USF Personal Log
USS Aldrin Personnel Recordings image
[JL Deniaud/Salieri] Music Database on Shuffle: Slip

USS Aldrin Personnel Recordings

by Lieutenant Commander Gideon Salieri & Lieutenant Commander Marielle Deniaud
[Stardate ]

[Deniaud/Salieri] Collaboration Log
Stardate: 1702.13
Music Database on Shuffle: Slip

I won’t keep watching you
Dance around in your smoke and flicker out.
You’re not the light I used to know.
I don’t believe in safety nets.
Strung below that make it alright.
To let go, you gotta hold on.
Or it’s gonna slip.
Slip, slip through your hands.

She had silently cursed Alexia and Renard as she maneuvered the hallways to deliver the news to Randall and the seventy odd guests who were waiting for the ceremony to begin.  Honestly, the string of curses never stopped as she watched her best friend and her only brother disappear behind the door to run off to some shuttle on the driveway.  

Marielle lingered just outside the closed doors of the sitting room turned ceremony space.  Her forehead pressed into the heavy wooden doors as she considered what she was about to do.  Quietly, she pulled the door open and her head peeked through the gap.  The sound of the door had those seated in the back turning, and it was as if a wave had been unleashed as row after row of eyes settled on the engineer.  ‘Merde.  Ce n’est pas juste,’ she whined.  She ignored the dazzling cobalt eyes that belonged to Gideon, her gaze instead locking with the hazel-detailed cerulean that belonged to Adam.  

Adam’s eyes widened as he caught the frantic look on his former wife’s face.  He didn’t need to be a Betazoid to know something was wrong, and he didn’t have to be a genius to guess as to what could have happened.  The medical officer simply grabbed Randall’s arm and gently tugged him to the side.  “Come on.  Let’s get you out of here,” he muttered under his breath.  He pulled the man’s arm roughly when he refused to budge and pushed him towards the door to the side of the sitting room.

She took a breath as she slipped into the room once Adam had pulled Randall away from the altar.  All eyes were on her, and Marielle flinched through her tense smile.  The questioning stares and the soft murmur of whispers felt like a weight that made her legs heavy.  The blush tulle layers of her light pink gown - with its vintage bateau neckline and illusion lace cap sleeve - rustled with her steps.  A hand pinched at the fabric of her gown while the other tightly held onto the small bouquet of pink roses like it was a baton.  Her knuckles were white as she turned around to face the seated guests.  “Um,” she began softly as she wet her lips.  Her throat was dry, her voice hoarse from screaming at Renard and Alexia before they had left her with this unholy duty.  ‘Putain de lâches,’ she mouthed out silently to herself, her lips barely moving as she yet again cursed her friends.  “Wedding’s postponed-  No.  Wedding’s cancelled,” she announced loudly.  Her voice carried easily in the sizeable sitting room, echoing against the wood detailing that surrounded them.  She had mustered as much strength at making the announcement, her tone even and calm as if she was simply giving an engineering report.  There was a tremor in her voice however, small and nearly unnoticeable.

The soft whispering murmurs turned thunderous as guests began to question Marielle.  Alexia’s parents were out of their seats as they rushed the diminutive woman, Randall’s parents practically at their heels.

“What do you mean the wedding’s cancelled?!”
“Where’s Alexia?!”
“What happened?!”

Gideon stood quickly and jogged up to Marielle, his arm over her shoulder as he stood between her and the parents.  “Don’t crowd,” he grumbled as he gave warning glances toward the bride and groom’s parents.  

She took a step back, her head shaking furiously as she stared at her best friend’s parents.  “I’m sorry.  I’m sorry.  I’m so, so sorry,” Marielle muttered as she slipped away from Gideon’s protective arm and made a hasty retreat towards the side door with the half-Bajoran at her heels.  The researcher leaned forward as soon as she crossed the threshold of the sitting room into the middle of the large hallway.  She bent over as she tried to catch her breath, her hands pressing into her thighs.  Her lungs were heavy, air caught somewhere in her chest.

“What the hell happened!?” bellowed Randall as he stormed towards her.  He ripped his arm out of Adam’s grasp.

“Randy, you need to calm down,” the medical officer insisted as he tried to keep Alexia’s groom away from the panicked maid of honour.  His gaze fell to Marielle, frowning as felt the panic crashing through her in steady, almost painful, waves.

Gideon stepped into his path, a dark stare leveled on the man.  “Calm down,” he echoed Adam’s request.

Randall’s mother and father, Sylvia and Frank, burst through the door behind Gideon.  “Where the hell is Alexia?!” Frank bellowed as his sights set on the theorist.

Alexia’s father, Thomas, was right behind Sylvia and Frank.  His wife had opted to remain inside the sitting room to apologize to their guests and to calm their daughter’s aging grandmother.  He took a moment to look behind him at the chaos inside the sitting room before he closed the door.

Marielle straightened, her eyes widening as she glanced at everyone who seemed to surround her.  Her stiletto stuttered against the carpet as she tried to step away from the crowd, the sound muffled by the old and faded fibers.  Suddenly, she was trapped - enclosed in a tight space with no means of escape.  She shook her head furiously.  “I don’t know-”

Alexia’s groom, her former husband-to-be, surged forward.  His hand pushing Gideon aside roughly before he grabbed at Marielle’s shoulders.  “Where the hell is my fiancée!?”

Gideon grabbed Randall before he could touch the diminutive woman, a twist of his wrist altering the groom’s momentum to the floor as the security chief pushed with his other hand, dropping the man to the carpet, a knee pushed harshly on the man’s shoulder.  He glared toward the parents as they rushed forward.  “È tutto necessario fare marcia indietro.  Back off.  (You all need to back off.)”

“Get off my son!” bellowed Frank as he reached out for the security chief.  Beside him, Sylvia screamed.

Thomas grabbed hold of Frank’s arm before he reached Gideon.  “Calm down!” he screamed out.  “Everyone just calm the hell down!”

Adam rushed forward, stepping around Gideon and Randall.  He used his body as a physical barrier, his hands rubbing soothing lines on her shoulder and upper arm before he pulled her into a tight hug.  “It’s okay,” he muttered into her hair.  “You’ll be fine.”

The half-Betazoid released his hold on Randall, leaning down to whisper in his ear.  “You can ask questions, but don’t ever approach Marielle like that again, capiscimi? (Understand me?)”

Randall stopped struggling, grumbling into the carpet.  “Fine!” he relented as he shrugged off the pain in his shoulders as Gideon’s knee lifted from his back.  He ignored the state of his tuxedo and shifted on the carpet to sit.  The man brushed away his mother’s worried attention as she knelt beside him.  He buried his face into his hands.  “What the hell happened?”

Marielle shook uncontrollably in Adam’s arms, even as he turned slightly so that they could look at Randall as he remained seated on the floor.  The dejection in his expression made her jaw clench.  “I’m so sorry,” she offered softly.  She considered telling the entire story, but wondered if there was any real point to revealing exactly what happened.  Ultimately, Marielle decided it wasn’t her place to say.  Alexia and Randall would have that conversation later.  “She said she couldn’t and she left.”  It wasn’t a lie.  It was simply the truth without any of the details.

Gideon stood, an apologetic nod offered to Thomas before he stepped toward Marielle.  His gaze shifted to Adam as he willed the medical officer to let him take over in comforting the diminutive woman.

“What the hell explanation is that?!” screamed Sylvia as she hugged Randall.  

The medical officer tightened his hold around Marielle, his gaze settling on the groom with a sense of pity and remorse.  “That’s the only one she can give,” Adam replied.  There was a kindness in his tone, but a harshness as well.  It wasn’t Marielle’s fault that Alexia had opted to run away from her own wedding.  While he understood the emotional confusion, there was no need to lash out so violently.

Marielle pulled away from Adam.  “I’m sorry.  You’re free to stay, of course.  And, your guests are free to eat before they leave.”  She continued to step away from the group.  “I’m sorry, Randall,” she muttered before hurriedly walking away from the group.  Her legs broke out into a run.  

“Maddie!” Adam called out after her as he ran after her, only to stop when he watched Gideon sprint ahead.  “Crap!” he complained as he stopped to look back at Randall.  What a fine mess.

She maneuvered the hallways until she was outside.  She stumbled as her heels sunk into the grass when she missed a stone that lined the path.  “Merde!” she exclaimed as she took a moment to bend over and grab her shoes.  The bouquet was thrown to the side as she disappeared into the cottage.

Gideon shut the door behind him, sighing quietly as his gaze searched for Marielle.  “Hey, El,” he called out for her.  His cobalt orbs found her, then, in the kitchen.  He walked further into the space, watching as the diminutive woman pulled the cork from a bottle of wine.  “Hey, hey.”  The half-Betazoid reached her, offering to take the bottle.  “Let me,” he whispered soothingly.

Marielle had struggled with the foil and simply slid the bottle to him at his urging.  She gripped the edge of the kitchen counter as her gaze remained locked to the dark lines that stained the wooden surface.  She hadn’t returned until the late evening, well past midnight when she knew Gideon had already fallen asleep, and had escaped the confines of the cottage well before the sun broke the horizon.  After the odd parting the prior day, she hadn’t wanted to deal with the weird interaction that would follow.  The whole damn week was full of weird interactions.

He’d been quiet as he pulled the foil from the corked bottle, then reached for the corkscrew and applied it easily to the wine.  With a few twists, Gideon pushed the wings down and pulled the cork out with a gentle pop.  He passed the bottle to Marielle without question.  After she took it, he remained quiet as he pulled the cork off the screw.  It was as if he was simply going through the motions while waiting for the hammer to drop.

She poured herself a healthy glass, wine sloshing over the rim at the forceful pour.  Without another word, Marielle drank the sweet white and did not stop until her glass was empty.  “Ils m’ont laissé ici pour faire face aux séquelles!  Quel genre d’ami fait ça?!  Je vais lui tordre la cou!  (They left me here to deal with the aftermath!  What kind of friend does that?!  I’m going to twist his neck!)” she released a tirade of French as she slammed the glass onto the counter to pour herself another serving of wine.  “Cela ne faisait pas partie de ma description de poste!  (That was not part of my job description!)”  

“I thought you’d go straight from the bottle,” he murmured.  Gideon reached for the white wine once she’d finished pouring her second glass, his hand plucking another glass down to pour himself some.  Other than his earlier comment, the half-Bajoran remained quiet to let Marielle rant.

“De toutes le choses égoïstes à faire!  Je ne peux pas croire qu’elle m’a laissé pour rompre avec son fiancé!  (Of all the selfish things to do!  I cannot believe she left me to break up with her fiancé!)”  The researcher again drank the wine quickly, easily drowning herself in wine.  She left the empty glass on the counter and walked behind Gideon, her hand gripping the handle to the wine fridge and yanking the door open with force.  “Je vais lui tordre la cou!  Je ne peux pas croire qu’il ferait ça à sa propre putain de soeur!  (I’m going to twist his neck!  I cannot believe he would do this to his own frakking sister!)”

“No,” he pushed the door closed again, reaching to refill Marielle’s empty glass with the white in his hand.  “Here, El.”  

She glared daggers up at him.  “Qui diable me dites-vous quoi faire?!  (Who the hell are you to tell me what to do?!)” she snapped angrily.  Her hand remained on the handle and she attempted once more to open the door.  Marielle growled when he didn’t relent.  “Une bouteille ne suffira pas pour la chose que je viens de faire!  Sortez de mon chemin ou je vais rentrer à la maison pour obtenir du vin de la cave!  (A bottle will not be enough for what I’ve just done!  Get out of my way or I’ll go home to get the wine from the cellar!)”

“Finish this one first.”  Gideon offered the glass and set the bottle on the counter.  It was nearly empty as it was, but he wanted to control the situation as much as possible.

She growled.  “Fine!”  She grabbed the glass and easily drank the sweet wine in a few quiet gulps as she walked away from the wine fridge.  She left the empty glass on the counter beside the sink as she gripped edge of the wooden surface.

He stepped back and left his glass on the counter, suddenly disinterested in drinking.  Gideon moved to the door of the cabin and locked it before returning to the kitchen.  He reached up and loosened the tie around his neck, unbuttoning the dress shirt as he leaned down to open the wine fridge.  The half-Betazoid glanced at the bottles that remained and pulled out another white, quietly working on the foil before twisting the corkscrew into the cork.

With her hands still gripping the counter with white-knuckle strength, Marielle took a small step back and bent at the waist.  She released a long and pained breath as her forehead rested on her straight arms.  “Of all the selfish, inconsiderate, self-centered, unthinking things to do!” she lamented miserably.  

Gideon shifted his glass in her direction before he pulled the cork from the second bottle.

Her head lifted at the sound of sliding glass on the wooden surface.  She reached out for it without thought and set to work drowning herself in the wine.  It bubbled up a bit in her throat, and she pulled the glass from her lips until the feeling passed.  It was too much sweetness in such a short amount of time, and the aroma of the wine filled her nostrils with a drunken haze.  It was definitely too much on an empty stomach and a sleep-deprived body, but Marielle lifted the glass once more once the feeling passed.  The empty glass was placed on the counter.  “Gods.  Idiots!” she muttered as she straightened.

He replaced the cork into the bottle, setting it on the counter and pushing it back as he picked up the second wine glass.  Gideon leaned against the wooden surface, his fingertip tapping on the glass as he watched the diminutive woman.  Still, he was quiet and observant.  Marielle had just downed an entire bottle of wine in the span of ten minutes.  She would be feeling it soon.

She stepped forward, leaning her stomach against the edge of the counter.  Her hands roughly pulled at the dark pins that kept her hair up in a elaborate mess of curls and braids.  Marielle threw the pins onto the counter, feeling absolutely no joy in how they pinged against the wooden surface and hit the dark backsplash.  She screamed in annoyance as pin after pin was throw.  “Selfish.  Mean.  Narcissistic.  Self-serving.  Thoughtless.  Uncaring.  Greedy.”  Each word was punctuated with a thrown pin.  Some landed in the sink, in the drain, and on the floor.  Most just ended up scattered on the counter.  Her fingers worked through the mess of curls and she winced as she got tangled in the braids.  The researcher screamed. “Amour, mon cul!  (Love, my ass!)”

Gideon reached forward, securing Marielle to stand in front of him, facing away.  “Stay still,” he ordered her quietly, holding onto her for a few seconds before reaching up to work on her braid.  ‘Love makes us do crazy things,’ he told her with his inner voice.  His fingers were thick, but always careful to pull at her hair with the lightest touch, never pinching her scalp.

Marielle’s fingers ran through her untangled hair, and she gathered the long curled strands to one side of her shoulder.  “Thanks,” she muttered as her fingers reached up to pinch the bridge of her nose as her head fell forward and her shoulders slumped.  Her head was already formulating a plan through the haze of alcohol that began to invade from the edges of her consciousness.  She’d have to wait for all the guests to leave just to save herself the trouble of dealing with their questions.  There was no way to know if Randall and his parents would stay, let alone Alexia’s family.
He rested his hands on her shoulders, fingers gently massaging at the tension in her muscles.  Still, Gideon remained quiet, letting Marielle go through what she needed to without his interjection.  

Then, there was her family.  She whined loudly at the thought, anguish and dread filling her instantly.  “Merde.  Papa va me tuer (Papa is going to kill me),” she lamented softly.  The anger remained in her tone, irritation easily blending with the mix of emotions that she didn’t even want to explore but knew of their existence.  “Of all the selfish things to do.  I can’t believe he’d do this to me.”  Marielle felt her body sway to one side, and she stepped to the side to lean against the counter.  Her hand gripped at the edge as she steadied herself.

He wanted to ask, but still thought anything he said would only make things worse.  It had taken a lot for Gideon to even dress and attend the wedding after being stood up by Marielle the night before and that morning.  Everything was a mess and he was starting to wonder if there was any way to clean it up.  “Sono qui per te, (I’m here for you.)” he whispered, one hand still working her tense muscles.

She leaned forward, her hand reaching for the uncorked bottle near the backsplash.  Her fingers wrapped around the neck of the wine bottle and the cork popped at her pull.  “Yeah,” she muttered bitterly, but Marielle didn’t expand beyond simple disregard to his claim.  She glanced at the empty glass and decided that Gideon had been right.  There was probably no need for it, and she simply tipped the bottle’s mouth over her lips and drank the sweet white.

He rested his hands on the counter on either side of his hips, a soft grunt released from his throat.  Gideon shook his head, grumbling softly as he shifted his feet, crossing them at the ankles.  “Well, tell me what you need, El.  I want to help you.”  He was growing increasingly frustrated with her distance from him.

“I need you to drag Renard here so I can punch him in the face,” Marielle replied hotly as she slammed the bottle down onto the counter.

“Something I can actually do,” he retorted with a subtle roll of his eyes.  Gideon lifted his arms to cross them over his chest.

“Then don’t ask stupid questions or offer something you can‘t provide.”  She grabbed the bottle and made her way out of kitchen.  There a slight tilt to her body as she walked, and she placed a hand on the railing of the ladder to steady herself.  “Augh.  Stupid empty stomach,” she grumbled as she took another swig from the wine bottle.

He growled softly to himself, suppressing his anger as he pushed off the counter and stalked after Marielle.  Gideon pulled off his tie, tossing it aside before he ripped off the jacket, letting it fall over the couch as he approached the diminutive woman.  He grabbed the bottle of wine from her grasp, stepping away from her before she could react.

“What the hell, Gideon!”  Marielle stumbled forward.  Her bare feet padded quickly on the hardwood floor and she nearly tackled the security chief as she reached for the bottle.  “Right now is not the time to play chaperone!”

Gideon was able to steady himself after Marielle attacked him and he lifted the bottle out of her reach.  “Give it ten minutes, El, you’ll be stupid drunk without any more wine,” he told her flatly.  ‘It’s the perfect time to play chaperone.  Only I’m not playing.’

“Considering what I’ve got to deal with, I think I’m more than allowed,” she argued as she jumped for the bottle.  Marielle screamed in frustration when he didn’t relent.  “Fine.  I’ll just go hide in the damn manor.”  She pushed off the security chief and made her way to the door.

The half-Betazoid set the wine on the counter, sighing quietly as he followed Marielle, feeling as if he was babysitting a toddler when he pulled her away from the door.  “Stay here and be drunk,” he ordered her again.  “Just let it happen, no need to rush it.”  Gideon felt he was speaking from enough experience to justify his suggestions.  He stepped in front of the door, leaning against it.

She stumbled back as he pulled her away, and Marielle just stared at him angrily.  “You’ve got to be kidding me!?  You’re keeping me hostage?!”

“If that’s how you see it, sure.”  Gideon shrugged, his cobalt gaze focused on Marielle.  There was no spark in his irises, he was just tired.  “You’re not facing anyone like this.”

“Don’t know who the hell you think you are,” Marielle muttered softly under her breath as her eye twitched.  All the same, there was no way she’d get past Gideon.  He was significantly stronger than her.  Her eyes fell to the back door, the one that was in the kitchen that led to the backyard.  She was sure she could have made a run for it, but in her current state, there was no way she’d be able to outrun him.

“I’m sober,” he reminded her as he watched her eye the other door.  “And if I have to bind and gag you, I will.”  Gideon couldn’t help but smirk at that thought.

“And here I thought you liked my mouth,” came the snappish retort.  There was no joy in the words, no usual flirtation.  She gave up any thought of escape, simply grabbing the bottle he had left on the console table behind the couch and falling on the plush seat with a huff.  Marielle took a swig of the wine, gagging slightly at the influx of alcohol.  She winced and reached forward, depositing the bottle on the coffee table.  Her legs came up as she curled against the armrest, pulling the blanket that was draped on the back cushion.  She wrapped the soft wool around her and rested her chin on her knees.

He pushed off the door, approaching Marielle as he slid his hands into his pockets.  “I love your mouth,” Gideon admitted quietly, not really intending for her to hear.  The half-Bajoran remained standing, ready to act at a moment’s notice.  ‘Lately, though.  Gods, woman, che cazzo.’  The security chief sighed heavily as his gaze focused on the researcher.  “Why exactly do you have to deal with your father, why not let Renard handle him?”

“Renard gets to go off and marry Lexie.  I’m left to deal with the aftermath while he’s off gallivanting in the universe with his wife for a month.  Maybe two,” she huffed as she pressed the fleshy part of her palms into her eyes.  “Papa is going to blame me for this.”

“We could leave.  It’s not fair to you at all.”  Gideon frowned, not understanding her family.  He was glad that his own dysfunctional relatives were just as uncaring as he was regarding their existence.  The half-Betazoid was happy to stay in touch with those he knew would appreciate him as much as he did them.  He could not understand how Marielle remained loyal to her father who obviously held her in such little regard.

She paused at the suggestion.  The alcoholic haze was filling her vision faster, and she whined as her quick mind began to slow.  Marielle shook her head sadly.  “I’ve got to make sure Renard has a family to return to when he finally shows his face.”  She whined softly behind her hands.

“He’s obviously very worried about that,” Gideon replied sarcastically, frowning as he shook his head.  ‘You do too much for these people who do nothing for you!’  He wanted to shout at her.  To shake some sense into Marielle.  He knew better but it still frustrated him to no end.

Marielle shrugged as she wrapped the blanket tighter around herself.  The wedding had been scheduled for the mid-morning, with a long reception that spanned through lunch and a casual dinner.  Ignoring his remark, she began to dictate her action list so that it would stick in her mind through the increasing haze that slurred her words.  “I think the guests will be gone in an hour, maybe two.  I’ve got that long to sober up, and then I’ve got to try and deal with Randall, his family, and Alexia’s family.”  She rubbed her eyes with her blanket covered hands.  “Gods, I hope they don’t want to stay here.  Maybe Adam can help me convince them to just go.”

His fists clenched in his pockets and Gideon lifted his gaze away from Marielle.  ‘Adam probably knows them, that’s why she mentioned it.  They only saw me tackle Randy.’  A heavy sigh settled past his lips as he glanced back toward the engineer.  “Is there anything I can do?” he asked, emphasizing the parts of the question that indicated he needed an actual answer.

“No.  I don’t think so,” she shook her head as she sighed.  “It’s just logistics stuff.  Cleaning up and getting people squared away.”  Marielle took in a quiet and heavy breath as her head fell back to rest on the back cushion of the couch.  Dull verdant eyes stared at the ceiling.  “It’s just a mess.  Everything’s a mess.”

‘Got that right,’ he answered her silently as he stepped forward, turning to settle onto the couch next to her.  Gideon draped his arm over her shoulder, holding her when she tensed against him.  “I’ll help clean up as soon as you’re sober.”  The half-Bajoran leaned back into the couch, pressing against Marielle whether she wanted him close or not.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” she muttered as she sighed.  “Frank and Sylvia probably didn’t like you dropping Randy like a freaking hot potato.”  Marielle allowed herself to lean against him, her head resting on his shoulder.  

“Don’t care if they did or didn’t,” he muttered in reply before grinning.  “I bet you would have if you’d been able to appreciate it.”  Gideon suppressed a chuckle before he continued.  “I’ll stay away from Randy and family.”  His fingers gently caressed her shoulder as he leaned his cheek against the top of her head.  The half-Bajoran inhaled gently, enjoying the light floral scent of her hair.

She relished in the amount of comfort she allowed herself to feel.  The pull of alcohol calmed the boiling anger to a steady simmer and the drunken haze had her closing her eyes to stop the room from spinning.  “I get it,” she muttered.  “I get why they did it.  I get that pull.  Those two?  They’ve always had this ‘thing’.  It just clicked from the very beginning with Renard and Lexie.”  Marielle sighed softly.

‘I wonder what it’s going to take to click for you, El.’  Gideon turned his chin, gently pressing his lips into her hair.  He lifted his right leg, crossing his ankle over his left knee.  He remained quiet again, letting Marielle lament with his silence.  He simply let himself be there for her, as he’d promised her he would be.

“And honestly, I’m not surprised.”  Marielle sat up and turned to face him, dull drunken irises locking with his bright eyes as she leaned into him.  “I mean.  Randall has the personality of a gnat.  Silent through every dinner, no sense of humour.  And I won’t even discuss the intimacy between those two.  I can’t imagine he’d be any good at it.”  She smirked.  “Oh, Randy!  Oh Randall!” she moaned out in feigned arousal as she imitated Alexia’s excitement.  She shivered in disgust.  “Augh.  So gross.  Never doing that again.”

“Please, don’t ever do that again,” he agreed with a blink, shaking his head.  Gideon had to grin as he thought of shifting her focus to crying out his name instead.  “My name sounds better from your lips.”  He winked as his expression turned sly.

“You won’t hear me disagreeing,” Marielle giggled in response.  

* * *

The heavy knock, loud and forceful, filled the small cottage.  

His fingers grasped harshly at her thighs as he willed whoever was there to go away.  Gideon growled softly, pulling away as his gaze lifted to see what she wanted to do.

He knocked again.  “Maddie?” Adam’s disembodied voice called out to her from beyond the heavy wooden door.  “I’m just checking in on you.  Are you okay?”

She tensed as his voice filled her eardrums, and Marielle’s eyes widened in realization of what she had been about to do.  It was enough to throw the proverbial cold water on her mood and the rush of emotions that she’d allow herself to feel.  It had been stupid of her to allow herself to be swept away in some fantasy of what could be.  The researcher roughly pushed Gideon back and stood up quickly.  

His back jostled harshly against the coffee table, knocking the wind from him as Gideon watched Marielle in surprise.  He panted softly as he turned his gaze away, the flames of passion guttering out quickly as he let his chin drop to his chest.  “Fanculo,” he muttered, a hand raising to wipe over his face.  

“Crap,” she muttered as she gathered her hair to one shoulder.  When Adam knocked again, she growled.  “I’m fine!” she screamed out as she moved around the couch.  “I’ll be there in a few hours!  I just-,” Marielle paused as she tried to think of an excuse.  “I just need a nap!”

There was a pause beyond the door.  “Uh.  Okay?  I’ll see you in a few hours?”

“Yeah!” she belted out the reply so that Adam could hear her.  “Just tired.  Just give me a bit.”  Marielle lingered by the ladder that led to the lofted bedroom.  Her hand gripped the metal railing as she tried to calm her racing heart.  The other roughly ran through her hair.  

Gideon pushed himself to his feet, stalking to the door as he unlatched the lock and swung the door open, glaring at Adam as he remained within sight.  He didn’t care that his tuxedo shirt was pulled open and missing buttons, his belt unbuckled, hair a mess with kiss swollen lips.

Marielle stumbled forward.  The wine she had finished so quickly made the room spin.  “Gideon, what are you-”

He had turned to leave for the manor when the door swung open, and Adam turned to stare blankly at the security chief.  He had expected it to be Marielle, and his eyes widened at the quick assessment of Gideon’s appearance.  His gaze fell to the diminutive woman, who looked equally a mess, as she stumbled forward from the familiar ladder.  “Mariëlle, are you-”

He shut the door, turning the lock once again before he glanced at her.  Gone was any ardor, replaced with muted frustration though Gideon was able to channel enough of a smile as he faced Marielle and ushered her to the ladder.  “Let’s put you to bed, sleep off the drunk.”

“But, Adam-  That was rude-,”  Her eyes settled on the closed door as she stopped herself from even finishing the sentence.  Whatever she had to say, it didn’t seem important.  Marielle just didn’t have the strength to deal with the mess beyond the cottage, and she was content not to consider what had nearly happened within the walls.  “Yeah,” she muttered.  Slowly, she turned, swaying a bit as she stood to gather the long thin layers of her tulle skirt over one arm.  Both hands gripped the railing, and she slowly climbed up the steps.  “This planet spins too quickly,” she complained.

“Mmhmm,” he agreed quietly as he stepped behind her, staying close in case she stuttered.  The half-Bajoran helped Marielle as much as she would let him.  

She reached the top of the ladder and immediately made her way to her side of the made bed.  Without another word, she collapsed onto the soft duvet and rolled onto her side as she curled into a fetal position.  She yawned slightly as she hugged the thick and soft pillow under her head.  “What a crap day,” Marielle muttered into the silk covered pillow as she closed her eyes.  “How did everything go so wrong so quickly?”

‘We left Oregon,’ he mused to himself as he wandered to her side of the bed, lowering to sit on the floor against the platform the mattress rested on.  Gideon pulled his knees up to his chest, his arms wrapped around them as his dulled gaze rested on Marielle.  He watched as she drifted easily into sleep while he was left with his tormented thoughts.

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