PHD #476: The First Cut
The First Cut
Summary: With the motor traded off, North makes good on her promise to give Ciro some ink.
Date: 17 Jun 2042 AE
Related Logs: None
Ciro North 
Cargo Bay
…described in the log.
Condition Level: 3 - All Clear
Post-Holocaust Day: #476

A week has passed since Ciro has delivered a motor to one Private Bridge North. The motor, an old electric motor designed for use in a tattoo machine, was delivered under the premise that he would be receiving some tattoo art for himself. The catch, however, is that Sergeant Ciro Sondray has given the artistic soldier carte blanche to decide what gets tattooed onto his body. To make matters even worse, he's carrying around a hefty no-holds-barred debt from a series of bets made over drinks at Colonial Pete's on the Elpis in a recent marine outing.

The notes have been passed and the location has been set, and Ciro now finds himself waiting in his off-duty fatigues and tank tops. Leaning against the corner of one of the Cerberus' many junction points, his arms are crossed as he waits. Just off to the side is a small cargo bay where some chairs and crates have been set up, a much lesser traveled section of the ship that would provide them the privacy and comfort to do the work.

North carries an olive drag backpack that looks more like a rag than a functional bag. It bulges, full of hard edged machinery. The motor's been tweaked and fitted to her tattoo machinery. The best thing about good old fashioned mechanisms is how sturdy they are.

What North will choose to ink into the Sarge's skin is yet to be seen, and it could be said that she has the option of marking him with two tattoos, instead of just one, taking the trade arrangement and the bet as the separate events that they are.

She tromps up the corridor with her sweats on, long hair worn down and slightly mussed. She could easily have just rolled out of bed. A wad of gum is stuffed into her cheek as she says, "Hey, Sarge." She chomps on it to soften the sweet, but her chewing becomes less audible once she's got a good start on it. It smells like sweet watermelon.

"Bridge." Ciro retorts, offering the woman a stern, almost business-like nod. His eyes drift to the ratty backpack on her shoulder, having very few questions about what has been packed inside. She's here to cut him many times, and inside are likely the tools of her trade.

Pushing off of the wall with his boot, he falls into line behind her and stretches his arms over his head. Growling under his breath as he lets his muscles relax, he wobbles his head from side to side as he crosses over into the cargo bay. His steps are slow, aimlessly directing him towards the chairs.

"Soooo…" He drawls, motioning to a jug of cold water that he's set up for their session. Beside it are a pair of mismatched Cerberus coffee mugs, one in white and the other in black. "…before we get too much down to business, how you been? This the middle of your bunk-time?"

North blows an impressive pink bubble. She sucks it in suddenly, the pop of it sharp and loud. A grin is flashed before she shoulders her back, adjusting it a bit to keep the edge of something inside from digging into her spine. "Naw, not usual. Just got shifted around a little for some duty last night." She glances down, rubbing the back of her hand across her nose. She glances up briefly, like there's something else she wants to say, but she instead busies herself swinging the pack off her shoulder to carry it to the table.

With a gentle thunk, she sets the pack down on the table, and unloads the contents. First comes a small wooden cigar box, then the motor, and tattoo machine. The frame is fitted with a medallion shaped with a gorgon representing the shield of Athena. She drags a chair over with her foot, and says, "Weird couple days." She drops onto the edge to sort out her bag's contents, and drags the box closer. "Skinjobs creep me out."

Skinjobs. The word illicits a strange response from the muscular, tattooed sniper. At first his brows lower, but his eyes refrain from emitting utter disgust. Instead they remain cold and thoughtless for the moment that it takes for the realization to pass. "No shit…" He murmurs, eyebrows lifting back into place as he steps over to the table. Grabbing one of the mugs and turning it over, he reaches for the jug of water. "…sounds like you went downtown recently." A casual glance is offered to the door to the cargo bay. He pours quickly and sets the jug down, moving over to the hatch. He doesn't close it, instead he leaves a foot-wide sliver.

"When I was down I didn't get anywhere close. Closest look I got was actually in a sketchbook that belonged to this black haired one named Eleven. She's down on Gemenon in droves." He offers, coming to a stop beside her. He takes his mug into his hand and drinks. The mug is put back down atop the table without another word. Instead, he casts a glance towards her, gauging her reaction and her body language.

The contents of the box are revealed as the lid is raised. There are a few baggies of ash, a small plastic squeeze bottle, a tiny bristled whisk, several tiny bottles of viscous black fluid, and a tiny cup. The cup appears to be a tiny Japanese style cup, either from a tea or sake set. Blush clay is glazed in an opaque white that breaks nearly clear over the edges and ridges to reveal the natural color of the clay. "There was a visit last night, you know, some diplomatic thing, and I got tapped for guard duty." North runs her fingers across the rim of the little ceramic cup, then plucks it from the box, unwinding a length of thick fiber that protects it from being chipped against other things in the box.

"One of them talked right to me," North says. "She knew my name." She selects a bottle marked with a date, that appears to be a ready-mixed black ink. She must have taken some prep time earlier. She busies her hands fitting fresh needles into the tubes. Though the motions are practiced, there's a tension in her shoulders. "Yeah." A muscle in her jaw twitches as her teeth clench briefly, "It was an eleven I met."

The energy around him falls into a subdued state, glancing to her fingertips as she picks the tools of her trade from the box. His eyes take in the amount of care that's been given to the contents inside of the box, and the way that they contrast to the old, ratty bag that she carries them in. While he's seen many, many tattoo shops before, there's a certain individuality to her inking set that seems to have caught his eye. However, he doesn't gaze for long. As she finishes speaking, his eyes turn towards the jug of water. The mug rises once more to his lips and he drinks.

For the slightest moment, their conversation is detached like two deeply out of love spouses setting their keys, cell phones, and wristwatches onto a kitchen counter while doing their best to talk about the things that are much safer subjects. He frowns as he brings the mug to his lips again, head tilting to the side…deep in thought.

"Guess they figured it'd be safer bringing them up. You ever meet her before?" He replies dryly. The mug is set down again, and this time he pulls his hand away from it, letting it sit emptied of the cool water it once bore. His jaw tightens, clearly doing his best to not give too much of his opinion on the matter. His hands reach to the hem of his tank tops. "Where are we doing this?"

North tips the cup a little, perhaps checking the viscosity of the ink, perhaps checking the color. Her eyes remain on the ink in the little clay cup, as if she's unwilling to look up at Ciro for any length of time while discussing the horror that is the influx of diplomatic skinjobs. Tricksy skinjobs masquerading as emissaries? Whatever they are, they're creepy. "They're creepy." She thinks it, then she says it. North's not the type to keep too many secrets. Not from another marine.

"I never met her before that I remember. I figure I would remember the eyes and that weird way of saying things. She talks real flowery. I didn't understand half of it." She looks up.

"Sarge?" North's eyes stay on the man's face for a little longer than before, and it's clear she notices that tension in his jaw. The question hangs there for a few breaths and then she says, "Over your ribs, I thought. Whichever side you want."

"Yeah…well…it's nice they know so many of our faces. Makes meeting easier." Ciro replies, bringing the heel of his hand to his eyesocket, rubbing softly. Sniffing inwardly, he lowers his hand back to the hem of his tank tops and pulls them up over his head. His dog tags fall back into place with a soft jingle of brass over brass. They're a poor-man's tags for a veteran enlisted trooper.

Stepping around her, he reaches for one of the two chairs and turns it around so that it's alongside the one closest to her supplies. Wadding his tanktops into a ball, the lofts them onto the unused portion of the table and lowers himself onto the chair. Straddling it so that his left side will be offered to her, he braces his forearms over the top of the chair, speaking indirectly towards the side of her body that's offered to him.

"Captain Vandenberg is making me Dog Platoon's Platoon Sergeant." It sounds like a change of subject. It sounds like the dry, safe conversation they're hovering near. "Roster's already been changed. It's been a done deal for a few days now, but before she switched it over we had a conversation. She suggested to me that the troops will sense that I don't trust them and it'll show, bright as day. I told her that keeping your eyes open and sleeping with your back against a wall's hard on soul, but logic is logic." His eyes tilt up towards her. "She make you worry you might be one?" Boom. It's a question.

North reaches for the other mug on the table, and checks the contents of that one. She drags both it and the little teacup closer, then pulls a little pen out of her back pocket. "I don't know how they'd get my name. It was just weird having it pop out of the mouth of someone I don't know, someone who's…" She lets the sentence trail off, as if she can't quite pick the manner of closing. It leaves a lot of room for guesses as to her feelings about skinjobs, whether she hates them or just finds them a bit unsettling. It could go either way.

"That's real nice, Sarge. Major congrats are in order." Her eyes follow the path of his shirts up and off of his body. North eyes Ciro's ribs, and the placement of his other tattoos. "If you didn't trust who?" It doesn't take her long to make up her mind about a design, but in the mean time, she stares at Ciro's torso. "What?" The shift in subject isn't so sudden that it jars her, it's his last question that completely blindsides the young private. "N… no. I didn't." Her mouth opens, she takes a breath. "I never even considered that." Maybe it's to do with her months in and out of medical. "I guess if I was one of them, it wouldn't have taken me so long to heal up right." Some of the tension in her shoulder eases when she utters her next words, "I mean, if it did, I would want a major frakkin' refund." She scoots closer with her pen, and immediately puts ink to flesh, sketching out a design. The passage of the pen is quick, strokes sure.

"Probably not the best question to ask someone that's about to take a needle to me. Every single person in this fleet is a stranger to me. It puts everything on a strange playing field, though I don't know what I'd do if one of them knew my name. Frak…I don't know if they keep folders on us or not." He lifts his arm a bit, giving her access to the collected muscle and bone of his back shoulder that stretches down his side, over his ribcage, and down to the demarcation point that his belt makes.

His head turns, gazing over his shoulder to the blurry form of her shoulder in his peripheral vision. His back mostly to her, he rests his cheek on his forearm as she paints his skin with her preliminary designs. "The hard six, Bridge, I guess is adding up the numbers. There are Cylon skinjobs. Some of them want to kill us, and there are others that don't. The ones that claim to not want to kill us aren't offering up the names and faces of the ones that aren't discovered yet. You, me, anyone could be a potential problem." He turns his eyes back forward, reaching for his mug with his right arm, careful to not disturb his torso. "Would you still fight alongside me or sleep in the bunk above me if I admitted something like that?" He pauses, taking a sip from the mug. "You look for little signs, little tells?"

North's pen wanders from a spiral at the back of his shoulder, around the shoulder blade, and down over his ribs. Her strokes become more broad as she makes a large gesture drawing across his side. A tendril extends almost to his hip, and chases out across his lower back. Her other hand rests on his shoulder. Once she's at work, she's not shy about being handsy. It comes of being an MP—all that frisking and all. "I guess you gotta act all respectable being in a position of more authority and all." The faintest of smirks creeps onto her face. "Drink better booze, maybe. Less stripper pole action."

"I don't know why they'd keep a folder on me if they did. I'm not in command of anybody except my very own gun, and even then, last time I was on the line of fire, I caught a round in the bucket." North snorts. "Real high priority target, I am." She tosses the pen up onto the table, and takes up her machine. She doesn't sound at all unhappy about being on the bottom rung of the ladder of importance, but it's the being there that makes it so strange she'd be acknowledged.

She dips the needle into the pool of ink at the bottom of the small cup, then settles it on the edge of her chair between her thighs for easy re-dipping. She machine hums to life when she presses on the food pedal. Nothing explodes or shorts. That motor seems okay. "You asking me what I would do if, after all this, I found out you was willing to sympathize with them, to make peace if they offer it real genuine?" She touches the needle to his flesh, drawing the first drops of blood of the night. There are many more to come. Her fingers press against his skin, stretching it to be sure the ink is evenly ingrained. "Or do you mean to ask me what I would do if I found out you was one of them?"

When the needle breaks the skin, Ciro Sondray doesn't even flinch. The buzzing rattle of the motor gives him all of the time that he needs to mentally prepare for the surprising first cut. His skin tightens at the spot, weeping blood over the ink that's drawn onto his skin. He's become a canvas, a victim willing to have himself changed for the rest of his life over a tight conversation and a mug of water.

"Peace…" He replies, words coming through just a slight bit louder to reach her over the tattoo machine's hive mind. "…no I'm not asking you that. I've already agreed to play nice and not shoot if I'm given the order to hold arms. No, I'm asking what you what do you think about the fact that even now, while you're putting holes in me, that I'm not convinced that you aren't one." He turns his head, eye tilting back in her direction as he offers her a fearless smirk. "But since you mentioned it, North, what would you do if you found out I was one?"

North's hands work steadily across the shoulder and upper back, which is where she starts the tattoo. Black ink made primarily from ash mixes with blood. Her hands are bare, but she uses soft, clean cotton to dab at the abused skin as blood pools enough obscure the lines of her design. She keeps her fingers out of his blood. She seems to be fairly experienced at doing this under less than idea conditions. Gloves are for people with more money. "It's hard to think of peace when you're at war." The comment is quiet, almost lost to the hum of the machinery.

She uses a bottle of clean water to squirt down large portions of his skin by way of cleaning it of extra ink and blood. The needle progresses quickly, paying down a fine black outline. "What can I do about your thoughts?" North begins the many rings that shape the undersides of a sea monster's arms. The design is still hidden from Ciro, even as she digs it forever into his flesh. "You trust me enough to let me mark you forever, without asking what I'm doing, and I think that's a lot more than a lot of people give." She doesn't even pause in the tattooing, but she must be thinking, because she says a minute later, "If I was one, I don't think I'd be real likely to tell anybody. Talk about walking into a firing squad. That shit would suck."

North's fingers move down, and she takes the cup of ink to slide off the chair and kneel on the floor to outline the ribs. Though the pain is sharper there, the outlines are more broad, fewer in that portion of the design. "What would I do if you turned out to be one?" Silence falls again, with only the buzz of the machine to fill it. "'Magine our conversations might take a turn." She nods, long hair dragging across her cheek. "I figure I'd have to kick your ass, Sarge."

Ciro's eyes narrow, not at her comment, but at the feeling of the thin needles cutting into his skin near his ribs where the nerves rest in much more shallow places. Blinking slowly, he turns his head back towards the front of his chair, leaving her to her work. The smirk that crosses his lips is normally accompanied by a low, throaty chuckle, but he opts to avoid it. Chuckling now would send her needle scraping across skin it was never intended for.

"There's a deep, aching vein of competition in my soul, Bridge. I'm going to spare you the macho 'bet you can't kick my ass' bullshit, though you should probably know that for just a second there…I almost did. I don't picture you taking me on, toe to toe. You're creative. You'd probably use your environment." He says darkly, letting out a quiet sigh.

"But no…I'd be surprised if I was a Cylon. Rumor has it some Cylons might not even know it, which…that rubs me raw. I've got one too many dog tags hanging on the wall for me to be okay with suddenly waking up one day the enemy. I know who I am. What I don't know is if other people see, hear, and feel like I do. I can't experience their life."

Quieted once more, nearly a full minute passes before he speaks again. "So how does it feel getting to make your mark on the world after so much time gone by?" He asks, turning his head to rest his cheek on his arm once more, gazing down over his elbow to her kneeling form beside him. "You were out a long time. Did you miss this?"

There's a pause in the tattooing after the lining needle has passed from shoulder to lower back, riding the skin just above Ciro's belt. North takes a moment to swap out the needles, changing the liner for a shader. She reaches for one of the little squeeze bottles and adds it to the ash ink. The ink still appears black, but it's a few shades lighter. "I'm little, it's true. You'd have me in a grapple sure as space is deep and black. I wouldn't challenge you to an arm wrestle, but you would have some manner of ass kickin' coming to ya." She doesn't say a lethal ass kicking, of course. The distinction is subtle, but certainly there.

"Even if there wasn't this enemy, even if we were just some people on a training mission, playing at war, that'd still be true. You can't ever really know anybody else like that." She cuts into his skin with the shader, and this time she begins in the middle and works out with broader circular strokes. She lets silences fall naturally, leaving moments to stretch out as they will, until one or both of them has something worth saying to fill them. "That's why we have faith, and that's why we have oaths." She falls silent for a while.

Bzzzz. Bzzzz. Bzzz. "I missed everything when I was out. I missed having enough hand control to tie my shoes. I missed knowing how to walk myself from the Head to my bunk. I missed my balance. Mostly, I missed watching everyone deploy while I rocked the lazy duty in my jammies." She nods. "Yeah, I missed it. Missed this, too." She glances up to meet the Sarge's gaze. "It's good being in full control of my body again. There's not a lot of stuff to do out here on this ship, and I need my hands for pretty much all of them. All the fun stuff for sure." She squints a little bit, and the exact moment she realizes the implication of her words, she glances back down the blood seeping out of his side.

Lidding his eyes and letting a quiet 'hnnnh' sound emit from the center of his throat, the tall, muscular marine doesn't let her off of the hook so easily. It's a way of letting her know that he caught it too, and she can't hide from him. Things like faux pas are hard to miss in one-on-one conversations. "You know…sometimes, Bridge, I think you let those out on purpose." He offers, scratching the edge of awkwardness. "Any truth to that?"

He looks away, his right arm snaking from atop the chair to the handle of the mug. He lifts it and tilts it to find that it's empty. Frowning, he sets the mug down and reaches for the pitcher. Pouring the water into the two mugs, he sets hers atop the table, closer to her, and then pauses for another sip.

"Look, I don't know how much clientele you're going to have, or how many people are going to even bother with tattoos. Likely, you're going to be up to your eyeballs in people wanting to have names, dates, and faces tattooed onto their bodies. If there are people that haven't yet, there's sure to be more." He sets the mug down, turning it so that he can read the Cerberus seal as if he's gazing at a box of breakfast mulch in the morning. "As far as I'm concerned, bets owed or not, I want more ink. I want to be a record of myself. This shit's therapeutic for me too. You want a canvas on a day that the sketchbook isn't doing it for you…you give me a call."

North presses her lips together, and works on a particularly varied bit of shading. Sure, that's the reason she keeps quiet for so long. "Only when I'm drunk, Sarge. Only when I'm drunk." Does that means her brain moves faster when she's lubricated with alcohol? She sits back on her heels, and reaches up for her water as it's moved closer.

A few gulps of water refresh the private, and she straightens a little to give her back a stretch. Nothing pops for once. "I reckon I'll do what I can to help who I can with what closer I can. It's a small measure of peace, maybe the only real peace, any of us is ever likely to have again. We've lost so much…" Bridge shakes her head, sprays cool, clean water over the abused flesh, and uses the soft cloth to wipe down the tattoo. Washed out ink and blood roll down his skin, diluted by the water. "You got it, Sarge. Anytime you think up something you want, you let me know. Ohterwise, I got some more ideas. And there's that bet still." She picks up the ink cup. "This one, I think we'll do in two sittings. It's really pretty big to leave the whole thing raw at once." She wipes the needles on the cloth, staining it dark, then gets up to slide into her chair. Her gaze comes up only after she's set the machine aside, and taken a moment to flex her hand slowly. "I'm still building up my strength." She's had a lot of rehab on that arm. She reaches into her bag, and pulls out a little round mirror. That's set on the table, and she picks up her mug to drain the water.

Taking the mirror into his left hand, Ciro extends the arm to give him a full view of the image. The ropey tentacles of the kraken that stretches from his shoulder and down his sides is exquisite. First impressions being everything, he cannot hide the way his eyes widen, immediately feasting his eyes on what's already started to take place. The mirror bends and the ambient light of the room and the angle of his eyes does the rest, getting everything into view. "Frakkin perfect. I love it so far. I think it's gonna look great when it's done." He turns the mirror over in his hands, offering it back to her.

His knees flex and he rises from the chair, taking a moment to stretch his body out after being trapped in position for so long. His arms stretch over his head, bending at the elbows. His rib cage and abdomen press outward until a shallow, muted pop is heard from his lower back. His eyes bulge, immediately finding relief as the vertebrae settle back into place. Arms lowered, he moves to sit on the edge of the table, turning his attention back to her.

"This tattoo wasn't M-E-A-T on my knuckles. I'm giving you creative control, Bridge, so I trust that. So far? I can see you're not going to abuse that by drawing a bag of dicks on my back." He laughs quietly, keeping their conversation private from any people passing by in the hallway. "You wanna use that bet up to cut me up?" His eyebrows raise. "It's your no-questions-asked, no bullshit thing, but remember I offered you tattoo skin whenever you wanted. I'm not an officer. I can do fill up some space without issue."

A kraken stretches out over Ciro's ribs, its long arms reaching up to his shoulder, down over his lower back, as if to seek out and destroy things that aren't yet tattooed there. The monster is menacing, but done in a realistic greyscale shading—at least the body. It resembles a giant octopus and little circles dot tendrils along the Sergeant's skin. Most of the tendrils remain unshaded, clearly unfinished line drawing forever cut into the marine's flesh, more than one turned into a tight spiral. When it's finished, it'll be a large, eye-catching piece.

Bridge gives Ciro a chance to visually peruse her handiwork. She doesn't give him the aftercare lecture, mostly because he has so many tattoos already. Maybe she doesn't do that, second thought. She's not the lecturing type. She grins that close-lipped little grin she does. "Course it'll look great when it's done." She props her chin into her palm, elbow resting on the table, and watches the way the tattoo moves when Ciro stretches. The grin lingers, but this time it's approval rather than amusement.

Bridge snorts out a laugh, and covers her mouth. "Bag of dicks." She shakes her head, but a laugh escapes anyway. "No, I'm still holding onto my bet payoff 'til I figure something that tickles my fancy."

"Fair enough. A bet's a bet. The shame of that is that I was so close…SO close to winning that bet. In fact, I'd won that bet, but then we decided to go double or nothing. And thus ends some Gemenese lecture on the perils of gambling, right?" Ciro replies with a smirk, reaching into his pocket for a tube of some sort of ointment that he's brought with him. Turning at the waist, the kraken's tentacles move across his skin, making it a reality that the design is in the perfect place, and will appear to move as he does.

Tucking the tank tops into his back pocket to hang like some sort of tabard, he squeezes some of the ointment from the tube and starts to spread the vitamin mix over the charcoal angry, burning skin where she's inked. Doing what he can to stave off infection, he lowers his eyes down to hers, watching her in between applications.

"Now, Bridge North, I can see you have a very creative streak in you. I'm a very fair man. I gave a bet and I'll take a bet. Do whatever you damned well please with that prize, but know that if you humiliate me…" He narrows his eyes, his tone playful. "…I'm still gonna do it, but I won't forget it. I'll get you back."

"Sometimes, Sarge, when a woman offers you another go 'round, you just gotta walk away." Bridge's grin is back, and this time there's the faintest flash of teeth visible between slightly parted lips. "We didn't win so much as let you lose to us, after that first round. I thank you for that. I don't think Captain's the kind of women who loses without comin' for ya later."

She closes up her kit, dumps the dirties in the cotton rag, then folds it up for washing out. Everything's packed neatly back into the bag, one piece at a time, except the ceramic cup, which is also left out to be cleaned of its ink. "Sarge, I wouldn't expect to get any less than I give. So when I give, it's will full commitment and steadfast dedication."

"Well the good news is the Captain didn't take me up on that bet. Just you and Lagana. End result is you got to watch the three of us gimp about in our boxers, falling onto tables. Barely made it out of their with my head intact." He replies, getting the last of the ointment into place. Now it looks like a wet, sticky angry bit of charcoal fire. "You aren't lying though…" he says reflectively, gazing over the tattoo. "…when you give, you give right."

Turning, he plants his hand on her shoulder, squeezing softly. His slightly dead-looking eyes blink down at hers and his lips pull into a pleased cat-that-ate-the-canary grin. Giving her shoulder a soft shake, he doesn't bother to add words to the human contact. Instead, he steals his hand back and reaches for the jug of water. "Alright, let me walk you to the stairs and get you back around the general population. Much safer in numbers around here, didn't you hear?"

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