PHD #492: Cracked Dams
Cracked Dams
Summary: Once you put the tiniest crack in the dam, everything comes rushing in. Sawyer and Trask discuss Parry, what they'd do if they turned out to be sleeper agent Cylons, and how having feelings sucks.
Date: 03 Jul 2042 AE (backscened on July 4)
Related Logs: Irrelevant (Trask visits Parry in the brig); Try A Little Tenderness & Sprechen Sie Dinner Roll? (Sawyer wants a date and Quinn needs a dress)
Referenced: Annual Performance Review - Jugs (Trask really should apologize); What It Means (leveled conjectures that prompt change); Lovey-Dovey (case in point, aka what happened — or is that what didn't happen? — with Khloe)
Players:
Sawyer Trask 
News Room - Deck 3 - Battlestar Cerberus
This compartment isn't huge by any means, an afterthought shoved into an alcove when the engineer was finishing the final plans for the ship. The long awkward rectangle is filled with several desks and those heavy pieces of machinery that are tools of the media trade — copiers, computers, printers, and of course a seemingly never-ending supply of paper of both the A4 and broadsheet variety. In the far port corner hangs a mulberry-colored hammock attached to the bulkhead — where the head-reporter-in-charge is purported to spent her nights. Three heavy desks have been moved to form an inverted 'U' for the new Editor in Chief's work station, and behind them lies the hatch to the modest closet-sized darkroom.
Condition Level: 3 - All Clear
Post-Holocaust Day: #492

It's been one helluva month for Kal Trask. Some three (3) weeks ago, Sawyer smacked him with all her conjectures about his past and nothing has been the same since. This is not a bad thing. In fact, it's led to some subtle but positive developments in the man's overall behavior. He's been less antagonistic and has even curtailed his belligerence in situations where he'd ordinarily carry on with a full combat press. True enough, he's yet to apologize to Quinn, but he'll get around to it. Eventually. Baby steps and all that.

When he arrives in the News Room for what has become designated nap time, the recent eerie and at times awkward for him sense of calm he's been manifesting in the more recent past has been replaced by a restless agitation that largely manifests as brooding.

"Great. See what else you can get on this; we'll need a stronger foundation before it gets put to print." Sawyer is at her desk, swapping papers with one of the few people that still retain 'employment' in the News Room. It seems that nap time now conveniently coincides with a meal break for the workers, and the de facto Editor in Chief is shooing the last of the stragglers out the door. Her eyes flick up just in time to catch Kal's arrival, and a ghost of a smile haunts the corners of her mouth while she finishes with her fact checker. "Tell whomever is on guard duty that the hatch'll be locked again for an hour."

The man cranes his neck around to see what has the woman smiling all of a sudden and he looks back with a shake of his head and a knowing grin, "Sure thing, Chief." With that, he takes his leave, skirting past Trask.

"You're frowning," Sawyer points out, once the hatch is closed and the beep of the lock from the other side is engaged by the departing worker.

He's more than frowning on the inside. One only need to look at his eyes to determine that. While the cogs of the Press roll out for break time, Kal's mental gears continue to crank at leagues per second. It takes a few moments even after the last lackey has left before he greets with, "Whaddya think you'd do if it turned out you were a skinjob all this time without knowing it?" So much for 'hello'.

Sawyer just looks at Kal for a long steady moment, without so much as a tilt of her head or a cross of her arms. "I'd have you and a pilot you trust fly me out to the nearest nebula, then I'd hand you the gun." It's probably not the answer she really expected to roll out of her /own/ mouth, judging by the look of realization on her face and the slight 'huh' that follows it, along with a shake of her head as she looks away and closes down her laptop for the time being. The journalist then hits a few keystrokes to put her desktop computer into hibernation as well, so there are no distractions during break time or this conversation. "I don't think I could live with the fact that I had betrayed the people I love."

Whatever has him so worked up certainly has churned an emotional froth that he has difficulty containing. "I know what I'd do," he continues in that increasingly animated tone that comes with emotionality. "Seein' how they seem to be able to sense when they're within transmission distance of their resurrection ships or whatever the frak they're called, I'd wait until we were in close enough proximity to one, kill myself, download, upload, and then track down the sick frak who concocted the first half of my lifetime. Then I'd beat him or her to death, wait for 'em to resurrect, then beat 'em to death again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Then, when I got tired of beating 'em to death, I'd take a nap. Maybe eat a snack, if skinjobs get the munchies. Then I'd beat 'em some more." Which is the closest he's ever come to really talking about his childhood and the resulting pain of his upbringing.

Only then does what Sawyer say evidently register. "I dunno if I could pull the trigger," he simply admits. Although his affection for the woman is only one factor in that potential inability. By the look of him, that over-torqued, Dakar Rally desert of the soul mileage of his just caused his emotional odometer to roll-over. "I dunno if I could pull the trigger on anyone." And that realization results in a sudden sharp intake of breath, matched by a harrowed and ashamed expression. "I'm just so tired, Sawyer. I'm so. Frakking. Tired of people being shitty. I… I used to just shrug it off, not give a shit. It just was the way things were, y'know? Now, I just…" The man's mouth contorts as a patina of unshed tears brings a sheen to those brig brown eyes that dart here, there and everywhere, perhaps in search of words that just don't come.

At some point during Trask's sentiment about brutality against the maker of Skinjobs, Sawyer has slipped from her chair and risen to her high heeled height. Her steps are soft as she approaches, almost as if she's walking on tiptoes so the click from her heels doesn't disrupt him. "There is goodness in people, too." She raises a hand, palm looking to soothe his cheek. Where once the move would have been tentative, Sawyer now has no hesitation in her movements to comfort Kal. "But to let one in, you have to let in the other."

He doesn't recoil from that contact, but he vaguely shudders like one would when fatigued from long carrying a terrible weight but unwilling to drop the load. "What… what do you mean?" A little lost in the thread of conversation and more than a little lost in an existential sense. Sad brown eyes turn to Sawyer, seeking answers and some semblance of consolation. "That with the good comes the bad?" Pause. "Gawds, that sounds trite," is the dismayed and slightly sardonic proclamation. That it's trite, however, makes it no less true, and that realization prompts a frown from the Taurian.

Sawyer's thumb traces the line of that frown on one side of his lips. "That's exactly what I'm saying, though in a less clich├ęd manner." A smirk catches the corners of her own mouth, but the mirth doesn't linger or ever tack itself in her eyes. "Once you put the tiniest crack in the dam, everything comes rushing in. You and I can learn that lesson together, hmm? Unfortunately, emotion and caring about things makes me a shitty reporter. There's always a trade off."

"I've noticed that," he murmurs with some rue about cracked dams. So far, he's managed to not drown, but there are moments when Trask truly feels as though he's being suffocated by the overflow while struggling against the undertow. "Caring is exhausting," he tiredly declares, closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose as though he's suffering the onset of a headache. "It was so much easier before." Another pause. "For me, anyway." Because he is aware that he's never been easy for others to deal with. These past few weeks, he really has been making a concerted effort to be less difficult.

Sawyer mms quietly, a rather noncommittal noise all things considered. "But easy is boring." Her fingertips graze along his jaw line before falling away completely. This time she does find herself smiling, despite the somber situation. "C'mon. Into the hammock you go. There is no better way to address exhaustion than with a nap. Do you have a headache? I can get you some aspirin." Because if there is one thing Sawyer is an expert on these days, it's headaches.

"See, I just knew you'd bore of me were I a nicer person," Kal quips with a flippancy that belies his anxiety. There even is a faint flicker of a smile but no real mirth in his eyes; just a rueful quality born more out of self-admonishment than self-deprecation, tinged with the dark humor of a cynic convinced that he deserves to be the butt of the joke for being so stupid should his tentative attempt to open up to someone be met with a curbstomping of his battered heart. This fear has played no small role in his long-standing reluctance to let the woman in, so to speak. It's what prevents him from wrapping his arms around Sawyer despite how he covets comforting contact. Instead, attention flits to the hammock, but he makes no move that way. Insecurity has rooted him in place, and it'll take him a moment more before he'll be able to summon forth any semblance of bravado.

Sensing his hesitancy, Sawyer lifts her hands, only this time fingers pitter patter in a twiddle down his forearm until they find his fingers to thread in. "Baby? Nothing about you will /ever/ be easy. Or boring for that matter." She gives his hand a tug as she walks backwards a few steps to the sling they've been sharing on and off since its inception. "Which has nothing to do with how nice of a person you are."

It's with a forlorn sense of doubt that he searches Sawyer's face, sorrowed in his incredulousness. Weary and wary. Wanting to believe her and permitting himself to do so are not the same thing. Even so, he's gently tugged along. "It doesn't?" Clearly, he's not convinced that's the case.

"Unless you have every intention of never challenging me again. It's your gods given duty to continue seeing to it that you help me be a better person." As that's part of Kal's version of the definition of love that she undoubtedly came away with. She stops her tugging once she realizes he's metaphorically digging his heels in. "You went to see Parry." A statement, not a question, for it's obvious Sawyer has her connections within the MPs. "And now you're looking for other cracks in the goodness of mankind. Well, I won't let you. So come to bed and I'll rub your shoulders. We'll get rid of your headache and then we can work on your heartache one nauseatingly sweet kiss at a time." Another tug. "I'm not going to leave you, Kal. Not even if you grow a third head. I /may/ have to invest in more duct tape, though."

Indeed, he did go to see Parry, and it's left him somewhat rattled. "If I never find another crack, there are still far too many." All the same, there is a part of him seeking any semblance of justification to retreat into his old ways. "No amount of duct tape will change that." For once, though, he seems genuinely distressed as opposed to dismissive and disenchanted. And there's just something churning in his chest that gets caught in his throat. Something that probably would do him a world of good to let out.

After a few false starts and ensuing annoyed expressions, the man finally reveals, "I feel sorry for her. I don't even like her — I've never liked her," of which he is honest and adamant, "and I feel sorry for her." And that is a notion that he has great difficulty coming to terms with. "I honestly don't know if she knows what she is, and it really doesn't change anything that she did…" Except that it kinda does, in a way, in his woeful estimation.

"I went there 'cuz I wanted to see her rot. After all this time — and those MPs sure as frak took their sweet time hauling her in," for he had been suspicious of the Petty Officer since late last year, "I just really wanted to see her locked up. I wanted to see that something had finally been done right." But something about the visit went very wrong, evidently. "And it occurred to me that maybe she really didn't know. That maybe she's one of those sleeper agents. And, honestly, it doesn't matter whether or nor that's the case. Just the thought that maybe she was…" It was enough to shoot him down, make him feel compassion, and not act like a vindictive, abusive ass. And that in and of itself is akin to his world being upended.

"Which is what prompted your question about being a sleeper skinjob." Sawyer follows the conversation, her attempted coaxing towards the hammock finally ceasing and she just leaves their fingers interlocked and hanging idle. "Just because you felt a bubble of compassion for her doesn't mean you're a bad person, Kal. Nor does it mean she's not one. It's funny how we used to think that's what divided us from them: that we could feel. Now we know that even though it may be just their 'programming'? Doesn't make it any less real. To them or us. So you saw a sentient being in that cell, who had no conscious control over her actions. It'd be like blaming a schizophrenic for what one of their personalities did."

"I never said that I believed that she was one," he's quick to assert about Parry's possible sleeper status. "But I went there to rake her over the coals and then I couldn't do it." Which deeply troubles him. "It didn't matter that she just as likely was playing me for a chump. When it came down to it, the possibility that she had no idea meant more than the probability that she probably was aware. Like, I was fully cognizant of the fact that she was more than likely pulling some scam, but I didn't care. It's like being decent took priority over being right." And this isn't the first time, either. It happened with Poppy a few weeks ago, too. Not that he's mentioned it to anyone.

And then that emotionally-charged hypomania resurfaces in his voice. "I don't like feeling like this," he stresses with a sense of being stressed. "I don't like feeling, period." The fact that he is, and not even selectively, is causing him no small amount of anxiety, upheaval and turmoil. Bootstrap is spooked and most certainly uncertain, and it's making him decidedly tense and agitated.

Sawyer takes their interwoven hands and pulls them behind her back, effectively attempting to put herself in Kal's embrace of her own making unless he shakes her free. "Take the good with the bad, remember? I know it makes life a more uncertain thing, but you're long overdue for some good, Kal." Sawyer quickly pecks his chin with a light kiss. "Feeling something can't be all bad. The worst of things exist so that we can truly appreciate the best of things. And as much as that sounds like horse shit, it's true. It makes you appreciate what you have that much more, when you know what it's like to lose it."

"I don't like it," he sullenly repeats before adding a bit more acerbically, "And I've had enough loss in my life, thanks." Despite that, he doesn't pull away, but there's not much vigor in the manner his arms settle around Sawyer, for he is feeling somewhat disheartened and deflated. This somewhat subsides when he revisits one of the blonde's previous points, because being pedantic permits him to think about something else. "Schizophrenics don't have multiple personalities. I mean, they can, but that's something else apart from schizophrenia. Schizos hear voices and hallucinate an' shit." Or so Trask was taught in the undergrad psych class he took so many years ago. "I dunno if this qualifies as a multiple personality disorder, or whatever it's called, but it's definitely frakked up."

And Sawyer just settles her head on his shoulder in some sort of stand-off, "You know what I meant." Which is really the only way to refute Trask's way of picking apart her words to find the most literal - and typically wrong - translation. There is a beat or two where the blonde is just quiet. Then: "You liiiiiiiiiiiike me." Because, of course, choosing the most self-serving portion of conversation can go both ways.

That bit of absurdity and its unexpectedness manages to knock him out of his doldrums, and he just peers at Sawyer with an amalgam of amusement and bemusement. Sure, he could protest, scoff, or otherwise deny, but Bootstrap's an unerringly honest man, and the fact remains that, yes, he does like her. "Whatever. You loooooooooooooooooove me," he teases back with a rascally smile, squeezing her closer.

"Without question." Sawyer looks up at Kal from the tops of her eyes, lashes fanned back against her pale skin that has lost its ruddiness from her time on Gemenon. "And more every day." No less true, even when she feels the need to crack wise just so neither of them get a cavity by the level of sweetness in her words. "Even when you're totally encroaching on nap time."

"I'll just have to make a point of encroaching on other things when there's enough time to properly dedicate to such endeavors." All the same, his hands deftly 'encroach' upon the woman's rear end, which he subsequently and skillfully starts to knead. "You find Maggie a dress yet?" The question is pitched low against the blonde's temple.

"I'm doing one better. I've had her custom fitted for one, and it'll be periwinkle and cream." Periwinkle just so happens to be the color of the dress that Sawyer wore for Marko and Lunair's wedding, and such fabrics aren't exactly easy to come by now-a-days. But the journalist is doing well to remember her own name, much less the color of Quinn's dress considering what his hands are doing. "And our date?"

Custom fitted? ORLY? Unmistakably, the notion pleases the difficult to please Taurian. "And she totally loves it, right?" Quinn better. The quality of the date likely hinges upon that result. "'Cuz, yanno," Kal murmurs, faintly brushing his lips against Sawyer's skin when he speaks, "the more Maggie loves that dress, the more I'll show you just how much I like you."

"Outwardly? She put on a good show. But I know her inner little girl is squealing at the thought of having a real wedding dress. And I even threw in the photography package for free, regardless of the inevitable pay out. But, you know… by all means." Her index finger hooks into his uniform-of-the-moment and tugs. "Soon?" With the date night and the endeavoring and encroaching.

Musingly, the man mmmms. "Soon," he concedes, needing to reconcile with Maggie first, then determine whether or not the dress actually does suffice. For a moment, he lingers like that, poised with the sense of promise that comes from such an intimate level of proximity. Then, quite abruptly, the small, sensual spell is broken when he proclaims, "Naptime now, though." He even goes so far as to pat the reporter's rump in a 'come on, in the hammock with you' manner.

Sawyer turns the tides on him if only by actually turning him in an awkward little dance before echoing that rump slap. "Let me get your aspirin first." There is no reluctance about untangling herself from him, because they'll just reconvene momentarily. "And no stealing my pillow this time."

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