.  “I did it for Adam’s sake,” Alexia weakly explained between her laughter as her head turned to face the medical officer by her side.  “You were too much of a coward with your little crush on Maddie, and I was so sick of listening to you whine about it.  You were supposed to stop her from going on that date by confessing.”

‘Coward then, coward now.’  Gideon’s eyes drifted to Adam as he shifted in his chair.  He could feel his frustration level rising, but he had no idea what specifically was setting him off.  The Betazoid mix began to wonder how much longer this dinner would last.  He sighed softly and finished the last of his wine, pushing the glass toward the center of the table to indicate he was done.

“Worst plan ever,” Adam grumbled under his breath.  His eyes fell to his wine, and he took a long sip to finish his wine.  He refilled his glass quietly.  “Rose was such an airhead.  I still can’t believe I went out with her two years later.  Man, I was such an idiot at that age.”

Marielle laughed softly as she shook her head at Adam’s statement, her eyes remaining on the security chief to continue her story.  “I was naturally peeved,” she started, “and you know how I am when I’m angry.”  With her attention focused on Gideon, she missed the knowing glance and the fear-induced shiver that Alexia and Adam acted out to one another.

A pleasant smile remained on his features, even though he hadn’t trained as Marielle had, Gideon still had the knowledge and skill set to present himself as he needed to.  It just felt odd having to act in her presence for any reason, especially one he couldn’t place a finger on.  His brow raised in curiosity.

“I stormed up to Finn, dumped a bowl of cracked eggs,” she leaned back from the table’s edge and held her arms out to indicate the size of the bowl to Gideon, “over his head then followed it with a bag of breadcrumbs.  She shrugged as she reached for her glass and took a sip of her wine.  “Rose was naturally pissed, and she shoved me straight into-  Shoot.  Who was it-”

“Terry Smith,” interrupted Adam.  “I remember because she bonked her head with Clarissa Cunningham and they started dating right after that.”  He took a sip of his wine and turned his attention to Alexia.  “I hear they got married two years ago.  Adopted a pair of cute Betazoid-Klingon twins.  It was in the Bulletin.”

“Yeah?  I’m glad.  Terry and Clarissa were always so nice to everyone.”  Marielle nodded in approval as she continued and looked at Gideon.  “Anyways, that pretty much set a chain reaction.  At the tail end of it, I ended up in the rafters after I had started a food fight in the cafeteria.”

“Different food fight than the one you stabbed yourself with the butter knife, right?”  He caught the look of surprise that flashed over Marielle’s eyes briefly before it disappeared to be replaced by the passive but pleasant expression he’d seen for most of the day.  ‘What was that?  Where did she go?’  Gideon raised a brow at her.

Alexia laughed at the memory, and she sipped her wine as she focused on the security officer.  “It was actually the same party,” the science officer answered as Marielle had opened her mouth to further explain.  “There have been many food fights in Oakham, but the Battle of Breading was where Maddie made her name for like the five hundredth time.”

Adam, who had spent most of the day not really interacting with Gideon in order to observe the man, nodded in agreement with Alexia.  His eyes barely flickered to look at the security officer before it returned to his filled wine glass.  “It’s because Maddie was up there singing in some ancient language while she was being a ballerina on this narrow beam that was easily fifteen meters off the ground.”

“Un langage ancien, pas un français? (An ancient language, perhaps French?)”  He turned his gaze from Adam back to Marielle, humming softly as he raised a brow.  “I never envisioned you had fallen from that height.”  His expression revealed relief that she wasn’t hurt more.

“Ah.  No.  I fell the last meter or two because the headmaster distracted me,” she corrected.  “I just fell at the wrong angle.”  She paused.  “Et c’était norvégien, (It was Norwegian.)” Marielle replied in the ancient tongue while she looked at Gideon from behind her wine glass.  Briefly she closed her eyes, and the soft memorised melody was hummed.  When her eyelids fluttered open, her dark emerald hues trained on her boyfriend, candlelight reflecting easily as the shadows danced around them, and she began to sing.  “Har du det fint nå, er du et vakkert sted uten farer?  Jeg har blitt stor nå, men skriver fortsatt brev til en som ikke svarer.  (Are you happy now, are you in a beautiful place without dangers?  I have grown up now, but I still write letters to one who doesn’t reply.)”  Her mezzo soprano breathy and sweet, her tongue easily rolling over the lyrical nature of the language.  “Jeg ville spurt deg om da du var ung, hva du tenkte på om du kjempet mot de samme ting som jeg gjør nå.  Så mange ting du ikke vet, ubesvarte brev.  (I would have asked you about the time when you were young, what did you think about if you fought against the same things as I do now.  So many things you don’t know, unreplied letters.)”

Gideon smiled, his elbow resting on the table as he settled his chin into his palm and his cobalt gaze focused on Marielle as she sang for him.  ‘This is my El,’ he said to himself as he listened, his heart singing along with her though he couldn’t understand a word.  Unconsciously, he leaned closer to her as she did the same.

Adam’s gaze remained on the diminutive woman as her voice filled the candlelit room.  He took in a breath as his heart skipped beats, his mouth pulled to a tranquil smile.  The silence of the room was highlighted when Marielle stopped singing, the song not having lasted for more than two or three minutes.  The medical officer cleared his throat, the first one to break the tranquil calm that had mellowed the mood.  “So,” he shifted in his chair to look at Alexia and Randall, “what’s the schedule?”  He turned his attention to the dessert platter that Justin had left for the five of them before he called it an evening.  Adam picked up the small bitesize cube, the last of the dark chocolate brownie topped with caramel and sea salt, and offered it to the researcher.

Marielle chuckled, her fingers brushing against Adam’s in the transfer.  “Why are you asking them?” she asked the medical officer.  “It’s not like they know what’s happening in a few days.”  With their chairs so close together, she was comfortable as she leaned back onto Gideon, the movement pushing him back to rest against the back of his chair.  Nearly half her body pressed back into his chest, her forearm resting lightly on his neck as she drew languish circles on his leg.  She took a bite, her eyes closing to enjoy the bittersweet dark chocolate, the rich caramel, and the punch the salt added to the flavours.  She released a soft inaudible moan as her head fell back against Gideon’s shoulder.  Turning her head just enough so she could look up at the Betazoid mix, her fingers lifted the half that still remained pinched in her fingers in offering.

One hand caressed her side before resting along her stomach, the other still placed on her thigh.  Gideon leaned down slightly, pulling her fingers into his mouth as his tongue traced over her fingertips to enjoy the last bit of the brownie, his teeth gently biting into her digits to keep them between his lips.  He watched Marielle staring at him, her gaze dipping to the tip of her fingers that remained his mouth.  His eyelids drifted closed as he sighed softly, letting his tongue pass over her fingers in one final sweep before tilting his chin to slowly release them from his lips.

Adam gulped as he watched the couple, his hues focused on the theorist as she easily seemed to transform before his very eyes.  “Uh.  Why is that?” he asked softly.  His vision switched to Alexia briefly to find her watching the pair with a raised brow and an amusing smirk on her features.  He turned in time to watch Marielle pull the nearly empty platter of bite sized dessert options toward her.

“Because I planned their entire wedding for them,” Marielle answered without sparing Adam a glance.  She leaned back against Gideon, her wine glass left near the edge of the table.  She held the platter in one hand, the other lightly tapping on an empty spot on the platter as she considered the options.  She picked up a small strawberry tartlette between her two fingers and took half a bite before offering it to the security chief.

The half-Betazoid accepted the offered bite, again taking the time to nibble and lick along Marielle’s fingers as he ensured that every bit of sweetness from the tartlette had been removed from her slender digits.  He hummed softly in his throat, low enough to rumble softly in desire.

“It’s true,” Alexia confirmed after taking a long sip of her wine.  She refilled her glass when it was empty and chose to finish in Marielle’s glass, standing to her feet and reaching over the table to reach the still filled wine glass.  “I have no clue what’s going to happen.  I bought the dress, picked out the maid of honour, and picked out the groom.  That was it.”

Furrowing his brows, the medical officer looked between Marielle and Alexia.  “Then.  What’s the schedule or is this whole thing going to be spontaneous as always?”

“If it was going to be the usual, we would have ended up in Outpost Utopia on Venus with the ugliest Kirk impersonator singing ‘Rocket Man’ while Lexie walked down the aisle in the least ugly dress we could find in the shops.”  Marielle hummed softly as she suckled the tip of her fingers, though none of the sweetness had remained after she had fed Gideon the last tartlette on the platter.  She leaned forward to leave the plate on the table and to retrieve her wine glass, settling back into her spot on Gideon’s body as she wrote lewd ideas in cursive on his leg with her nail.  “Tonight, we eat, drink, and be merry.”

“Hell yes.”  Alexia lifted her glass in response, a toast in Marielle’s direction as she took a long sip of her wine.

“I was able to move a few meetings a day early.  Tomorrow, Lexie and I will be heading into Bruton to meet with the photographer and the florist.  Randall and Adam will have their final tux fitting with Matteo.  He’s taking an early shuttle as a favour, so don’t miss it,” she paused, turning her attention to the security guard.  “I’ve requested a rush for you.  Matteo will be bringing a few options.”  It hadn’t been on the agenda, even with the gala, but after seeing the trader in one inspired such vivid images of the security chief in the well cut tuxedo.  She really couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see Gideon in one.

Gideon blinked, raising his brows as he shifted slightly.  “You want me in a tux?”  Chuckling softly, he could only imagine that she’d rather see him out of one.  Managing to keep his wry grin from surfacing, the half-Betazoid nodded.  “I’m surprised you don’t already have me sized.”  He cleared his throat.  “For a suit.”  The smirk found his lips then.

“To be honest, you were supposed to wear a tux at the introduction gala, but Matteo wasn’t available to handle that rush order.”  

Both Adam and Alexia straightened in their seats at the revelation of one of the Deniaud galas, their eyes quickly meeting before Adam cleared his throat.  “Introduction gala?” he asked as nonchalantly as possible.  His eyes found their way to Marielle’s hand.  He hadn’t seen a ring, he was sure of it, but then again he hadn’t really been staring at her hands.  “I thought those were-”

Marielle hummed softly as her head leaned slightly to one side as she offered Adam a short glance.  “It was fine.  Gideon and I took care of the matter,” she offered with a flat and passive calm.  Her dark hues danced slightly in the candlelight as she turned her attention back to Gideon.  With her attention back on the security chief, she missed the relieved look on Alexia’s features and the unconvinced one on Adam’s.  “And, I do have you sized, but a tux fits differently depending on the style, so you’ll be given options.  Please pick one or two, even if you don’t like them.  Matteo will be crossed with me if he feels slighted.”

“Seven rounds in three hours,” he murmured quietly, his gaze finding Adam.  Gideon nodded then, toward Marielle, humming softly.  “Sure, and you can pick which one from those two.”  He chuckled lightly.  “Glad that I didn’t end up in a tux that night, I would’ve hated to ruin it in the rain.”

She hummed softly in agreement, her chin lifting slightly to press her lips against his skin.  Her kiss fell just under his jaw, brushing over the bite mark that she had long cleared away with the dermal regenerator while they rode the shuttle to the manor.  “You’ll also need a proper shave,” she whispered into his skin.  Pulling away, she took a sip of her wine as she pressed back into Gideon once more.  “Monday,” she began as if she had never stopped, “Liza and Jackson will be arriving, as will the immediate families.  But, Lexie and I have a meeting with the baker in the morning.”  Her eyes found their way to Adam.  “The hen and stag parties have been scheduled for that evening.  Tuesday, guests should be arriving in Bruton and the manor will be prepped for the wedding.  Wednesday, we have a wedding.”

“No rehearsal dinner?” Gideon asked, slightly surprised that the tradition may have been overlooked.  Since the bride’s family usually paid for the wedding, it was the groom’s family’s responsibility to host the rehearsal dinner before the wedding.  His gaze moved toward Randall with a raised brow.  “Did your parents plan anything?”  He watched as the groom shook his head.

Marielle blinked, sitting up suddenly.  “Oh.”  She gasped, vibrant hues finding the richness of Gideon’s blue before they quickly moved to Alexia’s.  “Oh no.  I forgot about the rehearsal dinner!”  She tapped her hand furiously on the table as she thought.  “Okay.  Tuesday, guests will be arriving in Bruton, the manor will be prepped for the wedding, and I will simply have to rent out At the Chapel.  Their menu isn’t half bad.  I’d just hate to impose on Justin and the others for two big meals in a row.”

Gideon pressed his hand against Marielle’s back, trying to soothe her.  “Maybe you could skip it, must be an outdated tradition if you didn’t think of it.”

She shook her head furiously.  “No, no.  It’s fine.  At the Chapel would be perfect.  The venue is beautiful, and it’s adorable having the rehearsal dinner take place in a reclaimed chapel since the wedding is on the grounds.”  Her apologetic hues lifted to Alexia and Randall.  “Does this work for you?”

Alexia laughed softly as she nodded.  “Yes, but it’s totally fine.  I’m actually with Gideon on this one, but I know you’ll just feel guilty if I don’t let you.  So have at it.”

The researcher leaned against Gideon with relief, her fingers lightly drawing lines over his leg as she sipped her wine.  Her head fell back as she closed her eyes and released a soft breath to calm her racing heart.  “I can’t believe I forgot about the rehearsal,” she muttered softly to Gideon.  “Thank you.  You just saved me.”  She could hear Adam and Alexia speaking to one another regarding Randall’s stag party.

His heart skipped a beat as she looked up at him.  Gideon smiled warmly as vestiges of the Marielle he knew came through in their shared gaze.  After a few seconds, his chest jumped in a soft chuckle.  “Saved you?  I just caused you more stress and worry,” he argued quietly, his chin shaking side to side gently.  His fingers caressed her stomach lightly.

She hummed softly as she felt the warmth of his hand through the fabric of her dress.  Her head naturally fell to the side as she nearly melted into him, warmth blossoming through her chest.  She enjoyed the moment before she tensed suddenly.  Marielle’s chin dipped slightly to look at her wine glass and she chided herself for having failed, yet again, at keeping her distance.  She took a small sip of wine.  She lazily stared at her friends, her head shaking slightly as Adam and Alexia began to scream at one another.  She turned towards the security chief by her side, humming softly to remove the numbing sensation that overwhelmed her lips.  “We should call it a night soon,” she whispered near his ear when his chin dipped to his chest.  “They’ll be arguing for the first twenty-four hours.”

The half-Betazoid lowered his chin, his cobalt gaze turning to look at Marielle before he focused on her.  He only nodded as he glanced at his empty wine glass on the table.  “Want to bring a bottle of wine to the cabin?  We could go now,” he offered quietly as his arm slipped upward to drape over her shoulder.

“Oh, Gideon,” she mused with a wry grin.  “Do you really think there isn’t wine already in the cabin?”

He only gave her a wry grin in response before shaking his head.  “I assume nothing anymore,” Gideon murmured in response.

“What do you think, Maddie?”

At the question, Marielle lazily turned her head towards Adam.  “What?” she asked as she straightened.  She giggled as she shook her head.  “I’m sorry.  I wasn’t listening.”

Adam blinked, clearing his throat as the light seemed to hit her irises just right.  Pink worked its way to his face and he struggled to find the words again.  “I-,” he laughed as he took a sip of his wine.  “I was telling Lexie that Randall can’t just go to a pub.  He needs a damn good stag party.”

Gideon had to fight from rolling his eyes as he cleared his throat as well, reaching to pick up Marielle’s wine glass from her hand, shrugging as she looked up at him in question, and sipped the rest of the red from the glass before handing it back to her.

The researcher hummed in agreement.  “Randall needs a party Lexie.  Let the man plan Randall a party.”  Marielle lifted her hand as she shook her head as Alexia started lecture Adam.  “Okay.  I’m calling four bottles of wine my limit.”  Her lazy gaze swept through the room, her dark hues a touch glossy.

Pulled from her annoyance with Adam, the science officer laughed as she shook her head at Marielle.  “When did you turn into such a lightweight?”

Laughing, the petite woman placed her empty wine glass on the table, pushed her chair back, and stood.  She stumbled to the side when the world seemed to tip in that direction, smiling up at Gideon when he caught her before she had even uttered a sound.  “Hmmm, probably around the time I met Cana.  What do you think, Gideon?”

Gideon stood up as well, reaching to steady the diminutive woman.  He groaned softly, nodding at the memory.  “Everyone is a lightweight compared to Cana.”  The comment earned him a low chuckle.

“Need any help?”  Adam immediately stood to his feet.  “She’s a handful when she’s like this.”  His eyes lingered on the researcher, the memories playing in rapid succession in his mind.  He gave her an easy smile as fondness and warmth swept through him.  “Good times though,” he whispered to himself.

He turned his cobalt gaze toward Adam.  “I’ve never had any trouble with her,” he mused bitingly, his brow raised at the blond.  Gideon glanced down toward Marielle.  “We’re just getting started, hmm?”  He felt her fingertips pulling at the fabric of his tunic as she looked up at him with dark eyes.  “Mmhmm,” he answered himself, smiling impishly.

“Oh, sit down,” Alexia stood up and roughly pulled Adam down to his seat by the cuff of his sleeve.  “Go on you two.”  She glared at the medical officer.  “We’re not done discussing your idiocy.”

Marielle straightened slightly, her hand lazily moving over Gideon’s arm to interlace with his fingers.  She turned her glassy gaze towards Alexia.  “Sorry.  It’s been a long day,” she offered weakly.  “We’ll start bright and early tomorrow.  Justin will be here all week.  If you need anything, he’ll gladly make it happen.  Don’t hesitate to ask, even if it’s at some obscene hour of the night.  We’ll talk more wedding at breakfast?”  The murmur of agreement and well wishes for the evening had her pulling the security chief out of the dining room.

Gideon nodded at the group before being led out of the room, heading toward the foyer of the manor in order to walk Marielle to the cabin they’d claimed.


   
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