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[JL Deniaud/Salieri] The Pool Party

USS Aldrin Lounge


by First Lieutenant Marielle Deniaud & Lieutenant Gideon Salieri
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Stardate: 1703.29 [29 March, 2017]
The Pool Party


“To be alive at all is to have scars.”
- John Steinbeck [The Winter of Our Discontent]

The sky was a soft blue with a haze of white clouds. Palm trees were scattered about the property to provide some necessary shade from the bright sun. The blue water of the large pool sparkled brightly, sunlight reflecting off the calm surface. Bright coloured lanterns, spheres of paper of different sizes, hung over the pool. White couches created cozy sitting areas, and wooden tables provided an eating space under the shade of yellow umbrellas that extended from the center of each table.

Gideon stepped into the holodeck, his cobalt gaze scanning the scene as the arch disappeared behind him. He wore a dark beige t-shirt to compliment his khaki shorts and brown deck shoes. His hands rested in his pockets, his shoulders hunched forward slightly as he looked around. The security officer stepped into the villa as he heard voices coming from within. Turns out, they were actually gathered in the backyard - looked like twenty people milling around. Battey and Huntsman flanked Anastasia Wong, Battey’s fiance. Rico and Jessup stood with Sreagon as they nursed bottles of beer. Cana was behind the bar, of course, and Winnetka was manning the grill.

Lieutenant Rayna Elkhorn of Operations, Ensign Dasre Lebaun from Security, and Ensign Mason Blueshirt from Science talked amongst themselves. Ensign Jane Annesley soon joined Anya Wong with Battey and Huntsman, offering them drinks. Lieutenant junior grade Pierce Takaesu, Lieutenant junior grade Jackson Mccaslin, and Ensign Lissela Keevun were standing with Cana at the bar, waiting for drinks. Lieutenant Paul Peterson and Ensign Parvenu Nobody were discussing the latest threat to the warp core at one of the tables under the awning.

She moved towards Rico, Jessup, and Sreagon, her eyes narrowing slightly. “Who invited the crazy fangirls to the party?” she hissed as she handed Rico his tequila-inspired cocktail. Her irises focused on Jane Annesley, but they soon spotted Lissela Keevun staring after Gideon.

“I didn’t do it,” Rico immediately held up his hand innocently, shaking his head. “I learnt my lesson.”

The arch appeared, the doors sliding open to allow Niels Henrik Rocha entry. The Nandanian glanced around the scene as he took easy steps into the holodeck. His silvery blue-grey eyes twinkled at the sight of the security team mingling and he smiled warmly at the officers. He wore a simple fitted white t-shirt over his torso and orange and yellow swimtrunks. White deck shoes covered his feet, and a dark rust towel was draped over his shoulder.

“Okay. Who invited the counselor?” the nurse hissed angrily as she glared once more at Rico, Jessup, and Sreagon. The question was only met with shrugs. She grumbled under her breath about people ruining her plans.

Gideon made his way to Winnetka, inhaling gently of the smells permeating the air. “What’re you cooking?” He looked over the meats on the grill before he winced.

“Giddy!” squealed Jane Annesley as she padded towards the security officer in question. She purposefully jumped with each step as she made her way towards Gideon. Her abundant chest bounced within the confines of her black one piece swimsuit.

His cobalt irises pleaded with Ryan, who could only laugh as he shook his head. Gideon grumbled briefly before turning to face Annesley. “Hello, Ensign.”

She giggled. “We’re off-duty. Call me Jane.”

“We’re not that familiar, Annesley.” Gideon sighed, prepared to back away if she stepped closer.

Sreagon was walking past the pair and he snickered. “Never stopped you before,” he told the security chief with a laugh. It earned him a glare.

“Oh Giddy, you’re so funny!” her hands slid over his arms until her fingers could attempt to interlace with his.

He’d pulled away, his hands raised. “No,” Gideon warned, his gaze moving to Winnetka for assistance. The half-Bajoran didn’t like using the situation on Malahakir as a crutch, but in certain circumstances, it was warranted. Jane had continued pestering him long after their one date on the holodeck. No matter how much he told her he wasn’t interested, she kept trying to get close.

Ryan cleared his throat, shaking his head toward Annesley. “Still recovering, Jane. Leave him be.”

“Oh. Right,” Annesley pouted. “But, it should be better by now right?”

Winnetka frowned at Jane. He watched as the Chief of Security slid his hands into his pockets, his eyes not focusing on either of them as he shook his head and stepped away without another word. Ryan turned to Annesley. “Doc said it could be years. You gotta let him tell you when it’s okay.” He smirked to himself as he muttered. “Gonna be never in your case, sweetums.”

“Oh Gods. She’s here,” Sreagon muttered softly as he lowered the drink from his mouth as his eyes swept over the form of the engineer as she exited the house. He was joined by Mark Huntsman and Jackson Mccaslin. The three men were enjoying a light beer under the ivy covered awning.

Mark and Jackson turned at Sreagon’s words, their own eyes sweeping over the engineer as she closed the sliding glass door behind her. Mark shook his head. “She could wear a floursack, and I’m pretty sure Sreagon would still have problems.”

Gideon sat down on one of the white sofas, leaning back into the cushions as he tilted his head back, closing his eyes to enjoy the sun. Why am I here again? Oh, right, El. Why’d it have to be a pool party. The Bajoran mix grumbled softly. He’d have been much more comfortable in another setting. The possibility of taking his shirt off and revealing his back made him anxious. He could just hear the whispers and the thought made him uncomfortable.

Ensign Lissela Keevun moved over to join Salieri, brushing his mind gently with her own to make him aware of her presence before sitting next to him. She offered his drink to him in silence.

The security officer tensed briefly at the unfamiliar feeling of Lissela’s telepathic caress before opening his eyes to see her sitting there. Gideon nodded and tentatively reached for the drink. “What is it?” he asked.

“Samarian Sunrise,” she answered quietly, her voice dancing like notes from a harp.

The half-Betazoid retracted his hand, shaking his head at her adamantly. “Sorry, I don’t drink.”

Lissela smiled, nodding in understanding. “Why not?”

“I get into trouble,” was the best he could come up with as Gideon shrugged. His self-proclaimed - and Starfleet HC condoned - prohibition on alcohol was starting to wear thin. He’d been considering a drink ever since he stopped using the luenalin on a nightly basis. The security officer raised his hand over his face, rubbing as he thought that he needed something, but wasn’t sure exactly what.

“I’ll get you something else. What would you like?” Ensign Keevun asked.

Gideon inhaled gently, his eyes turning as he heard the soft glass chimes of Marielle’s laugh. “Vanilla lemonade,” he answered quietly. The security officer was surprised when Lissela left in silence.

Lissela drank the rest of her Samarian Sunset, setting the empty tumbler on the bartop as she looked at Cana. “Do you have vanilla lemonade?”

Cana looked up from her concoction. “No,” she answered simply. She paused and leaned against the bar as she smiled sweetly at Lissela. “Ellie’s the only one who makes that stuff. You could try the replicator, but he prefers Ellie.” The words were chosen on purpose. She went about making another drink, “I mean. Her vanilla lemonade.”

The Betazoid medical officer hummed softly and tapped at her empty tumbler with a delicate finger. “You’re making me another?” She watched as Cana only nodded with a grin. “Thank you.” Lissela either didn’t catch the hidden meaning or gave no indication that she’d understood.

“This is an odd human tradition,” Henrik quietly made his way towards the engineer. He stood beside her, appreciatively taking in her natural glow. “You gather by water in clothing that would allow you to go swimming, but don’t go into the water.”

Marielle released a soft peal of laughter as she shook her head. “We’ve just started. I’m sure everyone will jump into the water soon enough.”

Jonathan Battey tiptoed closer to Marielle and Henrik, grinning with a wink toward Anya as he straightened beside Rocha and nodded toward Marielle. “Like now?” He gave the counselor a shove, grasping Marielle by the upper arm to pull her away from the edge in case Henrik pulled her in.

The engineer gasped aloud and jumped back as Henrik fell into the pool with a splash. “Jonathan! That wasn’t nice!” she exclaimed. Marielle wrinkled her nose and pushed the security officer into the water with a hard shove while he was busy laughing.

“You can’t push my fiancé!” Anya pushed Marielle into the water, laughing as the engineer fell into the pool without much effort on her part.

She released her glass and kicked up to the surface. “Anya! That wasn’t nice!”

Battey, still laughing, reached the edge of the pool and offered his hand up to Anya for help up. When the science officer grasped Jonathan’s hand, he looked up at her with a ‘did you really just fall for that?’ look before shaking his head and pulling her in as well.

Henrik floated in the water and laughed. “Is this customary as well?” He treaded water next to the engineer and attempted to grab hold of her by the waist.

Marielle pushed him back, as she gave him a strained smile as he attempted to close the distance between them. “Yes, I suppose it is.” Marielle treaded water easily, swimming backwards to keep a distance from the counselor. She sunk under the water and reached for her feet to remove her heels. Resurfacing, the engineer glanced around for her cocktail glass. She knew it fell into the pool somewhere. It was undoubtedly at the bottom of the pool. With a few quick strokes, she made her way to the edge of the pool. Her shoes were thrown over the side.

Gideon watched quietly, glancing up as Lissela moved to rejoin him. Her unabashed attraction to him was palpable and it made him uneasy, especially with Marielle so close. He’d already turned her down for a drink in the lounge. The security officer sighed softly, turning his attention to the Betazoid woman.

“There’s no vanilla lemonade, Gideon,” she said sadly as she enjoyed her Samarian Sunrise. The medical officer moved to the edge of the pool, offering her hand to help the counselor.

The engineer planted both her hands on the pool’s edge and lifted herself out of the water. Her linen shirt clung to her skin as she climbed out of the pool. “Gideon,” she called out to the security chief who was seated just a couple of meters away from her, “I demand you discipline Battey.” She wrung out the hem of her linen button down. Her fingers gripped at the hem of her dress shirt and pulled the soaked fabric off her body to reveal the dark green bikini she had chosen for the party. The classic triangle top covered her chest, thick dark green straps wrapping around her thin torso. The strappy matching bottom sat low on her hips.

Sreagon stumbled back into a chair, softly groaning. Mark and Jackson just stared behind their respective drinks.

Gideon smiled at the engineer, nodding in acknowledgement. “Gamma shift with Rico, your will be done.” He glanced toward Jonathan, noting that Battey and Wong remained in the water, arms and legs intertwined as they enjoyed a peaceful makeout session. The half-Betazoid shook his head. “He’s gone.”

Lissela looked to the engineer and handed the woman a towel. “Marielle, I’m to ask if you brought any of your vanilla lemonade today.”

Marielle released her hair from its bun, raven hair tumbling and sticking to her skin. She smiled. “I did. I made it especially for Gideon. I’ll go get it,” she replied as she made her way to the house, the towel in her hand as she dried her hair.

The Betazoid medical officer giggled. “Oh, I was going to get it for him.” Lissela giggled softly before stepping to the counselor to help him when he fumbled with his shirt.

“So what’s the pool up to?” muttered Mark softly as he watched Marielle make her way to Gideon with a frosty pitcher and two glasses.

“I think it’s up to three hundred credits. Most favour them getting together in about a month’s time,” replied the Rigelian as his own eyes followed the engineer.

“It’s gonna happen, right?” interjected Rico Suave as he drank his cocktail as he made his way to the group of three. He watched as Marielle stopped by Winnetka to order her blue steak. Ryan only blinked as he shook his head and adjusted the burner on one side of the grill.

“It better not,” grumbled Sreagon. He ignored Mark, Jackson, and Suave as they looked at him.

She cast a shadow over Gideon as she stood between him and the sun. “This seat taken?” she asked, her voice light and filled with her usual bubbliness.

He’d been staring in the direction of Battey and Wong, though not watching them. Gideon glanced over and up at Marielle as she lightly shook the pitcher of vanilla lemonade at him. He patted the seat and straightened a bit. “All yours,” he answered, an appreciative nod given toward the lemonade.

Marielle smiled warmly at him and fell into the seat beside him. Leaning forward, she placed the two glasses on the low table before she began to pour lemonade into each frosty glass. “I had a feeling you’d want some of this today,” she leaned back as she lifted one glass in his direction while she took the other.

“Seems appropriate. I see you already went swimming,” he mentioned with a chuckle, taking the glass, letting his fingers brush hers in the transfer of ownership. Gideon smiled at the warmth she radiated.

“Not my choosing, let me tell you,” she answered with a soft laugh. Marielle leaned back into the cushioned seat, her elbow resting on the hard back as she turned to face him. She rested her head against her palm as her knee came up. It pushed into the edge of his personal space, but didn’t touch Gideon. Her other leg draped over the edge of her seat.

Gideon sipped, inhaling deeply as the sour sweet washed over his tastebuds. “I saw the whole thing. Still want to press charges?” He winked as one hand rested on the back of the couch, fingers close to her shoulder and lightly caressing her skin. His cobalt gaze drifted briefly to Battey and Wong before he shook his head. “They need a room.”

Marielle turned her eyes towards the pool and laughed softly. “Yeah, they do,” she agreed, “but look at how happy they are. Not everyone gets that lucky.” Her emerald irises lingered on the pair, though she turned her gaze to the depths of Gideon’s blue when she thought she felt she was gawking. “I’m glad you stepped away from your little cave to join us today, Batman.”

“I wasn’t going to until they mentioned you would be here,” Gideon admitted, a sudden shyness overcoming his features as he blushed into his lemonade. He was glad their relationship seemed to be back into the flirty phase, but he sometimes felt unsure if he went too far. I wish I could just kiss her like before. I don’t know why I can’t tell with her anymore.

She chuckled into her drink, a soft pink colouring her cheeks as she took careful sips. “I don’t see why me being here would be reason for you to show up, but I’m glad for any reason to have you get out of that office of yours.”

The security chief returned his gaze to her, sighing softly as he debated revealing that the poolside setting still gave him some pause with so many people around. It had taken Gideon a lot of willpower to wear short sleeves and shorts instead of something covering the scars still visible on his skin. He raised his free hand to rub at the scar over his right eye. Rings of a tree, a beautiful story, Gideon tried to talk to himself out of the anxiety.

She watched him carefully, catching an inkling of a strange look in his eyes. It made her hum into her drink, though she wasn’t entirely sure what to make of it. Marielle leaned forward as she stared at him. “What is it with you Chief of Security and Tactical types, hmm?” she asked teasingly. “Your offices are always so dark and dreary.”

Gideon blinked out of his thoughts, his gaze finding her verdant green. He chuckled softly, shrugging as he rested his arm back on the arm of the couch. “I’m just waiting on your painter to put everything together.”

“It’ll be awhile,” Marielle warned him. “Christian is a bit odd. Even I’m curious to see how he’ll interpret your request.” She took a sip of her drink, her eyes widening slightly. “Chances are, he’ll paint me like a blob.”

“Maybe I’ll put the holos up instead, then.”

“Look at them,” muttered Cana once she reached Winnetka. “They need to get together already.”

“I don’t know which one of them needs it more,” Ryan muttered in agreement. He glanced at the counselor. “Who brought him along?”

“That’s what I want to know,” hissed Cana in annoyance. “And who invited the fangirl?” Her head motioned towards Jane Annesley. She whined slightly, her foot stomping a bit on the ground. “They’re both getting a damn following. Sreagon, Mark, and Jackson have been staring at Ellie since she got here.”

Winnetka shook his head. “Jane doesn’t have a chance. But, that Betazoid chick in Medical, Lissela, has been making eyes at him, now. You noticed that? And Dasre still talks about him constantly.”

“The only ones who haven’t noticed are Ellie and Giddy,” huffed Cana. She leaned back against the nearest wall. “This is becoming a pain. They both have too many people after them. I think Ellie’s only got eyes for Giddy, but I don’t know what’s holding her back.”

Ryan rolled his eyes as he glanced at Graves. “Gideon’s still pining over her. I can tell he dies inside every time someone else even looks at her.” He took a sip from his beer bottle. “It’s kind of pathetic, actually.” He reached quickly to turn Marielle’s steaks.

“Shhh. Here she comes,” Cana put on a smile as Marielle made her way towards the pair.

“Hey Ryan. Got those steaks for me?” The engineer turned her attention to the nurse and grinned. “This was a great idea Cana. I think everyone needed something like this to get everyone bonding.”

Jessup approached, raising his empty bottle toward Cana. “Yeah, like the social on the Lorelei. Maybe we could make it a monthly thing or something.” He watched as the engineer picked up two bundled silverware sets and made her way back to Gideon.

“And, there she goes again,” sighed Cana as she watched Marielle sit down next to Gideon. “It’s almost sad how she’s always thinking of ways to be sweet on him. I bet he didn’t even ask for a damn steak. He really just needs to seal the frakking deal already.”

Winnetka let a slice of cheese melt on a burger patty before putting a bun on top and offering the plate to Cana. “He said he didn’t want anything. He doesn’t eat until Ellie makes him.” Ryan chuckled as he glanced at Cana. “What’s the date you bet on? Must be coming up soon if you’re so worked up.”

“Week from tomorrow,” she grumbled as she watched Gideon slice into the steak and take a bite. Her brown eyes lingered on the pair as they sat side by side, their shoulders close but not touching. “You have to be frakking kidding me. It’s just not fair. So close. So damn close.”

Ryan frowned as he glanced over. “He’s still spooked from the- thing. I’ll be surprised if he gets in the water.”

“Yeah. And, I get that,” grumbled the nurse, “but I bet he’d feel tons better if he just lets Ellie see ‘em, you know?” Cana sighed as she took a bottle from her tray and took a long swig. “There’s something about her that makes him all, I don’t know.”

“Watch him when she laughs.” Winnetka nodded as he pulled the cheeseburger back from where it was resting in front of Cana, taking a bite since she seemed disinterested. When the nurse reached out and grabbed the burger from him to take a big bite Winnetka stared at the cheeseburger, sighing softly at the chunk missing from the opposite side. He shrugged and took another bite before offering the sandwich back toward Cana, who took another big bite.

Gideon relaxed at the sound of her laugh, a serene smile finding his features as he set the fork aside and sipped from his lemonade.

“So apparently that whole wait thirty minutes after you eat thing is a lie. Want to go sit with your feet in the water with me?” Marielle asked softly as she placed her fork down on her empty plate. “It is a pool party, after all.”

The security officer tried not to tense as he leaned forward, setting the frosted mug on the table in front of him. “I guess we could.”

Marielle leaned slightly, her shoulder bumping into his gently. “I promise I’ll scare off anyone who tries to push you into the water,” she smiled at him. “I’m small but ferocious.” She wrinkled her nose and gave a meek roar. The engineer giggled softly.

Gideon smiled appreciatively. “It’s just the scars,” he explained, raising his fingers to rub his right bicep. “They’ll start asking questions, and-” The half-Betazoid stood up, walking with Marielle to lower onto the edge of the pool. He dangled his legs into the lukewarm water.

She removed the towel around her waist and folded it neatly before lowering herself to sit over the lip of the pool, humming appreciatively as her feet slipped into the water. The engineer’s head leaned to the side as she faced him, her hand reaching for the edge of his sleeve but stopping before her fingertips touched him. “May I see?”

The chief of security felt his heart rate increasing, but turned his hand palm up to face her, pointing with his left finger to the dot of scar tissue in the middle of his hand. Fingers trailed up to his forearm, where he turned to show the entry and exit scars before helping her raise the sleeve on his t-shirt, revealing the puncture wound on his inner bicep.

Her fingers trailed over his skin lightly, fingertips brushing over the light scar tissue. “They’ve healed nicely,” she soothed.

Ensign Jane Annseley gasped. “I thought he didn’t want to be touched!” she whispered harshly to herself. Quietly, she seethed as she slammed her glass on a table and left.

“The ones on my back are still pretty hideous,” Gideon muttered quietly, shivering as he felt the nerves under his scar tissue tingle. His left hand moved to his left knee, massaging the bionic joint.

“I may not have seen them, but I’m sure they’re not hideous,” Marielle straightened as she pulled her hand away from his arm. The engineer leaned back, her hands flat on the ground as she locked her elbows. Her eyes closed and she soaked in the sunlight, relishing the warmth on her bare skin. “Women think scars are sexy, Gideon. You could totally play that up to your advantage.” John Stone’s voice filled her ears, and her heart sank a bit.

He straightened, glancing over his shoulder at her before leaning back in the same way she was. “Do you think they’re sexy? Even though you know how I got them?”

“Your scars are a testament to your strength. I think that’s,” she paused as she pushed her hands off the tiled surface to straighten. “Yeah. I’d say it’s sexy. That should bump you up two points on the sexiness scale.” It was all she offered before sliding into the water. Her head dipped under the surface before she resurfaced and treaded the water as she faced him.

Gideon watched her a moment, swallowing against the lump in his throat several times. He glanced around quickly before slipping out of his shirt and sliding into the pool, hiding his upper body under the surface of the water immediately. He kept his back close to the edge of the pool as he walked along toward her.

She made her way towards the edge of the pool with the diving board. The engineer climbed out, water rushing from her hair and over her body as she stepped onto the tile surface. She giggled as she waved to Gideon. She climbed the few steps to the board, feet carefully padding over the springy board until she reached the edge. Marielle’s arms reached above her, her leg lifting up as she began to jump on the edge. She waited until she reached the very top of her jump, her body forming a tight line before her knees pulled up to her chest. The spin was quick, the somersault tight. She landed with a quiet splash in the water.

He smiled, raising his hands above the water to clap gently when she resurfaced and made her way to him.

“You didn’t have to join me in the water,” she settled with her back against the pool as she treaded beside him. Her hands reached up behind her, fingers gripping at the edge behind her.

“It would have been rude,” he said quietly, grasping for something to say. Gideon grinned as he watched her, his heart pounding in his chest.

She moved closer to him, her hands releasing the edge to settle on his shoulder. With a small kick, she treaded water in front of him. Marielle leaned forward. “Jon and Anya are being way too touchy-feely. What do you say we make them stop?” she whispered into his ear.

Gideon’s hand rested against her side as he sighed softly with her whisper. He managed to look in the direction of the engaged couple before raising a brow at Marielle. “What do you have in mind?” he asked in a hushed tone.

“An old fashioned depantsing?” she offered softly as she turned to look at the couple. Marielle ignored the shiver that ran through her as his hand slid over her skin in the movement. “Or is that too mean?”

He was clearly debating the action, his gaze shifting from Marielle to the two lovebirds several times. Gideon finally smiled and winked at the engineer. “You distract Anya.” He took a deep breath, followed quickly by another and a third before slipping under the water.

Marielle swam towards the couple and tapped them both on the shoulder. She grinned when they separated and stared at her with a confused look. Their lips were swollen, their faces flushed red. The engineer didn’t even want to venture where their hands were. “So. How are you doing?” she asked as if she hadn’t just interrupted. “Are you having a good time?”

“I was,” grumbled Battey. His arms were still firmly wrapped around his fiancée’s waist as his toes pressed into the bottom of the pool.

Gideon released a bubble of air between Battey and Anya before grasping firmly at the shorts legs of Jonathan’s trunks and yanking them down. He shoved the security officer forward as he also used the momentum to kick away, surging toward the stairs leading out of the pool with his last breath as he broke the surface. The half-Betazoid turned quickly, sitting on the stairs, his back to the wall in order to appear innocent though his chest heaved for air.

She giggled as she swam back, watching as Anya released Battey and swam away from the fray. The mess of splashing had her laughing and she quickly made her way back to the wall. Marielle pressed her palms into the tiled edge and lifted herself from the water. She laughed brightly, her hands pressing into her knees as she bent over in her laughter.

“What the hell!? Where are my trunks?!” The question was screamed out, causing all those at the party to turn around and stare at Battey. A resounding guffaw moved through the crowd, and Battey’s face turned bright red.

The security chief tossed the trunks quickly in the direction of the largest crowd, giving a shrug after they slopped on the ground. Gideon pointed toward Rocha. He watched as Henrik picked up the soaked swim trunks, lifting them up by the waistband.

The engineer took several deep breaths as she picked up a towel and made her way towards the security chief. She took a few steps into the pool as she offered him the terricloth. Marielle still laughed, watching as Battey’s arms disappeared into the water, his hands clearly covering himself.

Gideon chuckled softly, unable to contain his mirth as he glanced at Marielle. He took the towel and stepped out of the pool. Unknown to him, he turned his back to the engineer as he wiped his face.

Her breath stilled, and her hand reached out before she could stop herself. Her fingertips brushed along the scar tissue as she took a small step forward. “Gideon,” her voice trailed off, his name uttered softly in a pained whisper. Her fingers lightly moved over his skin, tracing the pale skin as her eyes followed her finger. Her heart sank at the sight, and guilt washed over her. ‘This is what they did to you. I’m so sorry.’

His body froze, but he couldn’t turn away. Gideon’s gaze sought her over his shoulder, the towel held firmly against his chest as he quivered under her caress. He found himself whimpering softly as he waited for her to recoil in disgust.

At the sound, her hand snapped back. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to-”

“Told you they were hideous,” he whispered, finally managing to turn and raise the towel over his back. Gideon faced Marielle, his chin nearly resting on his chest as he appeared ashamed.

The engineer clasped her hands behind her back and she leaned forward at the waist. Her rich green eyes sought out the depths of his blue. “Not hideous at all,” she assured him, her smile warm and bright despite the guilt that overwhelmed her. A soft dusting of pink coloured her cheeks as she tried to build his confidence. “They’re very sexy. Women will fawn over you and you’ll be unstoppable.” She offered it with a laugh, though the idea had a strange pang moving through her chest.

“What if I don’t want women fawning over me anymore?” Gideon tilted his chin slightly, his gaze drifting toward the crowd before looking at the engineer again. The only one he wanted was standing in front of him. Why can’t you just tell her that?

“Then you’ll get someone special telling you that your scars aren’t ugly. The scars don’t make you who you are, Gid,” she told him as she began walk up the steps out of the pool. “You’re still the same person, and that’s what makes you you.”

Gideon followed her out of the pool, his fingers reaching to her arm so he could turn her around. The Betazoid mix wrapped his arms around her and kissed her forehead, resting his cheek on top of her head. He didn’t notice the towel had fallen from his shoulders. “You’re the best,” he whispered before releasing her.

Gasps filled the pool area, and soft murmuring moved through the crowd.

He tensed immediately after hearing the gasp, turning quickly to face them, his face flushed as he searched for his shirt. The security officer gave Rayna Elkhorn a brief nod as she tossed it to him. Gideon caught it and hurriedly pulled it on over his torso, not caring that it was backwards and inside out. “Don’t stare,” he chided quietly.

“If I hear one phrase from any of you that isn’t a variation of ‘Holy crap! That’s badass!’, I’m going to make sure you’re on the banned list for anything I bake in the future,” she announced loudly. “And, I will make your life a living hell. Do we need to remember a Blue Peterson?” She watched as a murmur of understanding moved through the older team while the newer ones looked confused. The engineer moved to the security officer and smiled warmly at him. “Come on. There’s a billiards table inside. Do you know how to play?”

Gideon’s eyes moved over the crowd, glancing at Marielle, silently thankful for the chance to escape with her instead of on his own. Somehow, his fingers interlaced with hers. “Yeah,” he spoke quietly. His gaze avoided everyone as he picked up the vanilla lemonade from the table and walked briskly into the villa, nearly dragging Marielle with him.

Cana watched as Marielle and Gideon disappeared into the house. “Oh come on!”

Ryan chortled quietly. “Who’s got today?”

“Battey.”

“The pantless wonder!!” Winnetka raised his beer bottle into Jonathan’s direction, laughing.

“It doesn’t count,” Cana turned to Ryan. “You hear me!? It doesn’t count!”

The security officer tilted his head in Cana’s direction. “Why not?”

“Because, one, it means I lose out on three hundred credits. And, two, he didn’t ask her out!”

“That’s part of the rules?!”

The nurse glared at Ryan. “Listen to me. Those two have missed opportunity after opportunity after opportunity. We have been sitting in the sidelines as they do that weird sideways glance thing when they think the other isn’t looking. I’m sick of it. They need to either go out -officially - again or bone. That’s the only way this ends.”

He snickered quietly. “You’re cute when you try to play matchmaker.” Winnetka took a pull from his beer. The comment earned him a weak punch in the shoulder to which he chuckled and shook his head.





Copyright 2017. All works involving Mariëlle A. Deniaud and Gideon M. Salieri, including character biographies and published stories, are the property of the United Space Federation and its author. 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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