PHD #329: Look At Us Now
Look At Us Now
Summary: Cidra gets something off her chest. Captain Gabrieli is having a lousy month.
Date: 21 Jan 2042 AE
Related Logs: Rainy Day Woman Number Twelve and Thirty-Five; Uncomplicated; Darts
Cidra Gabrieli 
A storage room somewhere on Battlestar Cerberus.
Crates and such.
Post-Holocaust Day: #329

Cidra must have heard through the ship grapevine that Gabrieli was no longer chief of things Engineering aboard ship. Though she has not been precisely a frequent visitor with him since he returned from his recovery stint on the Praetorian. It took her awhile to touch base with the ex-ChEng. And, when she did, it was in the form of an oblique invitation to meet him in one of the Deck 11 storage rooms to 'commiserate.' Meaning, smoke up and possibly engage in casual sex. Cidra shows early. In her off duties, seated cross-legged on a crate. Boots off, stocking feet comfortably folded under her. Waiting. Fingers idly tapping on said crate as she does so. Otherwise still, but it's a nervous gesture of hers.

Gabrieli may not be the world's most open person, but at least with Cidra he's allowed himself to blow off steam here and there — if usually in drowsy pillow talk that he wouldn't want repeated. The whole ChEng thing though, that happened under an unusually thick blanket of silence. No contact with Cidra before it, none after either. None till today, and with lag time to boot. When he arrives he's in his off-duties and his usual cap — his enlisted stole it the day Mark was promoted and drew mercilessly loving cartoons on it to express their loss. The heavy door opens slowly and latches shut before he says anything. "Cidra?"

If Cidra thought the silence odd she gave no indication of it. Perhaps because she's been rather good at avoiding Gabrieli for her own part lately. Not that there aren't always plenty of excuses. Being CAG gives one plenty of very good excuses to be busy. Still, it may've been notable. She is here now, however. She makes herself stop fiddling when Gabrieli enters, tilting her head up and over to look at him. "Hello, Dominic." Voice and expression inscrutable, but that's par for the course where she's concerned.

Gabrieli's hands have ink stains on them, some smudged and some still legible. Being on part-time duty doesn't keep the man from working, that much is clear. He's lost some weight but walks at a normal pace now at least; his stride to a crate wouldn't indicate anything was wrong unless you knew him before the repeated vicious assaults on his health. "You look good," he says, in a quieter tone than usual but still sincere. "How's tricks?"

"Ever tricksome, Athena willing," is Cidra's rather sly reply. She wastes no time, fishing a hand-rolled joint out of her pocket and lighting up. She even offers him the first pull. She's a gentlewoman like that. "You are looking better. Bette than I expected, honestly."

Gabrieli settles on a box facing hers, wood making an impertinent creak. "Frailty is boring." It's an ironic moment to reach for the joint, a subtle intention tremor making his calloused fingers tremble as they narrow onto the cigarette. He doesn't focus on the fact with his eyes, only adding a dry, "Downside is, now I suck at darts."

Cidra reaches out her fingertips to touch Gabrieli's trembling hand as he takes the joint. It's a curious gesture as much as a steady one, and it seems more or less done unconsciously. "Indeed it is." The point is agreed with a certain slyness. "I…did not realize how gravely you were injured. I just presumed you would return to full duty once you'd recovered." Not like he hasn't been maimed and returned to work before, after all. A pause and she adds, "I had meant to come visit you more but…you know how it gets." That is not really elaborated on.

Gabrieli doesn't shy from her touching his hand, finally withdrawing to take the waiting sweet puff of good stuff. The tremor vanishes as his hand comes close to his face and gradually comes back when he reaches out to give it back to her. A response takes a while, held in along with the smoke until after the cloud slowly leaves his lungs. "Shit happens." Sideways agreement, if slightly detached. "How's the wing? Trask need any ear boxing?"

Cidra takes a puff before answering. A soft laugh is snorted, smoke coming out of her nose. "Bootstrap always needs an ear boxing. But, the man knows his business. That I cannot argue. I do the best I can with the pieces I have." It's said not unfondly. "What do you think of the new man? This…Captain Makinen, yes? I only met him brief, but he seems to know his business. Though I have never quite been able to makes heads or tales of engineering babble, so I mostly just take the colonel's word that he knows it."

"He knows his shit," Gabrieli replies, unbegrudgingly. "Which, as I learned the hard way, is about one percent of what you need to be in charge. As for the other 99 percent, he's still working on his training wheels. But I don't make recommendations that I don't believe in, so rest easy."

"I shall take your good recommendation." Cidra inhales once more, holding it longer and exhaling slow, before passing it back. A pause and she adds, "Sorry."

"If that 'sorry' is about my job, you damn well know better." Gabrieli takes the joint back, handling it carefully so his shaky fingers don't drop the precious roll. "You wouldn't want a pity party, neither do I." For a second it looks like there's something else he meant to say, but he stops it up with a pull on the smoke.

For a second it seems as if Cidra's sorry had some import beyond that. Though she, also, doesn't elaborate. There's a stretch of silence between them that she seems tempted to fill with a lot of things. But she doesn't, ultimately. She just sits there, watching him. Less inscrutable than…uncertain. Which is an odd look for her.

Perhaps that's why the 'if' was in there. Gabrieli slowly exhales the sweet cloud in his lungs, tapping off the buildup at the end of the joint. He doesn't have to look at her to sense the change in the silence and for a while he doesn't, concentrated instead on the smoke swirling. Then his green eyes finally look for hers as he hands the joint back, saying nothing.

Cidra takes the joint back, also without an immediate word. An immediate one. She breathes deep, holds, and exhales long and soft. "It has been too long since we smoked together, Dominic. It has been awhile since I have indulged at all, come to it. With the ship on Condition Two for so long over Tauron I could not. And…I do not know. While we were over Aerilon I…indulged more than was good for me." As he may or may not remember. Cidra dallied with him very little during their sojourn over Aerilon, though there *were* signs she was smoking regularly solo. She spent a lot of time holed up in her office, or the chapel.

"I won't tell anyone," Gabrieli says, with a reassurance that's hardly needed. "Gods know we've all done…that. Gone a little overboard." What the ChEng does in his private time, the crew would need telepathy to figure out. Even Cidra. There's an unstated advantage to knowing literally every hidden nook and cranny of the ship. "It doesn't make you a bad person."

"We all have our vices, Dominic. This one gets me into less trouble than most some of the time." Cidra doesn't ask what Gabrieli does in his 'private time.' But she never does. Makes her more able to deflect any questions he might have. Her level of intimacy stops after the physical. "I should be grateful I have only these vices, the way the worlds stand. Gods. It has been nearly a year, you know? Since the worlds burned. Nearly a year, we have been on our own…"

"So it has." Gabrieli's eyes drop to watch the burning joint in Cidra's hand. A short, quick exhale through his nose, not a laugh. "I wonder if that's actually supposed to mean anything."

"It means we are still alive." It's hard to tell if the observation is hopeful or not. It has a muted sort of quality to it from Cidra, but that could be just the pot talking.

"So did yesterday," Gabrieli points out, without much energy behind the statement. "Measuring the difference in days on whether we're alive or dead. Heh. Is that all it's come down to?" Some of that has to be pot takling. Probably so, given that he holds out his hand for the dying joint now.

"Was it about much more than that before the worlds fell?" Cidra asks the question soft. Almost more to herself than Gabrieli. There's an introspective note about it that, "Things did not change much for me. That is the thing of it I keep thinking on. I am on a ship, with my pilots. If the Cylons had not attacked I would be…on a ship. With my pilots. Just…more of them would still be alive. But this is what I am, Dominic. I mean…what else would there have been than this?"

"Don't know." Gabrieli knocks the tip of the shrinking joint, dislodging ash. "I know that right after I let my Captain convince me that this was a good idea, I wrote my boys a letter and told them I had a year extension. I'd have to miss Jason's birthday. But I'd be out in February and I was going to get leave back to Tauron. Take them fishing." Smoke seeps from his lips as he talks, the last little breath blown. "I promised. And look at us now."

"Look at us now…" Cidra murmurs. "I had no idea what I was going to do after the Navy, Dominic. If airy fairies stay past forty they tend to migrate to Tactical. Engineering sometimes. That…was not in me. I never felt more right than when I was flying a Raptor. Never felt quite good doing anything else. I had…three years left, maybe. Five if went back to being strictly a Raptor stick, less toll on the body than a Viper. This was the peak of my career, I was not going anywhere from here. What then? Back to teaching on Picon maybe? For the rest of my days. I had not had a home that was not a ship or base in ten years gone." She pauses, rolling her neck idly. As if working out kinks in it. "I never did fish. Pewter was talking about it the other day. My husband liked to. I never understood why. He always threw them back…:

"It's not about the return," Gabrieli takes another short puff on the joint and holds it out again. Last legs. "It's about the time out there. The water. Sun. Solitude. As alone as you get with Poseidon all around you, anyway." He exhales smoke through his nose, gray curling along his sleeve. "Jason…big Jason, who'd adopted me…said it's how you get it that really, you spend your whole life fishing. Just not for fish."

"My Daeds was never really a man of the faiths. But he did talk about communing with Poseidon when he was on the lakes on Picon. Perhaps only to placate me. He never understood the fundamental Faiths. But he tried, and I loved him for it." Cidra lets out a long breath. "Every man I have been with since he died, Dominic, I have seen his face. I have been…unkind to you, and I am sorry."

"It's not…unkind." Gabrieli seems to try out the word on his smoke-cottoned tongue, as if it were unfamiliar to him. "Think I blame you for that? What am I going to say, that when we first slept together I wasn't trying to convince myself somewhere in my head that Alexa hadn't just divorced me? I'd be lying, and if that makes me shitty then it does. I'm not out to take someone's place, just…" He shrugs one shoulder, slowly. "…make a new one where there's room. You know." He holds up his thumb and forefinger, squeezing together. "Tiny-ass room."

"That is not…quite what I mean." Cidra lets out another of those long breaths. "I have always been honest with you, Dominic. I mean, I know you do not love me. That is all right. I am not looking for that. I do not love you, either. I do not know if it is in me anymore, really. But I can be honest, at least." She pauses. She hasn't smoked deeply enough to get properly hazy. "I slept with Papa." When she hears how that sounds she realizes it requires further explanation. "Umm…that is his call sign. Papa. Papa Baer. Lieutenant Colonel Skiron Baer. He's is commander of the air group on the Areion. It is…pilots have a lot of names. You know what I mean."

Gabrieli drags a cigarette out of his pocket while she talks, getting it lit up before she gets to the second part. There's just silence for a while, soaked in haze that slows the words down on their way through his mind. His elbow rests gently on his knee, thumb gently scraping a scar next to his lip, and his eyes flicker off hers. "Yep."

Cidra waits for more than that. Or perhaps she just wants to let the silence stretch out again. She toys with her hair, down around her shoulders at the moment. Well-schooled as she keeps her features, her fingers are often all about fidgets and little ticks with her mood. Perhaps that's why she smokes so much. Gives her something to do with her hands. Her eyes tick down after Gabrieli's, attempting to follow them. "It did not mean anything." And does she sound rather sorry about that? Perhaps. "It all kind of went…awry. I do not think I shall see him like that again."

"You're a big girl, Cidra." Gabrieli lifts the cigarette for a drag, eyes never returning to hers. "I don't remember making any starry-eyed promises not to sleep with other people. But I guess I'm confused here. You have a night, didn't go how you wanted…fine…but then you come throw his name in my face?" He finally looks at her again, turning his head only a little bit. "The hell did I do to you?"

"I did not…I am not…" Cidra blinks, shaking her head. More surprised by the reaction than she probably should be. "I just…thought I owed you the truth of it, Dominic. And I thought…I do not know…I would never try to hurt you but…it is not as if we were ever 'together' in any fashion beyond…this…" If she has a point she's lost it in vaguely defensive meandering.

"Well, that's great." Gabrieli replies, far too sincerely to be sincere. "So now when I go over to the Areion and talk FTL dynamics with Air Wing, I get to have that in my head while I chat with their Lieutenant Commander, whose name I now conveniently know. Don't worry." He holds up a hand. "I'll be polite. He outranks me."

"It is not about rank, Dominic. Gods." A touch of offense creeps into Cidra's still slightly off-kilter tone now. "You would know me better than that, I hope. I just…" She lets out a hiss of a breath in frustration. "Have you ever been…I do not know. I have been thinking…Since after Sagittaron. Maybe longer. Since my Viper went on down on Leonis. Since I saw the worlds explode over Picon a year. And then he turned out to be an abomination…him and that Deck woman who wanted so badly to fly and Admiral Abbot. Frak, Dominic, I do not know. I just…I feel like…your life has these foundations, you know? People you count on, things you believe or…whatever. And they just keep getting knocked away, you know? I feel like a table whose legs keep getting knocked out from under me. Maybe that is why I keep seeing him…and I thought…I thought it would make it go away, somehow…I thought maybe Skiron was what I was looking for but…it all just sort of was a mess…it is always a mess…unless it just…nothing…"

Gabrieli was a married man once, and married men know how to hit back. He does have the grace to look slightly, slightly regretful at the jab, even if it only manifests as his eyes flickering away. They focus on the wall by Cidra's head instead of on her. It takes him a long time to talk. "You think you're the only one that walks around with fantasies of stability, Cidra? Hell, maybe that's why I went into engineering…I build things that can survive the exploding apocalypse and somehow it makes up for being shit at keeping my life in order." He exhales a long breath. "I don't know what I'm trying to say. I'm trying to say that hurt like hell, Cidra. I'm trying to say that I get it that I'm just here until you get someone that's what you're looking for…fine." His tone on that is definitely overly smooth, masking plenty. "But you don't get to do it like this. You just don't."

Cidra lowers herself off her crate to stand beside it, fingers toying with the loose strands of her hair again. "I am not looking for anything, Dominic. Or…I do not know. It is not as if I am anything more to you than all of that." She shrugs. "I am sorry I hurt you."

"Goodnight, Cidra." Gabrieli puts the cigarette back in his mouth, pulling a slow drag off it. The words are neither an outright dismissal nor are they particularly cold. Passive-aggressive isn't his style. If anything he just sounds a bit tired.

"Goodnight, Dominic," Cidra mutters without looking at Gabrieli. She puts her boots on and takes her leave of the storage room on that note.

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