PHD #353: The Untold Story
The Untold Story
Summary: Leyla offers Mark a chance to read her tatau, complete with translation. That's not exactly the final destination.
Date: 14 Feb 2042 AE
Related Logs: Immediately preceded by Digression.
Leyla Mark 
Pilot Berths
The battlestar's pilots call this place home. Bunks line the walls with grey curtains to cover their sleeping areas. Lockers sit between each pair of bunks and a round metal table sits in the center, furnished with simple but comfortable steel chairs. A hatch at the rear of the room leads to a communal head.
Post-Holocaust Day: #353

There's never much room to be getting on with, in a standard issue berthing, but there's a trick to fitting more than one body in a space meant for two. First in, Leyla's settled pressed close to the bulkhead, the edge of her boyshort style standard issue underwear carefully tucked down. Adjusted enough to protect her modesty, but still allow almost a complete view of the her left hip and back. She's resting up on her forearms, the palms of her hands on her temples, supporting her head.

Mark climbs in, still in his clean gear. All he does is unzip the top and scoot it down around his waist because they can get a little warm in a tight bunk. How he knows this is anyone's guess. He isn't quite sure how to position himself until he sees her scoot up against the bulkhead. The men lays himself lengthwise, sitting propped up on an elbow to look at her hip and then back to her. It would be obvious to anyone popping in what they were doing - no matter what the truth of it was. But Mark remains silent with her, waiting while she sits like that. He's not -staring-, but he's looking over the tatau with an eye for detail.

Leyla's position, while outwardly looking a bit uncomfortable, seems practiced, rehearsed. Not in the way of a woman who uses it with men in her bunk, but, after its own fashion, as a position learned out of necessity when one wants to read…whichever chapter it is she's selected from her book of flesh. It keeps her stable, giving her room to breath without having the rest of her body reflect the in and out movements of her breath, and provides an unobstructed view of her body. "Look on my back, just by my hip, and find the koru, the spiral that looks as though it's curled up in on itself. Place your fingers in the very center of the spiral, where the story begins."

Mark only gives her a quick glance at the directions. He was looking towards her hip again at the designs there. It takes a moment and its a little hard to see from this angle so he scoots down and leans towards her. So many designs. "This is gorgeous," he admits. "I have problems getting over that. Sorry." The man gives a light chuckle and lifts a hand. "Ah, okay. I think this is it." He rests two fingers on the center of the koru. "What now?"

"If ever I should see my Kaiwhakairo again, I will tell him how highly you regard his work." Like all who carry the ta moko, Leyla doesn't need to see where Mark is putting his fingers, to know he's found the right place. She knows, with unfailing memory, precisely where every line and etching of her tatau is on her body. Every inch memorized, down to the last. "First, I will give you a bit of the background on how our ta moko are applied, and the ritual required." Before you can read a story, you have to know its history. "Every family, every tribe and clan do things slightly differently. From the placement on the body to the iconography etched into the skin. But the process is always the same, in the traditional way."

"Interesting." He only moves his fingers a bit. Just enough to get a more sure feel for the texture. "So when you said that it was a history of your tribe, it was that specific of a reference. I didn't realize that Taurian culture had become so divided down blood lines. But it all comes back to one way of writing it. You really are carrying a whole culture with you. Song, dance, stories told with and without each, and its own language." He lets out a long breath. "But, sorry. I'm babbling."

"If you wish to explore the other tatau, feel free. I will let you know when we are about to read the story." Leyla remains still, breathing slow and even. "Yes, it was that specific. It may be that there are many other tribes which share the same story as the Aydins, as, for example, all of the people from Caprica share a similar history, when it comes to the development of themselves as a colony, but the diverge based on cities, or families or towns. The people who became known as Taurians were no different. We all lived on the same world, but we all came from somewhere else. From Kobol." She doesn't shake her head but the censure is in her voice, "You have nothing to apologize for. You are a student, taking a lesson. There is no shame in speaking your mind and asking questions." A pause, and she begins, "Kaiwhakairo means, literally, 'one who engraves'. Not all tatau traditions use incision, as ta moko does. The Kaiwhakairo is the master tatooist or Matatau who inscribes the flesh. I am known more generally as a Taiatau, one who has tatau or more specifically, as a Whakairota, or one who is engraved."

Mark nods and moves to trace a few more lines closer to her back. Seeing all this will never cease to amaze him. Ever. Its similar to being given a book in a strange language with a fascinating story and having the author right there to explain it all. "Taiatau. Whakairota. I think I'm saying that right? I never learned much of Taurian outside of movies." The gangster flicks. Usually where this kind of work is done with a black pen and some playdoh - if its ever seen. "How old were you again when this was started? Twelve, I think you said?"

"It is not a language people outside of our own take the time to learn. On Tauron, we know it because we are all one people. To outsiders, we are 'dirt-eaters', lowest of the low, except perhaps for the miners of Canceron." Leyla nods, her voice still that soft, even tone that's as much here as not here, "Yes. Children are not allowed to wear ta moko. Only once we have begun the journey to become adults is it allowed." Puberty, then is the turning point, though she doesn't seem to dwell on what it must have been like to be barely more than a child, and having your flesh carved open. It is what it is. "The art of Tatatau, the act of creating tatau is both a ritual and a process. There is always a single Matatau, and usually one or two apprentices, who assist him. Matatau may be female or male, there is no preference or distinction to being one or the other."

"Yeah. Dirt-eaters. Whatever. Gods, I've had to eat sawdust bread before. Did that for three years. Most of the people who say that kinda crap only have experience with poverty through late-night infomercials asking for money. While they snooze off their cognac-induced drunken stupors." No, he's not bitter. Not at all. He continues moving his hands over another one, fingers tracing a solid line down part of her back. "If there is no preference or distinction, how are you chosen? Beauty? Eloquence? Intelligence?"

"Yes." Agreement to Mark's comments on the privileged. "My father is the matai sili, the senior leader of our family, our 'aiga, for his generation. I am his eldest daughter. The onus fell to me, as it fell to my brother Emre, as the eldest son." Leyla doesn't shake her head, but there's an impression of that movement regardless, "I was certainly not eloquent at that age, nor was I the most beautiful. That was my younger sister Salima. Nor the most intelligent, though my grandfather would say otherwise. He was an engineer during the First War. He got me my appointment to Fleet Academy."

"Ah. So if you had children then it would fall to the eldest of all of them for this to be passed along." At least that is the assumption he's working under. "Huh. Well I was just naming of qualities I know about you. I wasn't sure if that was something that they looked at but it made sense. But your grandfather sounds like a good judge. Astrophysics isn't exactly basketweaving. Good man to recognize the talent. Did you catch a lot of flak for this at the Academy?" He tilts his head a little to see the line from a different angle.

"You have no need or reason to flatter me, Mark." Leyla's voice returns to that soft drifting tone, "If they chose to accept it. It is not a burden that is often denied, because it means so much to the 'aiga. But a child is not left without the ability to choose. If I, as First Daughter, or Emre, as First Son, had declined, it would have gone to Salima as Second Daughter or Ali as Second Son." Humour enters into her voice, "No, it is not. It was very difficult for me. Math was…difficult. I had remedial classes most of my first year at the Academy. Schooling in Derry was…not ideal." Again that pseudonod, "Very much so. To most of my classmates, it was a symbol of everything they disliked about Tauron, or thought they disliked about Tauron. Tribal, aboriginal, unevolved. I did not show them when I could help it. I could not allow the to be disrespected that way." The tatau she means. The change in the light brings the incisions into greater relief. Clean and precise, well healed, showing no signs of residual damage.

"I don't think either of us have a need for flattery, Leyla. That's just honesty." But he listens along with her in silence, letting her explain it all in her own way. Her life and what it has meant to carry this. "That's quite a question for someone just coming into their adulthood. I would imagine that it's a cultural understanding, of course, but still. Are most of the families on Tauron as large as yours? With distinct bloodlines of who carries the tatau?" The mention of her experience at the academy gets an unsurprised nod as he traces lines along her lower back. "I'd guard something like this, too. A bunch of Midshipman from the upper class being exposed to something this raw and historical? It's like you said. Most of the Colonies? Our tribes scattered when we settled. There's little hard history or bond between folks anymore. Just generic community though its usually an illusion on places like Caprica or Picon. This is -very- real."

"There are distinct tatau traditions all over Tauron. Ta Moko and Knossian are the two more distinct styles. They differ in that all ta moko is done by incision, and is not as decorative. Knossian, the first time it is done, it in incised, but the remainder is usually done with modern tools, like needles. There are many large families, though I am familiar only with the ones from my area of Tauron, the Black Country. Of those the two largest in the city were the Aydins, and the Brans. If ever you should see Sam's, his are very similar to mine. He can read me as easily as I can read him." Clearly, the two families must have been very close for many generations.

"Mmm. So some of this can really be just for decoration. I have to be honest, that doesn't surprise me. It doesn't surprise me any more than you telling me that there are dances and songs to help tell these stories." The man leans over her a bit to follow a line around her other hip before coming back to the one closest to him. "I didn't realize we had two people on the ship with these. That's pretty amazing. That's a lot of culture brought aboard. We're damned lucky." Mark starts tracing another line, eyes peering at the differences in design. "You two really should put it all down. Not just on potential children, but to paper. Future generations would be lucky to have it. Its a more personal story than they are likely to find with any of the history books we have aboard, bar none."

"Yes, not all tatau has an intrinsic meaning. But most of those of this style do. It is not something that outsiders are often aware of. That is why you will sometimes see non-taurians wearing ta moko or knossian tatau without knowing what it means. We have a word for those who steal our tatau for themselves, not knowing that every line has meaning. Paheka, ignorant outsider. It is not an offense we take lightly. I would certainly be unhappy to see someone walking about with my family's story written on their skin." A nod, "I will ask him if he is interested. I know he has a new family, and I think he will want Maggie and their daughter to know his story. But there are a number of taurians on the ship who have the traditional artwork of their families, their people."

Mark snorts. "Seriously? People would do that? If I saw someone walking around with that I'd be pretty livid, myself. That's a slap in the face. I don't care if imitation is supposed to be flattery. Fine, you think its beautiful. Try being friendly to a Taurian rather then flipping through Colonial Geographic and taking it to shop on Caprica. That's despicable." The man shakes his head. "See if he would be willing. Just because he has a new family doesn't make him any less of who he is. Something that important shouldn't be lost. I mean, to be honest, we oughtta start having everyone write down everything they know. Everything. From automotive mechanics, jet engines, all the way down to milking and raising cows. Cultural details are up there, too. If we survive this, humanity will need all the help it can get in the coming generations."

Leyla nods, a soft movement, "They do it all of the time. There was one incident…you remember that musician, Ovid Joyce? From Aquaria? He had moko done on himself. When people became aware of it…a group of assailants, nobody really knows who, or if they do they'd never say, beat him almost to death. He spend a month in ICU for the insult. Had then removed once he recovered. He apologized and all, and many of the tattooists who used to do them refused, not wanting to be the next bodies sent to emergency rooms all over the colonies, but it still happens. Knossians too, because their art is so engaging, full of embellishments and detail." A nod, "Well, that would certainly be something that would be useful, to save our history that way. But you would need to find someone willing to collect and correlate that data, and neither of us has the time for it."

Mark nods along, remembering the news story. "I heard about the assault. I had no idea that was the reason. Serve's the little punk right. Don't get stuff like this done unless you know what it means. Seriously. Even if you encouraged me to have something like this done I think I would turn it down. I'm Pican. I'll leave the art to the artists." He sighs, laying his head down a bit while he traces part of a story across her hip. "I can think of a few guys in the Mail Room with nothing to do."

"You would not be able to get the same sort of ta moko that I have, no, but you could work with a matatau and design a style of your own, that tells your own stories. This," clearly meaning the inkwork she carries, "was new once, with you, it would be new again. But not Taurian, it would be uniquely Pican, uniquely Makinen." Leyla remains still, as mark settles on the space of the bunk she's led for him, and while the curtain is still open, to allow the light to make it easier to see, his larger body blocks her mostly from view of the rest of the berthing, "There are four categories of moko. Achyddiaeth, as you know, are the genealogy tatau. Kaupapa are our ancestral stories, or myths, like the one we will read today. Whakapapa are…ones that mark social standing and influence. For me, they mark me a taupou, a village maiden, First Daughter of the Aydins. Finally, there is kirituhi, which are a record of your personal accomplishments, failures, skills, and values. They can and are added to after significant events in your life." Leyla half turns her head, still supporting them on her hands. "You are tired. If you wish to sleep now, I will not stop you. We have time enough later for the rest of the history and the reading."

Mark smirks. "Uniquely Makinen. Gods, I can't even imagine what that means. I'm one of those people that is so disjointed from my past and family history that its sad. I don't even know the first or maiden names of any of my grandparents. I can't even remember what my parents did before the first war. I think they were pretty young. Either still in high school or just out." Old memories. One's he hasn't even thought about in years. Maybe a decade or more. Mark is one of the few people who seems largely unaffected by everything. Either he's good at hiding what he lost or he didn't lose much. "A village maiden? You mean because of your father's standing? Also you did mention personal accomplishments, failures… Are those specifically related to your professional life? Life with other Taurians? Or things like marriage and children?" To her question of tired, the man chuckles. "Sure, I'm tired. That doesn't mean I want you to stop schooling me. Please.." He nods to her.

"There is nothing wrong with wearing only kirituhi. There are some taurians who have only their own accomplishments written on their bodies. You have done amazing things in your life. Your education, your military service, even your promotion to Chief Engineer. All of those could be commemorated on your body. It is a traditional title, since we no longer live in villages. The Taupou is usually a daughter of the matai of a family. I suppose…if you thought of familial politics like a business, the matai would be like the CEO, and the taupou as the president. Or to use those taurian dramas you have watched before, the matai sili would be like the godfather or boss, the lesser matai like the underbosses. The taupou would be his chief adviser and overseer of the family, acting as a buffer when needed. A bit like a consigliere. Wielding the power of the matai with a gentler hand. The bridge between rulers and the ruled." A nod, "I have some to commemorate my acceptance to fleet academy, my commissioning, my graduation from flight school. My posting to the Stussy, and I got my last just before I was transferred to the Cerberus." Yes, the ship's story, so far as it interacts with Leyla's life, is written on her skin as well. "If I were to marry, have children, have other significant events in my life, I would add them to the place where my kirituhi lie." A glance over to the man, "Lie still and rest, I will tell you the rest of the history of the process, and then…we will read."

"Mm. Is there a social stigma against people who only wear their accomplishments? Or is it merely just a choice people make? But for me?" Mark chuckles. "No. I'm just a normal guy thrown into some extraordinary circumstances. I'm not special. Again, that is something else I will leave to the professionals." He listens to the explanation with a few nods. "Good analogy. That does put the understanding down. And wow, to denote all that on your body. Everything important in your life. Gods I'd be proud as hell of that." But as she urges him to quiet the man smiles and nods. Okay. He'll listen.

"No, there is no social stigma in it. Many wear only their kirituhi. Not all are chosen for the family stories. So why would we look down on someone who had no stories but his own?" Leyla shifts, just enough to glance over at the man, "We are all just ordinary 'guys' thrown into extraordinary circumstances. You would not allow me to undervalue myself. Why should I now allow you to do the same for yourself?" And then, more gently, "It has never been about whether or not I was proud to carry all of this on my flesh." A moment, and she prepares to begin again.

Mark takes his eyes off her hip and looks back up to her with the mention of undervaluing herself. He smiles at her but doesn't say anything. He wants to, but he keeps it to himself. There's no hidden argument or minced words. No hostility or latent anger. He just meets her eyes for a few moments and looks back. What's on his mind is something he traps to himself for now. Tracing his fingers once more.

Leyla's eyes meet Mark's, hold them, before he looks away, and she settles herself back into the proper position. She doesn't respond to the fingers tracing her skin. The time to talk story isn't just right now. Now, is still history. "The ceremony for giving ta moko, at least in my family, the circumstances, have not changed for generations. I believe Sam's family has much the same tradition. There is always a Kaiwhakairo, and his or her apprentices. They make certain that all of the proper rites are observed, the proper rituals performed to cleans the body and the mind, to prepare the way for the pain to come. It is always done in pairs, to cut the pain. Pain shared is pain halved. And it draws two closer than friendship, as close as blood. Brothers and sisters are born under the hands of a Kaiwhakairo. Once the proper space has been created, there are songs, chants which must be recited. Some, called the Karakia, belong only to the matatau. Their answering chants, the Karakua, belong to the one who is receiving the moko."

Mark's smile still lingers but grows again with a gentle grunt. "Traditions going back generations. It almost seems like a religious experience for you. Especially the part about sharing the pain with another. It doesn't sound like an experience.. It sounds like dedication to an art, too. To be steeped so well in culture like this is pretty profound an idea to me." This coming from a guy whose only contact with culture for years was what his parents could remember from high school on a planet notoriously devoid of anything but military structure to so many lives. Maybe Leyla is surprised by this. Maybe not.

"There is a certain religious element to it, though it would be a secular sort of religion. We do not make records of the gods in our moko, but only of humans and human experiences. In some contexts, matatau can be used in place of the word we normally use for priest." Again, she doesn't nod, but only a slight incline of her head, "I am not surprised. I do not know of many of the other colonies for whom culture and history is part and parcel to their lives, except perhaps for the Gemenese."

"Huh. Interesting way to substitute matatau, though it's not an illogical leap, either. For something so closely ingrained into a culture that makes a lot of sense. A priest, like a brother or sister, is at the fundamental level a spiritual guide and community leader. If your people's spirit is tied so closely to something like this then it makes a lot of sense." Mark drops his hand from her hip and nods a few times, still looking it over, eyes drifting up her side. "I think I'd agree. Apart from the Gemenese who tend to throw their weight into the Gods, this is not something I could even closely relate to something you would see anywhere else. Some colonies have their own traditions but this.."

Even in Leyla's current position, there is more than enough of her tatau to study. All along her lower back, up to the lowest of her ribs, the sides and back of her legs, her sides. All crisp and precise, black contrasting with the relative paleness of her skin, "I am not so well versed in the other colonies, outside of what I have read in books and seen on television, so it is good to have your confirmation." A moment, of stillness, before she continues, "The creation of a new tatau alone is a ritual in and of itself. A pattern must be drawn, in consultation with your elders, and with the matatau, the design approved for respect and truthfulness. And then, the more difficult task, it must be made to blend into the existing tatau. Only once the matatau has approved the design, is everything else set into motion. And there is a necessary waiting period, while the Taiatau centers and focuses themselves on the ritual ahead. Once a moko is begun, whether it is a small piece, like a name or event, or a larger piece, like a story or ancestor tale, the moko must be completed. Sometimes, depending on the size and breadth of the moko, it must be done in multiple sittings, to prevent shock, and death from blood loss. It is never done with anything to dampen the pain. To fail, or to refuse to complete the moko is to be a pe'a mutu, the greatest mark of shame. There are some who have brought such shame to their families, that they have been banished from Tauron, never allowed to return to their home. But you must also live your life in a manner that makes you worthy of the moko. I have heard stories of those who wore the family moko that committed crimes that rendered them unworthy to wear the moko. They were brought before the matai and forced to cut the moko from their bodies." Pound of flesh, anyone?

The man listens quietly and without much indication to what she is saying until she mentions blood loss. The man does a doubletake at her but refrains from comment until she is finished. "Blood loss? It bleeds that much? I mean, these cuts go down past the first few layers of skin?" Dear Gods. "And its removed if someone is shamed or not up to code? I- wow. Just wow. That's.." Insane? Crazy? "Not what I expected to hear. What kind of definitions of life has your tribe placed on you?"

Again, that perfect calm, when describing something that to other people, including Mark, apparently, is clearly horrific, "Yes, the incisions are made through the dermal layers, into the subcutaneous tissue. If they do not go deep enough, they will not hold the patterns of the moko, they would just heal over to become smooth skin." A nod, "In earlier days, one would have to cut it off, not usually all of it, because that would certainly kill them, but enough to satisfy the matai, though…with a pe'a mutu, they were not easily satisfied. As modern methods became feasible, only a small portion is cut away, and the rest is surgically removed." A thoughtful moment, as she tries to simplify the restrictions, "I must always strive to live my life with honour, without lies, with humility. To put the needs and concerns of my tribe before my own. To strive for peace, even when I am brought to war. To live in a manner that reflects the honour and history of my clan, my tribe, my people."

Mark lets off a long exhale as he takes that in. "Yikes. No pain relief and cuts all the way through the tissue. I'm not even quite sure what to say to that." He looks back over her body in a different light. Whoa. "No wonder you create such a bond with those you share it with. It must be an intensely painful experience." No comment on the removal. If the carving is done without painkillers, he can't imagine the shamed fare very well. "Good ideals to hold yourself up to. Especially putting the needs of your tribe before your own. But to strive for peace? Do you find that difficult?"

"It is extremely painful. The trauma can sometime cause the one being given the moko to faint from the shock. That is why it is sometimes done in sessions. But there are times when it makes it more painful. because you must live in anticipation of the pain returning." A slight adjustment of her position, "One day soon, Sam and I will have moko done to commemorate our return to Picon. When that day comes, you would be welcome to sit with me, while it is being done." A slight headshake, "No. Because I do not fight this war for war's sake. I fight so that at the end, we may lay down our arms."

"I couldn't imagine having to know what is coming, especially not soon after its partially done. I might go into shock just waiting for it." He smiles but lofts a brow at her invitation to sit with her. "I'd be honored, Leyla. Deeply honored. Is there anything I would need to do to prepare or anything? But Picon? Your return to Picon?" This point he gets confused on. But he seems satisfied with the answer she gives in response to his question about war. There's a little pride there, too.

"No, I think you would be strong. For yourself, and for your family. Those of your blood and those of your heart." Prepare? "No, only bring yourself. Though clean coveralls and skipping a meal before you sit would be preferable." Barfing, clearly, is not a good thing. A nod, "We went there on a recon a few months ago. It was the last time either of us lived on-planet. Our last home, as Tauron was our first. We wanted to commemorate that home and the people we cared for there, lost to the Cylons."

Mark's smile holds but he looks down a bit. "Leyla, I don't have a family. I was raised by my academically sadistic Aunt. No parents, no siblings, no wife or child. I knew my parents were good people but I have no idea what would make them proud or what they wanted from me. I've only got friends and co-workers. Its been that way for more than twenty years. I just kind of exist outside of a normal cell." Which might explain his intense curiosity about her family and culture. For a man with none of that and his natural intent to explore the unknown, its not a leap. "But sure, no eating. I'll be clean for it. Shave. I would rather look respectable for that." Again, he nods to explanation of Picon. "Ah. I'm not sure I'd be so inclined to get back there or commemorate it. I generally try to avoid thinking about home."

"I am sorry that you did not have the comfort of a family growing up, Mark. But some family is made, not born. The people in your department are your family now, as the members of the Air Wing are mine. Blood does not have to be shared or spilled to make those bonds." Leyla shifts her weight, holding herself up on one hand, as she reaches out to touch the edge of Mark's jaw, sliding gloved fingers down to his chin, to attempt to lift his eyes to meet hers, "You might not have had a family then, but you can choose to have a family now."

"Heh. I had people to make sure I survived it intact, and I did. I was lucky, but I'm here. That's more than can be said for a lot of kids who lost family. There- Where I grew up? There was a lot of kids who didn't have parents. Both had been killed in the war or they just vanished. There were four children for every family there and each family averaged around two or three." Mark looks back up to her with a bittersweet smile. Thinking about home sucks. "I have people I love. I care deeply for the people in engineering. But family? Probably not. I've been here a few weeks. Before that it was Praetorian. Before that, bouncing around the colonies for work. I spend so much time traveling that I'm actually comfortable being anonymous. People never called me on the phone to complain about their lives or family members. I could avoid detailed questions on flights. Most people in the military, who I generally worked with, don't bother to try and relate to civilian designers when their whole lives have been in the service. I mean, heh." Mark gives her a wry chuckle. "What's a family? Functionally I'm just another guy that people talk and laugh with down there. But I'm also the Chief so becoming that close to them isn't as easy as it sounds. I -have- to keep a distance on some levels."

"You're a survivor, and that is a good thing. But part of you, I think, has not survived. And if they is a good thing or not, I cannot say. The problem with shutting out life, is that eventually, life begins to shut you out. And what is a family, if not people that care for deeply?" Pot calling the kettle black? Leyla's hand falls away, to return to supporting her head, "A distance, but not every distance."

Mark's smile lilts on one side and he looks away from her to the actual interior of her bunk absently. Its not faded completely. He almost looks fond. "Part of me died with my parents. I had to stop being a kid at ten. After that, it was always work-work-work. Today? I'm a workaholic. That tends to shut a lot of people out but then again I never had downtime. I always had a spread of projects out in front of me for months. I had wanted to retire in four years. I mean, geez.." He finally looks back to her. "I was stinkin rich. Four hundred thousand in the bank, about the same in the markets. I was going to live out my years like a fat cat. But I guess thinking about it, what's the point if you can't share it with people?" The Captain looks to the bed under her elbows and chuckles. "Ever think about that in regards to yourself? That maybe the fact that you don't have that emotional breadth isn't because you lack it, but that maybe you feel too deeply and try to counter it?"

"Dead, truly? Or only sleeping? An oak tree may fall in the path of a tornado, but it will often leave an acorn behind." A thoughtfulness, in her expression, despite the fact that her eyes are focused on the bed in front of her, "It shuts them out because they do not make an attempt to understand you, to make allowances for your habits, for your needs and your comfort zones. Though I think you might have needed to retire to someplace quiet to retire on that. The cost of living on Caprica was very high." But that's said with humour, which sobers at the last, "Perhaps, but in the end, it amounts to the same thing, doesn't it? If one person climbs through a window, and another leaves through a door, in the end they're both outside of the house."

"It was thirty years ago now that they passed. I remember looking at the world with different eyes, but what was different I don't know exactly. It just felt warmer. If there were any seeds planted, they would have shown, though." Mark looks up from the bed and back to her. "Heh, no. You nailed it. I had no desire to live on Caprica anymore. I never much liked the people. Like I said, I'm from a small town. I was giving serious consideration to Libran or Aerilon. I had a few properties picked-out for a lake house with a workshop. Someplace I could relax and tinker at my leisure." Though her last gets another smile. "The difference is that crawling back into a window is a lot harder than walking back through a door. You can still go back inside, though. The difference is the route you can take. My lifestyle and job kind of prevent me from doing more except leaning in the doorway and laughing with my people. You have other options."

"Warmer before, or warmer after?" Since he failed to clarify, Leyla clearly seems to feel the need for it. "So you were looking forward to spending the rest of your life as that kooky old man who lived down by the water. Not the sort of retirement I would picture for you. But of course, I do not know you so well as you know yourself." A soft sound, laughter of her own, "And how does my lifestyle and my job give me anymore options than yours? You at least, have the safety of your ship around you. My life could end at any moment, if the enemy is able to destroy my raptor."

"Warmer before. I guess kind of a childhood innocence lost? I dunno. That doesn't feel quite right. But yeah, heh, I was." Mark's expression turns a bit bashful. He probably doesn't really get to talk about what his plans were. If he ever had. "I spent my whole life above the ground. Designing ships meant to travel. Weapons systems meant to kill. Working long hours to produce stuff that, while interesting, really didn't do much for me. I figured that with so much time spent on other endeavors, I could end my life on a higher note exploring the things that I wanted to. Maybe write a book or two. All I knew is that I wanted to get away from defense contractors and spend some time fishing. Maybe open a bar in a tiny town." The man seems more genuinely interested in people than machines. Odd for a guy doing his job. "But you have the option to be close to people inside this wing. You can have a strong kinship with the people you fight with. Its something to celebrate. Sitting around laughing and crying with them..Its not a push to get you to open up, I just want you to think about what you said about keeping people at arm's length."

"Childhood is never as innocent as we remember." Said by the woman who had little of it herself, despite the fact that she had family all around her. "I wouldn't have known what to do with myself with nothing around to work on. Even growing up, I always had my hand in something, sculpting or scavenging." Head turning, she looks away from her mattress, and over to the man lying beside her, "You also have the same option. And yet instead of taking it, you use your title as a shield to keep people at a distance. You won't get close to them because you 'can't'."

"I was never into tech-y stuff until I joined the Navy. I had friends and all in high school but it was tough. My aunt would pile me on for special classes on weekends and tutors after school. It was never enough to be smart. I had to be the best. Too bad I couldn't have invested more in my lazy side. Ah well." Mark chuckles. He knows he wouldn't be here today if things hadn't gone exactly as they had. But the smile fades once more as she looks at him. His own gaze averts back to the walls of her bunk. "Frat rules are lifted but I would rather keep my distance. Nothing is worse than having to discipline or demote someone you consider a good friend. People take it personally. And to be honest? I hate officers. I gotta be honest, I do. Obviously you and a few others are exceptions but I just don't like the attitudes. So I try to avoid them."

"Do you ever wonder why she did it? Do you think she did it to punish you? Or do you think she might have done it, however brusquely, as a way of insuring that you could escape from the hell that Picon must have been after the war? People love, to be sure. They do not always love warmly, or in a way that we understand." Leyla catches Mark's movement, or rather, his attempt to avoid eye contact, "They take it personally, because they cannot accept that there are times when you will be their friend, and times when you will and have to be their boss. They are not used to or comfortable with compartmentalizing." A snort, yes, of laughter, "You consider me an exception to the rule? You should speak to some of my nuggets. I am quite certain they think I'm some monster raised up from the depths of Tartarus."

"I think she did it because of a promise made to my father - her brother. He had plans to get us out of that town. She told me as much. He said that if anything ever happened, that I was to be pushed as hard as possible to succeed. Well, she did. Like you said, I'm a survivor now. Thanks in large part to both my parents and aunt." Mark still looks over the sundries on her shelf. Things potentially posted on the walls. "Yeah, well, it doesn't matter whose fault it is that people are mad. I don't have a problem with confrontation but it leads to bad blood. Its easier to just laugh and joke but avoid too close of a contact. But her laugh.. She laughed. It gets Mark to grin and he looks back to her without a comment to it. "I bet they love you. All balls and ass-kicking? Yep. That's okay. I don't have to see that. I get to see somebody else."

"So she did raise you out of love. Love for her brother and his wishes. She gave you the tools to succeed, through those extra classes. And she gave you the desire to leave Picon by making you feel unwanted, unloved. By freeing you of any anchors that might have weighed you down. It is never easy to love someone, especially when you know that loving them means you have to let them go." As for sundries, there are a few. Pictures of her family, in a digital frame, which is stopped on a photo of herself and a woman who looks nearly identical to her, but older, most likely her mother, and another woman who looks again nearly identical, but even older still. Mother, daughter and daughter's daughter. A pack of smokes lies on the shelf as well as a pack of beef jerky. A digital book reader. Nothing terribly girly. "They don't call me Sweet Pea for nothing. But I don't want you to see that side of me, not unless you have to." But there's curiosity there, "So who do you see, Mark Makinen."

"I don't know, exactly. You nailed her, though. Unflinching, strict. When she wasn't at work, every minute was focused on what I was doing. But it just wasn't enough. There was no way I could get into school. I joined the Navy and that? Was that." There's the distinct impression that she just 'went away' from his life. There is also no comment on people having to be let go. Mark gives a short shrug and looks back to the photos. "Oh I'm sure I'll see that side of you one day. It doesn't scare me. I've been yelled at plenty in my life. Seen a lot of people mad. Trust me, you ain't seen angry until you had to tell a Rear Admiral to shove his demands up his ass." He finally smiles again with a quick glances to her. "But who do I see.." The man sits up more to see the photo, though still comfortable. "I see.. a smart, highly astute woman. Someone driven to succeed both in their career and their personal life - which is closely tied. But I see a person who holds her real personal life very close to her heart. Especially her family and those she considers family." A long breath. "I see a woman so coated in guts and courage she would hike barefoot across hell just for a chance to save her friends. Someone who has devoted their life to a cause despite personal persecution. Someone who carries honors and burdens with her head held high." He looks back to her. "I see the personification of strength. That's what I see."

"So you didn't get into school, but you still went on to make more of yourself than you would have done on Picon. And you certainly did finally, get the education that I'm certain she wanted for you. And you did well enough that you would never have had to go back to Picon again, but could choose to live your life as you pleased." Again, that quick spot of laughter, but it's tempered with something completely the opposite, "How unfortunate that we no longer have a rear admiral for you to get where they can get off. That might be something I would pay jerky for." Since money is no longer a commodity, but foodstuffs are, "You see in me only what you refuse to acknowledge in yourself." Not that she doesn't accept his description of her. All of it is spot on, "I am only a mirror, Mark Makinen. A man who has put his own wants, needs and desires aside in the service of the fleet. Who said 'Yes', when he would have much rather said 'No.' A man who knows his intelligence, but isn't ruled by it. A man who is strong, but who also knows how to love." A beat, "Even if you likely would not use those words yourself."

"I did, sure. Eventually. My aunt disappeared before I could go anywhere. She stuck around long enough to see me graduate basic. I got letters from her through A-school and after I told her I would be heading to the fleet? Nothin. Cops tossed her house. Her car was there, all her clothes. No sign of a struggle. Just poof." Mark has probably got his own theories but those are probably the facts as he understands them. "But you're right. It got me out of there." He listens to what she has to say with eyes on the mattress. A beautiful half-naked woman next to him and he's not even looking at her. Teenage Mark would be slapping Captain Mark. "No, I think you nailed that last part. I sure wouldn't use any of those to describe myself. And you're not a mirror. I see things in you that I aspire to. You have a way of thinking that makes me jealous sometimes. And if you think I know how to love, I think you're probably off your rocker, Leyla." He finally chuckles with the last to look back at her. "I've got all the skills in love of a fifteen year old. Just minus the raging hormones."

"The last tie holding you to Picon, the last anchor that could drag you back home was gone. Perhaps she wanted it that way. Perhaps she let go, in the only way she knew how." Of course, it might be just as likely that there was foul play involved, but hey. No one ever say Leyla was a downer all the time. "Nor would I describe myself the way you described me. Familiarity breeds contempt. We never see ourselves in the same light in which other people see us." As for love, well, "And how do you know what love is? How would you know if you found it, or it found you? if you have as little experience as you say, then you might be staring it right in the face and not see it at all. You shouldn't aspire to be like me."

"I have no idea. After it happened I kept thinking she left out of shame. But to be honest, I don't know why. Your reason is one I had considered. There have been a lot. I know she's gone. My family has been gone for a long time. Its fine." He ghosts her a smile and looks back to her pictures. "I guess we will just have to agree to disagree then." The last series of questions get him to look back down towards her but not at her. Mostly across. "After we finished project development on the Praetorian and put it to space, I had a short job on Leonis Anchorage. I met a woman there and I think I loved her. First time I had ever felt that way. Never really had a chance to figure out. It was never serious for her. I don't think it was as serious for me as I would have wanted. But eh. Give me one good reason I shouldn't aspire to be like you?"

"Your family isn't gone, Mark. They're in your head, they're in your heart. Same as mine. The only difference is, I can look at myself and see them in these," a shift of her hip to indicate her tatau, "Where you can only see them in your mind's eye." Despite her faults, Leyla isn't completely blind to the feelings of others, and clearly, she's touched a nerve with the engineer. "Perhaps we should leave the reading for another day. It was never my intention to upset you." A sadness, at the mention of the woman now, likely, lost to the war, "I am sorry for your loss." Serious, yes, "Because it's too late for me. It isn't too late for you."

Again Mark shakes his head and looks towards the other end of the bunk. "I don't have family Leyla. I mean it. I don't remember what my mom's face looked like or anything. They're just shapes. Its fine, though. I don't lament it. Its just who I am. Some people walk alone." He looks back to her. The smile is forced but its probably more for her benefit than his. "Its all sweet of you to say, but don't worry about it. Besides, she's gone a year now. We all lost a lot. Particularly you." There's a glance to the picture of three generations of Aydin women and back to her. "Its never too late for anyone until you are dead. We just are the way we are." No comment to the reading delay.

A nod. That's all, as Leyla finally rises from where she's been lying on the bunk, small enough that she can maneuver a bit to attempt to slip out along the blanket side of the bunk, "Of course, Mark." She's not about to start an argument with him, not when it's her own fault. "Do you need an extra blanket? I can grab one from the bunk on top. Payback won't mind." The turtle is very decidedly back in her shell.

Mark moves when she does to allow her to get around without having to bump into him. Its a tight fit. Thankfully she's got more practice with it than he does. Eventually though he shakes his head. "Nah. I'm good. I'm probably going to head back down to the shop anyway and get some stuff done. I was thinking about bed before but it just doesn't hold the same draw." He moves to scoot off the bunk. "Thanks, Leyla. I'll see you later, alright?"

It's a bit like twister, without the plastic sheet and colourful little dots. But they do manage it, somehow. Close, but never close enough. Leyla's hand reaches out, gloved, but no less actual contact for all of that, the attempt made to settle on his arm before he can launch himself out of the bunk, "Stay." Beat, "I just need to put my sweats on."

Mark stops at the touch to his arm. It certainly wasn't expected but he doesn't wrench away. If anything, he looks a little confused - which could be any reason from him genuinely not knowing what she means down to him being probably more tired than he looks. He doesn't quite have his legs kicked over the side but he listens anyway. "Ah, okay?"

The hand on his arm lifts away, as Leyla rises to retrieve her sweats from her locker, slipping them on with no attempt at artifice or attempt to make a spectacle of it. Once they're on, she does bring down the extra blanket, "You need sleep. Not more work, and it's quiet here." A quirk of her lips, not quite a smile, close, though, "I know a few lullabies, if you need one."

Mark doesn't really watch her get dressed so much as just glance to what she's doing. Watching women get dressed in co-ed berthings is only exciting for the first week or two. He looks up to her with her urging though and he sighs in resignation. "I feel like an ass for taking your bunk." Her takes the proffered blanket with a slow nod and leans back into the bed, looking over the contents from the pillow before settling in.

"You can't take what I already offered. And I am accustomed to sharing. As well, I did tell you that I wasn't using it. Sleep, and don't worry. Or I really will have to start singing you to sleep, and you might never live that down." Dressed and properly in order, Leyla reaches in to grab her digital book reader, "I'll be right upstairs if you need me. And besides, I like having the company."

Mark finally allows another smile up to her and nods. "Alright, you win. Besides, your bunk is more comfortable. And you don't have people above you running chainsaws." He yawns and turns over to his side. "Thanks, Leyla. For everything." Then he just closes his eyes.

"Of course, Mark." Leyla remains where she is, staying only long enough to make certain he's settled, and to close the curtain, before she takes the ladder up to the empty bunk above her. Settling in herself, for what's left of her off cycle, before she turns back to the book she set aside such a long time ago. When the ChEng first arrived.

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