PHD #252: Oil and Water
Oil and Water
Summary: Khloe and Pallas talk for the first time over food in the Galley. Neither of them finishes their food.
Date: 5 Nov 2041 AE
Related Logs: None.
Khloe Pallas 
Galley - Deck 9 - Battlestar Cerberus
Post-Holocaust Day: #252
Behind the two hangar decks, the Cerberus' Galley is the largest room on the ship. Nearly half the size of a football field, the eating area is made up of long lines of stainless steel tables that can be folded up and placed against the wall for larger events. Individual seats are the standard military issue, boring and grey with lowest-bidder padding. The line for food stretches across one of the shorter sides of the room while the kitchen behind works nearly twenty-four hours a day to produce either full meals or overnight snacks and coffee for the late shifts.
Condition Level: 3 - All Clear

Khloe is in line to get an evening meal. "Vegetarian, please," she intones quietly when it's her turn to be delivered scoops or lumps of whatever's being mass-produced that night to feed the crew. Under one arm she has what looks like some kind moleskin notebook, a little on the large side for one of those, and a 'Battlestar Cerberus' pen jammed in the binding. Once she makes it through the line and waves off the coffee, she finds a table for herself, alone. Then, rather than dig into her dinner, she flips open her notebook and begins jotting some information down.

Pallas, some five or six people behind Khloe in line, watches her curiously. Vegetarian? Interesting. He makes a mental note, and grabs as much meat on his plate as the cooks will allow. The condiments get special attention for at least long enough for his Squadron Leader to get nice and settled at a table - by herself, also noted - before he follows after her. He plants himself right across from her, putting his tray on the table just so that it touches hers without bumping it, and starts to eat without saying a word or making eye contact with her.

Pausing in her writing, leaving a growing black dot on her page, Khloe glances up at Pallas. "Spiral, there are plenty of other tables free," she states flatly. Glancing at the assortment of colon-blocking goodness he has on his tray, she wrinkles her nose, but doesn't say anything. Instead, she goes back to jotting down in a form of shorthand the… contents of her dinner… in what is obviously a time-worn journal.

Pallas blinks and looks up, feigning surprise like he didn't even know Khloe was sitting right there. "So there are," he says with a mouthful of… pork chop? It looks like it's closely related to a pork chop, anyhow. "I won't be offended if you seat yourself elsewhere," he adds with a chintilt. He flashes her a false smile before re-applying himself to his meaty meal.

"Is this your charming way of introducing yourself? I don't think we've exchanged word one yet. Tough to find you when you're sober enough to enunciate properly," the Knights SL snips at Pallas. Oh, it's important to note, across the knuckles of her right hand are those little butterfly stitches; looks like she recently split open her hand on something. It doesn't seem to impair her usage of her fork, though, as she finally begins digging in to her meal.

Pallas raises an eyebrow at Khloe, fork suspended halfway between the plate and his mouth. "I wasn't aware that I required introduction," he says. The fork is wagged at her. "It appears that my reputation has already preceded my anyway." His eyes flicker from hers to the knuckles of her hand, then back to his plate as he continues eating.

Khloe sips at her juice and then wipes at her mouth with her napkin, although she makes no further attempt to make eye contact - just talking. This is how poorly socialized officers carry a conversation, of course. "It would be nice to know each of the sticks under my command. So, when I couldn't find you not tucked in your bunk with a bottle or out on CAP, I read your file. You're not a bad pilot, according to the numbers." Stewed spinach, yum.

Pallas narrows his eyes at Khloe, trying to figure out if that last part is supposed to be ironic or not. "What numbers are those?" he asks dryly. "The number of years I've been in service? The number of pages to my conduct sheet? Or some abstract system that quantifies individual skills in a completely meaningless way that looks nice on reports?"

"The latter," Khloe replies flatly, with no inflection one way or another if she's playing along or being serious. "Statistically, you're a head above most of the sticks we have that are flying. When you're not under water, of course. How's your pork chop?" Now she's definitely frakking with him. She spears a bit of mac & cheese onto her fork and into her mouth, and regards Pallas carefully, chewing.

"Dry, flavorless, and tough - they should start calling it the Captain Vakos Special," Pallas remarks, chewing on another morsel. "And that's the third time in a row you've mentioned my drinking. You're about as subtle as a Battlestar sneaking up on a Raptor, so what's your game, Poppy? You're a reformed alcoholic at the very least, since you always turn down drinks from what I hear."

Khloe tilts her head to the side slightly, then swallows down whatever she was chewing at the time. "I'm surprised, Spiral. I'd think by now you would've caught me coming from the head to the berths, and seen my scars." She sets her fork down, orients it precisely so that it's parallel with her tray edge. "I'm a morpha addict, an alcoholic, and general substance abuser. Today, I've been seventeen years and change clean of morpha, and about ten years sober. The prior due to having my second cardiac arrest, the latter thanks to a Lieutenant Cidra Hahn."

"Too busy bein' drunk to focus on your scars," Pallas explains, forking some potato-like mush into his mouth. "So you gave up the good stuff and became a bland hard-ass instead. Well, more for me, then." He washes down each bite with a drink of juice. It's hard to imagine that he's actually tasting any of his food - not that much of the galley's food has any taste. "You know, I thought you made your little introduction speech dull and formal on purpose, but as far as I can tell, that's how you actually are. Completely flat and humorless."

Khloe's jaw clenches several times, gray-blue eyes focused on the man across from her. She'd bore a hole through his skull with her gaze if she could. "Dull and formal, hmm? You equate 'dull' with 'formal'? What's fun about constantly being stoned out of your gourd, living on the streets of Canceron, roving around with a gang aimlessly just searching for the next hit? Well, Spiral, there comes a time when you realize you've frakked up your life and there's a turning point where you can make something better out of your life. I figured it out. Maybe you'll figure it out too." She reaches for her fork, but thinks twice, and instead wipes her hands with her napkin. "The Navy is my life, now. It gives me the only drug I'll ever need."

"What, did all your years of shooting up completely fry your brain?" Pallas asks, not daunted in the least by her look. He returns it squarely, his eyes locked unblinkingly on hers. "You've been crawling in the Navy's asshole for so long that Pewter sees your face in the mirror when he's bent over plucking his ass-hairs. You think you've gotten 'better', Poppy?" He shakes his head, lips curling in disgust. "You've become frakking lobotomized. A dysfunctional Cylon has more personality than you do. So how do you expect to be my Gods-damned Squadron Leader when I look at you and see more Cylon than I do human?"

Khloe nods slowly, her unblinking, angry gaze still focused on Pallas' face. "We've come full circle, I see. I wanted to eat my supper, and you chose to come over and see what sort of shit you could start. So I stood and delivered, Mister. You're damn right about the Cylons, though," she says, corner of her mouth curling up in a strange, skewed mirroring of his own scowl. "You're going to find that the Cylons and I have a lot in common. I'm a cog in the Navy. A big, frakking cog, that used to be a little, useless cog with stripped teeth, spinning aimlessly in the machine of society. I got better. You," she points at him with her bandaged hand. "You are precisely why the machines hate us. Know something, Spiral? Drunks don't brag about drinking like it's some frakking medal to wear on their chest. If you were even remotely functional, nobody would give a frak that you make love to a bottle every night. No, you crave pity. That's why you're back on the sauce again. Everyone's gotta pity Spiral." Before he can retort, she pushes up on the table, causing it to skid noisly an inch or two. "I decided half a lifetime ago to stop looking for pity and stop looking for excuses. Try it; it's actually not a bad life."

Pallas barks a harsh laugh at Khloe's words. "You can come up with all the neat little explanations you want, Poppy," he says. He sounds amused, not angry. "But I wasn't the one who couldn't stop mentioning my drinking 'problem', it was you. I'm not the one who makes excuses for why I am the way I am, it's you. You want to know the simple truth, o Squadron Leader?" He stands too, holding his hands palm-up. "I drink because I'm a drinker. Not because I'm trying to forget the past, not because I can't cope with reality, but because it's who I am. Whereas you, you substituted the essence of your self with something else and tried to become part of a greater entity. And you know what? I don't think it's working for you. Because you keep talking about how much of a better life it is, but all I see is a hollow frakking shell of a woman with no soul of her own, who just parrots the Fleet's official-sounding polysyllabic bullshit and seeks shelter in the formality of military structure."

"And what kind of soul do you have, Spiral?" Khloe's voice is low and quiet, spoken through a clenched jaw; she's in the other pilot's face right now. She's already had a meltdown on the deck in the past 24 hours, and is apparently not willing to take Pallas' bait to get into a shouting match. "Now either I can give you my life experiences to draw on and possibly make a change for the better, or you can keep on with whatever you were doing before. But if you so much as think about interrupting my routine again with unwarranted personal attacks, you'll be sipping your bottle through a straw. Am I clear?"

"Careful, Poppy," Pallas admonishes, also speaking quietly since she's right in his face. "You kiss me in a public place like this, and word will circulate throughout the ship in mere minutes." He winks conspiratorially and sidesteps her to sit back down in front of his now-cold tray of food. "You really need to work on a relaxation routine or something," he says after a moment of thought. "Do what I do, kick back with a drink. Or, you know, there's other ways to loosen up at the end of your day."

The mere suggestion of intimacy by Pallas seems to offend Khloe the most. She doesn't say anything else; rather than blow a gasket, she simply takes her tray of half-eaten unmeats and heads for the exit, dumping it off unceremoinously at the trash as she goes. If her heels could strike the deck any harder, there'd be a trail of fire blazing her exit.

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