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Last night at the opera had been interesting to say the least. There was still some tension between him and Marielle. Gideon had kept his mouth shut, playing his part as the remorseful friend - repeating several times his apologies for not believing her about the phantom and that she had been right. It felt like every minute had been a chisel flaking off bits of his ego. The security officer had given the engineer some space the next day - until he’d found out about her elevation to Chief of Engineering and Second Officer. A bit of celebration was in order, so he picked up one of his tins from Betazed as a gift and headed out of his quarters in search of the diminutive woman.
Marielle held the large wicker basket in her hand as she walked out of her quarters. She had found out of her friend’s promotion to first lieutenant and the need to celebrate easily overwhelmed her, and the engineering chief had spent a good portion of her day cooking a dinner for two. It was hard to contain her joy for his success. After discovering the truth of the half-Bajoran’s past troubles, she felt that his recent set of promotions only proved Gideon was the man she knew him to be. She turned to move towards his quarters, a soft tune tumbling from her lips as she sang quietly to herself. Hopefully he’d be free to enjoy an impromptu visit to the holodeck.
He’d suspected the engineer would be in her office, where he’d found her most of the time while she headed the department on the Hermes. He had decided against wearing a suit again, just so that it would be all the more enticing when he did choose to wear one. A smile crept over his lips as he recalled the visions from behind the heavy wooden door labeled Eros. Instead, the security chief wore tan linen leggings and a chestnut brown tunic, the blonde ash beads patterned in concentric circles over the left upper half of his chest. Brown deck shoes made no sound as he walked on the carpet and Gideon made his way to the turbolift.
She was dressed in the large linen shirt with white and blue vertical lines. Her shorts brushed high along her thighs to reveal the gentle slopes of her long legs. A short brim straw hat covered her head, her hair pulled into a low messy bun at the nape of her neck. Sunglasses were folded and held in her fingers. Wedged sandals gave her the height she lacked and craved. She caught the sight of his back and a smile instantly tugged at her lips. “Allô Gédéon!” she called out to the security chief. Her legs moved faster, the contents of her picnic basket clinking in the movement.
The Betazoid mix stopped at the doors of the turbolift, stepping back so that he wouldn’t hold the lift up by remaining in the proximity sensor. His smile pulled wider at his lips as he moved the tin behind his back. Gideon nodded in Marielle’s direction and took several steps to meet her in the hallway. “Ciao, El,” he replied, his hand lifting to grasp her arm gently in a friendly greeting. He’d scanned her figure without moving his eyes from hers, appreciating how her short shorts seemed to make her legs appear longer.
Marielle giggled softly. “Are you busy?” she asked him sweetly as her chin lifted to look up at him. Despite the question, she really didn’t give him much chance to answer. Her hand moved over his arm, fingers light as they travelled from his elbow to his hand. She grabbed his wrist and pulled him towards the turbolift.
“I was actuall-” The rest of his answer was silenced when she forced him into motion, a soft chuckle in his throat as he nearly tripped over his feet to move. Gideon made no complaint, simply following her into the turbolift once the door opened for them. “You look ready for the beach,” he mentioned casually, the tin still resting behind his back. The wrist she had wrapped within her fingers shifted easily to interlace their fingers.
“Deck 9, beta vector,” she called out to the computer as soon as the doors closed. The engineer kept hold of his hand without thinking. She looked up at him with a dazzling smile, her joy apparent in the sparkle of her eyes. “Seemed like a perfect beach day.” Once the turbolift deposited them on the appropriate deck, Marielle was once more on the move as she dragged the man to the holodeck. “Not going to the beach though.”
He couldn’t help the muffled moan that moved through his chest at the sight of her sparkling emerald irises. His fingers squeezed hers involuntarily as a warm sensation radiated from within. Gideon blinked at her revelation regarding not going to the beach. “No? Where then?” His steps were lethargic, causing her to drag him along more than he normally would have forced her to. The feeling of being tugged behind the engineer had him recalling the beautiful melody that had played within Pathos and a serene smile pulled at his lips.
Whining softly at his heaviness, the woman continued to pull at his hand as her fingers tightening around his. She stopped before the set of large double doors. The picnic basket was placed on the floor instead of releasing his hand. “Wouldn’t be much of a surprise if I told you now, would it?” she mused with a wry smile. Her fingers danced over the glassy panel and the computer beeped after several seconds. Marielle’s smile only grew brighter as she glanced quickly at the security chief. “You’ll want to change though,” she informed the man as she bent down to pick up the basket and drag him into the holodeck.
The arch appeared at the top of the stone staircase that was carved along the rock wall. Humidity made the air heavy and warm. Hanging roots and leaves obscured the view until they walked several steps down. The turquoise water was dark yet clear, the sunlight that filtered into the cavern giving the water a near crystal quality. Dark green leaves draped along the stone walls, trees towering and leaning over the large opening of the cenote.
Gideon blinked at the diminutive engineer before he followed behind her, his eyes lifting to take in their surroundings. His brows raised as he grinned and started leading her down the staircase. He let the memory of their time at the waterfall on his island play in his mind’s eye, appreciating what the similar setting might have in store for them. He nodded in anticipation as he glanced down at her.
Marielle placed the basket down on the stone swimming platform, which had been carved out of the walls as well. It was only then that she had released his hand. “What do you think?” she asked without looking at him. Her eyes swept over the quiet swimming hole before she turned her attention to the picnic basket. Per her programming, an orange burgundy rug was laid out for them. A small tower of towels were folded and set at one corner. A sizeable wooden plank on very short legs kept the makeshift table slightly lifted off the rug.
“It’s breath-taking,” he admitted as he watched her focus on the setting. Gideon finally pulled his other hand from behind his back, shaking the tin lightly to draw her attention. He kept his eyes on her facial features as he waited for her to see the silver box.
She’d been in the process of removing her sandals and setting them aside when the sound drew her away from her tasks. Marielle turned to the security chief and her eyes widened at the sight of the familiar tin. “Is that what I think it is?” she asked softly, her tone almost reverent with its hope. The engineer reached out for the tin and slid the top open. The high-pitched squeal of delight echoed easily against the stone walls of the cenote. “Oh Gideon! You lovely man! I could kiss you!” she exclaimed with absolute excitement.
Chuckling to himself as he nodded, Gideon agreed. “Congratulations were in order,” he explained, his hand sliding into his pocket as he bit his tongue against telling her that he would greatly appreciate a kiss.
Understanding moved through her at the revelation and her expression softened significantly. “You didn’t have to do anything.” Marielle lifted her heels off the ground, her legs stretching as she fell into a full demi-pointe to reach his cheek. Her lips pressed into his skin as she gave him a chaste kiss. “Thank you.” Her fingers dug into the tin as she lowered her heels to the ground and she pinched a chocolate covered bean between her fingers. The engineering chief winked at him as she threw the morsel into her mouth. The crunch was satisfying, sweetness from the chocolate mingling with the exotic roast to create a comforting blend over her tongue.
He’d leaned forward slightly, his body nearly swaying as he enjoyed the sentiment. Grinning still, Gideon straightened slightly, winking in return. “It’s my pleasure, El,” he soothed her in a soft and tender tone. “It’s kind of interesting you caught me, I was headed for your office to give those to you. Just a couple minutes later and it would’ve been like chasing a ghost to find you.” His chuckle was easy as he held his hands behind his back.
The diminutive woman fell to her knees carefully. The tin placed to the side so she could dig within the large picnic basket. “That would have been hilarious,” Marielle chuckled with him. “We’d miss each other and be chasing the other. I was heading out to get you specifically.” Her hands were quick as she arranged the charcuterie spread over the wooden plank. Bread, fruits, berries, nuts, cheeses, and cured meats decorated the surface. She did her best to make it look appealing. A bottle of champagne was the last to be pulled from the wicker basket and was accompanied by two crystal flutes.
“Wow, look at this. What’s the occasion?” Gideon picked up the fabric of his pants to ease the bending of his legs as he crouched before lowering to his knees. He sat back on his heels, his eyes picking over the items that had been laid out while his stomach complained. He hadn’t yet seen the bottle of champagne, his attention focused on the assortment of food.
The engineer twisted the wire off the bottle’s mouth and her thumbs pressed into the cork as she pointed the bottle out towards the water. The pop was loud, her elated laughter soon following. The dulcet tone echoed against the cenote’s walls, the mellifluous melodic sound surrounding them as the sound followed the curves of the stone. Bubbles flowed over the mouth of the dark bottle as she poured the champagne into each of the crystal flutes.
His surprised laugh followed the pop, a startled look found Marielle as the security chief stared. It was only a few moments before he shook out of his stupor and reached forward to take one of the offered glasses. “Is there something else that hasn’t been made public?” he tested the water with his cautious question. Gideon raised a brow and then let his gaze wander to the bubbling champagne.
“The occasion is your success, silly,” she said finally as she tipped the rim of her glass against his. Her smile grew wide at the gentle sound of crystal against crystal. It rang sweetly like a bell. “Congratulations First Lieutenant Salieri.” She lifted her glass to him slightly before taking a sip to simply taste the dry bubbly wine.
As he sipped, his cheeks flushed while pink creeped up from his neck, his skin warming at her revelation. “It’s not that big of a deal,” he argued, trying to downplay the promotion. Gideon grinned with muted embarrassment as he recalled the conversation he’d had with Nonna. His grandmother had promised him a feast when he next visited Earth and the security officer had certainly been excited about that.
She’d been about ready to tell him that it certainly was worth celebrating - that his growth from his demotion and troubles was noticed - but Marielle only smiled. He didn’t know that she knew. He had no idea that she’d met with John Stone after they’d travelled on the Prevailer. “It’s a big deal,” the engineer reaffirmed with a gentle smile. “One step away from lieutenant commander. Soon, you’ll be commanding your own starship.”
Gideon laughed at the idea, his tone not condescending or dismissive, simply curious. The half-Bajoran shook his head, smiling in appreciation toward Marielle. “You’re silly,” he accused her lightly. “Security officers don’t command.” He winked at her before sipping again at the champagne.
She picked out a strawberry and chuckled at his comment. “They certainly command more than engineers. Tactical is useful for the chair,” she retorted before slipping the red fruit between her lips and taking a bite. Emerald remained locked with cobalt as she ate.
He followed her lead after setting his flute down on the blanket, picking up a square of cucumber when his fingers randomly moved over the charcuterie. Gideon watched her expression, wondering for a moment if she’d ever had any desire to command a starship. He ate the bite before tilting his chin. “I never really aspired to be a captain or the like.” A brief frown found his lips as he reached for another morsel, this time picking up a piece of colby jack cheese. “Do you?” He sat back, one leg folded close to him as the other propped up, his elbow resting on his knee.
“Never?” she asked in surprise as she barely registered the question to her own career desires. It was hard to believe of the man. He had natural leadership qualities. The charisma was certainly there, and Marielle was certain that Gideon would make an excellent captain. The engineer shifted on the rug, resting on her side with her head propped on her hand. Her legs crossed at the ankles as her eyes scanned the selection of food. She picked out another strawberry as she shook her head slightly at him. “If you’re not hoping to command, where were you hoping to go? I mean, you’re already a department head on a fairly well-known starship.” It was not a lie. While the Aldrin certainly didn’t have the same kooky reputation as their previous post, the starship’s history spanned several decades and had the reputation of shaping some of the fleet’s most renowned leaders.
His eyes shifted slightly as they disengaged and became distant with his thought. Gideon sighed quietly as he recalled the decisions that led him to Starfleet, smirking when he recalled that he had made none of them. Before his incident on the Prevailer, his time in the ‘fleet had been about having fun and living carefree. After his brush with the law and the harsh reminder of reality, he’d gained some focus on his career, but never enough to be inspired to greatness.
She ate the fruit as she watched him, her tongue sweeping gently over her lips to lick away the strawberry juices. “Earth to Gideon,” Marielle laughed lightly as she picked up an almond and tossed it at him. The nut hit him on his chest and bounced to land somewhere among the spread of food.
The security officer blinked as his chin turned slightly, his hands reaching as he failed to catch the object that hit him. Gideon chuckled quietly as he shook his head, brushing his hand along his tunic. “Sorry, was trying to figure out an answer.” He gave her an apologetic look before his features morphed into a sad smile. “I guess I was just running away,” he revealed softly.
Marielle said nothing for several long seconds, emerald irises simply studying his face. “Huh,” she finally offered when it seemed rude to linger in the silence. “What will you do when they start asking you to take on your own starship?” she asked him. There was a soft laugh as her eyes dipped to the spread of food. She picked up a grape. “If you keep up the good work, eventually Command will start moving you up the ladder.”
“Retire,” he answered quickly. ‘There’s no way they’d ever ask me to command, not with my record.’ Gideon shook his head to himself as he lifted his flute of champagne. “What’re your aspirations in Starfleet?” he pressed to shift the focus away from him. The security officer took a long gulp from the glass.
She’d fallen back onto her back at his answer, a quiet laugh tumbling from her lips. It was not cruel or teasing. She just found his reply entertaining, especially when the image of him retiring in his early thirties to become a woodworking beach bum entered her imagination. His question had her mirth stilling quickly. A hint of sadness had her heart feeling an odd ache, but her expression remained bubbly. “Don’t have much,” she answered easily enough as she picked out a slice of bread and began to pull it apart. “I’m not going to be in Starfleet for too long.”
His brows furrowed as he looked down at her, his head shaking slightly in disbelief. “What? Why not?” Gideon could envision her heading up the Research and Development department at Utopia, easily following in the footsteps of her uncle. It was only then he frowned and silently chastised himself as he subtly read her emotions. ‘Shouldn’t have asked, Gid. Bad subject, feels like.’
The conversation had moved into uncomfortable territory and Marielle sat up. The uneaten torn pieces of bread were placed on the corner of the wooden board as her hands dusted the crumbs from the linen shirt. She sought out the flute and took a longer than normal sip of the bubbly wine. There was no real way to reveal to the Betazoid-mix that her obligations to her family would take her out of Starfleet sooner rather than later. “No real reason,” the engineer lied with a small smile as she hid her face from him. “I just don’t like planning that far ahead. Things can change at the snap of a finger. There’s no point in getting hopes up and getting disappointed.” The explanation had been truthful at least. She’d just hidden the reason for her beliefs.
‘You’re a terrible liar, El.’ He sighed softly as he nodded, not giving her any indication that he could sense her falsehood. “Isn’t that the truth,” he murmured as his thoughts spiralled without his permission. Gideon finished the contents of his flute and set it down, his gaze moving over the blanket as he searched for something in particular. “Did you have some trunks for me somewhere?” He glanced back at the engineer as he revealed his much needed diversion. “Water looks inviting.”
Marielle blinked and glanced around. “Oh,” she giggled lightly. “I didn’t. In my excitement, I totally forgot about it. Won’t be too hard to create one. Why don’t you go ahead and get that done and I’ll meet you in the water?” She finished off the last bit of her champagne before standing. She removed the straw hat before pulling the striped linen shirt over her head to reveal the top half of her dark green bikini. Her head rolled from one shoulder to the next as she stretched up to the sky, her heels lifting off the floor to extend the pull of her muscles. Her thumbs hooked into her white shorts and she pulled them down, stepping out easily as she made her way towards the edge of the stone platform while she adjusted her bikini bottom.
Gideon pushed to his feet after watching her pull the shirt from her torso, humming softly as he took the steps two at a time up to the top landing. “Computer, arch.” The doorway appeared in the same place it had been before and the half-Bajoran stepped out into the hallway as he tapped into the console. It was easy enough to add his swimming trunks to the program, having them appear at the blanket so that he could change. Once finished, he stepped back into the program and jogged down the stairs.
Her toes wiggled a bit at the edge. Marielle waved at Gideon as he made his way down the stairs. Both her arms lifted into the air before she leapt off the edge. Her body twisted in the air as she completed an easy somersault before diving feet first into the water. Her head broke the surface of the water as she treaded, her arms barely moving the surface of the water. “Are you just going to stand there?” she asked brightly. “Come on in! The water’s great!”
He’d managed to get his shirt off, his hands holding the waistband of his pants as he had been prepared to pull them down and change while Marielle was under the water. When she resurfaced so quickly, he simply froze in place. A brow raised in her direction and his expression slowly pulled into a smirk. “You gonna stare or let me change?”
‘Nothing says I can’t stare while you change,’ she thought to herself as her irises turned dark briefly. Marielle blinked away her salacious thought as her face turned bright pink. The diminutive woman immediately turned her body, water splashing in the sudden movement. It was bad enough that Gideon had a chiseled physique that mirrored the marble statues of old. She could spend hours staring at him. ‘Would be so much better if there could be touching. Oh gods. There’d be so much touching- Stop! You seriously need to get a grip.’ She sunk under the surface, hoping that the cool water would ease the heat that suddenly had her feeling warm.
Gideon changed quickly after turning his back to her for good measure. Goosebumps moved over his skin briefly before he took short strides to the edge of the water. Instead of any intricate dives, he simply stepped off the ledge, dropping straight into the water. He was pleased to find it cold, but not too chilly. The security officer surfaced, shaking his head to remove excess water from his hair as he treaded water and searched for the engineer. “El?”
Her feet kicked her up towards the air as she heard the splash of water while she remained under the surface. Her hand came up to wipe away the droplets from her face, and she turned until she faced the security chief. Her smile was as bright as the sun that filtered through the opening of the cenote. “All dressed?” Without her permission, her gaze dipped to check. Sure enough, the man was donning his swim trunks. The engineering chief wasn’t quite sure if she was relieved or disappointed. It was likely a combination of the two.
His brows raised as a delighted chuckle moved through his chest. Gideon shook his head as he continued to smirk at Marielle. “You into skinny dipping?” he asked, his tone challenging and full of mirth as his cobalt irises darkened. It never ceased to amaze him how quickly their outings devolved. At the same time, it felt so natural. He wondered why they were so slow to progress.
“What?” she blinked as her body swam closer to him without her knowledge. Her face turned pink and she splashed him in response. “No!” she lied. “Don’t be perverted.” Marielle swam back, kicking furiously to add some needed distance - because the idea of skinny dipping with him sounded fun. Ever since their evening at the opera, he’d haunted her dreams. The man just looked far too good in a suit. It wasn’t fair and she certainly didn’t need more fuel to the flame that was her lascivious dreams.
“You haven’t seen me perverted,” he taunted as he splashed her back. Gideon blinked as he thought about what he’d said, his head shaking. “Though, I think that’s probably a good thing.” He furrowed his brows as he considered what exactly about him he would consider perverted. His treading motions in the water had him drifting in her direction.
‘I want to see!’ her voice screamed in her head. Marielle shook her head at herself. “Probably,” she replied with a soft giggle, the sound a bit off. Her mind, however, bombarded her with images of the security chief in a suit, his hand grabbing the knot of his tie to loosen the silk from his neck. The vision devolved quickly from there and a soft, almost inaudible, moan slipped from her lips. Her eyes widened slightly as the sound filled her ears and she dipped into the water briefly. She resurfaced, her hand removing the droplets from her face. She reached for a different subject to keep her imagination occupied. “You’re the same rank as me now,” she offered weakly. “I’d say I can’t order you around anymore, but we know that’s not true.”
It had the exact opposite effect she was looking for. Gideon smirked as he leaned forward, taking a couple strokes to move around Marielle. “I’d take orders from you any time,” he proclaimed as his toes brushed along her calf.
Marielle turned in place as he swam around her. “You won’t have a choice now,” she retorted with a smirk. “As second officer, you can’t pull the distinctions among departments anymore.” The engineering chief swam closer and lightly splashed him with a soft chuckle. “Good thing you don’t have a problem with strong women.”
He splashed her back, waiting for her to turn back after flinching from his first splash before he pushed his hand along the water’s surface again in her direction. “I’m right behind the CMO in my power to pull rank for the safety of the crew,” he reminded her with a playfully smug look. Gideon stuck his tongue out at her and shoved water in her direction a third time.
Her lilting laugh filled the cenote as she turned her head away from the wave of water that moved in her direction. Marielle started splashing at him, her hands pushing against the surface of the water as she kicked furiously to keep her body afloat. “Always so difficult!” she released a delightfully high-pitched squeal of joy as they splashed each other.
Chuckling quietly, Gideon took a moment to enjoy her laughter before he took in a deep breath and sunk beneath the surface of the water. He quietly lamented that the water was so clear, but proceeded with his plan anyway as he swam underneath the engineer and grabbed her ankle. He reached with his other hand and tickled the bottom of her foot.
The yelp of surprise filled her ears before her muffled cry surrounded her. Bubbles lifted the loose floating strands of her hair as she released her scream under the water. Her legs kicked at the assault. Years of ballet gave her the strength to make it a struggle for the security chief. By accident, Marielle swallowed the water that filled her mouth and she attempted to resurface as the panic began to move through her.
A laugh had the rest of his lungs emptying underwater and he kicked to the surface. He shook his hair free of excess water as he glanced toward where he figured Marielle would be. His eyes widened at her panic and he quickly dove back down, his eyes opening under the water so he could find her. Gideon grasped at her flailing arms, finally catching her by the wrist as he pulled her to the surface. He had one arm around her chest as he leaned back slightly to keep her head above the surface.
She coughed, spitting out water as her hands wiped over her face. “Augh,” Marielle rasped out through several more coughs. “New rule. No rough housing underwater.” She let him keep them afloat while her bearings returned to her.
“Uh, yeah. That was definitely not what I’d intended.” To say he was sorry was an understatement, the very words feeling inadequate for his regret. Gideon rested his cheek against her temple before turning his head to give her hair a kiss.
The engineer gave him a quiet giggle. “It’s fine,” she managed through quieter coughs as she cleared her lungs of water. Her arms draped over his shoulders as she leaned into him. She enjoyed the quiet that surrounded them, her body relaxing as the sounds of the forest surrounded her. It filtered through the opening and echoed against the stone walls. “After everything- It’s like things are finally moving in the right direction,” she whispered quietly.
His eyes turned up toward the sky, causing his body to lean back a bit further though he still supported Marielle easily. Gideon watched as random wisps of clouds moved by, a smile moving to his lips as he hummed softly. “Thank you, for the surprise, El. I couldn’t have asked for better.”
“Any time, Gid.” Her voice was soft as if she was afraid of breaking the calm that had settled over them. Her head turned slightly as she pressed a kiss on his cheek, the touch warm with her affection. “Congratulations again,” she whispered. ‘I’m really proud of you.’ Thinking on his probation and how he’d grown so much since the Prevailer, a small smile pulled at her lips as an idea settled in her mind. A call to her uncle would be necessary, but she was sure the Bajoran-mix had proven himself capable that the change in his records would be easy to make happen. It’d certainly make his promotions easier. Her arms tightened around him as she hugged the man who’d become her friend and more than she even knew.