PHD #450: You're What I've Always Wanted To Be
PHD #450: You're What I've Always Wanted To Be
Summary: Khloe sees Vandenberg for the first time since she's come back from the Gemenon op. Some awkwardness, some mushiness.
Date: 22 May 2042 AE
Related Logs: Mouth Shooting Range, Memoir: I Am Not What You Want Me To Be, Shut Up And Stop Thinking
Khloe Vandenberg 
Marine Officer Berths - Deck 6 - Battlestar Cerberus
Almost an afterthought, this is the smallest berthing on the ship. A few short rows of bunks are set one over-top of the other. The lockers here are a bit larger than most elsewhere on the ship so as to accommodate the bulky combat gear associated with the security details of the officers that live here. A single table sits in the center of the room with chairs arranged around it loosely; more available than there are bunks in the room.
Condition Level: 3 - All Clear
Post-Holocaust Day: #450

Note: This log contains light "relationship RP" that folks might find unappealing or inappropriate for work. Please enjoy at your own discretion.

Having been back for more than twelve hours, there's probably a good reason that Natalie hadn't sought out Khloe. The rumors have already spread around that the Marines reconned a planet.. and of course the rumor mill says Gemenon. It isn't hard to spot those that went, either. Sunburned faces and necks tell the story easy enough and stick out like a sore thumb on a ship bathed in low artificial light. At least the Marine Captain looks a little closer to her natural skintone. She's propped up in her bunk with a notebook, her disheveled hair looking as if she just woke up and threw it into a ponytail. She's not even out from under her covers yet but she's in her tanks clearly. While everyone else has vacated for work at desks and patrols, Vandenberg scribbles away in the 'luxury' of her bunk.

A stark contrast to the Captain in her bunk, no doubt enjoying a well-earned light duty schedule for a job well-done on Gemenon, Khloe steps into the Marine officer berths dressed prim and proper for a day of duty. Freshly-pressed uniform blues, polished buttons, polished boots, and hair pulled back in its usual headache-inducing regulation braid. Held in her left hand, folded precisely into quarter size, is the note left for her. The dark color of her hair suggests dampness; Khloe is barely thirty minutes into her duty schedule, meaning that she's been waiting for this morning to roll around. After closing the hatch and giving the wheel a throw, she stands there, heels together, affecting a deep, contemplative scowl towards Natalie in her bunk. She begins fretting with the edges of the note, apparently waiting to be noticed.

Marines usually call to each other when they enter, so the silence is met with curiosity. Natalie leans from her bunk and see's her lover by the hatch. Its hard to surpress the smile or the urge to jump down and wrap her arms around Khloe.. so she doesn't supress either. Swinging her legs out, clothed in sweatpants, the Marien nearly glides across the floor with bare feed padding over to the Viper SL. "Hey," she squeeks with an expanding grin. That necklace glimmers in the light just before she moves to hug the other woman. "Oh Gods, I missed you," she sighs.

The taller woman is quite rigid at the first contact of the embrace. Arms awkwardly move around Natalie's shoulders, followed by a similarly awkward pat. It seems a few days 'back in the wild' has caused Khloe to regain some of her social standoffishness. "Hello, to you too, Captain," Khloe responds, voice straining to keep in her professional alto and projection, desperately wanting to melt into putty and croon to the other woman. "I, uh, take it your operation was a smashing success. Congratulations."

This is likely something Van was expecting. And that's okay. She'll take who Khloe is, not someone else. It reflects in the glimmer in her eyes when she looks up with a near-teasing smile at the awkward hold and use of rank. "Nobody else around, darlin. Just us," she whispers with a wink and steps back, trailing a hand out to tug Khloe farther into the room and towards the table. Not the bunk. Uniforms do not go in bunks. This, Natalie has learned. "Well? The operation was successful, we think, as far as our aims of gathering intel goes. Beyond that?" She shrugs happily. Its plain that Nat is just happy to be back here and seeing Khloe. "I'm sorry I couldn't come find you last night. I was buried in intel sifting until about six hours ago. I -just- emerged from slumber. How have you been?"

Khloe, at least, allows herself to be led over to the table. When she sits, she doesn't turn the chair in her usual 'familiar' fashion, and instead leans slightly huddled over the table, hands slowly turning the folded note with fingertips. "I wouldn't expect you to have come to find me, because you had work to do. That's fine," she responds, voice a little lower, but still very rigid in her pronunciations and meter. "Sleep? I, uh, haven't slept. Not really. I never really slept soundly before, by myself. But once you had departed I had trouble just getting my eyes to close. I even…" The note gets looked at, her gaze dropping in some measure of embarrassment. "I even tried your bunk, one night, thinking the smell… gods." She shakes her head, shaking away her last words. It's clear what she meant, but she's unable to say it.

Natalie keeps her chair mostly to the table but faces Khloe more, leaning her posture towards the other woman. "Mm. Just like we promised each other. Work first." And given its potentially the future of humanity and Pewter must be appeased? Yeah. Her eyes turn to the note and her lips tighten into a knowing smile while she listens. "I didn't get much sound sleep down there, either. It was everything I missed about field duty, but none of what I've come to love about curling up with you, too." If Khloe can't say it, Natalie can. "Well you are welcome to take the space. I took our picture with me. Nobody saw it. Made me smile every time I took it out. …And I saw my locker." That broad smile eases back onto her face. "Thank you."

Khloe resumes fidgeting with the note, still looking down. "I ran out of things to keep my mind off of your deployment. Sorry. It was an invasion of privacy and I realized it halfway through. And I couldn't just leave it half done, so I finished. Got a few odd looks from some folk but I said I lost a bet. I hope you like 'new car'. I couldn't find any pine." That last bit a joke; she actually didn't hang up a car freshener in Natalie's locker. This gets her to peer up at her, although there's no smile reaching her eyes at all. "Natalie, this is hard to admit. I'm scared. I don't like being dependent on anyone, anything, and that's exactly what these past five days have been like. I've not been able to sleep. My veins have been itching, and I know it's a phantom feeling, but I scratched my arm raw." Her right hand goes to cover the crook of her left arm, where she has to this day scars from injecting all sorts of things to get high.

Natalie shakes her head, tilting it to the side. "Hon?" she offers gently. "Ain't a thing I have t'hide from you. I'm not worried about privacy. Just a couple dusty medals and some pictures in there." There's a dusty envelope containing an extensive list of her awards, citations, and combat medals, all printed from the database. Hard copies for safe storage, no doubt. There's also a few pictures of the people close to her like Elf, Nataly, and one of a small girl about six wearing her combat helmet and a huuuuge smile. She does chuckle with the joke, though. "Organize as you see fit. I'm not the best with it. I welcome it. Besides, you may not realize it, but even you have little ways of showing you care whether you realize it or not." She taps the table once, but her face softens with the rest. Her hand snakes out to clasp around the other Captain's hand. "That's what a healthy relationship is, love," she whispers. "You let people in, rely on them, and accept them as they accept you. You trust them not with your life, but something that can mean a lot more. Especially to someone like you who keeps it so heavily guarded. And most importantly? Its scary because you mave to trust them not to reject you for being yourself - whoever that might be." A finger extends to flick gently at the note in her hand.

Allowing her hand to be taken up and away from the note, it remains on the table where she last had it. A security blanket, maybe. Natalie's hand gets a quick squeeze in response. "I told myself once that I wouldn't allow myself to be dependent on anyone or anything in order to survive, that if I was strong enough to survive, I would. Now, I'm finding that I'm second-guessing that statement. I'm second-guessing everything that I am. I'm wondering if I haven't thrown away everything that made me human in order to be, ironically, a better person. All my flaws, all my fears." Shaking her head again and giving a breathy chuckle, her eyes, moist from emotion throwing itself against their steel cage, says, "It's your frakking fault, you know."

Natalie listens to that all, seeing the emotion well in Khloe's eyes and she bites her lower lip. "Awww, darlin. I'd apologize but it'd be a lie," she whispers meekly, a little bit of tease and levity to the words. "But honestly, Khloe?" Van's voice lifts in its emotion. "You're the strongest person I know. Its why I used to scrabble with you. I wanted to see if I could measure up. Hard for a short lass like m'self." Her eyes slides a wink at the Viper pilot, her hand squeezing Khloe's once more. "To put it simply from my perspective? You have become the person you had to be. You insulated yourself to ensure your success. You've done well with the armor and I think its suited you well. But someone else came along and maybe showed you that there's more there?" She tilts her head forward. "Strength is in the heart, Khloe. Its in your confidence. Its not an exuded, forced measure. You became a better person because you wanted to, not because you think you shut down from other people." Its all delivered with the ease and accent of her home as if it was any normal couple in normal circumstances.

"It's hard to admit, but you're right," Khloe responds, her own formal vocabulary and Caprican-neutral command accent beginning to fade. "You know, I forced myself to learn how to talk like a Caprican, when I was in the Academy, so I wouldn't sound like some trash off one of the backwater worlds." Like Canceron. "Since we've been seeing each other it's been a struggle to maintain my… professional exterior. You're a bad influence." That last bit said with a small smile beginning to creep out. Her right hand ceases its protective covering of the crook of her arm and she reaches out for another of Natalie's hands, squeezing them both. "You're life, Natalie. You're everything that… I've always wanted to be."

Rather than go anywhere near offended at what Khloe says, Van smirks. "Remember when we first met? That fight on the shooting range? We had the same accent. I clung to that neutral Caprican as long as I could before I just gave up on it. I used it for years. But when everything settled in? Well, now its an effort to use it. Not everyone is proud of Canceran. I am. Its my version of wearing my heart on my shoulder. You just be you and comfortable with it and I will still be here - you've got m'word as a Marine." But the last.. Natalie stares back at Khloe and her eyes well near to the breaking point while she clamps her jaw in an effort to stave off the emotion. "I idolize you, love. I wish I had so many qualities you do. People like you keep me praying to Athena.. Hoping to have the same clarity and wisdom you do." She swallows, gasping towards a smile while both her hands squeeze. "I- can't tell you what that meant to hear. I-" She finally finds herself at a loss, eyes fixed on Khloe's.

Khloe shakes her head lightly in protest. "I'm nobody special. I just do my job. I am my job. That's all. But, maybe, there is something more." She allows herself to get lost in Natalie's eyes for a long while before speaking again. "I've, um, duties today. But I should be available later on tonight." A beat. "Dinner?" A date?! "We can even go to the Elpis if you like."

"No, Khloe. You're wrong. There's a lot more there. Its waiting playfully in the shadows. But more importantly? You are someone special. To me." Natalie can't help the words. She's nearly at a gush with the biggest grin on her face imaginable. As Khloe starts to speak, the Marine looks to the note and releases Khloe's hands to slide the paper towards her for safe keeping. Mine. "Aye. I have to brief Pewter in a few hours, m'self." There's a little roll of her eyes. "But yes! Totally. We're going. We don't have to go to Pete's. I'll wear something casual and we can just walk and talk if you like. Maybe find ourselves an empty civilian berth so we can relax on our own?" This most definitely has the smaller woman excited! Best Day Evar so far.

Khloe seems mildly relived that Natalie doesn't seem interested in Pete's. "All right. We'll play it by ear." Giving the Marine's hands another squeeze, Khloe pulls back, rising to her feet. A sudden tenseness in her posture suggests she wants to get in one last hug, and maybe a kiss, but before Nat can act on it for her she's already stepping away. "Later, then," she offers.

Van is up out of her chair with Khloe but looks a bit like a sad puppy at the pilot's sudden move and departure. "Hey!" she protests, trotting up behind Khloe to take her hand and stop her. "I don't get to see you for three days, I wallow around in dirt, come home and get clean, and I'm dreaming of you and I don't get a kiss?" she asks hopefully. Her eyes say it all: 'Please???' She clasps both her hands around the pilot's, moving up to her tippie toes - despite probably wanting more than a simple peck.

Khloe's lips press together in a grimace. She wasn't expecting to be so quickly thrown back into the passion of their last few days together before the Gemenon mission. Taking a steady breath, she dips her chin in a quick nod. "Sorry. I'm just… er… frak." She cuts herself off; there's no excuses that exist that would result in anything but Natalie's complete disappointment, so after giving a quick glance-around, she rests her hands on the Marine's shoulders and leans down for a careful kiss. Reminded by the contact, the rigid Viper Captain eases into a longer, more passionate kiss, hands trailing upward to the sides of Nat's neck, fingertips resting along her hairline, threatening to thread upward.

Natalie see's the apology and knows she's won. Her smile creeps back up until Khloe provides for the request. With the peck turning to more, Van simply melts to the other woman, turning her hands around the pilot's waist with her head tilted up. The hands to her neck bring the soft sigh of happiness and desire, the time stretching beyond a few seconds into something uncertain. But she does pull away first in the end and smiles up at Khloe once more with one of the most contented looks on her face imaginable. Now, and only now, is she home safe and sound. "Be careful. And I'll see you tonight, love. Fly safe." The Marine cuts a wink at Khloe before letting her hands drift down, sliding not so subtly off the other woman's backside.

Looking as if having second thoughts about leaving, the Viper jock blinks twice and then clears her throat, pulling her uniform jacket flat. "See you later," she manages to say, checking the dumb smile on her face for something more stoic, as she's about to go back out into the world. As she goes to open the hatch to the hallway outside, she casts a quick look back over her shoulder. That smile briefly returns, and then she's out the door.

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