PHD #018: Lurking Variables
Lurking Variables
Summary: A flurry of Sickbay activity calms, and Trask stays to talk with Gabrieli.
Date: Mar 16 2041
Related Logs: The Test of Gold, Tug of War & An Unexpected Visit
Gabrieli Trask 
Recovery Room - Deck 10 - Sickbay
Post Holocaust Day: #18
A much more quiet area of Medical, this elongated room is also lined with beds. Each is similarly outfitted with privacy curtains as necessary and even the paint on the walls has been lightened in an attempt to help lift spirits. Chairs are readily available all over the place so that visitors can pull one up to talk to the patients during their recovery. Near the entrance, visiting hours are posted with a very conspicuous 'No Smoking' sign.
Condition Level: 3 - All Clear

This log is a direct continuation of An Unexpected Visit.

Gabrieli grunts, for good measure. Grousingly. His green eyes peel open — both of them today, the grotesque swelling in the right lid having gone down considerably — and he makes a slightly disgusted face at the taste in his mouth. Three days of morpha cotton-mouth, and now finally the sense of mind to realize it. His head turns a little on the pillow, glancing at the rolling tray where someone's snuck in his work laptop and left it turned on for him. And loaded it with a screensaver of a bunch of cartoon hearts and smiley faces floating around the screen. He just stares at it for a second or two.

True to his word from the other day, Bootstrap has returned — bearing gifts, no less. Retrieving the portable music player with built-in speakers that he temporarily rested on Tisiphone's nightstand, he moseys on over to torment visit his friend. Along the way, he snags a cup of cool water. "Sleeping beauty finally rouses. Y'able to drink or does everything need to go through the tube? Maybe I can find you a nicotine patch."

Gabrieli tears his attention away from the psychedelic love-fest on his laptop screen, eyes turning up to Trask now. His face is less mummified today, but it's a negligible blessing considering what the thinner gauze reveals. Skin is already starting to tighten, the edges visible of what will be nasty scarring when it eventually heals. "I can have water," he informs the ECO. His voice sounds better today, less like a sewer monster. "There's a cup with one of those pre-school bendy straw things over there somewhere. Find it and I'll spin the wheel of random past sins to forgive you for."

Setting the player down on what space the laptop doesn't claim, Kal goes about the task of drinking the water he brought. No sense in wasting it. The indicated sippy cup is then taken and washed at the sink, only to be filled with fresh water. "Where on the ship has room for a wheel that size?" is deadpanned. Screwing the cap back on, straw thingy included, the drink is extended to either be taken or held there while Dominic drinks. "I also have water for your ears. Y'know… to drown out the sound of suck."

Gabrieli accepts with dignity that Trask is going to have to stand there and hold a cup with a straw for him, for the time being. He forces himself himself to stop after two sips, no matter how badly he might want to down the whole cup, and pushes the straw back out of his mouth with his tongue. "Thanks. Water of both varieties appreciated." He tilts his head on the pillow, stretching the side of his neck until pain convinces him to stop. "How are those pilots doing?"

As casual as anything he ever seems to do, Trask stands there. For a moment, the only sound is that of the ChEng's sipping. Contrary to popular belief, the ECO doesn't /always/ have to run his mouth. Gabrieli is bound to endure more cheek and more snark before this visit's over, so the man surely can be permitted whatever dignity he can muster. "They'll live." Beat. "This time, anyway. Next time?" Idly, he shrugs. "Depends on whether or not their bodies hurt more than their pride. The irony?" Of course, he'll share. Birds of a feather and whatnot. "The imbecile who led the needless suicide charge? Not a single scratch. Meanwhile, that ensign over there," a tilt of the head indicates Tisiphone, "must've seriously pissed-off Thanatos 'cuz he didn't want her when he sure as frak coulda had her."

"Gods have strange ways, and nobody's immune. Much as people would like to think." Gabrieli's blistered mouth still muffle words as he talks. His right upper lip is stretched taut against his teeth by scarring. "Were you out there with them yourself when that happened? I swear you told me last time, but that damn morpha punches holes in everything."

"I learned a long time ago that the Gods do whatever the frak they want, whenever it suits them." The sardonic tone scarcely masks the underlying bitterness of the statement. On to more (relatively) light-hearted topics, "Yeah. Backseated for the CAG." And just in case Gabrieli missed it the first time, Trask adds, "She's fine." Beat. "Well, as fine as anyone can be, present circumstances considered." Then, dry, "You had quite the adventure, yourself. I'll state my curiosity and leave it at that." The ChEng will relay the tale in due course. Or not.

Gabrieli was looking at Trask up until the mention of the 'adventure'. At which point the music player becomes interesting. Watching him reach for it is like watching a chicken flap a broken wing, wrist awkwardly twisting as his fingers creep for the little device. "So you made this, did you."

Once more, without a comment about the other man's inability, Trask picks up the slack. This time, that's done by retrieving said device. "Yeah. Quite some years ago." Smirking a little, he adds, "Perhaps you forgot, being some big shot Captain now, but we junior officers don't rake in the big bucks, and the non-coms even less. I've had to make the most of my military funded education." It's cheaper to buy the parts and DIY. The device is extended. "So simple, even an Admiral can use it. Power's here. Volume. These to select tracks… If you want me to get you somethin' else to listen to, I can, but right now, it's full of ocean tracks."

Gabrieli snorts under his breath, wrapping fingers around the player once Trask's so helpfully assisted. "Nicely done. I'm glad the air wing hasn't wrung it all out of you. Back when I heard they'd transferred you, my greatest fear was that the next time I saw you you'd have forgotten how to work a light switch."

"It's the damnedest thing," is deadpanned, "I can fix, wire, build and even design them," light switches, that is, "but no clue how to frakkin' use one." Har. Har. "I must say that I'm glad that you haven't turned into a brasshole, over the years. There's just something about Captain pins that transforms even the smartest of people into overbearing frakwits." Trask wryly smirks.

"I believe it," Gabrieli replies as to the switches, just as gravely. "You were always better at pushing buttons." He turns the player over to the back, still examining the work. The outside of it, while Trask is there. Likely the innards will get their scrutiny later, when the ChEng inevitably decides that taking something apart trumps using it for its intended purpose. "Brasshole." His tired, scratchy voice makes an amused noise. "You don't get to use that term anymore, Kal. Not with officer pins on of any kind." He looks back at the player, testing the feel of the buttons. "They've made you into a good Lieutenant, though. I give Hahn her props."

A certain gleam of impish delight enters the Jig's brown eyes. "I'm phenomenal with buttons," he smiles like the scamp he is. That gives way to a theatrical eye roll. "Please. I'm not even a full el-tee. Besides, I'm not wearin' any pins." It's true. Trask is currently in his off-duty duds. Admittedly, he could be Admiral of the Fleet and he'd still be calling certain people brassholes. "The CAG, thankfully, survived the taint of the Captain pins. I believe that bolstered her immune system, which is why she hasn't succumbed to the toxicity of being a Major." Indeed, Cidra is one of few people he really respects. "If you wanna give someone props, though, direct praises of my continued awesomeness to Captain Quinn. She's been enduring me since I graduated from Flight. Not that I'm not glad to see Hahn, but credit should go where credit is due."

Gabrieli glances back up a couple times during the little speech, though for the most part his eyes stay on his new toy. Not because he's ever had a problem with eye contact — much the opposite in fact — but because, well…toy. "Lieutenant, Junior Lieutenant, it's all Lieutenant. You're not in diapers. Or at least if you are, you don't smell like it." He pauses to cough, the talking starting to dry out his healing throat again. "I haven't met this Quinn. What ridiculous callsign does that one have?"

Cued by the cough, the cup of water is again extended. "It'd be obvious. I don't shit cotton candy or fart rainbows." No, he doesn't smell like he made a doody in his nappy. Trask doesn't even smell like cigarette smoke or sweat. Bathing and refraining from lighting up before coming to visit is as sure a sign of friendship as anything else. At the question about Quinn, though, one corner of his mouth twitches with amusement. "Jugs."

Gabrieli just looks at Trask for a second, over the water cup in his face. "Frak." He grabs the straw with his teeth, pulling down a refreshing swallow of Cerberus tap water. "Frakking godsdamn pilots."

"Truth be told," is casually relayed, "they're more like half-pints." He maneuvers the cup for easier sipping. "That was before my time, though," Bootstrap explains. "Be thankful you're not one." A pilot. "You'd probably get dubbed Smokey, or Barbeque." That actually might be true.

Too soon, Trask? Yeah, maybe. Gabrieli's eyes flicker, and he looks back down at the music player, thumb pushing the top switch. Just to check that it, like, comes on. Yep, it does. "I've heard worse," he says, his voice not betraying anything off. "'Bootstrap'. Circulate that one yourself?"

Trask never claimed that his coping methods were good ones. Making light of terrible things is what has kept him relatively sane, however. Emotionally frakked-up, sure, but more or less functional in all other areas. "Only insofar that I live up to it. I'm pretty sure it was meant as an insult. Go figure that the Golden Children fresh outta the academy would take offense to a 30-year old ensign who kept bustin' their chops 'cuz he bust his ass to get where he is, as opposed to having mommy and daddy pave the way." Blithely, that is relayed. "If ever I get written-up for something, it'll be fraternization. Honestly, the only officers I can stand are fellow Mustangs, or those who come from the shittier Colonies."

"Well. That's what life is. The cakewalk is people we like. The challenge is the rest." Gabrieli turns the player back off and sets it down, not back on the elevated tray but next to his leg. "You can't be doing too terrible a job of it."

"It's appalling the kind of crap I get away with," he confesses, humor in his eyes. "I think it's because I say all the shit other people don't but really want to." Kal has never been an ass kisser. "It's somewhat odd… being surrounded by officers all the frakkin' time. As a snipe or a knuckledragger, there were plenty of non-coms. Not a single one exists in Air Wing. It somewhat offends my dirt eater nature."

"You're an ECO," Gabrieli reminds Trask, gravely. "I'm afraid in the Air Wing, that's as close as it comes." He bends his elbow, head tilting as he tries to scratch at a healing burn under its gauze cover on his neck. "They can't all be brats. You know enough probability math not to be slinging hyperbole."

Brown eyes watch that attempted scratching. The ECO comment doesn't seem to prompt a reaction. "I've had surprisingly good luck," Bootstrap admits. "The CAG is from Gemenon, the Black Knights' SL is Aerilonian. The Petrels' from Sag. Quinn is Quinn, which couldn't be any better. But, no, actually, it isn't hyperbole. There are no non-comms in Air Wing. To be a pilot or an ECO, you first need to be an officer. If that weren't the case, I'd happily be Senior Chief Petty Officer Trask." He's been around long enough and worked hard enough that he would hold that rank.

"I meant…" Gabrieli's thumb finally scratches too hard and his teeth grit. Hand back down to chest. "That they aren't all spoiled golden children. I'm not saying the air wing doesn't have its more than fair share, mind you — even engineering has a spit's worth."

Faintly nodding, Kal concedes, "True. The one who got that poor ensign over there, though…" Again, a tilt of the head Tisiphonewards. "That young Saggie with so much potential now grounded for who knows how long… /that/ jagoff /is/ a golden child. If she spent more time being worthy of her position and less time creaming her panties over her SL, that ensign over there — among others — wouldn't be your roommate." Although his voice doesn't really rise, the tone is acerbic.

Gabrieli gives Trask a slight come-on-now look, one eye narrowing on the ECO. "Counterfactuals, Kal. We've talked about this, cum hoc ergo propter hoc? One single thing didn't cause that accident."

"You're right," is glibly deadpanned. "Sophronia being a golden child in and of itself doesn't make her a colossal moron; it merely increases the odds. But being that rook's wing and failing in that, leading that kid to nearly get killed for the sake of a killshot? No, it didn't cause the entire clusterfrak but it's the one thing that could've averted the current state of Apostolos over there." Trask is an equal-opportunity ball buster, which means Tisiphone doesn't escape criticism. "Yeah, the ensign was an idiot for failing to RTB, but she's fresh outta Flight and expected to make mistakes. She foolishly thought covering her wingmate took precedence over the CAG's orders. She should've known better, but she also probably felt really overwhelmed, so I'm willing to chalk this up to a painful lesson that was avoidable. Her wing, though? A full-fledged el-tee from a military family? She sure as frak should've known better."

"Now you're contradicting yourself," Gabrieli replies, patiently. "Does someone coming from a background like that 'increase the odds' of their being a moron, or does it mean they should come pret a voler?" 'Ready to fly', for those up on Gemenese dialectal puns. "And by that token, saying her upbringing should make her naturally better at what she does, does that mean someone without it should then naturally be worse?"

As stubborn as to expect from a Taurian, Trask matter-of-factly states, "No. I'm not. An' yeah, it does increase the odds. People who don't have to work for anything tend to mentally check-out. Should she have known better 'cuz of who her daddy was? Maybe not. We both know how common it is for people to advance through nepotism and cronyism, as opposed to, say, hard work. So, yeah… maybe in that sense, you're right. If advancement comes not through skill and smarts, an el-tee can't be expected to do what is supposedly expected of someone holding that rank. And if that's how it is, she's actually at a disadvantage." As for the last bit, he smirks, "Not if that someone is a Mustang."

"Logic is putty in your hands, Kal," Gabrieli's mild sarcasm has no bite. He draws a breath and lets it out, clearing his throat to get at the scratchiness building up yet again. "But here's the problem." His green eyes turn, giving a sweep around the larger room. "This is all we have, gods only know for how long. The times of pipe dreaming about a world full of perfect competence are over. I know I don't envy Hahn her work, I'll definitely say that. I /am/ glad she's got people like you." His eyes shift, glancing past Trask's shoulder. "Nurse is coming to kick you out."

"The secret is to sculpt it into the shape of a button," is quipped. To the rest, it's not as if Trask is taking pleasure in being right. He isn't. "Can't say I've ever had that dream, Dom. We dirt eaters are a pragmatic lot." Sardonic, as ever. Before he can comment about the CAG, he's politely being informed that visiting hours are over. "Try not to get that confiscated," he leans down to tell the ChEng. "I'll come 'round tomorrow. I trust you to not break anything." When Gabrieli takes the device apart. The ECO knows. Oh, he knows. "The Captain could use a refresh," the nurse is then told, suddenly finding herself holding the tumbler with the straw that the departing Jig has deposited in her hands.

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