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Stardate: 1703.29 [29 March, 2017]
- John Keats [Bright Star]
She was dressed for the cold weather, with the misty haze of the British winters making the fibers of her red twill jacket cold with the tiny droplets of moisture. Slim black pants hugged her legs, light brown knee-high boots were caked with mud to her ankles. She reached for the collar under her cream fair isle sweater and adjusted it around her neck, her hands covered by the light brown leather fleece-lined gloves. After watching her tricoloured Shetland sheepdog work for nearly an hour, Marielle was ready to return to the familiar brick farmhouse in the distance. She looked up at the sky as she felt the beginning of rainfall, and she was rewarded with a few cold droplets water on her cheeks.
Humming to herself, she continued down the muddy path towards the medium-sized brick farmhouse. She called out to the canine in the distance. The sheltie was still running after the herd of wool-laden sheep, the Cotswold sheep bleated in protest as the canine barked and kept them in formation. She giggled softly as she called out to the holographic sheltie, “Gaea! Come on!” The engineer continued on her way, pausing briefly to pet the herding dog lightly on the head. “How does a cuppa sound?” she asked the dog, laughing softly when she received a bark in response. The rain began to fall at a steady pace, though the droplets still light and easy. She opened the burgundy umbrella and took a moment to examine the exterior of the farmhouse when she reached the rustic gate to the property.
He’d pushed aside the feeling that he was going to be berated for sneaking into her program, but Gideon felt that his intentions were well enough to offset Marielle’s surprise. The Italian raised Bajoran mix had three burners running on the stove, the oven on broil and flour everywhere. He’d rolled fresh fettuccine through the pasta press, steamed cauliflower and zucchini, even made bread. The security officer turned his attention to the cream sauce, using a wooden spoon to stir the alfredo as he added more vodka, then raised the spoon to taste. Sighing quietly at the flavor, he reached for a jar of spice, twisting the lid off and pinching his fingers into the oregano as he added it to the cream sauce and stirred. A soft sizzling pop garnered his attention and Gideon grumbled again as he shifted his attention to the chicken as it browned in the saucepan. “I don’t know how she makes this look so easy.”
Her brows arched in curiosity as she caught the signs of smoke billowing from the chimney. The engineer took a moment to glance around. She hadn’t programmed anyone to join her in the quaint setting. Briefly, she was reminded of the Draconian and how Erik had a habit of walking into her programs without an invitation. The memories made her chuckle softly, and she briefly wondered how her friend was faring on his homeworld. Marielle looked down at the dog. “Look ferocious. You may have to defend me, girl.” She pushed forward and her curiosity only grew with each step that took her closer to the door. On the cold winter air, she was sure she was catching a fragrant aroma of spices and herbs. Cautiously, she pulled the door open and entered the sanctuary of the farmhouse.
He turned the burner with the chicken off as he combined the cubed white meat into the sauce and mixed them together. A timer buzzed and Gideon reached quickly to silence it, pulling the oven door open as he removed the garlic buttered bread from the rack. He nearly dropped the baking sheet onto the counter, releasing a soft hiss of complaint as the heating pad failed to properly protect his fingers from the high temperature. The Bajoran mix moved to return his attention to the sauce as it started to boil, turning the heat down on the burner. He was making such a ruckus he didn’t notice the sound of the door opening. “Prophets!” he murmured as he reached for the wooden fork, pulling at the fettuccine to see if it was cooked through yet.
Gaea took a moment to shake off the rain that clung to the soft strands of her coat. The canine watched Marielle before her muzzle lifted into the air. A few soft sniffs, and she dashed ahead of her master, her mud covered paws leaving a trail as she made her way towards the kitchen quickly.
“Hey!” she sighed softly as her eyes fell to the trail of mud. “Thanks for the mess, dog.” Marielle tapped her feet roughly into the mat by the door as she deposited the closed umbrella into its holder. “Hello?” she called out cautiously from the safety of the mudroom. She removed her jacket and hung it on the hook along the wall. With a tug at the hem of her cream sweater, she ventured deeper into the cozy house. The aroma was definitely much stronger within the brick walls. “Hello?” she called out again as she followed the trail of muddy pawprints.
The sheltie stopped cold by the entrance of the kitchen and began to bark wildly. She bared her teeth in warning as she continued to bark, the sound bouncing off the walls of the kitchen.
“Whoa,” he soothed toward the dog as it continued to bark ferociously. He’d been raised around cats, never having dogs, so he wasn’t sure about how to placate the canine. Gideon held up his hands, wooden fork in one, the oven mitt in the other. “Easy, I’m a friend of Mar-”
At Gaea’s warning, Marielle moved even faster towards the kitchen. “What’s going on, Gaea-,” she blinked as she stop in the middle of her sentence. She stared at the security chief by the stove. “Gideon? What are you doing here?” She wrinkled her nose at the sheltie as the barking didn’t cease. “Arrêtez!” she commanded sharply and motioned the dog to silence by pressing her palms face down. “Asseyez,” she insisted once Gaea stopped her panicked barking and she leaned down to pat the canine on the head when she sat at Marielle’s command.
The half-Betazoid shifted his gaze toward Marielle, grinning impishly in her direction before he looked back at the dog as it quietly stared at him. “Ah,” he chuckled softly. “Dinner?” Gideon reached to turn off the back burner and moved the pot of pasta to the side.
She walked deeper into the kitchen and took a moment to examine the state of the room. It was as if a five year old had torn the place apart. Used dishes were stacked in the sink, ingredients littered the counters, and a fine layer of flour coated some interesting spaces. “It’s like a torpedo went off in here,” she muttered softly to herself with a sigh. Marielle refocused her attention to the security chief as she finally registered the reason. “Dinner? Why are you making me dinner?”
“Because,” he started as he considered why he was making her dinner. Gideon raised a brow when the reason came to him, but he shrugged nonchalantly and smiled. “I wanted to make you dinner. I figured it was my turn, so,” the rest of the thought trailed as he lifted the pot to drain the fettuccine into a colander in the sink.
Her head tilted to one side. “Your turn?” she asked as she leaned her hip against the edge of the wooden counter, settling between the old stove and the deep sink. She crossed her arms as she watched him move about the room. “Why is it your turn? When did I make you dinner?”
Gaea lifted from her seated position as she sensed the ease of her human master, and the canine trotted deeper into the kitchen. Cautiously, she followed after Gideon to sniff at his pants.
“Not necessarily to make dinner, but a gift?” It’d been about a month, actually, but this was the first time the opportunity had arisen. Gideon glanced down at the dog, lowering his hand to allow her to sniff of him. Once she’d gotten her fill, he returned to task, placing the noodles, sauce and vegetables in their separate serving dishes. The security officer searched the cabinets before finding a basket and a napkin to rest inside as he set the bread inside. “Silly question,” he began as he glanced over at Marielle. “Wine?”
“I’d like that,” she replied with a nod. Marielle was still unsure of what to think of Gideon making her dinner without a reason, and it certainly showed in her expression.
Gideon chuckled softly as he caught her expression. He stepped around the sheltie as he brought the serving dishes to the dining table, which had already been set for the two of them.
Marielle watched as her sheltie followed Gideon, weaving around his legs and lifting just enough to hop onto her hind legs in anticipation. “Gaea!” she chastised with a soft laugh.
Once he set the cream sauce on the table, he picked out a piece of chicken and sucked the vodka sauce from it, glancing toward Marielle for permission to feed the morsel to Gaea. When she shrugged before nodding, he focused on the dog. “Catch?” He tossed the bite size piece and chuckled when the canine caught it with ease. “Good girl!” he praised her before moving on to bring in the basket of bread and two wine glasses he’d found in the cupboard.
Gaea barked once in response, her head leaning to one side in confusion. The tone was enough for her to understand and her tail wagged furiously in her excitement
“Bon!” Marielle translated for the Betazoid mix. She smiled sheepishly at Gideon. “She only understands commands in French.”
“Oh, of course,” he muttered with a grin. The security officer picked out a bottle of dry white wine for the meal. “Scusami, cane. Io conosco a malapena comandi a tutti, per non parlare in Francese (Sorry, dog. I barely know commands myself, let alone in French).” It was already open, so he simply popped the cork and poured the two glasses. He offered one to Marielle before taking the bottle and his glass, motioning toward the dining room table.
The engineer smirked as Gideon addressed her dog as she gladly accepted the wine-filled glass. “I’m still confused as to why you’re here exactly?” Marielle took a sip and took a moment to enjoy the taste. “As in, in my program? Without an invitation?” She gave him a bit of a teasing smile under the weak chastising look as she pushed away from the counter’s edge and followed him into the dining room.
He’d set the bottle of wine and his glass down, standing at her chair as he held it out for her. Gideon smiled to hide his embarrassment, shrugging it off with a shake of his head. “I was going to surprise you, invite you to my program, but you were already in the holodeck, so-” he stopped himself there.
She hummed behind her glass. “I still don’t understand the occasion.” She grinned at him as she teasingly accused him of having ulterior motives, “What do you need? What did Rico break this time?” Marielle took a moment to stare at the setting on the table.
Must I spell everything out for you, woman? Gideon sighed softly as he shook his head. “You brought me chocolates, I don’t do chocolate well, so I thought I’d make dinner instead.”
“But that was for Valentine’s day,” she argued as she approached a seat and settled into the cushioned seat when Gideon pulled a chair out for her.
“Consider this a belated Valentine’s Day from me, then.” His blush became apparent as he walked around the table and took his own seat, a small grin on his features as he tried to hide behind his glass of wine.
“Well. I’m not about to say no to a non-replicated dinner.” Marielle examined the spread of food and hummed at the aroma that filled her senses. Her eyes settled on the assortment - chicken smothered in a white vodka cream sauce, steamed cauliflower and zucchini, fettuccine tossed in olive oil, and what looked to be freshly baked misshapen garlic bread. Her stomach gurgled in anticipation, and the engineer chuckled lightly at her body’s response.
“Please,” he motioned for her to go ahead. Gideon very rarely cooked for himself, or others for that matter, but when there was someone else present, he took after his father - the man who raised him - and waited to eat until his guest took the first bite. The security officer served himself after Marielle had taken some of each.
The engineer took a moment to take a small serving of each, settling the chicken over the fettuccini and drizzling the vodka cream sauce over the combination. She waited until his plate was filled before she took a small bite and the first taste was warm and comforting. Marielle hummed contentedly and smiled at the security chief as she nodded. She didn’t speak until her mouth was clear of food. “Quite delicious. Thank you.”
An appreciative smile appeared on his features and he nodded as he twirled his fork into the pasta, bringing the bite to his lips to taste it as well. The chicken was still moist and the Vodka sauce had just the right amount of bite to it. He hummed in self-congratulation as he winked across the table at the engineer. Once swallowed, he picked up his glass of wine and sipped. “Forgive my intrusion?” he asked finally, a playful pout on his lips.
She chuckled softly. “I can’t say no when you buttered me up with dinner.” Marielle took another bite as she caught Gaea finally entering the dining room to settle by her feet. “Though, I do feel bad you’re visiting the Cotswolds in this weather. Had I known, I would have picked something a bit less dreary.” She didn’t mind the cold and rain, and actually enjoyed the environment when it was grey and dark. It was the best atmosphere for tea, a warm fire, and a good book.
“Hardly noticed it.” Gideon had been so intent on the preparation of the meal that he overlooked the weather outside. In the kitchen, it was pleasantly warm. “Maybe we could come back another time,” he suggested as he glanced outside. “What were you doing, anyway?”
“Checking on the flock,” Marielle replied simply, as if it was the most normal thing in the world. “This property is a few kilometers from mine. During the summer and winter holidays, I’d come here. It’s where I learnt how to turn wool into yarn. I was feeling a bit nostalgic and thought I’d make a visit.” The engineer looked down at the sheltie by her feet and giggled softly as the canine looked up at her expectantly.
He raised a brow as he took another bite of pasta and chicken, humming while he chewed. “You sure kept busy growing up, didn’t you,” he mentioned after moment.
Childhood memories were less than ideal for the engineer. She was drastically different from her sisters, who took to their father’s expectations without question, and her brother was never able to really keep up with her antics. She remembered being lonely, despite the friends she made. Marielle was too high energy for many, and that meant most of her activities were done in solitude. Her shoulders lifted in a shrug as she hid a sad smile behind her glass of wine. “You know me. Always moving. Always busy,” Marielle offered with a softly forced laugh. “Can’t sit still.”
Sensing the downfall in the mood, Gideon smiled and shifted the conversation. “Why don’t you have Gaea - or another dog - on the Aldrin?” He leaned back to glance under the table at the sheltie, chuckling as the dog looked patiently at Marielle.
Marielle considered the suggestion as she took the last bite of her meal, swirling cauliflower in the sauce. “Do you think I can? The Aldrin’s an awfully small ship, and a battleship at that.”
“Yeah, I don’t see why not,” he began as he sipped at his wine. Gideon set the glass back on the table and took a bite of his slice of bread, leaning back as he chewed and swallowed. “A smaller dog like her should be fine. Maybe with an anti-grav kennel in case we do get into a firefight.” There had always been stray cats around while he grew up, but he didn’t have much experience with dogs.
The engineer continued to hum to herself as she considered the idea of having a pet onboard. There would be challenges, certainly, especially when emergencies popped up from time to time. It was just the nature of being in Starfleet. Her eyes drifted to Gaea. The canine had died when she was a teenager, but she loved the sheltie beyond belief. A tender smile pulled at the corners of her lips. “I’ll have to think on it,” she tore into the garlic bread and offered it to the dog, who took it without hesitation. “Having a pet is a big responsibility.”
“We only had cats,” Gideon confessed. “And they were mostly feral, only stuck around for the mice that would try to get at the grapes.” He set his elbows on the table and laced his fingers together, resting his chin on his knuckles as he watched the engineer.
She chuckled. “Cats are very different from dogs. Less maintenance in some ways, higher in others.” Her fingers fell to her side as she continued to scratch behind Gaea’s ear. “I’m not sure I could handle a cat being antisocial whenever I needed company.”
He hummed in response, then chuckled to himself at a thought. “Kind of makes me want to get a cat for the Security department.” Gideon could envision the guys trying to hold onto the feline, only to be clawed to Hell and hissed at.
She leaned forward, propping her elbows against the edge as she held her wine glass between her hands. Marielle could just imagine how the security department would function with a feline. “I bet you’ll discover who the biggest softie is that way,” the engineer laughed softly as she took a sip of her wine, bright emerald meeting rich cobalt.
Yeah, it’s probably me, Gideon thought as his irises twinkled with mirth. “Maybe,” he relented as he also raised his glass to sip the last of his wine. His gaze averted to the empty plate and the security officer sighed in satisfaction. “I’d offer to call this a date, but I didn’t give you much choice, did I?” An amused smirk crossed his features as he winked at Marielle.
Marielle stammered briefly at the idea, her face warming to a flushed pink at his words. “Uh. It was a great sign of appreciation for the truffles I made you,” she managed. “I mean, it’s not like you knew it was White Day or anything.”
“White Day?” Gideon raised his brows as he leaned forward, expecting an explanation.
“Ah- Old Asian tradition. Valentine’s Day is observed by women by presenting chocolates to men as an expression of lo- friendship. White Day happens a month later, where men who received chocolates return the favour.” Marielle quickly drowned herself in wine, hoping to use that as an excuse for the blush she knew was colouring her face. She swore she could feel her ears turning red.
“Well, that would have been a much easier explanation than trying to tell you I just wanted to see you without saying that-” Gideon blinked as his lips clamped shut and he cleared his throat. His cobalt irises focused on his empty plate.
“Well. It was impressive, even if you didn’t know. Gifts are typically white, though normally chocolate or jewelry.” Marielle laughed softly as she pointed to the cauliflower, the chicken, the wine, and to some extent the pasta. “I would have assumed you knew or just that you have dumb luck.”
He reached up to scratch at his neck under his ear, wrinkling his nose at the idea that he might know what White Day was. “Gonna go with dumb luck, then,” Gideon grumbled to himself before returning his attention to Marielle, a shaky smile on his lips. “I think it’s a little early for jewelry,” he quipped as he alluded to their non-existent relationship.
Marielle shook both her hands at him as she laughed, her face turning red. “Ah! You give jewelry to the woman you, you know, care about. Certainly not your friends.” The engineer laughed again as she turned her attention to Gaea.
“You can love your friends,” he murmured defensively, recalling what his grandmother had told him before. Gideon watched her quietly, an ache growing in his chest as he set his chin on his hands once again. Still, he enjoyed the sound of her laugh with a soft sigh. “Okay,” he started. “I’ll go clean up.” The security officer stood, reaching across the table for Marielle’s empty plate.
She stood with him as she lifted her own plate and a serving dish. “I’ll help. It’s the least I could do.”
“No way,” he argued with a raised brow. “Not much of a gift if I make you work.” Gideon let her take the plate, however, as he picked up the bowl of vegetables to head to the kitchen with them.
The engineer followed with Gaea at her heels. “It’s not work. I’m hanging out with you,” she argued. She gave him a smile. “Is there dessert? Got to see if you’ve learnt anything and if I have competition.”
Gideon relented with a nod, then quickly shook his head. “I have nothing on you when it comes to dessert.” Once his hands were emptied, he raised his hands to show that he actually had nothing. “Is there something quick and easy I could help out with?” He grinned as he moved back to the dining room, collecting the two glasses and the bottle of wine.
“You’re going to make me make dessert?!” she exclaimed in feigned horror as she barely contained her mirth. The engineer made herself to the pantry and examined the contents as she began to pull out ingredients before he could even respond.
His head snapped to look at her over his shoulder, sighing quietly as he caught the joviality under her words. A soft chuckle accompanied the shake of his head as he bit his tongue to keep from saying what was one his mind. You’re not ready for the dessert I make. Gideon let his eyelids fall closed before he cleared his throat and returned to the kitchen. “Only if you want it-” he chuckled when he found her face first in the pantry.
“Alright. Time to teach you some real traditional Italian cuisine,” Marielle giggled softly as she dropped off a few ingredients on the counter before disappearing into the pantry for more. “Time to make Torta della Nonna.”
“Are you sure? That’s gonna take hours,” he cautioned.
“Well fine. Don’t spend hours with me,” she chuckled. “I’ll make dessert and won’t share.”
Gideon stood at the sink, blinking as he looked up from the dish he was washing. “I think I misspoke,” he uttered before glancing over at Marielle, a wry grin on his features. “I meant to say, I would love for you to teach me how to make Torta della Nonna.” He winked at the engineer as her sea glass-like chiming laughter filled the kitchen.
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.