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USS Aldrin Personnel Recordings image
[JL Deniaud/Salieri] Villa

USS Aldrin Personnel Recordings

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


( This should have been sent out before the All that Glitters plotline with the pygmies. )

Marielle sang softly as she waited just outside the holodeck doors.  She twirled, the skirt of her linen off-the-shoulder striped dress lifting slightly as she spun on her heels.  Unlike normal, she wore flats, which only served to highlight her petite frame. Her hair was pulled up in a high ponytail, the strands held together by her thick red ribbon and the fringes held back by thick black sunglasses.  Her soft laughter flitted down the hallway as it was punctuated by the soft bark of Archimedes. She waited for Gideon’s arrival, her tiny frame barely able to contain her excitement. She held an aged rectangular wicker basket in her hand.

“Hey, Buddy!” Gideon greeted the dog as Archie bounded toward him.  The half-Betazoid leaned down to scratch the sheltie’s head as he continued walking toward the holodeck.  His cobalt irises lifted to Marielle, smiling at the sight of the diminutive woman by the archway. She’d mentioned to dress for warm weather, so he’d opted for a thin linen tunic colored light brown, a pair of khaki shorts and his deck shoes were dark brown.  He grinned at the theorist, his eyes taking a moment to appreciate the off-the-shoulder dress and the wide vertical stripes that gave her the appearance of height.

The researcher smiled brightly as he neared, and her hands easily moved behind her back as she shifted her weight from toe to heel.  It gave her an innocent demeanor, especially when her head fell to one side as she looked up at him. “Ciao, Gédéon,” she greeted, laughing softly at herself at the perfect switch from the ancient Italian to French in the matter of two words.

“Ciao, Tesora,” he smirked in response.  The security officer knew better than to believe for one minute that Marielle was innocent of anything.  Gideon leaned in to give her a quick kiss in greeting. “You look beautiful, as always,” he complimented her easily as he stepped back to once again look her over with adoration.

She spun for him before falling into a deep curtsy, giggling softly in her mirth as she straightened.  “Grazie,” came the response. “Sembri molto carino. (You look very handsome.)” Marielle took the short step towards him and lifted her heels off the ground to place a gentle kiss on each of his cheeks before placing a chaste one on his lips.  “Sei pronto per la tua sorpresa? (Are you ready for your surprise?)”

The security chief had rested one hand on the back of her bare shoulder, his other hand open to take the basket and she relinquished it at his offer.  He raised a brow at the mention of a surprise, but smiled quickly as he nodded once. The word surprise had yet to garner a negative response. Gideon hummed quietly as he considered the joy bubbling within her subconscious and also that she’d been speaking entirely in Italian.  ‘Curious,’ he mused.  “Una sorpresa?  Sei troppo buono con me. (A surprise?  You’re too good to me.)” He held the basket with both hands as he nodded again.

“E’perché ti amo.  (It’s because I love you.)”  Her smile grew brighter, lighting her face with a radiant glow.  The diminutive woman pulled the ribbon from her hair, releasing the waterfall of raven strands over her bare shoulders  Briefly, she reminded herself it was most definitely time for a haircut as the weight pulled at her head. “Vietato sbirciare (No peeking),” she insisted as she held the thick ribbon between her hands.

Gideon tilted his head down when she approached him with the ribbon, her hands raised to tie it over his eyes.  “È davvero necessario? Posso tenere gli occhi chiusi. (Is that really necessary? I can keep my eyes closed.)” He let his eyelids fall closed as she secured the ribbon over his face.  It felt good to be speaking in his native tongue, the words flowed smoothly past his lips. She had a slight accent, but it only endeared him to her more.

She remained close to him, her breath ghosting over his skin.  “Come adesso. E ‘come essere bendato (Come now. You love being blindfolded),” she teased him softly as she straightened the silk over his eyes.  With the red ribbon securely keeping his vision in check, Marielle leaned forward and kissed him, the liplock searing with passion. Before it threatened to overwhelm them with their usual level of lust, she pulled away and hummed softly to herself.  “Un assaggio (A taste),” she muttered softly against his lips.

He panted softly when she parted from him, his fingers grasping at her shoulder as he pressed into another kiss.  When Marielle pulled away again, he whimpered at her soft giggle. “Non, piu, (No, more,)” Gideon begged softly. He felt her lean back from his personal bubble, sighing as he muttered lustfully, “Qualcosa mi dice che ho intenzione di godere di questa sorpresa. (Something tells me I’m going to enjoy this surprise.)”  The researcher was silent and he straightened, clearing his throat as he tightened his grasp on the handle of the wicker basket. “Cosa c'è nel carrello? Cioccolato e panna montata, spero? (What's in the basket? Chocolate and whipped cream, I hope?)” he asked innocently.

Marielle giggled softly as she took his hand, her slender fingers easily interlacing with his thick ones.  She took a moment to look down at Archimedes, pleased to find the canine sitting patiently at her heels. “Bravo!” she praised before she snapped her fingers.  “Vieni. (Come.)”

At the command, the shetland sheepdog lifted his hindquarters and spun once.  He watched as Marielle moved towards the doors, and he followed close behind his two legged masters.

The holodeck deposited the humanoid pair and their canine companion in the back of the large property.  The air was crisp and clean, the salt clinging to the warmth. The ancient little hamlet on the summit of a small hill gave a splendid view of the mainland, the island having appeared after a great earthquake pushed the landmass up from the ocean floor just beyond the Amalfi Coast.  The aged stone manor was the only one built on the quaint island. Most of the grounds were entirely given over to the cultivation of lemon and olive trees despite the steep cliffs that lined the edge of the island. Dark green vegetation was striking against the profound blue of the ocean.  

Gideon sighed softly as his other senses kicked into overdrive at the loss of his sight.  A deep breath granted him a lungful of ocean air. The warmth surrounded him, nearly pulling the security chief further into the illusion.  The same inhale also assaulted his olfactory nerves, the salt of the nearby ocean mingled with the sweetness of lemon zest. There was an undertone of damp earth in the air, something he would associate with stone.  The half-Bajoran tightened his fingers briefly within Marielle’s, an anxious grin on his features.  ‘If it weren’t for the lemon, I’d think she’s trying to surprise me with my island.  Our island. Che diavolo.’

Marielle hummed softly as she rested her head against his bicep.  She took a moment to enjoy the scenery. The well-maintained garden gave an unobstructed panoramic view of the famous coastline.  A well-established grape tree provided the shade of the pergola, a welcoming long table was set for entertaining with the exterior kitchen.  

Archimedes glanced up at Marielle and dashed off as the researcher waved her hand in the air.  He ran over the flat garden space, sniffing and exploring to his heart’s content.

Giggling softly as she watched her dog run off, Marielle had similar desires.  She was excited to sit in the veranda that was carved into the sheer rock, to descend down the stairs so she could jump into the ocean.  “Are you ready?” she asked softly as her hand slowly moved up his arm to reach for the knot that sat on the back of his head.

“No, I’m content to just stand here and be oblivious,” he retorted playfully, a smirk gracing his lips before he shook his head.  Gideon turned his chin to face the researcher.

“If that’s the case, I can just leave you here.  Archimedes and I can go explore without you.” The researcher pulled her arms away slowly from him as she feigned leaving, an impish twinkle sparkling in her eyes.

“Rimuoverlo, presa in giro. (Take it off, tease.)”  He grumped quietly as he shifted his weight from one foot to the other, his hand reaching up to pull off the blindfold.  The Betazoid mix whimpered when the researcher smacked at his hand.

Giggling softly, Marielle reached up and easily undid the knot to her ribbon.  She pulled the silk away from his eyes and she tied her hair back up into a high ponytail as his eyes adjusted to the light.  “What do you think?” she asked as she tied a perfect bow around her raven strands.

He blinked several times before looking up at the stone house.  Gideon hummed quietly as he confirmed what he’d noticed in the air - they were on an island.  His gaze lingered over each of the features in turn, nodding to himself a couple times before grinning toward Marielle.  “Looks nice,” the half-Bajoran answered her with a smile. He was about to ask a question when the researcher stopped him with her touch.

Her hand slipped into his and she interlaced their fingers.  “Come on!” Marielle tugged on his hand as she pulled him into the manor.  “I want to show you the inside!” She giggled with her excitement, her smile filled with warm affection.  The glass doors opened as they neared the proximity sensors, and the researcher really didn’t give the security chief much time to truly appreciate each room.  She simply remained in each space for a minute - just enough time to inform him of the amenities and some random interesting fact, like how the manor was carved into the island itself - before pulling him into another room, though she did linger in the interior kitchen space and the exterior kitchen that overlooked the ocean.  It wasn’t until the veranda that Marielle stopped. Ivy covered the rock ceilings and support beams, again stunning green against the rich blue ocean. The researcher released his hand and skipped towards the edge, She lingered just under the ivy covered arch, her hand lightly clasped around her wrist as she stared out into the ocean.

Gideon had stopped trying to comment on each room after being pulled from the spacious master en suite.  Instead, he chuckled softly and nodded with Marielle’s comments, taking in as much of the manor as he could during the whirlwind tour.  The exterior of the manor was all Italian design, but the interior, while it had the bones of an Italian villa, was very modernized. When they finally paused on the covered porch, he found himself mesmerized by the sight, stepping slowly toward the stone wall to lean against it and stare out over the cliff.  “Oh, wow,” he breathed, nearly breathless over the stunning view.  ‘This would be amazing to wake up to.’

Marielle hummed in agreement as she took in a deep breath.  Ocean air filled her lungs, and she wasn’t sure if there was anything better in the world.  “Other side has the Amalfi Coast, but this side. It’s all ocean,” she smiled at the revelation.  She pointed to the stone steps to the left before motioning to the level below them. “Salt water pool,” she explained simply. The swimming pool that was incorporated into the sheer cliff wall and only gave the same unobstructed view of the veranda.  “What do you think?” she grinned brightly as she finally turned to face Gideon.

‘Amalfi Coast, pretty far south.  Be about twelve hours sailing time.’  His expression twitched slightly as he performed the math, but a grin found his features as Gideon finally turned his gaze toward his fiancée.  A soft chuckle accompanied his nod. “From what I’ve seen, it’s pretty spectacular,” he admitted. The security chief straightened from leaning against the short wall, his steps carrying him to the researcher.  He wrapped his arm over her shoulder.

She grinned up at him as she leaned her head against his shoulder.  “We’ll have to name it. It isn’t a proper villa until you name it.”  Marielle hummed in thought. “I was thinking ‘Heart of-”

“It doesn’t have a name already?” he asked, considering that what she said was true.  Established villas always had a name. His mother’s villa was called Vigna Di Bellazza, pretty lame for a manor, but his grandfather had been adamant about naming the property after his grandmother, Nonna.  Gideon frowned briefly at the thought that it was a shame they hadn’t managed to stick together, but a blessing at the same time.

Marielle giggled softly.  “No, silly. It’s ours to name.”  The researcher shook her head at him slightly.  “Don’t have to name it now though. We have time.  I’ll just tell the stonemason to make us a nice little plaque to put in the front.  Something understated by the shuttle pad.”

“Oh,” he uttered quietly as he was pulled from his thoughts.  “Okay.” Gideon took another glance around before he froze, his brows raising as his eyes snapped to Marielle.  “Wait. Ours?” There was a pregnant silence between them as he watched her simply nod. “What do you mean ours?”

Her lilting laugh filled the space between them.  She turned as she placed her hands on his sides, flawless emerald irises meeting the richness of his blue.  “Ours. Used to refer to a thing belonging to or associated with the speaker and one or more people previously mentioned or easily identified,” she defined.  

The security officer grunted quietly as she failed to answer his question.  A frown set in as his jaw clenched. “You bought a villa.” He clarified.

“No.”  Marielle laughed as she shook her head.  “That’d be silly.”

His expression softened at her answer, relief plain in his features as Gideon relaxed, his hands cupping her jaw.

“I built us one.  No one really considered using this island, but I saw it when I was looking for a summer home to call ours.  Terraforming is super easy when it’s just an island.”

“What!”  The Bajoran mix dropped his hands to her shoulders, gripping against her bare skin as he stared down at the researcher.  “So you bought the island and put a manor on it?!”

“Well, yeah?”  She giggled. “I didn’t like where the manor was originally located.”  Marielle pointed behind her. “Santa Maria Annunziata is beautiful, but I didn’t want to be surrounded by people on our get away.  So I just had the manor moved to this island. It didn’t have sea access. Oh! That reminds me!”

His lips moved in protest but words failed to be produced as his breath stilled in his lungs.  ‘Oh, Gods, the debt!’  Gideon groaned quietly as his hands dropped from her shoulders and raised to move over his face.  “El,” he grumbled. “We can’t-!” His words were cut off as Marielle’s hand moved to grab his and the researcher tugged him toward the stone stairs.

“You have to see the sea access!  I think you’ll really love it. I swear it’s my favourite part.”  Marielle smiled brightly at him as she looked at him from over her shoulder.  “I know. I know. I’ve been saying that a lot since we got here, but trust me.  You’ll just love what you’ll see!” She let go of his hand as her steps carried her down the stone steps quickly.  The path twisted to ease through the sharp drop, with the rock wall to one side and a sturdy wooden railing on the other.

Gideon panted softly as he followed, staying quiet within his thoughts in order to keep an eye on Marielle and be sure that she didn’t end up over the edge of the railing.  ‘Prophets, how much did this cost!’  He could hear the total racking up like a Ferengi casino jackpot, only he was losing the money instead of winning it.

She hopped off the last step to land on a large flattened stone patio.  The island curved to create a cove. A ladder at the edge of the large space led to the ocean, the sea so clear that she could gaze at the large boulders under the surface.  Marielle spun to face Gideon as she motioned to the private access to the sea. “Isn’t it gorgeous?!” she giggled softly. Her hands lift to the air as her foot lifted and she spun on pointe.  “I can’t believe nobody thought to ever put a damn house on this place!” She giggled softly. She stared out into the ocean. “I really did fall in love with this place the moment I saw it. Cassius was so completely right-  And his decorator- did a fantastic job.”

His legs froze when he reached the second to the last step.  The irritation at hearing that she’d been talking with Cassius was forgotten when he set eyes on the ocean.  Gideon gaped at the view, the small cove was surrounded by the cliff face, the water so clear he could see the fish swimming in the nearly still water.  “Marielle,” he groaned quietly as he lamented. ‘This place is beautiful, but it can’t be ours.  Per l’amor del cazzo, El.’  The half-Bajoran sat down on the step, as if he could move no further, his hands raised to cover his still gaping mouth.

The researcher stopped spinning and faced the security chief.  Her head tilted to one side as she looked at him. “What? You don’t like it?” Marielle pouted.  “I knew I should have gotten the one in Tuscany.” Her steps carried her to him and she settled on her knees before him, her hands on his.  “I was thinking we’d get one in France, but I’d be okay with two in Italy if that’s what you’d want.”

“Two-  El-” his words faltered as he stuttered, his gaze shifting from the view to look down at Marielle as he turned his hands to take hers.

“Well.  Yeah. I mean, I know the manor in the Cotswolds will be yours when we get married, but I wanted to get us a place where we could make our memories together.”

“El, this is beautiful, don’t get me wrong.  But we’re-”

She grinned at him, her worry suddenly disappearing as she caught the beginning of his statement.  “Oh good! I’m glad you think it’s beautiful and that you like it. Because it would really suck if you didn’t like it.”  Marielle pouted. “I mean. What’s the use of getting you a boat if you decide you don’t want to live on an island?”

Gideon felt his heart stop a few seconds as his head swam.  “A boat.”

Her head bobbed furiously in response.  The researcher twisted at the waist and pointed to the vessel that was anchored in deeper waters, just beyond the cove.  “It’s all yours, Gid,” Marielle smiled warmly as her gaze returned to her fiancé. “I know the Amalfi Coast is far from Savona.  We wouldn’t be able to make it on Giddy Up.  You needed a boat.  Well, we- we needed a boat.”

Once again, he stared out into the distance, his eyes locking on the vessel further out.  It was larger than his MC-scow, but had the same style. He could barely make out the wooden decking and the dark windows that meant the boat had a cabin.  He was again rendered speechless, his body nearly swaying with the continued feeling of vertigo in his brain.

Marielle leaned forward and began to pepper his neck with kisses.  “I didn’t name her,” she muttered against his skin. Her hands began to roam.  “And, you’ll have to tell the shipwright just what you’d like changed. But, she’s been commissioned and all you have to do is design her interior.”

“Prophets,” he murmured quietly as he tried to pull himself out of the fog in order to enjoy Marielle’s attention.  Gideon simply couldn’t wrap his mind around the entirety of the surprise his fiancée had put together for him. “El,” he started again and she hummed in response.  “This is too much.” The security chief glanced down at her. “We can’t afford this.”

“What are you talking about, Gideon?” she giggled softly as she continued to pepper the security chief with kisses, her hands becoming insistent as they began to tug at his shirt.

His body swayed slightly with her movements and Gideon finally grabbed at her wrists, his eyes focusing on the researcher as he frowned.  “We’re just Starfleet officers, not damn millionaires! How much did you pay for all this?!”

She blinked as he held her wrists, her hands naturally falling into loose fists.  “I don’t know. I just told the right people what I wanted, and they made it happen.”  Marielle’s head leaned to one side as she looked up at him, her confusion clear in her features.  Her chin tipped back as her gaze moved towards the top of the stairs. “Though- Cassius did take care of the kitchen.  He insisted it was an engagement present.” She giggled softly. “I’ll admit I was a bit hesitant, but wow- He picked out everything I would have wanted.”  There was the slightest pause. “Oh- And the small vineyard. That was his gift as well. Vines from an associate of his apparently. He promises the sweetest red.”

“You don’t know?!” he repeated, dumbfounded by the revelation.  Gideon hadn’t grown up in poverty, but certainly in moderation. Within Starfleet, money itself was not provided as ‘pay’, but the officers were given credit.  He could only imagine how much it would have taken to build the villa, acquire the island. “Oh, Gods, we’re deep, aren’t we?” He’d barely heard about Cassius providing the kitchen and gifting the vineyard.  The fog in his brain was just too thick.

The researcher blinked at him.  “What are you talking about, Gid?” she giggled softly finally.  “You’re acting weird.”

“We won’t have credit until we’re retired,” he mumbled in response as he was still lost in his mind’s rambling.  “And we’ll have to stay in until we’re frakking 80.” Gideon groaned quietly as he shook his head. “We can’t afford this, El.”

Her brows furrowed in confusion.  “What are you talking about, Gideon?” she asked again.  “Of course we can.” Marielle’s head leaned to one side as her vibrant verdant hues studied his face.  “You sure aren’t acting like you like it. You sure you wouldn’t prefer to go find some place in Tuscany?  It wouldn’t bother me- We could have both. Spend our time-”

“No!”  He raised a hand to cover his mouth, his expression immediately apologetic for his outburst.  Gideon sighed and reached his hand forward to cup her cheek and he leaned forward place a gentle kiss on Marielle’s forehead.  “It’s beautiful, the views are stunning, the boat is perfect,” he assured her quietly. “The first thing I thought of when I saw it was that I’d love to wake up to this view,” he admitted.

At the revelation, she gifted him with a bright smile.  “And now you do! I mean, when we get to Earth.” Marielle released a breath of relief.  “I’m so glad. I was worried you wanted some place bigger. The manor only houses fourteen guests at the most, though I’d feel bad if the butler and groundskeeper don’t get their own room here so it’s really closer to twelve.  Unless I have a small little cottage built- Ooo. That’s a better idea.”

“But-” Gideon groaned quietly.  “We have a butler here?” His gaze moved back out to the ocean as he relented on the argument, having accepted that they would be stuck in Starfleet for a very long time until the credit could be regained.

“No,” she shook her head.  “We have to hire one though.  I thought we could interview prospects together, seeing as this is your home too.”  Marielle pursed her lips. “We should probably do that sooner than later. I hate the idea of this place not being maintained while we’re away.  I can always ask Justin to watch it for us until we hire someone, but I don’t want to leave the Cotswolds property unattended.”

He raised a hand to run through his hair as he turned his eyes to the researcher.  “Uh, I don’t know how to interview a butler.” Gideon frowned and shook his head, a chuckle pushing past his lips as he muttered in disbelief.  “I’m going to have a butler.” ‘Gods, we’re not this rich.’

She giggled as she pushed up to her feet and brushed her dress clean before her hands settled on her hips.  The researcher took a moment to look at the cove before her head tilted back as her eyes traced the steep lines of the rock face.  “I’m glad I finally found a use for my inheritance,” she revealed with a soft giggle. “Though, I didn’t even make a dent. Maybe we should consider getting property on Risa.  Though, that one I’d rent out to offset the cost. It wouldn’t be smart to have too many properties just sitting around. We should talk about possibly buying and renting out properties throughout the quadrant.  It’d be smart. I’ll speak to Cassius. He seems to know people everywhere. Oh- I did want to speak to him about possibly acquiring a few artifacts. I’m sure he’s got a few that would be perfect for this place.”  

‘Prophets, I forgot that she’s this rich.’  Gideon grumbled quietly as he shook his head and stood up.  He did his best not to appear frustrated at hearing about ‘Cassius this’ and ‘Cassius that,’ simply because in the end, she was marrying him, not the antiquities dealer.  He draped his arms around the researcher as he held her close against him. “Thank you,” the security chief offered quietly. “This is the best surprise, well-” A soft chuckle rumbled in his throat as he considered a couple other surprises Marielle had given him in the past.  “One of the best surprises I’ve ever gotten.” He leaned back to look down at the woman in his arms.

Her eyes studied his facial expression.  “I know Italy is important to you, even after you learnt the truth,” she revealed softly.  “I wanted you to have a home here.” Her hands found his and her slender fingers lightly squeezed his hand.  “I wanted to make a home here. With you.”

He raised his hand, turning his wrist so that he could kiss the back of hers.  Gideon’s cobalt orbs never drifted from her stunning emerald irises. “My home is wherever you are,” he revealed quietly, a small smile pulling at his lips.  “But since- we own the place, this is where our home will be.” After a short silence, he smirked. “Though I would have been fine with the manor in the Cotswolds.”

She led him back up the stone stairs, giggling softly.  “Oh. We have that too. I’m hoping to convince Papa to sign the deed over to me.”  She kept her gaze on the path to keep from slipping. “He’s being awfully calm lately.  I was sure he’d freak out when I told him I’ve accepted your proposal- He even asked about kids.”  Marielle paused. “Though, apparently he found someone for me. He told me to ‘keep an open mind.’” She shrugged.  “I promised him I’d agree to one subspace transmission.”

His already tumultuous emotions reeled into overdrive at hearing about both a potential suitor and Aubert’s query about kids.  The half-Bajoran was confident she would easily turn away anyone her father suggested. Redness creeped up his neck as his eyes widened.  Gideon’s hand squeezed Marielle’s briefly as his step stuttered on one of the stairs. “Kids?” his voice nearly squeaked as he uttered the word.  He’d been over the moon that she’d even agreed to marry him. Children had yet to enter their conversation.

Marielle stopped as she looked back at him.  “Well. Yeah. I- He’s all about preserving the bloodline.”  She made no mention about her own thoughts about having children.  The idea simply didn’t appeal to her. She was a giving woman, but she also knew she was a selfish human being.  She had a feeling, however, that Gideon would rather enjoy having children and she would do anything to make him happy.  “I was thinking- one? Two? I don’t know.”

Gideon kept walking up the stairs, tugging gently on her hand to encourage her to continue.  They had about ten meters to go and reached the top of the staircase in silence. He paused at the landing, his head turning to look out over the view again.  ‘She wants children, two of them.  Prophets, I had barely considered marriage, let alone kids.’  He looked back down at Marielle.  ‘Gods, what I wouldn’t do for this woman.’  As he thought on it, how much he enjoyed Matteo and Rosaria, he knew kids would be perfect.  The idea of being surrounded by laughter and play became very appealing.

Suddenly, Marielle was feeling rather shy and uncertain.  She watched him carefully when he had retreated into his thoughts.  When he still didn’t break the silence, the researcher offered weakly, “There’s wine in the basket?”

A small grin found his features and he gently squeezed her hand.  “And a picnic, or are we going to try out our kitchen?” Gideon’s grin grew into a smile as he pulled Marielle against him, holding her close briefly as he rested his cheek on the top of her head.

She enjoyed his closeness, her head burying in his chest as her fingers twisted into the fabric of his tunic.  “Just a picnic. Thought we could go swimming,” Marielle offered quietly. The researcher looked up at him. “Did you- I mean.  Was I wrong?”

He tilted his chin down to look into her eyes, the smile still present in his features and in the twinkle of his irises.  “Not wrong,” he assured her gently. “We could stand to discuss it, though,” Gideon smirked.

“Well, obviously,” she giggled softly as her worried expression melted away.  

“El,” he started, his expression changing slightly into a worried frown.  “I’m sorry about how I reacted at first.” Gideon sighed as he shook his head a bit.  “I just hope you understand that I’m not used to this kind of wealth.” His frown deepened as he looked mildly ashamed.

“Wealth-?”  Marielle glanced around the property.  “I thought this was about the size of the Salieri estate,” she muttered softly, the statement more to herself than to the security chief.

Gideon scoffed, shaking his head again.  “I never expect to see that place in my name.  I would have had a small cabin built in the woods in Oregon, probably.  Guess I’ve never thought that far ahead.”

She smiled up at him.  “That’s a perfect suggestion,” she hummed in thought as she walked past him, pulling his hand as she led him up the last set of stairs towards the pool.  “I’ll see if I can contact our architect to draft up a cozy cabin by Cannon Beach- Unless you think Nehalem Bay would be better. Ooh. I bet Cassius could find us some artifacts from Ghazan X.  They have a great artisan community.”

‘Why is she fawning so much over Cassius?  I’m not enough for her? Just a stupid security grunt?’  He blinked at his sudden doubt and shrugged it off as they climbed the last of the stairs.  “I guess it depends on how close you want to be to Little Bajor.” Gideon did his best not to appear disappointed in his train of thought.

The researcher stopped and turned to face him.  She smiled brightly. “I want you close to the people you love, silly.”

Gideon grinned at the idea, but still shook his head.  “They’re close in my heart. I wouldn’t want you feeling uncomfortable with Nonna as a next door neighbor.”

She giggled softly as she released his hand the moment they reached the proper level.  “I have plenty of places in which to hide. My family has five properties, remember? And that doesn’t even count our usual getaways.”  The researcher made her way towards one of the teak lounge chairs. “Honestly, I thought we could let her have a key to this place. Do you think she’d enjoy a home away from home from time to time?”

“Oh, I bet she would love the garden,” Gideon mused as his gaze swept over the green spaces.  He stepped away from Marielle, returning to the entryway in order to pick up with basket that he’d left on the stoop.  The security chief smiled as he watched his fiancee against the blue ocean water.

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