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[JL Deniaud/Salieri] Gifts

USS Aldrin Personnel Recordings


by Lieutenant Commander Marielle Deniaud & Lieutenant Commander Gideon Salieri
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Stardate: 201804.13
Gifts

AUTHOR'S NOTE/WARNING:  Alludes to adult situations.  It is designed to be read by adults and not intended for children.  Caution is advised if any of the above is offensive.

WARNING TO THE WARNING:  You've been warned.


He'd given her lacy lingerie, a bottle of bourbon (to replace what he'd finished off without her knowing), books of poetry, and antique crystal wine toppers.  His latest present was a small canvas with an abstract splash of bright colors. Gideon had been doing his best to show Marielle that he cared for her, even going so far as to ghost the other women he'd been in contact with - for a few days.  After one woman sent a message to their console, he made sure to silence them. The half-Bajoran visited them each to ensure they would remain silent, even if it meant one last hurrah. Each time he presented the diminutive woman with a gift, her reaction confused and irritated him.  Despite the swell of negativity that he felt, she still came home to him and showered him with affection. It gave him hope that things would return to normal. He simply drank before she got home and while he was on duty.


The sudden influx of gifts did nothing to give her confidence in the half-Bajoran.  Not only were they items she didn't want or would gravitate towards in the least, they were simply things.  Junk. Items that would collect dust and clutter a space. They spoke more of his desires than hers. He had once given her tokens of affection that were made by his own hands.  She couldn't remember the last time he'd put in such effort. It was hard not to verbally question him about his reason for such items, and Marielle couldn't help but wonder if he felt guilty for one reason or another.  Still, she grinned through each receiving, managing somehow to portray the brightness that once made her shine. She appreciated the effort. She simply didn't trust it. The ship was still several days away from Starbase 117, and the couple were going to part ways with the Aldrin - with the ship continuing on its journey while they took a shuttle to Lusola III.


Two suitcases were laid out on the mattress, both half full of folded clothes.  He turned his chin toward the diminutive woman when she approached the dresser. Gideon straightened as he took a moment to simply watch her.  She still seemed withdrawn and sadness permeated from her emotion. He recalled that she'd mentioned before that she was trained to please men and he had to wonder how much she was putting on for him.  His lips formed a thin line with the idea that she was putting on a front for him. …˜I need you El,' he told her silently.  …˜I need you to need me too.'


She opened a drawer and glanced at the collection of hairpins and hair accessories.  Her chin tilted to one side as her fingers brushed over the ornate starburst ornament.  Her thoughts drifted towards the antiquities dealer who had become her friend. It had been months since she had last spoken to Cassius Majors, the trader brought into her life by a collection of serendipitous happenstance.  The decision to stop communication with him had nearly broken heart for reasons she didn't quite understand. …˜I wonder how how he's doing.  Did you finally find someone with whom to share your adventures?'  With a sad but tender smile, she lifted the hair ornament and collected a few other pieces to bring with her to the conference.


Gideon thought back to a time when she'd accused him of never asking after her.  Now seemed like a perfect time to try again. “How are you doing, El?” he spoke up after a few more moments.  He turned and lowered to sit on the edge of the bed, patting the mattress beside him to invite Marielle next to him.   His gaze turned briefly toward the shetland sheepdog when he heard Archie growling at him.  It'd become a near daily occurrence, though the canine never attacked. He glared at the dog and hissed for him to be quiet.  “Silencieux.” There was little left for him to pack and the rest of the space in his bag would be offered to the physicist in case she needed the room.


The diminutive woman couldn't help but blink as she stared at her fiance, then the place right beside him.  …˜Oh gods.  I don't want to sleep with you right now.  I still have to prepare my presentation. Augh.  I'm going to look like a fool- I haven't had any chance to put together the data properly.'  She swallowed her sigh and pushed a smile to her features.  “Why do you ask?” came her softly asked question as she made her way to the bed.  She lowered onto the mattress and she patted the empty space beside her.


Archimedes turned in place before he jumped to the indicated spot.  His chin rested on her lap and he kept his eyes on Gideon. With her hand on his head, the sheltie was content to rest by her side.  


The hair ornament and accessories were placed into her case before she finally turned to focus on the half-Bajoran, not really meeting his eye and instead staring at the bridge of his nose so it appeared as if she met his gaze.  Absentmindedly, she let her fingers scratch behind her dog's ear. For months, it seemed as if the shetland sheepdog had been unwilling to leave her side. She didn't understand his change in demeanor, but made a note of it so that she could attend to him when she returned.


Her emotional reaction conflicted with the expression on her features.  He supposed he shouldn't be so surprised, but it concerned him to feel such hesitation from Marielle.  Gideon shifted his hand to caress her thigh and he lifted his gaze to meet hers, studying the dull emerald for a moment.  “I'm- curious,” he stammered in response. The security chief was unsure why she wanted him to ask and it irritated him slightly that she never gave him an answer.  “How are you feeling? Are you ready for our little vacation? Are you prepared for your conference?”


Marielle simply stared at his face despite not really looking him straight in his eyes.  She was stunned into silence, unsure of what to think or how to answer. Did he want to the truth?  Would it result in his usual string of self-deprecation? Would he become angry with her if she spoke the truth?  It was hard to know how to answer. There was no way to know if he was truly asking out of concern for her, though she couldn't fathom any other reason for him to inquire about her work.  He had stopped asking about her interests months prior, not even bothering to ask how her day had been in the research lab. He had rolled his eyes and had failed to find any interest in her work, so she had simply stopped speaking of it.  “Honestly?” she started softly. Caution coloured her tone. “I'm- overwhelmed. I'm not sure- I'm- I'm just unsure.”


His fingers squeezed her thigh lightly and he nodded his chin once.  There was some question as to why she had to ask him if he wanted an honest answer.  …˜Because I love it when you lie to me, El,' he chastised her.  Gideon hummed and his lips pulled into a slight frown.  “Are you going to be able to get caught up by the time we leave?  Is there something I can do to help?”


She shook her head.  “No,” she whispered morosely to both questions.  “I guess- I think I'm just going to wing it.” Her shoulders slumped and she willed herself not to cry.  Her paper had been selected for one of the highlighted presentations. Her theories had created some buzz, and there had been letters of interest from several universities that she speak to postgraduate students about the intricacies of interdimensional travel in relation to time shifts.  With her focus on Gideon the last few months, she had simply failed to prepare. They were going to laugh her off the stage, her name a synonym for failure. …˜I'm going to be a joke.'  In all her life, she'd never known to never deliver results of some kind.  It broke her heart. She sniffed and shook her head. “I'm going to be laughed off the stage,” she cried softly, unable to hide the tears.  The diminutive reached her hand up to her face. “Sorry. Sorry.”


He reached up quickly to cradle her jaw and he gently pulled her against him.  His other hand slipped around her waist and Gideon held the researcher tenderly.  The half-Bajoran frowned when he felt her tears soaking into his tunic. “No, you're not.  You're brilliant and you'll figure something out,” he assured her quietly.  …˜She used to be so confident, why has she changed so much?  I didn't do this, did I?'  He hummed quietly at the thought and brushed it aside despite the guilt that tried to surface.  …˜I didn't ask her to change, she did it for me.  I deserve her attention as much as I give her mine.'  His gaze shifted around the room as he considered how he could help her prepare better.  “I'm going to contact Nazir and you're not going to work your shifts. You need to focus on the conference.”  There was finality in his voice despite the suggestion he offered.


…˜Oh gods,' she whined to herself.  …˜I won't get any work done here-  He'll be so mad at me for not paying attention to him.'  Marielle straightened and somehow managed to find the emotional fortitude to shake her head.  “I'm okay,” the diminutive woman assured him softly. Her hands moved to wipe away her tears. “Really-  I just want to finish packing. I'll be okay.” Her chin lifted and she offered him a reassuring smile. “I'm okay.  I'll be okay.” It was her mantra. It was what she had told herself when she was a child under the rule of her father and what she'd whispered every night to herself when the half-Bajoran was asleep.


Gideon watched her and lowered his hands from her body.  One rested behind him on the mattress and the other one on his thigh as he stared at her.  There was conflict between the words she said and the emotion she felt and it only served to irritate him.  The stupid dog was also staring at him, accusing him of everything, he was sure. He suppressed his frown and nodded.  “Okay. If you think of anything, let me know. I'll help however I can.” The security chief pushed to his feet and took a step toward the door.


“It's enough-,” she started softly as she reached for his hand.  Her touch was light, almost timid, as she attempted to stop him. “Really-  It's enough for me that you asked.” It was the absolute truth. Marielle watched as her thumb brushed lightly over the top of his hand.  His efforts for the last few days had been lacking in any real depth, but it was more than he'd done in over six months. It felt like a step in the right direction and it dared to give her hope.  For once, she allowed her jewel green hues to meet the cobalt irises she had once adored so completely. “Thank you. I'm- I'll be okay. I promise.”


He hummed quietly and nodded to acknowledge her silent request that he let it go.  His hand turned and his fingers gently squeezed hers. “I'm going to hold you to that,” Gideon murmured with a hesitant smirk.  He motioned toward his bag. “I just have a few more things and the rest of the space is for you.” The half-Bajoran lightly pulled his hand and leaned down to kiss her forehead before moving out of the room.  It took him all of five minutes to have a quick drink of bourbon to calm himself before returning to their bedroom. There was some lingering irritation that pulled at his subconscious but he couldn't help but grin at seeing the lacy undergarments he'd gifted her piled into his bag.  His gaze shifted to Archimedes when he heard the dog growling at him. …˜I should have you stuffed, damn mutt.'  He waved his hand toward the sheltie to shoo him away.  …˜I think you're going to die of natural causes when we get back.  That way El will only have me to attend to.'


   
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