PHD #019: Let What We Love Be What We Do
Let What We Love Be What We Do
Summary: Dodging topics in the Sickbay, Sagittaran-style.
Date: 2041.03.18
Related Logs: All of the recent sickbay flurry.
Stavrian Tisiphone 

<OOC Note: Date is not correct. The 16th is too much of a mess to figure out placement, however.>

Sick Bay is quiet. Well. Quiet-ish. Tisiphone is slightly propped up in her bed, her lamp the only illumination for several beds around. Held awkwardly in her good fingers, propped against her torso, is a black-bound book with no lettering on the spine. One of the tomes of Sagittaran poetry Oberlin brought in, the night before. The lighting isn't great, but her eyesight is; between the two, she's determinedly enrapt in her book. Determined, perhaps, because her body has started wondering Why Is All The Morpha Gone? She's slightly more ashen than she should be, but so it goes. The price of keeping the medicators away.

Many of the injured pilots have been shooed out by now, gone to recover back in their bunks loaded up with painkillers from The Man. The ChEng is still around, asleep somewhere, as are a handful of badly wounded air wingers and one burnt deckhand. Stavrian's in his required scrubs when he gets back to the ward this evening, though carrying a non-regulation-looking brown satchel with him. A nurse or two nod to him as he passes by, but he's left in a comfortable swatch of silence as he makes his way towards Tisiphone's bed.

Rasp. The book is old, or the pages are damaged, because as Tisiphone turns a page, one of the corners breaks off in her clumsy fingers. She looks from it to the page it came from, mutters something unpleasant at the brittle yellow triangle in her hand, then leaves it to flutter down onto her coverlet. Back to reading. She's been quite the model patient since her little deal with the devil otherwise known as Dr. Hawke.

The sound of a chair moving comes before the sound of Stavrian's feet. He's hooked his fingers under the nearest seat, its feet scooting softly on the bland pvc flooring. "Ensign." The satchel goes thump on his knees as he sits, and something glass clinks inside.

She's more lucid than she's been, that's for sure; at the sound of the chairlegs stuttering across the floor, sleet-blue eyes lift from the book to the medic with no painful spasm of startlement. Maybe it's the dwindling painkiller, or maybe it's the subject matter of the book, but she cants her head just slightly at him and greets with an odd half-smile. "Sir."

The smile's not really returned, but Stavrian's lips do move. Half-smile, one might call it. He looks down at his bag, unlooping the leather laces and tugging the puckered neck open. "How are you feeling? It's good to see you reading…nausea's not too bad?"

"Not yet. How much worse is it going to get?" Tisiphone's odd smile starts faltering as a nervous stoicism tugs at it. "I hate throwing up." Like anyone /doesn't/. She looks down at her book, then sits forward a hair, setting the book down in her lap. Spidery Sagittaran script along one side, Standard Caprican translations on the facing page. Looking back to the medic, she speaks in her native tongue. Some backwoodsy dialect, so orphaned from the rest of the language's evolution it sounds antique. < Shabbaz Adileh. Thou readst? >

"Na." The vowel is dark, said way back in Stavrian's throat. It's not the casual, nasal 'nah' of Standard. "When the morpha wears off, some people get nauseous. But I'll give you something to head it off." There's his own native dialect, intelligeable to her but not the same. It's guttural and ugly to Caprican ears, harsh to those that don't understand it. And a strange paradox with his soft-spoken voice. He digs around in his bag, pulling a large tin from it and setting it on her little side table, then — speaking of antiquity — a mortar and pestle. "I haven't read it. My favorite is another." His blue eyes flicker to the pages and then back down. "Will you read some?"

Tisiphone will be gutted if her own little mortar and pestle ever buys it. There's a flicker of interest as Stavrian's is drawn out. Might be a /professional/ mortar and pestle. You never know. Eyes move next to the medic's face, thoughtful and intent. Minding the dialect gap. It's more work than speaking Standard. She doesn't seem to mind. < If thou will listen, I wilt. > She picks up the book again, flipping back to a dog-eared page. Tch.

It's not a generic mortar, either, nothing fancy but obviously handmade. A small symbol is painted on one side — the staff of Asclepius with its single snake wound around it. A crude representation, that looks like it was drawn there with the tip of a finger and red paint. Stavrian looks up again, mostly at the book rather than her. "Please. This place…" He glances around, lips screwing up in a wry way. "…isn't one where Euterpe comes to rest very often." He pops the tin on the table, sifting through the light brownish contents with the tips of his fingers.

Tisiphone echoes Stavrian's wry twist of mouth, then looks down at the book again, her fingers twitching awkwardly at one corner to align it better. She licks her bottom lip, then worries at it with her teeth for a moment. Quietly, she clears her throat once, then again, and starts to read.

Everything is far
and long gone by.
I think that the star
glittering above me
has been dead for a million years.
I think there were tears
in the carriage I heard pass
and something terrible was said.
A clock has stopped striking in the house
across the road…
When did it start?

A pause, there, to worry her bottom lip before continuing; it's a very nervous gesture, considering the smoothness she reads with. She might barely be reading from the book at all.

I would like to step out of my heart
and go walking beneath the enormous sky.
I would like to pray.
And surely of all the stars that perished
long ago,
one still exists.
I think that I know
which one it is—
which one, at the end of its beam in the sky,
stands like a white city …

Tisiphone clears her throat again and glances up, though only as far as the bedside table, before closing the book and rubbing her fingers against the edge of the cover.

Stavrian is listening but not watching. The way he treats his supplies is ritualistic, a tiny sifter laid beside the mortar and then a long, flat piece of soapstone with a long groove up the middle. He blows gently into the line, dislodging a little bit of dust that, just for a moment, smells curiously like cinnamon. By the time she's done with the poem his hands have stilled, eyes down on the rounded stone lip of the mortar. "You knew this one already."

< I do. I cannot forget it. > Tisiphone gives the book that odd smile again, then looks up to Stavrian. Properly up, getting her gaze above the bedside table, this time. < Who hath left these here? > She opens her mouth to say more, then thinks better of it. Her eyelids shiver at the edges as she turns slightly, too curious to keep from watching the medic with his supplies. A testing sniff at the air.

Stavrian has a little of that sweet-smelling red dust left on his fingers. When he notices the sniff, his mouth twitches a little closer to a smile than he had before. "Maketah flower. It relaxes the lungs." He offers his hand closer to her face should she want a deeper inhale. A second or two passes before he says, "I've never heard that poem before. Does it come from the same place as you?"

< My mothers? No. > Tisiphone bullies past the lingering bashfulness of the poetry recital with her usual tactic, flippancy. She ducks her head forward, sniffs once, then again. < Reminds me of mine grandmother. > A complicated memory, that, settling her back to her pillow, eyes growing pensive as she looks up at Stavrian. < He- the poet. Further north. I foundeth his books in Sthenoi. > Sthenoi, the capital of Xenos Province, Southern Continent.

"I have never been there." Stavrian brushes off his fingers on the side of his scrubs pants. It leaves a feather-brushing of red on the blue. He picks up the top tin, already open, and runs his fingers through the brittle shreds of bark lying inside. They're light brown, the color of dead leaves. His eyes flicker back to Tisiphone, brows slightly drawn. "You don't sound like a city girl."

Tisiphone's gaze squirms away from the medic's, focussing on the opened top tin. < No. We were far from the cities. But… > It trails off, as if she prodded herself to keep talking, before actually coming up with the words. < Canst I say 'no'? Four years in Caprica City ruins anyone. > She takes a deep breath, as if calming herself, asking on the exhale: < Thou. Thou were further north than I. > Backtracking.

Stavrian hesitates before he answers. "Yes. Near Tashraan, but…I didn't grow up there." He takes up a chunk of the bark pieces with his fingertips, dropping them into the mortar. Then another chunk, with just eyes for measurement. He's about as good at talking about his origins as she is; as soon as that's out he changes the subject. Voice lightening from that reserved murmur, he looks back at her now. "This is Asaraa bark. We'll make a tea of it, and it'll help the pain. Do you want me to add something to help you sleep?"

< If thou wouldst. Please. I- > Tisiphone gives a tiny twitch of her shoulders that probably should be a shrug. < I keep seeing the canopy when I sleep. > The word 'canopy' is inserted in Standard, jarring against the rest of the sentence. She falls silent there, watching Stavrian work. Then, abruptly: < Thou. Shiv. Me. We are all so closed. > And, springboarding off that, unexpectedly: < Thou playest cards? >

Stavrian picks up the pestle and settles back in his chair, pulling both his feet up with legs crossed. The posture's startlingly casual for him, but the purpose becomes obvious a moment later, when he sets the mortar on his ankles for stability. "Cards?" That did surprise him, mouth opening and then closing again. "I'm better at chess, but…when the gods feel the need to humble me, they do manipulate me into playing the odd game." He makes an amused sound under his breath. "Why?" Pestle in left hand, he pushes his shoulder down into the work, stone grinding against stone and bark.

< Thou needst humbling? Ever? > It's asked lightly, Tisiphone's unbandaged brow lifting. < Cards. Dice. A drink or two. Or seven. Away from work. Needful for all of us. Thou shouldst come. > She's watching the motion from shoulder down to mortar and pestle, then again gives her shoulders a tiny twitch, looking up at the ceiling.

"We all do sometimes." This is returned just as lightly, almost teasing. She is a viper jock, after all. Stavrian's wrist moves and elbow twists, smooth motion from back to shoulder to forearm to hand. The end of the pestle is becoming steadily coated in light brown dust, the smell hard to describe. Bitter, earthy. As she extends that invitation, he takes a breath in that quick way one does when the first impulse is to refuse. But there's a slight pause. "That sounds good. Actually." He lifts both brows at the bowl, eyes down on what he's doing. On his left hand, he still hasn't removed that simple wedding band. "It is…needful. The priestess was talking about things like this. She wanted to have a night of pankratic sport — fighting — in dedication to Ares."

A sidelong, oh-is-that-so sort of glance from Tisiphone, accompanied by a light snort. It's a fair cop. Isn't the whole point of Flight School to churn out walking, talking pillars of Ego? < Thou workest so hard. It- thou cannot last without respite. > So earnest again, all of a sudden. Less of a filter between what she's thinking and saying than with Standard, perhaps — or maybe just a hundred years down the linguistic evolutionary trail from 'dude, relax'. The mention of pankratic sport lights her face for the span of a heartbeat, then drops it to a sulk. < She didst? Truly? Oh-h-h-h. > A moan of pure disappointment. Curse you, ulna.

"She did." Stavrian's lip pulls back a little at her sulkiness. Gods forbid, he even shows a hint of the side of his teeth. "Bad luck, but you might make a cubit as a bookie if you started now." He scrapes the pestle into the smooth stone, lifting it and shaking the mortar to check his progress. Almost there. "Is this easier for you?" Accented standard, abruptly.

Abrupt, and jarring. Tisiphone blinks at Stavrian as her mind shifts gears with an all but audible clunk. She's got a faint air of a nose-whapped puppy to her for a few moments as her eyes drop to the bed railing while she shifts position. "Were we going for easier or better, though?" She's shaking her head at herself, and her statement, as soon as it's said, then quickly presses more words into service. "Sorry. Just- It- was nice."

"Either." Stavrian taps the pestle against the side of the stone bowl and sits up, leaning over the arm of the chair to set it back down on her side table. "I don't mind, I'm used to it. As are you." He leans over his spread knees, digging back into his satchel for another little tin. And a black thermos, both pulled out. On the way up, he glances at her from under his brows. "Why are you a pilot?" How blunt.

A rough gear-change, and then there goes the clutch. Thud. Tisiphone looks over sharply, more startled than affronted, searching hard on Stavrian's face for some sort of hint where the question came from. "Where-" she begins, defensively. Stops herself with a deep breath. "Where did that come from?" The second time she tries the question, the bristling pike-wall has lost most of its points.

"I don't know." Stavrian sounds like he might even be a hint amused at himself. He unscrews the second tin, shaking a good amount of black specks into the bark-grounds in the mortar. "I'm not a pilot, so sometimes I just wonder about people who are." The tin's pushed aside, and he retrieves the pestle to start blending the strange mix of dust. "You don't have to answer it." Just as easily, it's dropped, and he narrows his eyes as he glances around. "Did they leave you a cup…?"

"Yeah-" The cup is wedged between Tisiphone and the bedrailing, where she can reach it with her good fingers with what passes for 'easily'. Carefully picked up, and offered over. Her eyes flicker uncertainly on the medic's, then drop away as she worries at her lip again. "You remember a- a campaign, the bullshit trying to sell up Sagittaron, pretend the Occupation wasn't happening? 'Bright New Faces Of Sagittaron'?" The words are measured, a little breathless in a tight chest. "One of those- that was me, thrown over to Caprica City. There was a- flight sims, one summer. Someone dared me to try it. What the frak'm I gonna do in a flight sim, chew the stick, right?"

Tisiphone shakes her head and shrugs — or starts to, stopping abruptly with a shuddery wince. "It was…" She looks up at Stavrian with an odd, sad smile. "It was me. God's laughter all down my spine. Never looked back."

"I remember." Stavrian's capable of making the desert jealous of the dryness in his voice. He unscrews the thermos top and pours out the contents into her cup, freshly boiled water that's still steaming. As he sets the back of the thermos down again, his eyes meet hers. Right at the end when she's talking. "So even if all this hadn't happened," he asks, finally shaking the powder from mortar into cup. "You would have stayed? You'd want to be this?" Not critical, is his voice. Not approving either, per se, just curious. As though it's the first time he's heard someone express such a thought.

Tisiphone manages the gaze for a few seconds. Considering. It squirms away for a second, nervous, before she drags it reluctantly back up to the medic's face. "You- you've had that feeling. Yeah?" She asks like the 'yes' is a foregone conclusion. "There's no going back. I couldn't have, anyway, after Caprica. It changes you too much." The way she says 'changed' isn't very flattering. 'Tainted' might be a better fit. Or 'despoiled'.

"I've never been," Stavrian admits. As to Caprica, anyway. "All I know about it is from what people have told me, which…" A brow quirks slightly. "…all seem to imply that it's full of cappucinos and talk shows, and every ivory tower is just some gigantic Colonial phallic symbol." A very faint smile and he carefully stirs the tea mixture, before scooting closer and offering it over with both hands. Carefully, it's hot. "Here, watch your hands. I'm going to put the rest of the powder in the thermos and leave it for you, for later. You shouldn't need any more until the morning."

Tisiphone looks on the cusp of saying something Very Serious, then gives her head a tiny shake and swaps her words out for something lighter. "You're better for having never been." Pause. "Trust me." A ghost of a grin haunts her mouth, there. Viper jocks are not only humble, but trustworthy. The smile fades to a look of concentration once the tea is ready; awkwardly, the cup is transferred from one pair of hands to the other. A curious sniff at the steam leaves her with a similar expression to a child facing down a spoonful of medicine. It doesn't stop her from looking up, over the steam, and murmuring, "Thanks, Jesse."

"Take it slow. It's…strong." Stavrian cautions her with a bit of undertone in his voice. Do Not Operate Heavy Machinery; this is the good shit. "You're welcome. I can't put anything topical on tonight, but…give it a day or two and I can try something else. It's a specialty." This is given with a hint of something he's never quite shown her before — mischief? Uh oh. He picks up the thermos and starts to pack it away, gathering mortar and pestle up from the table. "Do you know of a poet called Fariha?"

Mischief? What's this? Tisiphone shoots Stavrian a sidelong look over her glass of tea, eyes narrowing with mock-wariness. She blows across the surface of the tea, sips once, then again. Tiny sips. It's still very hot. "Fariha," she echoes back. "No. Would you bring me some?" A look of mischief, countered with one of her own.

Stavrian stands up, pulling the bag strap up onto his shoulder. The bizarre dichotomy he is, this battered old herb-worker's bag slung over the standard blue scrubs of the modern medical doctor, the worldly combat boots on his feet and distinctly Sagittarian soma braid around his wrist. "Well…" He hitches his shoulder, tins and glass clinking in the satchel. "I'll tell you this, and you tell me if you want any more." He grasps the top of her bed railing, metal sliding on metal as he pulls it back up.

"Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don't open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground."

Clank. Snick. The bars slide back into place.

"The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep."

The answer is self-evident in Tisiphone's expression — radiant, almost, if she wasn't half-smiling awkwardly against it, trying to hide the emotion away like a child clapping fingers over a flashlight. Mustn't show it; someone will see. "Please," she says, simply, eyes moving up on the curling steam to Stavrian again. "I'd like that."

Stavrian is no poet himself; his recitation is well-memorized but nothing dramatic. And he screws up a cadence here and there. What he lacks in class (and talent), however, is smoothed over by the sheer, honest simplicity of the delivery. "We'll trade some, then," he offers. "This is how men have always kept their stories, isn't it? In the telling?" It may be a little bittersweet, that. "Anyway. They should be letting you go tomorrow. I'll come by your berthings and check on you later. Get some rest."

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