PHD #424: The Sweet and Bitter
PHD #424: The Sweet and Bitter
Summary: Khloe seeks out Leyla for advice and words of encouragement.
Date: 26 Apr 2042 AE
Related Logs: Now What?
Khloe Leyla 
Officer Berths - Naval Deck - 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: #424

Considerably less raucus than the air wing berths across the way, Khloe Vakos finds her way into this area for the first time since being stationed here. Glancing around, but being mindful of privacy of others (what passes for privacy on a battlestar, anyway; and the officers here might not be clinically insane like AiryFairies are) she begins hunting around for what seems like a particular bunk. At one point she makes a discreet inquiry, and gets pointed in the direction of Makinen's bunk.

The male Makinen, however, is not in residence. The closest thing to the female one, at least if one goes by the frequency with which Leyla seems to favour wearing the now major's clothes, is. The curtain's drawn back, and all the lights are on, to give illumination to the bunk. It certainly looks lived in. The linens are neat, clean and orderly, but the shelves are peppered with Leyla's little widgets, a photoframe, currently slideshowing its way through pictures of the crew of the Cerberus and the Hephaestus, and on the wall, a brilliantly lime green floral patterned shirt, which, for all the worlds, seems to be doing its best to bask in the light of the lamp. As for Leyla herself, she's in her sweats, a pair of large coveralls in her lap, and a portable tailoring kit open beside her as she's working on pathcing up some little rips and tears.

Khloe tries to contain a smirk as she approaches. "Sweetiepea. I hope I'm not interrupting anything?" She inquires, drawing a chair over. She sits on it backwards with her forearms resting on the back, the chair rear-facing Leyla as Khloe is want to do. "I'd almost say that you were nesting in domestic bliss, but I know you better than that. How are you?"

"Poppy! I didn't think I'd see you today." The darning is set aside, as Leyla turns to scoot over, making room for Khloe on the bunk, if she chooses. But Leyla knows the viper stick well enough not to be offended if she doesn't. "I don't think of it as domestic bliss. I think of it as trying to use a shovel to escape an avalanche. "I always expected there to be food rationing, but they're rationing clothes down in Supply these days. But what about you? You look like you're fit and healthy. Medical give you the all-clear?"

Khloe casts a quick glance at the spare room in the bunk but chooses to stay right where she is. "Thanks, but I'm okay," she offers in response to the scoot. Shrugging lightly, she counters with, "This is why all of my wardrobe consists of Navy-standard gear. Priority goes to the military, although it will probably be sooner than later our uniforms will start to fray. I'll let logistics handle that nightmare and not worry about it." She glances down at her left thigh. "I'm back to duty as of a few days ago. Leg is responding well to treatment, with no nerve damage." For those in the know, during the fight with the Spectres, Khloe lost her Viper 853; one of the damning hits caused an electrical discharge to her thigh, and creating micro-punctures in her flight suit. When she was forced to eject, she partially depressurized. "I don't mind scars."

"They give you character. And they remind you of the things you've done and the places you've been, and that you survived it all." Leyla takes a moment to stick the needle in a pincushion and clear away the mending she's been working on, turning so that she can face Khloe completely, now that she's sure the captain won't be joining her. "You'll be right as rain soon, I know. Is there anything I can help with? Boots took the reins back, so I've got my free time back. As much as any of us do."

"Help with?" The Captain repeats; she sounds a little unsure, or perhaps surprised that Leyla would offer such. There's a hint of hesitation and marginal distrust, but the latter fades quicky - Khloe has no reason to distrust her only true friend aboard, but she's wary by nature. "Actually, I wanted to ask you… er, talk to you. I need your advice, I think."

"Well, I did get in some good practice on all of the SL's paperwork. And I don't mind it. It's a nice change. I know you've got your PT to go to and all. If you needed someone to help keep you up to speed, I'm here." It's a genuine offer. One best friend to the other. Surprise of her own, though no suspicion, at the request from Khloe for advice, "Of course. I'll try to be as helpful as I can. It's not about those two Spectres they saddled Blowback with, is it?"

Khloe shakes her head. "Blowback can handle herself. No, this is…" Making a fist and raising to her lips, she clears her throat. "Ah. Personal." And the Knights SL gives a cautionary glance over her shoulder to make sure no one is eavesdropping. "You see, I've, well… gods, this is painful. Met. Someone. Met someone, you see."

There are few things in the world that might come more out of the blue than that pronouncement from Khloe Vakos. Even to Leyla, who probably knows the woman better than anyone anyone else on the ship. So there is that initial lift of her eyebrows, that momentary silence as Leyla processes, studying the woman sitting across from her thoroughly, as if she were accessing her general health, or maybe just taking the time to think of the right question. When it finally comes, it's, perhaps, not the sort of question anyone else would ask. How do you stay Poppy's friend? You know the right questions to ask and how not to pry, "Are they good to you?"

A short laugh. "No, they're frakking irritating at times," comes Khloe's quick response. But then her facial features and voice soften, crossed with that same uncertainty she was showing just seconds earlier. "It's, well, very new. Days old. I'm not entirely sure how to proceed. The last time I tried something like this was Tau Garrison, and even then I had my doubts, and they came true." She shakes her head. "I don't want to damn this from the beginning, Leyla, but I can't help it. I'm… terrified."

An answering smile, from the smaller woman, at Khloe's description of this new person, "It's a bumpy road. The only smooth sailing is in dime store romances. And you don't have the right build for a corset." But then she's quiet, listening, without asking questions. Allowing Khloe to share what she's comfortable with. "Emotions are terrifying. Giving over control of yourself to someone else is terrifying. Giving another person the power to pull your strings, when you're accustomed to being the only one inside your head and inside your heart is one of the most frightening things you can do." Leyla pauses, considering. "When Mark was taken. When I didn't know if I would ever see him again, I realized how much of him there is in me. How much of me I would lose if he were gone. I was terrified, to think of what it would be like without him. I would have done anything to get him back. And at the same time, I thought…how could I still be me, when I'm so wrapped up in him, and him in me? How much was I losing, was it worth what I have to gain? But then, when I saw him again on the Areion, I knew it was worth it. Because he loves me. Because he's strong when I'm weak, and I pick him up when he falls. And I realized there's nothing wrong with being afraid, with letting someone inside, with trusting them. We're meant to be two together. That's our nature. Now, I'm not saying what you have will be the same. No two people are exactly the same as any two others. It could turn out to be more, it could turn out to be less. But it's alright to be terrified. Love is a great and terrible thing. You just have to hold on. Tight as you can to the other person and ride out the wave."

Khloe quietly listens to her friend offer the most important advice she's ever received in a decade. She even so much as lets some of her stoicism drop, resting her chin on her forearms, eyes narrowed as she tries to process everything. "Hold on," she repeats, voice a murmur. "That's something we've got going for us. I mean, we're both in high-risk occupations. Every time one of us goes off to do our duty, we might not come back. And I'm not sure I want the… distraction. It's a distraction, Leyla. I don't want to have that nagging feeling in the back of my skull when I'm out flying that unless I do my job perfectly I won't see them again." She shakes her head again. "It's a damned distraction. I'm not sure I can permit myself to have this little luxury. I'm not allowed vices, and love, sex… these are just vices. Distractions."

"You love me, Khloe, I know you do. I love you too. You're my best friend, my sister. But I don't worry about you when you get in that viper, same as you don't worry about me. And that's not because our love and our friendship isn't real. It's because we have trust and faith in each other. But it wasn't always like that, remember? We had to start with one step. And another, and another, until we made a road, together. This is the first step on a new road for you." Leyla's voice is soft and quiet, thoughtful and adamant. "If we're not fighting for the ability to love, if we're not fighting for the chance of friendship, if we're not fighting for all the good and beautiful things there are in life, then what are we fighting for, Khloe? There is so much in the world still, for us to see, to do, to think, to be. That's what we're fighting for. And there's an old saying. Before you save anyone, you have to save yourself. We're both very much alike. We both used to think, I think, "The world is a beautiful place…but not for us. And that's not true. It's never been true.None of us know how long we have in this world. Warday proved that to us. I might die tomorrow in a raptor, I might die next week choking on a fishbone in the galley. or I might live to be old enough that you'll be pushing me around in a wheelchair while I whack people with my walking stick. The past is gone, my dear, the future is uncertain. The only time we have is today. Everyday is today. Always only today. And we have to put as much life and love and hope into each and every day as we can. Savour the sweet and the bitter. And know that when we go to our end, we go without regrets."

Khloe sucks in her lower lip, nibbling on it; she's completely enraptured by her friend's words. "Oh, Sweetiepea. When did you become a poet?" She inquires gently, a slight upturn to her lips, but the smile is more in her eyes than the rest of her face. "You've basically taken the same dry rhetoric - 'We only have today' - and turned it into something very real, and very beautiful. Quite a contrast from blowing up pirates." Her glance drifts downward to look at the empty space between her chair and Mark's bunk. "That seems like a lifetime ago. And I think the only one of us who has grown since those times, is you." Eyes flit back up to meet Leyla's, her facial features beginning to draw downward again - not her usual stoic frown, but this time a little sad. "I haven't told anyone. We're going to keep it private, because it would mean… difficulties. Even if we do go through with this, the rumors alone are going to make our relationship… whatever it becomes… trying."

"The end of the worlds has a way of making you look at life, the universe and everything in an entirely new way, Khloe." A small smile, "And we still blow up piwates. They're just not stealing tylium anymore. They're stealing us. Our future, our lives." Cylons, in their way, are just pirates. Thieves in the night to be fought and conquered. "Maybe I am, Khloe. But only because life and love found me first. Now it's found you. And it's time for you to grow up. Baby steps, that's all you need." Leyla doesn't reach out to hug Khloe, or anything that out of character, or rather, anything that might force the viper pilot to go further than she's comfortable with, but Leyla does scoot to the end of the bunk, offering a hand, ungloved, as they always are when she's at home now. Because her home is the place where she celebrates life, not mourns death. "No one has to know. What you have, what it could become doesn't belong to anyone but the two of you. What other people think, what they believe, how they feel, in the end, that doesn't matter. Only what you believe and think and feel." A wider smile, impish, "And if worse come to worse, just do what I do. Anyone gets lippy, punch them in the face. Hold on to each other and walk through all of it with your head held high. I'll dispose of the bodies that need disposing of." That last part is a joke…sort of.

Taking the offered hand, Khloe gives it a warm squeeze, her sadness disappearing nearly as quickly as it arrived. "Thank you. My dearest Leyla. Always there for me when I need my head shrunk." A short laugh. "If you ever can't fly Raptors I'm sure they could use more shrinks down in medical." Her own joke. She lets the hand go, to rub at her eyes - suddenly she seems a little tired. "Why did it have to be a Marine? The two most hazardous occupations on the battlestar, and I happen to find someone as occupationally hazardous as I am."

The hand squeeze is returned, before Leyla reclaims her hand, settling back in comfortably on her bunk, pulling the needle back out of the pincushion, brandishing it, "I'm dangerous with it." All the better to deflate egos with. Even when those egos think they're working for the good. "I'd only work down in medical if they'd let me administer all the shots. or maybe work the dentist's drill." Leyla hams it up, just for a moment, giving her best impression of a mad dentist. "Well, it could be one of two things. Either the universe knew it was asking you too much to handle breaking frat," which Khloe still firmly believes in, as does Leyla, even if the regs were lifted, "And fall in love, or start too, and made sure it was someone you couldn't be penalized for. Or two, because it just wanted to illustrate how the two of you were meant to complement each other. Two halves making one whole, the way we are in the military. On the ground and in the skies." A beat, "That, or whomever you decided on was smart enough to pick you, but too stupid to join the Navy." And yes, that last option is a joke. "Alas, we can't all make the right career choices."

Exhaling a cleansing sigh, Khloe straightens up in her seat. "So, I suppose now's where I tell you the little detail that'll likely turn your socks inside out," she offers, lifting her chin and squaring her shoulders as if she was expecting someone to punch her square in the gut. "I have your assurance you won't talk about this to anyone, right? Not even Makinen."

A nod. It's as simple as that. A promise asked for, and a promise given. Leyla has never been one for betraying confidences. "This is our business. Not anyone else's. Not even Mark's." Leyla might love the engineer, even onto the ending of the worlds, but you just don't betray your sister. "Lucky I'm not wearing any socks."

Swallowing audibly, Khloe apparently has to steel herself to admit the details of her relationship to Leyla. "It's Vandenberg. L-Lieutenant… Natalie… Vandenberg." And if anyone could have bet whether or not Khloe Vakos has enough humanity in her to actually manage to blush, they'd be rolling in cubits right now; her cheeks are bright red, despite her best attempts to remain stoic.

And here it comes…the big reveal! OMG, WTF, GTFO, and all those other acronym buzzwords. Or not. Leyla simply studies the woman sitting across from her, taking more from the woman's reactions than her words. As for the identity? "I like her. She's good people. Smart as a whip and tough as nails. Probably the only person on this battlestar with the balls to go toe to toe with you." And again, that impishness, as if to use it to diffuse Khloe's embarrassment, Leyla's expression turning arched, regal, for all the worlds like a queen, or a best friend, dispensing judgment, the laughter and yes, happiness, for her friend, sparkling in her eyes, though she manages to keep her expression stoic, "I approve. The relationship may proceed."

Khloe's mouth hangs open for a long moment, as she tries to read her friend's reaction and process her words, looking for any double meaning or hidden disapproval. But she finds none. "I… er, all right," is all she can manage, still in shock; she had totally and completely wound herself up for a rejection, or at the very least a negative response. "You're okay with this." Less a question, more a statement.

"Yes, of course. Why wouldn't I be? Love is love, Khloe. It comes to us when it comes. With whom it comes. If she makes you happy, when she's not irritating the frak out of you," Khloe's words(paraphrased), not Leyla's, "then that's all that matters to me. And that's all that should matter to you. Don't let anyone try to tell you or make you believe otherwise. I know you don't know it now, but you will. Love doesn't make you weak. Love is stronger than any drug, than any piece of armor or any weapon. It makes you strong too. Strong enough to do things you never thought you could. To stand against any odds and against all opposition."

"All right, now I know you've been reading something, because there's no way that even you can concoct all this drek on your own," Khloe half-admonishes with a smirk and a lighter-than-Khloe-serious tone. But she sobers. "Either that, or you're really right, and this thing you have with Mark is… redefining. Bringing you to the next level. Frak, I don't know." She pushes up out of her chair, nudging it back over to where it came from with her boot. She stands there, looking down at Leyla, resting her hands on her hips. Then, with another slight smirk, she shakes her head. "Even I don't believe it. I've never really thought about it before. Other women. Never even registered. But then again I've pretty much rewired to distrust anything with a Y-chromosome so who the frak knows." Arms crossing, she admits to Leyla, "I'm not sure I'm okay with it, yet. But I guess, we'll see. Good night, Sweetiepea. Thanks for the talk."

"Me Leyla…me read good." Laughter then, rich and warm, as Leyla slides out from her bunk, seeing that Khloe's prepping to go. "It is redefining. You'll see. Except maybe not literally. Even if we do still have shared heads, some things are just for me." Again, that teasing, "Don't think about it too much, just…experience it, live it. You'll figure it out as you go. Good night, Poppy. And you're welcome." A beat, "Thank you for trusting me."

"Always." And with that, Poppy turns to go.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License