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[JL Deniaud/Salieri/Vaeros] Lorelei: Last Word

USS Aldrin Personnel Recordings

by Doctor Erik Vaeros, Lieutenant Gideon Salieri, First Lieutenant Marielle Deniaud
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Stardate: 1701.01 [01 January, 2017]
Last Word

“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
- A.A. Milne [The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh]

Marielle giggled softly, though the sound was laced with sadness as she walked side-by-side with the Draconian towards the transporter room. “You promise you’ll write me?” she asked softly. Her steps were quick and short, the kimono restricting the full range of her motion. The engineer didn’t look like she struggled with it though, instead it seemed as natural as walking while wearing her uniform. She remained in her kimono, the magnificently dyed silk of blue that faded to black. The lacquered golden threads shimmered under the lights of the hallway. The embroidered golden swirls rose from the hem in the curls of the wind and clouds, her fluttering steps giving them life and movement. The collar of her furisode was draped low enough to show the graceful curve of her neck. The engineer was cinched in with her broad obi of gold, invitingly tied in a bow like a cord around a parcel. The long strands of her hair were pulled up in a neat bun, a pair of ornate golden hairpins dangling jeweled wisteria blossoms from the strands. Her face was unpainted, save for the soft red on her lips, a hint of pink on her cheeks, and her darkened lashes. She tucked her hands into her sleeves, her slender arms hidden by the long fabric.

“I’d like to see anyone try and stop me,” he gruffly answered, smiling as she released a soft peal of laughter in response. He laughed when all she did was shake her head at him. It had been a good couple of hours. Marielle had spent her time with him. The conversation had been easy, filled with joy. It was probably the only time he remembered ever laughing so much. The engineer had smiled at him, bantered easily. He shouldn’t have been surprised at how his heart skipped beats. The woman seemed to make his heart rate skyrocket so easily. Erik lifted his eyes when he heard the familiar souls growing stronger. He wrinkled his brow. “What’s all this now?”

Just outside the transporter room, Ryan Winnetka, Jonathan Battey, Jessie Jessup, Cana Graves, Mark Huntsman, Rico Sauve, Sreagon, and Steven Klein lingered by the hallway. They were well within the proximity sensor’s range, forcing the doors to the transporter room to remain open.

Sreagon nudged Huntsman as he stared at Marielle. “Look at that,” he muttered. He gaped openly at the engineer. “How the hell does she look hotter wearing more?”

Erik’s eye twitched but he said nothing. Not even the Rigelian’s perverted utterings could ruin the moment he had shared with Marielle. The Draconian only looked at Winnetka. “What are you doing here?” he asked Ryan as they reached the group. He remained outside the transporter room, though he quickly glanced inside to find Gideon and Henrik Rocha waiting quietly. Henrik smiled at him, though the Nandanian’s eyes fell to the engineer by Erik’s side almost immediately. An uncomfortable churning settled in his stomach.

Gideon Salieri stood inside the transporter room, one hand resting behind his back as he leaned against the wall, the fingers of his other hand scratching at a clean shaven jaw. His back was to the door, but his chin dipped when he heard them approach. Erik Vaeros had always come across as a bully to the half-Betazoid. Gideon didn’t think he’d ever find it in him to like the counselor, but the Draconian had stepped up when needed. The security officer was thankful of that, so seeing him off was the least he could do to show he was greatful.

Marielle glanced inside the transporter room to find Gideon standing next to Henrik. Her eyes quickly dipped away, and she forced herself to look up at Ryan. She and Winnetka never really spoke after the incident in the Rialto when they were still in orbit around Malahakir, and she had avoided the team after Gideon had told her he needed her to go. The engineer had avoided game night for several reasons, her friend’s recovery being the primary one. She felt like the intruder in his life, though she was finding her days lonely without the ruckus of the security team.

Ryan grinned a bit, nodding toward Marielle before looking at Vaeros. “Just a proper send off, Doc. We’re all stupid grunts, no idea what’s expected in order to thank you for what you’ve done.” Winnetka’s grin had faded, but his brown eyes found Gideon within the transporter room before focusing on Vaeros again.

Erik nodded. “Yeah. You lot weren’t so bad. Idiots, but at least you’re not frakking stupid.”

Winnetka stepped forward and offered his hand to Erik, the city streets of his soul surprisingly quiet and subdued. “Good luck, Doc.”

The Draconian stared at the hand briefly. Somehow, his aversion to being touched didn’t seem to rear its ugly head, and Erik reached out. His hand grasped his forearm and he gave it a firm shake. “You keep doing what you’re doing, Winnetka. You’ll go far.”

Cana nudged the engineer. “What’s with the get up?” she asked with a grin.

“I was giving Erik a gift,” she replied simply. Marielle’s hands slipped from the kimono sleeves, her fingers brushing lightly over the silk fabric.

The nurse grinned. “A gift, huh? What kind of gift?” She laughed aloud when Marielle turned several shades of red. “Ooh! Oooh! Looks like our girl here gave the Doc a going away present!”

The comment earned Marielle a few stares, and the engineer whined as she covered her face with her hands. “Oh my gods, Cana!” When she heard Erik laughing beside her, the engineer simply reached out and punched him hard on the arm. “You could deny it you know!”

“Why?” he asked as he guffawed. “The look on your face is pretty damn priceless.”

The rest of the guys simply raised a hand to wave and muttered thanks toward the doctor, not having the same fortitude that Ryan had to attempt shaking his hand. They lingered outside the transporter room, filling the space around the door.

When Erik entered the transporter room, Marielle followed behind quietly. She offered Henrik a weak smile as she stood beside him while Erik placed his suitcase on the transporter pad.

“Lush,” Erik called out as he turned to face the remaining of the group. “Lay off the booze.”

“Never!” cackled Cana. She winked at the Draconian, laughing when he simply rolled his eyes at her.

Erik turned to Henrik, growling slightly when he caught the Nandanian staring at the engineer by his side. “You’ll need to watch out for that one,” he grumbled as he pointed his thumb in Cana’s direction.

Henrik grinned as his attention moved from Marielle to the Draconian in front of him. “It is not a problem at all Erik. Your crew will be safe in my hands.” He reached out, his hand offered in friendship. His smile grew when Erik grabbed his forearm with his hand, and the two men shared a quiet moment of understanding.

Gideon finally turned, dropping his hands into his pockets. He’d intended to look at Vaeros, but seeing Marielle in the kimono had him uncharacteristically staring. Cobalt orbs scanned her form slowly, appreciating the silk fabric wrapped around the engineer. Finally, he saw her, his El. Sighing quietly, he watched the engineer as everything around him seemed to disappear.

Erik turned to Salieri. The Draconian followed Gideon’s eyes, finding the blue hues focused on the engineer. He turned towards Marielle, finding her staring at her sleeves. He sighed. Had he stayed, Salieri would have proven to be a major pain in his behind for her affections. Their friendship had come much easier than his with Marielle. Purple irises settled once more on the security chief. “You,” he huffed. “Don’t do anything stupid.”

Gideon finally tore his gaze away, almost surprised to find Vaeros there. “Huh?” he grunted quietly before blinking back into the present.

Erik snickered as he stared at Salieri. The kid had it bad, and it was almost too painful to watch. “I said don’t do anything stupid.”

“Oh,” he answered, forcing a chuckle from his throat as he nodded. “I’ll get right on that.” Gideon focused on Erik, the grin fading from his features. “Thanks,” he managed before finding a lump had constricted his throat. The counselor had helped him far more than Gideon could think possible, especially with their breakthrough regarding Marielle. Was ‘thanks’ really the best he could do? The half-Betazoid nodded slightly, frozen in his thoughts.

The counselor nodded and he considered his words carefully. Henrik would undoubtedly have his own take on Salieri’s recovery, but Erik had his own doubts about how the Nandanian would be able to handle the depth of the trauma. Henrik was nice, and that presented challenges on its own. “Just keep up with the exercises,” the Draconian offered. There was a kindness in the gruff instructure. With a breath he turned to Marielle to find her chin dipped and her eyes to the floor. He grumbled softly under his breath. He had appreciated the moment they shared in his quarters, but Erik wondered if perhaps he had done enough. Time was slipping by so quickly, and he was having a hard time letting go. The Draconian stepped closer. “Hey Bright Eyes,” he greeted softly, a rare tenderness in his voice.

Her eyes lifted when his shoes moved into her view, and the engineer smiled warmly at the man as their gaze met. “Hi Erik,” she greeted in kind. The volume of her voice had lowered in her sadness. “Try not to be as much of a cantankerous ass from now on, okay?” She laughed as he laughed, her lilting laugh filling the transporter room. She took a breath, her head leaning to one side. “I’m going to miss you. Who else is going to dance or watch sappy romantic comedy movies with me?” Her hand darted out, fingers lightly applying pressure to his hand.

Erik ignored the snickering from the security team and he stared down at her. There were so many things he wanted to say, but he wasn’t sure he had the ability to say them. “Frak,” he swore loud enough for everyone to hear. “Don’t hit me.” Before she could even ask what he meant, the Draconian stepped forward to close the distance between them. The hand she held wrapped around hers, their fingers interlacing. The other came up, his hand cupping her cheek. His head lowered, and he pressed his lips against hers.

“Holy crap!” someone in the security team exclaimed. Everyone’s mouths were open, their eyes wide.

Marielle’s eyes were wide in surprise. It took her some time to register exactly what was happening - that his lips were upon hers, his fingers tightly gripping between her own. She could feel his thumb on her cheek. The shock disappeared quickly, and her eyes closed as she melted into his displayed affection. It shouldn’t have surprised her. There was that moment they had shared during their movie - when they had almost kissed. His lips were much colder than she had anticipated, a sweetness to him she would have never thought possible from such a cantankerous character.

When she hummed against his lips, Erik grew bolder. He released her hand, calloused fingers moving to settle on the small of her back. He pulled her closer to him, fingers gripping at her through the thick fabric of her kimono as he bent her back to deepen the kiss. When she allowed his tongue entrance, he knew he would die a happy man. The mixture of chocolate, vanilla, and coffee had him thinking of all the pastries she baked. The level of sweetness - the cavity inducing amount of sugar - that surrounded her had his head swirling.

Again, Gideon stared. His lips parted slightly as he watched in shock, his brain a fog. The lump in his throat only grew, but the pain in his chest was not enough to force Gideon to breathe. Jealousy flared, he knew what it was now, but he could do nothing but watch, frozen, his heart dying with each accelerated beat. ~You don’t have the right to be jealous, you asshole. You’ve been pushing her away.~ The security officer winced and he finally looked away.

When his lungs begged for air, Erik parted to stare down at her. He took in her appearance, and the Draconian couldn’t help the swell of pride at the flushed cheeks, closed eyes, and kiss-swollen lips that gave her a soft glow. Her breath warmed his face, and he said nothing until Marielle’s eyes fluttered open. The warm smile she gave him paired with the twinkle that lit up her dark green irises had his heart skipping beats. “Damn,” he breathed out. “You taste better than I imagined.” He released a relieved laugh. “I have wanted to do that from the moment I saw you,” he confessed as she waited for him to explain himself.

“Erik,” she whispered his name. Her fingers tightened around his hand, the other resting on his arm. “I-” Marielle’s heart beat steadily in her chest, and she looked up at the Draconian fondly.

Slowly, he straightened and pulled her with him. The Draconian leaned his forehead against hers. “I loved you from the moment I heard your soul, and I was yours the moment I barged in on that program of yours and you thought I was one of your damn characters.” He chortled.

“That’s a pretty good memory,” Marielle laughed as her eyes closed, her forehead leaning against his. “I was so pissed off at you when I found out you weren’t a damn hologram.”

The Draconian laughed as he leaned forward to steal another kiss. When she opened her eyes, Erik stared longingly into the vibrant hues. He committed every detail of her irises to memory. “I love you,” he told her simply. The words were offered softly, his voice steady and strong in the confession. “It’s selfish, but I needed you to know before I left because- Because if I can’t find my way back to you, I needed you to know that you made me better.”

Gideon dropped his gaze, his eyelids falling closed as his heart stuttered. He grunted softly, not intending to interrupt, but from the increasingly painful pangs in his chest. His hand reached for the wall, steadying himself as he felt his head swim. The security officer managed to open his eyes, focusing glassy orbs on Marielle.

He watched her reaction carefully, a sad smile on his lips. “I’m in love with you, Mariëlle. Your laugh. Your smile. Your soul. It sings. It is a damn orchestra, and it is the prettiest damn piece of music I’ve ever heard in my life. I could have spent my entire life listening to it.” He grinned when her breath hitched. His fingers gripped at her and he inhaled quietly. One last chance to take in the fragrance. It calmed him instantly. Slowly, he bent over once more and took one last kiss and groaned softly when he felt her fingers gripping at the fabric of his shirt. “Gods, I love you,” he muttered against her lips. Erik pulled away slowly, surprised to find her holding onto him. He released her hand, his fingers prying her hold from his shirt. There was no more time, and Erik knew that if he didn’t leave, he never would.

“Erik, you can’t just-!” Marielle rushed forward, but Henrik held her back. She frowned at the Nandanian. When her head snapped back towards the transporter, Erik was already shimmering out of existence. She was sure she caught a smirk gracing his lips before he completely disappeared. “That jerk!” she exclaimed suddenly. “Who the hell confesses and then leaves!” There was no anger in her tone, just confusion as her fingertips pressed into her lower lip. A tear moved over the curve of her cheek.

Henrik stared down at the engineer as he ran his hand over her back in soothing circles. A small sad smile warmed his face while he looked down at her with understanding. “Marielle, I could use some company. Erik was my companion for most of this trip. You can tell me stories of my friend?” he offered as he motioned towards the door with his other hand.

“Huh?” the engineer blinked. Her gaze moved from the transporter pad to look up at the Nandanian by her side. “Right.” Marielle’s eyes lingered on the transporter pad once more, wondering if perhaps Erik would return. She lingered for a half second before she shook her head. Quietly, she moved when she felt Henrik’s hand gently applying pressure on the small of her back. It was enough of a push to have her walking. Her eyes dipped to the floor as she moved past the gaping security team with Henrik gently guiding her away from the transporter room.

Gideon glanced toward Rocha, his expression pained as he watched Marielle. She hadn’t even looked at him. ~Gods, and he’s just going to swoop in!~ his inner voice wailed. The half-Betazoid could only stare, fingers gripping the wall harder. He took in a deep breath before turning his back to the rest of the security officers. ~Not like you can even talk to her yet, you ass.~ He scoffed quietly at himself as his forehead fell against the wall with a soft thump.

“What the frakking hell just happened?” asked Rico, breaking through the stunned crowd.

“I- Your guess is as good as mine,” answered Jessup as he watched Marielle and Henrik walk side by side towards the turbolift. He raised a brow. “He sure got in there quick though.”

The half-Betazoid turned quickly, bursting into movement as he pushed past the team that was still gathered at the doorway. “Safe outside the box,” he muttered under his breath. Gideon moved quickly in the opposite direction, ignoring the calls from his friends before breaking into a jog.

Copyright 2016. All works involving Mariëlle A. Deniaud, Rayna Elkhorn, Gideon M. Salieri, and Erik J. Vaeros, including character biographies and published stories, are the property of the United Space Federation and its authors. It cannot be reproduced, imitated, and copied without written permission from the authors. All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction using aspects of the Star Trek universe as created and copyrighted/trademarked by Gene Roddenberry, Paramount, and their affiliates.
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