PHD #263: This Is Why We Don't Open Up
PHD #263: This Is Why We Don't Open Up
Summary: Khloe and Vandenberg have a moment of honesty. Then, they have a moment of 'Khloe smash'.
Date: 17 Nov 2041 AE
Related Logs: None
Khloe Vandenberg 
Observation Deck - Deck 3 - Battlestar Cerberus
With a quiet view to the stars, this tends to be one of the more popular 'quiet areas' of the Cerberus. Up front is a small-unseated area for ceremonies or other activities while the seating rises up behind it. Each level rises up behind the one before it, comfortable chairs and couches set up for crewmembers to relax, get some work done or even take a nap. A large armored plate is lowered during Condition One to protect the interior against a breach in the glass.
Post-Holocaust Day: #264

One of the quieter times during any typical 'day' aboard Cerberus, there isn't much in the way of people here right now. Sitting cross-legged with her back against bulkhead by the large plate glass window that gives the observation deck it's name is Khloe Vakos. Of all manner of dispositions and attitudes she could be caught in, currently she appears introspective, as on her lap is a large sketchbook. Lined up side by side on the carpeted deck by her feet are a number of pencils. Dressed in her blues but with her jacket folded on a nearby couch arm, she's an odd sight in her tanks and dress uniform pants, dog tags hanging free. She seems unmindful of anything else around her, occasionally sketching a few lines, and then staring out into space.

Natalie wanders herself in with a few folders under her arm, clearly intent on doing some reading. In her duty browns, complete with sidearm and barassard, she is either on duty or just came off. Her walk takes her down towards the front where she spots the Captain and she smiles. Given her light wave and relaxed manner, she probably isn't anymore on duty than Khloe. "Heya, sir. Down here pondering the stars?" the Marine asks softly as she settles herself down in a chair nearby.

It takes a moment for Khloe to recognize that she's being addressed. Lazy eyes sweep back towards the origin of the sound, and they blink as they focus on Natalie. "Hmm? Oh. Lieutenant." There's a hasty movement of her flipping the sketcbook closed - looks like she was sketching the beginnings of a full-figure portrait, female from the hourglass shape. "Pondering, er, choices. Choices, yes," she offers, apparently a little surprised someone would interrupt her reverie. "I come down here on occasion. Or, if it's too busy, I find a munitions locker or someplace quiet." Slowly her contemplative face flees in exchange for her usual cold exterior. "You?"

At least Van was able to glimpse the sketch before she closed it. The Marine smiles and reaches up to unbutton her brassard and settle it into her lap. "Looked like it was starting well..whoever you were going for." She nods to the book and settles back in the seat. "About the same. Never been on something like this so getting a view of the starts like this is still pretty awe-inspiring to me. Its a good place to think when people aren't necking in the back like a couple of high school kids." Her smile brightens. "Choices, mm? Anything in particular or just musing about the past, present, and future?"

Khloe wrinkles her nose a little at the mention of neckers. "It's the end of the world, and people still find time to grope each other in the middle of a public place," she agrees with distaste lacing her words. She shakes her head, with her eyes drawn to Natalie's hands as the brassard is removed. They then flit back up to match her gaze. "Mostly the past. The present is based on the past, and the future is unwritten, but usually dependent on the present. Choices," she affirms.

Natalie's smile doesn't fade. "Neckin' and gropin' is about as human as it gets. I think its a little reassuring though.." She tilts her head side to side and lets out a short, soft laugh. "Its not always pleasant to see. You've got a point. Luckily you've got an MP haunting to put a stop to such travesties." She jerks a thumb to her chest with a grin and looks over the chair behind her towards the back. There's a white bandage taped to the previously hidden side of her neck as well. "Mmm. So you're reaching for philosophical? Must be some heavy thoughts, sir." The smile seems to have disappeared and replaced with an expression more suited towards the topic. Subdued and calmed.

"Not so heavy, Lieutenant," comes Khloe's reply. She rests a hand atop the closed sketchpad on her lap. "You see, half a lifetime ago, I needed creative and productive outlets to help me steer clear of the substance abuse that nearly killed me. Being from Canceron, you know what goes on in some of the poorer places, I'm sure. So, my social worker turned me on to artistic endeavors." She raps her fingertips on it. "I'm not very good, but I'm better than I was. It helps me visualize goals, or consider my options before I follow them. Nothing particularly deep about it."

Natalie doesn't interrupt. She considers the Captain's words with a lofted brow and a simple nod of her head. "Didn't realize you'd dealt with that end of Canceron. Yeah, I can see the outlet working well. You might be better now but your first attempts must have been pretty full of emotion. Might be better than you think." Vandenberg crosses her legs and settles the folders in her lap. "So do you typically sketch your goals or just let your mind wander while your hand provides an unconscious outlet?"

Khloe glances down at the pad; she's fiddling with one of the metal rings that constitute its spine, some of which have apparently been bent back into position. It's likely an older sketchbook. "Usually I start with a silhouette. Whatever strikes me at the time," she explains. "Usually it's a wandering thing, although if I'm particularly mindful of a goal or something's been weighing down on me, it usually dictates the kind of individual that ends up getting sketched. I'm not particularly good drawing things, you see. Mainly people."

"Mm." Van reaches down into the cargo pocket of her pants and removes a plastic bottle and unscrews the cap. "I'd always figured that drawing people was harder. But I guess they have their own fluid motions which isn't as set in stone. Makes sense." She takes a quick sip and leans towards to offer it to Khloe. "Water?" Its q moment before she continues. "Ever think that maybe you draw the Gods depending on the matter?" The Lieutenant probably does not strike Khloe as someone particularly religious. "Though I'll admit I had a peek when I walked up. Hard to go wrong with the female form." Natalie keeps her tone soft, but seems to be more inviting and warm than she might otherwise when on an athletic bike. Especially on duty.

There's a hesitation when Natalie offers the bottle, but she lifts a hand to take it from her, almost as if she were daring to reach into a hot oven. "Thanks," she says, and takes her own small drink. She's quick to hand it back. "I consistently draw women better than I do men. Either my male figures end up looking like freaks, proportioned heavier than, say, Sergeant Constin," she offers as comparison. "Or they end up looking like boys." There's a brief clench of her jaw. "I think my therapist back on Canceron might have volumes to say on that subject," she mutters.

Natalie takes the bottle back and recaps it, smirking as she rootches herself back into the seat. "Well for one I'd say you've got more experience looking at women. Especially in the mirror." She tilts the bottle towards Khloe before tucking betweek her leg and the arm of the chair. "Course Sergeant Constin isn't exactly something horrible to be drawing either. Won't say I dislike the build. Maybe you just draw what you see..but less.. Hmm." She makes a face. "Like, you don't draw what you see physically but more..geez. Emotionally? Sort of like sketching the idea of a personality rather than the actual person." She tumbles her hands while she talks. "Or am I just blathering on without a clue?" her smile hints back at a return with the question.

Khloe raises an eyebrow at Natalie's volunteered psychoanalysis. "I didn't know a degree in psychiatry was required in order to join the Marine Corps," she quips, the corner of her mouth threatening to turn upward. Watch out, a smile from Captain Vakos. She shrugs, continuing to pick at the metal coiling. "I'm not sure. Possibly. I do find Sergeant Constin to be quite a capable soldier; I don't know him very well, but I find no faults with him. He's… no bullshit, I suppose the best way to describe him is."

Natalie chuckles, shaking her head. "If that's degree-worthy analysis then I probably just spent my own bit of luck with it I've ever had in one fell swoop." She looks to her lap, shaking her head and still holding the slight upturn of her lips. "Aye, from what I know of the man, he is someone who deserves what he's earned. The guy has had a pretty rough go of things lately, what with his wife and all. I think you nailed him pretty well, though. The man doesn't seem much in the mood to do anything except kill cylons, chew tin cans, or benchpress tractor trailers. He kind of reminds me of a mean-ass dog that picks his company carefully. I -think- I've managed to hold his good side. Got anyone like that in your group?"

"Sticks don't benchpress tractor trailers, they are naturally buff because they carry around their egos, wherever they go," Poppy grumbles, apparently one of the few Viper jocks who don't have an overblown sense of self-importance. "But if I were to single out a pilot I could rely on in the Knights, it would be Wade Duncan. Drips, we call him. He's the type that's all about 'yes, sir, how high, sir' after you tell him to jump. He's level-headed."

The Lieutenant nods along. "Yeah, I think I've seen him around. He was the pilot you were talking to in the berths when I walked in at a bad moment." She shakes her head. "I know the type, though. I've had some Marines like that. Lots of energy, always volunteering, dependable. I like those types a lot, too. They kind of remind me with the group I used to run with before college. Always looking for the Next Great Adventure."

Khloe tilts her head to the side at the mention of adventure. "I'm guessing you're the type that always went on 'extracurricular activities' and such, hmm? Didn't have much of that where I grew up." She shifts a little where she's seated, unfolding her legs and stretching them out. It might be time to move, or at the very least, get up off the floor. "Unless, of course, the idea of gang fights is an adventure to you."

"Nothing with school. I was pretty well hated until eighth grade when guys started to notice me in way other than for how I was known. Once that happened? I spent a lot of time out and about. It was like pulling teeth at first, but I came around. Got pretty big into hiking. Managed to get to most of the peaks in the Denegau Range before I left." The mountain range that runs up into the more temperate areas before the pole. The peaks are snowed in nearly year round. Natalie looks fondly off into the stars with the memories, smiling wistfully. "We had our share of fights, sure. Its Canceron. Find me born n bred who isn't bound to a few fights in their lives and I'll show you an imposter." Her eyes settle back on Khloe once more. "Take it you had things pretty bad with your hometown. Substance abuse? Gangs? You've gotta be proud to have come such a long way."

Khloe dips her chin in a small nod. "It's not something I talk about a lot. Most get the story about my callsign and that's the end of it." Her voice gets quieter. "But yes, it was rough. I don't like admitting weakness, but I was tied to the way of life in the slums. Dad ran off, mom had a half dozen boyfriends and lived on the ex-convict welfare crap that the politicians got the Quorum to sign off on." There's a growing sense of distaste in her words and a curl of her lip into a sneer. But she stows it quickly. "Drugs helped me chase everything away. Ended up in the hospital twice, the second time because my heart stopped. Morpha's a hell of a drug to get addicted to."

"Admitting weakness ain't so bad. I was that way for my first year in the Marines. I never learned to deal with keeping stuff bottled up, though. Eventually my company's Sergeant Major pulled me aside and we had a talk. Well, no. He talked at me. I listened." Her lips turn up towards a smile but there's no delight or happiness there. "Mm. Poppy. Yeah, now it makes sense." Natalie sighs, tilting her head a touch to the side. "If you don't mind me saying? Seems like you've got a lot of heart. Even a lot to say. Definitely a lot to teach. I can understand why you wouldn't want that getting around but knowing what your CO has been through in life can go a long way sometimes. Not always, but.." She props her head up with her hand, watching Khloe while her voice trails.

Khloe shrugs lightly. "It's who I am. Doesn't bother me once folks know, but I don't go and broadcast it. It gives the more egotistical ammunition to cause shit with. You know, those who have something to prove?" She matches Natalie's gaze with her own, studying the shorter woman's face. Her eyes narrow, not out of distaste or disapproval, but out of scrutiny. The wheels are clearly turning. Finally, she says, "I just do my job the best I can. Tomorrow, I seek to do better. Perfection is my addiction, now."

"Fair enough." The Marine gives a gentle nod in Khloe's direction. "I know those types as well. I had a guy in my first platoon who was still backwards enough to think women couldn't handle the Corps. Anything I did, he had to try and find a fault with it. That Sergeant caused me endless problems." Her sigh is short but there's considerable frustration associated with the memory and it shows in her eyes. "I wish I had your determination to do better. I just kind of lost my motivation years ago. I'll be the first to admit I've stopped caring about trying to make other people happy except for watching over my Marines. I get sloppy sometimes. Hell, I got into two arguments in two days at the shooting range. Almost had a third the following morning. I keep wanting to kick myself in the ass to work harder at who I am but like I said - I think I just lost all motivation too long ago."

Khloe picks herself up off the floor in a smooth motion, pausing only to gather up her pencils. "Don't get me wrong, Lieutenant - I'm not about other peoples' approval. I don't do what I do because I'm looking for a pat on the back or some worthless praise." This is the first sign of the SL's usual negativity and pessimism throughout the whole conversation. "I do it for me. Because I know that if I don't spend every waking hour trying to be a better soldier, in the end, I'll just end up like that frakked up girl on Canceron, sticking needles in my arms and popping pills." Looking down at the Dog Platoon Commander, Captain Vakos says, simply, "Must be nice, having that luxury, to just be yourself."

Vandenberg sets the folders on the chair next to her and rises with Khloe just out of sheer habit. "I- Sorry, sir. I know what you meant. Just got a little bit of my own insecurities leakin through. And sir?" Natalie looks right up at Khloe. "Considering how far you've come? The attitude that you have? Well." She takes a short breath. "I've got faith that you wouldn't fall backwards." The last comment from Khloe gets a flickered expression that covers a lot of emotions in the blink of an eye. "It sucks, sir. Its like.. Its sort of like being lost in foreign woods without a compass or a map. You don't know what's a threat so you just react. I get into a lot of trouble. Not always proud of who I've become, Captain. But I'm stuck with myself so I try to make the best of it." She does her best to cover up the shame but its probably not hard for someone else from Canceron to pick up on the little nuances.

Khloe snorts, a little derisively. "You don't like what you've become? I bet, if someone handed you a jar of deck shine or a glass of whiskey in celebration, you could enjoy it. I bet, that if someone offered you a celebratory smoke due to an operation well done, you'd be able to enjoy it no problem." Her voice is low and even, although those in the air wing might know that when she's the most serious is when she's at her most dangerous. "I bet, that you can enjoy the small pleasures life has without becoming a useless pile of hedonistic crap. No, Lieutenant, your life's not so frakking bad, after all." And on that note, the Captain slowly steps away, long enough to glare at the shorter woman. Behold, the insecurities of Khloe Vakos, both shield and dagger.

Some might straighten up at the words. Some might even get scared. Vandenberg's demeanor doesn't look like it changes. She looks right back up at Khloe, even holding the woman's eyes throug the glare and staring at her back as she walks off. "You know something, sir?" Her voice is still soft and quiet. There's a short breath before she speaks again, her hands sliding into her pockets. "You don't have to go full auto on someone just because they're admitting something about themselves. It ain't a competition. There's no reason to turn that around on me. We are who we are. If you think I'm too good for you then I'm sorry, Captain. Just looking for someone to talk to." Natalie turns slowly back to her folders and collapses back into the seat, whispering herself into a frown.

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