PHD #248: Fault Lines
Fault Lines
Summary: As 'night' heads toward 'dawn', Radcliffe comes across Cameron and Elpis in the library, each of them with their cracks exposed.
Date: 1 Nov 2041 AE
Related Logs: Perception and Reality
Cameron Elpis Radcliffe 
Ship's Library - Deck 9 - Battlestar Cerberus
Racks of books extend deep into this room, nearly darkening the overhead lights towards the back. The shelves are neatly labeled to each category with nearly everything represented here. Fiction, Sci-Fi, Romance, and everything down to comic books has been loaded up onto the shelves. A smaller research area at the back has a large table for maps to be opened-up. Nearer the door is a small library of movies that covers some of the most recent blockbusters and flows through some of the more campy movies from about two decades before. Next to the door, a Petty Officer can usually be found at a desk to help someone checkout their selections.
Post-Holocaust Day: #248

It's late, late, late at night, if there is such a thing where there is neither sun nor moon to guide the times and tides. Nearly 'morning'. And Cameron hasn't slept a wink in 32 hours. Part of that was due to several long shifts in Sickbay. Much of that is due to his natural insomnia. But the reason he isn't sleeping now is all due to a small, tiny piece of humanity that he in his ignorance named Elpis, after the final 'curse' left within Pandora's jar. The curse of Hope. And it is sometimes a curse. Hope makes you want to live. And living is painful. Cameron's own personal diamona is currently seated on a rug on the floor a few feet away from him, a number of comic books, art books, and photo journals spread out in front of her, since there's something of a dearth of proper children's books. No real surprise, on a Battlestar. Cameron has a book of his own in his lap, his feet folded up beneath him in the wide comfortable chair that he has claimed. But he doesn't seem to be making much progress reading it, his eyes either blankly scanning over the page before blinking and starting again or staring out toward Elpis silently. He looks tired, yes, but more than that he looks beaten, as if some core piece of him that had been standing tall all this time had finally toppled.

A hurried woman comes in, half-dressed and wet-haired, that being Brina who has fled the head immediately after a shower. In her arms one can find a damp towel and a shower kit along with her off duty shirt while boots and socks are held in her left hand, her hair dripping upon the back of her upper-most tank. Not seeing anyone off hand, she scoots further back into the library to find a place to sit and finish getting dressed and dried, going past the doctor and his young charge without so much as noticing them.

At this hour, the place is all but abandoned. That, along with the fact that her entrance is, well, highly unusual to say the least, garners the attention of both the child and the man. Each stare at her for a moment, but the girl loses interest first, turning back to the comic book before her. The man, however, calls after her, almost reluctantly. "Brina?" Why anyone would come to the library dripping and wet and well, clearly not meant to be in the library, is something of a mystery to Cameron. Which then begs the questions, "Are you alright?"

Radcliffe turns and sighs, seeing Cameron not exactly what she wanted in light of how foolish she acted earlier. She would try to smile and feign being fine but too much time passes and even she is smart enough to know that would be a dead giveaway. "No," she confesses after one more moment's worth of internal debate, "But I guess I will be. You and the kiddo are up late." Feeling the dampness at her nape has her shaking herself out of the last of her stupor and with a wad of terry cloth in hand, she makes an awkward attempt to blot some of the moisture out of it. "I am sorry about earlier, for what it's worth," she adds.

"Well, that makes two of us," he offers in return, his lips quirking but not quite reaching a smile. "Dare I ask why you're here, dripping wet? Are you heading to your shift or…" He doesn't say 'bed' cause that would be fairly ludicrous seeing as she's in the library and putting on clothes, not taking them off. His gaze flickers over to Elpis who seems unusually engaged with her book, a tired, "Yes," acknowledging the fact. At least the girl got to sleep, but Cameron can't really begrudge her that… especially with how it ended. Waving a hand at her apology, Cameron slips a finger between the pages of his book, allowing it to close on his hand as he tilts his head back against the chair and closes his eyes. "Nyaaaaah, it's me who should apologize. I was rude and completely in the wrong. So not my place to judge anyone else…"

"I'm here because I made an ass out of myself for a second time in one night and I decided to remove myself from the situation before I managed to really screw up," she says with a shake of her head. "Sorry for looking like this." Must be a night for apologies as she's doing it a lot. Smiling, she reaches over to tussle Elpis'' hair before taking a seat, needing to put her socks and boots on before her feet get cold. "I shouldn't have behaved the way I did towards you," she says then while getting her socks on first, her expression thoughtful. "Been feeling as tightly wound as a three-day clock. Really haven't been myself."

His eyes flicker open as she apologizes yet again, his head rolling to the side to study the freshly showered woman. The girl winces as her hair is ruffled, a most uncharacteristic gesture for her, shrinking slightly before practically sticking her nose against the page of the book before her. She doesn't seem injured though and while Cameron looks concerned, he doesn't either caution Brina nor chide Elpis. One brow raises up as the doctor points out, "I don't recall you making an ass out of yourself earlier, unless I missed the first time? Dare I ask what happened the purported 'second' time?" He's quiet as she puts on her socks and clarifies her mistakes before finally offering, "I don't think any of us are quite 'ourselves' any more. If it helps, I don't think poorly of you for what was said in Sickbay. I was as much to blame as anyone, sticking my nose into matters that didn't concern me."

Radcliffe looks at the girl but doesn't say anything herself, maybe not having noticed how she had reacted. "Hmm. First time was with you. Second time was with Crowe…" Not really wanting to rehash the details of the second means she's falling quiet again, left to tie her boots while she thinks. When she does speak again her voice is hushed, her eye kept to her feet despite her boots being tied and such. "Are you alright, though? Need an ear?" She's trying, wanting to make amends despite the fact that Cameron has already said she didn't do anything wrong by him.

"I'm sorry…. that you had a… screw up with Crowe." Is he really? Hard to say, but he seems genuinely regretful for whatever loss she may have suffered. "Then again, Crowe can be kind of an ass at times, so perhaps he doesn't mind so much if others make an ass of themselves as well?" The humor is weak at best, but he is trying to lighten the air a bit. At her question, though, Cameron goes quiet for a bit before answering, "No, not really. But no, I don't think talking about it will help much. Just gotta keep on keeping on, as it were." His eyes flicker shut again as he asks with a yawn, "How about you?"

The humor gets a 'heh' for a reaction, Brina not sure what to do besides that. What she does comment about is the doctor's answer to her question about his wellbeing, her eyes lifted to look at him now that her discomfort has passed. "Got to keep on keeping on. I like that. It's true, too. It's all any of us can do, right?" Pondering again, she eventually shrugs a shoulder and shakes her head. "I don't think I am but I'm not sure. Kind of in that odd place where I know something's off but can't place why yet."

"Oh, there could be any number of reasons. Shift in work schedule, shift in sleep schedule, not getting enough to eat, not getting enough to drink, too much work, too little work, and then there's that whole pesky fact that we've all pretty much lost everybody that we've ever known and loved in our entire lives and we're living on the brink of extinction, cause that's enough to make anybody's day a bit cloudy and grey." His voice becomes more and more brittle, more and more charged with anger and grief till he catches himself, his head rising up. Even Elpis has stopped reading and is staring at Cameron now with eyes that are wide and fearful. Not of him, but of the reality he presents. "Oh frak," he mutters, sitting forward and opening his arms, the girl up in a flash and huddled against him, her face buried in his sweater. "Sorry, Elpis, sorry…." he murmurs, rocking the girl gently and stroking her hair before glancing over at Radcliffe, echoing, "Sorry, Brina…"

Radcliffe watches the doctor as he lists that off, her eyes growing increasingly wider as he continues and his voice changes tone, it almost enough to induce panic in her but she manages to keep control on it as Elpis moves to snuggle with Cameron. "I just want…" is said but then, with a sigh, Brina leans her head back and stares at the ceiling, trying to hide her face by doing so. "I envy you and the girl, Cameron. Not the circumstances that brought you two together but the fact that you both have someone." This is the first time she's even so much as thought about or touched upon the crap circumstances that fell upon everyone and it leaves her feeling raw and vulnerable, two things she is not used to.

It's not the same. Not really the same. Yes, Cameron has Elpis, and yes, she has brought joy and hope into his life. That's why he gave her the name that he did. But she can't really comfort him the way he comforts her. He can't share with her his fears or his anger or any of his darker emotions. He has to protect her from them. From that part of himself. And maybe that's a good thing. Maybe she's what makes him as good a man as he is, as determined and positive as he is. But he's just a man, flawed as any other. And some days the cracks show worse than others. "I'm sorry Brina. You don't have a friend? Someone to talk to? To just be with?" That is one thing that Elpis makes easier. Comfort is comfort. Touching, hugging, holding is just that and nothing more. It's safe and it's easy with a child. But things always seem to get harder and more confusing when the two people who need to be touched are adults. There are risks.

"Trying to make friends but right now people can be categorized into two groups. People I work with and people I feel awkward around. The only one I have felt any sort of comfortable with is the Lieutenant but she's an officer and probably shouldn't be considered a friend…well, yeah. I guess I can call her one, loosely." Tucking hair behind her ear, she watches the pair, her eyes sliding half shut sleepily. "It's kind of hard being close to people. I'm too brash or too intimidating. Or something. I am still trying to figure that the frak out."

"The military is so… complicated. I mean, I realize there are all these rules to protect, to organize, to keep emotions out of the equation, but there's no balance in the math. You can't drain all of the emotion out of a person indefinitely. You need a balance. Release. Relief. The military doesn't plan for that, provide for that. It's madness, really." Pressing his lips lightly to Elpis' brow, he feels subtly relieved as the girl begins to relax against him, through she still clings to his frame, fingers curled into his sweater. "If I might be blunt, you're surprisingly shy and then unexpectedly frank, which is a rather confusing pair of traits, being so opposite of each other."

Radcliffe licks her lips before answering. "You have to remember that when the military made those regs we were able to come home and visit family and loved ones and everything else so it really wasn't as much of an issue as it is now. They never took into account that what happened was a possibility and they never bothered to write loopholes or find ways to make exceptions. So this is where we stand." When mention is made of her opposite traits she can't help but to laugh, that being something she has noticed in herself. "I guess part of the latter is because I spent a lot of time hanging out with guys. I'd probably be a lot less forward if I wasn't such a tomboy."

"But even in times of war," Cameron counters, "the tours of duty are long and while you're there, there is little in the way of relief or support, save for your fellows in arms… or atrocities taken out of frustration and opportunity." No one can deny that terrible things happen during wartime, often at the very hands of those who should be fighting the good fight instead taking advantage of the weak and the vulnerable. "But war is war, and there's no getting around that and we all have to do with less now and finding our own way if need be, while still sticking together." The girl in his arms is growing slowly heavier as her body relaxes into the cradle of Cameron's. He may have frightened her, but he's still her lodestone and her center it seems, only safe when she's in his arms. Gazing down at the girl for a moment, Cameron glances back up and notes, "That explains the bold. So why the shy? If you were a real tomboy, you wouldn't be shy at all. You'd be all bravado and bluster, or straight-shooting and saying it like it is."

Radcliffe shrugs. "We stick together, Cameron. We just do so while living our lives as close to normal as possible. And that means living by the same rules we always have. In a very real way, being able to do so is good for many of us. It is one of the last parts of our lives prior to Warday that we have left." Elpis is watched and she winces, kind of wishing she could be in the girl's place even if just for a little while. "Why the shy? It's the other side of the proverbial coin, I suppose," she says once she remembers to talk. "I'm not all gruff and grit and grease and boxing gloves. I'm also a woman and all that entails."

"Ahhh, but military rules and civilian rules for living are quite different things. And that is the question at hand." Chuckling softly, Cameron counters, "I've known plenty of women who weren't shy and who were definitely women, with all that that entails. Being shy is not a province of women exclusively nor uniformly. Shy comes from somewhere. Maybe family, maybe school; not fitting in, not being pretty enough or smart enough or something enough generally, even if that lack is only in one's mind. So what is it for you? Why the shy? Or have you never really thought about it before?"

Radcliffe flounders, looking for answers but she doesn't find the ones he's looking for, causing her to mentally flail about. "M-maybe my mother," she stammers out, her face going red again. "I really don't know. It's not something I've given any thought about. It's just how I am and people are going to have to take it or leave it." A hand is brought up and her fingers are tugged through her hair, which has dried enough to knot, making her wince when she finds a snarl.

Shrugging, Cameron points out, "You're the one frustrated and upset because you feel like you've been an 'ass'. If the dichotomy between being shy and being blunt makes you feel like you're putting your foot into your mouth, then it behooves you think about a solution, rather than leaving it up to people to take or leave. If you didn't care, I'd say bully for you, let people be confused. But you do care. It upsets you. So think about it. You don't have to understand it now, but I can guarantee you it will help if you understand it eventually." Elpis has completely fallen asleep, and glancing down at the child Cameron confesses, "She's dropped off again, and I feel like I'm about to drop period. You'll excuse me if I try to get some sleep?" Rising up from the chair, Cameron toes off his boots and shifts over to an adjacent couch. He could try to carry her back down to the Hangar, but he dreads her waking up along the way or the fumbling it will involve. Why bother when there's a nice unoccupied couch right here? Sure, he'll probably get chased out in a few hours time, but he won't get much more before the Hangar wakes up for the day and does the same.

Radcliffe has plenty she could say but finds herself without the time to do so as Cameron's preparing to sleep, something she doesn't want to interrupt. Nodding quickly as not to wake up the child, she stands and waves to the doctor before excusing herself. Looking at them for a moment while gathering her belongings, she eventually exits, lost in thought.

He was half expecting her to reply, to perhaps argue or deny, so when she says nothing, Cameron can't help but wonder if he offended her, gave her food for thought, or if she is merely being considerate to his needs. Either way it doesn't take more than a minute once he's laid down with Elpis curled up into his side for Cameron to drift blissfully off to sleep, the hours of wakefulness finally defeating his sleeplessness.

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