Et in Arcadia Ego
Et in Arcadia Ego
Summary: Everyone grieves in their own way.
Date: PHD123
Related Logs: Takes place immediately after Curiosity. References The Game of Kings and Various and Sundry.
Players:
Ariadne..Timon..

HALLWAY - DECK 2, MIDSHIPS

Ariadne jogs a few steps until she's alongside Ivory. "Timon…" She looks deeply concerned, a line between her brows. "Are you angry with me?"

It's fortunate that the mess hall is now rather crowded — which means that the two of them have the corridor to themselves. Timon gets to the very end of that corridor before he stops, pausing a few steps shy of the stairwell. Then: "Not you," he says, voice pitched low. "The other guy."

The priestess blinks. "Castor?" she tilts her head. "Have you had a falling out? Or just… never gotten along?" She looks about. "But the public hall isn't the best place to have this conversation, is it?" She places a light hand on Ivory's arm. "Want to go somewhere else? Or are you very busy?"

"I'm technically on duty for another five minutes." Timon slips his folder under his arm before glancing at his wristwatch — and only now seems to remember the oil pencils and mug left forgotten in the mess. There's a shake of his head — 'Too late now', it seems to say — and then he heads further aft, bypassing the stairwell entirely. "Somewhere else would be good," he says, a little unnecessarily.

STORAGE - DECK 3

"Here. Sit." Ariadne sits on the floor, cross-legged, with her back against a crate. "No one's likely to come here… and if they do…" she grins. "There are plenty of places to hide until they go away."

Ivory doesn't remark on the fact that the priestess has led him to one of Kharon's legendary — or, rather, notorious — storage compartments, instead sitting down as ordered with his back to a veritable mountain of toilet paper: one-ply, all of it. "So this is where they keep the sandpaper," he mutters, pulling his knees up to his chest.

Ariadne glances around. "I suppose so," she muses, nothing in her aspect denoting the slightest inkling about said compartment's notoriety. She shrugs. "So tell me about you and Castor."

"Small things." Timon exhales while he talks, his folder balanced precariously atop his kneecaps. "Petty, in retrospect." Ivory’s already regretting his momentary outburst — if it could even be considered an outburst — not minutes after it happened. "Now that I think about it, he’s mostly guilty of the sin of being too cheerful."

"Mm," Ariadne nods, folding her arms across her knees and placing her chin atop them. "Yet, I've seen him in despair. I used to visit him in the brig. I believe he keeps his fears and his sorrows a private thing, wanting to uplift those around him." She pauses. "Yet, I've noticed he tends to force his cheer on others… he doesn't know when to leave it alone. He's not very socially adept." She smiles faintly. "But I suppose we both know something of that."

"I snapped at him yesterday, you know." Timon acknowledges the point about his own less-than-stellar social skills with a rueful nod. "Followed me out of Mer — " The man stops. "Red Squadron's bunks to return my notepad, then hung around to, I don't know." One hand snaps upward to stabilize the seesawing folder. "Because I looked 'torn up'." The addendum doesn’t quite follow.

Ariadne nods softly. "That sounds like what I'd expect from Castor. It's difficult to remain patient with that kind of… persistence. Especially when you're in pain."

"Doesn't help that he has one of the most literal minds in the known universe," Ivory sniffs, ever the intellectual snob. "Even suggested we set up an actual billboard in the ready room, and that I'd bring up charges against you for a spitball." Well, not quite a spitball, but you get the idea. There's a long pause. "I probably should apologize." As for being in pain: no comment.

"Perhaps. But more importantly, just breathe a few times before you answer him," Ariadne recommends. "A mind that literal is really an unfortunate social impediment. It's a barrier between him and the rest of the world, and it's never going to improve. It's like a form of autism. I expect he's been this way all his life — he alienates and angers people. He suffers the consequences. But never can understand why." The compassion in her voice is soft but distinct. "He'd change if he could, I think. He'd do whatever he could to please and help people."

She tucks a lock of hair behind her ear. "But I think we both understand that. No reason to go on about it." She glances at the pilot. "Did you know Ensign Fisher well?"

"I usually do breathe before I answer." Not a lie, that: most people have seen Timon raise his voice a grand total of zero times. "He just — caught me at a bad time, is all." As for the other question: "Doesn't seem like anybody did."

Ariadne lowers her lashes and sighs. "Everyone deals with shock and grief differently," she shakes her head slightly. "And we've all had the lion's share of that. He probably just wasn't ready to reach out to anyone…" She swallows, taking a deep breath. "I'll ask for the personal belongings from his locker. Maybe between those and his record, there's a life that can be pieced together."

"I'm sure he had friends who'll do that for you. Hey — even I do, right? Thorn would be first in line, albeit because he wanted to take my stuff." Timon doesn't quite manage to laugh as he lets his folder hit deck, diagrams of various Raptor systems scattering as it does; laminated paper litters the floor around him, cutaways and stylizations entirely covered with his scribbles and scrawls. "Doesn't seem right for me to care about who he was now if I couldn't care less before."

"That's my job," Ariadne nods. "To care about the living and the dead. No matter who they are… or were. And I think you probably would have cared, Timon, if you'd known him. Now that he's gone, you feel that you failed because you didn't." She brushes a stray strand of hair from her eyes. "I'm sure he does have friends who knew him, but I have to know him as well. I have a eulogy to give."

"There was nothing I could have done, to indulge in a cliché." Timon slides one leg out, his blue pants crinkling near his thigh. "CIC kept us grounded until absolutely necessary. Too many damnable rocks, they said." There's a brief grimace as he leans backwards, looking up to see if the boxes are stable — which, fortunately for him, they are, at least for now. "Yet everybody thinks I feel guilty that I couldn't bring him home."

"Do you?" Ariadne asks, simply.

"Nothing I could have done," says Ivory again, a little dully. His left leg moves to join its partner, but the sole of his shoe catches the surface of one of his diagrams as it shifts down. It slips — down goes his leg, and up into the air goes the paper, which flits and flutters out of his grasp to the door. "Shit," the pilot snarls — a sound which rapidly turns into a sigh.

Ariadne stands to retrieve the paper. "That's not an answer," she replies gently. She crouches beside him to hand the paper back. "Is your leg alright?"

"It's fine." Ivory holds the paper over his chest, pinning it there with the weight of his arm. He looks like he's about to slide prone, difficult though it may be in a room this cramped. After a pause: "I didn't feel a thing." Whether he's still talking about his leg is an open question.

"Okay," Ariadne responds, looking a bit puzzled. "Here. Hand me the papers and sit back up?"

"Three-four-carom-niner," murmurs Timon, his voice hoarse. He doesn't respond to her question, instead slipping down a little bit further. The bottom of his jacket bunches up against his armpits, exposing the sweats underneath. "Easy flight — a milk run, asteroids be damned, just a touch on the RCS here, there, always a whisper — to three-four-carom-niner. And when I got eyeballs on the debris — half the tailfin, a charred stabilizer, the silver nacelle — you know what I was thinking about?" His right hand clutches at one of the papers on the floor, trying and failing to pick it up. "The frakking chess game."

Ariadne looks him over, listening. She takes the papers and sets them aside; she lifts Timon’s head just a little, if she's allowed, and lets him rest back against her lap. Except for these motions, she's silent.

"I don't play Queen to h4 on the third turn, maybe I don't lose." Timon shifts his neck on her legs, turning his head away from her torso to avoid — well, looking straight up. Yup; he’s the same old Ivory. "Or maybe I don't take his rook with my bishop — maybe I don't accept the second rook sacrifice, either — " He tries to shake his head, succeeding only in mussing his hair against the rough fabric of her trousers. "There's a disintegrated Viper in front of me, and that's what’s going through my mind."

Ariadne smoothes Timon’s hair. "You were holding onto something clear-cut and logical, Timon," she says softly.

"'Each problem that I solved became a rule, which served afterwards to solve other problems.'" Timon closes his eyes, his voice trailing off.

"There's nothing wrong with thinking that way. Especially when you're out there," Ariadne says. "You need all your wits about you. As much as I'm a fan of emotions, Timon, I would think they're generally better experienced outside the cockpit."

"Yeah." The syllable goes on for a little longer than is probably necessary, fading away after a full two seconds. "It's what any good soldier would do."

Ariadne tenderly brushes a curl from his brow. "Good soldiers do what they must to keep themselves and their comrades alive," she whispers. "And grieve later." Her fingertips lightly brush his temples. "You are a good soldier, Timon. And that isn't a bad thing."

"Or maybe I've just gotten accustomed to disintegrated planes." Timon clears his throat, attempting unsuccessfully to dispel the lump now forming somewhere behind his tonsils. He shifts again, undoing what the priestess has done. "One here, two there, some twenty billion over there — just a drop in the big bucket of souls all crossing over the River, all at once."

"The body gets numb when dealing with shock," Ariadne continues brushing back locks of hair, even as they're mussed again. "So do the heart and mind. That's not a character flaw. It's a failsafe. And it's one you shouldn't condemn yourself for… it doesn't make you less human."

For now, Timon's content to lie there, his eyes still closed, lips open ever so slightly to let out air. Only the flaring of his nostrils indicates he's awake — and, after half a minute passes, words, just a few of them: "The second row of red. That's where he lived — in the second row."

Gently, gently and with no further imposition, curls are finger-combed and temples circled. "What's that?" she whispers.

"Sorry — Red Berthings." Timon chuckles under his breath. "Forgot you're not a pilot."

"Ahh," Ariadne chuckles as well. "I'll talk to the pilots there."

"Don't know if they'll have much to say, but — it's worth a shot. As they say." Blearily, Ivory opens his eyes and moves to sit up, pushing his palms against the floor to try and bring himself upright. "I don't think I'm going to go to the service," he says when he's through. “By the way.”

"Why is that?" the priestess asks, without any apparent judgment. She remains behind him, carefully unmoving.

Timon's answer is to fiddle around in his right pocket, the reason for which soon becomes clear: a tiny notebook with a battered leather cover not more than half the size of his palm. It's handed over without a sound. Inside is a list of names and dates going back more than seven years: "Raymond 'Hung' Upp, nugget, dog = Mastiff" says one entry; "Mariel 'Damn Good' Leyman, ltjg, liked asparagus" says another — and on and on for three full pages, with about ten or so names on each. And then, on the fourth, the newest: "Jake 'Merlin' Fisher, ens." The entry is blank.

"Oh, Timon…" It's a soft, mournful sigh; she places her hands around his, as though in prayer. "I'm sorry you've lost so much," she whispers.

Ivory is strangely passive in the priestess’ hands, neither jerking away nor moving closer. "I don't think I'm going to go to the service," he repeats, as if by rote.

Ariadne nods. "We all grieve in our own way, Timon," she whispers. "You don't have to come. No one does. It doesn't mean they don't care."

Timon gives the priestess a long, level gaze, his brown eyes nearly obsidian in the room's dim light. "Did you understand what I told you the other day? About Mrs. Robinson?"

"I took it to mean that he wanted to remember… not just the men and women who served under him… but how they were tied to others," Ariadne says. "How he had not just a responsibility to them, but their mothers and fathers, wives and husbands… children."

"I have a way of avoiding my points that is at the absolute event horizon of subtle — as somebody once told me. To be blunt, then — " Timon's gaze twinkles momentarily, but maybe that's a trick of the priestess’ mind, or more likely, the light. "I don't want you to get that letter." His tone is blank.

Ariadne lifts a hand, just shy of touching his cheek with her fingertips. "The only alternative is to be alone," she says softly. "That's the only way to avoid loss. Do you think Mrs. Robinson would have preferred to never have a son?" She shakes her head slightly. "No one wants to get that letter, Timon. But we risk it… because what precedes it is joy."

Ivory's hands haven't moved from where they've been for all this time — clasped within hers — and there they stay. He's not looking at her anymore, though, eyes preferring to focus on his notebook. "Is it worth it?"

"I think so," she whispers. "I lost ten fathers, twelve mothers, and twenty-three sisters when the Cylons destroyed the Temple at Delphi…" She pauses a moment, as though considering an opinion. Nothing would be worse at this moment than a pat answer. "For me, it was worth it. But… everyone has to decide that for themselves."

For a long while, Timon doesn’t move — and then, without meeting the priestess’ eyes, he's disengaging himself from her hands. With a grunt, he leans over to grab his folder from the ground, and with it the schematics and his leatherbound memento mori. Only when those are safe does he stand, tugging his jacket so that it covers his belt.

Ariadne remains sitting. She watches Timon straighten his uniform and get his things; she's silent throughout. Her only motion is to once more brush back a strand of hair.

She’ll wait for half a minute more as Ivory turns his back, his head bowed. Then, finally: "Dinner's at twenty-two-hundred hours tomorrow." His voice wavers just a touch. "You don't need to wear something nice." And with a turn of the latch, he's gone, leaving the door ajar in case the priestess wants to go someplace else.

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