PHD #065: Maybe Tomorrow
Maybe Tomorrow
Summary: A promise is made.
Date: 2 May 2041 AE
Related Logs: The Ostent Evanescent and It Will Come When It Will Come
Rime Penelope Villon 
Officer Berths — Deck 4 — Battlestar Cerberus
Much smaller than the Enlisted Berths, 'Officer Country' has a less available in it but still manages to squeeze everything into this room. Like the other berthings aboard, this room has armored doors that can lower to seal off sections during fire or depressurization. Over-under bunks provide some individual privacy for the crews who occupy this area with a small blue curtain while lockers stand between each sleeping module to hold personal items. Tables are set-up in the space in between.
Post-Holocaust Day: #65

The clock in the Officer's Berthings is slowly ticking around from mid-evening to late as Mel keeps court with her minions on the table closest to her bunk. Her locker is closed but unlocked, the padlock hanging open from the hook. Off-duty for the rest of the evening, she's changed into her pajamas — a faded blue-green shirt that may have once matched her eyes, and a pair of loose-fitting blue plaid pants.

Emilie doesn't quite rhyme with 'softly' the way she says her name, but this slip of a girl nevertheless makes less noise than would a doormouse pitter-pattering through a pantry. Only the creaking of the hatch announces her presence, its oft-used hinges left un-oiled thanks to the various ship-wide emergencies requiring engineering's attention — the creaking and her murmured apology, spoken so quietly that she might as well have not bothered to speak at all. Freshly showered, her dark hair is wrapped about her neck, and she smells faintly of lavender: more specifically, Lavandula angustfolia, a few droplets of which flower's essential oil she's dabbed onto her shoulders. Hardly overpowering but certainly noticeable — but hey, a girl's got to relax somehow. Green eyes flick that way, this way, that way; then, tentatively, she's making a beeline for the paint, stepping about fallen socks and a few overturned books in the process.

There's a snorting, then a groaning as that of great agony, from behind the drawn curtain of Penelope's bunk. A few thuds (Thud. Thud. "OW.") and then a pale hand gropes the curtain aside, the other attempting to push the appalling tangle of her hair from her face. Once she can see (eyes squinty, lids still partially stuck together with sleep), she opens her mouth to — YAWN hugely. Strrrrehhhhhhhtch. This is one that takes her waking slowly. Finally, "Time's'it?" She blinks at the wall clock. "Think I got two hours. Stellar." She swings her legs around to dangle off the edge, giving herself a shake. "Frak me. G'morning, world. Mel. Snag."

"Coming up on twenty-one-thirty," says Mel, without looking up from her task. Whether she checked the clock recently or has an accurate internal clock is impossible to say. "Two hours? Barely enough time to fall asleep in the first place." There are two tea-mugs in front of her, one holding steaming tea, the other holding paint-stained water. Her self-appointed task tonight appears to be painting bases — the discs of plastic with a recessed interior for troops to snap into, giving them extra identification and stability. They might look a lot like gambling chips, if one was unfamiliar with their true purpose. Emilie's stealthy approach finally registers at the corner of her vision and she glances up. "Emilie. You came by after all." Pleasant surprise. "Welcome to our berths. I hear they're pretty boring, compared to yours."

There's a drawn expression in this girl's somber features, which grows ever more noticeable the closer to Rime she gets. Her eyes are shadowed and bloodshot, their white sclera streaked through by fingers of delicate red; her skin is cool and pale, nearly white beneath the lights. "Hi Penelope," Emilie offers, ducking beneath the gangly woman's flailing curtain-hand and legs to avoid getting her head taken off. "Mel." The names are offered shyly, as if she can't bring herself to presume the friendship that accompanies any and all such casualness. "And — no, no, it's okay — I — " There's a pause as she settles into a nearby chair, crossing her legs rather deliberately before smoothing out the fabric of her sweats. "I like boring," she continues, perhaps not quite realizing just what she's confirmed. Flattery isn't really her thing. Small head dips downwards to let her hair fall about her face; slender fingers dig into her prominent shoulder bones, massaging the stress out of her overly tense figure.

Penelope took her paperwork to bed, it appears — and whether she fell asleep doing it or managed to knock it off the shelf in her sleep, it's now all mixed up in her bedding. And stuck to her person, in a couple of places. She peels a form off her thigh and peers balefully at the temporary tattoo it leaves on her skin. Sigh. She pauses in gathering the papers back into a pile, tilting her head at the plastic and paint before Mel, then in the other direction at Emilie's haggard form. "Oi. Tough shift, lass?" she asks, her tone suffused with gentle concern.

The troop-base Mel is currently painting is covered primarily in navy. Slowly but steadily, she paints thin, paired gold bars around the base, radiating out from the center like spokes. As she finishes the last bar, she sets the plastic disk down, props the brush on a small square of sea-sponge and looks over to Penelope's flypaper impression with some amusement. "You guys want some tea? I just made some for myself." A quick glance from snipe to pilot as she starts to push herself upright. It's during this motion that Emilie is given a proper once-over, and her concerned look soon joins Penelope's.

A quick, exhausted nod. Snag's fingers trace their ways up her neck, lingering on a few strands of brown-black hair before they make landfall at her temples. "It was a long patrol," she murmurs. "Just — just tired." Translation: tea would be great. "Something exploded. A Viper. Got exploded. They — they wouldn't let us land." Green eyes look blankly at Penelope's paper skirt, trying despite herself to read what's been imprinted on her skin. "I — I really — I don't — I'm not going to sleep yet." The fourth try is the charm.

"Tea'd be oustanding," Penelope says to Mel, already climbing out of the bunk and ambling over to the table. Her eyes widen, blinking several times as she drops into a chair. "A Viper — on the deck? Outside the ship? Was there a — what happened?" She looks immediately contrite as the questions just… tumble out. Blat. She shakes her head a little and places a hand on Emilie's shoulder. "Sorry, luv. You just take your time."

"'Got exploded'?" says Mel, rearing her head back slightly as she digests the words. "What…" she starts to ask. Thinking better of it, she instead turns and pads toward the counter at the back where the clean mugs, tea, and hot/cold water machine are. Whisk-whisk-whisk as she goes. She's wearing flip-flops on her bare feet. Just because the Officer Berths are boring doesn't make their floors clean. "Are you okay? Was anyone hurt?" The last is asked gingerly. It's hard to imagine a Viper exploding without at least one casualty.

There's something a little wooden about Snag's smile, but smile she does nonetheless, her lips curving up — but hidden as they are beneath her still-damp hair, it's an open question as to whether or not they're visible. "I was outside," she observes, flushing slightly when a warm hand settles on her cool shoulder — comfort, perhaps, into which she readily sinks. "I — I don't — they weren't pilots." The dead, she means. Fingers toy with Mel's abandoned brush, whose bristling tip still glints the color of burnished brass. Black wood spins around and around in her fingers, causing bits of paint to splatter onto her stretchy grey sweats. "I — I'm — I didn't see it happen." Relief — even more so than might be considered normal — floods her tone as she drops her head to the table, resting her left cheek atop her right wrist as she spins the brush some more. "But — but let's — we don't need to — I'm okay," she finishes, a little too insistently. "Just — I wanted to see — you — the — your minions." To Rime and Penelope both, though 'minions' applies to one of them. "Pilot berths is — I'm still new there, so."

Two mugs are procured, a teabag — nothing fancy, the standard black tea packets found everywhere on the ship — dropped into each before the hot water is added overtop. Mel hesitates for a moment by the box of sugar-cubes before grabbing four and just carrying them along with her. "Here," she says, sliding one of the mugs to Emilie and putting down two of the sugar cubes next to it; Penelope's mug and her two sugar cubes are set down across from her, where her paints and minions haven't eaten away all the real estate. "Tough night," she says as she sinks back down in her chair, reaching for her own mug of tea. She doesn't lift it to drink, only wraps her fingers around it. "Still new in the pilots' berths? How do you mean?" She tilts her head slightly toward the pilot for just a moment, a gentle sort of inquiry, then finally lifts her tea for a sip.

"You know." The pilot drops a cube of sugar into the piping hot tea, watching them drop to the bottom of the translucent brown liquid, fizzing all the way. "New. To the Lions. I — his — my wingman was — Gus, but we called him Stick, like a stick of asparagus, because his name was Gus, and I remember flying through bits of him after the Cylons killed him on February 26th after we had that really nice ceremony I didn't get to go to." It's a strangely dispassionate, rapid-fire recounting of events, though the girl's knuckles do turn a shade of pinkish-white as she holds the mug close to her face. Soothing steam licks at her skin, causing little droplets of condensation to form on her neck and cheek. The scent of lavender softens the acrid smell of Fleet-standard tea. "I liked Gus," Villon murmurs. "He wasn't awful to — to rooks, but I — I don't want to — " Wide eyes drift open, fixing on an unpainted base. "I can help," she offers, after swallowing the lump in her throat.

"I'm sorry. I keep asking terrible questions, don't I?" Mel's expression shifts from gentle curiousity to contrition. "A bad habit of mine… clarify, clarify the clarification, and…" She chuckles once, wryly. "Let's paint." Her tea gets one more sip before she slides it over and away from the paint-dirtied mug. "You could work on the Aerilonian militia again if you wanted, or I'm happy to have some help with the bases. They're not as exciting, but they're really helpful. Sometimes that's what really counts." She opens a black plastic case, the sort that might hold an elementary school-student's geometry set, to a dozen or more brushes of varying sizes. All of them are paint-stained, and several of them look like their ends have been lightly gnawed on.

"Oh, I — I really don't mind the — I like them," Emilie hastens to add. "The questions." Those dimples return for a brief shining moment as a genuine smile peeks through; then, quickly, they're gone. "Nobody's asked before." Probably because she'd make one of the Fleet's best wallflowers on her most talkative of days. "And — and I can do the bases." So helpful, she, as her judging gaze settles on the sizeable array of brushes. She'll take the broadest one she can find, so best to apply the even layers of paint those Triad chips-turned-model stands require, and as wooden handle rattles against other wooden handles, she asks as lightly as possible the question that brought her here: "Could you — could you tell me about home?" Talk about a quick change of topic.

"I'm painting up some Aquarian bases," Mel explains. "I need sixteen." She was working on eight of them, laid out in front of her, four by two — the unpainted stack of eight is slid over to Emilie. Three small paint-pots — navy, gold, and crimson — are slid over to an equidistant spot between the two of them. "Navy background, thin pair of gold stripes, then a thin pair of red stripes outside the gold." She takes up her fine-tipped brush again, dipping it in the water and rolling it dry against the sponge to give it a crisp point, then dabs up a small amount of the crimson paint. There is a short but comfortable silence before she speaks again. "Saint-Gervais was supposed to be a tourist town right from the start. Not… hijacked like Meridien was. So it was… pretty, and it was sweet, but without the tourists, nobody knew what to do with themselves. Like a designer puppy that's so dumb you can't ever housebreak it properly." Despite this, the words are fond.

Emilie doesn't bother feigning disinterest, hanging on every word while going over that set of instructions in her head — something about blue, red, and gold. At least she's got that visual model with which to serve as a reminder. A quick whisk of her brush into the mug, a quicker flick of that brush to rid it of lingering drops of water, and she's applying the first thin coat of blue the bases require. Somebody's been doing some reading. And while she paints: "A designer … puppy?" That's where Rime's analogy went off the rails.

Mel laughs softly and shakes her head at herself, then turns her blue-green gaze to Emilie. "Yeah! You know… those tiny, stupid little things the richest of the richbitches carry around with them like they're purses?" Her paint-spattered hands shape out some small bundle in mid-air. "That's how it always felt to me. Like Saint-Gervais was some kind of fancy decoration for Camargue Park. We were there to look pretty and make other people happy. That's all that mattered. It was a beautiful town, though. Right on the edge of the mountain like that? It didn't matter what season it was. There was always something amazing to see."

"Oh!" Yeah, that really does clarify things, even eliciting a titter of amusement from the normally-reserved girl. "I saw one, once. This really skinny blonde booked a reservation on the boat without telling Papa she was going to bring her little dog. Papa. Was. Furious." A wry little grin lights Emilie's face. "He said — he said 'My dear, you're going to be living near the sea, and do you know what's in the sea? Great white sharks are in the sea, and I bet your puppy would make really great chum.'" Papa Villon sure doesn't sound like the sharpest wit in the shed, though the way Emilie emphasizes those words implies she finds them the height of cleverness. "And she believed him! Great whites! Can you imagine, in — in — in ten feet of water!" From pianissimo to piano she goes. "I think the puppy was smarter than she was," Snag confides, waving the drying plastic in the air to speed the process. Her smile trembles, falters, fades. "I wonder what happened to it."

"The same thing that happened to everyone on Virgon, I'm sure." Mel's reminiscent smile curves slowly downward over that grim and practical observation. Heavy words, again — she looks down, as if her gaze is burdened by them, and paints a few more lines of gold onto one of her navy-colored disks. "Did you hear the Admiral has a kitten?" she says after a short pause. "They found a kitten on the Eidolon and brought it over. I haven't had a chance to see it yet. My CO said the Admiral was crazy, that you'd — that we'd — all have fleas because of it."

"I already have fleas because I live with Raptors," says Emilie, applying a second and thicker coat to the base as she laughs a bit uncomfortably at the dig. Interdepartmental humor isn't something she really can get behind, but Lords she'll try. Green eyes flicker up to Rime's face before darting back down to her work. "That's so sad," she says at length, setting the brush down to take a small sip of (now-sweetened) tea: a gentle breath to cool it, a self-conscious slurp to drink it. "The — the kitten, I mean. It's — it's like — no, it is — it's the last cat alive in the Colonies." Mug meets table without making a sound. "Maybe — maybe it's the last cat alive in the galaxy." Her idle hand tries to undo a knot that's formed in her thick brown hair, her bracelet clattering softly as it works. "Oh, and — I should tell you, I don't have fleas. Actually." How that follows is anybody's guess. "That was a joke."

"The last kitten in the galaxy," Mel echoes. "Sad and… I guess it's bittersweet. But… while she's here, while we're here, bet it'll be the happiest kitten there ever was. You know? The only cute and fluffy thing on the whole ship. Everyone's going to fall in love with it." She swirls her brush-tip in the water, then rolls it against the sea-sponge to dry. No artificial sponge, that. It may even have dwelled near Meridien, once upon a time. She switches to the crimson paint, drawing up a shiny red bead of it and studying it for a moment. "Yeah. Don't worry," she says, blue-green eyes moving past the paint to Emilie, her sad smile warming again. "I knew it was a joke."

"Okay." A muted little laugh. "Just checking." Villon, having finished up one disk, now turns her attention to the others. The process goes a lot quicker now that she's figured out just what she's supposed to do, and it's with growing confidence that her borrowed brush dances across the raised plastic edge of the miniatures. "At least it'll be happy," she offers while she works. "Better than a — a — a designer puppy, I guess." The smell of lavender grows stronger as, slowly but surely, the clammy coldness seeps out of her body in the berth's comforting warmth. A faint sheen of sweat gleams brightly on her skin beneath that dim yellow light, which in relative silence feels almost — cozy. And when she next speaks, an unaccustomed rawness finds its way into her usually smooth soprano. "How — how do you do it?" The subject of that inquiry remains obscure for the moment.

There's a meditative quality to the painting, a routine that's easy to turn into a ritual of sorts. Mel is deep in concentration over the fine red line she's adjusting near the outer edge of one of the plastic disks, or lost in some other thought, when Emilie asks her question. She blinks once, then again, before she looks over. "How do I..?" Something about the tone of the pilot's voice seems to make it unlikely the question is painting-based. "How do I do what?"

"Forget." The word is pronounced with an almost holy reverence, as if Lethe himself is more worthy than all the gods of Olympus. "Forget that — you know, about the — " An unfamiliar tightness makes its presence known in Emilie's voice, which she has to pause for several seconds to clear. "I'm Meridien, you know," she murmurs, trying a different tack as she leans forward in her chair. The brush slows to a stop as the final base is set in that rich navy blue. "And if I — if — tomorrow, Mel, tomorrow that Viper is me, or Gus is me, or all those — all those billions of souls are me — " There's no hint of desperation in her tone, but merely quiet resignation. "I love kittens, believe me, I think they're beautiful and great and I wish Papa had let me buy that adorable white one in that store after I saw her through the window while running to the grocery that time we ran out of sardines to grill, but Mel, they're just kittens." The brush is set into the mug to rinse, blue paint slipping out from its bristles to turn the water a cool red-purple. "If I die — " Wide eyes blink closed. "Meridien dies too, and then there'll be nobody who knows or cares about a little yellow houseboat in — well." Her sniff is quiet, almost apologetic. "Sorry. This must all sound incredibly self-absorbed."

"You're Meridien, and I'm Saint-Gervais, and every single person in the Colonies were /something/ that's… just… gone. Yeah." Mel's voice gains speed as it works through that sentence, like a skiier building up a head of speed before approaching a difficult jump. The metaphorical landing is smooth and light, however, as are her words as she continues. "It's all I could think about for weeks after the recon to Virgon, Emilie. It got so bad my XO said the CO even asked if I was okay." There's a sudden, single laugh at that — as if such a thing was truly Serious News. "I wish I could tell you how I did it. There was just… one morning I woke up for my shift and it was just… the tiniest feeling that I could get past it. And I just clung to it. Remembered to start thinking what's not wrong? instead of what's wrong. And it worked. Works. Most of the time."

Villon chews her bottom lip as Mel speaks, worrying the fragile skin so powerfully that it seems she might draw blood, and when Rime finishes she holds it to force herself into contemplative silence. Limber fingers swirl the brush round and round in the cup, and the soft murmur of rippling water lends an aspect of peace to this whirligig of gold and what's now become deep, pure magenta. It'll take a moment before Snag speaks next — when that precious spiral slows to a stop, its sticky circumference dragged to a halt by the edges of the mug. "I know," she whispers, running paint-flecked fingers through her smooth brown hair. "And every morning, I think maybe this morning, but then a Viper explodes or Cylons come and I — I tell myself to — to — " Green eyes search out a particularly interesting bit of turquoise on her bracelet. Plunk goes the brush against the side of the cup as she rests her head against her forearms once more, her chin fitting perfectly into the curve of her wrist. "Maybe tomorrow." Her sigh lingers sweetly in the air, sped along by a tired smile.

Mel finishes the final crimson line on the last of her eight plastic disks, and sets it down to dry. The brush is cleaned again in the water, deepening the magenta toward the color of a bloodied sunset, then left to rest against the sponge. She doesn't tuck her head into her arm the way Emilie does — instead she props her elbows on the table, weaves her fingers together in front of her, and leans against the crossed index fingers as if to pray, the pads of her thumbs resting against the underside of her chin. "There's always tomorrow. We just have to keep going until we get there. It's trite. But it's also true. If we've got all of Virgon to remember between the two of us…" She smiles against her fingers, warm and sad. "Even more important to keep going."

It takes a moment for Rime's words to sink in, and another moment for Snag to display any reaction whatsoever. Then, Emilie reaches out — tentatively, as she always does, leaning forward so her left hand can cross the table to brush against the other woman's fingers, as if seeking to open up that closed-off face. Bloodshot eyes peer out from beneath wavy brown bangs, her expression serious, and in a suddenly earnest whisper: "Don't worry, Mel." She can't help but show that shy little smile. "I really can remember a lot." Her air-dried hair curls wildly about her neck as she tries to stifle a yawn, wiping off her brush against the fabric of her sweats. Then, wordlessly, she's reaching for the gold, horsehair bristles shimmering beneath the flickering yellow lamp, and — almost imperceptibly — the scent of flowers drifts up, up, and evermore away.

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