PHD #422: This Ol' Guitar
This Ol' Guitar
Summary: Burke battles anti-sentimentalism, Devlin ponders how to utilize his space, Khloe is exasperated, Trask oozes.
Date: 24 April 2042 AE
Related Logs: Not so much related as referenced: The Lady Doth Protest Too Much (Cidra and Khloe are not bed buddies)
Burke Devlin Khloe Trask 
Pilot Berths - Battlestar Cerberus
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: #422

It's Sunday, which means Khloe is going through her ritual cleaning and reorganization of her locker. When she's not on CAP or handling other squadron matters, the Knights SL enjoys working out, or finding more ways to fill up her supposed leisure time with being a better soldier. It's damn irritating at times, because she often expects other junior officers to be spending their off-duty time in similar fashions.

The Captain has one of her uniforms taken apart, slacks still hung on a hangar but the jacket's brass is completely disassembled. She's perched sitting on the edge of her bunk, going over the uniform jacket with a stiff brush, de-linting it and removing whatever she can. And while the Captain rarely smiles, if at all, she does seem to be enjoying the tedium. This is Khloe Vakos.

Burke is on his way back up to the berths, having been sidetracked while returning from combat air patrol. He carries an old and extremely battered guitar by the neck, humming some obscure song to himself. He moves towards his bunk, fishing two folded-up photographs from his pockets and placing them pride-of-place just above the pillow. One photo of a muscle car, the other a more recent photograph of a Viper 7.5.

That done, he turns about and only now seems to spot Khloe. A glance is given to one side, as though he's considering something. Finally, he bites the bullet and moves to approach the Squadron Leader with the guitar still clasped in his hand, "Uh, Cap'n, ma'am? Ah hate t' inner'upt but Ah been meanin' t' ask you 'bout a little thing."

Khloe pauses mid-brush, and glances up. Eyes focus, recognition. "Ensign," she states, and looks back down at her work, resuming brushing. Lint is serious business. "What can I do for you?"

“Well, Ah wanted t’ ask you if’n you’d mind terribly t’ sign this here guitar?” Burke holds the guitar up for Khloe to get a good look at, looking down at it and then looking back up, “Ah been thinkin’ lately ‘bout how all a’ us been kinda on the low end a’ things given them Areion folk an’ what not. Ah had this ol’ guitar since ‘bout as long as Ah been walkin’. Ah ain’t much of a player, but Ah thought maybe ever’one could sign it. Sort of a way t’ say, y’know: Ah was here. Ah made my mark.”

Khloe pauses in her brushing again. She raises a thin eyebrow, giving Burke a look that one might question whether or not she thinks he is nuts. "You want me to sign your guitar." Less stated like a question and more like a reiterated fact. "Breakout, you're new here, and you've had a very exciting and successful tour as an Ensign, so I'll go easy on you. I am not one for sentimental gestures. I really don't care if someone, someday, looks at a beaten, mistreated instrument and sees my name, because I doubt they're going to ask, 'Who was this?' No, I think not." She does not immediately go back to brushing, however - she seems keenly interested in how Burke handles her shoot-down.

“Well, all due respect, Cap’n,” Burke says, swallowing hard as he presses on with the bull-headedness of the eternal optimist, “Y’all’re wrong ‘bout that. Ah know for a fact that Ah will look at it, and Ah will say ‘This was my Cap’n. An’ even though she didn’t want t’ sign this ol’ thing, Ah was stubborn as heck an’ wouldn’t take no for an answer.’” He looks at the guitar a moment, his mouth twitching slightly at the corner in a smile.

It's been nine (9) days since Trask was carried out of his Raptor, loaded on a gurney, wheeled over to Medical, transferred unto an operating table, and then parked in the Recovery Room for a week-long drug-induced stupor. He's back, though, cleared for light duty, seeming no worse for wear other than some soreness and stiffness and the occasional bout of itchiness where he'd been sliced open and stitched up. Foregoing pain killers because he's acutely aware that he's a bit mentally fuzzy from nicotine withdrawal (since smoking affects healing quality and time), he's only pulling fourteen (14) hour work days, as opposed to the usual sixteen (16). Those extra hours, plus those of rescinded CAP detail, have been tacked on to PT.

And so it is that Bootstrap trundles into the berths, clad in sweaty gym clothes. To his locker, he goes, with a single-minded purpose.

That eyebrow quirks again. Those who know Khloe, or at the very least have shared space with her for the past year or so, could pick up on the barely perceptible quirking of her mouth that indicates she is amused. But likely not for poor Burke. The Captain sets her uniform jacket and stiff brush aside, and rises to her feet - almost 5'10. "Rule number… four, I think it is. 'Khloe Vakos is never wrong,' Did you ever think, Ensign, that I don't want people wondering who I was?" she relays to Burke. Without missing a beat, she offers an almost kind and cheery, "Hi, Kal. Working out? Try not to ooze everywhere." Then, focuses back on Burke, back to her stoicfrownface. "I am here to do a job, Mister. Just like you are. I'm not in it for medals or commendations or pats on the frakking head. If I died tomorrow, all that should matter is that I died doing my duty. Someone will be promoted to take my spot. That's the way of things. Now you give me one good reason why a frakked up guitar changes all of that."

“Well, alright, y’all’re never wrong,” Burke presses on relentlessly, his inability to recognize when his head is being bitten off giving him the survivability of a cockroach in the nuclear holocaust of Khloe Vakos’ anti-sentimentalism, “Ah ain’t gonna argue that. But maybe y’all can realize you had a, whatcha call it? Momentary lapse in complete un’erstandin’ a’ th’ sit’ation?” He drums his fingers on the guitar, glancing sidelong towards Trask but not wanting to lose the bare threads of the conversation lest he never have an opportunity to gather them up again, “Y’see, this ol’ guitar is a mess, true, but it’s also a story. An’ whether or not y’all like that, y’all’re a part a’that story. Now, imagine Ah wanted to tell some’un’ ‘bout Heracles but the Nemean Lion ain’t wanna be talked ‘bout in the story. Whole story falls apart. All th’ parts’re important.”

Cast in the tired afterglow that comes from giving all during physical therapy and whatever other working-out he could muster, Trask only notices the goings-on when he hears his name. As had been demonstrated during the last time he gave-up smoking for a few weeks, his wit is no less sharp, but he strikes less often. Case in point: Khloe's remark about never being wrong garners no response. To her comment about him oozing all over the place, however, he is quick to nonchalantly bandy back, "That payload's for your bunk only, Pops." And, really, if she presses the matter, odds are he will change his trajectory to land on her oh so pristine bed. "Probably shoulda gone the Perseus and Medusa route with Vakos, kid." Considering the man's current state, two out of three possible quips ain't bad.

Khloe folds her arms across her chest. "He's right. I like that story better." And she glares after Trask, likely making sure he's not headed around the back in an attempt to sneak towards her bunk. "I said ooze, pervert. Your wounds," she offers to her fellow 'reluctant' Captain. Then, back to Burke. Leaning in slightly, she drops her voice a little, and a bit of her twangy Canceran drawl manages to break out of its tightly-locked cage. "Yer fido'n up the wrong twig, mate. Khloe Vakos ain't important to nobody. Y'clear? Final word." And with that last statement, the Knights SL turns back to her bunk. Is Burke dumb enough, brave enough, or both to press the issue one more time? Let's find out!

“’Fraid Ah gotta break rule four as well as fido a li’l bit more,” Burke continues, shrugging his shoulders and grinning a little at the brief exchange between the squadron leaders, “But y’all’re wrong ‘bout that. Khloe Vakos is important t’ me. An’ while Ah ain’t gonna speak for those not present, Khloe Vakos is important to all a’them there Black Knights.”

Burke gestures behind him and around him at the bunks, some of which are empty and some of which are occupied, “An if you ain’t believe that, y’all’re crazier than my buddy Keith the time he tried t’ start a farm on th’ ol’, abandoned minefield.” He points once more down at the guitar, “Ah ain’t askin’ y’all to melt y’all’s icy heart and get th’ nearest orphan boy t’ go buy th’ biggest roast goose on Caprica. Ah’m askin’ fer a scrawl. Initials. Anythin’.”

"Clearly, it's been ages since you've been with a man," Kal cracks back, more languidly than par, but still no less than on-target, "if your recollection of ejaculation conjures the word 'oozing'." He pauses at Khloe's bunk ladder, leaning against it. "Still, if that's the image comin' to your mind, Toast clearly isn't the only one who doth protest too much." Oh, how the man's mouth takes on a cast of effervescent wicked glee. To Burke, then, he sagaciously points out, "Rule number five, rook: Khloe Vakos considers herself a nobody, thus isn't important to herself. Anybody who is anybody, though, may have a differing opinion."

Khloe turns to glare at Trask again. "I don't appreciate the double-team, Kal," she spits. "And I have no idea what you're talking about. I don't follow the off-duty habits of my CAG," she lies. Then, without giving him a chance to retort, she looks back at Burke. Decision made within seven heartbeats. "Fine, I'll sign your stupid guitar. It'll get the both of you to go the frak away and leave me be." She holds her hand out towards Burke. "Give me the stupid thing, and a marker. What, am I supposed to just sign my name on it?"

Burke beams, practically glowing with satisfaction as he fishes a felt-tip marker from his pocket and hands it as well as the guitar over towards Khloe, "Y'all can write whatever you do please, Cap'n." He continues to smile as he glances past his Squadron Leader towards Trask, "Cap'n Trask, y'all want t' sign this ol' guitar as well after Cap'n Vakos is done with it?"

If he were entire on-point, Khloe would also be getting pounded about her choice of words. (Pounding. Double-team. Har.) As it stands, she's spared, thanks to the addled quality that comes from nine (9) days of no smoking. "Yeah. She mentioned you two weren't shacking up." Which, actually, is a true statement on all counts, even if Trask was under the influence of morpha, at the time. And since the Crab has finally cracked, she'll be permitted to ascend to her bunk once she's finished signing. "Sure," he tells Burke with a faint shrug. "Unlike Poppy, I /know/ I'm awesome." Feelings of self-loathing notwithstanding. Ahem.

Khloe is quick to jot something down on the guitar, followed by her signature; her letters are tall and blocky (sort of like her) and her signature is similarly tall and narrow. She passes the decrepit guitar and pen back to Burke, and retreats to her bunk, where she plops down and resumes her brushing-out of her uniform jacket.

It reads, in the ancient tongue, "E tan e epi tas." Either with your shield, or on it.

“Thank you, Cap’n,” Burke says, the smile he offers towards the retreating Khloe a genuine one rather than a smug, satisfied one. He takes a moment to look at the guitar, still smiling as he hands the pen and instrument over towards Trask, “Write whatever y’all please, suh.”

It's the tic of his left cheek that conveys a faint wince when Trask sits down. Guitar settled on his lap, the marker in his left-hand — now with a new and sizable scar running diagonally along the backside from wrist bone to one knuckle! — he starts to write in his distinctive, vaguely effeminate quasi-chicken scratch so that the instrument now reads: THIS MACHINE KILLS CYLONS & OTHER ASSORTED JAGOFFS.

Taking his time, he also adds a doodle of a combat boot (strap included, 'natch) punting a BIG GUN while the bootlaces whip at an equally crude but unmistakable duo of Cylon Raider and Heavy Raider. It's far from fine art, but the cutesy sketch gets the message across. It is simply signed 'Bootstrap'.

Burke gratefully retrieves the battered old guitar from Trask, holding it up to admire it with a broad grin on his face, “Thanks, Cap’n. This is shapin’ up real nice. That a Raider?” He points at the object in the little sketch, still grinning.

Devlin wanders in from the head, dressed in gym shorts with flip-flops slapping wetly on the floor. He's rubbing a towel at his hair, and he keeps doing so as he lifts his other hand in greeting, "Hey, Burke. Hey Bootstrap. How you guys doing, today?" The guitar catches his eye and he guesses, "Yours, Breakout? Nice."

"Mere seconds before it explodes, yeah," Bootstrap replies with a faint smile, another wee wince forming as he stands up. "Good job out there, by the way, Breakout. Those dumbasses shoulda let you go when they had the chance. 'course, that goes against the very nature of hubris." Cue the smirk. Brown eyes flit to the arriving Devlin. "Infinitely better than Rudy and Duncecap, Decoy." It's not even been 10 days, yet, since the thwarted mutiny. Plus, he's spent the past week or so doped up on morpha. Which means he's entitled to still quip about it.

At the comment, Burke reaches up to rub a hand over the bandages that bulge visibly beneath his shirt. He’s not forgetting the mutiny anytime soon, either. He nods his head, holding the guitar out for Devlin to take a look at, “Yessir, it’s mine. Figured Ah’d get people t’ start signin’ her. Kinda like a story book that ain’t in a book.” To Trask he simply shrugs his shoulders, all modesty, “Ah jus’ did what Ah figured was best. Ah weren’t much use as a marine.” Nevermind that he at least hit the bad guys when he was on the ground with a rifle.

"Glad to hear you're not dead," Devlin returns to Trask with a smile, "Since it doesn't say 'this machine kills zombies' on it, and I'm fresh out of axes and shotguns." He takes a look at the additions already on the guitar and nods to Burke, "Nice, dude. I like it. You play? I always meant to learn how and never got around to it except a couple chords." He rubs the towel on his head some more and then drapes it over the rungs of a ladder to dry. He's obviously uninjured, no scars or bandages to show for his participation on the 15th. "You got Vakos to sign it?" he notices, looking up at Burke in surprise, "How the hades'd you do that?"

Still no nicotine in his system means Trask still isn't making as many cracks as he ordinarily would. Exhibit C: no remark about how Psyche undoubtedly doesn't share her husband's sentiments about a non-Zombie Bootstrap. Instead, the SL just resumes his initial course to his locker, telling Burke in passing, "What /some/ people figure is best never is. Keep up the kickin' ass, kid." Exhibit D: no comment about how Poppy was subjugated to sign that ol' gee-tar.

“Ah will,” Burke replies to Trask in a reassuring tone, nodding his head before turning slightly to answer Devlin’s question, “Well, Ah reckon Ah traded in any ounce a’ ‘like’ Cap’n Vakos had for me in exchange for her scrawl. Ah reckon she just signed so Ah’d leave her be. Cap’n Trask helped. You wanna sign it, Dee-coy?” He holds out the guitar and the marker pen for him.

Devlin laughs and shakes his head at Burke, "Wait, she had some like for you to begin with? Shit, lucky you. She hated me the second we met." He finds the guitar in his hands and a marker and frowns thoughtfully. "Huh," he says, "I'd like to, but I've got no idea what to write. Or draw. That your pic there, Boots?" He tilts his head sideways, and then leans back against a locker, pondering. "Can I think on it a bit?" he asks Burke, "Got to come up with something good if it's going on in permanent marker."

"Unless there's some other boot smackin' around Cylons and punting a dead man's phallus of overcompensation: it is." By now, Trask is unlocking his locker, opening said locker's door, and collecting his bathing supplies.

“Well, y’all think about it,” Burke says to Devlin, nodding his head, “But don’tch’all forget. If Ah ain’t lettin’ Cap’n Vakos get away with not signin’, y’all definitely ain’t gettin’ way with it.” That said, Burke yawns and takes the guitar back over towards his bunk so he can lie down, “Hope y’all’ll excuse me. Ah’m dead on my feet.”

"Oh yeah," Devlin eyes the little sketch again, "I see it. Cool." To Burke he nods emphatically, "Oh for sure, man, I'm not trying to weasel out," he grins, "I just wanna do it justice, you know? Not waste my space on there." He hands it back and the pen too, and nods, "Sure, sleep well, Breakout. Bootstrap." He gives a bit of a wave for both before climbing up into his bunk as well.

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