PHD #438: Ducks
Summary: Underneath the water, those little feet are just going a mile a minute.
Date: 10 May 2042 AE
Related Logs: Pretty much every Ciro and Ximena log to date.
Ciro Ximena 
Elpis - Unused Freight Storage
Not everywhere on the Elpis has been commandeered…yet.
Post-Holocaust Day: #438

The Elpis. Steerage. In the Works. Engineering hasn't been doing all of this for nothing, you know. No, boxes are delivered, assembly is being put to rights, and things are progressing, well, as well as they can progress, given what they've got to work with. The latest crates from the Cerberus are neatly laid out in the rows as necessary, and the room seem deserted. Seems being the operative word. The occasional sound of banging and cursing coming from the hole on the deck floor might, however, give one ideas that the place is occupied. Or haunted. Probably occupied.

With word going ahead that Ximena was heading to the Elpis to work on the fishery, Ciro decides to take a day of his leave time to head over and investigate. With a pair of cold beer bottles in his hand, he peeks into the steerage only to see the crates at first. That's when he hears the familiar cursing and grunting, at least in a tone that he recognizes. He places one foot in front of the other and follows the sounds. Dressed one of his few pairs of civilian clothes, he's wearing a baggy black tank top that shows off his muscular arms over a sagging pair of old, frayed blue jeans that are cinched around his hips with the aid of a thick, leather belt.

He nears the hole, cautiously leaning over to peer inside.

The Chair is nowhere in evidence, which might be worrying, or not, but be that as it may, The first sight that hits is the flash and spark of a torch, flickering off and on as proximity to the hole allows the torch light to be visible over the blindingly bright light of the room at large. And yes, it's the engineer herself, laid out on the floor, half-turned onto her side, safety goggles on, as she looks to be adding a few supports to where the deck platings been removed to make way for the waterworks to come. The 'floor' of the 'pond' is already laid down, but the sides need work. The torch flicks off as the sound of footsteps approach, a hand rising to push up her goggles, "Sunny."

"How is it…" Ciro starts, setting the beer bottles to the side of the hole as he lowers himself to one knee. "…that you always sense my arrival, whether I choose to make it known or not?" He asks, his head tilting from side to side as he looks both her and her work over, quietly judging the stability of the rigging around her. As he leans, the shark tooth looms over her like a small, blunted pendulum. "Anything down there you need a hand with? Oh…and I brought you a beer. Thought you'd want one…"

"Ancient Leontinian secret."

Ximena sets the torch aside, leaving the goggles where they are, as she puhes out from where she's been leaning. "I could just as easily ask you how it is that you always turn up where I am, even when I don't tell you where I'm going to be." She does, at least, push herself into a seated position, though it makes little difference. She's still stuck in a hole. "It was kind of you to think of me, but I don't use alcohol at all anymore."

"Asking you something along the lines of 'not only one?' would make me look like a serious alcoholic." Ciro murmurs to the side, deciding to leave the beers for the moment. He doesn't regularly drink alone, and he can get them back to the Cerberus easy enough. Resting his forearm over his bent knee, he gauges her mood by the expression on her face, and decides to proceed. "Ximena. I'm a sniper. There isn't a place you or anyone could hide from me. That…and asking around doesn't hurt much."

"Not particularly. Just like someone who's used to drinking as a social activity. So…no different from most of the people in this fleet." Her expression, such as it is, is more of the usual. Calm and guarded and neutral. "Was there something you needed from ,e or did you just come to see the results of your handiwork?" Ciro did, after all, get roped into slave labour to get much of the latest batch of supplies over here. "Camouflage is a wonderful thing."

Ciro lifts his head and cranes his neck to the side to take a look once more at the crates and the beginnings of the fishery. His head turns as he traces its lip. He lowers his head back in her direction once he's satisfied. "I packed crates and pushed them onto the lift. Don't you dare give me any credit." He scoffs, looking to the ground to consider the distance down to her. "But no, there's nothing that I need from you. I just happened to be in the neighborhood and thought I'd drop in on you and see how things were going. Looks like you've been a busy bee."

"Even the smallest amount of time and effort is worth acknowledging. That's a tenet we live by, in Engineering. It's probably why most of us have made it this far with our sanity intact. Whether they admit it or not, most people want to know that their efforts mean something. Even if it's only in a small way." Ximena pushes herself away, over towards the lip of the deck, turning away, so that, once she's got a good grip on the edge, she can start to pull herself up and out of the deck, "I'm keeping busy, like I always do."

With her back to him, Ciro's eyes grow concerned as he watches her prepare to get out of the hole. His first instinct is to offer to help, but the rational side of his brain immediately cancels the idea. She'll get what she asks for. Instead, he turns his gaze away from her, keeping her in his peripheral vision as he reaches for one of the beers. Looking it over, he sighs and sets it back down, deciding against it once more. "Like you always do? If I didn't know about better I would assume you stole that from me." He brushes his hand over the knee of his jeans and looks back to her, observing.

"If you're not drinking that beer because I'm not, that's a pretty stupid reason not to be doing it." Ximena isn't asking for help, which, is also, par for the course, muscling her way up and onto the lip of the deck, before she scoots far enough to be able to reach around a crate for a pair of her crutches. They're not the under the arm style, but the connected to the forearm style. "I'm quite a bit older than you are, Sunny. I don't think I technically could steal anything from you."

"I'm not drinking the beer because I'm trying to decide whether or not I want to save both of them for later since you're not partaking." Ciro fires back with a nod of his mohawked head. He's recently had it cleaned up, and the sides of his head have been shaved down to something that could barely be described as stubble. Smirking, almost scolding her with his eyes, he lifts one of his shoulders in a noncommittal shrug. "You can't be that much older than me, Xim, not that I don't have much left to steal anyway." He lowers his shoulder and places his hand against the floor, pushing to his full height.

"So….not drinking because I'm not drinking. One of those 'I don't like to drink alone, because people might think I'm pathetic' types. Not very original, Sunny." Once the crutches are found and left leaning against one of the crates, she sets to work getting herself to her feet. She's tall for a woman, by a few inches off the average. But still much smaller than the big marine. "Sergeant, I was boots down in the trenches with my first squad before you were even out of grammar school." In a strange sort of irony, the years, on her face at least, have rested lightly on the woman.

Ciro eyes her with a bit of dark humor before he reaches down and grabs one of the beers. He'll never admit to defeat, but her words do push him over onto the other side of the fence. Twisting the top of the jar, he sniffs the fresh beer inside and brings it to his lips. The cold, bitter drink is swallowed down, and he lowers the jar to hang from his fingers pressing against its lip. "Grammar school wasn't exactly steak and eggs, Alteris." He replies, taking another sip from the beer. "I was old the moment I saw the mushroom clouds in the distance and Dixon's line go slack. No one's innocent anymore."

"Ah, yes, the famed Canceron arrogance. Nice to see it rearing its head for a change." Yes, clearly the engineer's done some research on the marine as well. Asking questions, or perhaps in her case, reading personnel files (oh the joys of being brassed) goes both ways. Her movements, for all the tartness of her words, as slow and careful, like a woman settling into the tried and true forms of pain management, compartmentalizing. Ximena takes a moment, body resting heavily against the crates, before she settles the crutches on her forearms, "Yes, that's what people like to tell themselves, and yet they have spent the last year being continually surprised by the atrocities all around them. The Areion not least of all."

"Just remember you're talking with someone that doesn't lose any sleep over it." Leaning down, he grabs the other beer and moves to stand near her at the crates. He sets the unopened beer atop one of the crates that he personally packed before sending it to the Elpis. The beer doesn't seem to mind being left to settle. Standing near her, he lowers his gaze to hers. "I went straight from the war on Sagittaron to this, and everything that's come with it. I was made hard a long time ago. Sometimes they're faces and sometimes, with enough ammunition, we get reduced to far less." His eyebrows lower, challenging her mood. "I may be younger than you, but I gave up on being shocked when I was just a kid. Just like you."

Ximena pays no attention to the free beer, whether or not it's now close enough for her to reach out to, if she had a free hand. "Hard? Really? And that's why, by your own admission, you've spent the last year mourning the loss of the girlfriend and the partner you won't ever see again, unless the gods actually do smile on you. Which, given their penchant for abusing humanity while still demanding obeisance, seems unlikely?" There's definitely a sharpness in Ximena's expression that's new, "Why are you here, Sunny?"

Ciro's eyes remain on hers, his face expressionless as one of his typical long, staring silences falls over him. His eyelid twitches. Quietly, he brings the jar to his lips for another sip and then places it on the crate beside them. For that short moment, he looks away, and as he comes back up, the defiant look in his eyes is inescapable. "Fine, let's do this." He says, folding his arms across his massive chest. "I'm here because my shit got rotated early ahead of schedule and I was in the mountains when the hammer came down. That's…pretty much how it goes, Ximena. I keep shooting, they keep shooting back, and they keep missing. Is that what you want to hear? Do you want me to go into more detail about the dead girl that I was going to ask to marry me, and the dead spotter that was going to be my best man?" He smirks, disapproving of the thoughts as they roll off of his tongue. "Why are you here?"

If there's anything that could be construed as an expression on Ximena's face it…disappointment. She's not upset, angry, offended or even, now, sympathetic. "Right. Past pathetic and on to full-blown self-pity." The right leverage and Ximena starts to work her way over towards the back of the room, taking advantage of the fact that the marine never lets himself get that close to anyone. Not that she's moving terribly quickly. Even with the crutches it's more pulling herself along with her upper body strength than walking, "Because I have a job that needs doing."

"You have a way of dodging every question I ask, Ximena." Ciro leaves the beers behind as he steps after her. He's not continuing their fight, at least not in the sense that he's chasing her down. Instead, he's simply not letting this one drop just yet. He flattens his lips as his words cycle through his head, replaying his sudden outburst. "It's not self-pity." He grunts, shaking his head as he follows in her wake. "You're the one that told me I needed to face some of this, Ximena. Maybe it is a little pathetic, but what exactly did you want for an answer? Did you want me to take the low road and tell you that I just wanted your company or did you actually want the deep answer?"

"I haven't dodged any question you asked, Sunny. You just haven't been asking the right questions." Her movements skips. Stop and go, stop and go, and it's obvious, if only from the sheen of sweat on her face and the rigidity of her body how much it costs her to move this way. "We all lost something on Warday. There's nothing special about that. But you're stuck in a loop, mourning the dead. Hell, what the frak do I know, maybe you actually have that luxury. But not everyone does. And it wasn't my company you wanted. You're a locked door, Sunny, and you needed a sledgehammer. That's all."

Ciro's pace slows, letting her pull away from him. The bitter look recedes from his face as his eyebrows raise to their normal positioning. "You're right." He says, turning to walk back in the direction of the crate. The sound of his boots stepping quietly across the deck can be heard audibly over the sounds of her troubled mobilization. He steps over to the beers and then looks over his shoulder in her direction. "Just so you know," He pauses, reaching for the jars. "I didn't head down to the office for that movie because I was hiding from the other decks."

Ximena pauses, not far from where her usual ride is settled behind some of the larger storage crates. Multi-tasking. Physical therapy and working, all at the same time. If she notices the man walking off, with anything but her hearing, as his boots hit the deck, she gives no indication. There might even be a hint of relief there. But her voice is soft again, that carefully schooled neutral. "Yes, I knew. We all have things in our lives we regret."

Ciro's head tilts, her words spoken close enough to him to be heard, albeit quietly. Slowly, he takes a breath of the Elpis' recycled air into his lungs and turns his attention towards the crate before him. The sigh is audible, and his internal monologue forces him to gaze at her over his shoulder once more. Turning, he steps back over to her, speaking at her shoulderblades.

"I don't…" He chooses a word. "…do this well. I don't get people. Every one of us is complicated and stupid in our own way, myself no exception." His words are low in tone, drowned in his quiet breed of self-confidence. "What do you see when you look at me, out of curiosity?"

Ximena turns, still standing, seeming not to notice, or at least, be bothered by the fact that in this position, she's staring at Ciro's abdomen. A careful tilt of her head, to allow her eyes to meet his, studying his face, allowing it to expand out from that to his body, taking in the sum of the parts that make up the whole, before her eyes settle back on his face. "A duck."

"That's not who I am." Ciro replies, watching her size him up. He steps past her, lowering himself onto one of the shorter crates, something that will allow for easier eye contact. "By that I mean that there's a lot of things that I am, or that I know myself to be." He shakes his head, a small smirk forming on the side of his face. "There's a lot of people that define themselves to others by their pain. That's not me either." He looks up, watching her face in utter silence. He seems to have run out of things to say.

"Perhaps once, that wasn't who you were, but that, it seems to me, is who you've allowed yourself to become. You are nothing but pain, Sunny. You walk, talk, breath it. There's nothing left for you except your job, because you've allowed the things you lost to consume the rest of you. You like to think everything's under control, but you're a duck. On the surface, smooth and placid across the water. But underneath? Those little feet are just going a mile a minute." Ximena manages the final few paces to The Chair, before she settles herself down into it, pulling a towel from one of the packs tucked in around it to wipe her face.

He watches her as she gets as comfortable as she can manage, letting her words bounce around in his head. He's quieted at the very least, considering what she's saying. "You pointed out to me a few weeks ago that it's been over four hundred days, and the days of you trying to convince me have passed." He looks to her face, tracing her features in silence before he continues. "There's no lightswitch on this one, but I'm moving in a direction that feels right. Truth is…I opened up and you told me what I needed to hear. I didn't like it at the time, but it's set the ball rolling. I'll never forget it."

There's a long moment, when Ciro's simply studied, but not judged. Finally, Ximena nods, flicking the powerswitch of her chair, angling it back towards the rest of the room. "Then I've done everything I can for you. The rest…you'll figure out as you go along." And never once is there any sense of victory, as if the end result were some race she thought she had to win. "You have a chance, Sunny. Take it and hold on to it."

Leaning back on the crate, Ciro stretches and runs a hand through his mohawk. Brushing his fingertips over the short, shaved sides of his head, he rises and glances in the direction that she's heading off in. His head angles back, twisting to free up some of the tension in his neck muscles. "The frak you have, Mena. Next time I track you down I'm gonna bring water and we're going to go back to talking about how much the Elpis sucks." He picks up the opened beer and downs the last of it. Slipping a thumb over the lip of the jar, he palms the other jar in a one-handed grip and looks back to her, watching her quite closely. Her words seemed so…final. So he throws a line her way. "You still shoot, right? I'm gonna be hitting the range tomorrow. I've got an equipment check to run. Wanna come along?"

There's a slight thinning of her lips, as the man worries at the connection she's trying so hard to break, like a dog with a bone. She does, finally, pause the chair, just at the edge of the room. This part, she can at least manage while still in The Chair, the hydraulics lifting it up to about the height of Ciro's head. She really did trick this baby out. "I'm still qualified." She had to be, to pass OCS. "I get off shift at O600 hours."

"Oh-six-hundred?" He harrumphs, his eyebrows raising. "Alright, I can do that. That'll be morning for me, but I can do it." His eyes go to the chair, watching its hydraulics give it some extra height, placing her above him for a change. His gaze trails from the chair, over her legs, up her side and then finally to her face. The smile that crosses his lips is almost boyish for his typically stoic mannerisms. "Guess I'll keep it just to these two then." He steps past her, on his way to the hallway that will take him to the docking bays. "See you then, Xim. I'll be there."

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