PHD #009: Harmless
Summary: Evan and Stavrian find that the day after news of billions of deaths, no conversation is harmless.
Date: Mar 7 2041
Related Logs: Related Logs (Say None if there aren't any; don't leave blank)
Evandreus Stavrian 

[ Observation Deck ]----[ Deck 3 - Battlestar Cerberus ]—

With a quiet view to the stars, this tends to be one of the more popular 'quiet areas' of the Cerberus. Up front is a small-unseated area for ceremonies or other activities while the seating rises up behind it. Each level rises up behind the one before it, comfortable chairs and couches set up for crewmembers to relax, get some work done or even take a nap. A large armored plate is lowered during Condition One to protect the interior against a breach in the glass.

-=[ Condition Level: 2 - Danger Close ]=-------—-

In the oppressive silence of the observation deck, Stavrian is sitting in the second part of the tiered levels of comfy seating. On a couch way off to the side, facing the viewport. The same medical textbook he was cranking through last night is open on his lap, and a cup of tea sits on the table by his shins.

Evandreus shambles in, looking not quite as totally wrecked as after his encounter with the psych eval, but eyes still reddish along the linings of their lids, dark circles under his eyes, and a numb resignation to fate in his step. He's left his book in viper berthings, and looks straight ahead and down at the dark through the portals, almost missing the edge of a step on his way down the center aisle.

Stavrian's attention is down on his book. His eyes are directed that way, anyway. His right hand is curled around the top of the book, his thumb serving to underline the words as he goes along to keep track of his spot in the dense wall of text. Except it isn't moving.

Evandreus trucks down toward the front, looking aside to Jess as he very nearly passes straight down to the next row, then hesitates, seeing the guy, and stumbles into the loveseat near the aisle of the row of which Stave's pinning down the wall end. If he has an ounce of sinew in his body, right now, it doesn't show, the way he lays there the way he landed like some rag doll tossed aside.

Stavrian's thumb sits there in the middle of the page. At the sound of Evan lying down nearby, his fingernails tick the tissue-thin page loose and turn it, softly rustling. It gets two pages instead of one, but he just puts thumb down at the beginning of some sentence again.

Evandreus lays limp a while and then shuffles onto his side, using the armrest as a pillow and clutching his hands together between his knees, legs tucked up on the loveseat with him. After a long while he speaks up, voice tired and feeble. "I'm sorry… about your kids." It's not much, but it's all he really has, offered up like the goose of Baucis and Philemon, an almost laughable spectacle for all its paucity.

Stavrian says nothing for the longest time. His eyes stay down and fingers flip another page, dragging it over the others with the same rustling sound. Finally, toneless in that way that empty sentiments have: "Thanks."

Evandreus finds his eyes wet, again, and he opens his mouth to say more, maybe, but if there was something making his heart ache, he doesn't give it voice, just now, only swallows it and curls up a little more into himself.

Again, silence. Nobody gets the benefit of seeing Stavrian's eyes; they're still down on the academically-tiny text blocks on his lap, minus saccades. Not even his breathing makes any noise for a while. "Did you have any?" He asks, under his breath.

Evandreus leaves one hand between his knees, lifting up the other to chew on a foreknuckle, pinching a little fold of skin between two teeth and working his jaw just a little. His hand finds a warm spot safe from gnawing fangs underneath his armpit, then, and he coughs once, just a little. "I always wanted them, but— it— never worked out that way, no."

Stavrian makes a noise, like he'd started to say the word 'Yeah' but ran out of steam. He inhales through his nose before the quiet can choke his throat closed. "Sorry about Leonis. Whoever was there. Of yours."

Evandreus takes a deep breath in, lets it out ccs at a time, and he nods his head, whispering, "Thanks," back, a wound, there, in his voice, the pilot unashamed to let it show, what pain he hasn't already poured out in grief and tears. "We're… we're going back. To Virgon, and then— when command's got a better idea of where else can best use our aid, we'll go there. We can still help," he holds up the sentiment like a shield. Not helpless.

"Yeah." Stavrian gets the entire word out this time. Though like the earlier 'thanks', it's bland. His doing his best to give a shit about Virgon, all considered. "There's someone out there, I know. People are remarkably frakking stubborn."

"There are," Evan agrees. "And… you heard what the announcement said. Not all of the colonies were hit as hard as Picon was. There may be places on Sagittaron that are still… okay." That word took a lot of fishing, though. "Where people could be gathering. If there are— we'll find them."

Stavrian makes a mirthless snort. "If they had /good/ news, they would have said it. 'Strategic' strikes means they hit cities. We lived in a major one. That was supposed to be safer." Another page whipped, the top corner ending up bent from the force. "Good show."

Evandreus' small offering of hope mowed down to earth again, he settles down to a depressed quiet once more. "Yeah…" he sighs out the word, "Me, too. Cities, that is. Always lived in them. Thalattra. Corinth," that latter on Aquaria. "Show?"

"Nothing." The twinge of bitter sarcasm in Stavrian's voice fades, ember burning back out. His arms fold over his lower chest and he lifts his eyes to the viewport, head raising on a stiff neck. "Well shit, so much for the bets on the Picon Panthers this year." His quiet voice has no real inflection, outwardly not allowed to be as raw as it may be inwardly. "Even watched that stuff?"

"The Pyramid?" Evan asks back, voice tired, but not forgetting to put that definite article on there to thoroughly label himself !jock. "No, not really. I've seen people play, but I don't follow it."

"I didn't either," Stavrian tells the viewport. He clears his throat very softly and swallows. "Now I feel like I should have. Just to have something harmless to say to someone after all the 'I'm sorry'." There's no humor in the sentiment at all. "We've run out of harmless things to say."

"Does there get to be anything harmless to say anymore? It seems like anywhere the conversation turns would be a fresh wound," Evan comments, numb-lipped. "Everything on the ship touched by the ghosts of those who used to walk its corridors… everything outside the ship demolished almost to oblivion. Even the pyramid fields." Courts, Evan.

"Courts," Stavrian obliges the detail, under his breath. His eyes stay fixed on the stars beyond the curved fake glass. "Pretty sure you need grass for a field." He finally turns his head just enough to see Evan, blue fixing that way. They're not red, nor do his cheeks have any stains that would point to any recent tears. "You look like shit," he mutters, this managing to come out with subdued concern. "You…want some tea? Or something?"

"Courts?" Evan murmurs, not protesting the word choice, just making note of it. "Folk used to play out on the grass, back home. In the fall, when the air just got that little bit of brisk to it." A long pause, recalling more the weather than the sport. "Tea would be nice," he adds in a whisper.

Stavrian pushes the huge textbook off his lap. He stands up, hands pushing down on the couch at the sides of his legs as though he were fighting extra gravity on the way up. Without responding, he inches his way past the loveseat Evan's lying on and out into the aisle. Presumably to get ahold of tea.

Evandreus draws his knees further up and away from the aisle as Jess goes past, then finally pushes himself up to a seated position, scooting to one end of the loveseat, back against the arm and facing the other, legs folded indian style and head bowed for a moment into his upturned palms.

The silence extends into about three or four minutes before Stavrian comes back, carrying two cups - Evan's and his own old one, refreshed. He sets three neatly-stacked sugar packets on the table and sits down on the edge of it himself, shoulders stooped. "Here," he says quietly, holding out one of the cups. "You can't get dehydrated."

Evandreus lifts his head and holds his hands out for the cup, a look of gratitude in ruddy eyes. "Thank you," is offered up, and he holds the mug close with both hands, letting the steam touch his salty beardishness and wisp up toward his nose. "It all still just seems so unreal, sometimes, doesn't it? Even after seeing it… being there… here, it's just like… same as it always was. Bright blue sun, drifting wrecks." He takes a short sip, not seeming to mind the hot.

Stavrian blows on his drink, taking a sip that he forces himself to swallow. His eyes are back down again, on the rim of his cup. It's pure hot water in there; he put a teabag in Evan's but not his own, and he doesn't even seem to notice. "Guess so." He clears his throat, reaching back for the packets he'd put down. "Do you want some sugar?"

"I'd like that, yes, thank you," Evan eventually decides, settling the mug between his thighs and reaching out for a packet. "So, uh. Do you… want to talk? About your kids, at all?" he wonders. "I mean. It's okay, if not, but… if you want someone to listen… I have ears."

Stavrian tears the sugar open before handing it over. Then the question comes. His head lowers and his brows knit, and his face turns away before he stands up from the table edge. "No, not…now." Finally — raw. "Thanks." He buries his mouth in another swallow of tealess tea, jamming his other hand in his pocket as he steps to the edge of the loveseat's platform, looking forward at the viewport. "Are you flying tonight? Virgon?"

Evandreus takes the packet and turns it upside down, tap tap tapping the last grains of sugar into the mug. "Any time, yah?" he looks to the guy with a look more serious than is his wont. "You just come find me. Unless I'm… flying out to Virgon. Yeah, I'm on call for it. The CAG'll make the final decisions as to who's flying when we meet for briefing. She likes to look us over, first, see who's bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Sometimes I don't know whether it's a briefing or the Colonial Dog Show." An attempt at levity, there. At… harmlessness, even.

Another gulp of hot water is enough to quell the rising nausea in Stavrian's throat, his hand holding the cup with a tight grip. It takes him a while to respond, the crack in his voice covered up. "She make you run around the ring in pretty bows and everything?"

"You would not believe the prettiness of our bows," Evan replies with a flat seriousness cut apart by the ridiculous nature of his words. "Or the glitteriness of our poops," he adds, quirking a brow upward after a comic fashion.

"Shit," Stavrian mutters at the stars. "Never mind medical student pranks. Suddenly glad I'm not in your berthings either."

"Eh? It isn't as bad as all that," Evan admits. "Especially when we get our coats and toenails clipped. We get pampered plenty." Lies, all lies, of course, but continuing the narrative gamely enough.

"That was a joke," Stavrian replies, lamely. He swirls his water in his cup, shifting his weight onto his left foot. "But one day I'll have to steal some of our epsom salts from sickbay and let you guys turn a couple shower stalls into a spa." He manages a faint smirk.

"That's okay, so was that," Evan replies. "Oh, man. A spa would kill in berthings right about now. Especially since everyone's pining for drink," he sips his tea again. "I somehow think it'll be a couple of years before we see condition three again, in any case."

"Yeah. Maybe." Stavrian lifts the cup again, sipping. The water's cooled from scalding to slightly-too-warm, not that the temperature change really registers. "Can't go forever without giving people some time, though. Even a couple days. If they don't, we're going to have piles of people in Medical, just not functioning." His voice stays very low, having settled back into that tight control.

"It'd be nice, but— as much as I'd love nothing better than to pass out under a table somewhere and forget this whole thing ever happened, there are still people out there who need help. And there are going to be for a long time… I hope," Evan appends awkwardly onto the end of that, only able to vaguely angle the tacked on expression toward the fact that he hopes there are enough people alive and needing help to keep them busy for a good long time.

"I didn't say pull out and skeeve off forever," Stavrian replies, finally glancing over his shoulder at Evan. "But anyone can tell you that trying to keep people going past their limit without even a day or two of time to collect is trouble. You end up losing more lives because the caregivers and rescuers make stupid mistakes. No, I don't think command will give the time. But I know that'll be the consequence."

Evandreus nods, a slow, shallow bobbing of his head. "You're right, of course, Jess," he murmurs. "We'll have time again, one day," he notes, "'Til then, we just have to be there for one another, keeping each other sane, yah? And the psychfolk and the priestfolk will be working overtime, themselves. Now, when those guys start to crack, we're in terrible, terrible trouble," he gives an opinion perhaps more exaggerated than not, but the kernel there is true, in his eyes.

"Yeah." Which may strengthen Stavrian's resolve never to go to them, if he ever had the inkling at all. The loosening flow of words seems to tighten up again, leaving the conversation in an abrupt silence. "Get them some epsom salt too."

"They are really pulling their weight in all of this." If Evan notices Jess' hesitation on the matter, it doesn't slow him, much. "Your bosslady saw to my brainmeats. Pounded them into submission and poured them back into my ear in something like a more harmonious order. It's like magic."

"That's good." Stavrian brings the cup back to his lips for a small swallow. Slightly-too-warm to warm. "Very good."

Evandreus leans the small of his back back against the armrest, growing more comfortable with the tea and the company, letting thoughts spill out into out-loud space without much in the way of editing or reserve. "I think I knew. Before I went. Even before the rest of the recon missions went out. I knew Thalattra was gone. Like I could feel it, inside. Did you feel anything like that?"

Stavrian turns his head, looking away from Evandreus and back at one of the distant stars outside the fake glass. Silence drapes itself back down on the space between them. It hits the point where he should answer, but there's nothing. It just ticks on.

Tick. Tick. Tick. Evan lets it go on a while in the thought that an answer might be forthcoming, but, a few minutes of increasing awkwardness later, "Sorry, guy," he speaks up, again, "I know you don't really want to talk about it." Another pause. "How's the, uh, clothing drive going?"

Stavrian gives an absent few little nods. "Fine. Never seen so many socks, you know? Engineering's winning for most polka-dot crap."

Evandreus returns the nods, almost as absently, but not quite. "And did you ever find those red heart print undies that were in such demand?"

"Heh. Not really." Stavrian scratches the tip of his nose with his pinky. "But I doubt we'd ever find a pair of those…uh. Unused." He finishes off the cup of water and exhales, turning back around. Towards the couch he goes, eyes down as he reaches for his abandoned textbook. "I should go get ready for this Virgon deploy."

"I don't see how use is an issue, as long as they get washed, first," Evan points out. "But yeah. I should go primp before the dog show starts, see if I can get a spot on a boat. Maybe I'll see you on deck," he adds.

"You've never biochemically analyzed a pair of used underwear, then," Stavrian says, wryly. Apparently he…has. He pulls the textbook up into his arms and nods, moment taken to force his shoulders and back up straight. "I'll look for the bow." And with that he's off for supply check.

Evandreus doesn't make any comment as to what Stavey does with his undies when he's by his lonesome, leaving it off with a, "Thanks… for the tea," and he lifts the mug to show the guy what tea he means. Then, surreptitiously in the dark of the obs lounge, he calls after Jess with a little noise like a barking puppy. Then promptly hiding any hint of a smile behind the rim of the tea mug as he finishes up the drink.

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