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( All my love to Marielle Deniaud. Thank you for your assistance in writing this series. )
The barracks were kept open so that inmates could socialize if they so wished. There was never any fear of revolt. Troublemakers were simply banished to the surface. The choice rang in everyone’s heads - the mines and life or the surface and death - and it was what the warden used to control the population of criminals. Fregg often kept to the barracks when he was not forced to the mines. He slinked towards his destination, the item held in his closed fist hidden by a new coat, his pillow, and his blanket. Behind him, the Trill who served as his protector, Eritas, followed with another blanket. The bundle had been wrapped around the items that the Ferengi had acquired during his three year stay on Rura Penthe.
There was no newfound respect after his show at the fighting ring a few days prior. If anything, there were more leers and whispers that followed him. Gideon limited his time in the open areas to prevent another incident like the morning on the tram less than ten days ago. He sat on the floor and pulled his knees to his chest in an effort to remain small and unnoticed. Dulled cobalt stared at the wall opposite him as he lost himself in his remorse.
He took a moment to examine the space when he entered it. The Ferengi turned and nodded to Eritas, who took the bundle to the empty bunk and simply dropped it on the thin mattress. Fregg glanced around quickly when the Trill made his way to him. There was a brief moment of contact between the two before the silent man made his way to his own bunk. After the silent exchange, the green trader made his way to the half-Bajoran and gave him a toothy grin. “You are a better fighter than you look, hoo-man,” he offered in greeting. Yellow teeth were sharp. What was meant to be a friendly smile simply looked sinister.
His chest filled with a deep breath and he blinked as he turned his chin to look up at the Ferengi. His expression hardened without him realizing and he frowned toward Fregg. “Thank you, I think,” he muttered as he stretched his legs to rest on the floor. His gaze shifted briefly toward the Trill and Gideon nodded at Eritas. They never spoke to one another but shared meaningful looks every day. The half-Bajoran was silently glad that they were bunkmates. It meant that the prisoner never informed anyone when he couldn’t contain his grief.
Chuckling, the imprisoned businessman dropped the coat on Gideon’s lap. “Your payment,” Fregg explained. He squatted and kept the ancient hypospray tucked to his stomach to keep it from being seen by any passersby. “I’ve decided you’d be a good bodyguard, hoo-man. I’m moving in with you and Eritas.” He grinned his toothy grin. “I pay well.”
Gideon nodded as he picked up the coat and held it up for inspection. The material was thicker than his threadbare jacket and it was lined with fur. There was a brief moment of satisfaction in his features, but the expression quickly faded when he realized the possession of such a garment would put a bigger target on him. ‘Fanculo questo posto,’ he sneered to himself. Still, the coat would help keep him warmer. As he turned it and leaned forward to slide it over his arm, there was a pause as he recalled something Fregg had said. “Bodyguard?”
“Prison is no excuse for a lack of profit,” he answered with a snicker. He motioned with his chin to the Trill, who had turned to face the wall. “Work with me. Protect me from the guards and you’ll never have to worry about being touched again.” Fregg grinned. “And you’ll get a bonus. For what others have to pay, you get for free.”
He glanced toward Eritas and then back toward the Ferengi. The coat fit his shoulders well and it instantly warmed him. A soft groan of comfort eased from his throat and he lifted his knees to curl into his chest once again. “Just by the guards,” he murmured bitterly in response to the businessman’s proposition. His arms folded over his torso as he regarded the squat man.
Fregg curled over the ancient hypospray to protect it even further from view. He pulled the vial from its handle. What had once been a filled glass cylinder was near empty. “Grave Dust. Work for me, and the other prisoners will want you to be their friend too.” The vial was snapped back into place. “Better than a holodeck. It can take you away from this place. It’s how we survive.”
The half-Bajoran watched the yellow liquid swirl with a silver glimmer before he shifted his muddled cobalt back to Fregg. He was skeptical about the drug considering it had already cost him several days in the pit. Gideon shuddered at the memory and shook his head.
Chuckling, the Ferengi glanced behind him and moved to move the coat from Gideon’s legs to reach for his arm. When the half-Bajoran reacted, he stopped and lifted his free hand in innocence. “This will help you sleep, eh? You must have nightmares of your woo-man. I need a good healthy bodyguard. Trust me. I’m your friend, hoo-man.” Fregg leaned forward slowly and pressed the end of the hypospray into his arm. He stood up and made his way to his newly acquired bunk to set up his new home. “Sleep. We can talk again in the morning.” He laughed, the hoarse sound echoing against the walls.
He quickly glared toward the Trill in accusation for revealing to Fregg his troubles sleeping. He was tense for several moments as he felt the unnatural warmth spread under his skin. Gideon closed his eyes against the sensation and released a stuttering breath when his consciousness began to fade from reality. The Betazoid mix failed to notice as Eritas moved to pick him up and guided him to peel away unnecessary layers. He was moved onto his bunk and his blanket lifted over his body as he relaxed completely into the visions. The braying Ferengi laugh morphed slowly with the cold prison. It turned soft and melodic, sea chimes trilling softly in the warm breeze.
Horses grazed on the tall green grassy plains. She sat amongst the bending blades, the stallion she loved standing just meters away. Looking over her shoulder, she lifted her bare arm and waved at him. “Gideon!” she called out, her mezzo soprano carrying easily towards him. She smiled brightly as she pushed to her feet, hands dusting at her behind. Her white dress with blue floral embroidery wrapped around her form as another breeze moved past her. Fingers hooked around the flying strands that whipped around her chin. “I’m sorry. Was I supposed to help secure the boat?”
He didn’t even think to be devastated at seeing the woman, the love of his life. Warmth and happiness spread through him as he approached her. “No, of course not,” Gideon answered easily. “I’m surprised you didn’t ride to the lake,” he teased her with a broad smile. His arms enveloped her against him as he kissed her. The taste of coffee, chocolate, and vanilla nearly made his heart explode in his chest. A satisfied moan was lost in her mouth as he fully immersed himself in her. There was no odd feeling at not being able to sense her emotion, he simply knew she was happy.
She giggled softly under his kiss. Her arms draped over his shoulders, hands sifting through the soft strands of his hair. Pulling away enough to speak, Marielle looked up at him. “Silly, Gid,” she giggled. “I’ll always wait for you.” Fingers drew languid circles on his scalp. “What would you like to do today, Gideon?”
“I love you,” he murmured against her lips. The feeling of her fingers on his skin had delightful shivers moving over his spine and he moaned softly with his joy. Gideon dipped his chin to nestle his nose in her hair and he took a deep breath to fill his lungs with her scent. His hands caressed her sides as he pulled back to smile down at Marielle. “Let’s ride to the lake. Swim under the waterfall.”
She smiled affectionately at him. “Is that all you’d like to do?” she teased with a wink. Marielle stepped back, her hand trailing over his shoulder and down his arm until she could interlace their fingers. She led him towards the team of horses. “Would it be alright if we just take Atlas? Red’s been so mean to you lately.” She stopped by the piebald that he called his, her free hand smoothing over the stallion’s neck.
Gideon squeezed her fingers as they walked leisurely toward the herd. “That’s sure to make Red jealous, but it’ll help show you what else I’d like to do.” The half-Bajoran winked as he raised his hand to pat Atlas before he gripped the diminutive woman by the waist. He hoisted her easily to the piebald’s broad back.
She squealed delightfully by the lift, legs swinging over Atlas until she was seated properly. Marielle watched as the half-Bajoran easily joined her and she leaned back until she was flushed against him. Her chin turned, her head resting against his shoulder. “What else would you like to do, Gideon?” she whispered, eyes fluttering as she looked up at him from under her dark lashes.
Gideon urged the piebald stallion to move toward the lake and he was sure to press his pelvis against her backside with the motion. His lips brushed her temple as he held her against him with one strong arm and gripped Atlas’ mane with thick fingers. “After skinny dipping in the lake, we’re going to explore the cave and I’m going to warm you up,” he whispered with a heated breath. He could already envision finding somewhere the light came through the rock wall for a warm place to show his deep love for the woman. His excitement caused the stallion to push faster over the earth.
Marielle giggled shyly, a soft blush colouring her cheeks. “You always have the best ideas,” she complimented adoringly. “I’m so glad we transferred off the Aldrin together. You were right to suggest it.” Her chin turned towards the horizon, her smile growing wider as the stallion flew over the grassy plains. A hand rested around Atlas’ mane and near Gideon’s fingers. The other lifted and fingers curled in an attempt to capture the rushing wind. “I love flying with you,” she breathed in awe.
“Did you want a house in San Francisco? In Musilla? Or are we staying in the Cotswolds and commuting to the Academy?” The stallion slowed as they neared the lake and came to a subtle stop. Gideon wasn’t amazed at how well behaved Atlas was, he simply expected it. The half-Bajoran released Marielle and slid from the horse’s back. He smiled as he looked up at the diminutive woman with eyes full of adoration and love.
“I thought you’d like to be near Nonna,” came her affectionate answer. “It’s only a forty-five minute commute from Musilla.” Marielle reached out for him, hands settling on his shoulders and she slid off the piebald’s back to fall into Gideon’s awaiting arms. “I don’t care where we live. As long as we’re together. I just want some place beautiful where we can raise our children.”
His groan echoed in his throat as he held her close to him. He leaned down to kiss her before picking her up in his arms. Gideon lifted his chin to stare up at her as lust colored his features. “I don’t know if I can wait for skinny dipping and the cave,” he grumbled playfully in a husky baritone. He set her feet gently to the earth and his fingers caressed lightly over the hem of her dress.
“Who says we have to choose?” she sighed softly at his touch. Teasingly, she stepped back several steps until her bare feet met the cool water of their beloved lake. The hem of her dress floated on the surface, swaying slightly with the ripples that surrounded her. Water soaked the fabric quickly and the material began to cling to her legs. Fingers pulled at the soft cotton teasingly to inch the hem higher along her legs as she continued to walk backwards into the lake, emerald darkening despite the bright sun over her head. “Do you want to start our family now, Gideon?” Despite the mischievous teasing, there was affection in her tone.
He pulled the tunic over his head and tossed it behind him as he walked into the lake after her. “Yes,” he groaned in answer. His fingers made quick work of his belt and slacks as he chased her. Gideon was sure he became delirious when her laughter filled the air to surround him. His arms encircled her and he gave a triumphant hum as her body warmed him. “We’re going to be serious about trying to start our family,” he mused with a lopsided grin.
She smiled at him as she nodded, arms wrapping around his neck. Her head tilted slightly to one side. “Very much so,” she replied softly. “I want a family with you. I’ll be happy to give you a big family.” Marielle lifted her heels slightly to kiss his lips. There was a small pause as she stepped back and began to swim away from him. “Though, we really should get married first.” She winked at him. “Promise you won’t be mad, but I asked Nonna to make the arrangements for next week. I told Papa I didn’t want the big wedding.”
Gideon laughed lightly and lowered into the water so that he could follow her into the deeper part of the lake. “You mean at the temple with a vedek?” He watched as she nodded. The thought only further warmed him and serene joy moved over his features. The half-Bajoran nodded and smiled with his approval. “Next week is soon enough,” he nearly growled as he stroked through the clear water toward Marielle. “Come here!” Her squeal of delight lifted in the air and was soon followed by the soft seaglass chime of her laughter.
Fregg chuckled to himself as he stared down at Gideon’s smiling face. Narrow fingers gripped at his arm and he gave the man two rough shakes before stepping back to avoid possibly getting hit. There was no way to know what the half-Bajoran was experiencing. “Time for breakfast, then it’s to the mines,” he offered in greeting.
Gideon was startled awake, pulled violently from the vision that he had become so immersed in. His hand lifted to keep from hitting his head on the bottom of the top bunk as he quickly sat up. Unfocused cobalt stared around him as he fought to come back to reality. Heavy breaths filled his lungs with cold and stale air and he blinked back to the present. “Oh Gods,” he whispered as he shook his head and glanced at Fregg.
The Ferengi grinned as he stared down at the former security chief. “Good dream, eh, hoo-man?” His lobes lifted with his glee. “Remember. I take care of my friends. Others have to pay a great deal for an escape from this place. All you have to do is keep the guards from finding my shipments, and you get to dream sweetly every night.”
He reached up and roughly drew his hand over his face. There was a great deal of internal struggle as he debated such dreams on a nightly basis because he would always wake up to find himself still in Rura Penthe. Gideon groaned quietly but did not answer Fregg as he swung his legs over the edge of the bed. It took considerable effort to prepare for the day. The visions of his time with Marielle clung to his consciousness and he had to remind himself that she was gone. By the time they returned from the mine that night, the half-Bajoran agreed to the Ferengi’s proposition. He was sure his dreams had never been sweeter.