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AUTHORS’ BLANKET WARNING FOR THESE CHARACTERS: The story involving Deniaud, Salieri, and Vaeros involves adult situations and coarse language. It is designed to be read by adults and not intended for children. Caution is advised if any of the above is offensive. WARNING TO THE WARNING: You’ve been warned. Consider yourselves fully warned.
[Deniaud/Salieri] Collaboration Log
Three to Tango: Castigada
From “castigar,” meaning to punish. A lofting of the lady’s working leg, followed by flexing at the knee and caressing the working foot down the outside of the supporting leg. Often done as an adorno prior to stepping forward, as in parada or in ochos.
The trip to her quarters was quiet. They just walked hand-in-hand in silence until they reached their destination. Marielle had squeezed his hand to keep a firmer grip on the security officer’s hands when they passed Erik Vaeros’ quarters, which was across from hers. “Make yourself comfortable. You know where everything is,” she instructed as soon as crossed the threshold, the lights immediately filling the large living space the moment their steps entered the proximity sensor to her doors. The engineer veered to the left into her bedroom in search of the medkit in her bathroom.
Gideon watched Marielle as she left him in the main living area. When he could no longer see her beyond the bedroom door, the Security officer slid his hands into his pockets and turned to take in the engineer’s quarters. He had been in her space many times before, but each time he enjoyed looking over the decor.
Although she had been given the position of Chief of Engineering, the diminutive woman had chosen to remain in her officer assigned quarters, which were smaller than that assigned for the department head. Directly across from the entrance, short darkly stained wooden bookshelves with lined the space under the large portholes that lined the wall. Boxes were open and it was clear that she had begun the tedious job of packing. The top of the bookshelves had a variety of small potted plants - orchids and lavender - and photographs of family and friends in wooden frames. A small sitting area was created near the bookshelves, the chairs arranged perpendicular to the portholes and the entrance so that the furniture didn’t cut through the open floor plan. Two winged armchairs covered in dark grey fabric faced the naturally shaped coffee table and a large dark red couch faced the armchairs. An unfolded and faded handknitted cream blanket was messily draped over the arm of the couch, loose frayed ends peeking between the knotted cotton yarn. A glazed green knitting bowl sat on the very center of the coffee table, Marielle’s current project safely nestled inside.
Gideon paused at the couch and pulled his hand out of his pocket to brush his fingers over the handmade blanket. A small smile tugged at the corners of his lips as he closed his fingers over the woven yarn, some distant memory come to life with the feel of the cotton. Blue eyes lifted toward the bedroom, a tinge of concern marring the cobalt gaze as Marielle remained behind closed doors. Pushing the worry aside, Gideon turned to make his way into the kitchenette.
To the right of the entrance, a modest but impressive kitchenette hugged the corner wall. She was granted use of a small stove range and a small oven of sorts. A small silver Moka espresso pot sat on the stove. A mid-sized wine cooler and refrigerator sat under the span of the counter that kept the kitchenette separate from the living space. Open shelves next to the cooler housed her utensils, glassware, stemware, and dishware, most of which were already packed. Three silver canisters sat on the shelving over the stove, each filled with a variety of coffee beans. On the counter, a bottle of half-full Blanton’s Bourbon and two Glencairn glasses sat on a wooden tray. The large painting - a painted replica of Leonid Afremov’s painting “Alley By the Lake” - was pulled off the wall and leaned against the flat surface, ready to be wrapped. Directly in front of the kitchenette, a small wooden farm-style table, stained dark, sat nearly uncluttered with two benches tucked under the table. The replicator sat on the wall next to the table. A messy stack of PADDs and boxes covered one side of the table.
He spent a few minutes looking upon the large painting, seemingly entranced by the vibrant hues. After blinking out of a daze, Gideon shifted his gaze to the open shelves, where he picked out two wine glasses. The Betazoid frowned to himself as he considered the bottles of wine within the cooler, then settled on a dessert red. He uncorked the bottle and poured each of them a glass. He returned the bottle of wine to the cooler and picked up both glasses, carrying them along as he continued to observe.
To the left of the entrance, the designated office space was the most modern area in her quarters. The standard Starfleet issue computer sat on a large wooden desk fitted with a touch interface on the surface. The large viewscreen sat on the wall behind the leather chair. Two photographs graced the corner. One was of Marielle, seventeen, dressed in a bright yellow sundress, leaning on the bonnet of a 1966 Alfa Romeo - an older man in a Starfleet uniform with Fleet Captain pips, with a bright smile and dark green eyes, was laughing beside her as she held a hand to the sunhat on her head. The other was a picture of Marielle, eighteen, with two others - a woman with brown hair and brown eyes and a handsome man with dirty blond hair and blue eyes. All three were in Starfleet cadet uniforms. Marielle was in the center with the man’s arm around her shoulder, her head leaning on the man’s shoulder with a calm and contented smile on her lips, while her two companions had their fists up in the air and were clearly cheering.
Gideon recognized the first picture, smiling at the memory of their first date. His eyes settled on the second picture, apparently of her graduation from the Oakham School. He had no idea who the woman could be, but he surmised that the man was Adam, her ex-husband. The security chief raised one of the glasses of wine to his lips, sipping as he wondered whether or not Marielle had such a serene smile upon her features when she was with him. A flash of pain nearly blinded him as he swallowed. He winced hard and fought to keep from coughing the wine through his nose. The half Bajoran grumbled to himself and moved on.
The two paintings flanked the entrance to her sleeping quarters were pulled off the walls. On the left, an oil painting of “The Palace of the Popes and Pont d’Avignon” by James Carroll Beck was nestled in a large antique frame. On the right, a row of mid-sized oil paintings created a small gallery wall, all works by Leonid Afremov - “Dancer in Red”, “Dancing Twist”, and “Perfection of Practice”. They seemed ready to be wrapped for transport.
The door to her sleeping quarters was left open, allowing for a peek inside. The large four post canopy bed with sharp clean lines was against the wall, thin lace draped over the top to form a thin veil by the head of the bed. The foot of the bed pointed to the wall of large portholes. Wooden side tables, one with a book and another with a knitting bowl with a different project sat on the surfaces, graced both sides of the bed. The bed was made with sheets of delicious silk in dark silver hues. The bookshelves were empty, the books packed away. A wooden dresser sat on the wall that faced directly to the entrance to her sleeping space. It was perfectly centered between two doors - one that led to her bathroom and the other to her closet. A painted replica of “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt was the only wall decoration in the room, and it hung just over the dresser to face out into the living space. It was the only painting that remained hanging on her walls.
He leaned against the doorway into her bedroom, holding her wine glass against his stomach while his own rested lazily between his fingers and hung at his side. Gideon studied the painting over the dresser, surprised all over again at its vast difference to the works featured in the main space. “The Kiss” was certainly more abstract, the colors muted. While he had been invited into her space before, the security chief remained outside to give her some privacy. She seemed to still be struggling with her emotions.
She had found the kit within seconds, but had remained in the quiet space. She had peeked out to find Gideon looking about her quarters, and she had closed the bathroom door to give herself some privacy. With the adrenaline completely out of her system, the engineer finally felt everything she had witnessed only minutes prior. The mess that had unfolded in the holodeck made her shake, and she could only stare at the reflection of her hands in the mirror as she gripped the bathroom counter. It had taken her much longer to get control of trembling limbs than she originally thought, but eventually the tremors left. She took a moment to wipe away the stray tears that gathered in the corner of her eyes and to sniffle away the sob that threatened to escape. There would be time later to dwell. The door to her bathroom slid open, and Marielle emerged with med kit in hand to find Gideon staring at the painting over her dresser. Her head turned and she offered a weak smile. “One of my favourites.” The engineer moved around to the foot of the bed and placed the medkit on the surface. “Let’s take a look at that neck of yours.”
Gideon straightened and he offered her the glass of wine. Seeing that her hands were full, he set the glass on the nightstand and took the several steps necessary to close the distance between them. “It’s such a contrast to the other works you have,” he murmured, finally settling his blue gaze upon the petite engineer. It was starting to become painful to talk, but he could tell that Marielle was still distressed over what had transpired and Gideon didn’t want to upset her further.
Marielle’s head turned towards the painting. “How so?” She grabbed Gideon’s hand and pulled him to stand in front of her. With a hand on his chest, she pushed him back to sit on the foot of her bed. Her eyes immediately turned to the med kit to grab the tricorder and began running the scanning device over his neck. “Damage to the larynx,” she muttered to herself, “a mild edema. Hyoid is still in tact, which is good. Dermal regenerator will help with the tissue damage and make it easier to talk.” Slender fingers grabbed the tool in question and she tilted Gideon’s chin back gently. A light flick of her finger and the dermal regenerator went to work around his injury.
He hummed quietly at the revelation of the extent of the damage. Gideon hadn’t considered that the counselor’s grasp had been that tight, but in the moment adrenaline had kept him from feeling the full extent of the choke. “Feels better already,” he murmured quietly. His eyes focused on the ceiling to keep his face lifted for her to work. “Dinner seems like a lot after this. Maybe just dessert and call it a night? We can talk over the results later.”
“Have you eaten?” she asked him quietly as she put the regenerator back into the medical kit before closing it.
His chin dropped as he relaxed and his cobalt found her emerald despite that the engineer wasn’t looking in his direction. Gideon considered his answer. He hadn’t eaten since lunch, but he wasn’t hungry anymore either. If he mentioned that to the engineer, she would surely chastise him for not eating well. The security chief didn’t know if he could handle Marielle being upset with him again. He grumbled quietly to himself and shook his head.
His long silence was enough of an indicator and his response only confirmed her suspicions. Marielle sighed dramatically at him. “Honestly, Gid. What would you do without me,” she teased, though the bubbliness of her tone was lost. “I’ll go see what I’ve got.” She left the kit on the foot of her bed and pushed to her feet. She slipped the stilettos from her heels and dropped her shoes before moving back out into the main living space. “Try swallowing,” she called out to him. “Is it gonna be soup or chicken?”
Gideon stood and picked up both glasses of wine before he moved to follow her out of the bedroom. He swallowed several times to test how his throat felt and he shrugged to himself. “Tiramisu would be fine.” He thought he may have seen some in the fridge. His steps carried him to the couch and he set her glass of wine on the coffee table.
“You can’t just have dessert, Gid,” she chastised from the kitchen. Her head was hidden by the open fridge door as she bent at the waist to exam the interior. “You need something substantial before you dive right into dessert.”
He raised a brow as he considered her statement. “If I eat something, you’ll let me have dessert?” There was a hidden connotation in his words and he smiled at the idea of her answer. The Bajoran mix reached his hand down to gently ruffle Archimedes’ fur. “Hey, buddy,” he whispered to the pup.
Marielle sighed as she pulled out several silver tins from the fridge. She placed them on the counter and began opening the lids. “Yes,” she confirmed. “If you’re good, I’ll be happy to give you dessert.” The engineer sighed softly as she mumbled to herself. “Honestly. You can’t just live on dessert alone.” She emerged from the small cooking space with a small platter. The impromptu charcuterie plate would have to do.
“I’ll be so good,” he promised with a languid smile as he straightened and offered to take the platter so that she could sit down. Gideon winked at her light scoff and then sat down next to her. The plate was perched on their lap, one side on each of their legs. “Do you want to hear about the exercises or for me to just stuff my face?”
She rolled slices of salami with cheese, offering it to the security chief beside her. “Just stuff your face,” she grumbled as he took the morsel. Marielle was silent for several long seconds as she picked out slices of meats and cheeses to offer to the man. “Listen, Gid- I’m going to ask that you not report what happened tonight.” Her request was uttered softly. She straightened and finally looked towards the half-Bajoran. “I don’t want anyone getting mad at Erik.”
He took one of the offered bites and held it back to her so that she would eat. Gideon waited for several moments as he watched her silently refuse to take the meat-wrapped cheese back. “I wasn’t planning on it,” he revealed to her quietly.
The relief was apparent in her features. Her chin dipped and her eyes closed as she released a soft breath. “Thank you,” she murmured softly. “I’ll deal with him. I’ll make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Gideon sighed quietly as he dropped his hand and let the rolled meat rest on the platter. He leaned forward to pick up his glass of wine and then fell back into the cushion of the couch. “El, I know you want to be friends for whatever reason. I’m okay with that, but you have to know that my feelings for you run deeper.”
She bit back a response as she lifted the platter and placed it on his lap. “Wine?” she asked him, suddenly pushing to her feet and making her way towards the kitchen. It didn’t matter that she’d yet to touch her glass. She simply needed to leave the room. “I think wine.”
“Cazzo,” he muttered to himself as he transferred the plate from his lap to the coffee table. Gideon remained leaned back into the couch and he sipped his wine. The Betazoid mix could feel the cauldron of emotion that bubbled within her and he knew it would be best to leave her with her thoughts. It had been a roller coaster of a night and he didn’t want to push the engineer.
She lingered in the kitchen, her fingers gripping the edge of her counter with white knuckle strength. Her jaw clenched as she attempted to push away the torrent of emotions. She straightened and pulled a small glass from the small tray, filling it with vodka. “Pour le bonheur (For frak’s sake),” she muttered as she stared into the clear liquid. “Pourquoi ne pouvez-tu être content de ce que nous avons? (Why can’t you be happy with what we have?)” She took another breath before sipping the entirety of her beverage. The sting that warmed her throat and settled in her stomach did nothing to ease away the anxiety that had bubbled. “J’aurais dû rester sur Terre. (I should have stayed on Earth.)” She poured herself another serving, tossing back the serving before she doubted herself.
He stood and picked up the platter. It was balanced over his arm as he carried it and both glasses of wine into the kitchen. Gideon had finished his glass of wine as well as hers. He set them on the counter and rested his hand on her shoulder. His fingers caressed along her back and then gripped her other shoulder as he leaned in to kiss her temple. “Thank you,” he murmured quietly, his lips brushed against her skin as he spoke. There was more to his gratitude than just for the charcuterie, but now was not the time to express it. The half-Betazoid could tell he had pushed beyond what was comfortable for the engineer. He considered his propensity to withdrawing and wondered if this was something he needed to stick with.
“You should go,” she whispered softly as she kept her gaze on her empty glass. Her eyes flitted shut and she leaned her head towards his kiss without realization. “You’re probably tired. I know I am.”
“Come dici, El,” he whispered against her skin. He pressed his lips lightly into her temple once again before squeezing her shoulder. Gideon disentangled from the engineer and stepped toward the door. “Sogni d’oro,” he wished her over his shoulder before he moved out of sight. A heaviness gripped at his chest when the door closed behind him and the security chief wondered if he had done everything he could. His head shook when he realized he knew better. The ache grew when he thought of returning to his quarters. Tension eased into his body as he stepped over the threshold.