Ad Impossibilia Nemo Tenetur
Ad Impossibilia Nemo Tenetur
Summary: Only Captains are obliged to do the impossible.
Date: PHD062
Related Logs: Occurs a few hours after The Game of Kings.

"She's in there, sir," says a passing MP, lifting a hand from her gun to point in the direction of one of Kharon's tool rooms. "Went in just a few minutes ago. Though I wouldn't — "

"Thank you," Timon answers tersely. He's in his dress blues for some reason, the stink of whiskey whisked away by a helpful dose of mouthwash and a subtle application of Thorn's aftershave. "That'll be all, soldier." And with that his knuckles rap loudly on the door — one, two, three, and once more for good measure.

Thea's in most of her off-duties. She's only got one tank top on and her sweats. Her hair's been pulled back into a sloppy knot at the base of her neck. She's happily curled up in a chair, rag in hand, cleaning one of the tools. Who would have thought the Raptor Captain would be doing menial labor that most POs hate doing.

"Captain," says Ivory, stepping inside and shutting the door behind him. "I was looking for you in the berthings. No joy." The lieutenant's voice is low and even, though a hint of alcohol is still evident on his breath. "Lucky I found the only helpful MP aboard this vessel." His hands are clasped behind his back; the humor in the quip doesn't reach his face. "Have a moment?"

Thea glances up briefly and offers the man a non-committal little smile before she goes back to the wrench in her hands. "Come on in, Lieutenant, and pull up a seat." A clean rag is dropped on the other side of the table from where she's sitting in silent command. She doesn't have to say it - he's expected to clean. "Most of the deck knows where to find me when I'm not in berthings or the office."

Timon picks up the rag without a word, recoiling as a bit of Viper fuel gets onto his hands. Then, with purpose, he sits down and grabs one of the tools from the large pile in the middle of the table. "I don't," he says as he does, eyes looking down at the hammer he's selected. "Know where to find you, I mean." He starts cleaning — something that'll take him some time, it seems, judging from the way he's doing it: slow and meticulous. "Probably pissed you off a fair bit, didn't I?"

Thea cleans with the precision and speed of someone who's been doing this quite some time. She's very meticulous as well, just fast. "All you have to do is ask the deck," she says with a little smile, glancing up at him briefly. For the most part, her eyes remain on her work. "I'm never too far from Raptor territory. Force of habit. If I'm not here, I'm in the storage closet hiding out." Wow, she's rather conversational. "What makes you think you've pissed me off," she asks, curiosity lacing her tone liberally.

"Last night." Role reversal, this — Timon's usually the one who talks in clauses within clauses, leaving sentence fragments to others. One eye closes as he cocks his head, raising the hammer's business end to catch the light. Nope, not good enough; back to work he goes. "And the game. The aftermath, I mean, not the game itself." He can't resist a wan smile. "Chess doesn't piss people off."

"Mmmm," comes the quiet reply - very non-committal again. Given her body language, though, she's relaxed and interested in what the man has to say. "You've given me the framework, Lieutenant, but not the specifics. What, specifically, about those incidents do you think would have upset me?" A brow arches up delicately as she glances across the table at him, meeting his eyes.

Timon presses down harder on the rag, so hard that some oil seeps out to stain his fingertips, but his voice is level when he speaks. "I'm here to apologize, sir," he says, uncharacteristic steel in his tone. "For being unprofessional." That's a cardinal sin in his book, or so it seems. Wipe-wipe-wipe his rag goes, squeaking slightly in the silence. "Unless this is me overthinking things again."

Apparently Timon's not the only one who's well-versed in teaching methods. Of course, he's also dealing with someone who parents her air wing. Delicate fingers move over the tool with care, the same care she'd use in handling her Raptor. Tools are, apparently, treated with respect. "I'm still not quite sure where you feel you were unprofessional," she says after a moment, head tilting as she looks back up to him. "Details, Lieutenant. I won't ask a third time." Rather than being sharply spoken, it's offered gently, encouragement behind the words.

Timon pauses to wipe his hand clean, using his duty blues as tissue. That's going to leave a mark in the morning. "Talking back after CAP — orders to get a good night's sleep." There's one. He's trying to find the other in his hammer, or at least that's what it looks like, so intently does he stare at the twisted mirror of himself that stares back at him from its gleaming metal head. "And my comments to Roubani, after Thorn — that is, Lieutenant Komnenos — " There's two. "And the alcohol." Three's the winner.

Thea absorbs all of this in silence, simply letting him speak, letting him get the words out there. "And you feel as though you owe me an apology for all of that," she asks, lips pursing slightly. The woman isn't saying a whole lot, but she seems to be taking it all in. "Why?" Socrates was a bastard.

Back to work he goes, scrubbing away at the hammer's handle while holding the head with his non-dirty hand. Timon's used to getting the first-degree, and he knows that the best answer to a question is one that's well-thought-out. So silence reigns for another five seconds before he opens his mouth again: "Because the ship deserves better," is all he says. "And the squadron. From me, that is." If that makes any sense.

Thea's lips twitch ever so slightly as she watches him from beneath her lashes. "Mmmmm," she says softly, falling silent. There's the vague sense that she's amused by his answer, at least on some level. "You're very good with generalities, Ivory," she comments, using his call sign for the first time since he came into the tool room.

"It's how I planned to make a living, sir, way back when." The added familiarity in her words is met by stiffer formality from him. "Permission to speak freely?"

The clean tool is put aside, in its box, and she reaches for another one. "Of course, Lieutenant," she says with a dip of her head.

"Then, sir." Timon's eyes rise from his work as he places the hammer on the table. His work, at least, is unfinished. "It's unprofessional of me to be even a sliver off my game because anybody with half a brain can see what happens when mistakes are made." His words come quietly and ever so deliberately. "And because I can't afford to be as lax with my actions or words as I have been if you're going to be hung up over this thing with Marek." Well, that was unexpected.

"Hung up over this thing with Marek," Thea asks, pausing as she catches that last bit, looking up, both brows arching. "What thing with Marek?" Oooh, now she's asking questions. It would seem she's holding off on the other, for now.

"Come on, Captain." The lieutenant's attention stays where it is: on his CO, not on the hammer. "I've served with you for over a year. You know as well as I do that I'm an idiot when it comes to reading people, but somehow I don't think I'm wrong when I say that you're pissed about his promotion." Timon's started; he'll finish his piece. "No command experience. No time spent flying with an elite squadron, let alone leading one. I could go on."

"Thorn tells me you were within an inch of killing him in the ring." Which means Timon doesn't know, no.

There's a faint smile at that and she shakes her head. "Perhaps I'd best ensure that Thorn works out with the Marines a bit more," she comments, bemused. "No, I wasn't within an inch of killing him. I pulled several of my blows. I avoided places I knew he was injured." Fingers continue to work on the tool, digging in deep for the hard places, getting dirt out of crevices. Yes, there's even a smear of dirt on her cheek. "On many of my postings, the Dance, like last night, was where scores were settled, and where officers proved to those under their command that they were solid. Any bad blood brought to the ring stays in the ring. I challenged him to solidify his position and so everyone on Kharon would know of my respect for him. I respected him enough to open myself up for an ass kicking in front of the gods and everyone. The ONLY reason I beat him was because he was injured from the last fight." Finally she looks up again, shaking her head. "I don't have it in for Marek. I disagree with his appointment, certainly, but it wasn't -his- decision. I will stand by him come hell or high water. I will stand behind his command when he is CAG and stand by his side when Torch is back on the line." For all that she's a senior officer, she can't quite hide her emotions. There's a very deep and definite caring for both Vendas and Kai, and also a very deep hurt.

"Leaving it all on the field." It's been a while since Timon touched the hammer; as if belatedly realizing his lapse, he picks it up again, rubbing distractedly at a place he's already polished to perfection. A few seconds pass without him saying a word, and then a few more. "You know, I was talking to Poet the other day," he says at last, not looking up. "About psychology, of all things. I don't know why. Something about human nature and all that rot." What this has to do with anything is unclear. "Took a class in it as an undergrad. Did you know that experimenters managed to get people to walk significantly slower down a corridor just by showing them words associated with being old? And not for any extended period of time, too. I'm talking two hundred milliseconds, two hundred fifty milliseconds. Yeah?"

Thea starts to clean the tool in her hands again, finishing it up and putting it aside as she listens, expression somewhat guarded again. "I know a little of psychology, but not much," she admits, listening.

"Surprised me too, when I heard about it." Timon sets the hammer down on the table, standing up to reach for another tool. Only when he finds one does he sit back down again, screwdriver in hand. "I was a rationalist back then, you know. You could have found no firmer believer in the impeccability of human reason than me. So I signed up for a few studies to prove my professor wrong. In one, they had me read out from a bunch of flashcards as quickly as I could. Most of them were angry words: 'hate,' 'resentment,' 'envy,' whatnot. Ten minutes later, they told me to go report my results to an aide. Turns out the aide was busy talking to a colleague. I waited around politely — and then, when the conversation showed no signs of ending, I butted in. With me so far?"

Thea offers him a wry little smile. "That was part of the experiment," she says quietly. "You had elevated heart rate, and reported more feelings of negativity and negative behavior than you would have had the words on the cards been of a more positive or neutral bent."

"Sort of." Timon leans back in his chair, eyes forward, ramrod straight. "Professor Horman gave me a copy of the study when his team published it. Turns out they weren't testing response time at all; they were testing the effect of context on human behavior. All volunteers assigned — randomly — to the 'angry words' group interrupted the aide within fifteen seconds. The subjects in the control group — words without a theme — held out for much longer — twenty-five, maybe thirty. And the subjects in the 'nice words' group held out for even longer than that, and sometimes didn't interrupt at all. All of which means one thing, Captain." Timon's screwdriver is forgotten in his hand. "You can't control it even if you wanted to. None of us can."

Thea tucks her legs to the side as she works, nodding slowly. "If I'm understanding you correctly, you're telling me that no one can control the reaction of someone to a stimulus," she asks, arching a brow. "You may be right," she comments after a moment. "But last night was my way of proving that any bad blood was left in the ring. That, as I helped him from the ring, I would stand by Captain Marek, despite the fact that I was slapped in the face professionally. HE didn't make the decision. It wasn't his fault."

"Nobody can, sir, no. So you'll forgive me if I worry that here, too, the overconfidence that comes so naturally to our species is showing despite your protestations to the contrary." Timon sets his screwdriver down on the table, his job half-finished. "I'm not arrogant enough to suggest that your performance out there will be impaired by the decision of top brass, if that's what you're thinking. But frak, sir, I saw the ECO you chewed out the other day." Timon cursed! He never curses. "That man goes out there like you and me, sir. Life on the line and whatnot. So here's my point, coming round to it at last: you've been on a hair-trigger ever since you heard the news, you're still on a hair-trigger whether you like it or not — and that, sir, is the last thing this ship can afford. We don't just need you at the top of your game." He shakes his head slowly. "You're not me — I'm a lieutenant whom nobody listens to. We need you better than the top of your game."

Thea curls her legs around the side of the chair, getting a little more comfortable. Rather than showing emotion at what Timon has to say, she simply cants her head slightly to the side and listens. "I'm not going to defend myself, Ivory," she says quietly. "The ECO knows what he did and he knows why I reacted the way I did. I understand needing to be at the top of one's game, as well. But who has kept this squad together since the end of the world," she asks, keeping her voice low and quiet. "Who is the one who has been working to make sure this wing is the best it can be in conjunction with Marek? Who is the one who watched the colonies burn, helpless to do anything but watch and take pictures?" The points aren't sharply made, but they're made. "Who is the one who wakes up with nightmares, who makes sure you all are taken care of, who cleans up the messes that are made? My game is a twenty four seven game. After everything I've seen and done in the past three months, raising my voice at an ECO who stupidly endangered his life on a hot dog maneuver is, I believe, forgivable." She goes quiet for a moment then leans forward slightly, resting her hands on the table. "And Ivory? You weren't there. I appreciate your concern, but you only have part of the story, and that's not first hand."

Timon pauses — it seems to be his trademark — scratching idly at his nose with a fingernail while he waits. A bit of oil seeps into his skin, black on white — Ivory is stained. Then, sotto voce: "I don't know the whole story, no. So there's that. But if I can say this, Captain: you've done it all, more than you signed on for, more than we can ask. But you're not the only one who gets nightmares." Now, at last, he smiles again, blinking back a bead of sweat that threatens to drop into his right eye. "Why do you think I'm up all night? It's not because I like the work, if that's what you think."

"I know," she says, tone gentle. "I know you have nightmares. I haven't said anything because you haven't, and because your work hasn't been affected." The spark in her eyes gives way to concern. "I can't force you to talk to anyone. All I can do is be here when you need me."

"Yeah." Timon slumps back against his seat — he's through with the moralizing speeches, at least for now. "That got off-topic right quickly, didn't it." He sighs, chest heaving slightly under the tight grip of his dress uniform. "What I meant to say, Captain, was sorry — for doing anything that might have caused needless worry, if you must have details. I'm no drunk. Nor do I usually talk back, or lecture, or whatever. But I guess all of us have done a lot of things that we haven't done before over the past few months, now that humanity's on the down and out." There's that wan smile again, a bit dimmer than before. "Don't want to be one of those 'angry words' on the flashcards going by your head, if you hear what I'm saying."

Thea finally offers him a smile. It's soft and warm, relaxed. "Thank you, Ivory," she tells him quietly, searching his face. "I was worried, but I wanted to wait for you to come to me once you figured things out. You're a smart enough man to know when you've reached your limits. You didn't do anything too out of the pale…" There's a but there. He can see it in her eyes. "But I would suggest you watch your hands a bit and whom you touch. Sometimes, things might be…misinterpreted."

"What. That thing with Roubani?" Timon blinks again. "I got out of my psychology course with an A, but barely. I've no idea what you mean."

Thea's lips twitch a little. "Roubani doesn't like to be touched, Ivory. You presumed today. Of course, I'm a little protective of him."

"I guess where I lose you is how that could be misinterpreted. He won. We shook; I raised his hand high. And the stars will burn and the hours progress 'til the end times come." Timon chuckles. "Sorry. That's needlessly apocalyptic."

Her eyes twinkle a little. "And your arm along the back of his chair," she points out quietly. "If you walked in and saw one man's arm around someone like that? It's not so much the misinterpretation I'm worried about as it is the discomfort for Poet."

"Oh." Well, Timon didn't expect that. "Wow," is all he has to say. And then: "Wow," he says again, this time with feeling. "I didn't ever think of — well — wow." And then, the finale to this ever-so-fascinating show: "Frak. Do I need to find a willing woman to prove I'm heterosexual?"

Legacy can't help but laugh quietly. "It's not sexual, Ivory," she says. "Poet just doesn't like to be touched. I don't think any of us figured you were hitting on him. But it's…well. Just that he's very insular. I don't care where you find your comfort or with whom," a pause. "Within regs, of course. But just have a care and pay attention. Poet's a good man, and I'm glad you two are friends. He needs someone like you in his life."

"Someone like me." With a bemused laugh, Timon resumes scratching at his nose, conveniently blocking the lower half of his face with his deep blue sleeve. "Fair enough, I guess. And as for that other thing, I don't have time to bother with drama," he says, his voice more strained than usual. "Relationships, I mean. Nearly killed myself in Basic Flight just trying to learn the lingo, let alone actually fly the bird they gave me, and though I'd like to pretend this stuff comes naturally, that'd be the lie of the century. Plus — " He scratches harder. "I've seen enough of them go south due to lack of care or lack of effort. And if you asked me straight on what I'd take — Fleet or family — well, you know what my answer would be. Wouldn't want to put any lady through that."

Thea offers him the same smile offered by COs through the generations at hearing this same speech. "Give it a few months, Ivory," she says softly. "You'll discover what it is to have a warm body curled up against yours, how much listening to someone else's heartbeat can reaffirm your own life."

"Yeah." Timon draws out that single syllable for as long as he can; somehow, he doesn't look convinced, though he certainly gives it a go. "Well, I've taken up enough of your time," he murmurs at length, placing his polished screwdriver on the table before him. The dirty rag, too, is set aside a safe distance away from the cleaned tool — he wouldn't want somebody else to have to redo his work. "Want to send me to the brig for my lecture? That's the only way you'll get me to go to bed at a reasonable hour, you know — alone, no books, in solitary."

"You're not finished cleaning tools," she tells him with a sweet little smile, arching a brow as she looks to the pile. Oh, he's clearly not getting off that easily. "And no, you're not getting rewarded for your behavior."

"Touche, Captain." Ivory's perfected the art of the resigned grimace, which he employs now to great effect. "In that case, let me tell you more stories from my oh-so-exciting undergraduate years, all of which will illustrate one fundamental point." Back into the pile he goes, rooting around for the object with the smallest surface area he can find. Metal clangs loudly against metal as he does — syncopation for his thesis, which like every philosophy thesis is found at the end of a long and rambling discourse: "Even you, sir, aren't immune to the flashcard effect. To the experience wise men have seen fit to call, for lack of a better word, 'life.' Just something to chew on."

Thea laughs softly. "Remove stick from ass, Ivory," she teases, shaking her head. "And I know I'm not immune. Nine times out of ten, either Poet or Spider act as my barometer, and I theirs." Pause. "When they let me."

Timon opens his mouth before closing it again — not unlike a choking fish. She had to bring up the callsign, didn't she. Serves him right. But it's with good humor that he finds his tool — he'll call it a widget, as he has no idea what its function is — and sits, rag in hand. Only after he's a minute in does he work up the gall and presumptuousness to say what's on his mind; there's no liquor here, after all, to accelerate his discourse: "It's the tenth time I'm worried about, sir. If you need me for that one, I'll probably be awake."

She laughs quietly, glancing up at him again. "You'd best try to get some sleep," she tells him softly. "I have to make sure you get your proper rack time or you can't fly. If it becomes an issue, you're going to see the doctors."

"I will." From the look on Timon's face, he's serious. And just as seriously but almost inaudibly: "But that wasn't my point." Back to the widget he goes, rubbing hard against one particularly intractable spot.

"I appreciate that, Ivory," Thea says softly, looking up at him. "And going back to being at your best? If something happens to me, you've got the wing."

"For all our sakes," Timon replies with fervor, "things had better not come to that."

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