PHD 273: Requiem
Summary: Three pilots remember. A vignette.
Date: PHD 273
Related Logs: Toasters in the Mist

Bronze and Gold Berthing — Deck 12

Timon's spent most of this day sleeping off the previous night's high, waking only to deliver his daily lecture to Hestia's cadre of rooks and nuggets: a powerful exhortation to 'learn to think outside the box' clocked in at a good fifty minutes shorter than his usual fare. Grounded (as usual) for the day's excitement, he's been following the action over a wireless box in the Post Office of all places — and now, aforementioned action having concluded a few hours ago, it's a more somber Ivory who pushes open the hatch separating him from his bunk. In his hands he's holding, of all things, a regulation Pyramid ball, which he tosses awkwardly into the air as he crosses the threshold into this familiar ground.

Roubani's left hand is securely bandaged, leaving the right free to wrangle tea. Or to be held, which is what he allows it to be now. His fingers wind around Matto's and close, little wrinkles creasing at the corners of his tired eyes as they squint. "Some miracles." He looks up again and over as someone comes in, his hand not disengaging from its spot. "Taking up the mantle, Stathis?" Meant to be humor, no doubt, though it fizzles a bit flat.

Matto's hand closes in turn, squeezing Nadiv's firmly before loosening but not letting go. An almost imperceptible twinge in his hand's muscles accompanies Ivory's arrival, as if it were preparing for flight, but, as Nadiv's hand stays put, so does his, a grateful look sent Nadiv's way before he aims a feeble nod of greeting to Timon. "Hey," he tosses in by way of greeting, a somber note.

Ivory has the sense to catch the ball before closing the hatch behind him, and if he so much as grins at Poet's joke, any hint of mirth is gone when he turns back towards the table. "I traded two pairs of used panties for this thing," the man says softly, doing his best not to wake the sleeping pilots beside him as he steps closer to his comrades-in-arms. He's not entirely successful: after all, the rap-tapping of boots on metal isn't easily hushed, and as he walks they toll out the hour in an uneven rhythm. "Actually. That's a lie." Timon's wan smile is thinner than usual. "I — I'm not sure why I said that." Brown eyes glance at the pilots' clasped hands before flicking over to the nearest chair. The tacit request isn't repeated in words.

No, no untangling of hands. Not particularly defiant, no outward signs of any internal struggle. Roubani presses the back of his bandaged hand against his mug, warming it a little. Timon's glance to the chair is given an almost imperceptible nod. "Practicing your Leda impression, I suppose." Again, it would be humor on any other day. It tries. "You heard about Hale." This half-question, half-statement given to Timon, quiet but blunt. He's not in the mood to figure out if they need to dance around topics.

"Would you like some tea?" Kissy asks in something close to a whisper, pushing the mug in front of him out to within arms' reach of the other seat, his own form of invitation, not wanting to be rude to Timon but neither can he quite fathom letting go of Nadiv's hand right now. The half-question makes his lips draw together and he looks across to Timon, eyes red and just a little bit swollen.

Wordlessly, Ivory takes a seat, his back slightly turned to give the two of them some semblance of privacy. The ball is tossed from his left hand to his right, which holds it up like Socrates does his goblet of hemlock in that iconic image imprinted into the neurons of every aspiring philosopher. Cured leather presses lightly into his fingertips as his arm spins counterclockwise, revealing the letters 'SOLIDS' written in black marker across the center line of stitches. "Somebody left it in the rec room the other day," Timon murmurs, letting the thing fall to his lap as he turns to accept the proffered tea. Steam condenses on his face, which gleams with oil and sweat under the room's dim lights. "I was going to give it to him a few days ago, but I got — " Lips quiver as they meet the mug's burning rim. "Caught up."

"It doesn't matter," Roubani replies to Timon, his tone much less flat than one might expect with words like that. He sounds almost comforted by the idea. "These things. They simply don't matter." He watches the ball turn in Timon's hands and then away, rubbing his thumb along the side of Kissy's. The fingerpad is still pruny from the shower. "Gods." The word's breathed rather than said, as his chin lifts. "What was going on today?"

Matto tries to take heart in Nadiv's words, but an inward-brewing trouble keeps seeping in and out of his features depending on how well he feels like hiding it and how distracted he is by other notions at any given millisecond. "I don't know," he finally answers the question. "A Basestar crossed the road in front of me and after that… it's already turning into a blur," he admits, shaking his head. Probably better for his mental health in the long run. Like women who can't remember childbirth, thus ensuring the propagation of the species. If he could remember everything as vividly as he felt it, then, he'd probably never crawl into another of those boats. "It's… is it still out there? Why is it still there? Why are -we- still here?" he comes to the more important point. Retreat. Kisseus' primary combat tactic.

"Don't know. Command tells me even less now that I'm off the flight line." Timon's expression tightens as he says that last part, though no elaboration is forthcoming as he takes another sip of his tea. The mug's set back down with an awkwardly loud clunk; the ball follows a second later, encircled by his outstretched arms and kept in place by the tip of his chin. It's a position that makes speaking difficult — not that he's really in the mood to talk. "They find a body?" Hushed words are slurred and mumbled, stuck like butterscotch to his teeth. Unwashed hair curls over his ears like overgrown ivy, flecked here and there by flakes of dandruff.

Roubani's brows come together, forming creases in slow motion. "I don't know either." That to Kisseus, his eyes flickering that way. "Perhaps we'll board it. Use it for shore leave." A lengthy pause follows the thought, punctuated by a snorted puff of laughter. Dark eyes cutting to Timon, he shakes his head. "As I understand, no. They hauled viper wreckage in, but."

"On the whole I'd rather be huffing carcinogens on Solon II," Kisseus mutters in regards to the idea of vacationing on a basestar. He takes a deep, cleansing breath, eyes closing for a short moment. "Maybe we'll find him before we leave. I guess CAP's running like normal?" he presumes with an incredulous cant of his eyebrows. Normal CAP. With a basestar sitting right out there.

As Poet recounts the fate of Rabbit's Viper, Timon's elbows move inward as he straightens just enough in his seat to allow his cheek to rest atop the ball. "I hope we don't," he murmurs, expression blank. "I'm sick of teary funerals, anyway. Long speeches, overwrought tears, hugs." It's the last one that seems to offend Ivory the most. "All spectacle, these days. Let us rend our clothes, pour ashes over our heads, and robe ourselves in sackcloth."

"Yes." Roubani nods to Kissy, head barely moving. He glances at Timon and then down at his tea, using the injured hand to pick it up and blow gently on it. "There's a certain pathos in it all," he murmurs. "The memorials are for the living, not for the dead. And sometimes I wonder if the only thing they do is appease a guilty need to be seen grieving in public."

"Some people," Kissy points out, but feebly, "Like hugs." This, to Timon, of course, whose tone had grown disparaging, somewhat, toward one of Kissy's top five favorite activities. He doesn't sound massively offended, though. Or massively much of anything at all. Just sort of tired. "Maybe it's not such a guilty need, N. Maybe some people feel like, once it's stopped hurting, we've already lost… we're already dead. So every time we have to," he swallows, "Tear our hair and scratch our cheeks and beat our breasts with clenched fists… it's not to convince other people… but to convince ourselves. That we're still warm enough. That we can find a pulse."

"I used to think — well, that." Ivory taps his index fingers against the side of the ball closest to Matto, whose defense of hugs he doesn't appear particularly inclined to refute. "I remember after — " It takes far longer for Timon to come up with the name of the fallen pilot he has in mind. "After Merlin, I said much the same to Poet, who said much the same back to me. Now?" The older man draws his head towards his chest, covering his face from view. "I'm just — " Shoulders lift in a semblance of a shrug. "I just want to airlock this ball, take the last shot from that bottle of ambrosia he gave me, and get back to work on our thing." There's a long pause. "How's the hand?"

"That is still a guilty need," Roubani replies to Matto, lips thinning. "We have to. We have to submit to some…cliche' notion of emotion and humanity. Why is pain the thing that defines a human? What happened to resilience? What happened to the sheer not wanting to lay down and die, why must it be less human to feel that?" There's a very subtle edge in his voice by the time he finishes, which promptly fades away again as he rubs his hairline. "My hand is fine. Nothing broken."

"Resilience isn't resilience unless you're… resiliating from something," Kissy points out, voice low and on an even keel. "The fact that we can keep going is unremarkable if nothing makes us feel like we want to just lie down and die in the first place." Kissy's thumb begins an idle migration along Nadiv's, as if to soothe that edge away. He looks at the joined hands with a mild fascination, takes a deep breath, "I hated him for the longest time," he finally just sort of tosses on the table. Well, two days, but that's a hell of a long time for someone so disinclined toward hatred as the Kissybear. "After he was so kind to me, too. I got over it, but… things were never the same between us, really. Not really." he coughs, shakes his head. "Sorry. Stuff wanted saying aloud."

Timon releases the ball, allowing it to roll back onto his thighs. Hands toy absently with a stray stitch that's come loose after what must have been years of use, looping brown thread around his right thumb's knuckle until his fingernail turns red with blood. "Unremarkable," he echoes faintly, legs splaying out underneath the table. "Is it?" His brow, already scored with so many worry lines, creases further as he looks at Poet's wound, though he's content to let that discussion lie. "Stardust, Kissy, like I said last night." How he remembers anything he said during their brainstorming session is a real question. "The wreckage of billions of stars coalesced into atoms arranged just so — the evolution of molecular constructs as intricate as — " Ivory sighs, releasing his thumb from its cage. "Or maybe I just like thinking of myself as 'resilient.'"

"Good. Fine." Roubani gives Matto a sideways sort of nod. "Would you like to know a big dirty secret?" Pause. "I barely knew him. In passing, yes…conversation here and there. That night he brought Bangbang to Willem's hooligan party. I knew I liked him well enough." He sucks in a breath. "I didn't know anything about his life. I didn't know him. But how can I dare be honest about that?" He draws in a breath and exhales it through his nose. "We are resilient. Every day someone finds something to lie down and die about. We don't all survive…it takes something. Something that can be lost. We are intricately stubborn little things."

"With the facts of our daily existence being taken as given," Kissy murmurs some more parameters to his earlier statement for Timon, "Heh. Though I guess we can't really take life as a given anymore. More taken than given, these days, actually." He looks to his side, "Really? Huh. Yeah, that's a hard case," he agrees. "Wow, you're right, though. There was a lot I guess I never knew about him, either," he sort of realizes as he thinks of it. "But on the other hand, if there are approximately infinite things to know about any given person, then the amount we know about anyone is automatically around or about zero. Or something."

"No," Ivory agrees. "Not for granted any more." His unfocused eyes slide up to the ceiling; his head tilts back to bare his throat. There will be no more philosophizing from his corner: just a moment or two of silent contemplation as his mind flicks through memories like slides, like a kinetoscope slowly spinning to a stop. "'Get it, boy,'" the man murmurs — mouths, really, as the syllables aren't really audible. And then, just like that, Timon’s brain and body are once more properly synchronized. "You're on CAP tomorrow, right?" This, to Poet and Madman both. "Slide a blueprint under my pillow or something when you leave. I'll go talk to a couple of snipes before class, see if they can't mock up a prototype I can take to the CAG." Weary arms toss the Pyramid ball onto his bunk. Its owner turns in shortly thereafter, not even bothering to change out of his blues. But before the curtain snicks closed: "Thanks," he offers. "For coming back."

"And you know, I wonder again. If it even matters," Roubani replies to Matto, again with a tired, easy rhythm to the words. It's not a depressing thought. He looks up, lifting his chin slowly to Ivory. "Will do so. And you are very, very welcome."

"I do," Kissy nods his head to the question of CAP, turning his head to the Poet and giving his hand a tender squeeze, "Light duty," he reminds him, just a vague touch of motherhenning to the words. Ivory gets a faint but warm-hearted smile, then. "I know you'd have laid hands on me if I got a scratch on Toes while you were out of the game," he points out. "N?" he asks, then, "I should sleep. Should I go across the hall or would you mind if I stayed here tonight?"

"Would that you had," mutters Ivory, recapturing for one fleeting moment his usual good cheer. "Might have given Thorn a reason to stop talking about his shiny new pins." And there's that wan smile again, though it's half-hidden in shadow: the lights above him have just been flicked off, and soon no lights at all — physical, metaphorical, or otherwise — remain on in Timon's bunk.

Light duty. "My foot." Roubani's response has the exact cadence it did in Sickbay. He scratches the side of his neck and shakes his head to Matto. "No, stay." He looks at the tea mug, still mostly full, and a silence hangs for a few moments. "I'm just going to finish some work first. Won't be long."

"Okay," Kissy answers simply, standing and looking down at the hands entwined, keeping Nadiv from his tea. Finally he lifts the joined hands and bends his neck, placing a long kiss on a couple of knuckles there before he lets the hands go, his other hand coming 'round to touch Nadiv's cheek quietly. "Be careful," is all he can whisper before climbing up and into bed. Still dressed. Just in case.

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