PHD #459: Know Yourself
Know Yourself
Summary: Very deep thoughts…in the pilot's berths!
Date: 31 May 2042 AE
Related Logs: The Sweet And The Bitter
Khloe Leyla 
Pilot Berths
The battlestar's pilots call this place home. Bunks line the walls with grey curtains to cover their sleeping areas. Lockers sit between each pair of bunks and a round metal table sits in the center, furnished with simple but comfortable steel chairs. A hatch at the rear of the room leads to a communal head.
Condition Level: 3 - All Clear
Post-Holocaust Day: #459

It's not so often that Leyla returns to the pilot's berths, though lately, she's been returning more often than just for her usual visits to see to the feeding and watering of the morale officer currently chirping away in the (relative) stillness of the sleeping area. But for the time being, the yellow Captain doesn't seem to need to attention of his minder, seeming content enough hopping around in his cage doing his evening serenade. Leyla, for her part, is in the process of stripping down and clearing out a few of the unused pilot's berthings, setting them up for come what may. Or a few soon to be graduated nuggets, you know, whichever.

Much like Leyla, Khloe has been taking to the habit of spending a few days at a time out of the berths. Today is two days in a row she's stayed here, although it's been mainly due to rotations not synching up with her would-be lover's - there's no point in staying in the officer berths if Captain Vandenberg's not around. So, instead, she's taking care of business here - refitting her bunk with a change of sheets. Like clockwork, once a week whether she needs them or not. She glances over her shoulder as she works, noting the presence of a certain Lieutenant. "I thought they had crewmen to do that sort of work," she says to her friend. "You're certainly not required."

"I know that, but it seems disingenuous," Leyla offers, looking around at the figure of the viper captain not so very far away, "To teach my nuggets that nothing is beneath them, and then act as if there are things that are beneath me." leyla pauses, in the midst of turning a pillowcase inside out to make it easier to slip the pillow inside, "if there's one thing I've noticed about the nuggets is that moving from, in most cases, civilians up to officers is seriously skewing their perspectives. It's like going from being unemployed, to becoming the president of a company with no work in between."

"I can't say I know what that's like," Khloe admits, finishing tucking her bunk and giving it a tug to make sure it's bootcamp perfect. She's like that. "The Navy is pretty much the only job I've had. It's the only one I'd ever want." She turns to regard Leyla, leaning against the frame and crossing her arms, she watches her go through her own bed-grooming. "To be perfectly honest, I've never made a bed for a Nugget. Nor would I. It's something they need to figure out how to do themselves, and get humiliated when they fail over and over again. It builds character."

"That's the difference between being a Viper pilot and flying a raptor. And working in the backseat of one. At least from what I've seen. The focus with viper training seems to be on self-sufficiency. Whether or not you have a wingman, you're alone in that cockpit. You have to be able to know, not just believe, that if worse comes to worse, you can make it out by yourself. Being in a raptor's not like that. Being paired with an ECO…in many ways, it's closer than lovers, closer than husband and wife. There are things about me that Marko or Shakes know that Mark has never guessed. There are things about Marko that I know, that Lunair probably has yet to find out. When I'm with Marko or Shakes, when we're in that boat together, we, to use an approximation, we eat, live and sleep each other. It has to be that way or we don't do the job right. That interplay of give and take, ascendency and dependency. When those nuggets get into these bunks, they won't be nuggets anymore. They'll be rooks. And if I can start them off on the right foot, I will." And her face softens, that hint of slow humour, "Humility also builds character, Poppy."

Khloe snorts lightly. "I've moved a total of a dozen buses in my career, all on Tau Garrison. Moved. Up, skitter over, down. Nothing anything more complicated. It's like flying a brick." She shakes her head. "I guess I will never understand. In Viper formations, your wingman is your life, but I'm sure as frak not interested in what Drips had for dinner or what color Decoy's boxer-briefs are. All I care for is the fact that they do their job, they stick with their wingman, and they follow orders. None of this huggy-feely Raptor stuff." She wrinkles her nose, mouth quirking slightly in a grin. She's not meaning for her words to be malicious, of course, and Sweet Pea can probably pick up on those cues. "You get humility after you get busted down from thinking you're the hottest stick in the fleet. Humiliation, then humility."

"And what happens when you lose Drips, or Decoy. What happens when the cylons have picked off everyone but you, and you don't have anyone to rely on but yourself, Poppy? Do you fall apart, or do you keep doing your job? A wingman is a helpmate, I won't deny that, but they're not a necessity. Your ability to do your job, if worse comes to worse, isn't impacted by whether or not you have someone by your side to do it. In a raptor, you can't do the job with one but not the other. It's always two together." No, Leyla doesn't take the words with any sort of insult. She and Poppy have been friends for too long…and long enough to understand each other's humour. "So are you the hottest stick in the fleet, then?"

"The same thing that happened when we lost Money Shot and Lucky. We reshuffle the roster and carry on. If I'm the last Viper pilot in the known universe, I'll do my duty until the end. Having a wingman just makes it tactically more sound." Khloe doesn't fully answer the question, of course - it's a hypothetical, and she doesn't do well with "what if's". She never has. Smirk turning lopsided, she replies, "I've been busted down many a time. Maybe if you asked that question ten years ago, I might actually give you the answer you were looking for. But, no, I'm no hot stick. I just know my duties and practice often."

Leyla's nose wrinkles, at the mention of Money Shot, but she clearly seems to think better of commenting on the now dead pilot. "As I said, they're useful, but not a necessity. It might be good for you to fly a few more raptors." Leyla finishes with the pillow, and after a second to smooth the sheets back down, returns to her feet, "I don't agree that you're not, but what do I know." There's humour there, "So how have you been, aside from taking the time to debate philosophy with the maid service?"

Khloe's brow furrows a little. "Well, I suppose I've been all right. Been spending half my time here and half my time over in the officer berths. I'm only over there when our schedules synch up." Our, meaning, hers and Captain Vandenberg's. "Usually it's just whatever time we can scrounge up for ourselves, and rack time. Not what you would call very interesting. Although, I'm not entirely sure what people in 'normal relationships' do." A beat, then a half-grin. "She wants to show me how to rock climb. That'll be our official first date." The grin turns a little cheesy, and she covers her mouth with her fist, clearing her throat.

"I've noticed you moved a few things over there. It's nicer, quieter." For all that Leyla works in an area of the wing that pushes community and camaraderie, she's never been much for the antics of the pilot berths. "I don't think there really are 'normal' things that people do in relationships. we're too different for that. What works for you is what works for you. Hell, half the time my dates with Mark consist of sitting at his desk doing my paperwork while he sits across from me. But I think, given what I know about each of you, that rock-climbing seems pretty perfect."

Khloe shakes her head. "And the kicker? I'm still not entirely sure I'm attracted to women," she says plainly, apparently forgetting at the moment that she's in a public place, and there could be judgmental folks listening in. Leyla puts her at ease like that. "No more than I'm attracted to men. I mean, it's not something I regularly think about or consider. I really can't explain the why of how things started." Shrugging lightly, she balls up her old bedding and heads over to her locker to be shoved into her laundry duffel.

"Does it really matter, Poppy? Male or female? Isn't it how you feel that's the most important? And what if you're alright with both or either? You know that has been known to happen. It doesn't have to be one or the other. Love, affection, caring…it's the same emotion, regardless of whom you feel it for." Leyla gathers up the last set of linens, having brought, by all appearances, an extra set with her. Always be prepared. "I mean, I won't lie…my husband has an absolutely spectacular body. But that's not my husband, do you understand? It's not what makes Mark Mark. Although, you know, it's a great fringe benefit. It's what's in his head, what's in his heart. That's what makes us what we are, that's what we are attracted to, in the ways that matter, when we're attracted to someone else."

"My point is, I've never felt… hmm." Khloe stops herself, looking for the right words. Clearly 'feeling' is not something she wants to admit she does. "I've never considered anyone since Tau Garrison. Before them, I hadn't really considered anyone since the Marsyas." Where she met Cidra. "It's not something that's been high on my priority list," Closing her locker after stuffing in the bedding, she turns to regard her friend. "Not knowing the why is maddening, Sweetiepea. Everything happens for a reason. Everything has cause and effect." A beat. "It keeps me up at night, when I'm not with her. I can't sleep. My mind keeps turning over the possibilities, the questions, the uncertainties."

"Maybe that's the problem. You've never made it a priority, like I didn't." For all their differences, in that way, Leyla and Poppy are much the same. "We're not machines, Poppy, though lords knows we've both spent years doing our best impressions of them. We're human. And humans are more than doers, more than workers, more than soldiers. We were given the ability not only to think, and to reason and to do, but to feel for a reason. We need all of those things to reach our full potential. And for all that we both might have liked to say that we were not lacking as a result of cutting out one or more of those, we can't reach our full potential without all of those things. When you were younger, you spent years catering to your emotions, to your wants, to your needs." Leyla doesn't look anywhere but Poppy's face, but she doesn't have to. It's not like Khloe doesn't carry the marks of her misspent youth with her every day. "I think that when you joined the Navy, you used the Navy as a way to escape those emotions, those feelings, those needs. You cut them out of you, or at least you cut their ties to you, their control over you. But that meant cutting off half of yourself. Now that half wants to make a comeback, as it were. Maybe the the why is that you need to learn to embrace both halves of yourself. It's not enough to just live, you have to have something to live for. And duty isn't enough."

Normally, Khloe would be quick to dismiss such notions. After all, she's made her career about living and breathing duty, to the point where nothing else existed in her life. "So you're saying is that Vandenberg is a vice, and I'm allowed to have this vice?" She asks, jaw shifting as she, at first, gets a growingly distasteful look. "My wants turned to needs, and those needs nearly killed me. Twice. I don't want to become dependent on anything or anyone in order to live. I don't want to be dominated by my vices ever again." She pushes off the locker, looking as if she's developing a mood. "No, I don't like that one bit," she says, likely for her own benefit.

Leyla's expression is a mild one. "I'm not talking about vices, Poppy. I'm talking about emotions, feelings. I've never done drugs myself, but I've known people who have," the Captain included. "And I don't know of anyone who does drugs that didn't do them because they either didn't want to feel something, or because they wanted to feel or experience something they couldn't without them. After a while, the vice, the drugs, in this case, become so wrapped up in the feelings they create or dissipate, that you can't tell one from the other. You start hearing things like…I can't be happy without a fix. I just need a drink to relax. Happiness and relaxation, in those two instances, really have nothing at all to do with the vices themselves. Not in reality, but to an addict the vices are the only means to get those two things. So they lose the ability to see that there are other ways except the drugs or the alcohol. If they can't have the fix, they simply can't be happy, and that's the end of it. I think, or I believe, that that's part of why you worked so hard to distance yourself from those things. Not the drugs, but the emotions. You set aside weakness, need, feeling, because you accosted them with your drugs, even though they are independent of them. Now you're being given a chance to see that you can enjoy all of those things without the drugs, without the addiction, without the destruction, but it's frightening for you, because you don't know how to separate one from the other."

"The morpha was an escape from the harsh reality of living in a ghetto, running around in a gang of teenagers, and every so often getting physical, emotional, and sexual abuse from my would-be boyfriends," Khloe states, originally looking as if she was going to retreat from Leyla, but is now agitatedly pacing back and forth. "Anger, pain, hopelessness. Morpha chased it away. You're right, once I got clean, I made sure I wasn't ever going to feel that hopeless, that worthless, ever again. The Navy gave my life focus. It encouraged me to be better than I was. And damnit, I owe everything to the Navy." Her words are becoming a bit stream-of-consciousness and rambly. "Why the frak would I want to go back to the frightened, battered girl that I was? No prospects, no hope. I chased all that away with the morpha, and anything else I could get my hands on and inject into my body. And here I am, towards the end of my piloting career, and I've got no prospects. The human race has no prospects, Leyla." She pauses in her pacing to face her friend, hands balled up in fists. "I'm afraid. I'm afraid that we'll have nothing in the end, win or lose this war, it'll be the same. We've nothing to go back to. Maybe Kepner had it right and we should've had one last suicide mission to win back our peace of mind." She looks away, eyes blinking back what must be tears threatening to break free down her cheeks. "Vandenberg… Natalie. She gives me something to look forward to. To hope for. And that's frakking dangerous, Leyla, because it means I'm not doing my job. I should be giving myself to the Navy like I always have, without hesitation or consideration to anything else but victory, or death. I…" Leyla is good at making Khloe realize her faults in a manner which doesn't cause her to lash out. Instead, the Viper jock begins to implode, sagging in her knees, only to slump down with her rump finding the edge of her bunk mattress.

"The morpha made you feel all of the things your life didn't allow you too. You felt happier, yes, at peace, content, lazy, drifting, right with yourself." Yes, Leyla's had more than a lot of experience with looking in on addiction from the outside. She moves easily, settling a small distance away from Khloe, but settling on the captain's bunk nonetheless. "The good feelings and the bad were all wrapped up in it, until there wasn't any difference between the two. The Navy gave you an opportunity to be what you could be, what you wanted to be, but weren't sure you could be. A chance to be a success when all of your life before had been a failure. But you couldn't do it and let any of what the morpha reminded you of be a part of it too. It would taint it, right? Tempt you down the path you had been walking every day until the day you left it behind to join the Navy. It would dirty the Navy for you, sully the gifts it gave you. Demean this institution that had saved you somehow. You had to be for the Navy and only the Navy all of the time. And you had to give up hope too, because only the morpha gave that to you. Now Natalie is offering you hope, and the only thing that ever offered you that before is your worst nightmare, and you're afraid she'll turn out to be the same way. Because you've never known anything different. It's not true of course, but you don't know that. And you need to know things. So you're afraid. And it keeps you up at night fighting that fear." Leyla pauses, considering, "We can't go back to the colonies, no, but that doesn't mean we have no prospects. As long as we can dream, and hope and feel and think, we have prospects, even if we don't know all of them right now. We go on, Khloe. That's what human beings do. We always go on. And I know that's not easy to accept. It's not easy to understand, particularly for you. You gave the Navy everything inside of you, but you kept nothing back for yourself. Keeping something back though, it doesn't make you weaker or a worse soldier a worse officer, it makes you stronger. It gives you a reason to go out there and to come back again. It makes you fight harder, push yourself to be better than you thought you could be."

Khloe shakes her head, eyes, closed, hand lifted to her face to mask (failingly) that she's teared up. "Everything I am tells me that I'm weaker for letting myself have this… relationship. Dalliance. Whatever you want to call it." Her voice is low, not quite choked with tears, but certainly affected by her emotional state. "And everything that whispers to me when I'm at night, alone, without her… reason, logic, procedure, duty, whatever. I think about what I would do if I were faced with a choice between duty, and her." Khloe, looking as if this were the height of sorrow and despair of her entire life, turns to regard her friend. "I think I love her, Leyla. What the frak do I do?" The last syllable consumed with a sob.

"I think you would do your duty, Khloe. I think that's what you choose to do, and I think that's what she would choose for you to do. I certainly don't know the Captain as well as you do, but I do know that about her. Her duty is her life, like your duty is yours. I wouldn't be surprised if she's having just the same fears and uncertainties and doubts as you are. If she isn't just as lost, not knowing how to find a way for her duty and her life outside of her duty to coexist." There's a subtle hint to Leyla's voice, that maybe she does know a bit better than she's letting on. "It's never a weakness to embrace everything about yourself. Even the parts you want to forget. Weakness isn't defeated by sweeping it under the rug, but by pulling it out into the daylight and looking at it in the face, facing it and realizing that it has no power over you. I don't think you ever faced that demon inside of you, Khloe. You buried it under the blanket the Navy provided you. That's why it still has power over you." And come what may, Leyla reaches out to wrap her arms around her friend. "You love her, Khloe…and you let your love for her help you find a way to love yourself."

Leaning up against Leyla, Khloe continues to have her eyes downcast, wiping at her face. That one errant sob is the extent of the emotional outburst she's going to allow for herself, the remainder just quiet tears dampening her cheeks. Quiet, controlled, seething emotion, which is really what defines her. "You know me better than I know myself," she mutters, giving a sniffle, and then a dry and short laugh to try and chase away the tears. "Ugh, I feel so foolish," she utters about her current state. "You really need to stop me when I go on a tirade like that. It's never going to end well."

"That's because I'm the brains in this friendship and you're the brawn." But that's gently said, as Leyla reaches into a pocket and pulls out a hankie to offer the sniffly woman, still holding her with one arm. "Time for you to stop running from the past, Khloe, if you want to ever have a chance to find the future. But for now, how about we get you into the head so you can put your face back on?"

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