Common Ground
Common Ground
Summary: Kai and Roubani exchange some memories of Sagittaron, and unearth some common ground.
Date: PHD 4
Related Logs: None

Kharon - Naval Offices

Maybe Kai got kicked out of the ready room by a briefing in progress, or maybe he's just stolen away to the quieter naval offices for a bit of respite this evening. It'll be harder for people to find him here, ostensibly speaking, and if the fake fern doesn't dissuade them from staying then the uncomfortable chairs ought to. He's in his blues tonight, though the flap unbuttoned and turned down indicates he's technically off-duty. There's a sheaf of papers on the desk in front of him, and a ripped envelope whose contents are in his hands, and being pored over quietly.

The peace is inevitably broken. Roubani opens the hatch and steps through, his back to the room as he pulls it shut behind him. The Ensign has a laptop bag over his shoulder but doesn't seem to be actively looking for anyone. No glance around to see who's here.

Kai doesn't look up as someone enters, perhaps in the belief that they're not here looking for him. There's a clock 'ticking' noisily somewhere, a digital monstrosity that counts in hours, minutes and seconds. Somewhere more distant, a hum of conversation between two CIC staff.

Roubani shifts the strap on his shoulder, drifting among the superior officers in the room with just a required salute here and there. When he reaches the air wing's section, he pulls the bag up and sets it down atop a free desk, unzipping it slowly and with minimal sound.

Kai is really damned engrossed in that letter. He's claimed a desk in the corner of the room, so at least nobody can sneak up on him from the left hand side. His brows are furrowed as he reads— or quite possibly just stares at the handwritten note, lost in thought.

Roubani slides his machine out from the bag and puts the carrying case down at the side of the desk. His sliding into the seat is quiet, only accompanied by a soft sound as he flicks the catch at the front of the laptop and opens it up. As it boots up, he takes a manila envelope from a pile on the desk and lays it in front of him, writing something across the front.

It's either the sound of the catch, or the laptop booting, that finally stirs Kai from his reverie. He lifts his eyes from the letter and then eases his chair down properly onto all four feet. The note is re-folded, and tucked back into its envelope.

Roubani isn't paying the least bit of attention to what Kai's doing. Left wrist curled a little bit to accomodate that weird angle that southpaws write at, he continues writing on the envelope in painfully neat letters. When the computer screen glows he taps the enter key twice without looking at the result.

Kai gets a bit of an odd look on his face for a moment. That desk has got to belong to someone, and it probably isn't a viper pilot Ensign. Rather than chastise Roubani however, he returns to his own work— burning the proverbial midnight oil.

"It's Lieutenant Scholler's desk, sir." Roubani doesn't even look up as he speaks, finishing his writing. "He isn't due on for another five hours. I checked." Then he consults the laptop screen.

"Those are also Lieutenant Scholler's manila envelopes, Ensign, so I hope you're planning on replacing that." Kai slips a pen out of his jacket, flicks it on and tests it, and tosses it in a nearby rubbish can. The drawer of the desk is swung open instead, so he can hunt for one in working order.

Roubani glances at Kai from under his brows, then back at his screen, and answers blandly. "I'll be sure 3M makes it top priority, sir."

Kai tosses his pen down after a few moments, and addresses Roubani in a tone slightly sharper than normal, "At this rate, I could have done it myself, Ensign. Just drop it off with me, please. I'll get it back to you in the morning."

Roubani's fingers stop, and he sits there tensely for a second or two. He pushes back from the desk and stands up, picking up the laptop by the top edge and the envelope in the other hand. Reaching over, he sets it down on Kai's desk. The report he was finishing is there on the screen, the official header half-typed. "Yes, sir." Turning on his heel, he starts away.

"Sit," comes the terse order, after Roubani delivers the laptop. The chair in front of Kai's desk is kicked out with a booted foot.

Roubani turns back around, holding the envelope against his left side. He sits, setting the manila paper on his lap, and regards Kai with guarded eyes.

Kai looks tired, nerves frayed, more than anything else. The screen of the laptop is glanced at briefly, and then the machine is turned around so it's facing Roubani. "Finish it. And then I want a word with you."

Roubani turns his eyes to the screen without a word. It only takes him a few seconds to complete the header. His flash drive is already in the side of the machine, and a few clicks later he slides it out, caps it, and sets it on Kai's desk.

Kai doesn't speak while the report is finished, and the contents of the drive downloaded. His fingertips press against his temple, lashes sliding lower like he's feeling the start of a headache coming on; that ticking clock nearby can't be helping. Once the flash stick is slid over, he withdraws a small envelope from one of the desk drawers, drops it inside, seals and signs it. His name is penned in a tidy fashion, 'Captain Karim A. Marek'.

Roubani's face, meanwhile, gives almost nothing away. If he's tired or shaken, it doesn't show outright. No fidgeting. His hands just fold.

The envelope is set aside, and Kai's arms fold across his body with an accompanying hunch of shoulders. "Did you ever visit," he posits, "the Imam temple in Lorestan?" His voice is quiet, and still holds the same scratchy quality it did earlier in the gym. His eyes are focused on the desk, rather than the young man across from him.

"Imamzadeh?" Roubani exhales softly through his nose, glancing at the edge of the desk and then back at Kai. "Yes, sir…several times."

Kai dips his head slightly, the acknowledgement almost imperceptible when the temple's proper name is spoken. There's a swallow, and then he explains lowly, "My mother took me there once, along with my sister and brother. It was in the monsoon season, we walked.." He demonstrates by lifting two fingers from his arm. "..from the base of the old ruins, to the top of the hill. My shoes kept getting stuck in the mud, so I eventually took them off. Have you walked barefoot in the mud, in monsoon season, Roubani?"

"No, sir. We went once during the monsoon season, but my father didn't like things to be dirty." Roubani is quiet for a few seconds. His voice is much softer when he starts again. "I was nine, I think. I remember rains had come through while we were praying, and I had left the temple before the rest of my family. I looked up and there was a rainbow…a perfect rainbow in a circle around the sun. I ran back in to get one of my brothers to show him, but by the time we went back outside it was gone. And Jamal said to me…'Well. Looks like the gods told you a little secret'."

A small, strained little smile has sneaked across the corners of Kai's mouth, by the time Roubani finishes speaking. "Your father sounds like a stick in the mud," he notes, sotto voce. A ha. Ha. Even he has to press his tongue against the inside of his cheek, to keep from snickering at that.

"He has his ways," Roubani's soft voice sounds like it's admitting something. The present tense slips from his mouth without his noticing. "Did you ever take your family there?"

Kai doesn't correct the 'has', if he's even noticed it. "I'd planned on taking my wife, yes." Emphasis on the word 'planned'. "And then I'd planned on taking my wife, and daughter, after she was born. Loremar, though, had.. changed by that time, though. The military took root there, and the ISA hid out in the shantytowns along the river." He makes a small moue with his mouth, and shakes his head. "I haven't been back."

Roubani nods once, his gaze shifting to the wall. "We stopped going after that. My father was furious with the ISA for that. Every car bomb that went off in Aera Cura, he would scream about how wrong it was that men would keep men from the gods."

Kai lets out a soft sound through his nose. It's not derision, really; it's honestly difficult to tell, where Kai stands on such matters. "What was it like?" he asks then, one arm unfolding so he can reach across and close the laptop with a quiet -click-.

Roubani's own opinion of his father's statement is well-masked behind his quiet calm. His eyes shift from the wall and back to Kai. "What was what like?"

"Aera Cura?" Kai's blue eyes lift finally to focus on the other pilot's. He's blinking a little more than normal, maybe allergies. Maybe lack of sleep, stress, they're all reasonable possibilities.

"Big. Rusty." Roubani pauses between the words, as though letting them bubble up from somewhere inside him. "Factories and smoke. The Dreams Graveyard, that was what they called us in the capital." His brows make a subtle twitch together, then relax, and he looks at the corner of the desk. "What about Port Kanpur?"

"The Dreams Graveyard," Kai repeats quietly. A smile crinkles at the corners of his eyes. "It sounds.. monolithic." There's the sense that he used that word, partly because he liked the sound of it. "Port Kanpur was tiny. A blink and you miss it, kind of town. My father was a fisherman, he used to take me out on his trawler and I'd be ankle-deep in fish guts. You could see the whole town from the temple, until a fire gutted it and it had to be rebuilt in the valley." A pause. "I've never been to the capitol, either. There was a lot of Sagittaron I never saw."

Roubani doesn't say anything for a while. "Is it fun? Fishing." He asks the question rather meaningfully, looking up from the desk and at Kai.

"It's relaxing," Karim answers, with a reflective warmth to his voice. He fingers the previously torn-open envelope at the corner of his desk, lightly.

"Is it true," Roubani asks, quietly, "That you can't let a woman touch your fishing boat, or it's terrible luck?" Clearly someone impressed this on him at some point in his life.

Kai laughs heartily at that, eyes flicking up to Roubani, then down again to his desk. "It's bullshit," he supplies in a conspiratorial tone. "Who told you that, your father?"

Roubani smiles a little bit. "No, my mother's brother. We would visit him in the south sometimes, on the water. He believed that. If one of his daughters so much as went near the boat he would cleanse the whole thing with incense and herbs."

"It's still bullshit," Kai notes, lifting an eyebrow slightly as if to underscore this essential truth. There's a glance at the clock overhead, and then he nudges the laptop a few inches closer to Roubani. "Don't forget that." His envelope is tucked into a pocket. "And if you need anything.." He trails off, the silence not so much awkward as vague.

Roubani picks up the closed machine and stands up. After a moment he says, softly, "Did you get to say goodbye?"

Kai tosses the pen he'd been using into a drawer, and closes it. His hand remains there for a few moments after Roubani's spoken. "No. We had a disagreement." Meaning they had a fight. But 'disagreement' sounds less charged, perhaps. "Did you?"

"No. 'Disagreements'." Roubani's tone sees right through the word as he repeats it. His voice lapses into silence, then he nods and looks back at Kai. "I wonder what that makes us." The flicker of a smile on his face is bittersweet, and he turns to go without another word.

Whatever it makes them, whatever Kai might be thinking, it isn't verbalised. He's quiet as the Ensign turns to depart, bittersweet smile mirrored on features that have shed a layer of tension at last.

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