PHD #437: Circling
Summary: A one-sided conversation between Ciro and Ximena's just par for the course.
Date: 09 May 2042 AE
Related Logs: That Thing Called Hope and Building Up.
Ciro Ximena 
Engineering - Drafting Office
It's a room, with computers, and a couch, go figure.
Post-Holocaust Day: #437

The clock has signaled the beginning of the third watch, an entry into the evening hours of the Battlestar known as Cerberus. Dressed in his off-duties, the marine with the menacing haircut, Sergeant Ciro Sondray, decides that he's going to hunt for wild engineers. Coming to a stop at the landing, he exits the stairwell and takes a meandering pace as he dodges both overhead pipes and passing snipes, poking his head around the corners and into the open doors, looking for signs of Ensign Ximena Alteris' passing.

Unlike many kids of wild game, there are few traces of the engineer's passing. Some of the crates have been moved out of the way, bits and pieces rearranged, in a line that leads through engineering and towards one of the computer-aided drafting rooms, where man a schematic is made, modified and manipulated. The upside to having an entire deck to yourself, mostly, is that you can make any room the way you want it to be. The downside, is that the place becomes a warren of quirky rooms and hidden readouts. Still, the office of sorts isn't hard to find, and indeed, is quite memorable, given that it's one of the few places on the deck that's always perfectly immaculate.

Stepping up to the office, Ciro considers tapping on the edge of the hull to register his presence to whoever is inside, but he thinks twice about it. His wrist hangs near the doorway, but he draws it back and continues into cluttered workspace, careful to avoid knocking over anything that looks too important or sending papers to scatter out of order. He cranes his head from side to side on his way back to the sofa where he watched a video with Ximena a few weeks ago, taking in details about the room as he goes.

The room itself, is mostly empty, but at least the couch's been cleaned up, and is no longer looking like the crashpad it usually is. Someone got sent on laundry duty, from the looks of it. Pillow, sheets, blanket, all neatly folded and set on the crate next to it. The couch currently not in use. One of the computers is, however, the computer chair exchanged for The Chair. And the dark-haired woman working away lifts her head, registered the sound of marine jackboots, "Sunny."

Ciro turns his head to watch Ximena as he passes, not uttering a single word in her direction until he reaches the sofa. Ignoring the sheets, he glances over the cushions to make sure that it's somewhat clean before he turns and lowers himself into a seated position on one of the cushions. He stretches his powerful arms and legs out before him, his body tensing with the strain of the muscles. He pulls his arms in to fold across his chest and keeps his legs extended.

"Ximena." He replies, the side of his lip curling into an amused smirk. Her greeting for him is always one word. It's becoming a habit he's getting used to. "Am I going to interrupt your work if I throw in something to watch?" He motions to the video screen.

Grey eyes track the marine's movement, and for a brief moment, there's something wistful in the engineer's expression, that has nothing to do with romance, and perhaps everything to do with memories of a time those were his colours were her colours, his walk was her walk, and his stride mirrored hers. A long life isn't easily forgotten, "Of course not. The couch if free, far as I can tell, and the monitor's already set up, just pop it into that second terminal there."

He takes the heavy, leather wallet of discs into his hand with ease, opening it up to flip through the pages. Finding something filled with violence, sex, and blood, he sets the collection of discs aside and rises. Again, he walks past her and slips the disc into the terminal. Remote in hand, he turns the sound down low and goes back to his seat.

While the disc initializes, he lifts an eyebrow in her direction, watching her quietly from the sofa. His eye slips to her monitor and then back to her face, tracing the line of her jaw to weigh her mood. "I thought that you should know that the last week I've been thinking about what you asked me. What my family or Vanessa would have wanted. I saw a whiteboard yesterday that said we're over four hundred and thirty days past warday." He turns his attention back to the screen. "Don't record me saying it, but you were right."

It's nothing terribly exciting, no bombs exploding, no buildings going up in flames, no daredevils rushing in to their potential deaths. Just schematics, of what looks like one of the decks, from the shape, closer to the keel of the battlestar. Plumbing conduits are so hip, don't you know? The man and his movie, however, are left to their own devices. She may seem to be both bossy and pushy and all-around invasive when the mood suits her, but not today. And quiet still, at the revelation. her face is as quiet and brooding as ever, no trace of joy or triumph. It's as it's always been, accepting, in her more sympathetic moments, "I wouldn't dream of it. It wasn't about being the victor."

The movie begins with the start of a chase scene. It's loud and distracting, forcing the marine to blindly point the remote control at the viewscreen. With the press of his thumb, the car chase and sirens are reduced to muffled noises. His eyes remain on hers, issuing a long, quiet stare that he refuses to let go of. Perhaps the movie was just the excuse, and his words were prepared for her long ago. It doesn't matter, what matters now is that the conversation has resumed. He can see the look in her eyes, and without a single word, he lets her know that it's not going unnoticed. "Talk to me."

The look is held, not shied away from, met, not evaded. But neither is the woman given to doing anything to open up about herself, or her motivations beyond what is necessary. Hard lessons, but well-learned have taught her that simple truth, the words coming once the movie's turned down to an acceptable level, "It was about doing what I could to make sure you got to where you needed to be, that's all. To get your head in the game."

"You know how it works, Xim. You go to boot, you get pain. You get hungry. You write a letter home to your parents wanting desperately to tell them just how much your bones ache, but instead your drill instructor paces behind you while you write, judging your penmanship." Ciro starts, challenging that gaze of hers. The movie is all but forgotten as he blindly sets the remote on the arm of the sofa. "The baton in the trash can wakes you up and you want to sleep in, but you get up because day after day you get taught to shelve your shit and get on with making war. The death of millions resulted in the sudden need for clear-headed marines and people that could pull the trigger without crying all over themselves. I shelved my shit until I got lonely." He pauses, lifting his head a little bit. "Talk to me."

"Training shouldn't teach you to be mindless. A marine who can follow orders, but can't reason and be mindful enough to understand that for every how there is a why is a poor marine. We are not human machines. Actions should always be tempered with understanding. You can put it on the shelf, but it still sits there waiting for you. A person who lives without anything to live for isn't alive. We've seen where that road leads with the Areion. You deserve better than that." The screen at least, is paused on Ximena's computer. She's focused on here and now.

"I got stuck where I did because when the things that you think you deserve are dead and all you have is your job, it's hard to even begin to think about just what you deserve, Ximena. What do you think I deserve?" His words are frank and to the point, but a far jump from his stance of not wanting to mince words at all a few weeks past. His eyes don't leave hers. It's as if breaking eye contact will end the session, and everything will go back onto the shelf again. "It wasn't so much grief as it was not wanting to trade things from one shelf to another. I loved my spotter. I loved Vanessa. I loved my family. I always will. This…" He almost sneers with the next word. "…place, however, I don't understand. I'm supposed to soldier on but what, frak another girl? Find some connection? It's…" The word almost seems to slip out before he can catch it. "…terrifying."

"A full life, Sunny. With all of the ups and down, the pain and the hurt and the joy. The colonies might be shit, the cylons might be after us, human beings might be turning against one another, but we're still here. You're still here, and you should be living with every ounce of life you can." A nod, as if she could not only sympathize, but empathize with his condition, "You got comfortable. You got used to things the way they were, people the way they were. It is terrifying to try to break out of the mold you build for yourself piece by piece. If you try it and decide you'd rather not, then fine, but don't hide behind your fear."

Ciro's arm bends at the elbow, pressing into the arm of the sofa that he sits on. His propped-up hand quietly scrapes the fingernail of his forefinger against the cuticle of his thumb as he watches her. Once more, a quiet, contemplative stare reaches out across the distance. While he's being far more open than he was earlier, acknowledging her points would also force him to speak aloud of them. He cannot tell her that she's wrong, but the burden of saying that she's right sits strange on his shoulders. For the first time, he's not sure what to say to her. "I'm not big on fear. I'm moving forward." He rises and steps over to the chair that's been shoved aside near the computer desk and lowers onto it, closing the gap. For just one moment it appears he's going to press the issue as to her dodging his question. "What are you working on?"

Again, it doesn't seem as if it were a battle, with one person coming out on top and another on the bottom. Ximena simply says her peace and moves on. And if she gives nothing away of herself, and her own personal motivations, well, that's really just par for the course. A woman, who, it seems, gives everything, and keeps nothing for herself. "Plumbing lines. It's time for maintenance. Believe me, you do not want to know the horrors of a clogged septic tank on a ship this size. Or a reclamation system when it breaks down." Ah the glamourous life.

Ciro's eyes drain of life, and an almost comical look crosses his face as if she's refused his invitation to the harvest formal dance. He glances to her screen and then back to her face, and one eye narrows and his lip pulls upwards in a sneer. "I think…we were better off talking about my private life." He chuckles, folding his arms across his muscular chest once more. The look on his face fades as the eye contact becomes less intense, shifting his mood to a more relaxed tone. He offers her a soft smile, nudging his head in the direction of the sofa. "Why don't you take a break? I get one every four hundred and thirty days. You should too."

"You thought it was all shiny parts and saving the universe, one rivet at a time, didn't you?" There's that edge of humour back in her voice. "Welcome to my world, Sergeant." But Ximena does push away from the computer table, saving her work, before she shuts down, wheeling over towards the couch. She settles for the side opposite Ciro, hands reaching out to twist and lever herself out of The Chair and onto the softer seating. Always, that frown of pain between her eyes, neither commented on, nor acknowledged. Felt, endured and allowed to pass on, "That often?"

Rising from his own, less hydraulic chair, Ciro steps back to the sofa and settles in next to her. The movie is already well underway, forcing him to reach for the remote and glance it over for the chapter-select setting. Finding it, he sets the feature presentation back to the beginning. "Yes, only once every four hundred and thirty days." He muses, setting the remote control back on the arm of the sofa. "I signed on for the planetary alignment schedule, which provides me with four hours of sleep a night in an uncomfortable, cold bunk, a gun, a post to man, and slightly larger food items. That's how it works now." He looks to her, his voice low and sarcastic. "When you bump up one option another goes down, and you just have to deal."

The upside to being paralyzed, is that you don't really need to worry about your legs falling asleep underneath you, when you're folded up on the couch. The downside, is that it takes manual labour to get yourself into anything that resembles a comfortable position. Or at the least, a position where your weight is on your side, and on the arm of the couch, rather than squarely on your backside, which is standard for the chairbound. But manage it Ximena does, eventually, normally soft lips compressing into as close to an angry frown as she allows herself. "We always have to deal. Don't we? At least you get a larger food ration."

Patiently, Ciro waits until she's settled into place before he tilts his attention away from the movie and back to her. He looks rather calm and comfortable as he resists the urge the sprawl out on the comfortable sofa. Her angry frown is noted, and in response, he nudges her elbow with his own to get her attention. He doesn't speak so quickly, but waits for a few seconds to try to get her attention before he speaks again. "Ximena Alteris, you're getting a movie night with an almost sentient marine that doubles as manual labor rather than going over diagrams on pipes that carry everyone's bad business." His eyes turn back to the screen, the tone in his voice borders on sarcasm. "…and you said this job didn't have perks."

Once Ximena's tucked herself up turtle style, as close to the arm of the couch as she can, seemingly for no other reason than to allow Ciro to be able to sprawl out on the rest, she finally allows the frown to fade, nudged off of her face by a nearby elbow, "It has a few perks. Apparently, being able to order a marine around again is one of them." A glance, more at the seating than at the man, "Feel free to spread out, if it suits you, I won't be needing it."

Ciro glances to the space between them and then turns to watch her. She's pressed to the corner of the couch as if she belongs in the quarantine zone in the medbay. Judging the tension in her shoulders and the way her frown has faded from her face, he reaches out to place a hand on her shoulder. He squeezes her arm softly, brushing his thumb over her bicep. The comforting gesture only lasts a few seconds before he pulls his arm back and turns slightly, letting his legs and back rests squarely against the back of the sofa. "Just make sure you don't order me to do something too complex. Once in pre-school I shoved a square plastic peg through a triangle-shaped hole and ate an entire pencil after breaking it into little pieces. I've always been technically minded to think outside of the box."

Ximena's eyes shift, from the screen to the hand on her arm. No frown, but there's no softening either. Pain, perhaps, more to the point, and sadness, before that too fades, subsumed into the carefully neutral expression that governs her face more often than not. And they return easily enough to the movie, once Ciro settles himself in. "If it helps, I'll even remember to use small words, so as not to tax your vocabulary." At least the words are light. It's something.

Ciro's eyes remain on the movie, but his thoughts go elsewhere. The room seems a bit colder than it was once before, forcing the marine to acknowledge the grave emotions that the woman beside him wraps around herself like a blanket. His gaze lowers and then tilts back to her, watching her out of the corner of his eyes. His brow softly knits, and then he turns his gaze back to the screen. "I started reading those books…" His words trail off, as once again they continue to circle the unspoken conversation.

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