PHD #294: Time Alone
PHD #294: Time Alone
Summary: Khloe and Cidra speak candidly about the SL's continued frustrations with the Knights. Khloe smokes a cigarette.
Date: 17 Dec 2041 AE
Related Logs: You Win
Cidra Khloe 
Observation Deck - 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: #294

Khloe hasn't said much since departing the berths, although her jawline has progressively relaxed and her breathing eased as more and more distance is put between there and here. Almost like autopilot, the Knights SL finds herself peering into the observation area, and, noting it sufficiently empty of people at this hour, walks in. She chooses one of the couches, tosses her bag down, and slumps into the corner of one of them. Eyes closed, she rests a hand on her face, as if that act eased her inner upset.

Cidra merely observed Khloe in silence during her walk from berths to deck. And continued smoking, though she at least tried to do the Viper pilot the courtesy of not blowing it in her face. As they enter the deck she seats herself on the same couch Khloe's chosen, though not too close. She then bends over to unlace her boots. Which she has to do while clasping her cig between her lips. It's a delicate balance, but she's a practiced smoker and manages it. "What precisely did I interrupt back there?" she inquires mildly.

Without opening her eyes or removing her hand, Khloe responds: "I had gotten some supplies from the quartermaster. You know, the usual toiletries. As I was sorting them, Demarcos suggested I help her prank you by putting blonde dye into your shampoo. I told her how inappropriate that was, got a little angry, but didn't explode." She eyes the cigarette in Cidra's mouth. It looks very inviting - the cigarette, not her CAG's mouth. Not that there's anything wrong with that particular mouth. "When I got back from stashing my supplies away it looked like she had poured some of that crap into the bulk shampoo bottle I had. You know, I keep a smaller one, so I don't have to keep running down to the quartermaster's every week. Anyway, I lost my mind and threw both bottles out and we got into an argument. She decieved me on purpose; the shampoo was fine. She just wanted me to get unhinged."

Cidra takes a quick puff and then transfers her cigarette to her right hand once her boots are properly off. Tucking her long legs comfortably under her. "You do not mind if I smoke, no?" It finally occurs to her to actually ask. As for Andrea, the whole matter makes her snort. Amusement vague. Left hand, her off one, reaches up to finger her shoulder-long brown hair. It's down at the moment. She squints at a strand. "I do not think blonde would become me. I have the wrong coloring for it."

"Of course I don't mind," Khloe says, the edge from her voice dropping away to something more subdued. It's like just hearing that one common courtesy lifts the weight off of her shoulders. "She is going out of her way to deliberately do the things she knows will set me off, Cid." She hasn't used that familiar nickname in almost ten years. "I'm going out of my mind. All I want is to be left alone. Don't prank me, don't involve me in stupid games. Let me go about my duties. But, no, that's too much for your average Viper pilot." She closes her eyes again, pinching the bridge of her nose. "Between Hosedown and her happy-prank-time, 'everyone laughs at everyone' crap, Spiral's nagging about how I'm a humorless bitch because I don't let myself be a sloppy drunk like him, Drips following me around like I'm going to break… I'm starting to feel like I can't do this."

Cidra does not mind the use of the familiar. If anything it relaxes her a touch. Ever so slightly. "I do not think her meaning is so ill as all that. Though Hosedown can be quite…trying. The Knights have something of a reputation as…difficult to manage. Captain Laskaris used to remark so fair often. They know their business in the cockpit, though. Spiral and Drips in particular most well." A pause and she says, "Demarcos reminds me a bit of Major Tillman." A…strange comparison. Theoretically she's going somewhere with it.

Khloe crackes a single eye open, again, eyeing that cigarette. But she ends up focused on her friend and superior, instead. "The kicker is they think I need to grieve for Money Shot and Lucky. Still. Yes, I still hurt, but… they're gone. They gave their lives to serve, and they were both casualties, in their own way. I can't kick myself for Alessandra's death, she was right where she needed to be and doing her job. And I can't blame myself for Tisiphone, either… she was hurting. She probably hurt in a lot of the ways that I did. Do. I don't know, Major, I feel like I'm fighting uphill every damned day with them. And I'm starting to wonder if I'm just incompatible with them. Enough people give you flak, you start to wonder if it's you that's in the wrong, y'know?" She grimaces a little, then asks, "Do… you have another one of those?" Nodding at her cigarette.

Cidra's brows arch, just a touch, at Khloe. But she does reach into her fatigues pocket and pluck out her pack of cheap Picon smokes and beaten metal lighter. They're offered to Khloe. "If you like." A pause at mention of Lucky and Money Shot, followed by more smoking. "Lucky I can accept. Such are the risks we all swore to take, and she gave her life in defense of her ship. Tisiphone…" More smoking. A longer beat of silence. She sighs. "…I did not think she had it in her to take the jump…" Whatever that means. "In any case, I pray to the gods to sort them out now. I can do no more for them than that. Anyhow. Major Tillman and I served together on the Battlestar Aegean. We have known each other long." Which may or may not explain some things. "But he never did come to understand me particularly well, I do not think. We are much different people."

Khloe accepts the cig and lighter with only a small hesitation of her own. But she's quick to light up, showing the unfamiliarity of an unpracticed smoker. She coughs once with an exhale of smoke through her mouth and nostrils, but it's fleeting. She hands the lighter back, exhaling the rest of the way, and takes another drag. She seems to sink deeper into her corner of the couch, if it was possible. "I'd like to think I have a leg-up on most people when it comes to the Inscruitable One," she says lazily through the cigarette smoke. "What I'd really want is for my pilots to back the frak off so I don't have to give my bigger wings back to her, and possibly disappoint her."

"I think you do let them get to you over much," Cidra says. "Squadron leadership is in large part a combat position. It is your primary duty to be a good stick and see they keep themselves together in the air. And that they do not muss up overmuch. Do not misunderstand. I think important that you value your people and get to know them. But if you fixate on each small interaction you shall drive yourself mad. Do your job and attempt not to fixate overmuch on things off-duty. At this point, in all honestly, my only true concern is the incident with you and Apprentice Wright. As for Hosedown. Major Tillman is most out-going. I am not. He asks things of me in an attempt to get me to 'relax' that only serve to discomfort me. But I have learned not to take offense. He means no ill by it. Neither does Demarcos, I do not think, though I would advise telling her she is taking the wrong approach."

"I have, several times now," Khloe protests, but sighs. She eyes the cigarette in her hand, watching it burn on its own for a moment before taking another drag. "Do you think that's just causing her to push harder and further? I just want her to realize that I'm not there to be her best prank buddy."

"It may be. Extroverts do not understand who uncomfortable their pushing can make those who do not share their…enthusiasm," Cidra says mildly. "Perhaps offer her alternative ways to socialize with you. I do think her heart is in right place. Even if her means are…at times grating."

Khloe narrows her eyes at Cidra, the corner of her mouth turning downward. "It's like satisfying an addiction with another substance or activity, because you can't get your hands on the stuff you really want," she realizes - and clearly doesn't agree. "It's like drinking instead of shooting up. They're both bad for you. And you can't just say 'This is better, see? I'm not shooting up!'" She puffs at her cigarette, not realizing that her deviance from her usual straight edge lifestyle is ironic in this situation.

"Think you so?" Cidra's brows arch ever so slightly at Smoking Khloe. "For my part, I am of the belief no one is without vice. To try and be such will drive one mad. At least some are more…manageable than others." A wry look at the ciggie betwixt her fingertips. "In any case, what I think is that Hosedown is merely trying to get to know you better, and going about it in an intept and rather irritating fashion."

"Inept and irritating. Can I quote you on that?" She asks, actually laughing out puffs of smoke, now. Poppy, laughing, which turn into coughing. But she gets it under control, holding up a hand to wave off concern. "Been a while since I smoked… anything," she says towards the end of her choking, still a grin on her face. Leaning back against the couch, she eyes the cigarette. "I have to admit, there have been times since taking SL of the Knights that I've wanted to do nothing but find a needle or a bottle," she admits. "It's been extremely stressful for me. And the one thing that keeps me on the straight and narrow - my duties - my fellow sticks seem to think is bad for me." She sighs, giving another small cough. "How the hell am I supposed to socialize, Cid? I can't drink, I don't see the point in going to the bar, or to get dressed up in the slim chance someone might be attracted to me - " That last bit causes her to make a horrible face, like she bit into a lemon. "No, no no. I don't do these things. I just want to fly, and clean my uniform, and do my paperwork, and train Nuggets. That's it. That's what the gods wrote for me." She's not one to invoke the gods, being atheist.

"Smoking relaxes me," Cidra says mildly. "It is better than some alternatives." Another quick puff on her tobacco. "There are many alternatives, particularly aboard a battlestar. It is not a place made for overmuch wildness. Go the gym, eat with your men and women in the mess, or play a game in the recreation area. Not that I am given overmuch to socializing myself." Introverted CAG is introverted. "But it is not so bad on occasion. Perhaps you should find someone to engage in some recreational intercourse with." She suggests it with a perfectly straight face and no pause or change in her inflection, so it might take a moment for one to grok what she's actually talking about. "I find it a quite useful outlet of frustrated energy on occasion."

"Recreational… intercourse." Khloe repeats the words, staring at Cidra with a look of disbelief. She's not usually flappable regarding sex or intimacy, as it's just not her thing, but the suggestion coming from Cidra causes Poppy to regard her superior with a withering look that might melt bulkheads. And then, bursting into laughter. "You're kidding, right? Especially you, of all people, recommending… that…!" She shakes her head, still almost giggling. Almost. But Khloe doesn't giggle.

"Yes, it can be quite relaxing," Cidra says, faintest of smiles, though she does not laugh. She *is* serious. "Dominic…that is, Captain Gabrieli and I occasionally engage in such things. It is purely a physical relationship. Such keeps matters uncomplicated." Well, theoretically. If it does not, she doesn't talk about it now.

"Really?" Astonished Khloe is astonished. "I would never peg you as… well, I mean, after Daedrek…" She shakes her head, sobering quickly. "No, that's none of my business. Improper for me to ask." She eyes her rapidly shrinking cigarette; she hasn't paced herself like Cidra has - another sign of an inexperienced smoker. "I… haven't," she says, voice much quieter. "There was a few during the academy and flight school, but… nothing since then. Every time it was the same. Never felt right." She finishes off the cigarette, leaning forward and killing the butt in the ashtray on the floor. "Yeah, I'm going to stop sharing, now," she says, a hint of disgust in her voice, but it's not aimed towards Cidra. Probably herself.

"As what?" Cidra asks, very mildly, though with a hint of defensiveness in her tone. "Daedrek was the first man I ever lay with, and I thought he would be the last. He was taken from me however and after that…I made certain choices about how I would live my life. I shall never marry again. It is just a matter of keeping such things…compartmentalized." She talks of this for all the worlds as if it is a fool proof casual sex plan. "I have never lain with a pilot since. Too many memories. Having other…outlets keeps me focused." Under her breath she adds, "Most of the time." Ahem. "It was merely a suggestion. You can also try the gym. The pool is very good for overall muscle tone."

"You of all people should know I spend most of my idle time in the athletic center," Khloe says to Cidra. "Never been much of a swimmer, though. Jogging, cycling, sparring, sure. More than six inches of water and I'm liable to drown." Naturally, she's kidding, but she makes the water sound awful. "But, apparently, that's not R&R, according to Hosedown."

"Hosedown has several strange ideas," is Cidra's mild observation about the other Viper pilot. "But I think she means well. Most of the time." A touch of exasperation in her tone but it isn't, entirely, un-fond. "In any case, it does not truly matter where you find recreation, so long as it brings you some pleasure." A pause. "And does not interfere with your ability to do your job, of course." Of course.

"Of course," Khloe repeats. Musing briefly, regarding the observation window, she says, "Any chance that we could have regular talks like this, Cid? You know, the way we used to, when things seemed like the world was ending." She snorts lightly. "We had no idea."

"Certainly." Cidra's quiet for a beat. "I have been…neglecting some matters of late. I have been…preoccupied. I am endeavoring to pull my head out of it now." Well, she's back to sleeping in the berthings…most of time. At least, she does it enough where one can't really comment *too* much on her not.

"I think I may take a page out of your book and find alternative sleeping arrangements for a few nights, even if it's just a forgotten corner of the ship," Khloe epxlains to her CAG. "Every time I walk into the berths, I feel like I'm going to get accosted by someone who wants to give me a hug. It's frakking annoying."

"Yes. I can imagine," Cidra notes mildly. "One will generally leave you alone on the couches here. Or in the chapel. There are also a good many storage rooms on this ship which do not see frequent use. I am intimate with some which I can recommend." One might wonder how intimate. But she does not elaborate.

Khloe nods slightly. "Thank you, Cid. You've always been a rock for me. I don't know what I'd do without you… probably would've been drummed out of the service, two months out of graduation," she says with a faint smile. Lifting up her bag and holding it to her midsection, she snuggles deeper into the corner of the couch. "I think I'm going to stay here, for a bit, I think."

"I will leave you to it," Cidra says simply. "Clear eyes and steady hands, Khloe." With that, cigarette is stubbed out in the nearest ashtray and she puts her boots back on. And off she goes.

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